The night was full of possibility. The sky had just turned from blue to pink to purple, soon to be blue again; the sun’s soft light disappearing behind the sloped green field behind the barns. Ronan stood leaned against a pillar on the porch of his childhood home, peering out over the grounds and the picture of wonder they painted.
It was his birthday. And even though he was home the ground didn’t feel as stable as it was supposed to. But he had promised himself he could forget that today. For just one day.
The door opened behind him and he turned around, catching Adam’s face, for once completely open; truly disarmed. Something fluttered in his chest, made it easier to breathe. It was at the tip of his tongue, the thing that had been waiting to reach the air, to be articulated into something concrete.
“Adam?” And that was it, wasn’t it? It was as if the thought itself had been holding its breath and now it could finally roam free without the pressure of his constricting lungs. At the core of all the complicated emotions and half-hidden truths there had only ever been one thing that made up all of it: Adam.
Adam’s eyes drifted over his face and he took a step closer, and then one more, until their breaths were mingling in the cool air and the warmth from his body radiated out as if it wanted to warm up Ronan’s too. Their noses nudged together and Adam took a deep breath, as if preparing to make a huge leap, and then he lept.
Their lips came together hard at first, more feeling than action. Ronan couldn’t think, distracted by how impossibly fast his blood seemed to be surging through his body. The longer the kiss lasted the softer and slower it became, more exploring than claiming. Ronan could feel Adam’s hands moving over his back, up and down, like they wanted to feel way beyond his shirt, until they settled and ended up in the back pockets of his jeans. Ronan felt unsure about what to do with his own hands, but with some trepidation he moved one gently to the back of Adam’s neck, where he could feel the warm skin and pull his fingers tenderly through the soft ends of his hair, and put the other to Adam’s ribs.
The quiet of the barns caused everything to feel heightened, making the racing of his heart sound deafening. Or maybe it was Adam’s. He couldn’t tell. They were so tightly intertwined that it was hard to separate where one of them ended and the other began.
Adam eventually pulled away, slowly, and Ronan’s lips followed automatically, now used to having them attached to someone else’s. They took a moment to just take each other in, the flushed cheeks, quickened breaths, and small smiles mirrored on both their faces.
“It’s getting late, we should probably go in before it gets so dark we can’t find the way.”
Ronan snorted. “The door’s like five feet away, even a blind man would get there eventually.”
“Yeah well, it wouldn’t surprise me if this place just decided it wanted to change things up and put the door on the roof one day,” Adam said, smiling softly.
“Well, even if it did you would have me with you. I’d just dream up a ladder. Or find one in one of the barns, whichever goes faster.” What he didn’t say was that this was his home, so even if he woke up one day to it completely changed he was confident it would always show him the way.
Ronan took Adam’s hand, taking the opportunity to catch his breath and slow his beating heart. He stroked the back of it, then used it to pull him into the house. He hesitated for a second in the hallway before making a decision and led the way up the stairs, to his bedroom.
Adam’s curiosity about the room from before was gone, since his eyes chose to explore Ronan instead. They didn’t stray away for a second, as if there wasn’t anything more interesting in the world that could possibly distract him at that moment. His eyes eventually landed somewhere between Ronan’s collarbone and his throat. After a minute, he lifted his hand slowly and touched Ronan’s neck, where the edges of his tattoo were peaking out of his shirt. It looked like he wanted to say something, yet he remained silent. They didn’t usually pull punches with each other and they weren’t starting now, so Ronan asked him, “What?”
“Your tattoo. I don’t think I’ve actually seen all of it at once.”
There was a reason for that, though the choice to hide it had been made unconsciously. Showing it off felt, in a way, like laying his soul bare. The giant tattoo was everything he couldn’t express with words; an extension of his mind. His personhood concretized in black ink to create the most honest part of him. It was the one thing that said look at me, this is who I really am. Just like his dreams.
But this was a night for truth.
Ronan took a step back, turned around, and pulled his shirt over his head. He threw it on the floor and hoped the thud of its landing hid his shuddering exhale.
He could feel more than hear Adam get closer, like the air was changing and shaping itself to fit perfectly around him, the same way Ronan had always tried to. Adam gently put his fingers to Ronan’s back, like he’d done outside, this time without anything in the way. As he felt Adam’s hands explore the black hooks and talons, the flowers and raven feathers - dream things hiding in plain sight - he couldn’t help but think about the first time he’d ever seen Adam. How he seemed to be so many things at once, a walking contradiction, waiting to be disproven; fearing to be disproven. How he was a beautiful boy. Whose pale lashes fluttered over his cheeks; whose sharp cheekbones seemed to cut through all of Ronan’s defenses; whose finely boned hands curved over his bike handles wouldn’t leave Ronan’s mind for days, or years really. Something had unwound inside of him upon seeing the other boy that had never quite come back the same since. Oh, how he’d longed to have those hands on him. The experience was nothing his restless mind could ever have imagined at the time. It was so much more.
He felt lips on his shoulder; a kiss. Ronan turned his head and reached for one of Adam's hands, first kissing his knuckles, breathing in the faint smell of gasoline and something purely cabeswater, then he kissed his fingertips gently, like a butterfly's touch, and then, at last, his palm. Adam’s lifeline. He turned around and Adam cupped his face, stroking his cheek reverently. Adam smiled at him, small and trusting, as if they shared a secret, a language only they would ever understand. Ronan closed his eyes. Nothing had ever felt this fragile. Nothing had ever felt this right. No nightmare, no demon, no doubt, nothing could dissuade him from this moment. This was his life now, if he wanted it, if he held on strongly enough and fought for it. Nothing was going to get to take it away from him. Not when he finally had it in his grasp.
Kissing in Ronan’s childhood bedroom felt different now, and he almost couldn’t believe that the first time had happened only earlier today. There was no sense of uncertainty or nervousness this time, though it was just as fragile and wonderful; the room surrounding them with its protective walls where the outside world wasn’t allowed to come in and disturb.
As the night grew darker outside they went to sleep on Ronan’s bed, his ear on Adam’s chest, listening to his heart beat steadily, and for once he wasn’t scared of falling asleep.
He wasn’t even scared of waking up.