Adam woke up aching.
This wasn’t unusual for him. Between his jobs, hiking through Cabeswater, and Ronan's tendency to equate fun with fast and dangerous he usually woke up bruised and sore.
What was unusual was that he didn’t wake up to the sound of his alarm. Normally once he fell asleep he was dead to the world until he absolutely had to get up. He didn’t know what time it was now, but he suspected it was very late, or maybe very early. The birds were silent, and there was no hint of morning visible through his slim window. The only sound was the baseboard heating desperately trying to combat the cold seeping through his poorly insulated walls.
From his slightly elevated position of a mattress on the floor, Adam let himself look at Ronan. It was only fair, he figured, after all the time Ronan spent watching him.
The full moon filtered in through his shitty blinds, lighting up Ronan’s sleeping form with glowing stripes. He was on his side with his back to Adam, his strong shoulders hunched forward in an attempt to get comfortable on the hardwood floor. He was wearing an uncharacteristically soft blue sweatshirt that fit a bit too snugly, the back of which boasted about some semi-regional tennis tournament from the days before Adam even knew Ronan. Underneath the blanket Ronan had wrapped around his waist Adam knew he only wore boxers. Adam traced the shape of his legs underneath the blanket with his eyes, following the line all the way down to where Ronan’s slim feet poked out of the bottom. Ronan shifted onto his back and threw an arm over his eyes, restless even in his dreams. The sweatshirt rode up to his middle and revealed a pale expanse of his taut abdomen.
Adam’s hips pressed down into his mattress reflexively, seeking relief for a discomfort he hadn’t realized he was feeling until this moment. Ronan yanked the blanket up to his chin, shuddering in the cold. Silently, Adam promised himself that if Ronan woke up holding a space heater he would accept it without complaint.
He buried his own frigid face in the pillow and let his hips flex one more time before he settled, breathing slowly. He tried to recall why it would be a bad idea to slide onto the floor next to Ronan and wrap his arms around him. He knew he wanted Ronan - and he was fairly confident Ronan wanted him - but there was so much else happening, between them and around them, that it just couldn’t be a good idea to add more. Most days Adam felt he would collapse from the weight of the pressure already resting on his shoulders. And Ronan Lynch was not something that could be added lightly.
Despite this, he raised his eyes to steal another glance at Ronan.
Ronan - who’s sharp edges seemed to melt under the moonlight, who looked soft and unguarded, who was here as if the floor next to Adam was the only place in the world he could finally close his eyes - made it hard to remember why he was holding himself back.
Ronan lowered his arm from over his face. He squinted as his eyes adjusted to the dark room. Adam didn’t look away and, after a few moments, Ronan looked back.
“Tell me it’s not time for you to go to fucking work already,” Ronan said, his voice raspy and low. He pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and down, covering his eyes again as he stretched the sleep out of his limbs.
“No,” Adam said quietly. “Just can’t sleep.”
Ronan rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands and grumbled, “welcome to the club.”
“It’s cold,” Adam said. He pulled his duvet tighter against his body.
“Yeah, no shit, your apartment is a fucking icebox.”
“I mean, I’m cold.”
“Christ, man, what do you want me to do about it? Get the church to build you thicker walls?”
For one wild second Adam considered asking Ronan to do it, just to see if he would. Instead, he lifted the corner of his blankets and scooted backwards across the mattress. “Just, come up here, would you?”
Ronan pushed himself onto his elbows, suddenly alert.
“Um,” Ronan said. Adam raised his eyebrows in return. “Yeah, okay.”
He clambered awkwardly onto the mattress, drained of his usual swagger as he shifted into the bed next to Adam. He pulled his own blanket up from the floor and draped it over both of them, adjusting it gently so it came all the way up under their chins. Adam moved his pillow to the center of the bed so they could share and suppressed a smile as he watched Ronan shuffle forward to rest his head on it.
“Better?” Ronan whispered. His eyes darted around Adam’s face, never quite meeting his gaze.
Adam could feel Ronan’s breath on his face, but still felt cold. He wanted to be closer. He wanted to be allowed to be closer. There, in the middle of the night, in the dark, with both of them speaking so softly, it felt like he might be allowed.
He moved forward until their faces were only a few inches apart, his eyes level with Ronan’s nose. He slipped his bare feet between Ronan’s calves and Ronan jumped.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” Ronan hissed, “your feet are fucking icicles, dude.”
“I said I was cold.”
Ronan huffed in irritation, but didn’t move his legs away. Adam curled his toes, catching them in Ronan’s leg hair. He wanted to be closer . He didn’t want to worry about work, or school, or the sun coming up. He wanted to burrow into Ronan’s chest and live there.
He moved forward again until his forehead rested on Ronan’s chin. He knew he was far past pushing the limits of what could be passed off as just friendship, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care.
“Adam,” Ronan said like he was starting a sentence, but stopped himself.
“I said I was cold.” Adam twisted his hands in Ronan’s sweatshirt.
A hesitant hand fell onto Adam’s back. They were pressed almost completely together now, from shoulder to knee. Ronan’s hand gently ran up and down Adam’s back. He wasn’t sure he’d ever been held like this before, even as a child. He pushed his face into Ronan’s warm neck and breathed deeply, inhaling the earthy scent of an unshowered boy at the end of a long day.
“Adam,” Ronan started again, “are - are you okay?”
Was Adam okay? Rent was due in three days. There was a tuition payment a week after that. He knew his heat bill would be astronomical, despite the fact that his apartment never seemed to be warm. He had an essay for Latin waiting to be finished, and at some point within the next few hours he was due at the factory. But he was always okay. He made sure of it, because he had to be. “Yeah, I’m just…”
Adam lifted his head and looked Ronan in the eye before he had a chance to look away. Ronan looked flushed, and nervous, and lost.
Adam pushed forward that final inch, pressing his lips to Ronan’s for a fraction of a second in an embarrassing imitation of a kiss before pulling back. Ronan jerked his head back, blinking rapidly.
It wasn’t exactly the reaction he had been hoping for, but it wasn’t the worst scenario he’d come up with while imagining what it might be like to kiss Ronan for the first time.
Since Ronan didn’t seem like he was going to leap out of the bed, or laugh at him, or - as he’d imagined in his darkest scenario - punch him in the face, Adam rested his hand over the side of Ronan’s face, stroking his thumb over gently over an eyebrow.
He moved forward again, slower, to give Ronan time to push him away. He pressed their foreheads together and for a few moments nothing more than passed between them than air between their lungs.
A minute passed, and just as Adam was certain he’d made a huge mistake Ronan surged forward, clumsily planting his mouth over Adam’s.
Adam responded immediately, shifting the hand on Ronan’s face to the back of his neck. Ronan was obviously unpracticed at kissing - not that Adam, who had kissed his freshman year girlfriend a grand total of three times, had much of a leg to stand on. Still, he shifted up slightly and tilted Ronan’s head back to improve the angle before licking his way inside of Ronan’s mouth.
Ronan made a surprised noise in the back of his throat as Adam’s tongue ran across his teeth. His hands were awkwardly holding on to the back of Adam’s t-shirt, like they weren’t sure if they had permission to explore.
Adam took one of Ronan’s hands and moved it to rest on his hip, under his shirt. At the same time he hooked his leg over Ronan’s hip and shifted them so he was half on top of Ronan with their legs interlocked like a zipper.
When he finally broke the kiss Ronan gasped for air, but Adam felt didn’t pause before moving to his neck. He licked his way down the left side of his neck, keeping his good ear pointed to Ronan’s mouth so he could hear his stuttered breathing.
“Shit,” Ronan hissed as Adam scraped his teeth over his pulsepoint and lingered there. “Parrish, if you tell me you did this because your fucking lips were cold, I’ll kill you.”
Adam laughed into Ronan’s collarbone before pushing up onto his elbows to look him in the eye. “I mean...”
Ronan pinched his hip. “You’re an asshole, you know that?”
Adam smiled before dipping back down to kiss him again, pulling on Ronan’s lower lip with his teeth.
“My lips were cold,” Adam allowed, “but mostly I just...wanted to do it. Is that okay?”
Ronan, flushed and beautiful, swallowed thickly as he ran a hand through Adam’s hair. “Okay? Yeah. Shit.”
Feeling overwhelmed, Adam rested his head on Ronan’s chest. He could feel his heart beating rapidly, in time with Adam’s. Ronan kept running his fingers through Adam’s hair until it slowed. He removed his hand to rearrange the blankets again, tucking them in around Adam’s shoulders.
“So,” Ronan said, sounding casual even as his heart began to speed up again under Adam’s cheek, “is this, like, something you’re going to want to do again?”
Adam lifted his head to look at him. Ronan stared intently at the ceiling.
“I mean, yeah,” he said as he settled back on Ronan’s chest. “But I have to be at work in like, two hours, and I’m exhausted. Can we just sleep?”
“That’s - yeah, cool. ‘Course.” He felt Ronan relax beneath him as his hand returned to Adam’s hair. Ronan added dryly, “Are you warm enough?”
He wanted to tell him that for the first time since winter hit Adam felt warm, all the way down to his bones, but he felt embarrassed even thinking about it so he kept his mouth shut in favor of thumping Ronan lightly on the arm and calling him an asshole. It probably got the point across, anyway.