Silence in the waiting for the blow to fall. The red dust of Henrietta mufflin everything, getting into his lungs and choking his own voice.
Adam thought he knew pain, too.
But this is worse. This ringing, this absense. This is something he cannot hide with scholarships and hard work. This is not something he can fix with a bit of grease. He’s Damaged™ now, and he’d take a dozen broken bones over this.
“Tell me,” he asks Gansey, and belatedly tilts his head so he can hear his friend deliver the news he already knows.
The church is its own kind of quiet, which is why it’s so strange that Ronan Lynch seems to fit there. He wouldn’t think that the wings Ronan wears on his back would fold down enough to let him through the doors, and yet here he is, on his doorstep again.
And he says nothing, again.
Adam knows, and Ronan must know that he does. But he says nothing, and so Adam has nothing to respond to, and they’re adrift in this sea of non-verbal communication, everything possible and nothing concrete. Like the prayers Ronan mouths but doesn’t dare say, anymore. Like totems worn smooth with searching fingers.
“Tell me,” he asks Blue, and Blue says Gansey’s going to die.
They all find their battles in the end, unravelling a spider and a curse, two impossible tasks, five impossible figures. How many plots are they juggling now, not daring to say them out loud for fear of alerting someone else to the game? Gansey can’t know his fate. Blue can’t know her own feelings. Ronan can’t know his own worth.
Well, he’s a hypocrite, but he already knew that. That’s not a secret at all.
Noah knows everything, but he doesn’t often talk to Adam. It’s frustrating, because he feels like he should be listening for something from the ghost boy, but he keeps standing on the wrong side, keeps flinching at any noise that might be that voice coming back to whisper in his dead ear again.
Maybe that’s the one thing worse than the quiet.
All too soon the end is coming at them and Adam isn’t ready. He digs in his hands, gets dirt under his nails as he tries to grab for more time. He grabs at ties, done up properly just for him, at tins of dream things just for him, at a little car that plays a tune.
“Tell me,” he asks Ronan.
He grasps at the boy in front of him as they fall forward, fall together, finally say everything they needed to with body language they both understand. And yes, talking will happen later, but this is the best conversation starter either of them have ever managed, so he’s not worried. Not about this.
After, he asks Gansey an impossible question, and the king delivers, like he wakes the dead, like he commands the world itself to move. He talks of quiet like a good thing, and Adam traces the feeling of another heartbeat in his fingertips, and starts to perhaps understand.