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There's someone outside the apartment when Adam leaves.

It startles him a little more than he can justify, a person in his doorway where he'd expected only empty air. He doesn't let it show as he steps outside and locks up behind him, turns his back to the man in front of their unit like his existence demands no immediate attention.

"You're Adam Parrish," the man says. A casual observance, like Adam's existence doesn't require much of his attention either.

Adam turns back around to meet his eyes. The guy doesn't blink. He doesn't let Adam push him around with silence, waits like he's said all he was planning to say.

"If you want something," Adam tells him, "you could try asking a question."

He inclines his head slightly towards the apartment, not even sparring Adam a full nod. "Is Ronan home?"

"What makes you think I'd give that information to a man lurking outside my doorway?"

"I'm his brother."

"I know," Adam replies. "Declan." He starts off down the hall.

Declan falls into step alongside him. "Gansey said you'd be helpful."

"Gansey is optimistic to the point of delusion, I'm not responsible for him."

"No, you're responsible for Ronan."

"I'm responsible for myself," Adam corrects him. "And right now I have to get to work."

"Should you give that information to men lurking outside your home?"

"If you follow me to my office, it'll give Ronan time to sneak out of the apartment." Declan's eyes dart back down the hall. "Assuming he's in the apartment to begin with," Adam tacks on, deliberately unhelpful.

They reach the elevator. Adam continues the extra feet to the stairwell. It comes out closer to his parking spot, and he'd rather be in motion than stand idle in a box with this man that he's only ever seen in pictures.

Declan follows him down to the parking garage without another word. His eyes slide over the Mustang, nothing but habit to start, but then he does a small double take and looks it over again with a smidge of respect. Perhaps that's what pushes him to change his tactics; that wouldn't be logical, but Lynches and logic don't go hand in hand, and less so when cars are involved. Or perhaps it's just that he needs to say something before Adam gets in the driver's seat and ends the conversation for good.

"I started us off on the wrong foot," Declan admits. His voice does not contain much in the way of remorse or contrition.

"If the goal wasn't to come off like you were serving me with legal papers? Yes, you did."

"I want to help Ronan," he continues undaunted. "And he isn't going to let me."

"Probably not," Adam grants him. "No."

"You're rather indifferent to that."

"Ronan is who he is."

"And who he is is not your responsibility." Declan doesn't stoop so low as to snarl at him. He lets the insinuation work for itself: you don't care about him.

Adam recognizes that move: Declan is trying to piss him off. The best thing to do is not engage.

"Like I said," he offers, utterly bland. He's had a lot of practice at not letting a Lynch know they've gotten under his skin, even if he hasn't learned how to stop them from getting there in the first place.

Declan narrows his eyes, clearly annoyed that his sacrifice of admitting to a mistake was for nothing. But Adam's got the driver side door unlocked and he's run out of time to try any other tactics. He holds out a business card. Adam takes it and tucks into his pocket without looking at it. The thick cardstock will crease like hell before anyone has a chance to admire the cost that undoubtedly went into it.

"Like you said," Declan pretends to agree. "You have to get to work." He doesn't point out that it's a beautiful Saturday afternoon. "When you have some time, perhaps."

"Perhaps," Adam says, and gets into the Mustang, leaves Declan to figure his own way out of the garage.

-

"You cannot live on my couch," Blue decrees.

Ronan immediately challenges the ruling. "Why the hell not?"

"You aren't even hiding. Declan is going to find you here in no time."

"Not if no one rats me out."

"You have four friends," she says, scathing. "Your boyfriend lives with you. The rest of us live here. Even someone related to you can do that math."

Ronan sneers at her. "You just admitted that you think of me as a friend."

"No, I said that you think of me as a friend," Blue spells out slowly, the most exaggerated form of her lawyer-explaining-basic-shit-to-an-idiot-client voice. She hasn't even passed the bar yet and she's got it down cold. Adam hates to admit it, but damn, he's proud of her. "That doesn't mean it goes both ways."

"Oh, what a shame," Henry says. "Everything is better when it goes both ways." He winks at Adam from across the room and holds a hand up towards Gansey, who claps his hand against it absent-mindedly. From the anxious expression that's sat unwavering on his face from the moment Ronan stormed into their house demanding sanctuary, he hadn't registered the joke; he's only responding to his boyfriend's desire for a high five.

Ronan, of course, is entirely immune to lawyer voice, a fact that Adam could have warned Blue about, and for that matter that she should've learned for herself by now. "You loooove me," he gloats at her. "Fucking loser."

"If Declan doesn't catch you here, it'll be because I've lost my patience and physically thrown you out of the house with my bare hands."

Ronan yawns at her. "Psh. You can try."

Blue looks like she is, in fact, willing to try. Adam, who'd let the conversation run its course until a moment that either of them might actually listen to him, sees an opportunity. He casually mentions, "you're forgetting a crucial detail of Ronan's plan, Blue."

That gets both their attention. He'd almost be willing to make a joke to Henry, about the values of both ways or two-for-one, but this isn't the moment and they don't have that kind of relationship.

"He doesn't have a plan," Blue sniffs, judgmental.

"What detail," Ronan demands, offended at the accusation that he's planned anything at all.

"Parking is even worse here than it is in Culver City," Adam elaborates. "It's possible Declan will give up and drive back to DC without setting foot on your property."

Ronan accepts this contribution, since it doesn't actually credit him with having made any sound decisions at any point. "See? Adam said this is a good plan."

"I didn't," Adam clarifies. "It's stupid and childish."

"That's what makes it good." Ronan spares a second to roll his eyes at Adam before going to deliver what he clearly thinks is a killing blow: "Besides, it's not like Declan has Gansey's address."

"Yes. Well." Gansey clears his throat. Henry mimes enormous and elaborate shock. "About that."

"They send each other Christmas cards, moron!" Blue shouts, before the room dissolves into chaos: why do you swap Christmas cards with a dickhole, and, it was a Thanksgiving card, and, that's not better coming from two different people at the same time. Adam and Henry lock eyes with each other as they both desperately try not to laugh, because that is the kind of relationship they have.

-

Gansey's Camaro winds up in the shop, yet again, that Monday. Gansey informs Adam of this development with a mournfulness that is far removed from any practical concern. He isn't worried about the inconvenience, about not being able to pay for the repairs or get himself to work: he just misses his impractical monstrosity of a car.

Adam leaves him to his own devices when it comes to getting to the office. Like hell is he going to triple the length of his morning commute when Gansey can easily afford any alternative mean of transportation that he wants. But he gives him a ride home that night, and the night after that, because Gansey is his friend, and because Gansey is currently housing his boyfriend, who hasn't once stepped foot outside of the house in Venice since he'd first bunkered down there on Saturday. Adam finds the entire enterprise unspeakably stupid, but it isn't his stupidity, so why should he have to be deprived of Ronan's company?

On Wednesday, when they pull up to Gansey's house, Declan Lynch is standing on the sidewalk.

It's an unnatural thing. Not that his weird boyfriend's weird brother has tracked them down; Adam's been expecting that since the last time his weird boyfriend's weird brother tracked them down. But the way in which Declan is standing there is simply uncanny -- not leaning against the fence, or slouching, or looking at his phone. He's simply waiting. It's creepy.

Declan is there for Gansey, clearly, but a frown crosses his face as the Mustang pulls into the actual driveway Gansey actually owns. It morphs into a calculating expression as he locks eyes with Adam in the driver's seat: Maybe I will try Parrish again. Since he's here.

Adam shuts the engine off and slides out of the car in one fluid motion. There is, unfortunately, no shortcut to locking the door, and that costs him a few extra seconds, enough time for Declan to sidle up to him.

"Didn't have to stay late at the office tonight?" he pretends to ask.

Adam sidesteps him. "No comment."

The front door is locked when he reaches the house. He leans on the doorbell and doesn't let up once until Blue has the door all the way open.

"You could have gotten that," she says as she kicks the door shut behind him, directing her ire not at the man that abused her doorbell but at the one already inside of her home.

"You could go to hell." Ronan, kneeling backwards on an armchair and peering though a tiny slit between the curtains of the front window, flips her off and then flips off Adam. "You didn't get rid of him?"

"No," Adam answers.

"Then what are you good for?"

"Well, sometimes I suck your dick."

"Not lately."

"I'm not having sex with you in our friends' guest room."

"Coward."

"You haven't been home in four days because you're hiding from your brother," Adam points out.

Ronan flounces off to the back of the house rather than counter. Adam drops into the abandoned armchair, his back to the window. He doesn't look outside.

Gansey enters the house slowly a few minutes later. He's alone.

"You didn't invite your penpal in?" Adam asks.

"Declan isn't so bad," Gansey starts.

"Ugh, I don't want to hear this," Blue says. "Wait until I'm gone."

"If you don't want to hear it you didn't have to hang around waiting to see what happened," Adam tells her.

"I needed to know if dinner was going to be cancelled due to bloodshed before I started cooking," a nice little euphemism for placing an order for delivery.

"Everything's fine, Blue." Gansey sounds tired. Blue picks up on it, and her expression softens. She tilts her head, a silent question, and waits for a nod from him before she disappears into the kitchen to do something in no way related to food preparation.

"The two of you want the same thing, you know," Gansey continues.

"I don't care."

"You care about what's best for Ronan."

"I'm not getting in the middle of this, Gansey," Adam says. "You shouldn't either."

"You don't know what constitutes 'this.'"

"No, I do. It's two adults having a disagreement that doesn't concern me."

"It doesn't concern you that he's been living with me for half a week instead of with you?"

"You're not kids anymore. Ronan gets to make his own decisions, even if they're stupid."

Gansey looks no more inclined to drop it than when he started. Adam settles the matter by leaving, goes and joins Blue in the kitchen for wine and sighing about our boyfriends time.

-

Adam's third encounter with Declan happens on Friday.

He's running late: late coming back from a meeting with a client who refused to come into the office and made Adam drive all the way out to Pacific Palisades; late leaving for the Palisades because one of the partners chose today of all days to acknowledge his existence and pull him into his corner office for a meandering and irrelevant conversation; late getting to work in the first place because he'd slept like shit. Six nights isn't the longest he's gone sleeping alone since moving in with Ronan, but it's the longest in several months, and his body stubbornly refuses to deal with it and go back to sleep like he tells it to every time he wakes up in the night and his heart sinks from finding the other half of the bed empty.

So he's already annoyed when he walks into his office and discovers Declan leaning back confidently in his desk chair.

"This is too far," he snaps. "I'm at work."

"And I'm your two o'clock." Declan casts a glance at his watch. "Or I suppose I'm your two-fifteen."

"You're eating into my billable hours, so unless you want to engage the firm for a criminal defense matter -- "

"This is a criminal defense matter."

Adam narrows his eyes.

"Winslow assured me that you had his full confidence," Declan adds.

He scowls, but if Declan really is on last-name-in-a-first-name-way terms with one of the senior associates, he can't very well risk it getting back to him that he'd fallen short of expectations. He leans against the wall and crosses his arms, surrendering but not far enough to sit in a guest chair in his own office. "Make it fast. They upped my hourly rate last quarter."

Declan, to his credit, makes it fast. "There's a warrant out for Ronan's arrest."

"Not in Los Angeles," Adam says, because he does know that for a fact, and what he does know takes precedent over what is news to him, at least in terms of how he reacts in this moment. The firm has a list of names, clients or opposing parties or other people of interest, that the admins check on a weekly basic, searching state and county and city records for anything new and notable. Adam had added Ronan's name to the list the day after they started talking about moving in together. He's already paid several small fines Ronan had acquired since becoming a factor in Adam's own financial ecosystem, trusting that Ronan wouldn't bother to pay them himself and wouldn't notice when Adam deducted the cost of them from his share of the rent.

"No," Declan concedes. "In Virginia."

"Where he doesn't live."

"Where our father is buried. I assume he'd like to visit again at some point. It would be more pleasant for all concerned if the cops played no part in that filial pilgrimage, don't you think?"

It is infuriatingly good bait. As much as Adam wants to stay out of Ronan's bullshit feuds, he wants even more to know about Ronan's life. Declan has removed the excuse of Ronan's autonomy being more important than Adam's intellectual curiosity, because of course Ronan isn't going to run the math on statute of limitations the next time he wants to visit his father's grave, which means this problem isn't academic. It's a situation that they're going to face, sooner or later.

"What's the charge?" he asks.

"Contempt of court."

Adam breathes out slowly. Honestly, he'd braced for worse.

"Something happened over the summer?" he guesses. There had been a miraculous confluence of events a few months back, Matthew texting Ronan that he was going to DC while he was already on the plane to DC, like a transatlantic flight was a spur of the moment decision that allowed for no advance notice, which it probably was for him. It fell on an a weekend when Declan had already informed them he would not be in DC, so Ronan had flown out that same night, like a transcontinental flight was also a trivial matter.

Apparently 'miraculous' wasn't such an accurate description of that weekend, though.

Declan nods. "I've only recently become aware of it," and Adam can't help himself. His mouth curls into a thin smirk of victory, and Declan narrows his eyes, noticing and not appreciating this silent gloating over the fact that he isn't omniscient, either. "If all the court was after at this point was a fine, I could have paid it off, but the situation has escalated beyond that. Ronan needs to appear in court and be suitably apologetic."

"That isn't going to happen," Adam states.

"Not if the decision is left in his hands."

"There are no other hands."

"Aren't there? Mine, Gansey's, yours -- "

"It's Ronan's decision," Adam snaps, patience worn down to nothing from having to explain this over and over and over, as though he were the only one who'd ever met Ronan, the only one who knew his independence and his stubbornness and his quiet intelligence, enough to respect him even when he disagreed with him.

Declan tilts his head. His face has gone thoughtful, but not, for the first time that Adam has seen him, confrontational. He's running the odds on something, but it isn't the success rate for a new attack. "And you're fine with that," he says, slowly, arriving at a conclusion that takes some time to sink in. "Even if it gets him arrested."

"Yes."

Declan nods, getting to his feet. "I see. I appreciate the consult, I assume your billing department will be in touch," he adds, because he can't leave until he's returned to full asshole mode. The tactic is obnoxiously familiar.

-

"What do you mean, familiar?" Ronan demands.

"It was exactly how you leave a situation when you're losing."

"I don't lose. And I don't have anything in common with Declan."

"The family resemblance was uncanny," Adam drawls, sneaking a bit of his accent into it, because that always turns Ronan on and he'll be even more annoyed for being turned on.

It works like a charm; Ronan pops up on one elbow, glaring at Adam. "Say that to my fucking face."

"I did." He turns his head slightly but otherwise doesn't move, stays sprawled out in the luxury of Gansey and Blue's guest bed -- he'd gotten fed up with sleeping on his own after all. He's still making good on his threat to not have sex with Ronan here, although that's largely because Ronan hasn't pushed him on it yet tonight. "You do remember that I'm an attorney. I expect you to tell me when you get in trouble with the law, if only because you want to piss me off about it."

"It doesn't matter. The whole thing was stupid." That doesn't explain anything, except in the context of Ronan Lynch's life, where it explains everything. Ronan has decided that a thing shouldn't be true, and so he has proceeded as though it isn't. His unique form of chivalry, refusing to tilt against windmills because they've offended him by not being giants. Adam goes back and forth on how charming he finds it. He's prepared to come down on 'not at all' this time, given the week he's had -- bad sleep, and Gansey's he's not so bad once you get to know him puppy dog eyes, and no sex at all is Ronan seriously not going to make a move -- but it turns out Ronan isn't done yet.

He adds, voice dull, "Declan's only here to yell at me for being a fuckup again."

Adam sits up. He moves slowly; this is the first glimpse he's caught of something new, something he hadn't known was there, and he's striving to not scare it away. Ronan didn't sound pissed off, or bitter, or annoyed. There wasn't any noble resistance in his voice, or even honorable defeat, just -- gloom, total and complete.

He tries out the words "Declan told me that he wanted to help you."

Ronan snorts. "Of course he does. Then he gets to be the adult while I'm the stupid child, and I have to beg for help and thank him when he rubs it in my face that I -- " he snaps his mouth shut around the next word.

Adam responds with half his brain, the other half preoccupied with how to handle what's happening when he doesn't know what's happening. "Have you ever actually asked him for help, or thanked him, for anything?"

It should have gotten a laugh from Ronan, or a fuck you, or a fuck you that had a laugh hidden inside of it. Instead Ronan's face twists up and he swings his legs off the side of the bed, sits facing the wall and away from him.

Adam slides along the mattress until they're sitting side by side. Ronan tenses his shoulders but doesn't retreat any farther. He stays on the field of battle after all, even when he's losing, which Adam would admire more if he understood what the hell the stakes were.

"Okay. Let's leave Declan out of it," he says. "I know I've joked about leaving you to represent yourself if you ever go to court but -- you know that's a joke, right? I'll make some calls on Monday, we can figure out," but Ronan's shaking his head, no, no, hell no.

"I know that," he says, "I fucking know, and I don't -- I wish you weren't here right now," he switches abruptly. "I wish you'd been at a conference or on vacation or trapped at the fucking office all week."

Adam breathes evenly. Ronan isn't saying any of this in anger. That doesn't stop it from scraping at his soul, but it does inform how he has to respond.

"Would that really make it better?" he asks.

"No," Ronan says, "but then you wouldn't have seen."

"Seen what?" No response. "Your brother?"

"You wouldn't have seen me," he spits out, "me, and what a fucking mess I am, and every stupid fucking thing I get up to when I'm not supervised. But you're not gone, you're here, and you keep visiting me every day like you fucking miss me, and you're not stupid, so sooner or later you're going to notice that Declan's right about me being a fucking loser instead of someone you actually want to be with."

Adam blinks a few times, and then he reaches out, rests his hand over Ronan's and twines their fingers together for good measure. "Don't go anywhere."

"Where the hell am I going to go at midnight in my boxers?"

"I don't know, but that was a lot of words and I don't trust you not to run away while I'm thinking through all of them."

Ronan glares at him, beautiful for a moment, and then falls back into his melancholy. He doesn't get up to move, though, and if he was going to do it he would've done it right away. Adam relaxes his grip, lets him go so that he can trace idle patterns on the back of his hand instead.

"Okay," he says once he's marshaled his thoughts. "This whole week I've been switching between amused and annoyed, because I thought this was a minor thing and you were being ridiculous. If I'd known it wasn't minor and you were freaking out, I would have said something earlier."

"Like what," Ronan mutters, sullen.

"Not sure. I'm not really sure what I'm going to say now that I do know, either. I am also more than a little of a fuckup, Lynch."

"Like hell you are," he argues. "You're a super genius badass attorney, and if they'd hauled you up on nonsense misdemeanor charges in front of some condescending taint-wipe of a judge, you would have talked them into letting you go in five minutes flat."

"So what? That's my job, it isn't yours. Of course I'm going to be better at it."

"That's not why you're better than me. You never would have got in that situation in the first place, and I did, and I'm going to do it again, because that's what I do. That's what I've always done. Declan could give you an annotated list, 'Every Time Ronan Tried To Ruin His Own Life For No Fucking Reason.' He could give you illustrations."

"I don't want a list," Adam says. "I was there for some of them and I don't care about the others."

"But why the hell not?" Ronan's voice cracks.

"Because of everything else I've been here for." That, finally, gets Ronan to look at him, not full on, but with the stirrings of a fragile, painful hope. "We don't have the same priorities or personal goals or standards of behavior. Fine. If that causes a problem I'll let you know. So far it hasn't, or not any problems we haven't already argued our way through."

Ronan swallows hard. "Swear to God, Parrish," he rasps. "You better not just be fucking saying that."

Adam casts a level gaze at him. "I'm not, and I wouldn't."

"And you're not -- fuck," Ronan breaks. "You're not ashamed of me?"

Adam brushes his fingers along Ronan's jaw, turns his face in and kisses him lightly.

"No," Adam assures him. "I'm not."

Ronan kisses him once, rushed and a bit off center, and then leans into him, presses the side of his face against the side of Adam's. Quiet, his breath catching, he asks, "Are you ever proud of me?"

"Yes." Adam rests his hands low on Ronan's back. "All the time."

Ronan shudders, exhaling, and drops his head down to rest on Adam's shoulder.

-

After all of the fuss that got kicked up about Declan hunting Ronan down, Adam half-expects to find him sitting on their doorstep when they get home Saturday morning, but it's a good two hours before he knocks on the door.

Of course Ronan refuses to see the bright side, doesn't appreciate the time he had to settle back into his home field before facing this newest challenge. He immediately scowls at Declan and hurls an accusation. "What, did you bribe the chick across the hall to call you when I came home? How much did that set you back, a thousand bucks?"

"A ten-dollar Starbucks card," Declan informs him. "She doesn't like you much."

Ronan scowls harder, probably annoyed not to have cost his brother more trouble and money on top of the trouble and money of a weeklong stay in Los Angeles. But he invites him inside in true Ronan fashion: he holds the door open, too narrow for someone his size, so that Declan bumps his shoulder against the door jamb as he finally enters their home.

Adam turns the kettle back on for a fresh pot of coffee and makes a note to have a talk with Mrs. Shelby about neighborly solidarity in the face of threats to building security.

"You set foot inside of a Starbucks?" Ronan asked. "That doesn't sound bougie enough for you. Do they even count as gentrification anymore?"

Declan opens his mouth to shoot back. By utter coincidence, Adam happens to switch on the coffee bean grinder at that exact moment. Declan shuts his mouth and waits patiently for the noise to end, at which point he opens his mouth again and -- coincidence on coincidence! -- Adam starts the grinder again.

Declan appraises him from the side of his eye before inclining his head slightly. Adam lifts his hand off the button and busies himself with pouring water over the grounds.

"You need to fly out to Virginia," Declan says.

"Is that why you came all the way out here?" Ronan says. "Shit, dude, I thought you were dying or something. You could have just said that on the phone."

"That would require you to actually pick up your phone," he bites back, tension already ratcheted up far out of proportion to Ronan's casual tone. The suggestion that his brother's reaction to his impending death would be to ignore him must have rubbed him the wrong way, for some reason.

"Huh." Ronan pats his pockets and fishes out his phone, movements exaggerated to the point of pantomime. He swipes at the screen; from where Adam is standing, it's impossible to tell whether or not he's faking. He bets on yes until Ronan proclaims, "One missed call from Declan Lynch," and then looks up. "You gave up after one try?"

Adam is close enough to Declan, placing a coffee mug on the table in front of him, that he can hear his teeth grind. He is hit with a sudden, absurd burst of pride at Ronan for being so obnoxious: maybe Adam hasn't succeeded in irritating Declan as much as Declan has irritated him, but Ronan is making up the difference and then some. He murmurs "my hero" in Ronan's ear as he sets the second cup of coffee in front of him, realizing only a second later that the comment makes no sense whatsoever to someone who hadn't heard his private thoughts.

Ronan grins at him, wide, and slurps his coffee as loud as humanly possible.

"Stop kidding around and take something seriously for once in your life." Riled up voice and ad hominem attack: Declan has lost hold of his high ground in no time at all. "The situation only got this bad because you've put off dealing with it. You can't put it off forever. The sooner you go out to Virginia, the easier it will be to deal with."

"Okay," Ronan says.

The clack of Adam setting his own coffee mug down rings out in the dead silence of the kitchen.

"What did you say?" Declan asks.

"I said okay." Ronan lifts his mug up again but doesn't drink from it, just stares at him over the rim with a superior attitude. "Seriously, you couldn't have asked me this over the phone?"

"You..." Declan chokes on his words.

"I...?" Ronan prompts. Only he could be as irritating in agreement as he is in dissent. Adam has a premonition that Declan will have an unpleasant time of it in Virginia. He hides his smirk behind his own mug, but lets his gaze linger on Ronan, lets Ronan catch him at it. Lets him spot the delight in his eyes.

"Send me your itinerary when you've got your flights sorted out." Declan pushes out each syllable like they hurt him.

"You aren't going to share your flight info with me?" Ronan asks. "I figured we'd fly there together."

"My flight's already sold out," Declan blatantly, pathetically lies.

-

Ronan throws himself onto the couch, flat on his back, once Declan has left with a promise to see his brother again next week in DC. It isn't long after Declan had entered their home; he'd sipped down his coffee with grim efficiency. Apparently a burnt tongue was less painful to him than Ronan's malicious compliance.

"You cleaned while I was gone?" Ronan accuses Adam, glaring around the living room.

"Mm-hm." Adam climbs astride him, knees on either side of his hips, weight resting down on his thighs. He settles in, soaks up every detail of this person that brings him so much joy. "Dusted. Vacuumed the upholstery. Shampooed the carpets -- "

"You cheated on me with a Rug Doctor?" Ronan brings his hands up, resting them on Adam's sides. He doesn't pull or push or apply any pressure. He just -- touches Adam, lets the weight and the warmth of his palms connect them.

"You abandoned me for Gansey's house first." Adam brings a finger to Ronan's lips, under the flimsy pretense of shushing him. "That's dereliction of duty, Lynch."

Ronan bites at his finger, slow enough for Adam to pull it away. "And what atrocities are you going to commit while I'm out of state clearing up my warrants? Power wash the bathroom tile?"

Warmth curls up inside of Adam's gut. He disguises it with an overly delighted face, beaming down at Ronan. "That's a great idea. Thanks for suggesting it."

"Yeah, just fucking destroy my home while I'm gone." Ronan rubs little circles with his thumbs against Adam's hipbones. "And what if they really do arrest me? I'll be off doing hard time and you'll be having the time of your life scrubbing the grout in the kitchen."

"You aren't going to go to jail," Adam tells him. "Do what Declan says and it'll be over in no time."

That pisses him off, though not too badly, to judge from the fact that he shifts his hands to slide them up under the hem of Adam's shirt. "What, you trust him now?"

"Are you saying that he isn't good at weaseling out of trouble?"

Ronan gets that mulish look he gets when he agrees with someone and is mad about it.

"Behave yourself in Virginia and I won't touch a thing in the apartment while you're gone," Adam offers.

"How the fuck can you pull off 'not touching anything' where you live? Are you planning on crashing at Gansey's place? You should get his permission before you go inviting yourself over like that."

Adam leans forward, braces his hands on the couch cushion on either side of Ronan's head. Shifting his weight forward, he lowers himself, deliberate, until their faces are a mere breath apart.

"Get this cleared up fast and come back," he murmurs. "I'll miss you." He feels it when Ronan exhales, hard against his skin. "If you really want to get arrested, you can do it when you come back."

Ronan rolls his eyes, but his voice is soft when he answers. "Fine. If it's so important to you I'll come back. But you have to represent me when I go to jail."

"Fine," Adam says, and kisses him, long, slow, sweet.