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cold in every way but one

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Ronan had given Adam his cold. Or it was the other way around; it didn’t matter much at this point.  It was a stupid little thing, mild enough that it wasn’t worth missing work over, but significant enough to be a constant annoyance. Adam showed up for his day shift at the ER feeling okay; he’d gotten a decent amount of sleep, going to bed just a few hours after dropping Ronan off for his twenty-four the night prior, and was definitely better than the day before.  After changing into his scrubs, he put on a mask; wearing one was the responsible thing to do in terms of infection control, but it somehow managed to make his nose bother him even more, and he sneezed once as he molded the metal strip to fit his face.  He could deal with it--this was only an eight hour shift, and then he’d have a whopping sixteen hours to recuperate before doing it all over again.

It was a few hours into the day when the regional emergency radio sounded--they had an ambulance coming in from Belmont. Keying the mic, Adam grabbed a pen to take down a report. “This is Mount Auburn, go ahead, Belmont.”

“Good afternoon, Mount Auburn.” Ronan’s voice came over the radio, instantly brightening Adam’s day, “This is Belmont Medic 1 coming at you with a sixty-five year old male with chest pain.” He continued to give his entry note, ending with their ETA and asking if Adam had any questions. 

Ronan always gave a solid report, so Adam had nothing to ask. Signing off, he set the mic down and went to let the charge nurse know that they’d be needing to clear a room for the incoming patient. It was always a little fun when he and Ronan caught each other on the radio, a secret message encoded in their exchange. ‘Thank you, Belmont, see you on arrival’ was just ‘Love you, see you soon’ wearing a uniform.

The ambulance arrived minutes later, with Ronan leading the stretcher through the doors. He made eye contact with Adam for just a second, and even though the lower half of his face was hidden by  masks, Adam saw the corner of one eye crinkling in a momentary smile before Ronan took his patient into room two. The patient had already been assigned to Casey, so Adam stayed at his computer, refreshing the page to see if the metabolic panel he was waiting on had come back yet. It hadn’t--he’d give it another ten minutes before calling the lab--so he set about finishing notes from his first few patients of the day.

The panel had just come back (normal, which meant that the patient would be able to go home, always good news to deliver) when Adam’s phone buzzed; Ronan was outside, working on his report, if Adam had a minute to come say hi. Adam tapped Sarah, one of the residents, on the shoulder, letting her know that he’d be in the ambulance bay if anyone came looking for him. “Tell Ronan I say hi,” she said, smiling.  

At this point, everyone knew that Adam was married to one of the Belmont medics, although the newer folks were usually surprised when they found out which medic it was. A few months ago, he’d overheard one of the patient care assistants whispering “You mean the scary looking one? Really?” to another, who’d countered with, “Yeah, the hot one with the buzzcut.” Adam regretted passing that particular compliment on to Ronan, who asked Adam about eight times that week if his ‘fan club’ was working that day.

In Ronan’s defense, ‘scary’ wasn’t the best word to describe how he looked when he was inside the department. ‘Intense’ was a better fit.  He had what one of his old work partners had referred to as ‘resting neutral face’ which was a few steps up from resting bitch face: professional, calm, but not particularly readable. When he gave a report to the staff, he was thorough and confident, holding eye contact to make sure that every detail was understood.  He always held himself at his full height, which, when combined with the deep navy uniform, certainly made him look…less than approachable. Adam could see how, to an outsider, Emergency Department Ronan could be intimidating.

But in the ambulance bay—that was a different story. Ambulance Bay Ronan joked around with his partners, his laugh echoing around the garage. He tried to see how many saltines he could fit in his mouth (the answer was nine, but it wasn’t pretty). Most importantly, though: Ambulance Bay Ronan couldn’t keep his hands off of Adam.

As soon as the automatic doors to the department opened, Ronan poked his head out of the back of the ambulance, then jumped onto the concrete and walked over to Adam. “Hey there,” he said, taking off his surgical mask as Adam did the same, then leaned in to kiss him.

“Get a room, Lynch.” Ronan’s partner called from the cab, where he sat sideways in the driver’s seat, door open, not looking up from his phone. 

“Fuck off, Wilds.”

“Hi, Adam.”

“Hi, Dave.” Adam smiled—they had the same interaction every time he came out to see Ronan when he worked this shift, a silly little routine in a field of work that didn’t lend itself to routines. Looking back to Ronan, he spoke at a softer-than-normal volume. “How’re you feeling?”

Ronan shrugged. “Eh, I’ll live. You?”

“Sniffly.” Adam pouted for effect.

“I can tell. Your nose is all pink.”

“Is it cute?” 

Twisting his mouth to the side in thought, Ronan managed to get out, “I don’t kn—” before Adam playfully shoved his shoulder.

“Jerk.”

Ronan took a step closer and Adam, already knowing what he wanted, put his arms around him. They were lucky, really, to be able to get these moments together during the work day. At times like this it was just a midday treat, but other times, it was a necessary respite;  every medical provider has cried at least once at work, but few had the comfort of doing it while being held by their spouse. “How’s your day been?”

“Fine. Steady. How was the overnight?”

“Bad. Someone drove their car into the CVS—like, physically inside the CVS, with a car-shaped hole in the wall—so we had to go to the General and didn’t get back un—until—” Turning away suddenly, Ronan sneezed twice off to the side, sniffling and exhaling a groan before returning to rest his chin on Adam’s shoulder. “Until four.”

Adam frowned, a little sympathetic turn of his lips, even though he knew Ronan couldn’t see it. “Bless you.”

“Thanks. The day’s been fine, though.” Ronan ever-so-gently bonked his head against the side of Adam’s, and sighed. “We should probably clear up—my lunch is still sitting in the microwave.”

After a quick peck on Ronan’s lips, Adam let go and put his mask back on. “The last thing you need is food poisoning on top of this. I’ll see you tonight.”

Stealing one last kiss, this time to Adam’s forehead, Ronan went back to the ambulance and slammed the rear doors closed. “Feel better.”

“I won’t, but thanks!” Adam called, punching in the door code to get back inside. “Love you.” He heard Ronan echo the statement just before the engine roared and the truck pulled out of its space, with Dave waving his arm out the window as Adam went back to the department.

The day stayed steady, which was good in the sense that it passed in the same fashion, and soon enough he was signing out his few remaining patients to the overnight resident. He changed out of his scrubs and went to the car, brushing off the thin layer of snow that had accumulated over the day, then letting it idle for a few minutes while his hands warmed up. It was early March and there were still days that got below freezing; even after so many years up north, Adam’s fingers couldn’t seem to figure out how to deal with the cold. 

Ronan’s shift didn’t end for another forty-five minutes, so Adam went to pass the time by grocery shopping. He didn’t realize how tired he was until he spent three whole minutes standing in front of a freezer chest and an employee had to wave a hand in front of him to get his attention that someone was trying to get by. After checking out, he drove back across Cambridge to Ronan’s ambulance base, parking in the tiny lot and leaving the car running as he closed his eyes and reclined the seat. 

A knock on the passenger side window pulled Adam from his not-quite-sleep a few minutes later. Ronan opened the door but didn’t get in. “Hey--our relief is running late, so we’re gonna be here for maybe another fifteen. Come inside.”

Pulling on his hat, Adam followed Ronan to the base; he wasn’t going to complain about having a place with four walls to wait in. It was a small station with just the one ambulance; lower-level stuff went with the EMTs at the fire department, and Ronan’s truck only went out for the patients requiring advanced life support. Because the station only housed two people at a time, it was more like a small apartment; there was one room with a few couches, a table and chairs, and enough appliances that you could almost say there was a kitchen, and the bunk room split off near the door.  Dave was sprawled on one of the couches next to one half of the oncoming crew, a medic who Adam recognized from the ER but hadn’t actually met.

“Claire, this is my husband, Adam,” Ronan said, gesturing between the two of them as means of introduction before dropping onto the other couch.

She looked away from the TV and gave an upward nod. “Good to meet you.”

“He’s a PA over at the Mount.”

“Thought you looked familiar,” she said. “You two meet through work?”

“High school.”

People reacted one of two ways when Ronan told them that: “aww, that’s so sweet” and “really?” Claire fell into the latter category, eyebrows raised in surprise. “Shit, man. Good for you guys.”

“I lucked out.” Adam took a seat beside Ronan, whose arm was resting on the back of the couch, and smiled at him, small and private. He put a hand on Ronan’s thigh; Ronan squeezed his shoulder. It was a little unbelievable, the two of them getting to be affectionate like this in front of Ronan’s coworkers. It had taken a while for Ronan to feel comfortable telling folks and them--there had been a situation at his company in Virginia where some slurs had gotten thrown around and management had to get involved, so he was understandably hesitant when he started in Belmont. But then he found out that one of the medics on the Arlington truck was bi, and ran into an EMT from Waltham at Pride, and it had been easy to tell people after that. It had taken Adam a little longer, but he’d gotten there. They’d found their places. It was comfortable.

What was slightly uncomfortable, however, was the fact that coming in from the cold had made Adam’s nose start running again. He rubbed the tip of his nose and sniffled, hoping that he wouldn’t be noticed over the sound of the TV.

Suddenly, Dave looked at Adam, pointing a finger at him. “Did you get him sick? Or was it the other way around? If it was you, we’re in a fight.”

After taking a second to get over the initial shock of the accusation, Adam replied, “I don’t know? We’re both kinda covered in germs all day. But why—”

“He is the worst when he’s sick.” Dave sat forward, now pointing his finger to Ronan, who tilted his head in question. “Number one: he snores. Number two: he gets wicked grumpy. Like, Oscar the fuckin’ Grouch over here.”

Ronan rolled his eyes. “I was grumpy because I had to wake up at one-thirty so we could stand around for forty-five minutes before Fire would let us get near the patient.”

“Nah, this wasn’t a one-time deal. I’ve worked with you for what, two years? Trust me.”

Adam was smirking a little, enjoying watching the argument go down, when Ronan looked intently at him, clearly expecting a comment. “Sorry, babe, but I’m gonna have to side with Dave.”

Withdrawing his right one from around Adam’s shoulders, Ronan crossed his arms. “You’re all assholes,” he muttered, then freed up one hand so that he could poke Adam, aiming for his ribs. “And I’m officially blaming you for this.”

Adam grabbed Ronan’s hand and pushed it away, but didn’t let go, his palm resting on Ronan’s fist. “Grouch.” Ronan tugged his hand free and resumed poking at Adam, who caught his hand again, laughing. “You’re the worst.”

“Are they always this gross?” Claire asked, looking at Dave with playful exasperation.

“All the goddamn time.”

Ronan’s grin was ruthless. “Look, pal, just because you’re destined to remain single forever—”

“Fuck off.” Dave was smiling as he attempted to throw a magazine from the coffee table at Ronan; it fell uselessly to the floor with a soft crunch. 

The station door opened and another medic came in, looking frazzled. “Sorry, guys, Route 2 was a mess. Looks like there was a rollover.”

Using the armrest to push himself up, Ronan extended a hand to Adam. “Sounds like a big case of ‘not my problem’,” he said, already heading toward the exit, giving a two-fingered wave to the room and bumping his shoulder into the other medic. “See you all next week.”

Goodbyes and greetings and good-lucks were exchanged as Ronan led Adam out to the parking lot. Adam slid into the driver’s seat and started the car, turning the heat on as high as it could go while Ronan put his work bag in the trunk. It hadn’t snowed enough that they needed to clean the car off again, thank god, so the windshield wipers and defroster were enough to give him a clear view outside.

“Any thoughts about dinner?” Ronan’s tone was light and conversational as he got in the front seat, but his expression was just plain exhausted. “I’m, uh, really not feeling cooking tonight.”

Adam laughed, which turned into a cough, because of course that was starting, and pulled out of the lot. “Same--I figured we’d just heat up some stuff. I kinda went into a fugue state at Trader Joe’s and have no memory of what I actually bought.”

“Oh, I am so excited to find out what you got.” Ronan rested his head against the window. After a moment, he asked, “I’m not actually a jerk when I’m sick, right?”

Not needing to think about his answer, Adam shook his head, “Nah, I was just giving you a hard time. Maybe a little when you get a fever.”

“Good.” 

“Am I?”

Laughing, Ronan shook his head. “God, no. You get a little whiny sometimes. You do cry like, every time you get a fever.”

“Do not.” Adam looked away from the road and scowled at Ronan.

“Eyes on the road, Parrish.” Ronan pointed to the windshield. “I think it’s sweet.” 

“Weird thing to say about your husband crying.”

Ronan shrugged, but didn’t comment, actually letting Adam focus on driving instead.  It wasn’t far to their place in Allston, but the roads weren’t well-salted yet so he went slower than usual, finally pulling into a street parking space less than a block from their apartment. After almost slipping on the way to the front door, Adam looped an arm through Ronan’s, taking advantage of his sure footing and heavy-duty work boots to keep him upright.

Inside, after turning on the oven to preheat, Adam joined Ronan for a shower, insisting on Ronan washing his hair for him just because it felt nice. Ronan politely asked to be compensated for his labor with blowjob, a request that Adam laughed at and then happily delivered on, enjoying the continued feeling of Ronan’s fingers in his hair. Afterward, Adam shut off the water and they got out, dried off as quickly as possible, and went to the bedroom to dress.

Adam was pulling on his Harvard sweatshirt (and picking at some of the stitching that was coming undone because fuck was it really ten years old?) when Ronan said, “I wanna wear that one.”

Eyes narrowed in question, Adam lowered his arms but kept them in the sleeves.  “It’s...my sweatshirt?”

“Yeah, but it’s my sick sweatshirt,” Ronan said, as if it were an obvious explanation.

Narrowing his eyes, Adam slowly pulled the sweatshirt off, but draped it over his arm instead of handing it to Ronan. “That’s like, not a thing.”

Ronan shrugged, still holding his hand out, now making grabby hands at Adam. “Yes, it is. It’s soft and it smells like you and you had me wear it that one time I got super sick and,” he said the next part a little quieter, “I’ve kind of been wearing it whenever I don’t feel good since.”

“So let me get this straight—” Adam held up a hand before Ronan could open his mouth; the man could not resist replying to that phrase with some comment about someone’s gayness, but now wasn’t the time--they were in a pretend fight. “You’ve been using my sweatshirt as some sort of smallpox blanket for the past four? five? years—”

“That implies that I’m using it as a biological weapon, which I am not,” Ronan insisted. Unconvinced, Adam raised his eyebrows as Ronan went on, “I always wash it! And it’s not like we, I don’t know, sleep next to each other and swap spit on the reg.”

Closing his eyes, Adam pinched the bridge of his nose and took a measured breath before saying, “Please never repeat that phrase or I swear to god I will never kiss you again.” He opened his eyes, smiling now, and tossed the sweatshirt at Ronan. “I want your tennis hoodie, then.”

“Gladly.” Ronan pulled the sweatshirt on, tugging the cuffs over his hands and pulling the hood up. Adam would be lying if he said that he didn’t look adorable.  More than that, though; he looked at home, like he belonged there, comforted by just the idea of Adam. 

Adam caught the Aglionby tennis sweatshirt that Ronan pelted at him, running his finger over Ronan’s stitched name on the sleeve. “You should teach me to play sometime.”

“I haven’t played in a literal decade.”

“Still more than I have.” Putting the sweatshirt on, Adam went over to Ronan and enveloped him in a hug. “Dinner?”

Ronan put a hand on the back of Adam’s head, guiding him closer, Adam’s good ear near his lips. “Let’s just do this for a minute,” he whispered. 

Adam closed his eyes, relaxing into Ronan’s warmth. It was gentle and comfortable and if he hadn’t been on his feet all day, he’d want to stay like that forever. “Love you,” he mumbled against Ronan’s neck. 

Making a startled sound, Ronan pulled away slightly. “That tickles.”

“Oh, it does?” Adam started kissing the area, lightly, taking advantage of having his arms around Ronan to hold him captive. “Is this fun? Do you like this?” He moved his head around, just barely touching the skin with his lips as he made his way up to Ronan’s jaw.

“No,” Ronan said, but he was laughing, “I hate it. Your hair’s tickling my nose now.” Adam stopped kissing and focused his attention on brushing his hair against Ronan’s face; he tried wriggling away but Adam didn’t let go. “Stop, you’re gonna make me—” Adam released him just in time to let Ronan step back, tugging the neckline of the sweatshirt over the bottom half of his face as he started to sneeze. “Jerk,” he managed, breath catching momentarily before he sneezed again.

Adam barely heard it over his own laughter. “You doing okay there?”

Finally, Ronan looked back to Adam, rubbing the cuff of the sweatshirt under his nose. “You’re an asshole, you know?”

“Yes, but I’m your asshole.”

With a final sniffle, Ronan gently pushed Adam toward the bedroom door. “You’re also going to go start heating up dinner while I recover from your crimes.”

It seemed like a fair deal; Adam put his grocery store haul in the oven while Ronan plopped onto the couch with a box of tissues and a beer, flipping through one of the physician assistant journals that Adam had on the coffee table. Adam joined him shortly after, sitting on the other end of the couch, wedging his feet under Ronan’s thigh, and resting his head on the back of the couch.

“I’m fucking tired ,” he sighed. “Like, it wasn’t a wild shift but I’m just wiped out.”

Setting the journal on his lap, Ronan reached an arm out to hold Adam’s hand. “Same. I’m thinking early bedtime.”

“God, yes. But first, the balanced grownup dinner of three different types of tiny puff pastry appetizers, a little mushroom pizza, and some dumplings that I’m baking because I didn’t feel like boiling water.”

Ronan laughed. “Oh, I’m sure that’ll work out well. You should zone out at Trader Joe’s more often.”

“There’s some sort of ice cream cake, too.” Adam smiled and squeezed Ronan’s hand. “Of all the places to go on autopilot, I feel like that’s the best place to do it.” He let go of Ronan’s hand and made a grabbing gesture at his beer. “I want a sip.”

Scowling, Ronan begrudgingly handed Adam his glass. “You could have gotten your own when you were up.”

“Hey--you steal my clothes, I steal your drink.” He took a sip. “Fuck, that’s good.”

“It’s also like 9% ABV, so if you have any more you’re gonna fall asleep before dinner’s ready.” Ronan held his hand out to Adam, who took another long sip--more of a gulp, really--before giving it back.

“Just ensuring that I get a good night’s sleep tonight,” Adam said, resting his head against the cushions and closing his eyes. 

Ronan smiled. “I’m sure you will, you lightweight.”



Ronan slept well.

Adam did not.

The sun was up when Ronan woke; stretching each arm toward the ceiling, he was the kind of well-rested that was especially refreshing after working a reverse twenty-four. He felt generally not-sick, with only a little pressure in his cheekbones, but then again, he was usually okay in the mornings, with things slowly going downhill over the course of the day.  Closing his eyes and debating rolling over to see what time it was, Ronan was startled when Adam made a whiny, wordless sound and rubbed at his eyes, bumping Ronan with his elbow. “Hey, babe.” Ronan cleared his throat, voice rough. “Everything okay?”

Grumbling, Adam replied, “Couldn’t sleep.”

“Sorry, honey.” After a second he added, “Was I snoring?”

“No.” Adam shook his head, positioning himself against Ronan, head just below his shoulder, arm across his chest. “There was a car alarm, and some kids yelling, and then maybe a fight? A very heated argument, at least.”

Ronan tugged Adam closer and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “And of course the one of us who’s hard of hearing is the one who woke up. Why don’t you grab my headphones from my work bag and go back to bed?”

With a sigh, Adam shook his head again. “No--I have to be at the hospital in a few hours.”

“Call out.” It wasn’t a suggestion. Adam let out a breath of laughter. “I’m serious. You don’t feel good, you didn’t sleep, your husband doesn’t have to work and wants to play video games with you all day.” Adam replied with a single, sarcastic ‘ha'. “You know you want to.”

“I do.” 

It always took Adam a minute to come around. 

Ronan waited.

Adam pushed away suddenly, ducking his head into the space between Ronan’s arm and his body, and sneezed three times, each one more uncomfortable-sounding than the last. Letting out a soft, exhaled ‘ugh’ afterward, he sniffled, rubbed at his nose, and put his head back on Ronan’s chest.

Ronan waited.

“Let me call Carl.”

“Gladly.” Ronan pulled his arm back so that Adam could roll over to get his phone. After speaking to a few different people (and definitely leaning into the congestion in his voice as he explained why he wouldn’t be in), Adam put it down and snuggled up against Ronan once more. Ronan trailed his fingers over Adam’s back. “You gonna go back to sleep?”

Adam shrugged. “I dunno. Feel like I’m just gonna focus on every single sound now.”

Nudging Adam with his hip, Ronan urged, “Seriously, go get my headphones and at least try.”

“But this is comfy.” Adam draped a leg over Ronan, pulling him closer.

He wasn’t wrong. If Ronan didn’t desperately need to piss--something that had only come to light after Adam’s thigh landed squarely on his bladder--he probably could have fallen asleep again himself. But he did, so he wouldn’t, and if he had to get up anyway— “I know. But you’re not gonna get over this if you’re not sleeping,” he said, gesturing to Adam’s face; Adam gave a timely sniffle, “I’ll go get them for you.”

Ronan attempted to extricate himself from his husband’s octopus-like cuddling, pushing a leg off of his own only to find Adam’s arm snaked around his waist. Finally, with much complaining from Adam, he was able to escape, ending with a literal leap and landing far enough from the bed that Adam couldn’t reach out to grab some part of his clothing. After hitting the bathroom, he got his noise-cancelling headphones from his work bag, then returned to the bedroom and tossed them next to Adam. He went to each window and pulled the blackout curtains shut; they were usually reserved for day-sleeping before or after an overnight shift--in the winters, they’d take whatever sun they could get, even in the mornings--but exceptions were made for times like this.

“Get some sleep,” Ronan said softly, leaning over and kissing Adam. “Love you.”

“Love you, too.” Adam smiled and put on the headphones as Ronan left, closing the door behind him.

It always took Ronan’s brain a little while to turn on after waking up, so he made coffee and drank it on the couch, enjoying the feel of the warm ceramic in his palms. Soon after, he tried the crossword on the Globe website, then gave up and lay down, thinking about how he wished he had a woodshop that he could fuck around in. City living didn’t lend itself to working with his hands.

It had been some amount of time--minutes? Hours? Time was always strange on days when he wasn’t working--when he heard footsteps in the hall.  Adam, eyes still half-closed, shuffled into the living room, and Ronan sat up to get a better view.  “Morning, babe.”

Inhaling a small sharp breath and looking right at Ronan, Adam put a hand on his chest and continued over to the couch. “You spooked me.” He lay down, head on Ronan’s thigh, face pressed into his stomach, and Ronan ran his fingers through his hair. 

“Sleep well?”

“I gave up.”

“Hm?”

“Someone’s playing music and the vibrations were too distracting.” Adam sighed, and then, after a few beats of silence, mumbled something, completely unintelligible, his voice muffled against Ronan’s shirt.

“What was that?” Ronan gently squeezed his shoulder.

Inching his head back, Adam repeated, “I’vebeenthinkingaboutmovingbacktoVirginia.”

Ronan pressed his lips together, trying to hide his smile, and scooped one hand between Adam and the couch, forcing him to sit up. He touched Adam’s chin; Adam looked away, then slowly turned back toward him. “One more time, love.”

“I’ve been thinking about moving back to Virginia,” Adam said once more, quietly, like it was a secret, or something embarrassing.

Scooting a little closer, Ronan kissed him. “Do you mean that?”

Adam nodded. “Yeah.  I just--the noise. The weather. Blue and Gansey.” A siren yelped outside, and he smirked. “The city.”

“You know you don’t have to convince me,” Ronan said, resting his palm against Adam’s cheek. “If it’s what you want, I’ll start packing.”

This got a laugh out of Adam. “Obviously I need to think about it some more. But it’s been on my mind, and I wanted you to know.”

“I’ll try not to push too hard,” Ronan said, mainly to have some accountability to himself. He was serious about packing right now.  Their lease wasn’t up until August, but he’d gladly leave without even bothering to find a subletter--it was a small price to pay for finally being home. 

Home. He’d really only ever had one; Boston had gotten close, but he always felt Virginia pulling him back. They’d go to the Barns every few months to make sure things were in order there, but it wasn’t the same. When he decided to rent it out, when Ronan finally moved up to join Adam, he’d packed up everything that made it home , the toys and books and all the other little things from growing up there.  He’d decorated the house with impersonal ‘country’ accents that made visitors feel like they were getting the genuine rural Virginia experience, and all the boxes of things that mattered were safely in storage, waiting; Ronan knew they’d move back someday, he just didn’t know when.

“I appreciate that.” Shifting positions, Adam cuddled up to Ronan and absently rubbed a hand over his chest. “How do you feel?”

“Like I want to play that car racing game with you.” Ronan sniffled, picking up his coffee mug and then pouting at Adam. “And hopeful that maybe my perfect, loving husband could get me some more coffee because I’m cozy here and I don’t feel well?”

Adam rolled his eyes, but took Ronan’s mug nevertheless. “I’ll do it, but I’m gonna have to tell Dave that you’re a needy little gremlin when you’re sick.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“I would and I will.” Ignoring Ronan’s ongoing protest, Adam went to the kitchen to get his own coffee and refill Ronan’s.  Returning to the living room, he handed Ronan his mug and set his own on the table before sitting down.

“Thanks, babe.” Ronan turned to Adam and leaned toward him, putting his free hand behind his head and bringing their faces close. “I’ll get up the next time we need something.” He kissed Adam’s nose before sitting back and blowing on his coffee.

A smile spread across Adam’s face but it vanished after a second, replaced by a furrowed brow and slightly parted lips. His breath hitched a few times before he buried a fit of wrenching sneezes into his sleeve. Ronan laughed; Adam smacked his thigh with his free hand, unable to get a word out.

“Consider that my revenge for last night.”

When Adam was finally finished, he heaved out a sigh, somehow managing to angrily rub his nose in Ronan’s direction.“I’m outta breath.”

Ronan had to admit that Adam sounded kind of miserable after all that.  “Aw, poor baby.” He leaned in, aiming another kiss at Adam’s nose.

“You are the absolute worst,” Adam said, pushing Ronan away with a hand splayed on his face. “I take back what I said, you’re a huge enormous jerk when you’re sick.” He went over to the nearby armchair and Ronan thought that Adam was exiling himself there, but instead he grabbed the folded afghan off the seat and brought it back to the couch. 

“All that sneezing tire you out?” Ronan teased, putting his coffee down and helping to unfold the blanket over Adam once he was lying down.

 “Yes, so now you have to be my pillow while I try to sleep one more time.” 

“What a terrible punishment.” Ronan tucked the blanket around Adam’s shoulders. “Sweet dreams.”

Adam rested the right side of his head on Ronan’s thigh, and Ronan’s chest blossomed with gratitude; it was such a trusting act for Adam to cover his good ear, even when the intent was just to get enough silence to sleep.  Ronan combed his fingers through Adam’s hair for a moment, long enough to see him smile and make a contented little humming sound, before laying his hand on Adam’s shoulder.

He picked up his coffee and took a sip, smiling as Adam angled his head to rub his perpetually irritated nose against Ronan’s sweatpants, then dropped a gentle kiss there and relaxed once more. Ronan murmured an ‘I love you’ even though he knew Adam wouldn’t hear it; he felt warm inside and out, still wearing Adam’s sweatshirt, comfortable enough to fall back to sleep for a bit. He set his mug on the end table, just in case he did.

As much as Ronan missed Virginia, missed having acres of grass and trees and mountains as his backyard, missed having miles and miles of highway where he could drive without seeing another soul, he’d go anywhere if it meant spending his days like this with Adam.