The day at the Barns had been long, but eventful. Adam's anticipation had caused a nervous twist in his gut for all morning and most of the afternoon. Why did finding a pet have to be so complicated? He was not good with animals, they tolerated him, and his inexperience with pet-ownership—which had resulted in Adam reading every spare minute he could about the fiscal and emotional responsibility—had him overthinking it.
But a steel-gray gangly kitten who had shied away from most people all day seemed just as curious about Adam as Adam had been about it. Not much long after that, Adam was signing adoption papers and paying the fee he had studiously saved up since he and Ronan had discussed doing this.
Before the sun even set, a blip on his device said the alarm was going off at Boyd's. I'll be right back he had said, kissing Ronan and stroking the kitten, currently nameless, along the top of his head. What a liar he had been.
The night proceeded with Adam texting the alarm repairman—not many analog contractors for a building that was sans magic—constantly, and then texting Ronan. Soon started to sound like a trite excuse. He was going on hour three of waiting.
Adam had been a second away from texting Ronan again, apologizing in his non-apologetic way, when he heard the door to the lobby open. He had expected the repairman, but Ronan was a much better surprise. Adam rushed in to kiss him warm from the cold outside.
"I know, I know. He keeps giving me the runaround, and I would do it myself if I didn't think I'd tip off the alarm company that I was—what is in your coat?" Adam asked, before he glanced down. "Better yet, what is in your hand? Adam asked, halfway to laughing at—god, was that a donut?
If anyone dared to ask, Ronan would tell them he didn’t give two shits about Valentine’s. He was confident he did a damn good job of proving he loved Adam every day and no capitalist manipulation was going to make him do tacky shit one day a year like a fucking automaton.
He’d say all that, but he was romantic at heart and the idea of not getting to spend one on one time with Adam on Valentine’s sat like a rock in his gut. So when the latest text came in and he looked at the clock, he made up his mind.
Now, with Adam pulling him inside the garage and kissing him, Ronan was patting himself on the back for his excellent decision making.
“Hello to you too, Parrish,” he teased. The nameless kitten was curled up inside his leather jacket and he kept one arm tucked underneath his tiny body as he carried his Valentine’s gift inside. The giant stuffed donut had pink frosting and sprinkles, a terrible looking brown hole in the center, and it said “I Luv U A Hole Lot!” As far as Ronan was concerned, it was the best gift he’d ever given anyone ever. In his life.
“This little fucker and I got tired of waiting and figured we could keep you company here.” He juggled the donut and a small cat carrier in his arm and then turned to face Adam. The cat poked his head out of his jacket and meowed as if to confirm Ronan’s words. “I was gonna bring food too but I only have so many hands.”
Adam didn't know what was better: Ronan, once again, proving his capacity for tenderness and compassion with this tiny kitten or Ronan's ability to find the crudest joke and somehow make it romantic. Currently it was the latter as he took the pillow out of Ronan's hand and held it up to inspect. Adam couldn't stop laughing, his earlier frustration at being stuck here quickly diminishing. He had never been happier for the company.
"No, this is perfect," Adam said, ushering the two of them past the counter, and into his office. He propped the pillow up on his desk. It was the brightest object in the room, which given how Ronan often was the most disruptive presence (in the best way) in Adam's orbit, it was fitting.
He crowded into Ronan's space, his fingers dancing just above the kitten in Ronan's jacket. It batted lazily at his hand with another small meep. "I don't have anything for you here," Adam said this to the kitten, in the same way he gently explained things to Opal. He glanced up to Ronan, looking slightly embarrassed. "And the food situation is shitty. Maybe some cup of noodles? How do you feel about instant lunch? Or well, dinner."
Adam’s laugh always did riotous things to Ronan’s heart. He wanted to set off fucking fireworks every time he inspiried it. He settled for following Adam into the office with the cat carrier and the cat that really should’ve been inside it. He would have if it wasn’t so cold. Ronan had felt bad on the way over and pulled the little guy out to put him close to his body heat.
“Ooh, perfect. I’m gonna tell Gansey you said that. He was sure it was terrible.” He fought a smile at the kitten’s clumsy movements and pulled him out of his jacket to press him into Adam’s hands. “Anyway, cup of noodles sounds great. What are we fucking foodies now?” Pressing a laughing kiss to Adam’s mouth, he swaggered over to the microwave and started rifling through the cupboards. He knew his way around the place so he grabbed two packets of hot chocolate and two mugs while he was digging.
“You thought more about a name for the beast yet?”
"It's perfect because it's terrible. Someone messed up letting that past design," Adam said, but was quickly distracted by having the small animal shoved into his hands. His whole demeanor changed, as if Ronan had just handed over a glass bubble. Adam's hands were strong and sure and certain in every movement, but this made him almost panic. Almost.
The kitten started pawing for his hair, and reaching for his shoulder, wiggling and squirming. Ronan had already walked too far away to be of any help, and Adam distractedly said, "Foodies, yeah." The kitten meowed in agreement, then yawned. Adam tucked the kitten against him, the way Ronan had brought him in, which seemed to settle the previous fidgeting—apparently being too far away from Adam was what did it, and he instantly stilled, hooking a single claw into his sweater.
Adam hummed, shaking his head. "No. Nothing that seemed right. If I name him something like Devastator, I don't want to set him up for failure by not living up to his name. Or worse, suggesting that he actually live up to it." Leave it to Adam to overthink pet names. "You set a high bar at the Barns. Do people not name cats Fluffy or Whiskers anymore?"
“Old people probably,” Ronan joked. He set down the mugs and hot chocolate packets on the counter and set to work preparing their fine-dining one-course meal. “Try not to overthink it. Look at him and do some fucking word association or something, I don’t know.”
After two years together, it shouldn’t have surprised him how domestic it felt to be talking kitten names while he “cooked” his boyfriend dinner on Valentine’s Day but sometimes it still caught him unaware, right behind the ribs. He had this. They had each other. And they were doing a pretty damn good job of holding onto it. He felt a smile tugging at his mouth as he filled the cup of noodles containers with water and stuck one in the microwave. While it cooked, he turned around to crowd into Adam’s space and knocked their foreheads lightly together.
“This isn’t something you can actually get wrong, nerd,” he whispered affectionately.
While the kitten twisted around against Adam's chest, Adam watched Ronan through sneaky glances. If Ronan was surprised by their comfort with one another, so was Adam. It never felt strained, it never felt complicated. Being known meant they could move in and out of each other's spaces with deft awareness. Adam was always meant to fit together with Ronan, and sometimes it took a few tries (their arguments) and sometimes it was easy (like now.)
He only tilted his head down a moment, to watch the kitten react to his potential names via word association at the garage. It was Ronan's fault that the first names out of his mouth were, "Audi, Maserati, Ferrari, Peugeot—" But when he looked up Ronan was right there, pressing their foreheads together. Instinct caused Adam to kiss Ronan in return, not even thinking, always magnetized to him.
"I think it's entirely possible to get it wrong. I could name him Chevy. Valvoline. Cup o Noodles, Con for short," Adam said, flashing his perfectly crafted shit-eating grin—the very one he picked up from Ronan. "This is the first time I've ever named something, it's—" A big deal, he wanted to say. "I'm definitely going to overthink it."
Ronan smiled into the kiss. It was a good thing there weren’t any fucking witnesses for this. He was almost embarrassed by himself. Well, and Adam too. The increasingly bad names made him snort.
He wasn’t dense. He understood why Adam was being excessively Adam about this. And it pulled at Ronan’s heart.
“Fine, overthink it. Just remember that you’re the only vote that really matters.” He brushed a thumb up over the kitten’s forehead but the kitten was still mostly paying attention to Adam. Ronan couldn’t blame him. “I might give you shit for Valvoline, but you’ve survived worse from me than a little harassment. Cup of Noodles is actually fucking hilarious though, just saying.”
As the microwave beeped, Ronan dipped forward to nip Adam’s jaw and then headed over to swap out the noodle cups and start the process over again.
The kitten mimicked Ronan, taking its turn to nip at Adam's jaw, too. "You're already a bad influence on Cup of Noodles," Adam said to Ronan's trailing back. Was he really going to name his cat—his cat—after instant lunch? This was a terrible idea, but his mind couldn't let it go. Everyone was going to have a field day.
"Maybe it could be something distinguished." That was Gansey's influence talking, his best friend still spouting practicality in his brain. Adam went to sit at his desk, and kick out another chair so they could at least have some sort of table for dinner. The kitten crawled out of Adam's arm, and began to prowl around between pens and bookkeeping, angling for the donut pillow.
"Seneca, Cicero?" Adam sounded pleased with that one. It wasn't like they had based their entire secret love language around a proverb from a man who lived in ancient Rome or anything. "You know, you make this shit seem easy. I have never questioned Chainsaw's name. And Opal. I can't think of her being anything else."
Adam smiled, watching Ronan put together their food. "I know you said my vote matters, but you’ll have to live with it. You're stuck with me and Valvoline—?" Adam looked quickly to the kitten who... was that a frown? No, on Valvoline then.
With two cups of noodles steeping, Ronan popped the two mugs in the microwave to heat up water for hot chocolate. He shot an amused glance at Adam for saying the word distinguished. He’d have to file that one away for shit-talking when he wasn’t juggling two cups of noodles and two mugs of cheap hot chocolate over to Adam’s desk. He kicked a spinning chair closer to Adam’s side and ended up straddling it to deposit their romantic dinner on the desk.
“I guess some of us just have the gift…” he said smugly. “…And some of us don’t.” He wasn’t about to admit that he had a long list of names he’d thought up one sleepless night and was just ticking them off one at a time. “Seriously, anything but Valvoline. Cicero’s not bad. Just…” A thoughtful expression twisted his eyebrows as he stabbed a fork into Adam’s noodles and then one into his own. “Pick the one that you won’t mind shouting across the house when he inevitably fucks up your homework. And eat some of that before he tries to steal it.” The kitten was already reaching out to bat at the end of the fork sticking out of the cup.
"Don't be a shitbag, I'll figure it out, whether it's shout worthy or not," Adam said, so goddamn fond. His boyfriend made him dinner—even if it was all microwave, instant whatever, he was still pleased. There would always be a part of him that felt a little undeserving, a little overwhelmed by the tiny acts of kindness Ronan gave him regularly, but Adam finally had moved past feeling guilty over Ronan pressing a few buttons on a microwave for food.
He made a small noise of displeasure, snatching up the noodles before Cup of Ciceroline (name still pending) knocked it over all over his invoices. The kitten meowed in protest but beelined for the donut pillow instead. He paced around on top of it before settling down to watch them eat. Adam shoved a forkful of noodles in his mouth, chewed, and closed his eyes. He was hungrier than he thought.
"This might be the best dinner you have ever made me," Adam said, leaning in to kiss Ronan's cheek. He lingered by Ronan's face, wanting to say something else, but the words got all caught up in his throat.
"I think about this shit all the time, you know, how holidays would be back home. You'd probably drive up to Cambridge and spend what? Ten hours, maybe? And then drive home. This may not be how the day was supposed to go, but... I don't mind."
If Ronan were somebody else, he’d have snuck a picture - or worse, a video - of Adam fighting with a kitten over noodles. But Ronan was Ronan and he wasn’t even entirely sure where his phone was at the moment. Probably in the bmw out front.
“Shit, if that’s true, I may never turn on an oven again,” he joked. He took a bite of his own noodles and gave Adam an amused squint of one eye. They were nothing to write home about. But then Adam Parrish had always had a complicated relationship with food. The days of Adam not eating anything he hadn’t paid or somehow suffered for were thankfully in the past for the most part, but Ronan figured that meant there was more room for enjoying when someone else did the little bit of labor and he just got to eat the food.
“I am really fucking glad I didn’t have to drive eight hours to watch you study for half a day.” His taunting gaze lingered on Adam’s face, softening into tenderness. “This is nice, just me, you…” He looked at the kitten who was rapidly falling asleep in the center of that ridiculous donut. “...And the freeloader here."
Adam wanted to protest the studying part—he would have made time—but how much time was the question. Adam spent too much of his life scheduling it down to the minute. His spontaneity was few and far between, always multitasking so nothing got pushed to the wayside. There was a part of him that realized how much he didn't like that his relationship with Ronan would have suffered the same scheduling fate, if he stayed in Cambridge.
He slid his chair closer, so that their knees were tangled and bumping against one another. "That freeloader is stealing my gift. And I am not very good at sharing." He reached over to smooth down the ruffled fur, but the kitten didn't budge. In fact he nestled further, eyes closed, already starting to sink into the hole.
"I'd make time for you. I do," Adam said, forcing himself not to turn it into a question. It felt hypocritical, given that they were together in the garage because Adam had to make time for something else. He frowned as he stabbed at another forkful of noodles. "I could have just put padlocks on the door. Asked someone we knew to put a spell up until someone came by in the morning. Why did I waste hours here?"
Ronan scowled. He didn’t like the direction Adam was going with his thoughts, but he wasn’t particularly surprised by it either. If Adam Parrish could overanalyze a situation and find ways he thought he could’ve “improved”, he’d do it. Ronan reached a foot over and kicked Adam’s chair.
“Hey, dumbass. You were taking care of your business. Which is important. If you’d done anything else, you’d be worrying about the place the whole time.” Gentling his expression, he leaned over to kiss Adam’s shoulder and then the side of his neck. Adam’s skin was warm and Ronan hummed against it. “Did you miss the part where I said this is nice?” he murmured as he sat back up. “You go out of your way for me all the damn time, Adam. I don’t mind coming to you.”
Leave it up to Ronan to literally kick the spiralling analytical thoughts right out of his head. It was a one-two punch—jostle the chair, then replace the sudden movement with kissing him. Adam didn't have time to think, just react, and he made a soft, pleased noise at the warmth Ronan's lips left behind. He was being silly, he had to tell himself he was being silly.
"I think it's pretty equal," Adam said, putting down his noodles. "And not in that I need it to be equal, but that it just happened to work out that way. I think because it's you it worked out that way."
Sometimes it was difficult with Gansey, to be friends on level-footing, but they had gotten better while being in Vallo, had worked through some of that shit the best they could. But with Ronan it had never been hard. Not in the same way other relationships could be.
He slid in close, resting a hand high on Ronan's leg, where the sexy thigh scar was underneath his pants. "Just don't keep being the one to do it, okay? It's going to make me look bad, and I intend to spend a lot more holidays, even the small ones, with you. I was thinking it would be nice if we start celebrating Earth Day as a couple." Adam said the last part with the most deadpan expression, absolute seriousness, trying to hold back his obvious smile.
Ronan rolled his eyes fondly and curled a hand over Adam’s where it rested on his thigh. “As long as we’re spending Earth Day having earth shattering orgasms, I’m down,” he leered. Just to add some obnoxious to it, he inched Adam’s hand a little higher up his thigh.
His noodles were getting cold, but he wasn’t really here for that shit anyway. His gaze stayed heavy on Adam.
“But I’m not gonna promise not to come to you when you can’t come to me.” There was no room for argument in Ronan’s tone. He caressed his thumb over Adam’s hand in a rhythmic pattern. His eyebrows lifted challengingly and he smirked. “I don’t think you really want that anyway. You’re just gonna have to remember that shit you just said about not needing it to be equal.”
"I guess that means my plans for earth shattering orgasms tonight is going to have to wait until April then? Don't want to have holiday confusion," Adam said, being equally obnoxious, and squeezing Ronan's thigh. He was well-versed in upping the ante when it came to Ronan and these innocent challenges. No one lost.
His eyes glanced down at Ronan's touch. There was a beat before Adam flipped his hand over to press their palms together, slipping two fingers underneath the leather bands around Ronan's wrist; an intimate gesture. "I know," Adam said, leaning in for a kiss. And if it was a little bit intense, a little bit dreamier than intended, Adam wasn't going to point it out.
"I won't have to remember it. You're never going to let me forget." He was smiling, bright and soft, all of it focused on Ronan. "Do you want to take the cocoa out back while I find scrap for Toph for tomorrow? If this guy isn't here by the time we start freezing," Adam looked over to the still-sleeping kitten on the pillow,, "We can go home, celebrate loving you a hole lot."
Ronan laughed and gave his voice the slightest Virginia twang. “Don’t be such a shitbag,” he teased, meeting Adam’s kiss with a lingering one of his own. He was half a second from pulling Adam into his lap and seeing if the stupid little spinning chair underneath him could hold them both when Adam distracted him with questions and an emphasis on the word hole.
He collected their coffee mugs with a mixture of amusement and heat in his eyes. “Sounds like a plan. Maybe just put that—“ He pointed a mug at the sleeping kitten. “—In his carrier if you don’t want him destroying the place the second he blinks one devil open.”
Pushing to his feet, he hipchecked Adam on the way to the door. “Happy Valentine’s day. Move fast and I’ll let you stick your hands in my pockets to warm up.”