Adam was walking down an empty Henrietta street, he'd say it was odd, but the night was dark and he was in a poorer part of town. That was if you could consider any part of Henrietta rich. There was the academy, and then there was it's boys, but even loaded as they were none would consider that the richer side. It was just better kept, well respected and taken care of, while here was not.
Even so, where was anyone?
Adam had been walking for some time. He couldn't say how long cause when he tried to count the numbers would slip away and fall out of reach and then Adam would be left to wonder exactly where he was.
The thing is, Henrietta was and always will be, small. Large enough that Adam hadn't discovered everything there was to see or that just was, but small enough he could probably walk it in his sleep.
That's why it made no sense that Adam couldn't tell where he was other than the rather broad definition of Henrietta.
Then he saw Kavinsky.
He was facing away but still the most noticeable thing Adam had seen yet, dressed in white as he was. He wore a white tank top, and white/grey semi fitted sweatpants, and white basketball shoes, the only thing with true color from what Adam could see was Kavinsky’s gold chain and only when it caught the light.
“Kavinsky!” Adam called against his (perhaps) better judgment.
Kavinsky turned at his name, and that movement disrupted a shadow Adam hadn't even noticed.
He was seated on his car, long limbed and loosely draped over Kavinsky, arms twined around Kavinsky’s neck and legs comfortably holding his waist. Both boy and car seamlessly blended into the dark, yet somehow while Kavinsky was the most noticeable, Ronan appeared the most vivid.
“Did you mean me,” Ronan said in lieu of Kavinsky, which confused Adam. There was only one Kavinsky (although something deep in his mind said that may have not been right) so how on earth did Ronan's question even make sense? That was until Adam saw a silver glint on Ronan’s hand and he continued, “Or my husband?” Then everything made sense.
And at the same time, nothing at all.
Adam gaped at the pair, one wicked and empty and the other lost and angry, a horrible combination if he ever saw one.
“Well Parrish,” Kavinsky drawled, “The cat finally got your tongue. Shocked? Didn't know Catholic boy here was a sinner at heart?”
Ronan scowled at Kavinsky with something akin to displeasure but all the other boy did was simply nip his lower lip and Adam had never seen Ronan's emotions change so fast. He'd never seen Ronan wearing this kind of happiness or ease. It was unsettling to think he might not really know Ronan at all.
“Is this real?” He had to ask. There was something distinctly wrong and now that Adam could feel it he couldn't understand how he hadn't noticed sooner.
“You okay there Parrish? Hit your head too hard when you got up this morning? St. Agnes doesn't have very high ceilings in every room unfortunately.”
Now that Ronan pointed it out, Adam couldn't remember this morning, or any of today, or how he ended up walking down an empty Henrietta street in an area he'd never seen before. Something else was wrong in Ronan's words, he had hit his head, he knew that for sure, but not in his small room.
A sharp pain went through his mind and all of a sudden Adam couldn't hear anything on one side.
“What's going on Ronan?” He demanded in confusion.
“Just go away Adam.”
“Not until you tell me what's happening.”
Kavinsky sneered, “So you can run off and tell Gansey? Always loyal to your king aren't you.”
“Fuck off Kavinsky this doesn't involve you.”
“Like hell it doesn't.” He snarled attempting to pull away from Ronan only to be stopped by him.
“I'll deal with this love,” Ronan said and slid off the car after brushing his lips against Kavinsky's neck. “Just wait for me, yeah?” Kavinsky nodded and Adam realized this was the first time he'd ever seen Kavinsky look quite so human.
Adam ignored his thoughts and turned his attention to Ronan who was crossing the distance between them.
“Well?” Adam asked.
Ronan peered at him frowning, “Doesn't matter.” He muttered but it seemed directed more at himself than Adam.
“Sorry bud,” He said, “you won't feel this.” He was still talking to himself.
“Wait Ronan, feel what? Wait-”
Ronan lifted his hand and pressed it to Adam’s chest, sending a searing wave of magic at him that felt distinctly Ronan, a purer unshaped form that Adam recognized from dream objects.
“Fuck!” Adam clutched at his chest in pain, “That hurt like hell Lynch!”
Ronan's eyes widened, “You're real?”
“Parrish! What the fuck are you doing in my dream?”
Now things actually made sense as puzzle pieces fell into place with comforting clicks.
“You're dreaming right now,”
“And I'm here too somehow,”
He nodded again.
“And none of this is real?”
Another (exasperated) nod.
“Oh thank fuck. Also, dude what the hell?” He fought off a wave of dizziness as his real life reoriented itself in his mind finally shaking away the haze clouding it in the first place.
Ronan shrugged hopelessly. “Don't ask me, unlike you I'm supposed to be here.”
“And where is here exactly?”
“It's a dream scape Adam, don't worry you're still safe wherever you fell asleep, but it appears your consciousness decided to do a bit of traveling… Or mine did I don't know.” He paused considering. “It might've just been me actually. I probably projected both my dream and my mindset onto you, which I guess is why you're here too.”
“I didn't know you could that.”
Adam gaped (slightly) at Ronan's nonchalance before rubbing his face already praying (to no one in particular) that he wouldn't wake up with a massive headache tomorrow. He had to stop himself from stumbling off some roof when he opened his eyes. In that brief amount of time Ronan must have changed where they were in the dream scape since they still appeared to be in his alternate Henrietta.
At this point Adam wasn't very hopeful for the no headache thing.
In the meantime Ronan took a seat on the edge of the roof and hesitantly Adam decided to join him. Ronan didn't say anything and seemed like he would just not say anything if Adam didn't speak first.
Adam didn't want to speak first.
So they sat in silence a bit longer.
“This isn't so bad y'know.” He eventually said conversationally (he tried to at least). “Apart from not being able to remember reality, and it being a little dark this is the most real dream I've been in.”
Ronan snorted scornfully. “It's not usually like this Parrish. Be glad you didn't end up in my normal dream space.”
Adam looked at him question in his eyes.
Ronan sighed aggravated and motioned around, “I don't dream like this often Adam. If I did do you think I'd be covered in scars? My usual is a dream space which is different from a scape. I can make things in a space to take back but dream spaces are wild, dangerous, not to mention they're not mine either. Scapes are different. I can forget the real world here, even if I know it's not real I can block that.”
“Why would you?”
“I like getting to dream like a normal person, being able to ignore all the shitty real stuff. I'm surprised you had to ask Parrish.” Adam reddened cause it was true, but he held his tongue, he knew Ronan wasn't making fun of him.
Ronan continued softly. “It's nice, I guess, to be happy for once as I sleep. It hurts to wake up though, it always does.”
Adam felt that resonate with something inside him, and couldn't help but murmur a small yeah in agreement.
“Fuck, this is depressing man.”
Adam half shrugged but felt the corners of his lips go up.
“A bit.” He admitted, “But this is peaceful don't lie. And at least I'm not the worst person to end up in your dream.”
Ronan wavered and Adam shoved him lightly sideways. “C'mon man! Would you rather Blue be here? Or worse, Cheng?”
“Okay okay, you're not so bad Parrish. Happy?” Ronan swatted Adam hands away and Adam grinned. “Yes actually. And you're not so bad yourself Lynch.”
“Fuck off, I'm amazing and you're just jealous.”
“Sure you are.”
Ronan pouted, “Y’know I was actually enjoying my dream before you got here.”
Adam choked. “Enjoying? Seriously? You were married to Kavinsky like, a few seconds, minutes, some time ago. What's up with time here?”
Ronan stared at Adam in disbelief.
“How can you be this dull?”
Adam stared at Ronan in clearly apparent confusion. “I don’t see what I’m missing.”
Ronan turned his head away, “Why are you so damn annoying Parrish?!”
“Lynch.” He warned.
“And bossy. Kinda mean, very pushy.”
“Ronan Niall Lynch, stop this.”
Ronan met his eyes and gasped. “You full named me.”
“You made me do it.”
“I did not.”
Adam bit his tongue to stop from retorting with the ever childish did too , and instead gave him the look™️ , something Adam had long since perfected.
Ronan glared back defiantly with a hint of triumph, “It won’t work,” he crowed, “I’ve grown immune. You’ve used it on me too much.”
“You’re deflecting.” Adam pointed out.
“And you’re being a dick.” Ronan supplied helpfully.
“And now you’re avoiding the question outright.”
“I’ve no idea what you mean” he said smugly, “There wasn’t a question asked.”
Adam considered him seriously for a moment, “Do you want me to ask?”
Ronan opened his mouth, and shut it, he tried again, but no sound came out.
“You don’t have to say anything Ronan. I understand what no means, you can just shake your head, if it’s easier.”
“Things haven’t exactly been easy for me in a very long while Parrish, why start now?”
“Because not everything needs to be as difficult as you are.”
Ronan snorted actually looking semi amused. “Fair.”
There was a beat of silence before Ronan said, “So?”
Adam was confused, “So what?”
“You gonna ask?”
Ronan was still trying to be defiant, of what he was trying to defy-Adam didn’t exactly know, but he could tell the front Ronan was putting on was just false bravado. It frustrated Adam, who still wondered why Ronan had to be this difficult with him, why they couldn’t get along for more than a few stolen moments out of time. Adam was fairly sure he’d never done anything directly to Ronan to warrant... this.
Not that these were thoughts for now, not that they were going to stop him from asking.
“What am I missing here? Not seeing although it’s glaringly obvious?” He sounded frustrated. In truth he was, and then Ronan spoke.
“K and I, were friends.” He said looking away.
Oh . Adam hadn’t known what to expect, it definitely wasn’t this, something he was never supposed to know in the first place. Ronan didn’t think any of his friends would have accepted it.
Adam wanted to apologize, but he kept quiet. Ronan had trusted him and Adam wouldn't interrupt, and he wouldn’t betray it.
“We… we were more than that actually, towards the...” Ronan faltered, wavering, before ignoring the one word on the tip of his tongue which finish the sentence and instead just started a new one.
It didn’t matter though because Adam knew what he’d been about to say. He let it go, knowing all too well about endings and the pain they caused.
“Anyway, one day we were just sitting around, not that it was much different from what we usually did, and he suggested we play a game.
“It wasn’t a bad game, just questions. Stupid ones mostly, he just wanted to know things no one else did, and I was sort of curious too. We somehow ended up on the topic of marriage, which is so normal to normal people, not even a want but an expectation. To us it wasn’t . He was laughing so hard when he asked, I’m sure my expression didn’t help.
“His parents hadn’t ended up happy, I suppose mine didn’t either but different circumstances and all that shit, and like I said he wanted to know. I guess I answered as best I could, but the thought of either of us getting married traditionally was unimaginable.”
“Relatable.” Adam muttered.
Ronan laughed softly and it sounded happy. This was a good memory, and sometimes those were too far and few in between for anyone to judge anyone.
“We moved on from that topic, and I’d forgotten about it, but after a while, when we’d stopped talking, he opened his stupid mouth and told me that if I one day decided I wanted to cause a few heart attacks, and if I wanted to because I wanted him, that he’d marry me.”
Ronan’s chest constricted at the memory but he kept going. “Naturally I told him to fuck off, and I actually pushed him off the car... accidentally Parrish, don’t give me that look. He stopped laughing eventually and climbed back on, and told me he was serious, and so I agreed, I guess...”
Ronan laughed softly while Adam was still trying to process what he was saying.
“The next time i pushed him off the hood of a car is when he gave me his ring and called it a promise.”
Adam was only just beginning to realize some things that he probably should have before, his mind was frankly still reeling. “You miss him.” Adam concluded in disbelief (In his defence he's never been very good with feelings) but it was mostly due to the fact that Kavinsky and Ronan had been engaged.
“No kidding.” Ronan said flatly.
Adam winced slightly, he hadn't meant to be so harsh? Blunt? Rude? Unfeeling? Curt? It didn't matter which word as long as it conveyed that empathy just wasn't a natural response for Adam. No one had ever helped shape it to be natural so it was as foreign as the thought of anyone missing Kavinsky had been.
“You've never told us. You've never shown it. Why have you been hiding it?”
Ronan shook his head “It doesn't matter, just drop it Parrish.”
Adam looked around at the intricately detailed dream world Ronan had subconsciously created, where Kavinsky was very much alive and happy with Ronan. He took it all in, and made a decision.
“It obviously does matter to you, so no Lynch, I won't drop it.”
“Since when did you grow feelings? I'm fairly sure compassion wasn't in your repertoire.”
Ronan might have punched a wall if there was one around him.
“You’re doing it again.”
“You wouldn't understand.” He protested, but Adam knew that it still wasn't a no.
“I probably won't, but maybe I don't have to, isn't it enough that someone just be there for you?”
Ronan stared at Adam warily, “You'd be that someone?”
Adam nodded, “I’ve been doing pretty well so far, haven’t I?” and Ronan finally gave in.
“What I was saying earlier, well K wasn’t always like that. K-He was toxic before y'know. For other people, for me too sometimes.”
For himself most of all.
“But, that never mattered to me, not at first, I was content to drown myself with him,”
He lay back against the roof when his strength finally left him, feet still dangling over the sides, rocks digging into his back keeping him grounded.
“I don't know what changed.”
Adam lay back too, so that he could attempt to see the world from Ronan's point of view. “What do you mean?”
“I don't know,” he groaned frustrated. “Just one day I was with him, and he was sober, acting like a miserable bastard, and I challenged him to go all day like that, so he challenged me to do the same.”
He stopped to breathe, the bare open truth already tearing him apart. He'd never admitted any of this before, and didn't think he ever would again.
“It sucked at first,” he laughed but it sounded like he was crying. “It sucked, and then it didn't.”
“Kavinsky was different underneath the drugs and alcohol, the image he made for himself was just that; an image. He was still wild and dangerous, arrogant and cocky, but he was human. He was good .”
“Did Gansey know?”
“Gansey has always been my best friend, but Kavinsky was new and exciting, and as cliché as that fucking sounds, I had this side of him all to myself. He could never know about us and understand. Dick...just wouldn’t get it.”
Ronan paused again to centre himself and Adam took the time to process everything he'd been told. Ronan was right, Adam didn't understand, he had known toxic his whole life and had dreamed of escaping it, and yet Ronan had run towards everything trying to kill him.
“I liked that.” He whispered almost soundlessly. “I liked that I had a part of him that no one else did. I liked that I didn't have to share, that I never disappointed him because he never expected anything from me, just me.”
Ronan breathed soundlessly, “And Gansey…” he left off mid sentence and Adam filled it in, he knew his friend and maybe understood Ronan better than he thought he could.
“And Gansey expects things that aren’t possible for you to give.”
“Yeah.” He agreed.
Their rare camaraderie filled the silence, a living being patiently waiting for Ronan to speak and release everything burning him up inside.
It took some time but eventually Ronan continued in the same low pitch as if he was afraid to speak too loud and wake up, and find that none of this had been real. Not even Adam.
“After spending so much time with Kavinsky I realized something, that somewhere along the way I had gotten back a part of me, that I'd lost and didn't care about finding cause I was lost too. Except Kavinsky had found me, and I found him as well, and I think I thought the both of us could change.”
Ronan had run towards everything trying to kill him. Adam hadn't noticed that had changed, Adam didn't think anyone noticed. Not Gansey, not Ronan's brothers, and Blue couldn't possibly have noticed since she’d known Ronan even less time than Adam.
“You did change Ronan.”
Adam felt the air shift abruptly at his words, he knew the cause even before Ronan laughed bitterly. The sound held every dark feeling in him, the anger, although rage would be a better word, his despair, his hate, his pain, all holding him down when he had finally decided to get back up.
“What good did it do Adam?” It sounded like Ronan breaking.
“What good did it do?” He repeated anguished. “Kavinsky killed himself in the most fucking gruesome way possible, in front of my eyes, and I couldn't even try to stop him because of how he chose to die!”
Adam heard the clinking of glass as it shattered and fell, smelt the heavy scent of something copper-like fill the air, disgustingly metallic and so thick he could practically taste it.
Adam was on his knees before he could process anymore.
It was blood that he smelt, Ronan's blood.
“Ronan,” Adam said cautiously, “You're bleeding.” Empty eyes stared back at him. “What did you break?”
“He knew.” Ronan said.
“Ronan. You. Are. Bleeding.”
“He knew. The fucking bastard knew he wouldn't do it if I got to him first! He knew, and he didn't want to be alone. You saw what he did!”
“Ronan.” Adam pleaded, desperate to get Ronan out of this mindset. “His death wasn't your fault.”
“Wasn't it though?”
Adam didn't know what he meant.
“He told me he didn't deserve a second chance. I told him if we got what we deserved… well, it's a good thing we don't.”
Adam couldn't help Ronan like this.
“He said he didn't deserve a second chance because he didn't care about changing. I told him I hadn't either, I hadn't cared about anything, and then I did. I told Kavinsky he could change, and if he didn't?”
Silent tears rolled down Ronan's face, it was better than the emptiness he had witnessed earlier, but Adam wasn't optimistic.
“I told him if he wouldn't change, that it didn't matter to me, because I wasn't leaving him.”
Adam’s eyes widened in surprise. He hadn't expected that, not in a million years would he have guessed what Ronan said.
“I didn't know why he was arguing, he sounded playful almost, like he was joking. I was being serious and I thought he was just messing with me. He was serious too, when he told me he deserved to burn in hell, although he didn't sound like it. It's why he chose the dragon I think.”
Ronan added the last part like an afterthought his pain helpfully provided and it chilled Adam to hear.
“Did you know that there's a passage in the bible that says to forgive others not seven as the man misheard, but seventy-seven times?” Ronan asked, looking very far away, somehow somewhere that was here and not here at the same time and Adam couldn’t find words to reply.
“It's okay.” He murmured “K didn’t know either.”
His eyes met Adam’s when he continued, seeming a little more present than before. “It’s a weird number, at least that's what I thought at first. I asked about it once y'know. It's actually a symbolic number, what it really means is infinite, eternal. It means you're supposed to forgive every sin, misdeed, and wrongdoing, as God forgives you and all your sins, misdeeds, and wrongdoings. It sounds impossible doesn't it?”
It sounded beyond impossible.
“I would have forgiven him for anything, but how am I supposed to forgive him for this?” Ronan asked lost.
Adam shook his head slowly, “I don't know Ro, I don't know how to forgive at all.”
Ronan looked at him directly and Adam tried not to sigh in relief to see his friend coming back. “That's not your fault, you have even less reason to forgive than others.”
Adam shrugged uncomfortably, “Maybe.” He hesitated, worrying over his next words. “If it's not my fault for being unable to forgive others, than its not your fault K died. He knew what he was doing, you said so yourself. He planned it Ro, and maybe you can't forgive him right now, and no ones making you, but maybe before you forgive him, you should forgive yourself.”
Ronan didn't reply at first but he looked as if he was at least considering it. “That sounds impossible too.” He whispered. Adam agreed with him, and wondered if he would ever be able to forgive himself either. “I know.”
It was silent until Ronan spoke, the air lightening once again, “Y’know for someone who claims he doesn't know how to forgive you're making a lot of sense right now.”
The words startle a laugh out of Adam. “Yeah, I guess.” Adam holds out a hand and Ronan allows himself to grab it and be pulled up into a sitting position.
Neither lets go.
“You realize you're still bleeding, right?” Adam says after a moment.
Ronan looks at him in surprise, “I am?”
Adam nods his head at Ronan's other hand which is dripping and covered in the sticky substance. Adam grimaces while Ronan stares at it in wonder.
“You don't feel it?”
Ronan clenched and unclenched his hand, bloodied glass shards fell from it and Ronan didn’t even flinch.
“Nope.” he said with a small pop on the P.
“Is that normal?”
“There's no normal around here Parrish.”
“How many times do we have to do this?”
Ronan shrugged “I dunno.”
“Hand.” He demanded.
Ronan took 5 seconds to stare at Adam doubtfully. “...Fine.”
Carefully Adam took hold of Ronan's bloodied hand after letting go of the other and started removing pieces of glass still lodged in his skin.
“What did you break?”
Ronan shrugged uncomfortably, trying very hard not to stare at his and Adam’s hands as he worked. He blamed it on being squeamish even though that was very much not the reason, which he was willfully ignoring and would continue to do so.
“Something I made for Kavinsky once… He gave me replicas of things he dreamed, usually of stuff I already owned, his way of telling me that he was watching.”
“Creepy.” Adam muttered.
Ronan huffed but he was hiding a smile when he looked away. “To normal people, but if you haven't noticed Adam,” he motioned around. “As I've said there's no normal here.”
Adam wished he could argue that he was normal. “Whatever. Just continue with your story.”
Ronan did. “I took up the habit too, started making replicas for him, but I got bored. So I made things better instead. Included little patterns and hidden designs on the objects, messages and weird abilities, sometimes changed the whole material of whatever I was dreaming.”
Ronan glanced at the small pile of blood stained glass shards and sighed. “His favourite were my glass objects. Glass is so hard to produce from a dream, if you bring it out wrong it can shatter the second it appears or warp and become something hideous.” Ronan smiled and then he was crying again, and Adam wanted to do nothing more than hug him, which was a new feeling to say the least.
“He sucked at it. Glass was too delicate and not worth the trouble or pain for him, and it made him happy when I gave him glass things so I made everything he wanted. One of the last things I gave him was a glass dragon.”
“Oh…” A dragon .
“I dreamed it indestructible, but it was glass nonetheless. He had it with him when he died.”
“Ro...” Adam didn't know what he could say.
“I hate him.” Ronan whispered.
“You loved him.”
Ronan let out a sob and it sounded like agony, “I still do.” He wiped at the tears furiously. “How fucking pathetic.”
“It's not pathetic to love someone.” Adam said wondering if he was pathetic for never having been loved. “It’s not pathetic at all.” He finished quietly, allowing himself a few horrible greedy seconds to wonder what it would be like to love Ronan, to be loved by Ronan, who gave all of himself and would take only what was given, what could be given.
Ronan for all his watchfulness did not see Adam’s sadness through his own, which Adam didn’t mind. Ronan didn’t need its burden, and Adam didn’t need to share. He had carried it alone a long time, and he could continue carrying it longer.
“It is if he didn’t love me back,” he whispered. “Not enough to stay.”
Adam didn’t know Kavinsky, but he did know Ronan-better now than before, and Adam knew himself. He knew what it felt like to not want to be alive, if only for a moment before he could push the abyss away. “I don’t think it was that he didn’t love you enough Ronan,” he hesitated, afraid of the truth attempting to slip out of his mouth, carried by words not-not about him, words that were not supposed to be about him.
“Maybe,” he continued softly, “He didn’t love himself enough. Maybe he could not stand the sight of his own face.”
Ronan understood his words his meaning, and he knew they had both felt it before keenly. They both understood that the other had had days where they could not stand to look at themselves too, and the truth was added to the other truths left in the air, hung out between them, unbearable honesty becoming a fragile tether, the beginning of one much stronger, holding them together and keeping them up.
After that, everything had blurred at some point in his mind, but he could recall staring out at the sky, Ronan’s lean frame slumped against him, and if they hadn’t already been dreaming, Adam would have thought Ronan had fallen asleep.
Adam didn’t remember moving back to the edge of the roof or Ronan joining him, and yet it was oddly nice to watch the sunrise together. Adam had never dreamed anything this vivid and alive, and internally he agreed with Ronan. He was amazing, not that he would ever say that aloud. Not to Ronan at least.
“Ro,” he murmured slightly guilty for disturbing Ronan’s peace. “Will you be okay tomorrow? When we wake up?”
“No.” he said, “And yes.”
He smiled and it held all the things that he never showed anyone while awake.
“I don’t think I’ll be okay for a while, but tomorrow might be slightly more okay than yesterday.”
Adam accepted this and leaned some of his weight against Ronan, suddenly realizing how tired he was. Ronan must've been exhausted.
Adam felt something well up inside him, as an unfamiliar a feeling as the place around him that he couldn’t really identify. It was longing, wanting so much that it ached. It was hopeful and fearful, disappointment and sadness, a combination of all those things and Adam didn’t know why or what to do with it. He just knew he didn’t want to leave Ronan right now.
“If… if you wanted -were okay with it- I could come over tomorrow. When I wake up I mean.” He tried to hide his embarrassment from Ronan, but Ronan didn’t even move his head from Adam’s shoulder, it was quite possible that he actually nuzzled closer. Adam felt his skin burning and saw that he had reddened, and it was not from heat.
“Mhm, whatever you like Parrish, I’m not going anywhere.” He replied sleepily, and Adam thought he would have been amused, even think Ronan cute if it had been said under different circumstances. But it had not and instead Adam thought he finally understood one more thing Ronan had said.
It was nice to have a part of someone else all to yourself.