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After a minute, 10 minutes, an hour, a thousand years, Adam pulled back.

“You’re shaking,” he said, his eyebrows knitted together in concern. “Do you not want-“

“God, no! I mean yes, i do want this,” Adam’s expression softened into relief. “Just cold.” Ronan said, his hands still under the bottom of Adam’s top, resting gently on his hipbones.

“Let’s go inside.” Adam said, as he took Ronan’s hand from where it lay on his own hip, and lead him inside. “Where’s the orphan girl?” Ronan didn’t care where the orphan girl was. As soon as the door was closed behind them, Ronan pulled Adam to him and kissed him. A surprised noise escaped Adam that sent a rush through Ronan’s body.

“I don’t care.” Ronan said softly against Adam’s lips. He felt Adam smile and Ronan caught it. He laughed gently into Adam before pulling back reluctantly. They just looked at each other for a moment and Ronan made absolutely sure that he wouldn’t forget anything. He may never get this again, there was no chance he was taking anything for granted. After a moment, Adam spoke, his hands gently rested at the nape of Ronan’s neck, his voice low.

“Can I see your tattoo?”

“Jesus fuck Parrish, trying to get my clothes off already?”

“Maybe I am,” he said, smirking ever so slightly. Then, his expression softened, and he stroked lightly at Ronan’s neck. “You don’t have to. I know it’s-“

***

Adam broke off as Ronan moved away from him and took his tank off. Adam tried not to stare. He’d seen Ronan shirtless a hundred times before, why was it different now? But it was different now. Now he was allowed to look. Ronan went to sit on the sofa, and Adam followed him, looking at Ronan’s back. It was incredible, the tattoo on Ronan’s back.

“You dreamt this.” He whispered, not being able to keep the awe out of his voice. He brought his hand up to where it started, right at the top of his shoulders. These were the parts of it that he was familiar with, often seeing it poke out when Ronan wore a tank top. He slowly traced down, following different lines. He heard Ronan’s breath falter as Adam traced across his back.

“This is the kind of fuckery that’s in my head, Parrish.” Ronan said, a sneer to his voice.

“It’s beautiful.” Adam said, totally enamoured. Though Adam couldn’t see Ronan’s face, he noticed his shoulders gently relaxing. He leant forward and lightly kissed the very top of the tattoo, under Ronan’s neck. Ronan drew in a sharp breath, and turned his head slightly toward Adam. Adam slowly kissed along Ronan’s shoulder blade, and then up his throat, along his jaw toward his mouth. He had reached the corner of Ronan’s mouth before Ronan turned fully toward him and caught Adam’s mouth with his own.

The two boys clung onto one another as if their lives depended on it. Adam’s hands explored Ronan’s torso, feeling the subtle hardness of muscle under the surface, whilst Ronan clawed at Adam’s back, his neck, into his hair, pulling gently. Adam marvelled at Ronan’s ability to be kissing him so urgently, and yet his hands were so gentle, always so careful with Adam.

Ronan started to push Adam back, putting his arm out to the arm of the sofa to steady them both. Adam allowed Ronan to lead him, and soon Ronan was hovering over Adam. With his hand behind Ronan’s neck, Adam gently pulled down on Ronan so that his weight was almost fully on Adam. Ronan pulled back slightly to look at Adam from above.

“Are you okay?” He said, his face lightly flushed. Adam was struggling to focus. He wondered if he looked as flustered as Ronan. Probably.

“Yeah. Are you?”

Ronan grinned. “Yeah.”

Adam’s heart did a very complicated flip at the sight of Ronan grinning, and he muttered “Fuck.”

“What?”

Adam pulled Ronan back down and kissed him again for a couple of seconds before stroking Ronan’s lips with his thumb. Ronan then sat back up, grabbed Adam’s hand and pulled him up after him. They sat facing each other on the sofa, and Ronan Lynch, destroyer of lives and cars, brought Adam’s hand to his mouth. He placed a feather-light kiss to Adam’s knuckles, and Adam thought his heart would break with how gentle he was.

***

As they headed back toward The Barns, the Orphan Girl’s left hand in Adam’s, her right in Ronan’s, Adam couldn’t help thinking how comfortable and peaceful he was here. Among the trees, among the dreams, among Ronan. Last night flittered across his memory. Hands on skin, lips on hands, stubble on lips, Ronan, Ronan, Ronan. When they had finally headed up to bed, Ronan had showed Adam to Declan’s room, not assuming or expecting anything from him. He had leant by the door frame for a moment, holding Adam’s hand.

“Sleep well.” Ronan whispered. “Ab imo pecture.” Adam leaned forward and kissed him gently, a contradiction to their urgency and desperation from earlier that night.

“Goodnight, Ronan.” Adam had watched Ronan walk away back to his room, his heart doing something unfamiliar in his chest. For the first time in as long as he could remember, he had felt safe.

Now, he tuned back into the sounds of Ronan explaining something to the Orphan Girl.

“...Because you can’t, shithead. You’ll get mud everywhere in the house, and then the bugs will come-“

“What’s wrong with the bugs coming?” She said in a whiny voice.

“It makes the house stink and... I don’t know do I, you just can’t.” Ronan gave Adam a withering look and Adam smiled.

“Okay.” She said, clearly having been distracted by something else, and letting go off their hands and running off.

“Don’t trail mud in the house!” Ronan shouted after her. “Little twerp.” He said, his voice fond.

Adam’s hand feeling suddenly empty, he reached forward and took Ronan’s. His heart fluttered.

Ronan looked down at their entwined fingers, then looked up at Adam, his face a mix of surprise and gratitude. He squeezed Adam’s hand once, then knocked his shoulder against him.

“What’s the plan for today then?” Adam asked.

“We stop this fucking shitshow in cabeswater. You want some breakfast?”

“I had two bread buns.”

“Of course you did.”

“I could still eat though.” They had reached the porch, where Adam had kissed Ronan the night before, after everyone else had left. The memory still fresh in both of their minds, they both paused. Ronan turned to Adam.

“Parrish,” Ronan’s voice caught. Adam was aware of how close he was stood. Ronan lent his forehead on Adam’s. “Are you real?”

“I hope so.” Adam replied. “Are you?”

Ronan kissed him once, softly. “I hope so.”