He’s fifteen years old and tired. Sitting in front of the trailer he calls home, he lets himself feel it for just a second. Allows himself to acknowledge the heaviness pulling at his limbs, his drooping eyelids getting pulled down by some invisible power; allows himself a moment of anger and exhaustion. Feeling sorry for himself and letting his misery take over his senses isn’t something he necessarily likes to do. He knows his life sucks, there’s no use dwelling on that. He also knows there are people who have it worse and that he will get out of here. One day one day one day. It’s a song that replays itself inside his head when things get rough, when he feels alone and his father tells him he’s worthless, with his fists and words alike, when his mom looks at it all with pursed lips or ignores it altogether. When the trailer park is suffocating and the dust invades his lungs, makes it hard to breathe. Sometimes doubt creeps in and then it’s almost impossible for him to believe it will ever happen; he’ll be stuck here for the rest of his days, become a copy of Robert Parrish because it’s his fate, it’s in his blood and he’ll have a son sitting in the exact same position, singing to himself one day one day one day.
Snapping out of that depressing train of thought, he suddenly remembers the free magazine he picked up at the grocery store earlier. From the rack next to the entry, filled with daily news and picked up by the busy fingers of housewives and old people taking their weekly stroll. He’s passed it numerous times and never felt the need to take one with him, until today. He doesn’t know what came over him, just that he desperately wanted to pretend to do something normal. And why not?
He takes it out now, from under his thin jacket, unfolds it and looks at the picture of some actress he vaguely recognizes posing on the front.
It’s been so long since he read something just for him. He used to go the library when he was younger, used to spend full days there, befriending the old, sweet lady behind the desk, reading everything he could get his hands on. But when he realized there’s a way to escape this, that the world is so much wider than the name double-wide suggest, that maybe there’s a way for him to not only read about magical places and people going on adventures, but actually live those things and see them for himself, the library turned into the last item on his list of things to do. He picked up several jobs and poured all his remaining time and energy into studying and getting A’s; the library was forgotten. At times, when the night is too heavy to sleep and the walls are too thin to not hear what’s playing in the bedroom next to his, he thinks of the old lady with her white hair that gave him pieces of her chocolate sometimes and wonders what happened to her. If she still works there, if maybe at times she wonders about him too after he abruptly stopped coming, if she’s even still alive.
Now he opens his magazine and pictures the one his father reads and notices the stark difference between the two. He rifles through it, not particularly caring about the content or finding it exceptionally captivating, but enjoying himself nonetheless. Skimming through it, he abruptly lets it fall open on some ad, perfume he thinks, featuring a man, a car and the gray sky above. The man is leaning against his expensive, fast car, wearing expensive designer clothes. Adam’s enthralled by how casually powerful the man looks and by the quiet authority he radiates. Like nothing can hurt him, like he’s above pain. At first, it’s just the power that evokes Adam’s wonder, then he pays closer attention to the guy’s face; zooms in on his high cheekbones, the strand of dark hair falling on his forehead, his pronounced jawline. The way his clothes fit him just right, accentuating the right things, the right way and Adam is in awe.
There’s a mixture of several things going through Adam’s head, the most prominent being want. Which he shuts down immediately without realizing why and replaces with one day one day one day. He looks at the car again. Without giving it second thought, he rips the picture from the magazine and folds it carefully, stuffs it into his pocket.
The picture is burned in his memory now and he thinks he’ll use it as motivation, to try to become that person one day. Because that’s what he wants. That’s the want overpowering his thoughts. Being that man, radiating the same power, being able to dress like that, owning a car like that and doing it all as effortlessly as if he’d been born into it.
He takes it out sometimes, from under his mattress. He’s not sure why he feels the need to hide it like that, it’s not like there’s something bad on there. He just doesn’t want his dad to find it and realize that Adam wants to be that man, he tells himself. He doesn’t want his parents to know that that is his goal in life, he tells himself. And he tries not to think of the why’s to much. Why he decided on that picture, why he hides it, why it makes him want.
Years later he’ll realize that maybe it wasn’t just the power the man radiated and the effortless way he looked like money and success and was everything Adam wanted to be but wasn’t. He’ll think that maybe it was a mixture of those things, combined with the fact that he was extremely attracted to the guy, but just didn’t realize it. That the want to be him, could’ve easily also been the want to be with him among other things. He’ll think that there have been so many more instances in his life where he interpreted his own feelings wrong, or simply repressed them and twisted them so that he didn’t have to face the real thing. Subconsciously of course, until Ronan started looking at him and the pieces all fell in their place and he realized something about himself that had been there for a long time, but was never allowed out.
When he gets together with Ronan, he analyzes the feelings he had for Blue and he realizes they were just as real as the one he has for Ronan. Maybe they weren’t as strong, but they were there. And something clicks inside him, because he knows now that Ronan wasn’t the first boy he was ever attracted to, which is what he thought in the beginning, and he knows that he’s still very much into girls too, but that it’s all fine. He’s got time to find himself and figure out what that means for him. Which he does in great detail. Adam Parrish, a man of science, likes to understand things, approaches this objectively, eyes on his goal.
He doesn’t doubt his attraction or love for Ronan because he is absolutely sure that those things are there. He does not doubt his feelings for Ronan once. He just wonders whether he’s the only boy he’s ever liked or if there were others.
When he was younger, he didn’t give his sexuality much thought. He always thought he was straight so there was no real reason to think about it and anyway, living under his parents’ roof, the possibility of being something else than straight, stepping out of line of what his dad thought was right, wasn’t much of an option. He liked Blue, he had a girlfriend before that, when he was fourteen. She gave him his first kiss, but other than that it wasn’t anything exceptional. She was a girl from his school he had to work with one day. She was pretty and she smelled nice. She had a gap between her teeth and he remembers finding that charming. They worked on the chemistry project in the library, she kissed him one day, he liked it, she asked him to be her girlfriend and eventually she broke it off, no doubt expecting dates and time spent together, but Adam simply did not have the money or time to spare. He didn’t like her that much that it really hurt or anything, but it stung a little. Knowing dating just wasn’t for him, yet another thing on his seemingly endless list of one day, something he’d do when he got out of here.
If he was being honest with himself, he was a little disappointed. It’s not like he expected butterflies to fly around and the sun to start shining just for them, but the couple kisses they shared didn’t really do anything to him. That didn’t stop him from wanting more of them, though. Her lips were soft and brought him affection he had missed his whole life. The feeling of her hands on his hips warmed his skin in a way he was not familiar with, so even if real feelings were missing, he also definitely didn’t want her to break up with him .
He figured it was better anyway. He put her out of his head and forget about her quickly enough, only sometimes allowing her to open the doors in his mind and wondering that if he could’ve been able to show her a little more attention, she’d have stayed longer.
Then he met Blue and he really liked her too. Her originality and fire drew him in and did things to his head. It was easier with her somehow because he saw her in the company of Gansey, because she was pretty affectionate herself and wasn’t afraid to say what she thought or let him know what she wanted or didn’t want. She took his hand and it was easy to lay his head in her lap. It was nice and he knew that if he were to kiss her, it’d be different than the kisses he shared with his former girlfriend. He thought maybe he’d feel something else than simply that’s nice.
It was good. While it lasted.
Because of course it didn’t last. He was Adam Parrish, why would he be able to love someone the right way? Maybe love was a big word, but why would he be able to – to be enough? Because that was exactly what it was. He was not enough.
The words it’s not going to be you echoed through his mind for days on end and the fear that he would end up exactly like his father encased him, held him captive. When those words came out of her mouth, he knew. He just knew that if it wasn’t him, it’d be Gansey. Because of course. Of fucking course.
When he gets together with Ronan, everything is great and his anger doesn’t matter because Ronan has his own anger inside to match Adam’s. They get together and every touch, every word shared between them leaves a trace in his skin, strikes a match until his insides are burning with want and need and love. Finally he can feed his hunger. Ronan doesn’t mind if Adam kisses him fiercely, barely giving him space to breathe, all but attacks his mouth with his own. He doesn’t mind Adam taking of his shirt and tracing the warm skin, following the trail of his tattoo with his mouth. Doesn’t mind the hickies on his neck, the scratches on his back.
The physical aspects of the relationship is explosive and wonderful. But that’s not all. Ronan is the first person to ever be truly gentle with him, the first person that looks at him as if he deserves everything.
He makes Adam laugh harder than anything ever has, sometimes so much he literally cannot breathe, until he has tears in his eyes. Ronan knows when to crack a joke, make fun of Gansey, draw out a grin with force if he has to after a shitty day at work. But also knows when to leave it alone and simply let Adam lay his head on his lap on the couch and gently run his fingers through his hair when he’s feeling down. Because the truth is, while Adam Parrish has always thought of himself as unknowable, somehow Ronan Lynch has managed to know him.
He knows him. He understands him. Like no one ever has. And Adam realizes that, even if he didn’t notice before, he had always understood Ronan the same way. Back when he couldn’t stand being in the same room with him for more than five minutes before one of them made a biting remark. Even then, they’d understood each other on some level.
So, no. If there is one thing in the world he is absolutely sure of, it’s his love for Ronan. While figuring out his sexuality is definitely confusing, that is not. It’s the surest and realist thing in his life at the moment.
Once, when Adam was about ten, he had a friend. Called Jason. The boy had curly black hair, dark skin and piercing brown eyes that glittered in the sun and made Adam feel warm and fuzzy inside. It was the first real friend he’d ever had, or as real as fleeting friendship at that age can be anyway and Adam cared for him deeply. When Jason smiled, he had a dimple and for some reason having it directed at him, filled Adam with an indescribable pride. There was something about him that made Adam want to be around him as much as possible and never let go. Seen as Jason was his first friend, he didn’t think much of it and figured that’s just what friendship was.
The whole thing was over pretty quickly, Jason moved away. Adam is pretty sure he never even knew his last name.
When he thinks back to that now, he wonders if it wasn’t something other than just friendship. And then he thinks back to the first time Gansey had laid his charming eyes on him and shown Adam his electric smile and the feeling that had evoked inside him and wow. That’s a whole other realization.
Now lying on his small mattress above the church that’s his home, next to the boy he thinks of when he thinks of home, he wonders how he never noticed what really, was there all along. He thinks it’s probably a mixture of wanting to survive and homophobic bullshit shoved in his head by the people that raised him.
Now, lying on his small mattress above the church that’s his home, next to the boy he thinks of when he thinks of home, he lets himself feel and think and understand something about himself.
‘Why the fuck are you thinking this hard? It’s two in the morning’, Ronan mumbles into the crook of his shoulder, sleep already pulling at his senses, one hand wrapped around Adam’s waist.
‘I’m not.’ It’s a lie, automatically leaving his mouth. Adam spends his life thinking too hard, over analyzing every little thing. He’s never had to share the inner workings of his mind with anyone.
‘Yes, you are. You’ve got that little crunch between your eyebrows. That means you’re thinking too hard.’ But this is Ronan and, again, Adam is taken aback by how good Ronan knows him. The inner workings of his mind may be a mystery to most people, but Ronan has never been like most people.
He doesn’t say anything for a little while, lets the silence fill the room. Ronan kisses his shoulder and Adam can feel his eyelashes fluttering against his skin. Soft as a confession whispered in the dead of the night.
‘I’m bisexual’, he says then, finally, shattering the quiet.
And it’s out there. The nervous flutter in his stomach has nothing to do with fear or dread. He feels most comfortable around Ronan and this is nothing new really. It’s just that it’s the first time he’s ever said those words aloud, the first time he knows with a certainty they’re real. And that sensation is new to him, it flutters in his stomach, but a good kind of fluttering. One that’s as pleasant as the spring sun warming his skin after winter has gone to sleep.
Ronan makes a noise that could be interpreted in many different ways, but the way he pulls Adam closer to him and nuzzles his nose to his temple and drops a kiss on his ear, indicates it’s most likely one of encouragement and support. The gesture fills Adam’s body with warmth and his heart beats with the incredible love he has for this boy.
‘What brought this on?’
‘I don’t know. Just thinking back on my life. I have this ad in my car, for perfume or something. And I always convinced myself I kept it because one day I wanted to be the guy. But now I think I kept it because I was ridiculously attracted to him even though I didn’t realize it.’
Ronan lets out a small laugh. ‘Well, I’m fucking gay. I think I always sort of knew though.’
Adam wonders if Ronan has ever admitted to that before and he’s pretty sure he never has. He simply got together with Adam and that was enough for them. But here, in the safety and comfort of this room and each other, it’s okay.
He thinks of how Ronan used to hate himself so much and that, some of it at least, was tied to his sexuality. How he used to be so angry and scared and hidden from everyone. How self acceptance was a long and painful process for him. He thinks of how proud he is of Ronan, of how strong he is and of how far he’s come. To say those words without shame above the church he visits every Sunday. The church where he belongs but for a long time felt like an intruder, like he was wrong.
Ronan shouldn’t have to give up parts of himself because others won’t accept him. He shouldn’t have to hide. He’s gay, but he also believe in god with an intensity that Adam saw reflected in his eyes the few times he has accompanied him to church.
Adam himself is not religious, but he respects it and can see the beauty of it in certain things. But more importantly, he’s aware of how deeply rooted it is in Ronan’s life and how it’s a part of him. Adam loves all parts of Ronan, wants him to be able to love all parts of himself too. He’s glad Ronan feels comfortable enough saying those words above his church.
‘I’m glad you finally figured it out. ‘M proud of you,’ Ronan mumbles then, almost asleep, saying things he maybe wouldn’t have said wide awake, but that Adam would’ve gotten anyway.
Adam plants a kiss on the top of his head and closes his head. ‘I’m proud of you too.’
And that’s how they fall asleep, entwined like vines and trusting someone, finally, to accept them for who they are.
They’re growing still. And discovering themselves, but now that they’re safe and relatively happy, most of the time, it’s a process Adam actually is kind of looking forward to. Maybe he doesn’t have to be unknowable. Maybe he can just be Adam Parrish, loved by his friends and boyfriend, safe, attending Harvard in the fall, bisexual, in love and proud. Of who he is.
Proud of being Adam Parrish. He decides he rather likes that thought.
Thanks for reading! Title from Chanel by Frank Ocean, because that song is almost as Bi™ as Adam Parrish is