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said your name in an empty room

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He's not thinking about it. He's actively not thinking about it. Which, technically, means he's thinking about it. Fuck.

Gansey knows something's up. Gansey always knows. He doesn't want him to ask about it, though, because then he'll probably get irritated, frustrated, with himself, and that comes out in anger. And he doesn't want another fight. No fighting with Gansey, no fighting with Blue. Had he promised himself no fighting with Ronan, too? And right, not thinking about it.

(He doesn't know if they're fighting, really. Doesn't know much of anything. Doesn't know if Ronan's angry with him, or angrier than usual anyway. Doesn't know anything except how quiet he'd been, eerily quiet, out of shock or wonder or —

He'd just stared. Stared as Adam said, "Sorry," like a complete idiot, and fled from the Barns, like a goddamned coward. He's supposed to be more, now, Cabeswater's supposed to make him more, but in that moment, he'd never felt lesser.)

*

He kind of hates D.C. sometimes. Everything's wrong, false, the air and the people, and he's trying to run from something but it keeps pulling him back. Gansey's already missing his Henrietta, the Pig, but Blue's here, and she looks pretty as ever and wonderfully out-of-place, but maybe only Adam can see that. Gansey doesn't seem to care a bit, but sometimes, Adam looks at her when she's looking at him, and he knows she's thinking about how long it'll be now. Until she kills him.

Gansey's going to die, but it's not going to be her fault. He knows this somehow, deep in his bones.

Of course, that's when he chooses to ask, "Is everything alright?"

Maybe he thinks it's a Cabeswater thing, or a family thing, or a jealousy thing, and maybe it's always those three, but it's something else tonight.

"Ronan," he says, simply. And those two syllables can mean nothing but also everything. Every time he says his name, it means something else. It means chaos, and it means blood, and it means want, and it means yes. Sometimes, it even means home.

Gansey just nods, like he understands.

He would. He knows Ronan, knows the parts of him Adam's only now uncovering piece by piece, knows the things Ronan won't even admit to himself.

He probably knows Adam the same way now too. It's hard to look at him without feeling ashamed.

But then he says, "It's okay."

It feels like an answer, to a question he didn't ask. What if we can't go back from this?

*

He thinks he's hallucinating the number when Gansey hands him the phone. It's such a surprise that he just hits the answer button immediately. Maybe this is all a dream.

"You're calling. On your phone," he says, kind of hysterically.

"Are we stating the obvious now, Parrish?"

"Are you mad at me?" he asks, and he hates how tiny his voice sounds.

"I'm always mad at you," Ronan answers, and it's soft and low like something intimate. "You're actually infuriating."

"Me? I'm not the one who acts like a total dick all the time." And this feels good somehow, feels like them.

"You kissed me and then you ran away to D.C. Dick move, Parrish."

"Ronan," he starts, and this time it sounds like Please. "Are we really doing this right now?"

"You said 'sorry.' You said 'sorry' and then you ran off. Jesus fucking Christ, what's wrong with you?"

"You scare me," he says, before he can take it back, put it under his tongue and swallow it.

"What?"

"You scare the shit out of me. Sometimes I want to punch you to shut you up, and then sometimes I want to crawl inside your skin. So I kissed you, because that felt like a good middle ground."

"That's still not an explanation."

"Does Gansey know about us?" he asks with a sigh.

"Us? What us?"

"You, I mean."

"Maybe. Possibly. What does that have to do with anything?"

"Just — everyone knows me but me."

"Well, that's good then. You can always surprise yourself."

"I don't want to. I want to know what's right."

"Nothing's right, Parrish. Nothing's wrong. There's just choices and consequences."

"Gansey's going to die," he breathes out. Blue's going to kiss him, and I'm going to kill him.

"We're all going to," Ronan tells him, unequivocally.

"I don't want to see you die again," Adam says quietly.

Ronan doesn't make him any promises, and maybe it's better this way.

*

Gansey and Blue are sitting in the Pig in the parking lot, and Adam finds Ronan in his room, feeding Chainsaw.

He just looks for a while, traces the lines of the tattoo peeking out from under his black tank. It's easier somehow, to do this now, unguarded. Then, Ronan turns around, and his eyes are just as blue as he'd left them, he's just as pale, but his lips are red and bitten raw and they probably don't taste anything like him anymore. He's suddenly mad about that, that he didn't leave anything behind, any mark, like it never happened at all.

He sits on the floor at the foot of Ronan's bed and Ronan joins him there. He doesn't look at him, just plays with a hole in his expensive jeans until Adam reaches over and stills his hand with his own.

"I'm sorry. It wasn't fair to you, it was selfish and dumb, and maybe we can't go back, but I don't think I want to."

"What do you want?" Ronan asks him, not unlike the voice in the back of his head.

"I want to kiss you, and I want to be here after."

"Okay," Ronan says.

"What if I fuck it up though?" he whispers, head bowed. Their hands are still entangled on Ronan's thigh and they're so close, Adam just has to tilt his head back and Ronan just needs to lean down and —

"We'll both fuck up. Multiple times. But we'll always come back." He says it with the same certainty he'd said We're all going to.

It happens like a car crash in slow-motion. Adam gently cradles Ronan's skull in his palm, and Ronan's hands are hot on his bare skin, and when Ronan says his name (Adam, Adam) against his throat, it sounds like something else too.