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an ongoing process

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The letters were strewn across the floor, a carpet of unopened envelopes.

Adam had hesitated far too long to open them, putting each in a pile in a corner of the Barns’ kitchen, until it was as tall as Chainsaw. The bird, either in a display of dominance or to finally get him to open them, had screeched and pushed them all off the counter when Ronan had come in to make breakfast.

“Parrish,” he shouted upstairs, “You’re outnumbered! Chainsaw thinks you should open them too!”

Adam stumbled into the kitchen, rubbing sleep from his eyes. “Ronan, your bird doesn’t have a vote in my college process.”

“Does Opal? I’m sure she agrees with me too.”

“You spoil her,” Adam grumbled. “She’d agree with you on anything.”

Ronan ignored his--admittedly accurate--point and picked up the envelopes, putting them back in their place. Not pushing, just reminding. He gathered eggs, a pan, salt, and pepper on the counter, tugged at Adam’s shirt collar, and kissed his temple. Chainsaw flew up to peck at the eggs, breaking him out of the moment, and Ronan began to make breakfast.

Adam took the letters to the island. He glared at them, his heart beating a deep staccato against his chest.

“This should be a bigger Moment,” he said. “I should be dressed up or something.” He was still in his pajamas: flannel pants and an old shirt from Boyd’s.

Ronan glanced back at his boyfriend. “You look hot. Besides, when’ve either of us ‘dressed up’? I’m pretty sure I was fucking naked when I told Gansey I wasn’t gonna finish high school.”

Adam snorted. “That was a fun night.”

He briefly flashed back to a video that had gone around school a few months ago of a boy opening letters from all the Ivies--and getting rejected from all of them. Every one of those crests now lay in front of Adam, plus a few others. Logically, he knew what it meant that almost all of them were thick, but the message still hadn’t made its way to his nerves. He shook his head and grabbed the first letter off the pile, its crimson lettering glaring at him. He opened it carefully.

There were several papers in the envelope, and one folder, but Adam knew which piece of paper was The Paper.

He pulled it out and read it aloud.

And didn’t even finish the first sentence.

“Dear Mr. Parrish,

The Admissions Committee is pleased--”

The letter dropped from his hands. Ronan took the eggs off the stove and picked the letter up. He began to read. “‘The Admissions Committee is pleased to offer you admission to Harvard University for the Class of 2021. Your application impressed us immensely, and we hope that you will join the Class of 2021 in the fall.’ Then there’s a lot more shit about how much they love you,” he finished. Adam’s face was split in a grin, his eyes shining. “Oh, and they’re giving you a full ride.”

Adam practically jumped over the table to see the letter. When he’d finished reading it for himself, he kissed Ronan giddily, pulling him in close.

“Don’t you want to read the rest of them?” Ronan said, trying to sound nonchalant--but his face was flushed and he had the look in his eyes he always got when Adam did something unexpected, a bit dazed and completely sated. To his disappointment, Adam let him go and started opening the rest of the letters. He carefully placed each one in front of him, only throwing two to the side to forget about.

Finally, there was a stack of acceptance letters and financial aid packages almost as big as the original. Adam gazed at them for a minute, then dumped the (now cold) eggs on a plate and began to eat like the 18-year-old he was.

Ronan watched, more amused than anything. “Not gonna decide now?” He smirked.

Adam paused in his destruction of the eggs. “I mean, I have to visit them. Make a fair comparison and all that.” He fixed his gaze on Ronan and smiled wickedly. “You think the BMW can make it to Stanford?”

“Only if I’m driving it,” Ronan scoffed.

Adam looked at Ronan, his smile softening. “I thought that was implied.”