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Frailty

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Ronan was staring at the spot where the blood from his father’s fatal gunshot wound had long been scrubbed away from the cement beneath the BMW. With a lethal edge to his gaze that slowly washed over the rest of his face, Gansey witnessed the moment his best friend shifted into someone he no longer recognized.

“Ronan,” Gansey began from where he was crouched beside Ronan, their positions mirrored. He reached out to Ronan who roughly shoved his hand away.

“Don’t,” Ronan said.

Ronan still hadn’t looked at Gansey. He hadn’t moved from this spot, even as Declan ran around the Barns making various calls in an attempt to salvage what they could for their lives. Their mom, Aurora, hadn’t been responsive since they heard the gunshots, and their younger brother Matthew had been upstairs with her all morning.

The screen door slammed open, the family’s lawyer being rushed out by a fuming Declan.

“Declan, it was written in Niall’s will.” The lawyer did not sound pleased by this information, but he looked glad to be out of that house. “There’s nothing I can do. Y’all need to be out--”

“How long?” Declan asked through gritted teeth.

Gansey immediately felt like he shouldn’t be there for this conversation, but refused to look away from Ronan who had become even more closed off when hearing Declan’s voice, the blue of his eyes turning icy. This was far too private, and the person he was here to comfort didn’t seem to notice his existence, much less want him to be there.

“Three days.”

“Go. I will call you,” Declan said, and Gansey noticed his attention turning to his brother. Christ.

“You only have three days, I think we should discuss this--”

Go . I will call you.”

The lawyer tipped his head, muttering his condolences before getting into his Buick and driving down the long road out of the Barns. Gansey’s gaze followed the car until it disappeared behind the thick trees hiding this place. As he was turning back to speak to Ronan once again, he heard a body slam into the car in front of them.

Declan had Ronan on the ground with a swift kick, and it took Ronan a moment to fight back. His face was a combination of hurt and confusion as Declan landed a punch right to his eye. Ronan let out a snarl, his fist swinging up to connect with his brother’s face.

“This is your fault,” Declan said at the same moment Ronan said, “Fuck you.”

Gansey rushed over to pull Declan off Ronan, but he was pushed back onto his ass. Ronan used Declan’s thrown off balance as leverage to get himself up and take the upper hand. His fist connected with the same spot above Declan’s cheekbone until his knuckles were red with blood. Declan was scratching at his face, aiming especially for the eyes and mouth, a mixture of blood and spit now coating Ronan.

“Stop,” Gansey was shouting, trying to pull the two boys apart. The Lynch brothers were never known to talk it out, but now was not the time for this. “ Ronan ,” he said in the firm tone that always managed to reach Ronan. The two of them made eye contact as Ronan got hit again.

When Ronan was back on the ground, Gansey got in front of him and pushed Declan away. He landed on the ground and quickly scrambled to his feet again, heading back for his brother, fists curled into balls at his sides.

“Move,” Declan said as he reached around Gansey, but he was pushed back again.

“You both have too much to do right now, and you can’t do it if you both beat each other senseless. You’re family. You’re brothers, ” Gansey said.

Both boys spit at each other at once, narrowly avoiding Gansey.

“He’s not my fucking brother,” Ronan spit out as Declan shouted, “He doesn’t know how to be a family.”

“Just go back inside. Call the lawyer,” Gansey said, sounding tired of this awful day. Declan spat at his brother one last time before he walked inside, rolling out his shoulder. Gansey still wondered how both of the Lynch brothers managed to look so right after a fight. Declan still looked put together, while Ronan looked razor sharp like the blood was meant to be there.

When Gansey turned back to Ronan, he was sitting on the ground, his elbows resting on his knees as he pressed the heel of his hand to his eyes. Gansey sat beside him, looking over Ronan’s face. He had known the Lynch’s for a few long months, and the boys had always fought. It was never like that, though, even though their father had always encouraged them to give their all. Ronan’s eyes finally looked alive , even around the swelling already starting.

“This is the only home I’ve ever known,” Ronan said. His voice was quiet and rough.

“Move in with me,” Gansey said.

Ronan looked at him with disdain as he muttered, “Fuck off.”

“I’m serious. You can have your own room at Monmouth. That way you don’t have to figure out a way to live with…”

“Declan,” Ronan cut off. He spit blood onto the ground between them. They were both silent for a moment before Ronan said, “I can’t just leave Matthew with him.”

“You wouldn’t be leaving Matthew. He was already planning on moving into the dorms during his first semester, so his plans won’t even be changed. I know you don’t want Declan breathing down your neck every day.”

“You think I want you breathing down my neck every day?”

“Yes,” Gansey said confidently. Ronan gave him a look to make sure he knew that he sounded like Richard Campbell Gansey III. Still, Gansey didn’t back down.

“I won’t follow a curfew,” Ronan said to the ground.

“You won’t have a curfew. I’m not your parent, Ronan. I’m your friend.”

Ronan ran his fingers through his hair, pushing it away from his eyes.

“Fine,” Ronan said.

Ronan was completely moved in the next day. The only things he was legally allowed to take were the clothes on his back and his father’s BMW, so it was an easy move. Movers brought the furniture he had ordered online up the stairs, all of them looking confused by the disarray that was Monmouth Manufacturing.

Gansey was sat up on his bed, placed in the middle of the open room, unmade. The model of Henrietta and the cluttered desk caught their eye long enough for Ronan to snarl at them to mind their business. He knew how the place must look to outsiders. Hell, it was even a mess to him, but the mess was just so Gansey. It showed all of Gansey’s sleepless nights, and endless hunting for a Welsh king that Ronan wasn’t even sure he believed in half of the time. Gansey believed, though, and that was enough for him to be game for whatever plans he had.

Ronan didn’t sleep for two days after moving in. He stayed up while Noah watched him drink himself into a stupor, sobering up just in time to make it to class where he stared out the window until it was time for him to leave again.

Any time he felt numb he would just push on one of the bruises slowly healing under his skin, and the world would feel a bit more real. He would stop any time he felt Gansey’s eyes on him, making sure to look anywhere but that concerned face.

“Just tell me I’m beautiful already, Dick , so you don’t have to stare,” Ronan said, but he couldn’t get the right bite into his words.

Gansey didn’t even give him a response, he just shook his head, going back to translating his Latin homework.



TWO MONTHS LATER



Ronan couldn’t sleep. Today was the first day his healing back tattoo didn’t make him move stiffly, and he needed to go. Noah had been gone all night, and Gansey fell asleep a few hours ago on top of a book that was probably older than Henrietta.

The night felt electric with possibilities, and absolutely none of it was happening in Monmouth. Ronan pulled on a pair of jeans and his favorite boots, grabbing his keys on the way out the door. There was no quiet way to get out of this building, but he made sure to not wake Gansey, who had gotten used to his constant coming and going since he moved in.

Ronan got into the BMW, already feeling more settled as the sound of the engine and bass of his music filled his ears and rattled him to his core. He sped out of the cracked parking lot, aiming towards the highway that he knew would be empty at this hour.

He was definitely going above the speed limit, his music almost too loud as he noticed the lights flashing behind him. It wasn’t police lights, so he just kept driving. He kept up his pace, head bobbing along to the music that he knew Gansey would call atrocious. That just made Ronan love it even more.

Ronan saw a white car pull up beside him, but he didn’t look over until a long blare of a horn managed to drown out his music. He rolled down his window before shouting out, “What the fuck do you want?”

“I want to kick your ass, Lynch,” the voice from the other car called out, followed by a loud rev of the engine. It took Ronan a moment to realize that it was Joseph Kavinsky. He was alone in his car, which was a rare sight because he was so often surrounded by his pack of dogs. As loyal and vicious as they came. Kavinsky was one of the few people more despised at Aglionby than Ronan was, which had always sparked his curiosity.

“Let’s do it,” Ronan agreed. They both slammed on their brakes, a cloud of smoke and the scent of burnt rubber surrounding them both.

They counted down together. 3, 2, 1, and they were off. Ronan could barely hear over the pounding of his heart as he watched the BMW quickly gaining speed. The two cars were neck and neck until it was time to switch to fourth gear. Ronan made the transition easily, but Kavinsky managed to stall his transmission.

Ronan laughed into the night sky for what felt like years. He slowed to a stop, watching Kavinsky’s car slowly come back to life and drive up to meet him.

“Not bad, Lynch,” Kavinsky said. He didn’t sound impressed, but he was clearly amused. He leaned forward to look into Ronan’s car. “Where’s your boyfriend?”

“I don’t have a boyfriend,” Ronan said, spitting on the ground.

“Sure you don’t,” Kavinsky said. “I’ve never seen you at one of my parties.”

“That’s because I’m allergic to dogs,” Ronan said. “I don’t party.”

Kavinsky’s smile managed to be both sharp and lazy as he said, “Sure you do. Come tomorrow, you know where. Bring your poison of choice.”

Before he could respond, Kavinsky drove off again. The Mitsubishi disappearing into the darkness of the highway until all Ronan could make out were the taillights.

He had definitely heard about Kavinsky’s parties. Never in conversation spoken to him, but it was all around him. Damn near every kid at Aglionby had been to one, and usually took a few days to recover fully from the single night. He had also heard the parties. He knew Kavinsky was a fan of pyrotechnics, and he always made sure to finish off the night with a grand display for his wasted friends.

Ronan had to go. Purely out of curiosity. He would simply drop by so Kavinsky would shut up about it, then go back to Monmouth. In and out.

 

Chapter Text

Ronan showed up an hour after sundown, a 12 pack of beer resting in his passenger seat. He was just sitting in his car, fingers drumming on the steering wheel as he looked over the fairground. He saw a few people he recognized, and that just made him want to turn the car back on and leave.

Just as he was about to start the engine back up, a hand came down on the top of his car. Ronan gripped harder onto the steering wheel instead of jumping, his gaze lifted to see Kavinsky leaning into his driver’s side window.

“Lynch,” he said, lifting his sunglasses to the top of his head. “You’re late.”

“I don’t need to be here,” Ronan said.

“Yes, you do.” Kavinsky reached inside and opened Ronan’s door before he was able to smack the hand away. Kavinsky leaned over Ronan to grab the beers from the passenger seat. Ronan sat frozen in his seat. “Come on, Princess. I’ll show you around.”

Kavinsky walked off, not checking to see if Ronan was behind him. Ronan swore, getting out of the car to catch up.

The fairgrounds were utter chaos, and Ronan tried to take it all in. All of Kavinsky’s dog’s cars were in a line, their music all synced up so the bass filled the night. Ronan quickly found out why these were called substance parties. Kavinsky led him past a large group of straight A students doing lines of coke off of the hood of Swan’s Golf, and Prokopenko’s matching car was so filled with smoke Ronan could only tell people were in it because of where their bodies touched the glass.

“What the fuck,” Ronan said to himself.

“Pretty cool, right?” Kavinsky asked as he finally stopped at a table set up by his Mitsubishi. The table was loaded with colorful pills that Ronan had never seen before. He picked one up, turning it over in his hands.

“Ah, I didn’t take you for a pill guy,” Kavinsky said as he dropped into his seat. He closed his eyes, picking a pill at random before popping it into his mouth.

Ronan watched him before tossing the pill back onto the table, causing a few to scatter. “I’m not,” he said. He took up the spot next to Kavinsky, cracking open one of his beers. “I prefer hangovers.”

“I’ve got pills for that too, Princess,” Kavinsky said, taking one of Ronan’s beers without asking. Ronan punched him in the shoulder, but Kavinsky just laughed as he drained the bottle.

Ronan sat in silence, finishing his beers while multiple people came to speak with Kavinsky and take a few pills for themselves. Ronan watched the money exchanges, and a few of the drunker people offer different kinds of deals for what Kavinsky was selling. A few sat in his lap, and Ronan could only hear Kavinsky’s responses to what was whispered in his ear. It was a lot of ‘ oh, really?’ and ‘ well, fuck me, that sounds good ’ before he laughed and pushed whoever was in his lap onto the ground.

“I fuck for fun, not for funds. Get out of here,” he told one of the girls who quickly ran off.

“You’re a prick,” said Ronan.

“You’re a kindred spirit, Lynch.” Kavinsky said with a grin. “I’m going to get you a drink.” Then he was gone.

When he appeared again, Kavinsky held out a red cup that had PRINCESS written on it in sloppy handwriting.

“Fuck you,” Ronan said as he took the cup.

“One day,” Kavinsky said as he settled into his seat again. “Tonight is not your night, Lynch.”

Ronan looked at Kavinsky with raised brows as he brought the cup to his lips. After the first sip, Ronan promptly spit it onto the ground. He felt the burn of the alcohol deep in his lungs.

“What the fuck is that?” Ronan asked, flashing a disgusted look at Kavinsky.

That is a guaranteed hangover, my friend. Drink up.”

...

 

When his eyes opened Ronan was on his back, staring at the stars.  He had lost all track of time, but he couldn’t find a single part of him that cared. The cool grass felt good under him, so he just stayed there, raking his fingers through the blades of it. He looked around, noticing Kavinsky sitting beside him with a fat blunt in his mouth. A cloud of smoke surrounded them, and Ronan rubbed at his face as if that would help him avoid it.

“You ever get tired of these parties?” Ronan asked.

Kavinsky looked at him with surprise as if he hadn’t spoken in hours. Maybe he hadn’t.

“It’s part of the job,” was Kavinsky’s only response.

Ronan blew out an amused breath, looking around them. Still, he didn’t lift his head.

“Where are your dogs?” Ronan asked.

“Where’s your boyfriend?” Kavinsky asked with raised brows, his voice deeper as he held in the smoke.

“What’s with you and Gansey? You could have invited him if you wanted him here so badly.”

“Believe it or not, Princess, Dick isn’t exactly my type.”

“Prokopenko is going to be heartbroken when he hears that.”

Kavinsky howled out a laugh, and Ronan smiled in response. Ronan’s smile faded as he tried to think of what exactly was Kavinsky’s ‘type’. He had seen him with so many different people, and the only thing they all had in common was how disposable they were.

Ronan sat up, fingers digging into the grass in hopes that it would stop the spinning in his head. As he looked around, he realized that they were sitting on a hill overlooking the party. Prokopenko’s car was on fire, and it looked as if people were roasting marshmallows on it.

“How did we get up here?”

“I got up to go take a leak, and when I got back to the table I saw you wandering over here. Had to make sure you didn’t kill yourself,” Kavinsky said before taking a long drag from the blunt. “Can’t have a pretty princess running off and getting lost in the woods.”

“How sweet,” Ronan said. But he knew his intentions were never sweet. “You got sick of the party,” Ronan accused.

“It got predictable. You’re the only new thing here, so you can imagine my surprise when you just came over here and passed out.”

“I don’t sleep,” Ronan said.

“Yeah, and you look like it,” Kavinsky said with a laugh. “Pretty boy keeping you up too late?”

“Gansey’s not really my type, either,” Ronan said, letting out a sigh.

“Maybe not,” Kavinsky said. “But dick is.”

Ronan didn’t respond, busy looking at the stars.

“I see,” Kavinsky said. His voice was full of amusement, and that made rage build up in Ronan.

“You don’t see a damn thing, Kavinsky,” Ronan spit out.

“You would be surprised by the things I see, Lynch. I see you .”

“You. Don’t. See. Shit,” Ronan said through gritted teeth, making his way to his feet.

“C’mon, Princess,” Kavinsky said as he laughed. He pulled himself to a standing position much easier than Ronan did. “I won’t out you to anyone.”

Ronan shoved all of his weight into Kavinsky, making him stumble back. The blunt fell to the ground with a trail of sparks. When Kavinsky looked back at Ronan, there was only heat in his eyes.

“I don’t want to have to hurt you, Princess. Look at this lovely evening we’re having,” Kavinsky held his arms out, signaling to all of the land around them. As if on queue, something exploded down at the fairgrounds. There was some shocked shouting followed by intense laughter and cheering by most of the crowd.

Ronan moved to shove him again, but he lost his footing on the slick grass, and Kavinsky used that opportunity to knock him on his ass. Ronan fell with a thud, and before he could attempt to get up Kavinsky was on him. He held him to the grass, straddling his stomach. He used one hand to hold Ronan’s hands above his head so he couldn’t hit him.

“Listen, Lynch. I’m just trying to have a good time tonight. When I finally decide to make you bleed it’s going to be when you’re sober,” Kavinsky said. He settled his weight completely on Ronan so his legs could only slide in the grass with the effort to get him off.

His words had something tightening in Ronan. He felt too vulnerable in this position, too exposed. Too seen . The moment Kavinsky leaned in close to speak again, Ronan lifted his head roughly so their skulls collided.

“You fucker ,” Kavinsky said. He rubbed at his busted lip, examining the blood. He laughed briefly before smearing it on Ronan’s parted lips. Ronan’s tongue grazed his fingers, and the taste of the blood made him ache.

“What would Gansey boy say if he saw you now?” Kavinsky said. His voice was off, sounding slightly breathless.

“He doesn’t know I’m here,” Ronan said from below the fingers still on his mouth. His words caused a dangerous flicker in Kavinsky’s eyes.

“You snuck out?”

“I don’t need to sneak out,” Ronan said. He turned his head away from Kavinsky’s hand, sucking in a breath deep enough that the pressure on his torso caused a bit of an ache to form in his ribs.

“You snuck out,” Kavinsky said. The free hand now went to Ronan’s throat, making him realize that he had stopped struggling at the coppery taste of blood. “You came out to play tonight, Princess.”

“Fuck you,” Ronan said. It sounded half-hearted even to him.

“You keep saying that.” Kavinsky said. A slight pressure on Ronan’s jaw had his head tilted back and his throat exposed. “But do you really want it?”

Ronan breathed harshly through his still aching nose, he could not get hard under Joseph Kavinsky. Yet here he was. He was silently begging his blood to go anywhere else in his body.

A squeeze to his throat had a small whimper escaping his mouth before he could stop it. Kavinsky made a pleased sound, his grip still tightening. Ronan allowed it until he had to gasp for breath, and only then did the grip ease. Kavinsky was grinning when he moved to increase the pressure once Ronan caught his breath.

Ronan realized he was playing a very dangerous game with Kavinsky, but he couldn’t bring himself to move. He didn’t want to. He was so used to gentle touches coming from people who were so sorry about his father, and he needed something rough. He needed to hurt . Kavinsky had proven that he was more than willing to provide that.

“Why did you come here tonight, Lynch?”

Ronan didn’t know what to say. So many answers could be the truth. Because you invited me, prick was the truth, but it wouldn’t get him the result he was looking for.

“To play,” Ronan said, his voice harsh.

That brought a grin to Kavinsky’s blood-stained lips. His body laid out on Ronan’s, pressing him harder into the unforgiving ground. Ronan shifted uncomfortably under him, but all it got him was the friction he so desperately wanted to avoid. His head fell back, and Kavinsky took that opportunity to bite down on his neck.

He saw sparks behind his closed eyes, the pain surging through him. Kavinsky sucked on the bite, pulling away with a rough scrape of teeth. Ronan let out a low groan. Kavinsky pressed his wrists firmly into the ground, giving him a silent command before releasing his grip.

Kavinsky moved lower, and Ronan took a deep breath to test his ribs. Sore, but still okay. When he went to pull up his shirt, Ronan made a quick noise of protest that was silenced with one look. The obvious boner in his tight jeans was completely ignored by Kavinsky as his mouth moved to the skin on his stomach. He left a trail of bite marks from right above his belly-button to his pec.

When Ronan saw the smile on Kavinsky’s face once he reached his nipple, he just started to shake his head.

“No, not th—” Ronan’s words were cut off by his sharp cry as Kavinsky bit onto his sensitive skin. It wasn’t nearly as hard as he had been biting him before, but it still caused pain to shoot through him straight to his dick.

“Fuck. Please,” Ronan begged as his hips lifted to try to get more friction. He wasn’t even entirely sure what he was begging for, he just knew that he wanted more of whatever Kavinsky was willing to give him.

“I already told you, Princess. I’m not fucking you tonight,” Kavinsky said as he moved to stand up, leaving Ronan panting on the ground. “I’ll call you.” Then he was gone.

What the fuck .

...

 

Ronan woke when the sprinklers got to him, making sure the evergreen grass stayed that way. He pulled himself off of the ground, every bit of his body feeling sore and slow. As he walked through the fairgrounds, he was surprised by just how clean everything was. Aside from the tire tracks on the cement, he could hardly tell a party had been there.

Ronan’s drive home was odd. He didn’t turn on his music, he barely focused on the road, and he sure as fuck didn’t let his thoughts take him anywhere. He somehow ended up in the Monmouth parking lot, and pulled himself up the stairs. When he pulled the door open, Gansey was awake and staring at him as he made his way to his bedroom.

“Where have you been?” Gansey asked, looking him over.

“Out,” Ronan said before he closed his door behind himself. He rested against the wooden frame, taking a deep breath. There’s absolutely no way that the events of last night wouldn’t end up biting him in the ass, and he was looking forward to it.

He slept for the rest of the morning after roughly jerking off and cleaning up the mess with his grass stained t-shirt.

Chapter Text

Ronan woke with a start when his alarm went off just a few hours later, the swift motion enough to make him feel sick. He shut off his alarm, glaring at his phone. He had one missed call from Kavinsky, who should have known better. He got up, stretching his arms up to the sky to get his blood flowing. He walked past Gansey’s bed to get to the bathroom.

He quietly shut the door, starting up the shower before digging through the fridge to find an armful of water bottles. He chugged the first few before immediately vomiting into the toilet. He took the rest into the shower with him, dispensing of the empty bottles as he cleansed himself.

When he stepped out of the shower, hair hanging damp over his face, he looked at his reflection. The water had definitely helped him feel a bit more alive, but he still looked exhausted. He had forgotten all about the large hickey on his neck, the deep plum of the mark matching his dress shirt perfectly. He grinned wickedly at his reflection before heading out.

...

When he sat down beside his brothers on the pew, Declan was already glaring at him. Declan opened his mouth to speak, but Matthew cut him off by complimenting Ronan’s shirt. Declan tried to speak again, and this time the loud organ was what cut him off. Ronan was shot a look to let him know this would be discussed later, but he was more than happy to ignore it and listen to the choir. Showing up here on Sundays was for himself and Matthew. Declan could fuck off for all he cared.

When the service was done, Declan quickly ushered Ronan outside, stopping Ronan’s ruffling of Matthew’s curly hair. Ronan gave a sharp smile at anyone who looked at him, but he let his brother guide him out of the double doors.

“What is that?” Declan asked in a shouted whisper.

“I’m pretty sure it’s called a hickey,” Ronan said. He walked right past his older brother, searching his pockets for his keys as he walked to his BMW.

“Do you really think it’s a good idea to show up to church with a hickey?” Declan asked, gripping Ronan’s arm to stop him.

“It wasn’t my idea to begin with,” Ronan said as he shrugged out of Declan’s touch, shooting him a disgusted look.

“Does that make it any better?” Declan asked, no longer trying to keep his voice down as the organ played inside.

“Does it matter?” Ronan opened the BMW door, which hit Declan. It wasn’t his plan, but it was absolutely a happy accident that brought a smile to Ronan’s face.

Ronan sank into the sun-warmed leather seat, starting the roaring engine.

“You look like shit,” Declan said over the sound of the car.

“I am shit. Tell Matthew I love him,” Ronan said before backing out of the parking spot. On the way back to Monmouth, Ronan called Kavinsky. He was immediately greeted by Kavinsky’s bored voicemail greeting saying, “ Leave a fucking message.

“Fuck you,” Ronan shouted into the phone before tossing the phone into the backseat where it could get lost with the clutter. He definitely didn’t feel like playing phone-tag with Kavinsky.

...

He was only half dressed when a knock sounded on his door. He buttoned up his jeans, tugging the door open. Gansey was standing there with a grin on his face that immediately faltered when he saw the state of Ronan’s skin. That’s when Ronan realized that this was exactly the reaction Kavinsky had been aiming for. He tugged on a dark, too large t-shirt and stepped out of the door, crowding into Gansey’s space so he didn’t take the open door as an invitation to come inside.

“What is that look for? The happy one, not the blatantly judgmental one,” Ronan clarified.

“I am not judgmental,” Gansey said. Ronan knew he wasn’t hurt, but he needed to defend himself.

“Answer the question, Gansey.”

“I think I found some more information on Glendower, if you wanted to get out of the house.”

“Can I drive?”

“Not a chance in hell,” Gansey said cheerfully as he wrapped an arm around Ronan’s shoulders and led him out the door.

It was dark by the time they pulled back into the parking lot of Monmouth Manufacturing. He was surprised the Pig made it back in one piece, since the Camaro seemed to be gasping for air during the last few miles of their journey. Gansey had found exactly what he was looking for, which had stopped being surprising, and settled into being impressive. Still, Ronan was excited to join his best friend for the hunt.

...

Ronan was sitting on the hood of his BMW, the metal under him still warm from the heat of the day. He stared up at the stars like they would give him an answer to any questions he was too afraid to ask. That numb feeling he tried so desperately to avoid was starting to sink in again. Gansey was too deep in his research to bother, Noah still hadn’t been around for days, and Declan… Was Declan. There was always Matthew, but he had to be squeezed into his younger brother’s schedule. None of them were what he needed right now.

His fingers grazed the fading bruises on his side. It had been days since he last saw Kavinsky, and he wasn’t so sure that returned call was ever going to come. He slid off the hood, digging in the backseat to search for his phone. The moment he touched it, it began to light up with an incoming call. Kavinsky . Ronan accepted the call, holding the phone to his ear with his shoulder. Before he could speak, he already heard ‘ Ronan’ on the other line.

“What’s up, Kavinsky?”

“You were, from what I remember,” Kavinsky said. Ronan heard other voices on the other line, which irritated him.

“What do you want?” Ronan asked, picking at a scab through the hole in his jeans.

“You,” Kavinsky said. Simple and confident.

“I’m allergic to dogs,” Ronan reminded him.

“Take an allergy pill, and come out,” Kavinsky said. “Or are you getting locked away in your dusty tower?”

“Where is ‘out’?”

“Does it matter?”

“No,” Ronan said, because it didn’t. Not at this point.

“I’ll come get you,” Kavinsky said before he hung up.

Ronan locked his car, going back to lean against his hood. A few minutes later a car was pulling up beside him. He could feel the bass in the soles of his shoes before he could hear any of the music. Kavinsky rolled down his window, breaking whatever seal he had to keep the sound contained in his car. He shot Ronan, who hadn't moved, a lazy grin.

“Good evening, Princess,” Kavinsky said, his head poking slightly out the window.

Ronan shoved his head back inside, going to open up the passenger side door. He had to wait for Kavinsky to unlock it, but they kept messing it up. By the time Ronan could finally rip the door open they were both yelling at each other over the loud Bulgarian rap coming from Kavinsky's speakers.

“Now, was that so hard?” Kavinsky asked as Ronan seethed in his seat.

“Can you just drive?” Ronan asked, rubbing over his brow. Ronan was already feeling uncertain about hanging out with Kavinsky's friends, and he didn't want to bring Gansey out of his scholarly studies.

“Buckle your fucking seat belt, man.”

Ronan glared at Kavinsky, reaching for the seat belt. He felt several straps that he had no idea what to do with. He heard Kavinsky laugh before he felt the hands on him. Kavinsky strapped the belts around Ronan, who felt like he was a child being secured into a rollercoaster.

Ronan studied Kavinsky's face in the light that flooded into the Mitsubishi. His sunglasses were up, holding his hair back. It was a rare sight, even at night, and Ronan fucking liked it. He felt heavy with it, and that made him feel sick.

“There you go, Princess. We need to keep you safe,” Kavinsky said, moments before peeling out of the parking lot. He sped onto the street, guiding them onto the highway. They drove in relative silence, the bass of the music rattling Ronan's ribs.

Ronan sat back against the seat, trying to enjoy the ride. Ronan was so used to being a passenger to Gansey, and Kavinsky was an entirely different experience. Kavinsky drove like Ronan, but poorly. Even without a race happening he still struggled to hit that fourth gear properly. The car stuttered, then continued to speed off once it stuck.

Ronan kept his mouth shut the first few times, just listening to the music even as his anger built. The music had shuffled to a song in English that he had heard around the academy.

 

I came, I saw, I came, I saw

I praise the Lord, then break the law

I take what's mine, then take some more

It rains, it pours, it rains, it pours

She came, I came, now what's my name?

My chain, my pants, my pants with the chain

They know it's me, the hat and the shades

 

Kavinsky slid his shades over his eyes as if the song made him remember that they were part of his look.


They heard my voice and they ran to the stage

My vans, my braids, my mans, my babe

My girls, my ex, my hoes that I left

The way I stepped, out the car, that's a flex

Give thanks, get fresh, praise the Lord then finesse, bless

 

“You're religious?” Ronan asked, surprised by the lyrics.

“No,” Kavinsky answered with a chuckle. He finally turned down the music, giving Ronan more attention than he required at the moment. “Of course you would only hear that part.”

Ronan was quiet for a moment, trying to remember the rest of the lyrics he had heard. Something about cum, for sure.

“Does it bother you?” Kavinsky asked, pulling Ronan out of his thoughts. “Is Dick religious?”

“It doesn't bother me. I think he goes to church with his family sometimes, but that's just for their bullshit image for Washington. I don't talk about it.”

“You don't talk about much,” Kavinsky noted. Again, he missed the fucking gear after leaving a traffic light.

"Let me drive," Ronan said through a deep sigh. "You can't even respect your fucking clutch. How do you miss the fourth gear every fucking time , Kavinsky?"

“You think I'm just going to let you drive my car?” Kavinsky stopped in the middle of the road, laughing loudly. Cars swerved around them, sounding their horns as they passed.

Yes ,” Ronan said, already undoing the straps keeping him held down.

Kavinsky lifted his glasses to look at Ronan, brows raised. He grinned, undoing his own straps. They fumbled around the seats, attempting to switch places without actually getting out of the car. They were both too tall, having to help each other get their limbs right so they could each settle in their new seats. They were both breathless and laughing by the time Ronan put the car in gear and took off.

“Go as fast as you can,” Kavinsky said, looking over his shoulder. He flexed his hands, letting out a rushed breath. “I'll tell you when to stop.”

Ronan sped up, shifting through the gears flawlessly. When he switched to fourth, Ronan turned to make a comment but Kavinsky's middle finger was all he could see. Ronan let out a howled laugh, continuing to gain speed.

He was never worried about speeding tickets to begin with, being able to pay his way out of them, but Kavinsky always seemed to have luck when it came to cops. They left him alone entirely.

Ronan got them up to 125 MPH, and the car took it like a fucking champ. They weaved through the few other cars on the road, heading North.

“Where are we going?” Ronan finally asked.

“Get off at the next exit,” Kavinsky said breathlessly. Ronan realized that he had never seen him in the passenger seat. He had certainly never let any of his friends drive his cars, but Ronan didn't mention it.

Ronan slowed, shifting down as he pulled off the exit. Kavinsky guided Ronan off of the highway, and through the streets of a neighborhood. The music, even as low as it was, still felt too loud for their surroundings.

They eventually pulled up to a large white house, the look of it physically repulsive to Ronan. He felt the disgust deep in his chest. Everything about it was the exact opposite of the home he grew up in.

"It really is a vinyl mansion," Ronan said thoughtfully. "I thought they were just rumors."

"Welcome to my hell, Lynch," Kavinsky said as he got out of the car, taking his keys with him. "Take off your boots when you get inside."

Ronan thought Kavinsky was joking, but they were both stood in their socks in the foyer. Ronan felt naked . He looked at Kavinsky's socks, pink with large pot leaves. This was going to be a strange, long, night.