[HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ADAM PARRISH!]
By the time Adam finishes cleaning up the last of his apartment, the sun is setting and hundreds of crickets are chirping outside of his open window.
There’s a chill creeping into the room, odd for a July night in Henrietta, but not unwelcome. Adam steps back into the doorway of his bathroom and surveys the now empty space of what was once his home, or something close to it. But the word home brings to mind the Barns. He thinks of Opal playing in a wide, open field and Ronan threatening to lasso her if she doesn’t stop eating leaves, and his chest hurts. Just a little.
What little belongings he has are packed neatly into two medium-sized boxes, a suitcase, and a duffel bag that are placed in a stack by the front door. Ronan is supposed to come by soon to help him take his things to the farm, where he’ll be staying until college starts in two weeks. He’s looking forward to it, but knows it’s going to be hard to say goodbye when it comes time to leave.
With a sigh, Adam decides to do one final sweep of the place and as he checks around his bed, he spots something shoved between the mattress and wall. He pulls it free and shakes it out. It’s the leather jacket Ronan had misplaced a few weeks ago. There’s a fuzzy memory of him yanking it off of Ronan and tossing it somewhere during an impromptu make-out session, and the tips of his ears burn.
The fabric is soft and some of the seams are frayed from years of use. Ronan had been wearing this jacket the first time Adam met him; he’d been all sharp angles, sharp eyes, and a sharper tongue. Adam’s still ashamed he’d thought Ronan was nothing more than that.
A breeze of chilly air sweeps into the apartment and Adam shivers, fingers bunching into the worn leather as goosebumps rise over his skin. He glances down at the jacket in his grasp, then slings it over his shoulders so he can slide his arms into the sleeves. Even after being stuck in Adam’s room for so long, it still smells like Ronan. It’s a familiar mix of leather, the air freshener dangling from the BMW’s rear view mirror, and sweet grain.
Adam adjusts the collar around the nape of his neck, just as he hears footsteps coming up the stairs to his apartment.
There’s two loud bangs on the door, Ronan’s signature knock, and then the knob is turning and he’s wandering in like he always does: one hand in his pocket and his teeth gnawing on the wristbands of the other. He’s wearing a navy blue windbreaker over his tank-top and a pair of faded jeans that have seen better days. There’s a rip near Ronan’s inner thigh that Adam’s eyes catch on.
“Nice pants,” Adam comments.
Ronan drops his wrist and raises two dark eyebrows as he notices what Adam’s wearing.
“Nice jacket,” he says.
Adam feels a little embarrassed being caught trying on his boyfriend’s jacket, but he’d already packed away his own sweater and wasn’t going to fish it out. He’s sure he looks ridiculous in it. It’s so far from his usually plain style and he can feel how it’s a bit too big on him. The shoulders are loose and the sleeves go past his wrists, down to his knuckles.
“I found it behind my mattress.”
Ronan’s grin is absolutely wicked. He stalks over to Adam, like a prowling cat.
“Hmm. I wonder how it could’ve found its way into a place like that? Any ideas?”
Adam huffs out an exasperated breath and not rolling his eyes is simple. It’s suppressing his fond smile that’s the hard part. He moves to take off the jacket and give it back, but Ronan’s hand on his shoulder stops him. The grin is gone from him face, but he doesn’t look any less satisfied.
Adam blinks, surprised. “But–”
“No buts, Parrish. Keep the damn thing.”
Ronan reaches forward and tugs the jacket’s zipper up, his knuckles brushing against the skin of Adam’s throat. He looks contemplative, like he’s not sure if he really wants to give up the piece of clothing he’s worn almost every day for years, but then his grin is back and he’s got both hands on Adam’s shoulders.
“I think it looks better on you, anyway. You’ve got that James Dean look going for you. Be still my fucking heart,” Ronan heads over to the boxes and luggage stacked by the front door. “Come on, let’s get going before Gansey starts blowing up my phone. He and the midget planned a surprise going away party for you, but you didn’t hear that from me.”
Adam snorts, going over to grab a few of his own things. He props open the front door so Ronan can pass by with his armful of boxes, and a pleasant feeling starts forming in the pit of his stomach as he watches him go down the steps. Home. He’s going home.
He looks back into the empty apartment one last time, breathes, and then flips off the light.