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“Something interesting happened in class today.” Adam breathed out, relieved to finally bring up the event that had been weighing on his mind since Ronan had stopped by his class room that afternoon.

For a moment, Ronan paid him no attention, instead focusing on constructing a small cardboard chair out of the empty box from Nino’s. “Did Gabe get his shirt get tucked into the bunsen burner again?”

Adam unwittingly smiled, not knowing how to feel about the fact that he had mentioned that story offhandedly over a year ago as Ronan swore tunefully at a malfunctioning Keurig. He’d figured Ronan had only paid attention in the name of decency, but he was yet again proven wrong by the man’s silent code of honor.

Adam cleared his throat and let out another tensed sigh. It’s not a big deal. He thought to himself. He won’t think anything of it. “Actually, Oliver Goldstein asked me if we were dating.”

Adam played with his fingers so as not to confront the uncomfortable recognition now hanging between them. It was incredibly ridiculous, he had brought it up in the first place hoping he could let it pass by nonchalantly, a simple joke between friends about the rumors stemming from their ridiculous students. It wasn’t turning out that way, or at least it wasn’t until Ronan barked out an amused laugh.

“Well,” Ronan’s hand ran over the cardboard workings of the abandoned pizza box, his voice delighted. “At least one of the little assholes plucked up the nerve to be direct.”

Adam couldn’t think of anything to do other than laugh along with him. His former courage from before was steadily ebbing way and he tried desperately to latch on before Ronan’s words caused the last of it past his grasp.

“I suppose that’s why the little numbnuts keep asking me boxers or briefs?” Ronan smiled softly to himself, fetching Chainsaw from her perch on the couch and attempting to fasten her into his makeshift throne.

Adam shook his head in a forced laugh, not yet sure what to do with the sudden hollowness weighing down his stomach. “Well, so long as you didn't rat me out for going commando.”

Ronan looked to him again, hesitantly meeting Adam’s eyes. Adam felt his heart in his chest and forced himself to focus on the smirk licking across Ronan’s lips instead of the blue eyes burning holes through him. Ronan’s lips, Adam could deal with. Adam could push past their lovely shape and pretend. In the end, the eyes killed him. They always did.

Only then could Adam spot out the hollow weight for what it was- disappointment. He’d set himself up for it enough times during his interactions with Ronan. He’d ask him to hang out, they’d talk, they’d quip back and forth until he managed to reign in the focus back onto their confusing relationship status that never seemed to move past 'I’m about 99% sure you’d like to kiss me too, but I don’t really know what to do about it.'

Ronan would always respond the same- pause to himself in a poorly concealed moment of hesitation, deflect the seriousness of Adam’s words with a joke, then look to Adam as though in regret. And then they’d go quiet, neither not knowing how to move forward.

Adam snapped to attention, shaking his head to gather focus before collecting his things. “It’s really late. I should probably head out.”

“It’s really no problem for you stay over, y’know.” Adam tried his best to ignore the tightness in Ronan’s voice, instead taking the opportunity to lighten the mood.

“You sure that’s a good idea? If the kids hear, they’ll have a field day.” Adam smiled. As if they need any more reason to.

Ronan shrugged. “Let em’ talk.”

~~~

Teddy Maslow had managed a great deal during his months as leader of the student section, or as it was more aptly referred to- The Nest. He had once single handedly motivated the volleyball team with the aid of ten kids and a stray Tuba he’d managed to extract the crowd of It was an incredibly underrated position if you were to ask him. There was no simple way to perfectly capture the unhinged excitement within the stands during the girls’ basketball semifinals, Teddy knew this.

So he made arrangements.

He’d begged a couple girls in his art class to help decorate the stands for tonight, plastering the walls with intimidating illustrations of ravens and claws alike. Large cardboard cutouts of painted nests had been taped up against the rails. Up above the stands, a spray-painted banner flew proudly above the students, proclaiming their school motto. If he did say so himself, it looked pretty fucking amazing.

The game had been completely sold out and most of the students had already made their way into the stands to snag good seats. Teddy smiled as he looked up at the rousing crowd. High school was shit, but he couldn’t deny the giddy feelings brought on by game nights.

“Teddy?” Teddy whirled around at the sound of his name, expecting to find some new problem to try and fix last minute, only to be greeted by the kind smile of his chemistry teacher.

Teddy whooped ecstatically at the sight of him. “Mr. Parrish, you made it!”

“Yeah, well, enough people were coming, didn’t think it would be much fun to miss it.” Teddy nodded along, and glanced up to the stands where necks craned over, itching to get a wave from the popular teacher.

As though he could feel their eyes on him, Mr. Parrish turned and waved timidly to the crowd, instigating a roar of appreciation. Mr. Parrish had always been popular. Most students had barely been dragging themselves through Chemistry before he was hired, most being turned away for extra help by the old teacher. When he came along, it was a shock to have a teacher be so calm and understanding as opposed to the strict teacher they’d all known before. In other words, he was incredibly chill and the students appreciated it. And well, the guy was a bit of a looker. Or at least that’s what Jenny says.

“You gonna stay and cheer with us?” Mason asked, fanning the still-wet paint on his face.

“Unfortunately not, a friend of mine is meeting me.” He glanced down to his battered watch. “Actually, he’ll be here soon, I should head over to the teacher section. You guys have fun.”

And with that, the teacher strode off, failing to hide the reluctant, yet eager smile leaping across his face.

Jenny elbowed him playfully before whispering, “Who do you think his special friend is?”

“Aw, I bet it’s like a date.” Olivia sighed, placing the cap back onto her container of black body paint.

“Nah, dude seemed way too cocky for a date.” Mason chimed. “He’s definitely gettin laid though.”

Olivia and Jenny both scoffed, reaching forward to smack him once before making their way into the front row with the rest of the spirit section.

As Mason’s silent chuckles wavered off, he made to move toward the stands before Teddy stopped him. “Wait! I don’t have my stripes yet.”

Mason rolled his eyes before taking the pencil proffered to him in hand. “Always waiting to the last damn minute, Maslow.”

He began to press the pencil into his cheek, eyebrows scrunching up in a ridiculous amount of focus. “Make sure they’re horizontal this time.”

Mason’s face was halfway to forming a sneer when his eyes widened.“Dude.”

“I said horizontal, Mason, it’s a first grade level direction.”

“No!” He whispered excitedly, reaching his hand out to Teddy’s shoulder. “Fucking Lynch is here.”

Teddy’s whirled around toward the other side of the gym. “You’re fuckin with me.”

“Look for yourself, man.”

Mason pointed to the other end of gymnasium near the section reserved for faculty. On big nights like this, it wasn’t rare to find a multitude of teachers come and support the school. A recurring one of them being Mr. Parrish. But there were still a select host of them who abstained from sporting events on unspoken principle. The most glaring of these being one Mr. Ronan Lynch.

Who was sitting in the front row.

“But he never comes to these.” Teddy looked confusedly between his friend and the teacher, “Unless-”

At once, both boys looked over as Mr. Parrish strode over, sodas in each hand, and took a seat right next to Mr. Lynch. The science teacher smirked as Lynch glanced at the decor. The infamous Latin teacher’s face seemed to be set in an unamused frown that suspiciously wavered after Parrish leaned over to whisper something in his ear. Lynch leaned back to respond, failing to hide the blush creeping across his cheeks when Parrish laughed. It seemed to go back and forth, the two of them opting to try and entertain each other rather than pay any attention to the game.

The two boys stood both amused and speechless. It was such a rarity just to see Lynch so openly amiable. Mason eventually shook his head, a knowing smile beginning to show.

Teddy laughed and turned to follow, chancing a glance back to the pair before the tip off.

“Parrish, you sly dog.”

 

~~~

Lexi felt a little delighted to say the least. One would not usually say so after completing a morning detention in one of the poorly air conditioned classrooms of the language hall, but this morning was an exception as Mr. Lynch had so dutifully volunteered to take over. Well, that wasn’t completely true. Mr. Cheng had volunteered Mr. Lynch to take over. Mr Lynch just hadn’t had enough time to weasel his way out of it.

At 6:50 sharp, Lexi had marched towards the Latin classroom weighed down by the dread of the oncoming 45 minutes of silence. She insisted that her frequent tardiness was through no fault of her own, but the the office still refused to alleviate any infractions, leading to the eventual culmination of a monday morning detention.

When Lexi first arrived, the first thing she noticed was the dreadful realization that no other students were present. The second being that the Latin classroom was still locked, meaning Mr. Lynch had yet to arrive. She glanced around frantically, scared the teacher had taken the absent presence of students as a sign that he was off the hook. With a quick peek into the rest of the classrooms in the language corridor, Lexi found herself turning into the science hallway. Her advisor, Mr. Parrish, often came to school early to provide his students with extra help and she hoped he could, at the very least, attest to her arriving on time.

By the time Lexi made it to Mr. Parrish’s classroom, she was relieved to hear the science teacher’s accent ringing through the air. “Y’know,” he said, amusement clear, “I really can’t bring myself to believe you.”

She figured he must be on a phone call and nearly stepped into the room when she heard another voice respond. “Well, contrary to popular belief, I do have an impulse control.” Mr. Lynch.

“Sure, you do.” Mr. Parrish crooned, “And his name is Gansey.”

Lexi smiled. Anyone with working eyes could see more to the friendship between the two teachers and anyone with new evidence always ended up supplying those interested with the hot topic for the day. It had started as a nothing more than a silly rumor to counteract the their apparent dislike of each other. But then all of a sudden, Mr. Parrish’s tiresome scowls were replaced with reluctant smiles and Mr. Lynch’s sharp retorts softened. The two becoming friends was a mystery that had baffled the student body.

And then the flirting started.

It had always been one thing for the two to tease each other, but they soon began a silent staring contest of some sort. Teddy Maslow had once kept a tally during an assembly of how many times one or the other was caught staring. Mr. Parrish had four. Mr. Lynch had eight.

Then they both began actively going out of their ways just to spend time with the other. Mr. Lynch, who in his four years working had managed never to be spotted at a sporting event, had sat front row at the rowdiest game of the season to chat up Parrish. There was of course, most glaringly, the constant drop-ins to Mr. Parrish’s advisory. Lexi doubted she would speak to half the kids in her homeroom if it weren’t for the chance to exchange gossip on the two of them.

The students weren’t often invested in their teachers’ lives as they were in this instant, but the two of them were just so damn obvious it was hard to resist.

She carefully flattened herself next to the door so as not to be seen and chanced a peek around the corner. The Latin teacher rolled his eyes and conceded. “Well, Gansey is out of town, so the honor has fallen to you.”

“And what an honor it is.” said Mr. Parrish, his hand now draped across his face, poorly concealing his leering.

“Whatever, it’s gonna fucking suck anyways.” Lexi was startled, not by Mr. Lynch’s cursing (he was a frequent offender), but by how pointedly Mr. Lynch refused to look directly at him. “Just figured all the stupid dancing and dinner would-”

“So you’re saying I’m like your date?” Mr. Parrish whispered the last word, leaning forward on the edge of his chair, the teasing atmosphere from before now tensing.

Lexi clamped her own hand over her mouth to keep from squeaking. She really shouldn’t be listening to this.

For a moment, Mr. Lynch’s face grew starkly red, matching that of the science teacher’s, before reverting back to a smirk. “Well, don’t go holding yourself up too high.”

Mr. Parrish’s shoulders noticeably deflated, and Lexi along with them. Her mother had always told her men could be dense, but honestly, Mr. Lynch couldn’t be this bad.

Mr. Parrish swiftly recovered, standing from his chair to toss his coffee cup in the trash. “Always so humbling, Lynch. Though, I figured your status as a breakfast delivery boy tends to do just that.”

“Well, when all your favorite customer eats is a damn biscuit and coffee every morning, the ‘waste not, want not’ attitude sort of latches on.”

Mr. Parrish smiled down to himself. “So you’re saying I have a significant effect on you?”

Mr. Lynch slides his thumb methodically over his lip. “You’re the genius here, Parrish. I thought you would’ve been able to figure that out by now.”

The two then look to each other with such an incredible amount of meaning that Lexi definitely feels like she’s crossing too far into their privacy. She swiftly knocks on the door and steps in through the doorway before it gets to be too much. Both the teachers jolt from their trance, scattering whatever papers lay close by.

“Lexi!” Mr. Parrish says, his face visibly guarding itself against Mr. Lynch’s persistent glare. “Did you need help with something?”

“Um, I came for morning detention but-” Mr. Lynch cuts her off with a string of unintelligible curses.

“Sorry about that, kid, I forgot.” Lexi glances to the empty mcdonald's bag on the desk and ignores the smile threatening to form at the realization that Mr. Lynch had come to school early, not for his obligation, but to bring Mr. Parrish breakfast.

Honestly, they made it so easy.

“Alright, follow me.” Mr. Lynch crosses through the door, pulling his lanyard from his pocket. 

Lexi’s just turning to go when he bounds back toward the room, leaning around the corner to say, “Um, Adam?”

“I’ll go.” Mr. Parrish responds, putting his scattered paperwork back onto his desk. “Can’t risk not seeing you try to dance.”

The Latin teacher smiled- a quiet, vulnerable tilt of his lips. “Fat chance.” And with that, he launched back toward his own classroom.

With a wave goodbye to Mr. Parrish, Lexi quickly ran to catch up with Mr. Lynch. By the time they made it to his classroom, he already had his keys pulled out and ready to unlock the door. Before opening it, he turned and said, “I won’t tell if you don’t.”

“Tell what?” Lexi feigned ignorance, though she knew by the uncharacteristically timid smile from Mr. Lynch that he would have a hard time not having students grow suspicious.

Later that morning, after a swift nod from Mr. Lynch, Lexi left the room and nearly ran to her locker. She had far too much to talk about in such a short amount of time. She removed her planner from her bag as she walked out of detention and wrote:
-Parrish is Lynch’s date to wedding!!!
-Also, breakfast dates??

~~~

Darcy Walden had heard plenty about her Honors Latin teacher from her older brothers.

“He's never let his hair grow out longer than an inch!” Reggie had warned.

“And he's got this freaky tattoo crawling up his neck.” Martin had added, suppressing a shiver as if the teacher were present in the very room. “It looks like it belongs on a satanist or some shit.”

“I thought he was Catholic?”

“Shut up, Reggie.”

Darcy had assumed the “warnings” had been nothing more than tall tales conceived by her inept brothers who'd barely scraped by in Mr. Lynch’s classes with a C. At first, she found herself agreeing with them, scolding herself for the overwhelming sense of intimidation brought on by the sight of Mr. Lynch. The man’s harsh features were often further pronounced by the the dim light of his classroom - the only one without windows - providing it with a fretful sense of menace.

It wasn’t until he’d returned her first Latin quiz that she saw through the fault of his intimidating mien. Most of the kids sitting around her had immediately slipped their papers into their respective folder, desperately hiding their grade from prying eyes. She readied herself for the disappointment to come, it was still the beginning of the quarter, plenty of time to improve.

Mr. Lynch made his way over to her desk, peeked at her over the tip of her laptop, and shook his head in what she could only imagine was defeat. Except once he lowered the papers, his lips were turned up in a smirk. He held out her paper, a brightly colored ‘95%’ resting atop it.

With an abashed smile, Darcy took her paper and tucked it into her folder. She tried earnestly to avoid Mr. Lynch’s continuing gaze, glad her seat in the back corner didn’t garner much attention from her classmates.

A fist floated into her peripheral vision. For a moment, she stared at it, unsure a teacher had ever proffered a fist bump to her before.

Darcy looked up to Mr. Lynch’s waiting gaze, his smirk had transfigured into a proud grin. Lamely, she lifted her fist to bump against his, garnering the baffled looks of her friends sitting a row over.

“Game on, kid.”

Needless to say, Honors Latin had quickly become one of her favorite classes. Although undoubtedly challenging, there was something to be said about the standard at which Mr. Lynch held his students. It wasn’t impossible, in fact, all it asked of students was to put in the hard work necessary to do well. It took some time for students to catch on, but once they did they begrudgingly found themselves favoring the teacher as well.

The more she thought about it, she and Mr. Lynch never really talked much, their relationship had mostly consisted of conversations regarding Latin, but she still found herself grateful for it. It was something he didn’t offer to every student, and something she didn’t experience with every teacher. Unless you counted Mr. Parrish, but he’s a whole nother level of Mr. Lynch that Darcy’s been far too scared to tread on.

“He’s got this fixation with the guy I swear,” Martin had told her, “But so much as mention him, and he locks up.”

Mr. Parrish is another teacher she admires, although she unfortunately won’t be in any of his classes for a few years. Being in his advisory, he’d immediately taken the initiative to interact with the incoming students. It was something Darcy admired, although she had scarcely taken advantage of it. Mr. Parrish formed his relationships with his students through conversation, a method Darcy often found herself getting uncomfortable in. With Mr. Lynch, she could focus on two things she found comforting, silence and Latin.

And well, Darcy didn’t like to brag, but Mr. Lynch really seemed to like her. She often found herself drifting into his classroom during her study hall when all her work had already been completed for the day. Although many teachers would kick students out unless they arrived during a planning period, the younger teachers held more of a ‘come as you please’ policy that garnered them their favoritism among the student body.

So now she sat, legs propped up on the seat beside her, in front of Mr. Lynch’s desk as his AP class completed their test. When she walked in that afternoon, he’d wordlessly handed her a sheet of verbs to conjugate in the infinitive tense and pushed out a chair from the corner.

It had been mostly silent for the twenty minutes she had sat there, only the soft scratching sounds of pencils echoing around the room. Until, their vice principal, Mr. Gansey, strode his way through the doorway, face set determinately.

With a start, he noticed the two dozen sets of eyes staring him down and said, “Good morning!”

The students mumbled back a cordial response and Mr .Gansey, or just Gansey as the students often referred to him, pulled a stray seat over to the other side of Mr. Lynch’s desk. “I think we need to talk.”

Mr. Lynch, having barely looked up since his friend had entered the room, laughed mirthlessly. “Not now.”

“I thought you said it was going to be a date.” At this, the students, Darcy, included, froze. It wasn’t hard to work out what they were talking about ever since Lexi had revealed Mr. Lynch’s intimate invitation the week before.

“It was.” Mr. Lynch whispered, eyes still fixed toward his computer.

“Then why isn’t it?” Gansey asked, equally as quiet.

Mr. Lynch looked up to the sea of students listening in anxiously. “I thought you have a quiz to take.” He snapped, sending their craning necks back towards their papers.

Swiftly, Mr. Lynch latched onto Gansey’s jacket sleeve and pulled him into the hall. Darcy leaned in closer to the doorway, thankful of her seat’s proximity.

“We’ll talk later.” Mr. Lynch said, tugging on the leather bands he often adorned.

“No, we won’t. You’ll stomp home before I have the chance to catch you. Like always.” Gansey sighed, propping himself against the wall next to him. “So, why didn’t you?”

Mr. Lynch looked regretfully to the floor. “Look, no matter how I approach it, it always seem too...big.”

“Ronan-”

“Gansey, no.” He held up a hand. “It’s just harder than I thought it would be, okay? I’m not used to putting myself out there.”

Gansey rubbed his eyes, setting his glasses atop his head. “I get that, but you’ve gotta think about what comes with it.”

“Yeah, well, it’s hard to envision a happy ending when you’re scared shitless.” A sudden silence hung between them, the whispered words making Darcy wish she could help. 

Darcy rose from her seat having finished the worksheet, gaining the attention of the men whispering outside the doorway. “Um, Mr. Lynch?”

Mr. Lynch sighed, though not impolitely, “Yes?”

“I finished the sheet, I’m gonna head back to study hall.”

Mr. Lynch laughs as he glances down at the sheet. “Nice job, kid.”

Darcy smiles and turns to go but stops at the last second. He was her favorite teacher and he’d apparently been pining after the same guy for years, she didn’t have much to offer other than words of encouragement, but it seemed better than nothing.

“Also.” Mr. Lynch looked up from the paper, seemingly trying to hide his confusion. “Whenever I get anxious about something I like to weigh the risk and reward. It makes things a lot easier when I know when the reward is enough to make a leap.”

She smiled and began to turn away, though not before witnessing Mr. Lynch’s ears turning red.

Gansey smiled brilliantly and turned to his friend, “Adam told me this was one was bright.”

~~~
Ronan felt a little restless.The wedding reception had just recently begun, and Adam had offered to get them drinks from the bar. It’d only been five minutes and he was already sick of the aquamarine ambiance surrounding him. In an attempt to entertain himself, he’d texted Blue a picture of the decorations, hoping to volley insults regarding the gaudy designs. Instead, she’d only requested he smuggle some of the icicle ornaments into his suit jacket. Christmas was coming up and Blue was firm on her stance of doling out handmade gifts.

Ronan now found himself stuck in a riveting conversation about the new knit cap his cousin had found on sale for her baby.

Isn’t it precious? Delilah asked, fanning it across the table so as to show off every detail.

Sure, Ronan thought, noting the unappealing green tint, if you don’t have eyes.

Adam’s absence had left Ronan open to face the overly chatty relatives he’d been meaning to avoid. He glanced around, desperate to find the brown hair marking his... companion? Shit, he’d really fucked up the whole ‘date’ aspect of this whole thing.

It had all been pretty cowardly and he knew it. He’d walked in ready to do it, convinced that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Though, as Gansey pointed out, it was the first time he’d ever asked someone out. It had all been going well until Adam said the word ‘date’. He’d spoken it so softly, his accent woven in so effortlessly, that Ronan choked. Which really made no sense. He’d wanted it for years, probably even a few more than Adam, but it was just a lot to handle. Knowing it could happen after all this time was a bit unnerving.

“Y’know, everyone loves that boy you brought with you.” Delilah states, now placing the putrid cap onto her son’s head.

Ronan stilled, urging himself not to blush. “I’m glad.”

“You said he’s a co-worker of yours?”

Ronan nodded. He could foresee the uncomfortable territory Delilah was steering toward and his scapegoat still hadn’t made his way back from the bar yet.

“He’s very handsome.” Well, the sky is blue, Ronan thought to himself, and yet neither is news to me.

It had always confused Ronan how sparingly Adam took the time to appreciate his looks. He knew why, understood where the deep-seated insecurity spurred from, but it made it his chest ache nonetheless.

Ronan nodded curtly to Delilah, quickly getting fed up by the monotonous discussion, as she laughed quietly to herself. “Y’know, I actually heard that gaggle of bridesmaids locking down a plan of attack.”

Delilah adjusted her fussy son on her hip, paying no attention to the increasingly agitated man next to her.

“Well, he is single.” Ronan grudgingly admitted, relief setting over him at the sight of Adam’s figure materializing from the cluster across the room.

“He’s quite the talker, should’ve heard the big words he was using around your uncle earlier today.” Ronan smiled. When it came to science, Adam always worked himself up, barricading himself in with notions and theories, momentarily forgetting the presence of an audience.

“He won’t admit it, but he’s kind of a show-off.” Ronan answered, trying desperately to wrest the smile off his lips.

Delilah smirked. “In a good way, right?”

Ronan rose his eyes to meet hers, “The best.”

“Gossiping about me, again?” Adam interrupted, both hands occupied with glasses. With a brisk smile and wave, Delilah excused herself, much to Ronan’s relief.

Adam leaned into Ronan as his cousin retreated. “Y’know, some would call you shameless.”

“Insults, already?” Ronan let out a prolonged whistle, “I’m the victim here, Parrish. You know you subjected me to that, right?” He pointed significantly to the perky Delilah now strolling across the room.

“It was five minutes, you big baby, and besides, your cousins like...talking.” Adam rolled his shoulders uncomfortably, settling his eyes on his soda.

Ronan stood frozen for a moment, willing away the jealousy curling in his gut. He cut his eyes away from Adam’s reddening cheeks and tracked the curious gaze of the crowd of women clumped together at the bar. He came with you, Ronan reminds himself. He looks to Adam chewing anxiously on his thumbnail.

“You interested?” Ronan asks, cursing at the blush crawling up his neck at the sight of the other man’s earnest expression.

Adam smiles a little sadly. “I think I’ve made it clear who I’m here for.”

Ronan tries valiantly to play off his flustered grunt into a playful laugh, knocking his hip into Adam’s. “Well, I already got first dibs on you, would hate to have my bragging rights taken away.”

Adam hums to himself contentedly, running his fingers along Ronan’s bracelets. “So you like talking about me?”

“As fun as gossiping about you is, I think I prefer the real thing.” He says, stilling at the contact of Adam’s fingertips along his wrist.

Adam looks to him seriously now. “Do you?”

And well, Ronan stumbles for a second. Because even if the words are joking, Adam’s face isn’t, and he’s already fucked up their last serious conversation. He thinks grudgingly back to what Darcy told him during class, about weighing the risk and reward of putting yourself out there, and understanding when the reward is enough to make the leap. Adam is enough. Ronan sees his opening and doesn’t want to let it past this time. He opens his mouth to respond and wants to tell his hammering heart to piss off for a second so he can focus on getting the words out without stuttering.

“Considering I reschedule half my damn day just to see you.” He flips his hand over to catch Adam’s hand in his, “I’d say yes.”

Ronan wishes he could grin at the way Adam’s looking to him then- really, all he wants to do is just kiss him- but he can’t seem to force himself to move.

For a prolonged moment, they stand there, hands twisting closer together, buzzing with a restless energy. Ronan used to search for it desperately in the form of a bottle on the nights following his father’s death. He’d always find himself feeling more hollowed out than before, compliant with the knowledge that he’d never come close enough. He’d never dreamed another person could give it to him. Never dreamed it might be Adam.

Adam inches forward, looking conspicuously to Ronan’s lips. He rests his head against the wall and whispers, “Kiss me.”

Ronan’s eyes bugged out, “Now?”

Adam looks to him, “I wish I had the self-control to say no.” He pulls on Ronan’s hand, dragging him to the hallway cutting out towards the banquet room’s kitchen. With every step, Ronan soaks in his growing state of unbelievable bliss.

He loosens his tie as a smile creeps across his face, “A year. You’ve made me wait a damn year.”

With a quick flick of his hand, Ronan’s gains a grip on Adam’s tie, using the vantage point to rein him in closer. Adam’s eyes widen as he rests his hand against Ronan’s chest. “Try three, asshole.”

And then they were kissing.

Ronan hadn’t known what he expected. He knew that in every universe, in every conceivable way, the opportunity to kiss Adam Parrish could never be anything less than magnificent.

But he didn’t know Adam’s lips would be so soft. He didn’t know the feel of Adam’s delicate fingers dragging down his arm would be so wholly paralyzing. He didn’t know if his heart could stand the contentment coursing through him, a new wave crashing into him with every tilt of his head. He didn’t know Adam felt just as desperate as him, clutching hungrily at any possible part of Ronan’s body. And he certainly didn’t know someone’s whole body could sing with happiness just from the press of lips.

Ronan pulled away first. Adam rested his forehead against his, hesitant to put space between the two of them after having just been so close.

Ronan smiles shyly to Adam. “That was...really good.”

“So eloquent.” Adam quips, guiding his thumb along Ronan’s jaw.

They looked to each other and laughed, idling in their shared exhilaration. Adam leaned forward and rests his head against his chest. Ronan wrapped his hands around Adam’s waist, propping his chin atop his brown hair. “Those little shits are never gonna let us live this down.”

Adam laughed bashfully into his shoulder, sending his heart fluttering. The best part being that it could refer both to their students and their friends. He looked down to Adam’s contented face, his freckles hidden in the dim lighting of the hall. A slow song came on, the DJ urging the couples to make their way over to the floor. A sudden surge of confidence, combined with Ronan’s state of utter euphoria, prompted him to ask, “Do you want to dance?”

Adam pulled back warily, despite the gleam in his eyes. “Are you sure you’re okay with all of them seeing?”

Ronan peeked around, recognition of their audience flooding in. As tolerant as their friends may seem, they still lived in the south, and Ronan didn’t know most of his family well enough to say they’d receive him well. Though knowing his brothers were present reassured him, they were the only ones whose opinions he gave any thought to. Anyone else who had a problem with it could fuck off.

Ronan held out his hand to Adam and shrugged, “Let em’ talk.”