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the right/wrong crowd

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“Lynch! Hey, Lynch! Wait up!”

Ronan ignores the voice to keep talking with Adam about how they’re supposed to ask Cabeswater to save Gansey, again. Both boys have their heads bowed inwards, calm words delivered in low voices. Even though they’re just crossing the quad, they’ve learned to be wary of Gansey turning up at any moment. Even though they’ve already gone through excuses and cover-ups, they’ve learned to be wary of other intruders as well.

“Lynch, goddmammit, c’mon!”

Adam risks a glance in-between their shoulders, catching a glimpse of Henry Cheng jogging their way. Subtly, he nudges Ronan’s elbow to the right. The pair synchronizes a sharp right turn, stepping off the grass and ducking under the brick columns. They make it a few strides before Henry cuts them off, hands on either side of the duo in a wide trap. Undeterred by Ronan’s scowl and Adam’s huff of annoyance, Henry grins, even as he catches his breath.

“Jesus. You guys are hard to catch. How’ve you been?”

“Better,” Ronan responds. He sidesteps just as Adam moves to do the same, both boys currents of water moving around the rock that is Henry.

Unfortunately, Henry spins, catching Ronan by the arm.

“Whoa whoa whoa, hold on. Just wanted to ask if you were the god that taught Gansey how to street race…?”

Ronan slowly pivots, cocking his head as if the words didn’t quite reach him. “Fucking what?”

Henry quickly nods. “Yeah, he’s actually really good. What, you didn’t know?” His eyes narrow in suspicion, and Adam watches as curiosity turns into unabashed interest. Tucking his hands into freshly pressed khakis, Henry leans forward as if his next words are to be kept confidential.

“Wow. Man, I was kinda hoping you could teach me, too,” he whispers. “You should see him drift. Doesn’t take his classic out, though, but on the Fisker…”

Henry leans back to whistle low, gaze flickering back and forth between Adam and Ronan to assess the damage.

“We’re actually busy,” Ronan says.

“Forever,” Adam adds.

“My god, clearly. Must be why the good man is knocking on my door more often than not.”

Adam feels Ronan bristle, rearing up for a fight. Henry feels it too, and takes the opportunity to deliver the final blow.

“Aw, c’mon. Don’t be jealous. He’s just a little bored. Probably.”

Ronan clenches his fists, and Adam calmly replies before the other has a chance to retort.

“Gansey is not one of yours.”

“Well, he’s not one of yours, either,” Henry chuckles. “Not for long, anyway.”

Ronan steps forward, considerably closer to Henry than before. “And what exactly is that supposed to fucking mean?”

Henry raises both hands in defense, trying hard to fight a smile. Ronan and Adam both take note of the defiance in his eyes, even with the moderately convincing act of stepping back in submission.

“All I meant is it might be good for him to get out more. Expand his horizons. We treat him well. All in innocence, of course.”

Ronan squints, mouth set in lines of disgust as Adam imperceptibly shakes his head. As Ronan steps forward to counter, Adam grabs the other’s arm to save both of them from having to stand there any longer. He steers them past Henry, successfully this time, and opens the door to the nearest empty room.

“Don’t listen to him,” Adam begins. “It doesn’t mean anything, and everything that kid says is absolutely insane. You know that.”

Ronan grabs the lab table, curling over the sink with tension. Especially in the dark room, each breath is audible and shallow, and his voice comes out slow and pained.

“I wanted to say yes. God, I wanted to say yes. It’d be my fucking dream come true to see Gansey race, let alone drift.” He turns to Adam. “But instead we can’t even be around because—“

“Hey,” Adam says as he strides over. “Stop. What we’re doing is going to save his life.”

“But, should we, I mean,” Ronan laces his hands behind his head in exasperation, and it scares Adam more than anything because Ronan Lynch stressed is the equivalent of a inverted tornado— just as deadly as it’s counterpart, but unnerving and unnatural.

“We’re doing what we need to. Today. And then we can…we can worry about the rest of it afterwards, okay? Because we need to do this. We need to. Right?”

Without an immediate answer, Adam begins to doubt. “Right?” he asks again, insistent.

“Right,” Ronan says, swallowing whatever else he was going to add. Adam forcibly nods in agreement.

“Right. To Latin, then, yeah?”