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there was nowhere for me to stay, but I stayed anyway

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Are you really gonna talk about timing in times like these?
And let all your damage damage me
And carry your baggage up my streeT
And make me your future history, it’s time
You've come a long way; open the blinds, let me see your face
You wouldn't be the first renegade to need somebody
Is it insensitive for me to say, "Get your shit together so I can love you?"
Is it really your anxiety that stops you from giving me everything?
Or do you just not want to?

Renegade, Big Red Machine ft. Taylor Swift


“Fuck fuck fuck!” Adam growled, throwing his phone down furiously on his bed. Normally Adam Parrish would not throw a phone (or anything breakable and expensive, for that matter) but this was an indestructible dream phone.

 

And Adam was angry.

 

Not in the blind, seething rage of his father. Or the sharp, pointed frustration of Blue. Nor the quiet yet potent rage of Gansey.

 

He was angry in a way that matched his partner — a match struck against an oil-soaked cloth, igniting fast and bright and hot.

 

Adam didn’t usually get this angry — sure, things tipped him off and he’d reply with snarky comments or slightly over-the-line jabs. But he didn’t get angry most of the time. Not like this. Not like Ronan

 

It made sense in a painfully ironic way: that something Ronan did would bring out such Ronan-like anger in Adam.

 

Adam breathed out a long breath, trying to calm himself down, but it didn’t work. He picked up his phone from the bed and tried calling Ronan one more time, but he didn’t pick up.


That wasn’t atypical, as Ronan was horrible with phones. But Adam knew Ronan had just been on his phone, and was pointedly ignoring his (eight) calls, and that’s what made him mad. “Fucking Lynch,” he grumbled, snatching his car keys and slamming the door closed of his tiny St. Agnes apartment.

 

He headed straight for Singer’s Falls, driving much faster than usual, his hands curling aggressively into the steering wheel.

 

All of this had started just 20 minutes earlier, when Ronan had sent a short but jarring text: i don’t think we should date anymore.

 

And that was it. No explanation, no reply to Adam’s frantic texts of why? and what? and call me! No answer on the eight outgoing phone calls he placed in quick succession after.

 

Adam pushed 50 as he got closer to the Barns, his foot pressing on the acceleration subconsciously in anticipation. He had to slow down as he approached Ronan’s street, knowing the entrance to the Barns was hard to find even when Adam’s head was clear and rage-less. He calmed down just enough to focus and found it, pulling into the driveway. He didn’t even notice the pain of the security system—not really, because his current pain was so much worse. All he could think about is that stupid text and Ronan’s voicemail and the aching hole starting to eat up his chest.

 

He parked the car messily then stomped up the porch, banging on the front door, which was, shockingly, locked. “LYNCH!” Adam called, knocking over and over again. He stopped after a moment to press his head against the glass and look through. The lights were all off in the house, so Adam set out across the field to largest of the Barns, the one where Ronan kept all his dream things.

 

That barn, luckily, was not locked. Adam swung open the door and was greeted by the sight of Ronan passed out on the makeshift-bed he kept in there, a bottle of vodka half-finished beside him. “Goddamnit, Lynch.”

 

Despite his anger, Adam felt sad. Whatever made Ronan send that text, whatever prompted the unprecedented breakup, was clearly not coming from the real Ronan, the rational side of him. It was coming from the deepest, darkest parts of Ronan: the Ronan who felt worthless and undeserving and as fucked up as they come.

 

He was still mad of course. But that anger was starting to fade a little bit, now that he could see this boy in front of him, clearly trouble even in his sleep.

 

Adam sighed, sitting down next to him. He gently tapped Ronan’s shoulder, easing him out of sleep and praying the boy didn’t bring anything back. “Ronan?” he said softly.

 

Ronan opened his eyes and squinted up at Adam, confused. “What are you doing here?”

 

Once he was awake, Adam gave him a light smack on his forearm. “What the fuck do you think I’m doing here, Lynch? You sent that stupid text and then wouldn’t answer my calls.”

 

Ronan just grumbled, pushing himself up to a sitting position. He looked at the bottle of vodka beside him and, before he could say anything, Adam reached across Ronan’s body and grabbed the bottle, setting it out of sight. “I . . I meant what I said,” he said after a moment.

 

“Oh, you did, huh?” Adam barked.

 

“Yeah,” Ronan mumbled, unable to meet Adam’s eyes. “We should break up.”

 

“And why exactly is that?”

 

Ronan inhaled for a long time, closing his eyes. Adam could see the gears turning, watch as Ronan tried to find a plausible, logical excuse to breakup. Not some bullshit answer that Adam could see through. “You know why, Parrish,” he settled on eventually. He didn't even have the decency to say it, the bastard. 

 

“Because you’re not good enough for me? Cause you’re not finishing high school? Cause I’m going to Harvard while you stay here? Yeah, you’re right Ronan, I definitely was going to break up with you sooner or later because of that shit and now you just saved me some time! So thanks for that!” Adam’s anger was burning again, the embers re-igniting with a gust of wind.

 

“You know it’s true! I’d just be holding you back. You can tell me you love me all you want but I know that, eventually, you’re going to realize there’s something better out there. Someone better!” Ronan protested, standing up.

 

“Oh bullshit, Ronan!” Adam yelled, standing up across from him. “Can you get your shit together for just once? Find a single ounce of trust in this relationship—in me—and let me love you? Is that really so fucking hard to do?”

 

Ronan looked up at him, his blue eyes swelling with tears, his forehead creased in pain. He shook his head softly. “It’s not that easy, Adam.”

 

“I’m not saying it is,” Adam said, softer now. “I don’t expect things to perfect. You can still have these…fears and anxieties. But I need you to try to fight against them, Ro. I need you to show me that you want this to work, rather than cop out because you’re too scared of getting hurt.”

 

Ronan took that in, swallowing hard and glancing away. Adam took this moment to take a deep breath before stepping closer to him. He placed a hand on Ronan’s arm, stroking the soft fabric of his t-shirt “Ro. I know this has been hard, with school and college coming up and everything. I’m not . . . I’m not asking you to ignore your feelings. I just want you to talk to me about them rather than just . . . break up with me out of the blue.”

 

“Adam—“ Ronan said, his voice breaking as he looked up at the other boy. “I’m  so afraid to mess this up. To ruin your life, your career, everything you’ve been working towards. It’s not just me feeling unworthy or shit. I mean it is but it’s more than that. It’s me not wanting to stop you from reaching your full potential. I can’t be the reason you stay in Henrietta. Or come back, or anything. I can’t damage you with all my own fucking baggage.”

 

“Lynch,” Adam laughed wryly. “You’re not making me do anything. I’m going to come back to Henrietta not because I have to but because  want to. Because I want you.” Adam ran his hand along the side of his face, his thumb ghosting of his lips. “You’re not damaging me, Ronan. I have my own baggage, my own ghosts. You’re helping me get rid of them and heal. Let me help you do the same. It’s okay to . . . to need each other.”

 

Ronan nodded ever so slightly and Adam wrapped him in his arms, pressing his face into Ronan’s neck and kissing him softly there. Ronan’s arms squeezed tight around him, the pressure familiar and calming. Adam’s fire was finally fizzling out, replaced with a soft, warm glow. “Hey, let me see your face,” Adam whispered, pulling back and Ronan did the same. Both of their eyes were a bit wet and puffy, Ronan’s face a furious red thanks to his pale complexion. “We’ve come a long way already, yeah?”

 

“Yeah,” Ronan nodded. His voice was soft and raw and it melted Adam’s heart. 

 

“We can get through this. We will, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Ronan agreed, placing a gentle kiss on Adam’s forehead. “I’m sorry for being an impulsive asshole and breaking up with you over text,” he mumbled, and Adam smiled, pressing their foreheads together.

 

“I wouldn’t love you if you weren’t,” he teased.

 

“Dickwad,” Ronan grumbled, but there wasn’t any bite to it. He was smiling wide and leaning back in for another kiss, which Adam happily met joined him for. “Tamquam.”

 

“Alter idem,” Adam said against his lips, then pulled away. “Now let’s go inside and you can make me pancakes.”

 

“Why am I making you pancakes?” Ronan squinted.

 

“Because you just broke up with me, stupid! Least you could do is make me some fucking pancakes.”

 

“Fair enough,” Ronan laughed and Adam dragged him along out of the barn and back to the house.