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the mess you left when you went away

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"Would you say Sacrifice is what defined you?"

"I wouldn't say that it's healthy for artists to define themselves by their work," Adam says. "Or for anyone to do that, really."

"Hm." The interviewer isn't satisfied with this answer. Fair's fair; Adam didn't like the question. "Would it be fair to say that that was where your style solidified?"

"I don't think it was significantly different from the style I had before. It just got a better response than my first two albums."

The interviewer hms again. Adam hates doing publicity, and the ten-year anniversary of his first big success is turning out to be worse than most. The questions aren't just predictable and boring, they're also ones he's answered a thousand times: what got you into music, who were your influences, how did you get discovered, why 'Sacrifice', repeated ad nauseum.

But Sacrifice is a piece of art that Adam is proud of, when he can remember to think of it as a piece of art and not of a thing that happened to him. He can make an effort.

"It struck people differently than the work I'd done before," he concedes. "I've never really known why. I can say what Sacrifice meant to me but I can't say what it means to anyone else."

"It perhaps helped that there was one track on the album that really spoke to people," and then he clarifies, like maybe it's ambiguous which one he means, "I Should've Known."

Adam was starting to think that Henry wasn't too bad, for a music journalist. He no longer thinks that.

"I definitely was not expecting that one to mean as much to other people as it meant to me," he says, keeping his voice mild.

"That was a last minute addition to the album, is that right?"

"Yeah. We had most of the tracks finalized already at the time that I started writing the new song. I wasn't expecting the label to let me add it on. I heard later that they were planning on dropping me if the album didn't do well and they figured they might as well get another song out of me first, if it didn't cost anything extra."

"It didn't delay the album release at all?"

"No, I wrote it in a night and it only took a day to record," and then, because he wants to get this over with, he adds "I was inspired."

The interviewer beams, overflowing with mischievous glee, like he'd tricked Adam into something instead of had it handed to him. "There's been a lot of speculation about the inspiration for this song, it's quite a mystery."

"I Should've Known was inspired by something good that could have happened and didn't," Adam says. "It's not very ambiguous."

"It's more than that! It's a classic break up song."

"You have to be dating someone in order to break up."

The interviewer squints at him, judgmentally. "You're very nitpicky about words, you know that?"

That doesn't deserve an answer. He writes for a living, why wouldn't he be careful with his words?

"There's a lot of anger in this song," Henry steers them back on topic. "And a lot of hurt."

Adam hides a grimace. Ten years later, he's embarrassed about the hurt, but he's ashamed of the anger. Sometimes he thinks it would have been better if the record label hadn't let him add the song, if he'd gotten to cool off and rewrite it before anyone heard it. But I Should've Known is the thing that made Sacrifice a hit and Sacrifice is the reason he'll never again go to sleep hungry, so maybe it was for the best, after all.

"All anger comes from hurt." God, he hopes that he comes off sounding smart and not just obnoxious. It isn't worth it to go through with these things. He should just hole himself up somewhere and never speak to the public, like -- like Salinger or Dickinson, some kind of hermit. It wouldn't be that different from how he lives now.

"Losing out on a relationship, missed connections, the one that got away, that's a universal experience," Henry says. "But that song was about a specific person, wasn't it?"

"Yes, it was."

"You've never publicly identified who it was."

"And I'm not going to today, either." To his credit, the interviewer doesn't look too disappointed. He had to have known that it was a long shot. "I've been amazed at how many people over the years have told me that song spoke to them. It's humbling to know that's a feeling others have had, that it wasn't just a bad experience that I had a decade ago."

"Can you at least tell me, has anyone ever guessed right who it is?"

"Not that I've seen."

"So it isn't Blue Sargent?" Adam shakes his head. "Or Richard Gansey?"

"Definitely not."

"Hm. Perhaps the answer will emerge in the next ten years."

"I hope not," Adam says. "It's weird enough for other people to dwell on my love life after I've already moved on. It'll be really weird if they're still doing it twenty years later."

"Agree to disagree," Henry says. "Is there anything else you'd like to say to your muse?"

That question actually stumps him. He sit with it for a long, quiet moment, sifting through feelings that should be dormant.

"I tried for too long to connect with someone who either couldn't or wouldn't connect with me," he answers. "I Should've Known was everything I ever tried to say, spelled out one last time as clear as I could make it, and it still didn't get through. So no, there isn't anything else I want to say to that person."

-

Watching Blue drop into the seat across from him at the diner, grab his coffee cup off the table, and drink half of it before she says "good morning" somehow triggers both deja vu and surprise. Since when does Blue like coffee? Ignoring personal space to steal his food is almost comforting after that; not all of her habits have changed in the last decade.

Adam tells her, "I wasn't done with that."

"You could've ordered one for me."

"You could've shown up on time. Order your own."

"I had the longest night," she complains. "I need this more than you do."

The radio station he'd been ignoring comes back from a commercial break. It starts playing I Should've Known. Blue hands him back his coffee.

"Oh, now that it's empty, great."

"It's not empty," she says, dismissive and only technically true. "We could ask the waitress to change the station."

"It's fine."

"You really like listening to this song?"

"It's a good song," Adam says. "It just brings back some memories."

She shakes her head. "That's what you get for writing about your own life. You should just hire a Swede to write generic pop hits for you like everyone else does."

"Oh, is that what you do, that's why your music keeps getting weirder and less marketable?"

She laughs, which is a relief. It felt natural when he started to say it and like a horrible mistake by the time he'd gotten to the end. That was the kind of thing he could have said back when they'd gone everywhere together, when even people who didn't know them knew they were a set, Adam-Blue, and then Adam-Blue-Gansey. He wasn't sure it was the kind of thing he was allowed to say now, two weeks after hesitantly texting her to get back in touch.

A waitress comes over to take their order. Blue doesn't ask her to change the radio station, but she frowns a little as the woman leaves. Adam is about to ask her what's wrong when she nods decisively.

"When was the last time you talked to Ronan?"

He sips the last teaspoon of coffee that Blue left him. "Not for years. Why?"

"Don't play dumb with me. I know who this song was for. I was there when it happened."

"Nothing happened."

"Fine, I was there when it significantly didn't happen. I saw the way that you looked at him when he was around. And the way you talked about him when he wasn't, ugh, I used to be so jealous of him."

Adam stares at her. It has no effect.

"You broke up with me," he says. "How were you jealous?"

"I'm not saying it was fair." She shrugs. "That's why I never brought it up. But when we dated...it felt like you kept me in this little box with the word 'girlfriend' on it. But then there was Ronan, and it was like you wanted him everywhere in your life."

And if she knew that -- then yeah, she knew.

Adam looks away.

"Nothing happened," he says again, but this time it's a confession instead of an argument.

"I get that," she says, like she means it. That's not a given, when Blue Sargent claims she's not arguing with someone. "I just don't get why."

"You've heard the song."

"Yeah, yeah, 'you're angry, you're self-destructive, you never listen to anyone,' blah blah blah." She waves off the words he'd spent hours crafting and years feeling. So much for agreeing with him. "You knew all that about him, we all knew that all along, and it wasn't enough to scare you off. You stuck around for months, and then -- " she snaps her fingers, loud. "You vanished. Without ever making a move. So what happened?"

Adam's fingers curl tight around his water glass.

-- it's done now so what's the problem -- the problem is I told you not to --

He says, voice level, "Ronan knows what he did."

"Yeah, I'm sure he loved it when you told him that."

"I didn't." She tilts her head at him. "I haven't talked to him since Sacrifice came out."

Clack. Her mug hits the table so hard that her coffee splashes over the side.

"You expect me to believe," she says, every word deliberate and accusatory, "that you wrote an entire song to say, you fucked up but I'm still madly in love with you, and he didn't even bother to call?"

"Believe whatever you want," Adam snaps, "that's the truth."

"Sorry." It's more confused than contrite. "I didn't know. I always figured he tried and it didn't work. He really cared about you."

There's no pretending that doesn't sting. He wondered, sometimes, if that was why he'd written the damn song, to get Ronan to come running after him, to say I'm sorry, please, I --

No. He knows himself better than that. If he'd planned at all then the song never would've happened. He only wrote it because he had to say it, couldn't not say it, had spent an entire feverish night scrawling it out while he ignored exhaustion and hunger and the throb of bruises forming on his arm. He wrote the song because he couldn't keep it inside where it was safe and secret, or at least bury it in three levels of metaphor and abstraction. It needed to get out of him.

If that had occurred to him at some point as a possibility, maybe this will work, maybe this will finally make it work -- well, it was a good thing that wasn't why he'd done it, since it hadn't.

"People can care about each other without being good for each other," he says, a lesson that was hard to learn but that he had, finally, learned.

"Yeah." Blue hangs her head down, spins her coffee mug around in her hands. She adds, "he's doing a lot better than he was back then."

-- determined to ruin your own life doesn't mean you get to ruin mine -- news flash, Parrish, you were a shitshow before I got here --

"Good for him," but it's too abrupt. He tries again. "I'm glad, I want him to be happy." There's a line in the song that's like that, too, but it's -- not sarcastic, because he meant it back then, too. He had always wanted Ronan to be happy, but he hadn't really believed that Ronan would be, and that makes it impossible for him to say it now with anything like sincerity.

-

The prospect of rebuilding a relationship with Blue is weirdly less fraught than trying to reconnect with Gansey, considering that of the two of them, she's the one he dated. There's no reason he should have been able to call her after ten years and say hi while the sight of Gansey's number still makes him put his phone down.

No reason, except that Gansey loved Ronan. Even if Ronan hurt Adam first, there's no way that Adam walking out on their almost-relationship didn't hurt him too, at least somewhat, at least for a moment, and any attack on Ronan is immediately also an attack on Gansey. If he'd ditched Blue when he disappeared, and dumped Ronan, than he'd done something in between those two to Gansey.

He gets to put it off for a while. Blue and Gansey have some exhausting relationship he doesn't understand where they're rarely in the same time zone, and all three of them have unpredictable, demanding schedules. He gets to spend time with Blue, drinking coffee and taking in more nature than he has in years and trying to remember the person that could be her friend, before the chance to encounter Gansey comes up, but he can't put it off forever. He doesn't want to put it off forever.

It still makes him freeze when Blue forwards him an invitation with the note I'm in Iceland, go be Gansey's date to this.

The event doesn't look like anything special, just some party. Adam was never crazy about parties, but they'd go sometimes, after he or Blue finished playing whatever small venue they'd booked that week. People mostly knew them because of Gansey and mostly knew Gansey because of his money, but then, they'd mostly only cared about each other, and maybe about the food. He lost count of how many times he missed an entire party, realized it had ended around them while he'd been caught up talking to Gansey.

He emails Blue, yeah, I'll be there.

"Adam!" Gansey, beaming at him from a glittering crowd of celebrity revelers, looks more like the star of one of his movies than a director between projects. Somehow the lighting on him is perfect. Adam hardly even notices that he's wearing tweed. He detaches himself from the people in his orbit and picks up Adam in their place. "You were fabulous in that film about Dusty Springfield."

"You watched that?" Of course the thing that he wants to talk about, meeting for the first time in ten years, is not any of Adam's hits, or his own successful career, or the fact that they haven't spoken in ten years. He wants to talk about the brief appearance Adam made in a documentary about queer rock and roll history. "I thought the producers' families were the only ones who sat through that."

"It was picked up by Hulu," Gansey says. "They featured it on the home page."

"You know there's an algorithm that suggests those based on your viewing history, right? I feel like you should know this," Adam says. "That doesn't tell me it was successful, it just tells me you'd run out of documentaries."

"Impossible. There's more media being produced than one person could ever view, it's quite tragic to think about, really."

"You might get through more of it if you spent less time re-watching the Criterion Collection."

"The Criterion Collection isn't on Hulu anymore," he says, and Adam laughs, and before he knows it there's the evening gone: another party he'll never know he missed, standing with Gansey in a corner, talking.

The invitation comes at the end of the night, as they're already leaving: "Why don't we get dinner Friday? Blue will be in town, we can catch up, just the three of us."

And not Ronan. It's the closest either of them has come to mentioning him all night, even though Ronan is the reason Gansey suffers the mainstream film industry instead of running off to make educational films about dead people no one's heard of and languages no one speaks.

"That'd be great," Adam says, like he means it.

-

His doubts last only as long as it takes him to step inside Gansey's front door on Friday. "Wow. This place hasn't changed at all." It isn't a compliment.

"Oh, it has," Blue says. "The plumbing in the kitchen works now, you don't have to wash dishes in the bathtub anymore."

"Like Gansey ever cooked."

"Well, that hasn't changed."

"I made you toast this very morning," Gansey protests.

"If that's your first argument, you've already lost," Adam informs him.

"I took ingredients that weren't yet food and turned them into food. That is the definition of cooking."

"How is bread not food?" Blue demands. Adam smiles until he can't anymore.

They sit down for dinner -- take away, further evidence that Gansey can't cook -- and he asks, "I heard you were in Wales recently, how did you like it?"

"Fine," Adam says. "Who told you I'd been in Wales?"

"I saw it online somewhere, I don't recall the specifics."

Adam hadn't considered -- Gansey's name always catches his eye; so does Blue's. They make him read a headline he'd otherwise skim over, or click on a link he would've scrolled past. It makes sense that his name might have a similar effect on people who used to know him. He just hadn't expected it.

"It was fine," he says again. "I wasn't really there long enough to form an opinion, we had too many cities crammed into that tour."

"Good," Blue cuts in before Gansey can. "Don't get him started about Wales, he just wants to go off about ancient history. You were in London too, right? Did you hear about the time that Gansey got lost in the London Underground?"

He hadn't, because it happened six years ago, but it's a funny story and Blue tells it well. By the end of it the knot of tension in his chest has eased and he tells Gansey about his last tour. It's nice to have his own stories to tell, instead of just hearing about Gansey's globetrotting, or Blue's post-graduation road trip misadventures. The last time he knew them, the only places he'd ever been were Henrietta, New York City, and the shortest possible route connecting them. Even Ronan had traveled more than Adam, and he hated going anywhere; he only let himself be coerced into it for film shoots, or just to trail around after Gansey.

-- exactly why Gansey doesn't let you out of his sight, he knows you're going to do something like this -- leave him out of this, you don't know what the hell he thinks -- we ALL think that, he's just the only one with the patience --

Blue stands to get another drink, offers to get one for Adam. He declines. At some point the tension snuck back into his shoulders.

Gansey has another drink, and another after that. The conversation moves on to the homogenization of music in film scores. Gansey somehow talks himself into the opinion that movies would be better off if they'd stayed silent.

"That's fine for you directors, but what about me and Blue?" Adam asks, mostly to see how far Gansey will commit to this indefensible position. "Sound is our whole lives, are you going to say that it isn't important?"

"No!" Gansey sloshes his drink in his enthusiasm. "That's a misconception, that silent films were silent."

Blue snorts. "Right, how could anyone think that."

"Silent films always had musical accompaniment," Gansey continues undeterred. "And audience participation. Cheering, laughing, booing -- it's really misleading that they called the new movies talkies. Really there was less talking. All of the communication was going one way."

"Gansey," Blue asks seriously, "are you making yourself sad about something that happened a century ago?"

"Yeah, that's weird," Adam chimes in. "You usually don't get this worked up unless it was at least five centuries ago."

"You're both heartless and you have no appreciation for the old-fashioned."

"Sure I do," Blue says. "You're the most old-fashioned thing I know and I haven't dumped you for a former boy band member yet."

"You'd go from Gansey to a teen heartthrob?" Adam asks.

"Why not? I could get a pretty boy."

"You could, but do you want to? I thought Gansey was your type, not pretty boys."

"Gansey, Adam thinks you're ugly."

He turns mournful eyes to Adam. "You do?"

"It just isn't a natural progression," Adam tells Blue.

"Sure it is," she says. They're all defending ridiculous opinions tonight. "It wouldn't be worth the effort of a breakup if I went from Gansey to -- I don't know, the curator of a natural history museum. At that point I might as well stay with the old man I've got."

This is a new idea to Adam. Everyone he's ever been involved with has been built off the same model: intense, argumentative, impossible. "Your next relationship is going to be with someone youthful and exciting? This is a sad day for opera directors everywhere."

"I'm sorry," Gansey interjects, "at what point in the evening did our break up go from theoretical to inevitable?"

"Look on the bright side, now you get to find someone cheery and agreeable," Adam says, for the outraged noise it gets from Blue.

Gansey frowns distastefully. "How dull."

"Too boring? For you?" Adam turns wide eyes toward Blue. "I guess you're safe."

"Worry about yourself," she replies ominously. The promised vengeance never arrives, though. By the end of the evening she's relaxed, head on Gansey's shoulder and feet tucked up under her on the couch. They've all relaxed. Everything's just...nice.

Adam tears himself away, turning down the invitation to crash ("the guest room ceiling hardly leaks anymore") and accepting a hug goodnight from Blue.

Gansey shows him out. "Don't be a stranger, all right?"

His throat closes up too tight for words. It was so earnest, not a platitude but an honest request. And why not? He's already disappeared on Gansey once. He had to. He couldn't stand to see Ronan after being humiliated in front of him, and he couldn't come back after being humiliated again, finding out that whatever he thought they had, it wasn't important enough for Ronan to call him. He couldn't stay friends with Ronan, and he couldn't ask their friends to choose between them, not when Ronan was barely holding himself together.

He says "I won't," and leaves for home.

-

In some ways, having Gansey back in his life goes exactly how it expects. The first time he gets a text are you watching CSPAN? he can't even ask why, because of course that that's the conversation Gansey wants to have on a Tuesday afternoon.

He's caught off-guard by other things, though, like the way Gansey can get swept away in a crowd. He wouldn't have thought he could forget what it was like when Gansey turned on his vote-for-me act, but there must've been some nostalgia at work. That's a first for him. He marvels at the novelty of his rose-tinted glasses while Gansey compliments the event organizers. At least now he knows why Blue said yeah, I'm not going to that when he'd told them about the benefit, even though it's for a good cause.

Gansey drifts away into the gala. Adam lets him, makes quieter conversation on the fringes of the evening. It's a decision he's satisfied with until the person he's speaking to says, "oh, have you met," and suddenly he's staring at Declan Lynch.

"Yeah," he manages. "It's been a while."

"Parrish." Declan greets him with a nod and doesn't offer to shake his hand, a snub so subtle that no one else reads it as a snub.

Adam's wondered on occasion if Declan had enough context to recognize his brother in I Should've Known. He was observant, but Adam had rarely spent time with him, and Ronan never told him anything personal, so he assumed not.

He revises that assumption.

"I hear you're having a big year." Declan leaves out the phrase profiting off Ronan's dirty laundry. Adam still hears it.

"Can't complain. I haven't made it to the theaters lately, how've the movies been treating you?" he asks, knowing full well that the last three films out of Declan's production company flopped.

"Keeping busy," he says, conveying absolutely no information, and then "excuse me, I've just seen someone I need to talk to," which Adam should probably count as a win.

The gala lasts too long. Adam has gotten used to the dragging pace of self-important events, but tonight it irritates him like he's new again, to the scene, to the city, to having anywhere to go.

He'd been proud of himself when he'd started to get invited to events, worked hard at getting introduced to people. It pissed him off that Gansey's arrogant friend refused to care about any of it, that Ronan turned down more invitations in a week than Adam had ever gotten, just stayed at home and never went anywhere. He didn't get it, until he'd seen what happened when Ronan did go out. It usually ended up in what Gansey called "a scene" and the tabloids called "an altercation" or "a scandal" or "a DUI" -- so he'd swallowed the anger, got used to the routine of all of them going to visit Ronan. Adam had spent time with him outside of his house maybe a handful of occasions: grabbing dinner with Blue. A museum benefit with Gansey. One brutal argument at his apartment when Ronan had shown up, unexpected and uninvited, at the absolute worst possible moment.

It's probably why no one's ever figured it out. No one knew they knew each other. No one gets to know anything about Ronan's life, if they aren't a part of it.

-- it's not like I was trying to get in the way, I didn't know about -- then maybe that should've been a hint that you were supposed to keep out of it -- well excuse the fuck out of me for trying to help --

Adam's stayed long enough. He heads outside without saying goodnight to Gansey, distracted enough that he only notices the person waiting for the valet when he's already there. They look over their shoulder at the sound of him approaching, and Adam catches a glimpse of a familiar-yet-wrong profile.

He could walk back inside. It'd be awkward, but standing next to Declan in silence wouldn't be any better. A conversation would be worse.

The thing is -- there's a limit to how much he trusts Blue. She would lie to him, has lied to him, if she thought that was for the best. She lies to herself, when she doesn't want to admit the truth. And he doesn't trust Gansey not to let slip that he'd asked. But Declan and Ronan don't talk to each other. Ronan will never know.

He blurts out, "how has he been?"

Credit to Declan -- he makes Adam wait for it, and then all he says is "difficult."

That isn't the worst thing that Adam had ever called Ronan. It wasn't even the worst thing he called him in that song, but it sounds like it in Declan's voice.

He remembers the inverse of this conversation, has he been drinking again and his own evasive answers. He remembers being someone who kept Ronan's secrets.

"I heard he was doing better."

"Then why do you ask?"

"I thought you'd be honest."

There's plenty of time to dwell: on the fact that they don't have a relationship where Adam can expect that from him, on all of the times Ronan had said my brother's a liar, on Declan's voice the last time they'd talked, you aren't doing him any favors letting him get away with this kind of behavior.

"He's fine," Declan says, curt, and turns away. It's supposed to be dismissive, but it means he doesn't see Adam lean against the valet stand, struck dizzy with unexpected relief.

-

Nothing makes Adam feel quite as weird about his life as meeting with his lawyer. It somehow turns him simultaneously into a flustered kid getting handed his first record contract and an ultra rich asshole paying someone to make his problems go away for him. It makes no difference that he's acquired a solid understanding of entertainment law, or that he's only used his money to get around the law once, or that he actually likes his lawyer.

"I'll get that draft sent over to the label," Mr. Gray says at the end of the meeting -- Adam shouldn't think of him as Mister when he is also a fully-fledged adult, but Mr. Gray has been handling money and negotiations and secrets for him since he was nineteen years old. It's hard to think of him as a peer, even if Adam is now in his thirties and worth a lot more money than Mr. Gray. "I'll send you the final version when I get it back. Is there anything else you need?"

He always asks the question, and Adam always struggles with the answer. Usually he can make it out with a simple no, thanks. He blames -- Gansey, Blue, the press, the way that the past has been lurking in the corner of his eyes everywhere he looks lately.

"Is everything all right with the trust?"

"Yes, the last payment went through as scheduled."

That's all the answer he needs. If there was anything else Mr. Gray would say so, there's no reason to ask -- "My parents haven't been in touch with you?"

"Just the usual confirmation of receipt." There's no emotion in his response, but then, there never is. He hadn't shown any emotion when Adam told him my father is going to call the police, he wants to get my friend arrested, I need to make him go away, I just want him to go away. He hadn't shown any judgment at any point, had just drawn up the agreement that kept Ronan out of jail and out of the newspapers, and kept a steady income flowing into the Parrishes' bank account, and kept Adam from ever having to talk to his parents again.

"Right." He doesn't want to talk to them. It's a good thing, that they never try. "Thanks."

-

Blue heads back out of town. Adam agrees to go to a party with Gansey to keep him company -- or maybe Gansey invites Adam along to keep him company. It's a smaller crowd than the gala, but they're all people Adam doesn't know and mostly insufferable film snobs, so it's a lateral move.

Well, until the conversation turns to his music. Then he'd take the gala, hands down.

"Sorry if this is awkward," one of the women says, a rush of words that she can't hold back any longer. "But I just wanted to say that I love Sacrifice. It's my favorite album."

"Thank you." He has not gotten much better over time at receiving compliments, but he has gotten better at faking it. "It means a lot to me, I'm glad that it could mean something to you."

"I must've listened to it a thousand times in middle school," continues the person that Adam had, until a second ago, though of as an adult. How can someone who's an adult now have been in middle school when Sacrifice came out? That can't be right.

While he wrestles with that math problem, a guy nearby chimes in. "Admit it, it was a hoax, right?"

"What?" Is he saying that the album doesn't exist? That makes even less sense than the time-traveler at the party.

"I Should've Known," the guy says. "It wasn't about anyone, right? That's why no one knows who it was."

Adam frowns. It looks like he's going to have to give up on anyone making sense. "Why would I lie about that?"

"It makes for a better story. There's a million generic break up songs out there, so you figured out a way to make yours stand out. Give it a mystery angle."

Weirdly, Adam thinks what he's most irritated about is generic. It's not like this is the first time someone's insulted the song. He probably heard less praise during the song's popularity than he'd heard hate during the backlash from its popularity. But no one had ever called it generic. It's about Ronan Lynch, for crying out loud, how could it possibly be generic.

He's most irritated about that word, but he's irritated about all the rest of it, too.

"I wasn't lying." The denial is too sharp; people in other parts of the room start to look over.

"Okay, then tell us who it was."

"What do you think you've done to earn my trust?"

The Sacrifice fan squirms, uncomfortable. Adam's going to feel guilty about that, later. "C'mon, let it go," she says to the guy with her.

"No, tell us," he pushes. "Why's it gotta be some big secret?"

"I'll spell this out for you, since reading comprehension is clearly not high on your list of skills," Adam says. "That was not a happy moment in my life and I don't want to talk about it with you."

He shrugs it off. "So someone ghosted you ten years ago. You're not over it yet?"

No, I ghosted him isn't a good argument. "I told you the conversation was over, why are you not gone yet?"

He makes a face so everyone can see how unreasonable Adam is being, but he does let his friends pull him away. Adam steps outside to get some space. People give it to him; if they followed they couldn't gossip about him.

Gansey waits what he considers an appropriate amount of time before stepping outside.

"I don't want to talk about it," Adam warns him.

"I have no intention of asking you any questions," Gansey says, but the quiet only lasts for a moment before he keeps going. "You know, he's never talked about it either."

Adam glares at this transparent attempt, but Gansey doesn't see it. He's staring down at his drink, not scrutinizing him like Adam expected. The glare slips off his face.

"I can tell that you've been waiting for the guillotine to fall," Gansey continues. "That you think I know something you don't want me to and I'm going to spring it on you at the worst moment. You can put those worries to bed. I know as much as the proverbial man on the street. Less, even, because someone who's only heard your music, who doesn't know the pains you went to to remove your friends from your life, they wouldn't be so perplexed by your coming back."

Adam wishes he had his own drink to distract himself with. He looks out into the night instead.

He's too much of a realist to have pretended that he could just slide back into place, with nothing changed and no interrogation. He knew there'd be work he didn't want to do, and he'd done it anyway -- because -- because --

"I have a restraining order against my parents," he says abruptly. "Not officially. A real one would be public record. But close enough."

Gansey is too surprised to question the non sequitur. "Adam, I'm sorry."

Adam snorts. Ronan hadn't apologized for Adam's father, when he'd found out what kind of man he was. He hadn't even apologized for himself, for reacting with violence, for giving Adam's father another piece of leverage over him, for -- for protecting Adam, in the only way that he could think to.

"I don't like that people know things about me," Adam says. "And I know how that sounds, oh, boo hoo, it's so hard being famous, but that wasn't the point of any of this. Music was just how I stayed sane, and then it was how I fed myself, and then it was how I proved that I was worth something."

"Adam -- "

He doesn't let Gansey finish. "I wouldn't give that up just to get my privacy back, but it's a trade off. And everyone kept reminding me that I made that trade. That ten years ago, I made a choice, a series of choices, that this was going to be my life. Where people observe me, and where I don't talk to my parents, and where I lost someone important. It made me stop and ask what I ever did like about my life, and you and Blue were on that list. I knew it wouldn't be the same as before, but -- it wasn't that long of a list," he confesses. "If I could have any of it back, I wanted to."

Gansey doesn't speak. Gansey doesn't look like he can speak.

Adam smiles at the dumbstruck look on his face. "There," he says, artificially light. "Now you know everything Ronan knows."

"I'm -- not sure I do," Gansey manages to get out. "Or perhaps it's a failure of understanding."

He blows out a breath that he can see in the night air. It got cold while he was at the party, and he hadn't noticed, even after he'd stalked out. "Gansey, that's a decade's worth of sharing, you're not getting anything else out of me tonight."

"Oh, no, I didn't mean to press you. I suppose I sound ungrateful."

"I don't know about ungrateful. Spoiled, maybe."

Gansey is neither amused nor offended. "It is a trade off," he says. "But you're on my list, too."

Adam shuts his eyes. He is well and truly done with the night. "Let's get the hell out of here."

-

The party leaves him feeling raw, scratched bloody in places that aren't used to being touched. But there's some relief there, too. His heart sometimes starts racing, panic flaring up at the thought of everything Gansey knows now, but -- now he knows something he didn't before. He is absolutely certain, now, that Gansey is not going to drop Ronan on him without warning. Gansey isn't going to hit Adam where he's vulnerable, and all that certainty cost him was the shame and terror of admitting that he was vulnerable in the first place.

So it's really a shame that fate drops Ronan on him anyway.

He's out of town at a film festival -- and maybe that should have been a warning, but since when does Ronan go to industry events? Adam's only here because he wrote a song for one of the movies. And, well, because it sounded like it might be fun. He wants to see if he can add things to that short list.

It is sort of fun, but also irritating, and exhausting. He gets up early one morning. It's quiet; the rest of the hotel is sleeping off afterparty hangovers. He walks out into the courtyard, enjoying the silence and not thinking much of anything, and there, sitting on a bench, is Ronan Lynch.

He has his eyes shut, face turned up toward the sky like a snake sunning himself on a rock. He's wearing a heavy black jacket that the day is already too hot for. His phone is resting on the bench next to him, hanging precariously off the edge. There's a thin scar on the side of his face, only noticeable if you're looking for it. He hasn't shaved in a day, maybe two. He has dark smudges under his eyes like it's been a few days since he slept well, either. He's smiling, very faintly.

And then the expression on his face flickers, turns into a frown. His shoulders draw together and his spine straightens out, pulls him a little taller, the way you do when you sense someone is watching you, and by the time that Adam realizes he should absolutely not have frozen in place gawking, he opens his eyes and looks square at him.

Adam's heart stops. His entire body goes numb. He knew the odds were that this would happen eventually, that he wouldn't actually go the rest of his life without seeing Ronan again. He'd figured out what to say, sketched out different conversations for every way Ronan might feel about him -- smug, disdainful, indifferent.

He can't remember any of those scripts. He can't tell what the expression on Ronan's face means. All he can do is -- stare, like an idiot, like the last time he looked up and saw Ronan where he wasn't expecting him.

-- mind your own business, kid -- let go of him and shut your fucking mouth or I'll shut it for you -- don't, Ronan, it's fine, just go away, forget it, please --

"You just gonna stand there all day?" Ronan demands. "I thought walking away was more your thing."

Okay. Angry. He predicted angry as a possibility. He planned for this.

It's really a shame he has no idea what that plan was.

"Hello, Ronan," he says, because he has to say something. He slides his hands into his pockets. That probably looks defensive, but he wants to be defended.

"Oh, talking. That's new, too." Ronan's got one arm stretched out along the back of the courtyard bench, where it would wrap around the person sitting next to him. He doesn't move it, keeps himself open and unguarded. The Lynch way: don't waste time covering yourself, start off swinging.

"Is this really how we're doing this?"

"Why the hell not?"

"It's been ten years," Adam points out. "Some people would let it go. Act like there's nothing to talk about and then go back to avoiding each other."

"Some people are quitters."

He can't help it; the corner of his mouth twitches up, just a fraction of an inch, just for a second. Ronan shoots him a glare, even more disgusted than before. He wasn't allowed to be amused by that.

"Processing events and moving on isn't quitting. It's a fairly normal part of being an adult."

"Fuck you and your moving on. I'm not immature because I still know you're an asshole."

"Maybe." He draws it out until it sounds like a no. "But after the first, oh, twelve months of radio silence, I thought you were planning on getting over it. If you wanted to fight about it instead, you could've come talk to me."

"Bullshit, I could've talked to you. You wouldn't've listened to me. You listened to him, when he called you -- "

Ronan stops short. Like even when he's angry he can't bring himself to call Adam any of the things his dad had called him that night. Adam flinches anyway, eyes darting off to an empty corner of the courtyard. He wishes Ronan had just said it. He's used to shrugging those words off.

"You didn't listen to a single word I said," Ronan starts again. "He grabbed you and yelled at you and called you names, and you didn't get mad at him. You gave him money. But you got mad at me for punching him."

"Was I supposed to be happy about that?" Adam's voice is cold; every other part of him is hot, shaky. He was wrong, he isn't ready to do this. It's happening anyway. "Was I supposed to thank you for starting a fist fight with my dad?"

"I didn't start shit, he did, before I even got there! I could hear him yelling all the way from the elevator, I thought I was walking into a goddamn slasher flick. He had your arm so tight it was white and he was shaking you, and you had this look on your face like -- like you were dead and gone already." There's something new in his expression, alongside the anger. Adam refuses to identify it. "No, I didn't think you'd be happy, but I didn't think you'd decide it was all my fault and kick me out of your entire life. Which you did, so don't act like you gave me a chance to explain myself and I should've just gotten over it."

Adam swallows, pushing back nausea.

"You're right."

Ronan's gaze sharpens with suspicion.

"I didn't get mad at him," he says. "I never did. I couldn't back then. Usually I just got mad at myself. But you were there, and you stayed when I asked you to leave, and you gave him something he could use against me, and you found out something I didn't want you to know. So yeah, I got mad at you instead."

Ronan looks away. The anger is completely gone. Adam misses it.

"I wasn't able to talk to you about it right then. That doesn't mean I wasn't ever going to be able to. If you had something to say, you could have told me after I'd cooled down and wanted to hear from you, instead of holding onto it to throw it in my face ten years later."

"You and your fucking double standards," Ronan mutters, still avoiding his eyes. "You were pissed at me for not listening to you. I figured you walking out of my life was a pretty fucking clear message. Now you're telling me I was supposed to ignore it and go bug you anyway?"

"Since I asked you to, yeah."

"You told me to get lost so you could fix my screw up and then you disappeared. What part of that do you think sounded like 'come back next week'?"

A wave of cold rushes through him, like his insides dropped out and left him empty inside. It isn't pain. It isn't grief or guilt. It's the discovery of a mistake too enormous to be taken in all at once.

He asks "are you joking," because it has to be asked.

"Yeah, because clearly this is hysterical."

"I Should've Known, Ronan."

"Should've known what?"

"The song, I Should've Known," Adam says. "I wrote it for you. Isn't that obvious? Who else could it have been for?"

Silence presses against his ears tight enough to form a seal. None of the sounds of the courtyard can get through. He won't hear anything again until Ronan speaks -- and Ronan has gone as hollow as Adam. It's an eternity before he scrapes out any words.

Ronan says, "I've never heard it."

Adam's feet move him over to the bench.

His hand picks up Ronan's phone from where it's flirting with the idea of falling onto the cement. The lock code is still his brother Matthew's birthday, the same pin he used a decade ago.

Ronan's apps are a mess. It takes longer to find Spotify than to find the song. I Should've Known is the top result when he types in his own name.

He hits play and walks back inside the hotel with the opening chord ringing in his ears.

-

It's well into the afternoon before Ronan finds him in his room, where he's been blowing off the day's events. He opens the door without checking who it is.

He knew Ronan was going to knock. He knew that he was going to let Ronan in. They have now reached the end of things that Adam knows.

"How come half the lines don't rhyme?" Ronan asks.

Adam steps out of the door to let Ronan in, shuts it behind him. "I didn't want a strict rhyme scheme. It's supposed to be jarring."

"It sounds kind of lazy, though, like it's...not finished," he trails off.

"Well, it turns out it wasn't finished, was it?"

Ronan wanders over to the desk. There's an info packet from the hotel on it, wifi instructions and room service menus and ads for sightseeing destinations that Adam isn't going to see. He pushes it around the desk, for no reason Adam can discern except to have something to do.

"It was finished," Ronan disagrees. "You said everything there was to say. I just wasn't listening."

"You weren't -- you didn't have to," Adam says, to Ronan, to himself, fighting both of them. "That wasn't supposed to be the final word. I would've -- I might've tried to talk to you, after a while, I don't know. That's not how I would've chosen to end things. But I'd written it anyway, and it got so big, so fast, I thought, what else can I say? Ronan's already heard all of it, he's going to do whatever he's going to do, it's up to him now. It never occurred to me that you hadn't heard it. It never even occurred to me to wonder if you had, I watch all of your movies even when they're garbage, how have you never heard my biggest hit?"

"I don't listen to the radio."

Adam presses the heels of his hands against his eyes.

The mattress creaks under the weight of someone sitting on the bed.

"That year's a black hole," Ronan says. "My head was so fucked up back then, I don't remember half of that year. Anytime I do remember something good it gets swallowed up by all the shit. I'll remember the way that you smiled at me, how it wasn't the way you smiled at anyone else. Then I remember the way you looked when you were disappointed with me. You never looked at anyone else like that, either."

-- what, is there something on my face, what are you looking at -- nothing -- I can tell you're laughing at me, what's so funny -- nothing, I was just happy to see you, sorry that freaks you the fuck out --

"I knew you had a new album. I knew your face was everywhere, your voice was fucking everywhere, and I knew it was going to cost me. Some tiny bit of happiness with you, erased, gone. I didn't have enough of them left to throw one away."

The air conditioner kicks on. It's too loud, for how quiet the room is.

"I listened to Unknown," Ronan admits. "And Wild Kingdom. Everything else, just -- not that one."

Adam drops mindlessly onto the bed, a few feet of space between them.

"Maybe I should've kept writing songs for you," he says, some dark humor creeping into him. "Just the same angry whining lyrics until everyone got sick of it and stopped playing them."

"Nah, they'd've love it. You could've done a whole album. 'Hey Dumbass.' 'Call Me, Dipshit.' 'You Fuckface.' 'Call Me Dipshit' again but without the comma -- "

"So I'm telling you to call me a dipshit?"

"That one's from my point of view," Ronan enunciates, each word weighed down with a duh.

Adam's face does something between a smile and a grimace. He shakes his head to get rid of it. "If you string together the time I spent writing I Should've Known, and the time to record, and promote, and every time since then I've had to perform it, you probably get entire weeks of my life spent on nothing but that one song. I could've bothered to take an extra ten seconds and send you a link."

"Whatever. It wasn't anything you hadn't said to me before."

"Except that I was in love with you."

Ronan had picked up the complimentary pen off the hotel room desk. He'd been fiddling with it, idly passing it back and forth over his fingers. Adam hadn't really noticed until it stopped, his hands falling completely still.

"Yeah," Ronan says. "Except for that."

-- you could've told me you'd be here tonight, I would've done something special -- what, play all your shittiest songs -- you think I have enough shitty songs to fill a set? -- okay, so it'd be a short set, then we could leave and do something stupid -- the show's over now, anyway, what stupid thing did you have in mind --

"I didn't think you could." Ronan's voice is so low Adam can barely hear it over the AC. "Love me."

"Was I really that heartless?"

"No, shit, that's not -- " Ronan trips over his words, pouring out now like a flood, like somehow this is urgent, like any of this matters anymore. "I didn't think you couldn't because of you, I thought you couldn't because of me."

"You weren't unlovable. Sometimes it was hard, seeing how much you were loved."

"But that's my brothers, that's Gansey, that's different," he argues. "They loved me since before they knew better. You weren't some stupid kid who couldn't tell what you were signing up for. You were careful, and you paid attention to shit, and you were smart. I thought there was no way you'd fall in love with someone you didn't trust."

Adam shrugs. "And I didn't."

"That's -- that's why you got so mad." It's so hesitant. It doesn't sound like Ronan at all. "You weren't just mad at me for letting you down. You were mad at yourself for not expecting me to let you down."

He sighs, tired. "Yeah, Ronan, that's why the song is called I should've known."

"You trusted me," he says, quiet but more certain. "You really thought I wouldn't screw up."

"You did your best," Adam replies. "I know that. You didn't even really screw up. I wasn't going to be okay with anything you did that night."

It isn't enough, but it's all that either of them has.

After a while Ronan says "fuck" and collapses back onto the bed. "Fuck."

It's better than any idea Adam has, since he doesn't have any. "Fuck," he agrees, and lies on his back, too.

"Wait," Ronan says abruptly. "Wait, hang on, what was that shit you said about my movies?"

"What, you mean after you called my songwriting lazy?"

"Yeah, that," Ronan says shamelessly. "What's your problem with my movies?"

"That some of them are bad."

"I don't make bad movies."

"C'mon, Ronan, that thing with the puppets?"

"Yeah, it had puppets instead of CGI. Puppets are way better than CGI."

"It had a crappy script and a cast who mostly phoned it in."

"But I was good in it."

"Yeah," he concedes. "You're always good."

-- never understood why you do this...pretend to be someone you're not for money you don't need and attention you don't want -- I don't pretend. all my characters are me. and when I figure them out, I figure out...other shit, whatever, you can't judge me, guitar boy --

"You remember the last argument?" Adam asks.

"I remember all of the arguments."

"I almost told you then. Not on purpose. It was just going to slip out -- I love you but you're not helping. I was so damn relieved I caught myself." It's strange to hear the words aloud, instead of just in his head, over and over. "Would it have made a difference?"

"Well I sure as shit would've chased after you," Ronan says. "Would I have gotten my crap together enough that I could have been a good boyfriend? I don't know. Probably not."

"Don't just say that for me."

"I'm not. All the shit I pulled back then, drinking, losing my temper, not listening to anything I didn't want to hear, I wanted to fix all of that for you anyway. I went to a few AA meetings, near the end." Adam turns his head over, surprised, but Ronan's eyes are fixed on the ceiling. "Talked to a shrink a couple times. That's why I never just asked you out. I thought there could be something with us if I could be good enough first, but." He shrugs. "I couldn't. If you had given me a chance I would've blown it."

"Or maybe I could've helped you."

"Maybe." It's only one possibility of many, when Ronan says it, not a creeping doubt that haunts the small hours of the morning. "All of the shit you used to do, pulling away from people, shutting down, needing to be right about everything, do you think that would've been different?"

The answer is bone deep. "No. No, I would've been a very bad boyfriend."

"So. Maybe it would've worked out. Maybe we would've figured our shit out together. Or maybe we'd just hate each other now."

"You would've rather tried, though."

Ronan doesn't answer. It wasn't really a question. "At least we figured our shit out on our own."

"You don't actually know that I'm any less guarded and inflexible than I was," Adam says. "I wrote a hit song just to win an argument with you that I didn't tell you we were having."

"At least it's a good song."

A strangled laugh escapes from him. "It's not. It's crap, it's the most awful, selfish thing I've ever done, I hate that song." The words are out before he knows he's thought them. He's never admitted that before. "I hate it. I hate..."

Ronan turns his head. "I forgive you."

"Oh." He needed that, maybe, but he didn't know it, doesn't know what to do with it now that he has it. He goes light-headed. It's a good thing he's lying down. Ronan is still looking at him.

-- how did you even get in, I thought they locked up the studio at night -- if it's so late then why're you still here -- I'm going to leave when I finish this song. it's just...it's not right yet. I need to get it right -- so work on it, do I look like I'm stopping you? -- you look like you're lying on my sheet music -- if it's important it shouldn't be on the floor --

"Did you ever write anything else?" Ronan asks. "About me."

"No. Yes. I did, but it's not..." God, this is every terrible interview question about where do you get your inspiration, except he can't dodge by talking about literary theory or the artistic process. He's done not being honest with Ronan. "You show up all over my music, but that was the only one that was a letter to you. I could have at least made sure you got it."

"It got to me in the end."

"Too late."

Ronan tilts his head, a silent question:

Is it?

"For the kids we were," he adds, over the sound of his heart pounding.

"Yeah, but those kids were shitheads."

Adam laughs again -- almost silent, little more than an exhale, but it has some actual amusement in it this time. Because it's such a Ronan thing to say, and because it's true. They'd been stupid and stubborn and damaged, and they'd made each other happy anyway.

"Would it be cruel if I said that I've missed you?" Adam asks. The smirk drops off Ronan's face, leaves him too serious. "It was, wasn't it? I knew it," but Ronan is already shaking his head, no, no, no.

"You didn't even know you were doing it, huh?"

"Doing what?"

Ronan reaches a hand across the bedspread to brush against Adam's face. His thumb rests on the corner of his mouth. The touch is light, and careful, and it burns him anyway. Ronan has never touched him like this.

"You were smiling," he says. "The same way you used to."

-- probably too excited, it's not that big of a deal, I'll just be opening for the real talent -- don't do that -- what -- don't talk yourself out of being happy -- I...I wasn't -- well, good, because I like it when you're happy and that never fucking happens -- not never. I'm happy right now --

Adam brings a hand up to catch Ronan's hand. He could hold it. He could pull it away.

"I'm not the same as I was back then," he says. "You're not the same. We don't even know each other anymore."

"So we'll get to know each other."

"Then we're just back where we started. We knew each other last time and we couldn't make it work then."

"We've changed," Ronan says, the same point Adam made a second ago. "We're better at shit than we were before."

His arguments cancel each other out. There has to be something wrong with one of them, because the alternative is that there's something wrong with the conclusion.

"There's no reason to think this would work," Adam pleads, a last attempt to make himself understood.

"Nope," Ronan agrees. "Want to try it anyway?"

He shuts his eyes and admits to both of them: "Yes. I want to try."

Ronan's hand skims across his cheek, down to the side of his neck. He turns toward Ronan at the same time that Ronan leans in toward him, closing the distance between them. Ten years after Adam stopped waiting for it, they kiss for the first time.

-

"Not that I'm going to complain about getting to personally observe at close range an elusive celebrity that any of my colleagues in film journalism would kill to be in a room with," Henry says. Adam does enough interviews that the people giving them mostly blur together, but Henry certainly makes an impression. "But I must ask, why is your boyfriend here and how do I make him stop glaring at me?"

"It kind of sounds like you're complaining," Adam says.

"Only about the glaring. Are you going to make that face the whole time?" He raises his voice a notch since Ronan has chosen to lean against the door frame lurking rather than enter the room like a real person.

"What face."

"You know exactly what face you're making," Adam tells Ronan. "Go away, we were having a nice conversation before you came in."

"He said I could be here."

"That's not what he said -- "

" -- but it's what I meant," Henry cuts in. "Please, by all means, stay. Tell me your thoughts about Adam's new album, do you like it?"

"What kind of stupid question is that?"

"A yes or no one," Adam says. "Are you really stumped?"

"Who the fuck doesn't like Heart Attack?"

"Stop swearing at the press. Go hang out at Gansey's or a coffee shop or just the other room for half an hour while I have a guest."

"Oh, don't be annoyed on my behalf," Henry says, magnanimous. "I'm loving this."

"I can tell. I'm annoyed on my behalf."

"Perhaps he'll go away if we start talking about him?"

"I won't," Ronan warns him.

"Maybe I should leave," Adam says, "and the two of you can just talk to each other."

"I'll embarrass you."

"You're embarrassing me already."

Henry turns his entire body a full thirty degrees in his chair, pointing himself fully in Ronan's direction. "Were you a fan of Adam's before you started dating?"

Ronan shrugs. "I liked the stuff I'd heard okay."

Henry whips back around toward Adam, mouth open in a silent exaggerated gasp. "Does that bother you?"

"What, that my boyfriend is one of those guys who brags about not listening to the radio? Kind of."

"But surely by now you have heard all of it. Do you have a favorite track?"

"What're the Odds," Ronan answers immediately.

"Because it's about you?"

"Yes."

"It's not about you," Adam tells Ronan. "It's about the ways that good luck and bad luck are tied up in each other, and how choice and fortune intersect."

"This is why people say your album's pretentious," Ronan replies. Henry makes a face, he's not wrong, though.

"There's a song on it called Hey Dumbass," Adam points out. "Is that pretentious?"

Ronan brags to Henry, "that one is definitely about me."

"Trust me, Lynch, he knows."

"It is fairly obvious," Henry agrees. "Which is not something that can be said of most of your music."

"Most of it isn't literally autobiographical."

"Is that intentional? Do you change the details when you write lyrics so that your audience won't know what you're talking about?"

Adam frowns. "I mean, yes, but I also do it to make a song better, or to take it in a different direction, or because it's more interesting that way. Transcribing events isn't very interesting to me. It isn't always effective, either, you can spell something out clear as day and still be misunderstood, or just not be heard at all. Expressing an idea without using any of the words for it, and still having people understand what you mean, that's interesting."

"Except for serious topics that require direct communication," Ronan interjects. "Like telling people I'm a dumbass. That's too important to leave open to interpretation."

"You truly aren't offended by that title?" Henry asks.

Ronan wrinkles his nose, like he's offended by that. "It was my idea."

Henry looks to Adam for confirmation. Adam nods, a weary what can you do.

"You know," he says, clearly building up to something, "in the interest of settling public debates..."

Adam readies an answer: it's been eleven years, I'm over it, they're over it, everyone else might as well get over it, too.

But the question isn't about I Should've Known. The question isn't even for him.

"Is it true you stole the raven from the set of Dreamland?"

"Oh, yeah," Ronan says. "It's in Parrish's garage right now, you want to see it?"

"Why are your stolen goods in my garage?" Adam demands.

Ronan pulls a sad face. "I thought you liked Dreamland."

"You know for a fact I hate that movie."

"I thought you were being metaphorical."

Adam stares up at the ceiling, making a mental note to inventory his garage and purge anything else Ronan might have hid there.

"Go get your stupid puppet," he says. "Maybe we can have a minute of actual conversation while you're gone."

"Nothing," Henry says as Ronan slinks off out of sight, "absolutely nothing about the rest of this encounter made me believe that he would willingly do what he was asked."

"Oh, he's not, I think he's just leaving. He only dropped in to make sure you tell people that What're the Odds is about him."

"I thought it was about the intersection of good and bad luck."

"It is, it's just also about him," Adam says. "I feel very, very lucky to have found him. But is it good luck that I found him, or is it bad luck that I didn't find him sooner? Do I even want to attribute anything that takes as much work as this relationship to luck? But if I don't consider luck a factor, does that mean accepting blame for bad things that happen outside of my control?" He gestures, a sweep all of that mess away motion. "I have a habit of looking at things from so many angles I can't tell the misery from the joy anymore. Ronan...makes it all make a little more sense. That's why I wrote the song. I wanted us both to know that."

"That," says Henry, "is painfully romantic. I have no idea how I'm going to convince people that it came thirty seconds after a fight about a muppet."

"You could leave out the part about the muppet," he suggests.

"Not a chance. Everyone is going to know how nauseating you and your boyfriend are."

"Fine," Adam says. "I think I can live with that."