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Somehow Dating

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"Do you want to go out or something?"

Asked Ronan Lynch, son of Niall Lynch and Aurora Lynch, two well-known regular donators to Aglionby Academy. Their money was one of the reasons Adam had gotten into Aglionby on a scholarship. This he knew, because the principal couldn't stop reminding him during Adam's interview. Adam had been distracted by the giant cowboy hat the man had been wearing. It was a miracle he'd even heard him at the time.

Everyone at Aglionby knew about the Lynch brothers. Declan Lynch, the eldest brother, was in the student council. He was in the debate team and known for making top ten once the results were out. Adam had only once talked to Declan, this after Adam's first exam at Abligony. When he'd seen Adam's name in first place, he'd clapped him on the shoulder and said something about competition.

Mathew Lynch was the youngest. Star lacrosse player of Abligony, his grades were nothing compared to Declan's, but he was still every teacher's favorite. Everyone knew him and wanted to be like him.

Ronan Lynch, the middle son, the one standing right in front of Adam, kind of remained a mystery. He was known for his reckless behavior, his sharp smile. Ronan was part of a two-headed creature, his second head, Richard Campbell Gansey the third, was missing for once. Adam couldn't stop himself from looking over his shoulder. Waiting for Richard to show up and shout 'Got'cha!'

Because that's what all the other rich kids were doing. Adam had stopped counting the many jokes tossed at his head for being different. They saw the secondhand uniform, the worn-out books, they'd all heard his accent and how much he'd struggled with Latin at the beginning. Adam could try, but he'd never be a good enough actor to convince Aglionby students he was one of them. He let them talk. He came here with a purpose, getting into Aglionby was the hardest part, dealing with bullies was easy. He'd been dealing with them his entire life. Just two more years and then he'd be out of here.

Adam reminded himself of this while staring at Ronan Lynch. He watched the much taller teen struggle with keeping his face straight, so far, he'd attempted to lean casually against the school's lockers three times, he'd failed and straightened himself. He'd put his hands in his pockets, only to get them back out so Adam could watch him fidget.

Adam had hoped staring Lynch down long enough would make him realize this was a lost cause. He wasn't in the mood to be pranked today. He'd been up since four in the morning for his morning shift at the factory. After school he had two more shifts, one at Boyd's auto shop, the other in the 24/7 Walmart just past the 'Welcome to Henrietta' sign. Adam Parrish was beyond exhausted.

Ronan refused to give up.

Adam sighed. He pinched the bridge of his nose, muttered a 'why now' under his breath and shut his locker. He crossed his arms and did what Ronan Lynch couldn't, he leaned casually against the lockers. Adam had half an hour left before he had to be at Boyd's. He could make it there on his bike in fifteen minutes. He counted in his head while staring Lynch down.

"Alright," he said, he frowned when he watched Ronan's eyes widen, "I'll entertain you." Adam continued before Ronan could open his mouth, "What's this really about?"

Ronan frowned, a dark curl had gotten in front of his eyes, he nervously brushed it aside. "What?"

Adam narrowed his eyes, "Is this a dare? Did someone dare you to ask me out?"

"What? No." Ronan said, he looked baffled.

Adam still wasn't convinced, "So, what then? Pity?"

Ronan shook his head, his whole posture tense. He put his hands back in the pockets of his uniform pants where he buried them deep. He frowned at the tips of his shoes. Adam dully noted they were just a normal pair of Converse, not the dress shoes that belonged with the uniform. Because of course, Ronan Lynch could pretend rules didn't exist.

"I'm asking you out. On a fucking date, because I think you're… well y'know, fuck." He shrugged lamely.

"Because I'm…?" Adam asked.

"Fuck man, do I really have to say it? I think you're handsome. I wanted to get to know you. Ask you out."

This time, it was Adam's turn to be surprised. He blinked in confusion. Then, pushed himself off the locker. He looked around again. It was late after school, Adam liked to stay until most students were gone. A group of students had walked up to him in his first week and made it very clear to him what they thought of him. Adam avoided violence like the plague. If that meant spending a few minutes longer at school, so be it.

He was still waiting for Richard Gansey to show up. If not Gansey, perhaps Joseph Kavinsky. He'd seen Joseph and Ronan interact on a few occasions. Kavinsky always made sure Adam received his daily 'trailer trash' jokes.

Ten more minutes.

"Thanks, but no thanks." Adam said, he watched Ronan's shoulders deflate, "Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to be somewhere." He moved away from Lynch. Ronan moved quickly so that he was blocking Adam. Adam felt himself tense up, he took a quick step back.

"S-sorry… It's just, fuck." Ronan said, "I can drive you. I've got a car."

"I don't want a ride from you."

"What the fuck Parrish? Why not? 'Cuz I asked you out?"

Adam stared at him, it then clicked Ronan was accusing him of being homophobic. For a brief moment, he thought about repeating some of the words his dad had thrown at him, it would make Ronan leave. He pushed that thought away, he wasn't like his dad.

"I couldn't care less about your sexual identity Lynch. I just don't want to play along with whatever stupid game you're playing."

Ronan scowled, "I'm not playing."

To which Adam scoffed, "Right."

"I don't lie." Ronan said. It had sounded so honest, Adam for a moment, didn't know how to respond. Ronan held up his hand before Adam could protest, he then brought it to the back of his neck and scratched, he looked sheepish.

"I've noticed you a while ago… and well, it's… it kind of made me think, 'fuck, I'm not as straight as I thought I was.' In fact,… I don't think I'm fucking straight at all."

Adam couldn't help but smile, he tried to bite it back, but Ronan saw it, he smiled shyly back. It took away some of the tension. "I came out to my parents this weekend and well… I figured, if I can do that, might as well just ask the guy out who got me out of the closet." He muttered.

Adam stared.

He was losing time.

"You're serious?" he finally asked. Because shit, Ronan had just done a very brave thing and Adam had basically told him to fuck off. No wonder Ronan thought he was homophobic. Part of Adam probably was. How could he not? With parents like his? Adam checked the time. He really had to go now. Otherwise he was going to be late. He chewed on his bottom lip and looked around the hallway again.

This was the first time someone ever confessed to him and he didn't know what to do.

He thought about Blue Sargent, the only friend he had. She'd given him a chance even though she didn't know him. They'd dated for a short time. It had ended so bad, for a while, he'd feared he might have lost her. Blue was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

Part of him felt like he didn't owe Ronan anything. Sure, what he did was brave, but if Adam rejected him and broke his heart, that wasn't on him. He hadn't asked for this.

He shut his eyes and thought.

Just say no.

He'd tried dating someone once. It hadn't worked out. Blue had accused him of being a selfish asshole with serious anger issues. She hadn't been wrong. He still hadn't forgiven himself for how angry he'd gotten during their big break-up fight.

The other part of him, didn't want to hurt Ronan. Stupid as it may sound.

He sighed, Ronan would only end up disappointed anyway. He'd get to know Adam and realize he really wasn't worth it. Too much baggage, Orla, Blue's cousin once told her. They'd both seen Adam in the doorway when it was too late. When they'd both made their lists of things that bothered them about Adam. He'd forgiven them. He had been in a bad place then. Still was, but he was getting closer to his dream, which kind of helped him.

"Uhm… how about Nino's?" he offered.

Ronan's eyes widened in surprised delight. Adam couldn't help but think Ronan was handsome when he smiled. Handsome couldn't even come close to describing how beautiful he was. How someone like Ronan could think Adam Parrish was worthy of a crush, was beyond him. Still, he couldn't fight back the smile forming on his face. He felt a strange and unfamiliar feeling coming from deep within.

Pride.

It had been a while since he'd last felt it. Adam Parrish was wanted.

He pushed those thoughts aside, he couldn't lose himself in them. A voice in the back of his mind still screamed, 'Trap!'.

"Nino's great. Tomorrow?"

Adam shook his head, "I can't… uhm, Friday?"

Ronan nodded, "Yeah, sure, whatever man. I mean-…" he cursed softly.

Adam smiled, he checked the time again, "…About that ride you offered."

Ronan's whole face lit up, he nodded again and quickly led the way. Adam sighed and trailed after him. One date he told himself. He'd enjoy the night off, after that, Ronan would be so bored off him and never talk to Adam again. It sounded like a plan.


Adam showed up at 300 Fox Way, one day before his date. The past week had been weird. Every morning, Ronan would wait at Adam's locker. He'd pretend to be all casual, as if he'd arrived a few seconds before Adam. As if he was hanging around his own locker and not Adam's.

With Ronan came Richard Gansey III, "Please call me, Gansey." And one, Noah Czerny, who was one year older than them. Adam still had to figure out if he was a senior or in their year. The past three days, Adam suddenly didn't have to sit alone. When Gansey had seen him walk into the cafeteria during lunchbreak, he'd gestured to the empty seat in front of him, next to Ronan. Adam had politely declined and hid in the library. Still, it had been a nice feeling. Being invited by someone.

He'd declined, because part of him was still waiting for them to shout 'surprise' at him. 'What, did you seriously think we'd want you to sit with us?'

So, Adam went to Blue. Because he'd had a few free hours before his next shift. Because he missed her and really needed a friend. She opened the door before he could even knock. Adam, this far in their friendship, didn't have the energy to be surprised. She was holding two plates with pie on them, a bottle of 2l soda under her right armpit. She nodded, follow me.

Adam followed her to the back of the house, where they sat down under the big tree. It was Blue's favorite spot.

"It's a madhouse inside." Was the first thing she said.

Adam thanked her for the piece of pie she offered him, he took it. Persephone always made way too much when she was in a baking mood. He nodded.

For a moment, it was quiet. They both ate from their pies. It felt comfortable, to just sit next to Blue. Part of him, still wished they could have worked out. The other part, much bigger, was just grateful she hadn't dropped his pathetic ass as soon as she knew how fucked up he really was.

"A guy asked me out." He finally said.

Blue's head snapped up from her plate. Her eyes were huge, "As in, a date?"

Adam knew he was blushing. He shrugged, trying to be casual about it.

Blue didn't fall for it. "Oh Adam," She coed, the faltered, "Wait… a guy? You mean someone from Abligony?" she frowned.

Adam nodded.

"Adam…" she began, her voice soft.

He breathed in, "I know. I've thought about it too. It's been three days, so far nothing bad has happened."

"Wait… what? Hold up," she shook her head, her brow furrowed in confusion, "You said yes?"

Again, he shrugged, "Yeah?" he saw Blue's eyebrows creep up to her hairline, "I don't know." Adam sighed, he got a hand through his hair, aware he was ruining it. He was also aware he was in desperate need of a shower. He always felt dirty after a shift at Boyd's. It didn't help that it was always way too hot in the garage.

"He told me this whole story of how he had a crush on me and how I made him realize he was gay and then he came out to his family… which y'know, isn't something you get to hear every day." He said. He still couldn't believe Adam Parrish was the reason Ronan Lynch had begun to doubt his sexuality. He was lanky, too awkward, he had odd features. Generally, Adam liked to avoid staring at his reflection. He'd always felt like something was wrong with him. His hair was the color of dirt. He had pale eyelashes. People often accused him of having an eerie stare.

Blue was staring at him, her brow furrowed, her lips pursed. She was thinking.

Adam felt uncomfortable, he felt the need to justify himself, except he didn't know how. He'd begun to pull out grass from the ground, he'd created a small pile in front of him. "Besides, it's not like anything is gonna come out of it anyway," he continued, Blue's gaze felt heavy on him. "The date is tomorrow, I asked him to go to Nino's. We'll talk, he'll probably realize it won't work out. It'll be super awkward and Monday we'll both just pretend nothing happened."

"You've got it all planned out, huh?" Blue huffed.

He looked up, with just his facial expression, he wanted to tell her, 'look how good we worked out' and 'why would anyone want to date me?' also, 'You of all people should know how it'll end.' He said none of these thoughts out loud.

Blue still caught up. She shook her head.

"What if this guy really likes you and wants to give this a chance? What are you going to do? Just go along with the flow?"

Adam shrugged.

Blue breathed out a laugh, "What if he'll confess he's in love? What if he wants to be in a relationship with you."

Adam snorted.

"Stop that!" she snapped.

His eyes widened, "Sorry?"

Blue glared at him, "I know what you're thinking. I'm telling you to stop it. You're not as unlovable as you think you are." She didn't give him a chance to say something, the words rushed out her mouth like a waterfall, once she'd begun, Blue couldn't seem to stop. "I'm just saying you should prepare yourself. People usually expect something from dates. I'm getting the feeling you accepted out of curiosity or perhaps pity, I don't know what made you say yes. What I do know, is that you're highly underestimating this. What if this guy is serious? What if he wants to kiss you? Will you just go along with it even though you might not be into it? You've gotta set up some boundaries!" she said. By the end of it, she was slightly out of breath.

They were both quiet for a while. Adam needed some time to let her words sink in, he finished his pie while thinking about it.

"I didn't think that far." He admitted, "You're right, I am underestimating this. In fact, all I'm expecting is for him to end up hating me."

"Adam." She sighed.

He offered her a small smile, "It'll be fine, Blue. Whatever happens, at least I'll have a funny story to tell you afterwards."

Blue stared at him. She sighed and shook her head. She punched him gently, Adam feigned hurt. Blue laughed, Adam smiled fondly back at her. He ignored the overwhelming feeling of guilt that usually came when watching Blue like this. How easy it was for her to smile and laugh now that they broke up. When they were together, all they did was fight. He'd rarely seen her so carefree and happy when they were dating.

Most likely, Ronan would leave after half an hour into their date.

"So, you're bi?" Blue asked. "…I'm allowed to ask that, right?"

He looked up to meet her gaze, the pile of grass had grown bigger. "I don't know… It's just… well, I mean when he asked me out, I wasn't bothered about it all. Not once did it cross my mind, 'This is a guy'." He shrugged lamely, "Actually all I could think about was, 'this must be a prank'."

"That's normal." Blue sighed.

He nodded, solemnly.

"I'm working tomorrow."

Oh. Damn. He'd forgotten. Blue's smirk send shivers down his spine. "Don't." he said.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she said.

"I'm picking a table that doesn't belong to you."

"I'll switch." She shrugged.

He groaned.

Blue grinned.


Ronan, as it turned out to be, did not flee in the first half hour of their date. They'd driven from Aglionby straight to Nino's. Which was good for Adam. Because now he didn't have to worry about changing his clothes, nor did he have to worry about getting caught by his mother while trying to look presentable enough for a date. A date, with a rich Aglionby student.

He had tried to put extra effort in his hair that morning. But the ride to school on his bike had ruined his weak attempt. Blue had rolled her eyes at him when she saw him enter. Her eyes had then widened once she noticed Ronan trailing behind Adam.

Adam had halted, he'd told Ronan to pick a seat while he waited for Blue to walk up to him. She'd combed her fingers through his hair as soon as she'd reached him. He'd moved away from her, "Blue, please. He's staring." He said, out of the corner of his eyes, he could indeed see, that Ronan was staring at them.

"Let him stare. Honestly, what were you thinking, going on a date while your hair looks like it's been attacked by birds."

"He's already seen it."

"You're terrible."

"You're a menace." He pushed her away and tried to fix it himself. She'd nodded once he was done. Adam glared at her, he'd quickly headed towards the booth Ronan had chosen and sat down across from him. His cheeks felt warm, "Sorry 'bout that."

Ronan shrugged, as if he didn't care, "Girlfriend?" he asked.

Adam's head snapped up, "God no," he said and shook his head. "A good friend." His only, friend.

Ronan visibly relaxed after that. Even though they'd interacted with each other in those past three days, they still didn't know much about each other. Adam didn't know Ronan's favorite pizza was chicken barbeque. Nor did Ronan know that Adam really liked the vegan pizza in Nino's but could only afford tomato and cheese. It was a learning process.

The first ten minutes were awkward.

Ronan finally decided to break the ice after they'd ordered their drinks and food. He talked a bit about himself. He told Adam about the Barns, about his two brothers, his parents. He made a list of all the chores he loved doing at the farm and which ones he hated.

Adam in response, made a list of his favorite to least favorite subjects at school. Ronan had pulled a face and said, "I only like Latin. Everything else sucks."

Adam knew that much.

The conversation died down for a short moment of time when Ronan tried to ask about Adam's family. He'd quickly deflected the subject but hadn't been very subtle in it. He saw Ronan tense up again, so decided to give him something.

"We're not very rich. I have two jobs to pay for my tuition." He admitted, keeping the third job to himself. As if admitting he had to work for Aglionby wasn't already embarrassing enough. As if Ronan hadn't figured that out by himself.

Their food came.

Chicken BBQ made Ronan remember a funny story, involving Mathew and a bet on how much pizza he could stuff in his mouth. Adam soon learned that Ronan was a great storyteller. For a moment, he forgot about his food, all he could do was listen.

By the end of the story, he was smiling.

Adam didn't have any funny stories from his personal life. So, he simply said any joke he could remember. For each joke Adam offered, Ronan gave one in return. Until they were both drawing attention to themselves from laughing so hard. Adam tried to keep silent, he covered his mouth while laughing. Ronan's laugh was loud, he wasn't shy, nor did he feel the need to cover it up.

Adam felt slightly envious. One day, he told himself.

Blue stopped by their table to ask them if they were interested in dessert or a refill. Adam eyed the clock behind her and noticed he'd already been here for an hour. His eyes widened in surprise. When he met Blue's gaze, she smiled proudly back at him.

"Do you wanna watch a movie?" Ronan asked.

Adam eyed the clock on the wall again. He then began to do the math. He'd put some money aside for this date. But he doubted it was enough.

Blue turned slightly away from Ronan, so that he couldn't see her mouth at Adam, "Do you want to borrow?"

He felt his cheeks flush, "No." he hissed under his breath.

She gave him an unimpressed look in return, then shrugged.

"I'll get your bill." She said, addressing them both again.

Ronan frowned after her, "What was that?"

Adam shrugged.

Ronan didn't push it. They both waited in silence for Blue to return. Adam had already done the math, by the time Blue came back, he'd already dropped the exact amount on the table. Ronan carelessly put a twenty-dollar bill on the table and told her to keep the change. Then got up and left. He waited for Adam near the entrance. Adam quickly got up as well and went after him. He said goodbye to Blue.

"You kids have fun!" she shouted after them.

Adam wanted to flip her off.

"So." Ronan said, while they walked next to each other towards his car. Adam's bike was still in the back of the vehicle. "If you don't want to, that's fine."

"It's not that I don't want to." Adam protested.

"Then what?"

Adam didn't want to say it. "I don't like going to the movies." He lied.

Ronan stared at him, then shrugged. "You wanna call it a night?" he asked. They'd reached the BMW. Ronan casually leaned against it. His hands hidden in the pockets of his leather jacket. He looked like a model. All graceful limbs, sharp cheekbones. His hair, an unruly mob of dark curls, still managed to look like it meant to fall like that.

Adam felt even smaller and uglier next to him. He'd stopped in front of Ronan, his gaze lowered to their shoes. There was still a good amount of distance between them.

"I've still got some time to kill." He muttered. "I need to be home by ten, though." That was still a few hours away.

Ronan said nothing for a long time. Which made Adam look up. Ronan was staring at him, his gaze intense. Adam's stomach did something that felt a lot like anxiety. He gulped.

"We could walk to the park." Ronan said, voice soft.

"Lead the way." Adam said.

Ronan didn't move, he kept staring at Adam.

Adam sighed, "What?"

"Can I kiss you?" Ronan blurted out, his pale cheeks suddenly seemed a lot redder.

Adam's eyebrows shot up to his hairline. His stomach did that same thing again. He quickly looked around, the car was parked out of sight from the people inside Nino's. The parking lot was empty.

"It's not a joke, Parrish." Ronan said, he sounded very tired, "Don't worry, Ashton Kutcher won't show up with his camera crew and tell you, you've just been punk'd."

"Don't be an asshole," Adam said, "Can you really blame me for being cautious?"

Ronan had been chewing on the leather bands around his wrist. He lowered his wrist, then shook his head, "No, I get it."

"I… don't have much experience." Adam then admitted softly.

Ronan smirked, "I have none."

Adam's eyes widened.

He let Ronan wrap his fingers around his wrist and pull him closer. Until he was standing between Ronan's legs. Ronan had made himself look smaller, so that when Adam stood in front of him, they were almost the same height. Ronan was freakishly tall, it was unfair.

Suddenly there was a hand on his hips

Adam sucked in a deep breath, he awkwardly buried his hand in the soft fabric of Ronan's uniform shit. It was getting late and colder. Adam was getting cold.

Ronan leaned closer, until their breaths were mingling. He brushed their noses together.

"My family…" Adam whispered.

Ronan leaned slightly back.

Adam sighed, "They… they can't find out about this." he said.

Ronan nodded, he understood. When Adam said nothing else, Ronan cupped his cheek and pulled him closer. When their lips finally brushed against it each other, Adam sighed, content. Oh. He'd missed this.

Their first kiss was soft, unsure, they were both figuring out where to put their hands. How to breathe. It was calm. It made his stomach stop flipping around.

When they broke apart, Adam was pleased to know he wasn't the only one who was blushing. He cast another quick look around the parking lot before leaning in for the second kiss. This one was much firmer. Ronan let Adam lead. He was eager to follow. The kiss was slightly sloppy, messy even. Adam didn't care. He found himself shuffling closer into Ronan's arms. He wrapped his hands around the back of Ronan's neck while Ronan's arms wrapped around Adam's lower back. They kissed until they were both out of breath. Neither of them wanted to stop. Ronan took a deep breath before going back for another deep kiss, one that left Adam dizzy.

"Fuck," Ronan said finally, both out of breath, "If I'd known it'd be like this, I'd have asked you asked out a lot sooner."

Adam rolled his eyes, he laughed and buried his face in the crook of Ronan's neck. He loved this. Being close to someone, being held like this. Adam didn't realize just how touch starved he was until Ronan Lynch had reached out for him.

They both pulled apart as soon as they heard voices coming from around the corner. Adam took a huge step back, Ronan immediately straightened himself up, so that his full height was on display.

None of the voices got closer. Probably a bunch of people who were headed to Nino's. Adam felt ridiculous for moving away so fast. But Ronan didn't seem bothered by it at all.

"I know a quiet place." Ronan offered, "No one would bother us there."

Adam's stomach did that thing again. He finally recognized the feeling as excitement. He was walking into unknown territory. Adam Parrish, who had his whole life mapped out, did not know how to act around Ronan Lynch. Ronan was nothing like what Adam knew. He was different, impulsive, unpredictable.

"Do you think I'll put out for you on the first date?" Adam joked.

Ronan's blush reached his ears, "No." he said, "I-I just meant… I'm not-… fuck." He raised his wrist back to his mouth to chew on the wristbands. Adam waited.

"I didn't mean it like that." Ronan finally said.

"It was a joke." Adam said.

Ronan nodded, "I get that… but… it's just, well, I'm not… I just think you need to know I'm not like that. I don't just mess around or anything like that… I'm fuck-, this is hard."

Adam smiled softly, to humor him.

It softened some of the edges.

"I'm very serious about dating."

Oh.

Oh.

Did Ronan mean he wanted to do this again? Had he been hoping something more would come out of this? Adam lowered his gaze again. He let the words dance through his head. He couldn't help it.

He felt flattered.

Here was Adam Parrish, born from dirt, poor trailer-trash, son of an alcoholic father and a dismissive mother, unloved, unwanted-… and worthy of a crush, somehow. Ronan Lynch had a crush on him. Ronan thought Adam was handsome. Ronan hoped Adam wanted to go on other dates with him.

But did Adam want that?

He wanted the dating. He was so touch starved, he'd literally go with anyone who offered him some sort of comfort. But that was the problem, wasn't it?

Adam didn't care it was Ronan who was offering him all this. He just cared that someone wanted to offer him this. Anyone would do, to be honest.

He met Ronan's uncertain gaze again, "Let's go then." He said. He pushed all those other thoughts aside. So, what if he thought like that? Ronan didn't need to know. Adam would just enjoy this for as long as it would last.

Ronan smiled so brightly at Adam when he agreed to come with him.

I did that, he thought, filled with pride.

He made someone happy.

Ronan walked around the car to get behind the wheel, Adam got into the passenger's seat. He felt both nervous and excited, sitting next to Ronan while he drove dangerously fast. He felt different, another Adam, someone who was allowed to be young, carefree and reckless. He felt his heart jump up to his throat when Ronan sped up to skip past an orange light.

He let out a startled laugh when Ronan took a sharp turn.

They drove past the 'Welcome to Henrietta' sign, past the stupid store Adam worked at.

Adam felt like flying.

Ronan parked the car nearby an empty park. It was closed at this time, this didn't stop Ronan from jumping over the small fence. When he caught Adam hesitating, he raised his eyebrows in a silent dare. Adam, not one to back out from a challenge, jumped over the fence.

It was dark, so he let Ronan intertwine their fingers. He let Ronan swing their hands back and forth. They walked towards the swing sets, where Ronan sat down and pulled Adam between his legs. So that he had to lean down for a kiss.

When he shivered from the cold, Ronan immediately offered his jacket. They sat next to each other, each on their own swing. Ronan told him more stories about the Barns. Adam tried not to make it obvious how little free time he had, so in return, offered the few stories he had to share about his time spend with Blue. She recently bought a PlayStation III secondhand, along with a lot of games. So, most of his stories revolved around her beating his ass on fight games. Adam was much better at solving puzzles.

"I don't doubt that." Ronan said, humor in his voice, "You're like the smartest person I know."

Adam had smiled softly at that. Both pleased and proud to hear someone had been paying attention to all of his effort. He'd never received this much praise in one night, he felt greedy for more. He wanted to lead the conversation into that direction. But instead of bragging, he asked Ronan how he met Gansey and Noah. A story so hilarious, Ronan was already laughing halfway through it.


When it got too late, they both got up and headed back towards the car. Where Ronan pushed him so that his back was pressed against the black BMW. This kiss was long and desperate. A silent plea for things to last a bit longer. Adam allowed it until they really had to go.

"I could pick you up Monday." Ronan said once they'd reached the edge of the trailer park. Adam stared at the many trailers ahead of him. From here, he couldn't see his home. For a moment, he'd forgotten what it felt like to return home. He'd been so distracted by Ronan's mouth, he'd almost forgotten who he was.

He shook his head. "Thanks, but no thanks, I've got my bike." He said.

Ronan stared at him with badly hidden disappointment. Adam smiled softly, he didn't kiss him goodbye, it was too risky. Instead he got out and waited for Ronan to open his trunk. Adam got his bike out. He waved goodbye when walking past the passenger's window. Ronan drove away.

Adam tried not to think too much about the loss he felt. He walked slowly back to his parent's trailer. There he put his bike away in the small shed they had. Next to the bike his parents shared. It was mostly his mother who used it. His father took the truck.

Adam quietly entered his home, hoping desperately that tonight would be a quiet one.

Chapter Text

Because Adam couldn't see Blue during the weekend, he made a silent promise to himself to visit her after school. A promise he would probably have to break because today was not a good day. He was beyond tired, probably past the stage of exhaustion.

He hadn't upset his father during the weekend, which was a good thing. His father had been out late for drinks each night. He came back in the middle of the night. Too drunk to keep quiet. Adam would always startle awake when he heard his father's loud footsteps. His heart beating louder while he hid further underneath the sheets.

Saturday night, Robert Parrish had stopped in front of Adam's bedroom door. Adam had held his breath while making himself as small as possible. His father muttered something inaudible and stumbled back into the kitchen. There he began to open every kitchen cabinet's door and slam them shut again.

Adam's mother had woken up from the noise. Her footsteps much quieter than her husband's when she walked into the kitchen and guided him towards their bedroom. Robert Parrish had talked loudly to her. Adam felt like he could breathe again once he heard the door of their bedroom door shut quietly.

He'd waken up like this before. His mother knew he was a light sleeper. Often, she'd tell him to get out of bed and clean up the mess Robert had made. This often meant cleaning up vomit in the middle of the night, when he'd have to be up again in less than three hours.

This hadn't happened. Instead, his mother had stared at him disapprovingly when she'd caught him getting ready for work on Sunday.

"It wouldn't kill you to help your dad once in a while." She said.

In his head, Adam made a list of all the things he'd ever done for them. He said none of those things out loud, instead he'd lowered his head and said, "Yes mom."

Sunday, when his dad returned late again. He couldn't even get past their couch. Where he'd dropped down, face first. And in his fall, he'd managed to push off all the empty beer bottles that had been standing on their small and greasy coffee table.

His mother had woken up again, had walked right into Adam's room. She'd said nothing when snatching Adam's blanket away. Adam didn't protest when she used his blanket to cover up his father's sleeping form. Instead he'd pulled on another sweater, put on some socks and slept like that.

He'd woken up cold and with a pounding headache. Still tired. He knew a cold was coming.

So, Monday wasn't a good day. In fact, it was so bad, he'd completely forgotten about Friday.

Ronan decided to remind him by surprising him. He'd grabbed Adam's wrist when he'd been on his way to class and pulled him into an empty janitor's closet. He'd still been recovering from a near heart attack when Ronan's hands were on him and a voice nearby his ear whispered, "Hey, I missed you." Followed by a quick peck behind his right earlobe.

"Ronan, shit." Adam said, slightly out of breath. His headache became worse.

Ronan smiled at him, "Surprise?" he offered sheepishly.

And oh, okay, this kind of helped. He thought while shaking his head. He buried his face in the crook of Ronan's neck, where it was warm and smelled nice. For a moment, he allowed himself this. A moment to close his eyes and rest. Ronan's arms immediately wrapped around Adam's back to pull him in a close hug.

Shit, he was touch starved.

He shouldn't be doing this. He could already hear Blue's voice inside his head, scolding him for taking advantage of Ronan. Adam should probably tell him he wasn't capable of being a good boyfriend. Another part of him wanted Ronan to just grow tired of him. Yet another part of him wished this could last just a bit longer. Perhaps until he graduated. Adam wouldn't mind having someone who he could go to when he was hungry for touch. Ronan's hands gently stroked down his back.

"Do you have time after school?" Ronan asked, voice soft.

Adam's eyes fluttered open. He breathed in through his nose, Ronan had a pleasant smell. One that he couldn't describe, but was so distinctively Ronan, he felt comforted by it. He had time, two hours before his late shift at the factory. He was going to see Blue. Yet, he found himself nodding. "I have work at six." He said.

"Wanna make out in the backseat of my car?" Ronan said, trying to go for a teasing tone but failing miserably. Adam could feel the skin of Ronan's neck warm up from embarrassment. He chuckled softly

"Sure." Adam said.

"Class starts in ten minutes." Ronan said.

Adam hummed. "We've got time."


Ronan didn't pick him up at the end of his nightshift. He'd offered, Adam had refused. It was late, already past midnight. Just because Adam didn't sleep much, didn't mean Ronan had to sacrifice his sleep schedule as well.

He'd enjoyed the short break before work started. Ronan had bought doughnuts for himself, when he couldn't finish them, he'd given two of them to Adam, because; "Vanilla is Declan's favorite. I don't want him to have them."

He'd done some of his Latin homework in the backseat of Ronan's car. They'd parked somewhere quiet and deserted. So that when Ronan leaned forward for a kiss, neither of them would have to worry about getting caught.

He'd finished his homework during his break at work. Now all he had to do was finish his math homework and start studying for that history test they had on Thursday. This he did hidden under his blanket. A flashlight between his teeth so that his parents wouldn't be bothered. He'd gone to bed past three in the morning with a bad neck cramp.


Ronan, Gansey and Noah were waiting for him nearby his locker when he arrived at school. And god, was that a good feeling. He was tired and had a headache, his nose was stuffed. But this was nice, he thought. People waiting for him. Asking about his opinion on their Latin teacher.

Adam never had friends growing up. It was a sad truth, one that he hated to admit. Befriending Blue was one of the best things that had ever happened to him. And while he couldn't call Gansey and Noah friends, he could almost believe they were headed that way. Which was nice. Suddenly he had people to sit with during class. People who told him funny stories and invited him to hang out with them during the weekend.

"Gansey is dating a dead Welsh king." Ronan said during lunch break. Which explained nothing, it was an inside joke between the three friends and Adam got pulled right into it. Gansey explained the legend of Owen Glendower. Noah and Ronan exchanged an amused look with each other.

And somehow, Adam ended up getting talked into going one of their scavenger's hunt. They'd have to wait two more weeks, because that's when Adam had his first day off. But that was alright.

"He's been dead for centuries. Where is he gonna go?" Ronan asked. He sat next to Adam, his arm rested carelessly behind Adam's back. Ronan, when he sat down, took up as much space as possible. Gansey pouted at this. Ronan ignored it by leaning closer to Adam so that he could whisper something in his ear. "Do you have work today?" he asked.

He nodded, in fact, he barely had any free time left this week. The little amount of time he had, would be used on doing homework. Ronan looked disappointed but didn't dwell on it. He returned his attention back to the conversation. Adam felt relieved he wasn't making a big deal out of it.

Later, when Ronan pulled his arm back, he made sure to brush his fingers against Adam's back. Adam caught Noah staring at them. He smiled at Adam. Soft and genuine. Adam nodded in a silent thank you.


On Sunday, five minutes before Adam had to leave for work. He got a phone call from his boss, telling him one of his coworkers had last-minute asked for his shift. Since this person had just lost a relative, Adam's boss had decided it was only fair she'd get a chance to catch up some of their missed shifts.

This meant that Adam had the entire afternoon off. His mother, who'd overheard Adam's side of the conversation wasn't very subtle in trying to figure out what the phone conversation had been about. Adam lied and said his boss had asked him to work a bit longer. She nodded and continued pretending he didn't exist. Adam went back into his room to grab some of his school supplies. He slung his bag over his back and left.

With so much free time, Adam decided to go to Blue. She and her cousin were the only ones at home, which was rare. Something Adam took advantage of. Instead of doing his homework on Blue's small and cluttered desk, he could sit down at their kitchen table and use as much space as he wanted. Blue joined him and helped him study. She even tried to solve some of his math homework. They both went over it and discussed which answer was most likely to be correct. It was fun, they both learned while at the same time they stubbornly fought about who was right. Orla called them freaks when she'd entered the kitchen for drinks.

Adam, when he was finished helped Blue with her homework. They both came to the conclusion that schools gave to much homework.

"You're looking much happier." Blue said. It was already getting late, they'd just ordered takeout. Adam still had hours to kill. He was happy. As happy as anyone could be, living his life. When he smiled, it felt less like a chore. It came more naturally.

Blue only had to prod once before he opened up to her. He told her about Ronan, Gansey and Noah. About Glendower. Noah's hatred for Latin. Anything that come to mind really.

"So, wait… you're still hanging out with that Ronan guy?" Blue asked. "You two are dating?"

Adam blushed at that, "I don't know." He said.

"You two hang out?"

"I wouldn't call it hanging out, I barely have any free time."

"But like… you do spend time together to make out?"

Adam rolled his eyes, he nodded, "Yeah," he said. Trying not to be too obvious about how awkward this conversation was for him. He knew he was failing miserably, given how warm his face felt.

"I don't know Adam; the guy sounds pretty serious." Blue said, concerned.

He shrugged, lamely. He'd figured as much. Ronan hadn't outright asked him, but he had been hinting about Adam visiting the Barns. He'd also asked if Adam wanted to go on another date sometime. They'd spend a lot of time in the empty janitor's closet.

A lot.

Adam was embarrassed to admit it.

"Do you like him?" Blue asked.

"Jesus Blue, I barely know the guy."

"So? He obviously likes you!" she said back. Adam opened his mouth to say something defensive, but she cut him to it, "I think you should talk to him. Like see what you both want." She said, her voice much calmer.

"It's only been a week." He said, "Isn't that a bit too soon? For all I know he's just fooling around." This wasn't true. Adam knew this wasn't true. Ronan had already made it rather obvious he didn't fool around. He took dating very seriously. Chances were, he was into this for the long haul. Something Adam wasn't. He was fine with just this. Them kissing. It was enough for Adam to know that if he reached out, Ronan would reach back. He was content with not putting a name on it.

Making it official, calling Adam Ronan's boyfriend would mean he'd suddenly have a lot more obligations with him. People who were in relationships made time for each other. They expected things from each other. Ronan would want Adam to always be emotionally invested in things. But how could he do that when he could barely act human on a regular day? The last past few days, he's barely managed to sleep three hours a night.

God, how could he possibly explain to Ronan why he was never allowed to meet Adam's parents. Not even as a friend. Besides, soon Ronan would catch up on all of Adam's bad habits as well.

"That's why I think you should talk. I mean, you said so yourself; he came out of the closet because of you. Obviously, you're a big deal to him. What if he takes things further?"

He shrugged again.

"Adam!" she snapped.

"What?" he asked, both annoyed and confused. Why was she so invested in his love life all off sudden?

"You're being an ass! This guy has feelings and you're not taking him serious at all."

"You don't know that." He retorted.

She gave him an unimpressed look, one that pissed him off even more. "Fine. What if he wants to go further than just kissing. What are you going to do that? You're not even sure if you're bisexual!"

"I never said that."

"Neither did you confirm when I asked." Blue said.

"I'm kissing a guy; how can that not be confirmation enough?" he asked, "Besides where's this all coming from? I thought you'd be supportive of this."

"I am supportive! I'd accept you no matter what. But it's just-…" she stopped herself. Her brow furrowed in a frown while she bit her lip.

"It's just what?" Adam asked.

"It's just… that you're you." She said softly. She lowered her gaze, "I just fear… that 'cuz of…" she sighed and got a hair through her messy hair, "I'm worried you'll just take about anyone because of... well… y'know." She finished lamely.

She was right. Still, it stung. He felt anger well up inside of him. He wanted to get mad at her. Wanted to scream and demand her to take back those words. Did she really think that little of him? But how could he justify those thoughts when he'd been thinking them himself? When he'd admitted to himself, he was doing this because he was touch starved. He had no friends beside Blue. His mother had stopped hugging him since he was five years old. She never comforted him when he was upset. His father's hands only reached out to hurt him.

Adam Parrish was lonesome.

And there was Ronan Lynch, offering to fill in this hole that's been growing inside of him.

So, instead of getting mad at Blue. He got mad at himself. He lowered his gaze in shame and nodded while he stared blankly at his hands. "God, I suck." He sighed.

"No, you don't." Blue said. She quickly got up from her seat to walk around the table. When she opened her arms for him, he refused the hug. Something she didn't like but didn't dwell on. Instead she sat on top of the table in front of him and placed a hand on top of his shoulder. "I get why you do it… it's just… well, it sounds like this Ronan guy has much higher expectations. I think it's best for both of you if you talked about that stuff now, before it gets out of hand."

He nodded. She was right.

"Are you going to tell him?" she asked then, her voice soft and careful.

He shook his head. Of course not. Blue knew because she came from a family of physics. And instead of being tactful about the information they received, Calla had just straight out told everyone in the room, that when she'd touched Adam, she knew he was hiding several bruises. That a close relative had given them to him and that Adam should seriously think about taking the room upstairs. It was empty. Adam had stormed off that day. He hadn't visited 300 Fox Way for three weeks. By the time he returned, all the women inside seemed to know. They'd all agreed not to mention it again.

"I understand." She said.

She didn't.

Their food arrived. They ate and spoke of much lighter subjects.

When it was finally time for Adam to go back home, she made him promise he'd talk to Ronan. He'd let her hug him. He no longer felt comfortable in her arms. Still he hugged her back, he breathed in through his nose. Blue smelled of vanilla, a scent so familiar, it made him feel a bit more at ease.


He didn't talk to Ronan. In fact, on Monday morning, Adam had decided that avoiding Ronan would be his best choice of action. He'd managed to piss off his father on Sunday night. The bruises hidden underneath his uniform made it hard to breathe. It took him every ounce of willpower to keep a straight face and walk like nothing was wrong.

He'd managed to avoid Ronan for four full hours. During the short breaks in-between classes, he'd taken a different route than usual, as to make sure Ronan wouldn't find him. Adam wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone. Getting through the day was his main priority right now. Every little thing seemed to set him off. He was in no mood to be touched. His skin itched and felt too tight.

When Ronan finally caught up with him during lunch, Adam was about ready to pick a fight. He'd felt anger boiling under his skin. All he wanted was to be left alone. What he needed was peace and quiet, not for Ronan to ask him what he'd been up to all day.

"Gansey and Noah are sitting over there, come on." Ronan said, he immediately headed their way without looking back if Adam was following. Which was rude, he thought. They'd only known each other for how long? And here Ronan was already assuming Adam would follow him blindly. As if Adam wanted to hang out with him every day. He didn't budge from where he was standing.

When Ronan turned, confusion written on his face, Adam shook his head. "I'm going to the library." He said.

Ronan shrugged lazily, "Sure." He said. Which Adam translated to: Sure, I'll tag along with you.

"You can sit with Noah and Gansey." Adam said. "You don't have to tag along."

Don't tag along.

Ronan heard the hidden message. He frowned. Adam for a moment, thought he should probably feel guilty about that. He felt nothing. Right now, all he wanted was peace and quiet. He didn't wait for Ronan to respond. He turned around and walked away.

Ronan didn't follow.


At the end of the day, Adam stood still in front of his bike. He glared at it. That morning he'd almost overslept, he'd been so focused on arriving at school on time, he'd ignored the pain coming from his stomach. A mistake really. When he'd arrived at school, he'd almost doubled over in pain. He still had some time to catch his breath and stand still. People had walked past him and had paid him no heed.

He still had an hour to get to work on time. A route that would normally take him fifteen minutes. Adam would probably have to do it in thirty minutes. In his mind, a hundred different swear words came up to him. Just thinking about spending hours under a car on his back worsened his mood.

So, Adam stared a bit longer at his bike. Until he was sure that at least 90% of the students had already left. Then he'd crawl on his bike, allowing his mask to break when pain shot through his body. And then, he'd begin his long and painful journey towards Boyd's garage

Just five more minutes, he thought miserably.

Someone placed their hand on his shoulder. Startled, he took a step back while also trying to see who it was. Which ended up with him stumbling over his own feet and falling hard on his ass.

Noah Czerny at least had the decency to apologize while also trying to fight back a grin. He offered a hand, which Adam refused. He got up himself, he bit back a wince.

"You okay?" Noah asked.

Adam wondered if Noah meant his sour mood in general or just now. Probably both. He nodded.

"Ronan wants to give you a ride, except he's too afraid to ask."

Adam frowned, "Why would he be afraid?"

Noah stared at him, "I don't know." He said. Adam could tell he was lying. He narrowed his eyes. Noah smiled serenely at him.

"You can tell him that if he's got something to say, he can do so himself and not send one of his friends." Adam said, voice unkind.

Noah's smile faded, his shoulders slumped. "He didn't send me." He said, voice soft and patient.

Adam said nothing, so neither did Noah. Until Noah left without a goodbye. Adam wouldn't be surprised that from tomorrow on, he'd have to sit alone again. He shook his head. As if it mattered. As if he cared. He grabbed his piece of junk bike, mentally preparing himself to get on.

That's when Ronan appeared. Because of course. Adam muttered a silent curse under his breath.

"Yo, Parrish." Ronan said once he caught up with him. Slightly out of breath, as if he'd ran. Which he had. Apparently. He'd seen Noah talk to Adam from a distance and immediately headed their way. Except that there wasn't much to worry about. Their conversation had led to nowhere and Noah had just left.

"Do you uhm… can I-… can I give you a ride?" Ronan asked, his face flushed, eyes wide with anticipation.

Adam sighed, "I don't want to make-out in the backseat of your car, Lynch." He said.

"O-oh… that's…, that's fine. I mean… I wasn't expecting you to…"

Adam snorted.

Ronan frowned, "Look man, what's your problem?"

"I just don't want to talk to you." Adam shot back.

Ronan's eyes widened in hurt.

Adam sighed again, he shook his head, "With anyone. Shit. That came out wrong." He got a hand through his hair, again, he sighed deep. "I'm having a shitty day." He confessed miserably.

Ronan was silent for a moment, then slowly, he approached him. he didn't touch Adam, nor did he come too close, he kept a perfect amount of distance for Adam to still feel comfortable.

"I know something that could cheer you up." Ronan said.

Adam rolled his eyes, he decided to humor him, "What?"

Ronan Lynch smiled, a wicked grin, full of mischief. "C'mon." he said and nodded towards his car. This time when he turned to leave, he waited until Adam followed. They walked side by side back towards his car.

"I have to be at Boyd's in an hour." Adam said.

"Plenty of time then." Ronan said cheerily.

Plenty of time to be pushed around in a shopping cart on a nearly empty parking lot. Because that's what Ronan meant. Ronan ran as fast as he could, pushing hard, when they'd gained enough speed, he jumped on the cart and let them dash around the parking lot. Every time the cart almost doubled over, Adam would hold on even tighter, eyes squeezed shut. It was exciting, reckless.

Adam laughed with every sharp turn they took. Ronan cheered loudly.

When they almost ran into a parked car, Ronan had to make a quick turn. A bit too fast, their cart toppled over. When Adam fell he scraped his hands on the asphalt. He'd been lucky to wear Ronan's jacket, otherwise he'd have definitely burned a hole in his uniform sweater. When Ronan looked at his damaged jacket, he'd just shrugged and asked Adam for another ride.

He'd refused. The rush of adrenaline had made him forget his sour mood completely. He was smiling, happy, carefree. They got back in the car, Ronan talking excitedly while taking them back on the road. Adam sat in the backseat so that he could change into his work clothes. He'd made sure to stay out of view when changing shirts. They still had twenty minutes to kill, so Adam leaned forward and whispered in Ronan's ear that he should park somewhere quiet.

Ronan, always eager to oblige, parked them at the side of an empty road hidden between the trees. Adam leaned back in his seat. He smiled at Ronan when he turned to face him. A dare. Ronan crawled to the back, he landed ungracefully next to Adam.

They both laughed, soft and nervous. As if this was their first time fooling around. Adam cupped Ronan's face between his hands and kissed him. Ronan tried pushing him down, which hurt his back, so he pushed back. Ronan's back pressed against the car seat while Adam crawled on top of his lap.

They kissed, deep and wet. Clumsy and way too eager. Ronan's hand on his waist. They kissed until Adam's lips felt numb, until they were both out of breath, yet they remained close. Breathing in each other's air.

"When's your next day off?" Ronan asked, his nose nuzzled against Adam's throat. He gulped, a shiver ran down his spine.

"You know when." Adam said, breathless. "I'm hanging out with you, Gansey and Noah that day."

Ronan nodded, he buried his face in the crook of Adam's neck. Adam could hear him breathe in deeply through his nose.

"You smell good," Ronan muttered.

Adam disagreed, he was in his work uniform, which reeked of gasoline.

"Mum wants you to come over for dinner." Ronan said then, the words came out quick.

Adam blinked, "Wait what?"

Ronan didn't look up, instead he wrapped his arms around Adam's waist and pulled him into a hug. It hurt, Adam tried to wriggle free. Ronan unaware of the real reason why sighed. He took it as a sign that Adam hadn't heard him.

"I talked about you… and well… she got curious. Said she wanted to meet you."

"Oh."

"Yeah."

Adam said nothing. He let the words sink in. He'd tried remembering the first time he'd met Maura. How worried he'd been about her first impression of him. But he'd been dating Blue back then. He still didn't know what he wanted from Ronan. This situation was different.

Ronan's hands gently stroked down his back, when they trailed down his spine, pressing slightly harder on Adam's lower back, Adam felt a rush of pleasure shoot down his spine. His eyes fluttered shut for a moment.

Ronan pulled him down for another kiss. And another. Between every kiss, he tried to convince Adam to come to the barns. His hands kept doing the same motion. Each time, they went down a little bit further. Until he felt Ronan's hands go over his butt. Adam inhaled loudly. He nodded against Ronan's lips, sure, sure he'd go. As long as that meant Ronan wouldn't stop.

Ronan's alarm went off, telling them it was time to go if Adam wanted to be at work on time.

"Saturday?" Ronan asked once he'd stopped his car in front of Boyd's. Adam had two minutes left.

"After we go hiking? I have to be home at-"

"10. I know."

Actually, Robert Parrish wouldn't be home until late on Saturday. There would be a live broadcasting of a soccer game somewhere in Europe. Adam's father had already informed his wife and son that he and his mates were planning on watching it together at a nearby pub.

Adam didn't kiss him, even though he wanted to. "Eleven." He said.

Ronan's whole face lit up, Adam couldn't fight back his own smile. He got out of the car and walked into the building. Unable to push back the image of Ronan's smiling face.


"Oh great, now you're meeting his family!" Blue snapped the moment he saw her again.

Oh, how Adam wished he could just disappear.

"Are you kidding me? How long are you planning on taking advantage of this guy's feelings?" she demanded.

Adam frowned, "It's not like that. I'm not manipulating him or anything, nor do I ignore him unless I want to kiss him." Half a lie, he thought. He did avoid Ronan a couple of days ago because he'd been upset. But that was alright. They'd kissed and made-up.

"No. But we've been over this. It's obvious this guy thinks you're dating!"

"You don't know that for sure. We've only gone out once, all the other times we just hooked-up." He tried to fight back the angry blush creeping up to his ears.

"Adam." Blue said, voice low and threatening.

"No." Adam shot back, "It's not fair that you talk to me like that. As if all I'm capable of is hurting this guy's feelings. You don't know what it's like." He said, he hadn't even been at Blue's house for five minutes. But he was already gathering his stuff and ready to leave.

Blue's frown had disappeared, she'd sighed, "Adam." She said. When she reached out to him, he moved away. He muttered a goodbye and stormed out of the house.

Chapter Text

"What are you doing Saturday?" his mother asked during dinner.

His father had been staring at the TV the entire time, yet the moment his mother had begun talking, his head snapped up. His gaze fell on Adam. His eyes narrowed while he stared at his son. He had red sauce on his chin from the pasta they were eating.

Adam lowered his gaze back to his plate. "Work." He lied. It came out so easily, he no longer had to second guess himself. Lying came as natural to him as breathing. They both kept him alive.

"That's odd." His mother said, her tone neutral. Adam took another bite from his spaghetti. He felt his stomach churn. His mother was fishing for something. He felt himself grow smaller and smaller underneath his father's cold eyes. He took another bite. "Cary said you're not working at the supermarket." Cary was one of his colleagues, a friend of his mom who'd helped him get the job. "And didn't you talk to Boyd last night, honey?" his mother asked. She turned her gaze towards Robert.

Robert wiped his mouth and chin clean with the back of his hand. Then he wiped his dirty hands off on his grease stained shirt while staring Adam down.

"Said you weren't working there either this Saturday." Robert said.

Adam felt himself tense up. He did his best at trying to hide it but knew he was doing a miserable job at it. Robert clenched his jaw.

"Now tell me son," Robert said, "Did you pick up another job behind our backs?" Ah, so it was about that. He'd gotten careless and they must have noticed something. But how much did they know? It was a game both of them liked to play. They'd pretend to know as little as possible. If they caught Adam lying, he'd be in big trouble. But honestly, it was a trap. Because even if he'd tell the truth, they'd still get mad at him.

"It's for school." He said. Voice soft, he'd barely eaten anything. He had to eat. He knew this. Chances were he wouldn't be able to eat until very late tomorrow. There was no bread in house, no sandwiches, or anything else he could take with him for lunch. He didn't have enough money to buy food. He still had to pay Aglionby.

"You took that day off, for school?" Robert asked. A warning in his voice.

Trap. Bells went off inside his head, he had to be smart, he had to be quick. But it didn't matter. Because anything he'd say to appease his parents would only backfire. He shook his head, "No, they both didn't need me on Saturday." He said, "And I…" he halted, his father placed his large hands on top of the table. He was silent, waiting for Adam to finish his story. Shit. "They were looking for volunteers for-… this, this thing. To clean up and-… So I-"

"So, you decided that school was more important than helping your family." Robert said, he crossed his arms in front of his chest.

His mother sighed loudly, she looked at Adam, disapproving. She got up and grabbed both hers and Robert's plates. She began cleaning the table while Adam remained frozen in his seat. His food still unfinished.

Adam said nothing. His mother reached for his plate, he tried to stop her. Which had been a mistake. His father's hand slammed on the table, hard enough to make the entire doublewide shake. Adam's head snapped up, eyes alert as he stared at his father towering above him. With one swift movement, his father slammed the plate off the table. It crashed on the floor and broke into pieces. Spaghetti fell on the carpet, more stains.

Adam could hear his heart beating. His hands trembled so he hid them underneath his lap. He bit down hard on his own teeth. Keep quiet. There was nothing he could do to make this better. All he could do was wait. Wait and hope for the best.

"You'll help your mom first. And now listen here son," Robert said, he jabbed his finger in Adam's shoulder, "I don't care how long that list of chores is. You're gonna do everything until your mom is pleased and then, you can fuck off with those arrogant rich assholes. Am I clear?"

Adam nodded.

"Now clean up that mess." Robert said, he gave him one final push. Adam almost tumbled off his chair but managed to stay upright. He watched his father put on his jacket and head out of the house again. His mother shook her head at him. Adam glared back at her. He couldn't stand up to his father, but at least he'd made sure his mom knew he was just as disappointed in her as she was in him. He got up from his chair to clean up the mess his father had made. His eyes stung, but he forced himself to keep calm. He was okay. That could have gone a lot worse. This was nothing compared to other times.

When he was done, his mother made him do the dishes while she disappeared into the bathroom for an hour. He grabbed a bottle of water and went into his room, where he hid until it was way past midnight. Still upset because of Saturday.


Ronan's hands went underneath his shirt. There were no bruises to hide at the moment, so Adam let him. He panted softly in between their kisses, their mouths open. The kiss was sloppy and messy. But that was okay. Adam thought. His back pressed against Ronan's car door. The smell of leather was all around him.

Ronan's long fingers begun unbuttoning his shirt. His tie and sweater already lay forgotten on the floor. It wasn't fair of Blue, to expect he could give something like this up so easily. Ronan looked at Adam with admiration. Someone to be worshipped. It was addicting.

"What happened?" Ronan asked, slightly out of breath.

"Hm?" Adam panted, Ronan's hands were sliding up and down his bare torso. He arched his back, Ronan huffed, amused. He pressed a wet kiss on Adam's hip, and- oh! Ronan had meant the scars. Adam had scars underneath his clothes. His eyes widened, but Ronan didn't seem too concerned. Sure, he offered the scars extra attention, but he didn't seem that interested in where they came from.

Adam dropped his head against the car's door. Suddenly, he was very aware of what they were doing. Something was poking his back. He gulped, "I was an adventurous kid."

Ronan laughed softly. He crawled back upwards so that he could kiss Adam on the mouth. Wet and too much tongue, it send a spike of arousal down Adam's body. He moaned softly against Ronan's lips.

Ronan cupped the front of Adam's pants, Adam gasped. He could feel Ronan grin against his mouth, "Is this okay?" and shit, that sounded hot.

He nodded and pulled Ronan closer for another kiss. Sloppy and an uncoordinated mess off too long legs and awkward body positions, is what they were. Yet somehow Ronan managed to pull off Adam's pants and give him the best handjob ever. Until Adam was nothing more but a blubbering mess.

"Ronan, Ronan- shit-…" he buried his face in the crook of Ronan's neck when he came, his hands clutched to Ronan's shirt, a mess. Ronan probably missed a button or two, not that he minded. Ronan wiped his hand clean on his sweater. He threw it away and kissed Adam again. Again, again.

His hands cupped Adam's face, his breathing came out loud and labored. Adam began fumbling with Ronan's belt, hands trembling while doing so. He muttered a string of curses under his breath when his third attempt of unbuckling Ronan's belt failed. Ronan laughed under his breath and pressed their lips together. Adam couldn't see what he was doing, it was late at night. Adam only had a small hour to kill. They'd parked somewhere quiet and deserted.

Finally, he managed to unbuckle the belt, he pulled Ronan's pants and boxers down rather eagerly.

"Jesus, Parrish." Ronan snorted, trying to go for a mocking tone. His grin couldn't hide how nervous he really was. Ronan was all muscle and taut lines, Adam couldn't fathom him being nervous about this at all. His hands were clammy when they wrapped around Ronan's dick. The angle awkward and uncomfortable for his wrist.

"A bit more pressure." Ronan groaned.

Adam did as he was told, Ronan bucked forward into his hands. Causing Adam's hand to slip and let go.

"You suck." Ronan joked.

"You wish." Adam muttered back, his brow furrowed while he tried again. The second time went much better, judging by the way Ronan responded to it. He failed at keeping still, one would almost guess he was trying to fuck Adam's hand. Adam knew about Ronan's hand kink, so that wouldn't surprise him at all.

The dashboard read 21.39pm when Ronan came in Adam's hands. They both said nothing, both trying to catch their breath. Then Ronan pulled him in for another, breathtaking kiss. He leaned forward, pulling Adam with him. Ronan's head hit the ceiling, he cursed and accidently bit Adam's lip.

They both pulled apart, Ronan rubbed his sore head, still hovering above Adam, while Adam licked the blood away. His lip felt swollen. Great.

"Get your dick out of my face, Lynch." Adam said and pushed Ronan away.

"You weren't complaining about my dick a minute ago."

"You suck." Adam rolled his eyes, echoing Ronan's words from earlier. He grinned and leaned back, his back hurt and felt uncomfortable. He was definitely going to regret this tomorrow. Right now, he couldn't care less.

"You want me to?" Ronan asked, a dare in his voice.

Adam gaped at him. Ronan laughed, he crawled back on top of him, hand wandering down again. "We have to leave in ten minutes." Ronan breathed.

Shit.

Ronan needed to watch his mouth. When he talked like that, it caught Adam completely off guard. He couldn't care less about his parents and the trailer park. He almost forgot about the promise of dinner if he made it home in time.

"Ten minutes isn't that a bit cocky?" Adam said, not able to hide how nervous he really was.

"Look Parrish, I love you-" Oh. "But I don't know if I can suck dick for ten full minutes." He said and licked his lips, "Besides, you'll only last two minutes max?"

Adam opened his mouth to protest, his face was burning. Except he couldn't form any words. Ronan was waiting, so he shrugged, not able to trust his voice.

Ronan went down on him. Slow, and cautious, they were both new to this. This would be Ronan's first blowjob ever, and to Adam, it would be the first time ever he'd received a blowjob. He held his breath.

At first, all he could think of how it was warm and wet. Then, It's not that great- is this really what everyone was bragging about? Except then Ronan did something and Adam's mind went blank. He was aware he'd let out some sound of contentment. Ronan did it again.

Adam definitely didn't last two minutes.

Ronan kissed him furiously after. Adam was aware he could taste himself on Ronan's tongue and how weird that was. It was also way too arousing. Hell, he could have probably gone for another round. But they really had to go, and they weren't even dressed. So, Adam kissed him back. A promise whispered in between every kiss, next time.

Back in the front seat, Adam had too much too think about. Shouldn't he be bothered about the fact that his first time was in the backseat of a car? Or that it was with an Aglionby student? He'd always imagined it in a bed with a faceless girl. At some point, he'd hoped it would have been Blue. Which hadn't lasted long.

But Ronan wasn't just some Aglionby student. Ronan had done nothing but be kind to him. Ronan loved him. He'd said so, right before giving him a blowjob. The words so carelessly thrown around.

It's pathetic. The last time someone had told him they'd loved him, he'd been six years old. He'd been sitting on his grandma's lap while she helped him with homework. "I love you." She'd said and pressed a gentle kiss against his temple. Adam had a bruise on the other side of his face. His grandma had tears in her eyes while she said it. Her hand carded through his hair, while Adam wrote something down.

There hung a heavy silence between them while Ronan drove Adam back to the trailer park. Adam's chin rested in the palm of his hand, his elbow rested against the door. He stared outside the window. Ronan was driving slower than usual.

He felt a hand on his knee. Adam breathed in, softly. His eyes burned, he grabbed Ronan's hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.

Ronan sighed, relieved.

Adam tried to sniffle subtly. He failed miserably. Ronan glanced in his direction. He parked the car, a mile away from the trailer park. And Adam panicked slightly, no, no. What if someone saw them together? What if someone walked past them and recognized Adam? But it was dark, and people from Henrietta were used to Aglionby students and their fancy cars. No one would bat an eye.

"Why did you stop?" Adam asked, proud of the fact you couldn't hear anything from his voice.

"You okay?"

"Are you fishing for compliments?"

"Oh, fuck off," Ronan said, not unkindly. "You know what I meant."

Adam could say no. He didn't know what Ronan meant. But he did, and he was a pathetic piece of shit, desperate for any form of validation. "Did you mean it… what you said earlier?" he asked. Knowing how sad it sounded. Ronan was going to laugh at him. Or worse, he'd figure it all out. What a mess he truly he is. He'd tell Adam to get out of the car and to never speak to him again-

"You're gonna have to be more specific." Ronan said, humor in his voice.

Adam's picked at the dry skin on his chapped hands. Fuck that, he wasn't going to explain himself. This was already embarrassing enough. He stared down at his hands in the dark, his cheeks warm. He glanced at the clock and saw that it was past ten. Shit.

"I love you." Ronan said.

Adam looked up, he gaped at Ronan. Ronan stared back at him. It was hard to see the expression on his face in the dark.

"Fuck." Adam said.

Which is not what Ronan expected to hear.

"I didn't-. Shit." Adam said, he tried to explain himself. He hated this, he hated that he couldn't talk his way out of this.

This wasn't like him at all, he realized. He usually wasn't this nervous around anyone (other than his parents). Shit, he thought he had this under control. Or so he thought. He was handling this. He was going to be realistic about this. Now he was on the edge of crying, one mile away from his home. In an expensive BMW, sitting next to Ronan Lynch. "Fuck." He said again. He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand, trying to mask it off as him rubbing his eyes because he was tired. He wasn't very convincing.

"Adam Parrish cries after getting a blowjob." Ronan said, he sounded way too awkward to pull this off as a joke.

"Oh, piss off, you know it's not like that!" Adam snapped, still rubbing his eyes.

"I know," Ronan said, voice soft. His hand back on Adam's knee, he squeezed it gently. "It's 22.10pm, are you going to get into trouble?" Ronan asked.

Adam breathed in, he shrugged. Yes.

Ronan removed his hand and started the engine again. He got the car back on the road and drove the lasts mile towards the trailer park. He parked away far enough so that they were still out of sight from Adam's house. Adam unbuckled his seatbelt, he grabbed his bag.

"Adam."

Adam turned his head to look at Ronan.

"Are you… okay?" Ronan asked, concern written on his face. There was more light here, Adam noticed. Which wasn't a very comforting thought because now people could see who they were. He had to hurry. His neighbors weren't very nice people either. He got out of the car and left the door open to reply.

"Yeah, I'm fine." He said. "I'll uh… see you tomorrow, yeah?"

"You're meeting the fam, then." Ronan said with a grin.

Adam's heart sunk, he visibly paled.

Ronan offered him a sympathetic smile, "Relax, they're not that bad."

"Yeah…" Adam nodded, "Uh… tomorrow."

"Adam!" Adam's head snapped up, he could see the silhouette of his father in the distance. Shit.

"I've got to go." He said, trying to appear casual. Ronan was staring at his father, Adam told him to go and shut the door. He walked slowly towards his father. Knowing that this would only make things worse, but he needed to know that Ronan was gone before Adam reached him. When he got close to his father, he looked over his shoulder, just in time to see the lights of the BMW disappear.


Blue froze as soon as she saw Adam sitting at her kitchen table. Eyes wide open. Adam tried to offer her a smile, something to show her it wasn't as bad as it looked. But that's when Persephone decided to put a little more pressure on her grip around his wrist. He'd grimaced.

"You said it was getting better." Blue said, accusing.

Adam couldn't look her in the eyes, instead, he focused his gaze on Persephone's soft hands, rubbing ointment around his swollen wrist. It smelled of herbs and flowers. He hoped it'd work. He knew it wasn't broken. He'd had a broken wrist before and could tell the difference by now. What he did know was this was going to be a problem. He had work tomorrow and if he couldn't use both hands properly, he'd be in big trouble. He couldn't miss any more work days. He needed all the money he could get. He hated that almost all of the money he'd saved had gone to pay the bills for Aglionby, he barely had anything left for food. His dad had thrown his food away last night, right in front of his eyes. Then he'd thrown the plate towards him, it had missed him by an inch. Adam had been scared shitless. A feeling he'd always loathed. It left him paralyzed and weak.

"Adam." Blue said.

"You're much too loud." Persephone said, her voice soft and dreamy. She was putting on a support bandage around Adam's wrist. Adam kept his face neutral, hiding how much it actually hurt. His wrist throbbed. He stared at it, he could still bend his fingers, it hurt, but as long as he didn't move his wrist too much, he could handle it. Thank god it was his left hand.

"Just take the god damn room upstairs." Blue insisted.

Adam frowned, he bit the inside of his cheek, trying to stop himself from snapping at her. It wouldn't be very polite to get into a fight with Blue, right after her family had helped him.

Persephone was humming while her fingers gently probed around the bruise on Adam's face. She tutted softly. She'd found the old scar hidden underneath his bangs on his left temple. It had needed stitches, neither of his parents had taken him to the hospital, it had taken much too long to heal. It still hurt when the weather got too cold.

"What will you tell him?" Persephone asked.

Adam almost didn't hear her. He could have asked her how she knew about his plans with Ronan later that day but stopped himself. He was in a house full of psychics. "Nothing." He said. He couldn't go. If Ronan saw him like this, he'd ask questions. And after last night, it wouldn't be hard to put it all together. Adam couldn't let that happen.

"Does she mean Ronan?" Blue asked, "Is that also still going on?"

"Drop it Blue."

"Oh, so now you want to talk?"

Adam glared at her.

Persephone got up, muttering something about tea that would help him feel better. Adam doubted it. Persephone moved around the kitchen, she kept humming. Blue stepped towards Adam, she grabbed his good arm and pulled him off his chair. For someone that tiny, she was awfully strong. Adam let her pull him upstairs to her bedroom where they had much more privacy.

"What's your goal here, Adam?" Blue said, "Were you planning on dating him without him finding out?" she demanded. "You know, you shouldn't even have to worry about that if you hadn't let things escalate like this this!"

He said nothing. He was furious, both at her and at himself. Because he knew she was right. But god, did it annoy him how much she had to say about his life. He was mad at himself for getting mad at this. He was mad because he'd promised Gansey, Noah and Ronan he'd hang out with them today. But his mom had made him do chores as soon as he woke up and instead of heading to Gansey's place as they'd planned, he'd gone Blue's place. They'd probably gone on without him, which also hurt to think about. But what now? Would they be mad when seeing him on Monday? What would Ronan do? God, he screwed up. They hadn't even been dating that long.

Perhaps this was for the best anyway. Wasn't this his plan anyway? To be the worst boyfriend ever so that Ronan would break up with him?

He felt all the anger slowly leave, once he realized how much that last thought hurt. Instead of fighting back, he sat down at the end of Blue's bed. He began picking at the bandage around his wrist. He wore long sleeves that day to hide the many bruises covering his arms. But he couldn't hide the purple forming around his eyes, or his split lip. He couldn't hide the bandage around his wrist or how much it hurt to breathe.

He thought about last night and how happy he'd been. How far away that seemed right now. Adam sighed.

"Adam." Blue said, her voice much softer this time. She sat down next to him, "What happened?"

"I got home past my curfew." He said.

"You know that doesn't justify anything, right?"

He nodded. A lie, it was hard to believe this wasn't his fault. His entire life, his parents had told him everything was his fault. He tried to know better, but it was much easier to believe what they said then fight back.

Blue remained silent, she was staring at him with a look in her eyes. One Adam could not read. He sighed and allowed her to wrap an arm around his shoulder. He wasn't going to cry. He told himself this while burying his face in the crook of her neck. Breathing in deeply. He hated how wobbly that one breath had sounded, but even more so, he hated the tears burning in his eyes.

He spend the day at Blue's house. He had no way of contacting Ronan or the others without actually showing up at their place. So, he remained still. There was nothing he could do except listen to Blue talk about anything, to keep his mind from wandering. His head was on her lap while she carded her fingers through his hair.

His eyes eventually fluttered shut, he fell asleep not a second later.

.

.

.

Blue woke him up when it was time to go.

.

.

.

Adam returned to school on Wednesday. The bruises had begun to fade but still left a yellow shadow on his face. He'd covered them up with the make-up Blue had given him once as an apology. It had been her way of saying that she'd still remain by his side, even though she didn't understand his choices.

Every pair of eyes that lingered made his skin crawl. He knew no one could see he was covering something up. Aglionby boys were too oblivious for that. And yet, and yet.

He breathed in deeply once he spotted his locker. Ronan wasn't there. Which shouldn't be that odd. Ronan had a reputation. This wouldn't be the first time he showed up late to school or just decided not to go at all. This was normal. Adam thought, even though Ronan had been waiting for him every morning.

This was alright. He told himself, again and again. He walked towards his locker, still sore in his wrist, he put his books from his bag back into his locker and replaced them with the books he'd need for that day.

He headed to class five minutes before the first bell. Instead of spending every last minute with Ronan, until the first bell rang, and Adam would have to dash. Now he arrived on time. When the first bell rang, Adam already had all of his stuff ready. He'd chosen the seat furthest away from the windows in order not to get distracted.

The second bell rang.

Adam focused on taking notes and trying not to get bored of the teacher's boring monotone voice.

Ten minutes before the end of class, Ronan walked into the classroom. The state of his clothes and hair just screamed overslept. The bags under his eyes darker than usual. Adam vaguely remembered Ronan mentioning he had problems with sleeping. How it was something he and a friend bonded over. He couldn't remember which friend.

God, he really was a shitty boyfriend.

Ronan wasn't even paying attention to their teacher's lecture. His gaze fell on Adam, he did a poor job at hiding his surprise.

Adam probably did a poor job at acting normal. As if his heart hadn't just skipped a beat. As if seeing this reaction didn't give him an immense amount of relief. He felt some tension leave his shoulders.

Ronan took the seat two rows behind him. Adam felt his eyes staring at the back of his neck for the few remaining minutes.

As soon as the bell rang, Ronan shot of his seat. He hadn't even opened his book. He headed straight towards Adam and waited for him to pack up everything.

"We never exchanged phone numbers." Ronan said.

"I don't have a phone." Adam replied. Together they walked out of the classroom.

"Yeah, I know. But I figured I should still give you mine, in case you get sick. Like this weekend."

Adam stopped, he stared at Ronan.

"You're not mad?" he asked, unable to cover up his disbelief.

Ronan looked away, he buried his hands in the pocket of his pants. Which Adam noticed weren't even their uniform's pants. They were black jeans.

"I was, at first." Ronan said, because he didn't lie. "I thought you were too scared of meeting my family."

He was.

"But then you didn't show up on Monday and I kind of figured you were sick."

"Stomach." Adam easily lied, "Sorry. Saturday was the worst day."

Ronan nodded, still frowning, he then reached for his bag around his shoulder. Adam watched him look through his stuff, until he found his notebook. He ripped off the first page. When he handed it to Adam, he saw he'd written three different numbers on them.

My phone number;

The barns;

Gansey;

"Huh. You thought about it." Adam said while looking at the numbers written down in Ronan's messy handwriting.

Ronan shrugged, "Are you feeling better now, though?" he asked while staring at Adam, "You look like you finally caught up on some sleep."

That would be the make-up. Adam fought back the blush creeping up his face, "Thanks." He said, feeling Ronan's intense gaze on him.

"You look different." Ronan said.

"Awake." Adam easily deflected.

"Wish I could say the same." He said with a grin.

Adam nodded, relieved.

Chapter Text

Adam already knew, that once you got Gansey talking about Glendower, there was no stopping him. Which was usually fine. He enjoyed listening to Gansey's theories.

Except, he only had half an hour left before he had to leave for work. And Ronan had mentioned something about driving somewhere quiet. Lots of making out.

Adam had tried to excuse himself four times by now. He glanced at Ronan, who'd been staring at him this entire time. An amused look in his eyes. Adam was going to murder him.

Finally, Ronan took pity on him. "Alright Dick, that's enough for today. Parrish has a job he needs to get to." He said and patted Adam on the shoulder. His hand lingered longer then it should. A gesture, notable to anyone but Gansey.

Noah caught up to it. He said nothing. Noah was a true friend, the kind that easily pulled Gansey's attention away so that Ronan and Adam could sneak off. They didn't even make it to Ronan's car. Both too impatient for that. Instead, Ronan dragged him into the boys' restroom, where he pushed Adam into a stall.

"Classy, Lynch." Adam said while Ronan locked the door behind his back.

Ronan grinned at him, as soon as the lock was secure, he was all over Adam. And it was amazing. It was all he could focus on; Ronan's hands, Ronan's body, his breath against Adam's mouth. And when he got Adam out of his sweater and shirt, he looked at Adam with admiration. As if he was the most beautiful person Ronan had ever seen.

It was too addicting, Adam thought while pulling Ronan close for another deep kiss. Lazy and slow, it lasted longer than most of their other kisses. When he felt Ronan's knees buckle against his, he smirked.

"Don't get too cocky." Ronan muttered against his lips.

Adam breathed out a laugh. He was happy, he realized at that moment. His head felt light, he felt laughter bubble up in his chest. He hummed against Ronan's mouth and cupped his cheeks between his hands for another kiss.

And another.

And another.

"I know you said you're against me dating Ronan, but I need to talk to you about something." Adam blurted out.

Blue's face remained perfectly neutral. She had a big old fairytale book on her lap, she'd been cutting in it. She'd bought it at the thrift store for one dollar. Adam still had trouble with watching her cut into the book.

She slammed the book shut, "Alright," she said. Adam for a moment, feared she'd get mad at him again. But it didn't happen, she put her book down. She sat at the head of the bed while Adam sat at the end. She stared at him, "What happened?" she asked.

Adam looked down, he moved so that he could sit cross-legged in front of her.

"He told me he loved me." Adam said.

"Oh, okay." Blue said, she straightened her back.

"And well…" Adam began, he looked around the room, anywhere but Blue. His gaze fell on the many drawings, paintings, pictures and whatever she'd stuck to her wall. Her room was so crowded. It screamed Blue. It was so different then his. For a second, he thought of his bedroom, at the many boxes that belonged to his parents in it, because they didn't have room to store them somewhere else. How Adam had to climb over his bed to get to his closet. How he only took up one third of it, the rest of the space also belonged to his parents.

Another excuse for them to randomly barge into his room. Adam didn't have a place for his own there. Adam pushed all thoughts of home away. "I'm meeting his family tomorrow?" he didn't have as much time as last Saturday. Only four hours max. But Ronan had accepted it eagerly.

"He wasn't mad about this weekend?" Blue asked.

"He thought I was sick." Adam said, he stared at a picture of him and Blue together. She'd taken it with the cheap polaroid camera Orla owned. It had been taken on New Year's Eve. They'd still been a couple back then. Blue had a bright smile on her face, Adam's was much smaller and more reserved. "Gave me his phone number in case something comes up again."

"That's…. so sweet." Blue said, "He sounds like a really nice guy."

Adam nodded, "And I sound like a terrible one, right?" he lowered his gaze back to his hands.

"Adam." She sighed.

"I'm not-, I'm not trying to pick a fight. It's just,… I do feel kind of guilty, right now." He admitted. "And I think… well, I think I've let things get too far."

Blue nodded, she didn't interrupt him to tell him 'I told you so', which he appreciated.

"I don't know how to fix this." Adam admitted.

"Neither do I, really." Blue said. "I agree with you, though. You've let things escalate."

Adam sighed, he rubbed his hand over his face and said nothing.

"But." Blue said, "I mean… how long has this been going on?" she asked.

"I don't know. Three weeks?"

Blue breathed in deeply, "Alright." She said, all Henrietta accent. "So."

"…so?"

"I mean, you've been dating this guy for three weeks now."

"Yeah?"

Blue groaned, she dropped the fairytale book on her nightstand and started cleaning up all the pieces of paper scattered around her bed. Adam watched her shuffle closer until only a foot remained between them.

"Three weeks ain't nothing." She said.

Adam narrowed his eyes at her.

"What I'm trying to get at, is that maybe, I don't know, you actually like him?" she said.

"Oh." He said, finally understanding what she'd been hinting at.

Blue's eyes widened, and her smile tightened. He offered her a sheepish grin in return. His eyes darted around the room while he let her words sink in.

Did he like Ronan Lynch?

Yes.

There was no doubt. Ronan Lynch made him happy. He made Adam, as cheesy as it sounded, feel like a teenager. And not like some ageless being that's both too old and too young to be living his life.

But liking Ronan Lynch was a complicated thing. Not because of who Ronan was, but because of who Adam was.

"I like him… but… not as a boyfriend." He confessed.

"So, as a friend?"

Adam shrugged. He refused to look at her while he thought of how to explain it. It was complicated. Because Adam liked being with Ronan. He liked kissing him and hugging him. But he didn't want to be there for Ronan.

He liked Ronan as a distraction.

"God, I'm an asshole."

"Adam." Blue sighed. Sounding like someone who felt sorry for him.

Adam didn't want to meet Ronan's family. He didn't want Noah to look at them as if he was happy for them. He didn't want to go on dates with Ronan. Adam just wanted Ronan. But not like that. He both wanted to break up with Ronan and stay together. The thought of Ronan breaking up with him made his heart ache. But at the same time, it would relieve him of this incredible heavy weight resting on his chest.

Was it because he had to lie? Had he gotten so used to Blue knowing?

Adam, not for the first time, then thought of how pathetic it was, that he only had his ex-girlfriend to talk about this. But the only other person to share these thoughts with was Ronan. There was no way he could explain this without sounding like an asshole. Without breaking Ronan's heart.

"Listen," Blue sighed, "I seriously don't get it. But… I don't know, it's been three weeks. Obviously, that means something. Maybe… maybe, you should talk to Ronan. He seems like a really nice guy, I'm sure he'll… I don't know. Wont' get mad?"

"I-it's whatever, Blue." Adam sighed, he shrugged again, "I don't know. I-, I don't know. Let me… let me just figure this out first? And then I'll talk to him?"

"Cool," she nodded, "Yeah, sure."

"Sure." He nodded.

"Cool, cool."

He could tell she had much more to say. Instead, she bit her tongue. Adam sighed, he turned to face her. "So, what are you working on?" he asked and pointed at the fairytale book on her nightstand.

"A new project." Blue said.

"Can I help?"

"Oh sure!" she said, happy that he offered. She handed him a few pages which she'd already ripped out and pointed out which drawings she wanted him to cut out.

"My heart weeps for this book." He said.

"Oh, cry me a river, it was only a dollar."

"Only one dollar. Listen to you, it's like I don't even know you!" he joked.

"Alas, I must confess. While you were getting it on with your rich man, I too have found myself a rich dude. His name is Something-something the second. I am no longer poor. Something-something says his money is my money." Blue said.

"Please, spare some for your friends and family." He smiled.

"God no, I earned this money." Blue said, she threw a crumbled piece of paper at his face. He laughed and tried to swat it away. He missed, and it hit him right against his ear. Adam shook his head in amusement.

"Earned it how?"

"Sucking dick." She said deadpan and held his gaze.

Adam stared back at her. For a moment, neither of them said anything. Adam cracked first, he laughed loudly. Blue quickly followed.

"Speaking of sucking dick." Blue began. Adam for a moment thought he'd missed something. Had Blue mentioned any guys she'd been seeing lately? Had he been so caught up in his own world he'd forgotten Blue? Probably. Most likely.

But then Blue was waggling her eyebrows at him. And it suddenly dawned upon him that she was asking him a question.

"Oh my god." He said, feeling his face heat up.

"Oh my god!" Blue squealed, her eyes wide open.

He shook his head, "Oh no, don't-!"

"Adam Parrish!" Blue gasped, "Did you and Ronan have sex?" she was grinning from ear to ear.

Adam panicked. His brain short circuited. He opened his mouth but nothing except some embarrassing sound escaped his lips.

"Damn, now I need a new sacrifice for my ritual."

"Thanks for replacing me."

"It's not my fault you suddenly became a whore!" Blue joked.

"You're an asshole." Adam smiled at her, he shook his head and shoved her away. Blue cackled loudly while she lay down on her back.

"Can you give me some tips? My sugar daddy says I suck at sucking."

Adam smacked her with a pillow.


The good thing was that they would head straight after school to the Barns. That way, Adam wouldn't have to worry about his outfit. The Aglionby outfit could fool most people. Only those who paid better attention, would see the clothes were slightly worn out. But even then, Adam could easily pass off as middle-class, instead of the dirt poor he really was. Trailer-trash poor.

The ride to the barns took half an hour. In that half an hour, Adam found it difficult to talk. Ronan tried to start a conversation a few times. Adam tried to follow. But in the end, words trailed off. And Adam found himself gazing outside at the passing scenery, while scratching at his painfully dry hands.

Ronan stopped the car.

They'd arrived at the Barns.

Adam inhaled softly. He held his breath.

Ronan placed his hand on top of Adam's to stop him from fumbling. "It's fine," Ronan said. "I've talked enough about you for them to also like you." He confessed with a small blush.

It helped. Adam felt some tension leave his shoulders. He exhaled; a small smile formed on his lips.

"That or maybe I talked too much about you and now they're tired of you." Ronan continued.

"Dude." Adam said, unable to hide how nervous he was.

Ronan grinned, "Kidding. C'mon." he said and got out of the car.

Adam for a moment, considered if he should just stay in the car. He could claim something came up. He just remembered one of his co-workers asked him to take his shift. He's already too late. Anything.

Ronan looked at him from outside.

Adam hadn't been this nervous to meet Blue's family, he now realized. With a sigh, and trembling hands, Adam got out of the car.

"I'll never introduce you to my parents." He said when he closed the door. Ronan was standing a few feet away. He held his hand out to Adam.

"Not even as a friend?" Ronan asked, curious.

"They hate Abligony." Adam confessed. He stood still near the car.

Ronan cast a quick look behind him. At the beautiful house behind him. With warm light inside. Adam could see a woman moving around in a room. He heard a dog bark in the distance. Ronan took three big steps, and suddenly he was standing right in front of Adam. Both his hands reached out towards Adam.

For a moment, Adam felt blind panic take over. His heart skipped a beat as he cast a nervous look at the woman who was still moving around. Another figure joined her. A broad-shouldered figure with curly blond hair. Mathew?

"It's okay, they know." Ronan whispered. "I already came out to them."

Adam nodded. He knew this. He knew why they were here. So, that Ronan could introduce his boyfriend to them. He knew that and yet, and yet-. Adam lost some of his footing. His back pressed against the car.

Ronan moved with him. He cupped Adam's face between his hands. There was concern written on his face.

"You never talk much about your parents." Ronan whispered.

Adam gulped, he blinked and looked at something over Ronan's shoulder. Which was the Barns. The woman had stopped moving around and spotted them. Adam felt a blush creep up his face.

Ronan's hand went through Adam's hair. Which wasn't fair. He knew it would distract Adam.

"Ain't much to tell." Adam whispered, unable to hide the Henrietta accent.

"They're very conservative and you're more progressive?" Ronan guessed.

Adam snorted.

"Are they mean to you?" Ronan asked.

Adam's eyes widened. His eyes darted back towards his face. Ronan was frowning at him. If Adam was stressed-out earlier, it was nothing to what he felt now. Ronan's thumb was pressed against his throat. As soon as he realized this, he also realized Ronan could feel his heart beating rapidly.

Adam pulled him down for a kiss. He'd meant for it to be quick, just long enough for Ronan to end up distracted. Not long enough to be too embarrassed to face the people inside the house who knew they were still outside.

But then Ronan made a confused sound. Telling Adam, he knew about the distraction. So, Adam deepened the kiss.

By the time it ended, Adam also had trouble remembering what they were talking about. Adam's uniform was also a mess. For Ronan had snuck his hand underneath it to touch at his bare skin.

"Your mom's watching… I think." Adam gulped.

Ronan glanced over his shoulder. Much to Adam's mortification, he saw that someone else had joined Ronan's mom and brother.

"Oh my god." Adam muttered and covered his face with both hands.

Even from outside, with the sound of the wind rustling the dry grass and bare trees. He could still hear the other man laugh from inside. Ronan's mom swatted his shoulder.

"Ah." Ronan said.

"Is it too late to run?" Adam asked.

"Don't tempt me, Parrish."

"Is it working?"

The door of the Barns opened. Adam recognized Declan Lynch standing at the porch. He realized that Ronan's hand was still under his uniform. Adam quickly pushed him away.

Declan raised an unimpressed eyebrow. "Are you lovebirds going to stay outside all night or join us for dinner?"

"Fuck off Declan." Ronan said with no bite.

Declan shook his head and went back inside. He left the door open.

"Alright, guess running is no longer an option." Ronan said with a sheepish smile.

"Says you." Adam muttered. Still, he pushed himself off the car and trailed after Ronan.

Inside the Barns.

Where it was warm. And it smelled like herbs and onions in the pan. It was also loud. From his right, he could hear Mathew talking excitedly to Declan, who was hovering in the entrance of the living room. On his left, he heard the sounds of someone moving around in the kitchen. A radio was playing, and a woman's voice was singing along.

Declan's gaze met Adam's. He nodded and offered him a polite smile.

Adam nodded back, unable to keep eye contact for long. He'd done his best to quickly fix his uniform but was fairly certain you could still see he'd just spend ten minutes making out with Ronan.

"Adam, hi!" Mathew's head popped up next to Declan's.

Adam took a startled step back and bumped into Ronan.

"Matt, don't be an asshole." Ronan joked and shoved his brother's face away. Mathew wined loudly.

"I wasn't!"

"Ronan!" a man shouted from the kitchen. Not in a mean way. Not the way Robert would shout Adam's name. Adam felt something heavy settle into his stomach. He felt it slowly spread around his body. A dark emptiness. He'd felt it before. When he watched Blue interact with her family.

Ronan walked towards the kitchen.

Adam, not knowing what to do. Remained frozen on the spot. Declan chuckled softly in front of him. He nodded towards the kitchen.

"Oh, right." Adam stammered and followed Ronan inside.

"Took you two long enough." Ronan's dad said. He was leaning against the kitchen island. His wife stood next to him, a hand on his arm. She had such a kind smile. They looked so nice and warm.

Adam gulped. Something was stuck in his throat.

"Mom, dad… this is uh," Adam was glad to hear he wasn't the only one who felt nervous, "Adam. My boyfriend."

"Pleasure to finally meet you." Ronan's mother said.

"Ah uhm, you too… ma'am. Sir." Adam said.

"Please, call me Aurora."

"You can call me sir." Ronan's dad said with a grin.

"His name is Niall." Ronan said with an eyeroll.

Niall laughed.

"Well, dinner will be ready in ten minutes. Get changed first." Aurora said, still smiling kindly at them.

Ronan led him back towards the hallway where he went up the stairs. Mathew tried to follow. Declan stopped him and pulled him back into the living room.

"Noisy asshole." Ronan muttered while he continued to go up the stairs.

The house wasn't as big as Adam expected. It looked like the kind of house that'd been passed on for generations. Each generation added something new to it. The stairs looked like they belonged to the 80's while the hallways reminded him more of the Victorian era. The windows in Ronan's room were definitely new. He thought.

He stopped.

He was inside Ronan's room.

"Your room is clean." Adam said, surprised.

"Yeah, mom made me clean it."

"Ah, that makes more sense."

Ronan shook his head at him. "Here, I'll let you borrow some of my clothes."

Adam frowned, "Huh?"

"Unless you want to stay in that uncomfortable uniform?"

"I uh… yeah. I have to leave in a few hours anyway." Adam mumbled.

Ronan looked like he wanted to say something to that. Adam worried it was something about his parents. He quickly turned around and started wandering around the room. There was so much to look at. Sure, the room was clean, but there was still a lot lying around. Adam picked up a tennis trophy.

"Do you still play?" he asked.

He felt a hand on his right hip. Adam put the trophy down and turned around. Ronan leaned down to kiss him. Adam's hand wrapped around the back of Ronan's neck, while Ronan's hands slid down until they were cupping Adam's butt. He gasped softly into the kiss.

"Your family is downstairs." He whispered against Ronan's mouth.

"I locked the door."

"That's not suspicious at all!" Adam hissed.

Ronan squeezed his butt. He placed a quick kiss against Adam's jaw. "Relax, we're not gonna have sex." He said with red cheeks.

"Asshole." Adam murmured and pulled him down for another kiss.

Adam somehow, did end up in Ronan's sweatpants and sweatshirt. His uniform had become a rumpled mess after making out for another ten minutes.

His family definitely knew why they took longer than ten minutes to get changed.

And now here they were. Sitting at the dining table. Ronan and Adam pretending like they didn't know. And the rest of his family doing a poor job at also pretending they didn't know.

"So, Adam. Tell us something about yourself." Niall said.

Adam had his mouth full of mashed potatoes and gravy sauce. His eyes widened, and he accidently inhaled his food. Adam coughed loudly. Ronan laughed while also gently rubbing his back.

Mathew poured some water in Adam's glass.

Adam thanked him and drank from it.

"Uhm… what would you like to know… sir?" he asked, doing a poor job at staying calm.

Niall shrugged, "Hobbies, what you like, dislike? Got any siblings? How's school?"

Adam blinked. Ronan placed his hand on Adam's thigh and gave it a gentle squeeze. He knew it was meant as supportive. But Ronan had also chosen a rather high spot on his thigh. Adam kept his face straight while he placed his hand on top of Ronan's and pushed it lower. Until it was much closer to his knee instead of his crotch.

"I'm an only child." He began, slowly. "I uhm… like to read?" he said, while thinking about what else he did in his free time. He didn't have much free time. And what little he had, was either spend with Blue's family or Ronan. I like hanging out with my ex or making out with your son, both sounded equally bad.

"School's… good." He finally decided to go with. School was an easy topic to talk about.

"Right, right." Niall nodded, clearly amused by Adam's flustered state.

"Ronan says you're very smart." Aurora said.

Adam looked at Ronan. Ronan looked away.

Declan snorted from across of them. "He never shuts-up about you." He said.

"Declan." Aurora warned, her voice kind.

Adam smiled softly. He gently squeezed Ronan's hand. "What does he talk about?" he asked, feeling rather bold.

"He says you're very handsome!" Mathew said.

Niall coughed into his fist. Terrible at hiding how much he wanted to laugh.

"You're all traitors." Ronan said, glaring at the other three men at the table.

"I mean, it's true. You are rather handsome." Aurora nodded at Adam.

And now both Ronan and Adam were blushing.

The other three men sitting at the table did a poor job at covering up their laugh. Adam lowered his gaze to his plate. He stared at the food on his plate. He'd never tasted anything like it. It was so good. He thought of complimenting Aurora but bit his tongue instead. He didn't want to embarrass himself.

Niall started talking about something that happened at his job. His voice soft as he stared at Aurora. Which meant that the rest of the table could start their own conversation apparently. Mathew addressed Ronan, he talked about a movie Adam had never even heard of. It was hard to follow with more than one conversation going on. When he glanced at Declan, he saw he too didn't feel the need to talk. He ate quietly, his phone on his lap, out of sight from Niall and Aurora.

And then it happened.

Niall asked about Adam's plans of the future. Where did he see himself in a few years? Adam's heart had skipped a beat, he'd hid his trembling hands underneath the table. Already preparing himself for the disapproving looks he'd surely receive. Not many adults in Adam's life had supported him in his goals. They'd take one look at the clothes he wore and immediately made up an image of him.

"What does your father do as a job?"

"Have you considered a plan B?"

"That doesn't sound very realistic."

Adam looked at Niall Lynch. Told him the names of the colleges he was applying to and which courses they offered.

"Sounds like you've got it all figured out, then." Niall said, sounding oddly approving. Adam sucked in a breath.

"God, I wish Ronan was more like you." Niall said, in a teasing tone.

"Hey." Ronan snapped.

Adam offered a small smile in return. He exhaled softly, relieved. He felt as if he'd passed some test. Niall was sipping his drink, exchanging a look with Aurora. When Aurora caught Adam staring, she smiled kindly at him.

Mathew leaned into Adam's space, "They like you." He whispered in Adam's ear.


After dinner, Adam offered to help with cleaning up. Both Niall and Aurora refused. "It's Mathew's turn to help with cleaning up."

Mathew had pouted, but he'd cleaned up the table and helped his mother with cleaning the dishes. While Declan left to his bedroom. Ronan too, tried to sneak off to his room with Adam. But Niall stopped him, he held up a book with family pictures.

Adam would be lying if he said he wasn't interested in seeing baby pictures of Ronan. So, they'd sat down in the dining room. Ronan complained loudly about the embarrassing baby pictures. Niall told animated stories behind every picture.

When it was time for Adam to go, he'd been having fun. His stomach had been full. Aurora had hugged him and handed him a bag with homemade cookies. Declining would have been rude, so he'd accepted them gratefully. He'd thanked her at least three times.

Niall offered to drive Adam home, he'd send a panicked look towards Ronan.

"No need." Ronan said, "I'll be home in an hour."

Niall tried to argue, but Aurora stopped him. "Can't you see, love? They want to make out in the car before Adam goes home."

Adam blushed.

"Time to go." Ronan said and pushed Adam quickly out of the house. Behind them, they could hear laughter. The bag of cookies still felt warm. They smelled good. Adam tried one once he got inside the car. He offered one to Ronan, who hesitated for a second, then refused.

Adam had fun.

He couldn't believe it either. He'd been such a nervous wreck to meet Ronan's family, when there had been no need to worry. Ronan's family was like Blue's. Loud, big and filled with love. It was everything Adam's family was not.

It made him hate going back even more.

"I uhm… I had fun." Adam said, once the car had stopped. He noticed Ronan had stopped further away than usual. Which was for the best, from here, they were still out of sight from his parents their double wide.

"Yeah, I'm glad you got to meet them. Man, my parents fucking adore you."

"Jealous?" Adam teased.

Ronan snorted; he shook his head. "As if."

Adam looked at the trailer park in front of them. With the headlights on, it'd be impossible to see what was happening inside the car. He thought of giving Ronan a goodbye kiss. Then thought better of it, the risk was too high.

"I'll see you on Monday?" he offered instead.

"Yeah, Monday." Ronan nodded, looking at Adam as if he really needed that goodbye kiss.

Adam got out of the car before he gave into temptation. He smiled at himself while he listened to Ronan's car driving away. He'd put the bag of cookies in his schoolbag. Out of sight.

It was the first time in a long while, since Adam felt this happy.

And that's when he realized he was still wearing Ronan's clothes. His uniform was still at the Barns.

"Shit."

Chapter Text

Adam held his breath while he listened to the phone ring. His gaze trained on the front door. He tapped his fingers nervously on the kitchen counter slash table. Outside, he could hear his mother and father talking to their neighbors.

He heard his father's loud booming voice. It startled him.

The phone clicked.

"This is Ronan?" he heard, the voice sounding unsure.

"It's Adam." He said, speaking fast. His heart beating faster. His parents could halt their conversation any moment. They could walk right through that door and see Adam with a phone in his hand. After their fight last Friday, they wouldn't just shrug it off as Adam calling one of his coworkers. They'd demand to know who it is he was calling. Perhaps even take the phone from him and ask Ronan directly. He was very scared of that happening.

But he also really needed his uniform back.

"Adam, hey." Ronan said. Adam could hear the smile in his voice.

Adam fought back his own smile. For a moment, he felt some anxiety ebb away. If only for a second, "Hey… I uhm, forgot my uniform at your place?" he said.

"Right, yeah you did. Mom's actually ironing it right now." Ronan said, sounding amused.

Adam's heart skipped a beat when he heard his father laugh again. The kind of stress he was feeling couldn't be healthy. It made his stomach hurt. "Ah, she shouldn't have." Adam said, "Listen… I uhm, can't come to school on Monday. Is there any way you could get me my uniform back on… Tuesday?"

"Uh yeah, I could drop by on Monday?" Ronan offered.

Another sound from outside.

"Can you pick me up on Tuesday?" Adam asked, the words coming out rushed.

Ronan seemed to have finally caught on something was wrong, "I uh, yeah. Sure. I can do that." He offered, "Are you sick?"

"Yeah." Adam lied, he heard another sound from outside, much closer than the previous one, "I gotta go. See you on Tuesday."

"Adam-"

He hung up.

He was almost back into his room when the door behind him swung open. Adam considered not stopping. To get to his room as fast as possible. He'd done that before. Never ended well. Didn't mean that he desperately wanted to run. Instead he turned to face his parents properly.

The bruise on his right cheekbone throbbed. Breathing in hurt. This was fine. He told himself.

"Help your mom with the groceries." Robert said.

There were no groceries. Meaning that Adam had to drive his mother to the supermarket. Adam couldn't drive stick.

He glanced at his mother. She was waiting in the doorway. An impatient look on her face. Adam hesitated.

"Now, boy!" Said Robert's booming voice.

"I'll get my coat." Adam said, looking down.


He didn't get far with the car. He knew his neighbors were watching. Saw him struggle and chose to remain still instead of offering their help. Not that Adam wanted it. His mother made a disapproving sound next to him in the car.

"Don't they teach you anything at Boyd's?" she asked. Her gaze directed towards their double wide.

Adam bit his tongue.

His father came out the double wide. He had his coat on and a cigarette in his mouth. He locked the door behind his back. He was pissed. Adam kept the car still while he watched Robert Parrish march towards the car. He opened the passenger's car and told his wife to get out.

"What kind of a mechanic are you if you don't even know how to drive a fucking car." Robert spat, he took the seat next to Adam. His mother took the third seat. Robert slapped the back of Adam's head.

Adam flinched. He accidently let go of the brake. The car shot forward. It shut down.

He wasn't panicking.

He wasn't panicking.

His hand trembled as he turned the key.

Learning how to drive from his dad was a lot more stressful than learning to drive from Boyd. Boyd had been patient and calm. Had made jokes to make Adam feel more at ease. Robert was nothing like that. By the time they'd finally arrived at the grocery store, Adam felt like throwing up. His stomach hurt from stress. His limbs were shaking.

Robert stayed inside the car while Adam and his mother got out. He watched Robert take the spot behind the wheel. He threw his cigarette butt outside the window.

"Why can't you just do what we ask?" his mother hissed, sounding exhausted.

Adam glared at her. He said nothing, he hid his fists in the pockets of his jacket and walked into the grocery store. He waited inside, while his mother went to get a grocery cart. Not that they really needed it. It wasn't like they could afford much. He thought while watching her search for change to put inside the cart.

His mother finally walked into the grocery store. She said nothing. The look she send Adam was disapproving. He followed her around the store.

And of course, because he was Adam Parrish, his life didn't go the way he planned. When walking past the cereal aisle, he heard a familiar voice. Adam's head snapped up.

There stood Richard Campbell Gansey the third. Next to him stood Henry Cheng. Neither of them had noticed him, so Adam walked fast.

Relieved to have not been spotted while he was grocery shopping with his mother. While his dad's ugly beat up truck was parked outside. Making so much noise, you could still hear the engine from inside.

Gansey caught up with him while he was waiting in line. His mother was counting their money. Adam hadn't brought his wallet with him. If his mother asked for money, he could say he didn't have any on him. It would surely get him into trouble. But he had bills to pay at Aglionby. The deadline was getting closer. He almost had enough. As long as his parents didn't figure out, he had a third job, he could make it.

"Parrish!" Gansey called.

Both Adam and his mom looked up. He saw his mother frown at the clothes Gansey was wearing. Her gaze trailed down to his boat shoes. She didn't look very impressed. Gansey and Cheng were walking towards them. Pushing an overloaded cart.

Adam tried not to think off his meager groceries.

He tried to not let it sting.

It stung.

"Damn, that's quite the shiner you've got there." Henry said, staring at Adam's swollen cheekbone and split lip. Adam felt his mother's cold gaze on him.

"Yeah, basketball got a bit too rough." Adam lied easily.

"You had basketball during P.E?" Gansey asked, almost sounding jealous.

"After school." Adam said.

His mother began unloading their groceries. She tugged Adam's sleeve, a silent demand for him to help her. Because unloading the nine items they'd picked was too much effort.

"I'm actually glad I've run into you. I wanted to ask if you've got any plans for next weekend." Gansey said, cheerily.

Adam tensed, "Uh yeah, I've got work." He said.

"The entire weekend?" Gansey asked, sounding disappointed.

"Yeah." He glanced at his mother.

"Oh I thought you'd mentioned-"Gansey got interrupted by Henry. He held up a Snickers, like a child asking their parent if they could have it. Gansey looked at it, "Uh, sure?" he said, confused.

Henry smiled and threw it on their pile of groceries. His gaze met Adam's. He then glanced at his mother. Back to Adam. He smiled.

Adam frowned.

Henry looked away.

His mother paid for their groceries. Adam said goodbye and carried their bag back towards the truck. His father drove them back home. His mother complained the entire time about the way Gansey dressed and talked, bout Aglionby. His father piped in that Adam was wasting his time there. That he should quit so they had more money.

Adam said nothing. He thought of Gansey's cart. How easy it'd been for Henry to ask for a snack. Even though he had money himself.

One day. He told himself, closing his eyes and breathing in deeply.

He'd given his college applications to the study councilor for them to review. After that, they'd be on their way. In less than one year, he could leave Henrietta behind and never come back.


And there stood Ronan Lynch. On a Monday afternoon. His Aglionby uniform mocking Robert Parrish and everything he stood for.

Adam's heart stopped beating for a second. He knew whatever he'd built outside the trailer park, was about to collapse. His mother had opened the door. Ronan had asked where Adam was. She'd told him he'd been working on a car outside.

Which is where Ronan found him.

"I thought you were sick." Ronan said. He was wearing the Aglionby coat. It stopped just above his knees; the deep blue color matched beautifully with his eyes. Not that Adam was paying attention. He was mostly focused on the secondhand jacket he himself was wearing, it belonged to his father and was much too big on him. Beneath it, he wore his coveralls from work.

"I thought I told you to pick me up tomorrow." Adam replied, unable to hide his annoyance.

Ronan was frowning at him. He opened his mouth, as if he wanted to say something. He stopped himself and looked away instead. His glare turned towards the other double wide's.

"I've asked you before… if your parents hurt you." Ronan said, softer. He took a few steps closer but kept enough distance between them. No one would blink twice at them.

Adam said nothing. He waited, there was more.

"You didn't give me an answer then. I'm asking for an answer now." He said, turning his head to look back at Adam. His gaze intense.

Adam stared back at him.

His mother was inside, she couldn't hear them. His father was still at his job. He wouldn't be coming back for hours. And by then, Adam would be long gone to Boyd's and after that, the Factory.

"Parrish." Ronan insisted when Adam didn't answer.

"It's none of your business." Adam said.

"None of my business?" Ronan hissed. "What the fuck does that mean? I could help you-"

"I don't want your help." Adam interrupted him.

Ronan frowned at him. "Why not?"

"I'm handling it."

"This." He said, gesturing at Adam's face, "Is not handling it."

Adam swatted his hand away, "Leave it."

Ronan sighed, frustrated. Sounding very much like someone who wanted to yell but was doing anything they could to keep it in. "Listen,"

"No."

Ronan shut his eyes tightly. He clenched his jaw while he pinched his nose bridge. He muttered a few curses under his breath. "Parrish for fuck's sake. I could teach you how to fight back."

"I don't want to fight back."

"Then what do you want?" Ronan demanded.

"For you to stay out of my business!" Adam said with a loud voice.

"Your parents are beating you!" Ronan shouted back.

Adam glanced at their double wide. From where they stood, it was impossible for his mother to see them. But Ronan had been shouting loudly. Chances were his mother had heard. And oh god. The horror if she did.

Ronan must have seen the panic on Adam's face. He exhaled loudly and got a hand through his hair. "You want me to do nothing?" Ronan asked, sounding tired all off sudden.

"It's what I've been saying the entire god damn time, yeah." His Henriette accent was all over the place. He didn't care. He felt tired. Wrung out. He hadn't meant for Ronan to find out.

Ronan didn't look happy, "Your eighteen." He offered, "You can leave."

"And go where?" Adam asked, "I can barely afford Aglionby bills. I have three jobs to pay the bills."

"Three? I thought you said two." Ronan blinked. "Oh." He sighed, "Okay. Doesn't matter. I could ask my parents to take you in-"

"God, no." Adam said, he shook his head. "No. No way."

"Look, we've got a spare room… I get that it's very soon we've only been…" he looked around "Dating" he whispered, "For a short time. But if that's what you need-"

"It's not." Adam interrupted him. "God, that's the last thing what I want."

"Why the fuck not?"

"Don't you get it? It would mean that I owe you. I can't pay you back."

"I don't need you to pay me back." Ronan said, confused.

"Look, it doesn't matter. I'm leaving anyway at the end of this schoolyear. I've applied to any college far away from here."

Ronan stared at him, his eyes widened. "You're leaving." He said.

"I've always been very clear about that." Adam said. Staring at Ronan. How could he have missed such a huge part of Adam? They'd talked about their plans after school. Ronan had been considering becoming a vet. Adam had mentioned studying law or engineering. How Columbia offered both. How much he wanted to get into that school.

"Yeah, but I'd always assumed you'd at least visit. I didn't know your home situation was this shitty!" Ronan hissed.

Adam looked away first this time. He knew this was going to happen. He'd end up hurting Ronan. He could already hear Blue's voice; I've told you so.

"Do you need a ride to work?" Ronan asked, abruptly. Surprising Adam.

Adam blinked, confused, "What?"

"Do you need a ride to work?" Ronan sounded wary.

"I… no, I've got a bike." Adam still wasn't following.

"I'm not asking if you've got a bike. I'm asking if you want me to drive you to work." Ronan said. Adam met his gaze, confused. Ronan shrugged, "Figured if you're leaving, might as well do everything I can to make it worthwhile until then."

Adam gaped at him. He looked at the double wide. He wanted to reach out to Ronan. It was too risky.

Instead he laughed, actually laughed. It sounded as startled as he felt.

"Wow." He breathed out.

"So?" Ronan offered, a small smile forming on his own lips.

"Uh, yeah. Sure, I have to be there at 16.30."

"Do they mind if I stick around until then?" Ronan asked, nodding towards Adam's home.

"… Yeah." Adam said, startled at how easy it was to tell the truth now that Ronan knew.

Ronan nodded, "I'll come back in an hour?" he offered.

Adam nodded back. Unable to find his words.

Ronan gave his shoulder a gentle shove, he turned around and walked away. Adam watched him go, unable to stop the smile forming on his face.


Adam was surprised to find the BMW parked outside once he got out of Boyd's. He'd brought his bike with him. Certain that Niall and Aurora wouldn't allow for Ronan to stay out this late.

And yet.

When he opened the car, it smelled of greasy Nino's pizza. Ronan was behind the wheel, chewing on his leather wristbands. He looked at Adam from the corner of his eyes. Uncertain.

"Hey." Adam said carefully. He put the box of pizza on his lap.

"I ate half, hope you don't mind." Ronan said, "Got bored waiting."

"Being bored makes you hungry?" Adam asked, amused.

Ronan drove away from Boyd's. "I'm a growing boy." He said with a smirk. He glanced at Adam. Adam looked down at the box on his lap. It was a BBQ chicken. Ronan's favorite. Adam hadn't eaten much that day, Nino's pizza was the most delicious thing when starving.

"I was wondering," Ronan began, eyes trained on the road.

Adam hummed; his mouth full.

"What happens to us once you go to college?" Ronan asked. "I mean… I kind of got the hint earlier. But… I mean, I was wondering. Well, if you want to… I could-, we could try long distance?"

Adam hadn't even finished his first piece. He considered putting it down, to give Ronan an answer right away. Then he thought of how little time they had before Adam's next shift started. How there would be no food waiting for him. How tomorrow, he would stop at the grocery store for a cheap sandwich which would have to get him through the entire day. One as long as this one, even longer with school.

Adam really wanted this pizza.

Ronan stopped the car in front of a red light. Adam shoved the rest of the pizza piece in his mouth and held up a finger. Ronan blinked.

"Hungry much?" Ronan joked.

Adam's mouth was too full to answer properly. He chewed and swallowed.

"I don't want to come back." Adam finally said.

"I could come to you. Wherever that is. Harvard or Yale or whatever fancy ass school wants you."

Adam snorted.

"They'll probably be fighting over you."

Adam shoved Ronan's shoulder, "Stop." He said. He shook his head.

The light turned green; Ronan drove.

"Would you consider… visiting Singer Falls? You could stay at my place during breaks." Ronan frowned then, "If I'm not grounded until then, of course. Since I kind of snuck out to see you."

Adam chocked on his second piece, "You-… what?" he coughed. He couldn't deal with someone else their parents also being mad at him.

Ronan winced, "Yeah." He glanced at Adam. Adam didn't know what his face looked like, but Ronan sighed, "Don't worry. They'll probably just make me clean the dishes by myself for an entire week or so."

Adam thought of the dirty dishes still waiting for him at home. Of how his parents never cleaned the table. How there was rarely any food for him. How they'd get mad at him, if he didn't prepare dinner. Cook, set the table, clean the table, clean the dishes by himself. The list of chores went on and on and on. Perhaps that's why his father punished him the way he did. Because there were no more chores Adam could do as punishment. He looked down at the last three pieces of pizza. He suddenly didn't feel as hungry anymore.

Adam exhaled. He closed the box and put it in the back of the car. He scratched at the dry skin of his hands.

"When does your shift start?" Ronan asked. They'd reached the factory. Ronan had parked them at the side of the road.

"In twenty minutes." Adam said softly. He was tired. He turned his head, so he was facing Ronan. Ronan was staring back at him.

"Take a nap." Ronan whispered; he raised his hand to gently cradle Adam's jaw. His thumb brushed over Adam's lips. "I'll wake you up in ten minutes."

Adam thought of protesting. He frowned at Ronan. But then he nodded, he muttered a thank you. Ronan offered him his leathered jacket as pillow. Adam took it and turned away from him. It was uncomfortable, but Adam had mastered falling asleep in the oddest places a long time ago. With a tight schedule as his, there was no other way. Some weeks, he survived only on powernaps and barely an hour of sleep at night.

Ronan kept true to his word, ten minutes later he woke him up. It barely felt like five seconds ago. Adam leaned over the gear shift, too tired to worry about anyone watching. He pressed a quick kiss on Ronan's lips, whispered another thank you and groggily got out of the car. He'd almost missed the smitten look on Ronan's face.

Almost.

It was all he could think about while working on his shift at the factory.

The way Ronan looked at him.


Their first month anniversary was celebrated in the back of the BMW. Classy, as always. Adam had gotten into the car, self-conscious about the greasy work uniform he'd been wearing. Ronan didn't seem to mind. He drove them somewhere secluded and all but jumped out of the car to get into the backseat. Adam had followed at a much slower pace. Ronan had climbed on top of his lap and kissed him hungrily.

"I actually wanted to do this at my place." Ronan panted between two kisses, hand already going below Adam's waistband. "You deserve to be kissed on a bed."

Adam gasped, Ronan's hand was on his dick and he was whispering in his ear. Telling him how he wanted their first time going further to be on a bed. How Adam could have him, however he wanted. How it was all he could think about ever since they kissed.

Adam couldn't think. His mind went blissfully quiet.

And it remained like that until a very long time after. After they they'd both gotten off, twice. And Ronan drove to Nino's.

"Are you two… dating?" Gansey asked.

Which definitely brought Adam back down from his high. He blinked. He and Ronan exchanged a quick look. Then Adam looked around, checking if anyone had heard. No one had.

Noah made a face. Henry casually looked away.

"What?" Ronan finally said.

"Ah… nothing, it's just… well, you both spend a lot of time together and well… Adam has been staring at you for five minutes now."

Adam felt his face heat up. He glanced at Noah. Noah offered him a sympathetic smile. You kinda were, he seemed to say.

"Damn, Parrish. You have a crush on me? That's kind of awkward." Ronan said, grinning at him. He came off as unsure, though. Hesitant. He was joking, giving Adam a chance to joke their way of this.

It wasn't the first time Adam made Ronan unsure. Made him hesitate.

Adam felt guilty for making him feel like this.

He glanced at Gansey, at the other two boys sitting at their table. It was obvious Henry and Noah had already figured it out. They'd been subtle. Subtle enough for no one else to know. (Aside from the obvious staring just now. Nice one, Adam.) It was just that Henry and Noah had been close to notice the small changes.

"We're dating." Adam said, deadpan to Ronan.

Ronan smiled, he had cute dimples. When he smiled, he shoved off two rows of perfect white teeth. God, he looked handsome. "Yeah, but still." Ronan joked. The smile remained on his face. He looked genuinely happy. As if he could kiss Adam right here, right now.

Adam breathed in. His gaze on Ronan's mouth, he looked back to meet his eyes.

"Alright!" Henry cheered, he held up his hand towards both of them. Ronan rolled his eyes and gave the palm of his hand a fist bump. Adam shook his head and returned the high five properly.

Adam looked at the counter, where Blue was talking to a customer. When their gaze met, she smiled at him and stuck out her tongue. Adam smiled back. He gestured for her to come. She frowned, confused. Then held up her hand, the universal sign of 'wait'. She continued her conversation with the customer and wrapped it up.

Then she headed over to their table, "Do you guys want anything else?" she asked.

Gansey chocked on his iced tea. He made an ungraceful sound and spilled iced tea all over himself.

"Jesus fuck, Dick." Ronan said, both he and Adam leaned as far away as possible from him.

Henry laughed loudly.

"Ah, it got in my nose." Gansey muttered; his eyes watery.

Noah offered him a few napkins.

Blue exchanged a confused look with Adam.

Adam covered his smile behind his hand. Ronan leaned into left side so that he could whisper in his ear, "He told me he has a massive crush on one of the waitresses at Nino's."

"Blue?" Adam hissed back.

"Seems like it."

Blue was blinking at Gansey. Unsure if she should laugh or take pity on him. Adam looked at her. At her homemade dress, at her spiky hair. Her nails with ten different colors. He glanced at Gansey with his pink polo shirt with the huge stain of Iced Tea on it.

Adam laughed.

He couldn't stop laughing once he'd begun. When his gaze met Gansey's, who looked betrayed, he laughed even harder. He covered his mouth behind his hand. There were tears burning in his eyes and his stomach hurt by the end of it. "Oh god, I'm so sorry." He said, trying to wave it off.

Except then he looked at Henry, and by the look on his face he knew why Adam was laughing. Next to him, Ronan also began to laugh. Adam's hand, ungracefully, tangled into Ronan's shirt where he clutched onto it as he laughed. His face pressed against Ronan's shoulder.

He couldn't remember the last time he'd laughed this hard.


Somewhere along the way, Adam's feelings had begun to change.

"Do you think someone could actually die from snorting Iced tea?" Blue asked. She'd taken Adam's bike and was riding on it, slowly, next to him. It was cold, but Adam had refused Ronan's offer to drive him back to the trailer park. He'd wanted to talk to Blue first. He had just enough time to walk her home, then he'd be on his way back home.

"That would be a pretty embarrassing way to go." Adam said, unable to fight back the grin.

Blue stopped. Adam took a few more steps before he noticed. He halted and looked at her. Blue smiled at him, "You look awfully happy."

Adam frowned. He felt a blush creeping up his face. "Shut-up."

Blue's smile grew, "Was I right?" she continued. "You like him?"

Adam stared at her. He tried to go for his usual cold blank looks. It didn't work. His face was burning, and the corners of his mouth kept betraying him. He looked away first and inhaled deeply. Hiding his hands in the pockets of his jacket.

"Oh my god!" Blue laughed, "That's actually super great!"

"Why are you so loud?" Adam groaned, he walked away from her.

He heard Blue struggle with Adam's bike. She made a surprised sound. Adam for a moment thought she fell, but then he heard her getting closer.

"God, this sounds like the plot of a movie. Don't you think?" she asked, sounding slightly out of breath. "Kind of like a fake dating movie? Hmm, no, not quite. Oh! I know, like those spy movies where a spy pretends to be in love with someone but then they actually fall in love." She grinned.

"Doesn't it always get out that they were lying at first?" Adam asked, feeling a slight pang of anxiety.

"Eh… well I mean, aside from me, who else have you told?" Blue placed her hand on Adam's shoulder. She stopped pedaling. Letting Adam pull her along.

Adam stared at her. As if there was anyone else, he could talk to about Ronan.

"Well then, I promise to keep your secret." She said and smiled brightly at him.

"No more lectures?" he asked, confused.

She shrugged, almost losing her balance on the bike. "Nah, I mean. I guess I do owe you an apology."

This made Adam stop.

Blue lost control of the wheel. She jumped off the bike. Both of them watched it fall on the ground. The bike was old and had gone through a lot. Adam didn't worry about its safety. He waited for Blue to pick it up again.

"Don't act so surprised, I know how to say sorry!" Blue said, sounding defensive.

"Why are you sorry?" Adam frowned.

"Because well," she shrugged, holding onto the bike, but not getting back on. "I was an asshole to you. All I could think about was how you were using this guy and how you'd end up hurting him… but well, it wasn't like that. I thought of you as cruel and cold… when you're not." Blue sighed, she looked down. "Seeing you two together… and how happy both of you looked. Well, it…. It made me realize how I had it all wrong."

Adam let her words sink in. For a moment, his mind went completely blank. Unsure of what to do with Blue's words. He caught her staring at him and nodded. Both of them feeling awkward.

"I guess… you must have really liked him from the beginning huh? You just needed more time than him to figure it out."

Adam's frown deepened, "That's not- I didn't-… oh." He thought of that first kiss. Off all the kisses that followed. How happy he'd been this past month. How Ronan had made his life just a tiny bit better, just by being there.

Blue smiled kindly at him. "You're not a bad person Adam. It's just… that sometimes to protect yourself, you do stuff that hurts others. You've changed a lot since we broke up. I think that's something I needed to realize as well. That you're not that person anymore."

He remembered their fights. The one time he'd gotten so mad, he hadn't lashed out to her, but it'd been clear he wanted to. That it had taken every ounce of control inside him to not do anything.

He remembered walking into 300 Fox Way, weeks after he and Blue broke up. Blue and Orla, sitting at the kitchen table. Blue confiding in her. Telling her she was unsure about her relationship with Adam now that they'd broken up.

"Always knew you two wouldn't last. He's got too much baggage."

Had he changed, though? He wondered while staring at her.

"Anyhow, I'm sorry." Blue sighed, "And I'm happy for you. Maybe in one year, you can bring it up to Ronan and have a good laugh about it."

Adam smiled sadly at her.

"You're very handsome, Adam Parrish."

Adam blinked at her. Blue's gaze was soft as she stared at him, her eyes going over his face. "Ronan is lucky to have you."

"Thanks…" he said. He didn't know he needed to hear this. They continued their walk back to 300 Fox Way. Adam felt relieved. More than relieved. Whenever he looked at Blue, he couldn't stop smiling. By the fourth time she caught him staring, she rolled her eyes and told him to stop. 'Don't get used to hearing me apologize.'

"You called me handsome."

"Oh shut-it."

He rode his bike back to the trailer park. It was five past ten when he arrived. Adam locked his bike quickly. He thought to quietly sneak into the house. His mother would have probably already retired to her room. Robert Parrish would be watching TV, beer in hand. With any luck, he was already passed out.

The door rattled loudly but remained shut. Adam sighed deeply.

Locked.

He waited, hoping that perhaps his parents had heard and would it open. He hoped that tonight it would just be the cold kind of anger. The one where he could feel their glares on him as he moved around the double wide. But they wouldn't say anything. He knew it was just the calm before the storm. That the next day, his father would lash out. But that would be a problem for tomorrow.

No one came.

Adam knocked.

He held his breath.

He could hear the TV. Could see the silhouette of his father, not moving.

Adam knocked louder.

Finally, he saw his father move. He looked over his shoulder at the door. Adam felt his heart beat in his chest. Felt the familiar stomach ache rising.

One day.

One day he told himself.

He heard footsteps getting closer.

The lights being shut off, "Nah, son. I ain't dealing with your bullshit tonight. You know the rules. Be home by ten. Go annoy someone else." Robert said. He pulled the curtains in front of their door's window.

Adam's heart was still beating loudly. He exhaled softly. He thought of insisting. Of begging his father to let him in. Adam's history book was inside his room. He needed it.

He also had an important test tomorrow. One he couldn't miss because his father couldn't control his anger.

Getting kicked out for the night wasn't so bad. He told himself. His legs felt like jelly as he walked down his porch. Adam felt like throwing up. He didn't. He got back on his bike and rode down the same way he came from. Over dusty Henrietta roads. Past the forest, back into the center.

Persephone was waiting for him. She wore a night robe, her long curly hair put up in a large bun. Persephone held out her hand, he allowed her to take his arm. She guided him through the entrance.

Into the kitchen.

Blue and Orla sat at the kitchen table, both of them had their own cup of tea. Next to Blue was an empty spot, with a cup of tea. Waiting for him.

"Hey." Blue said, as if they hadn't seen each other less than an hour ago.

"Hey." He said and took the seat next to her.

They'd been expecting him.