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A tree swing, one might call it

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He’s woken by a violent pounding on his door. In his small apartment above St. Agnes the sound reverberates through the room. He knows who it is by the knock and it’s just like him. Even when he’s not in the room, Ronan’s presence fills it, permeating the empty space, impossible to ignore. But he could try.

It’s his first morning off in a month, a rare occurrence between school and his three jobs, and he had been looking forward to sleeping in. Like hell he was getting up for Ronan Lynch. Keeping his eyes shut he willed himself to fall back asleep. Preferably a deep sleep, where he wouldn’t be able to hear Ronan’s second attempt to wake him. As soon as the thought crosses his mind the pounding comes again, somehow more aggressive than the last, as if Ronan knew what Adam wanted and thought the best way to annoy him would be to do the exact opposite.

This time the knocking, if it could be called that, was accompanied with a shout of, “Wake the fuck up, Parrish!”

Letting out a sigh he hoped was audible through the door, Adam turned onto his back in the small space and fumbled for the alarm clock sitting on the floor next to his mattress. He grabbed it too roughly, almost pulling the plug from the wall and bit back a curse, forcing himself to keep his frustration in check. The clock was cheap, but if he broke it he’d have to skip a meal to replace it. Holding it up above his head, he squinted at the fluorescent numbers, his eyes still bleary with sleep. 5:30. In the morning. God, he was going to kill Ronan.

Pulling himself up from the mattress, he stumbled through the darkness to the door, trying not to bump into his makeshift furniture. Blue liked to call them “craftsy”. Ronan liked to call them trash. It didn’t matter, Adam would have real furniture. One day. He had a plan, a good plan. Graduate Aglionby and keep working to pay his way through a prestigious university. One who’s reputation would overshadow his upbringing. That plan did not include waking up at ass o’clock in the morning to indulge Ronan’s impulsivity.

He opened the door to Ronan leaning against the doorframe, giving him a lazy smile before saying, “Parrish, you’re up!”

“No thanks to you.” Adam responded dryly, not bothering to keep the annoyance out of his voice.

“Oh, I’m sorry did I wake you?” Ronan replied mockingly, smirking and looking Adam up and down, his eyes spanning the length of his body.

Adam was suddenly aware of his faded shirt with its stretched collar and his threadbare sweats, fraying at the ankles. Adam crossed his arms over his chest self-consciously and Ronan’s eyes snapped back up to his face.

We can’t all be as rich as you Ronan, Adam thought, furrowing his brow even though he knew that wasn’t why Ronan was looking. Ronan lifted an eyebrow in a silent challenge, before pushing his way into Adam’s apartment. It was just like Ronan, forcing his way into someone’s life, not bothering to ask permission. Ronan crossed the floor to the cardboard box Adam used to keep his clothes and began rummaging around inside, pulling out a clean pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

“What are you doing?” Adam asked, already knowing what the answer will be. What the answer’s been the last few weeks.

“Put these on, we’re going to the Barns.” Ronan replied, turning around and tossing the clothes at Adam, who caught them easily.

“No, this was my only morning off and I was going to sleep in.” he responds indignantly, but he’s already pulled off his shirt to change. Ronan averts his gaze and Adam swears he can see a slight flush on his pale cheeks before Ronan’s turning away to grab Adam’s jacket off the back of the chair.

“I know today’s your morning off, that’s why we’re going.” Ronan said, turning back to hand the jacket, originally black but faded grey from the years, to Adam.

Adam allows himself a moment to feel pleased that Ronan apparently knows his work schedule, before responding, “But it’s 5:30.”

Ronan smirks at this and says, “And you get up for work at 4 so technically you did sleep in. Now hurry the fuck up.” before he’s turning towards the door, twirling his car keys around his finger, and walking out without looking back as if he knows Adam will follow him. Adam’s never been good at saying no to Ronan.

Adam watches as the door slams behind Ronan, before heading into the bathroom to brush his teeth. It doesn’t take him long, but he’s just pulled on his jeans when a car horn blares from the parking lot below, leaving Adam scrambling to grab his shoes before rushing out the door.

Ronan’s sleek BMW is parked in its usual position in the darkest corner of the lot, but when Adam walks out it pulls up, silent, to a stop in front of him.
Ronan leans with his arm hanging out the window and says, “Get in loser we’re going shopping” his ever present smirk on his face, lighting up his mischievous dark eyes. Adam rolls his eyes, but can’t help the small, amused quirk of his lips that he knew Ronan noticed.

Opening the passenger door and dropping into the seat haphazardly, he says to Ronan, “I didn’t know you knew pop culture. At least, not anything good.” The teasing clear in his voice.

“Shut up asshole, there are plenty of things you don’t know about me.” Ronan replied, as he pulled the car out of the lot, “Put your seatbelt on. You wouldn’t want to damage your pretty face.” Adam looked up sharply at Ronan, his brow already arched, and found Ronan resolutely looking at the road. Adam had heard the joke in Ronan’s voice, but his face was serious and Adam felt his cheeks heat up.

Turning to look out the window to hide his blush, Adam had half the mind to ignore Ronan just to spite him, but Ronan’s driving was dangerous at best, so he hastily buckled his seatbelt.

Ronan drove like he did everything else, fast and impulsive, taking sudden turns in unexpected directions, forcing you to grab hold of something if you wanted to leave the encounter unscathed. Adam was used to it by now, used to Ronan.

He could feel Ronan’s eyes on him as they drove along the winding highway that led to the Barns. A glance over and immediately away, like he was scared Adam would catch him looking. Adam wasn’t stupid, he knew how Ronan felt about him. Ronan wasn’t exactly subtle, even though he tried to be. How Adam felt was not something he wanted to think about. A tangled mess of emotions that he’d sort out later. For now, he elected to lean his head back on the leather seat and close his eyes. The movement of the car was relaxing and it was easy to drift in and out of consciousness.

He didn’t fall asleep, but it was a close thing and before he knew it Ronan was wrenching up the emergency brake and elbowing his side saying, “Adam wake up. I didn’t drive all the way out here for you to fall asleep on me.” Covering his mouth to stifle a yawn, Adam groped for the door handle and pulled himself out of the car, surveying his surroundings.

They were at the Barns. It was a sprawling estate, surrounded by rolling hills and grassy pastures. Ronan’s father hadn’t held back when dreaming it. They had parked in front of the main house, but Ronan didn’t head toward it. Instead he began to trudge up the hill opposite, Adam following close behind. He wondered if they were heading to one of the many infamous Barns that dotted the surrounding fields, but they didn’t head towards any.

The sun was just beginning to come over the horizon, but its light was already spilling over onto the earth below. Trekking through the pastures along a well worn path, Adam swore he saw the sunlight glinting off the world around him, silver in the grass when the wind blew, like minnows in a stream. And gold in the trees, glinting off the leaves like baubles in a Christmas tree.

The Barns was breathtakingly beautiful and empty. That wasn’t the right word. The Barns was filled with things, strange gadgets and curios, but it was…absent. No cows grazed in the fields and no children played in the trees. With Ronan’s parents gone, Niall dead and Aurora in Cabeswater, the house was unoccupied. Adam could understand why Ronan didn’t stay here constantly, even though he clearly loved it dearly. Sometimes an empty room could be more suffocating than a crowded one, especially if it was crowded with memories.

Ronan came to an abrupt stop at the top of the hill, apparently reaching their destination and Adam came to stand beside him, looking out over the horizon before them. It was a brisk morning, the dew still wet on the ground and the sun not yet awake enough to chase the chill away, and Adam pulled his jacket tighter around him.

They stayed like that for a few minutes wrapped up in their own thoughts, or perhaps not thinking at all, before Adam looked over at Ronan. Blue eyes met black and surprisingly Ronan didn’t immediately break the contact and they stood like that, caught.
He could see something in Ronan’s eyes; an emotion usually kept heavily guarded but was now playing just beneath the surface. He didn’t know what, or maybe he didn’t want to know.

Desperate for a distraction, Adam turned his attention to a large oak tree behind Ronan. It was one of those old trees that looked like it had been there for years, long before you, and would still be there for years after you were gone. Adam thought that was the miraculous thing about trees; no matter where they were they never looked out of place. A tree could be planted in the middle of a city, and the city would look like an outsider imposing itself on nature. Adam would quite like to be a tree.

This tree, in particular, had a swing hanging from it. A tree swing, one might say. Moving around Ronan and walking up to the trunk, Adam noticed the swing was handmade.

It was nothing extraordinary, just a thick plank of wood hanging crookedly to two pieces of tattered rope slung over a low hanging branch. The wood was smoothed in a way that said it had once been jagged and rough, but time had softened it.

The frayed rope held strong when Adam sat down on it. He wondered if Ronan and his father had made it once upon a time when the Barns was full of life and Ronan wasn’t sharp. Adam had the thought that Ronan and this swing were opposites. Where the swing’s edges had been smoothed with time, Ronan’s once soft curves had been chiselled away until he was barbed and pointed. Still, Adam smiled at the thought of a younger Ronan as his feet trailed over the worn ground beneath him, the earth bowed from many years of swinging feet following the same pattern. Ronan came up to stand in front of him, just beyond reach of his legs.

“Why did you take me here?” Adam heard himself ask. He hadn’t meant to. Hadn’t meant to think it. Hadn’t meant to want to know the answer. But he did and now it was out in the open.

Ronan was silent for a moment before answering. A long moment.
“Adam, we come here all the time.” he replied, clearing his throat and staring at some point next to Adam’s right ear. On principle, Ronan didn’t lie, but he was an expert at not telling the truth.

“No, we watch movies in the house, we go exploring in the fields. I mean why here. This hill, right now, today.” Adam snapped, exasperated. He knew what the answer was, but he wanted to hear it. He wanted Ronan to say it.

There was a long silence. Adam swung back and forth on the swing. Towards Ronan and then away, over and over. It struck Adam as a good metaphor for their relationship. Adam getting closer to Ronan, closer to giving in, before pulling away again. It also struck Adam that maybe he should stop swinging away from Ronan. This thought applied both figuratively and literally. Adam dragged his feet along the ground to slow his progression. Looking down he watched his ratty sneakers scuff the ground beneath him, becoming more and more scuffed themselves as they did.

The sound of footsteps walking quickly towards him drew his attention, but he didn’t look up. Not even when Ronan stopped directly in front of him, a hand on either side of the swing, bracing himself on the ropes and bracketing Adam in.

When he did finally look up, he found Ronan’s face only inches away from his own. The look in his eyes made it very clear what he had intended to do but stopped short of. As if his body had acted on instinct until his brain caught up and stopped him.

Adam froze and they stood there staring into each other’s eyes, lips dangerously close, and Adam couldn’t help but think how they must look like a terrible teen cliché right then. But it was brief thought and Adam found he didn’t particularly care.

It wasn’t that Adam didn’t want to kiss Ronan; he was just terrified of the emotions that came with it. Ronan must’ve seen Adam’s hesitation because his face immediately shuttered off, the vulnerability he’d seen there only moments before, hidden away again leaving only a sharp look of practiced disinterest. Adam could see Ronan start to pull away, but there was no way in hell he was letting that happen. He leaned forward and then their lips were touching and then they really were a cliché.

Ronan’s lips were hard as granite beneath his and Adam found himself panicking. Had he read this all wrong? Maybe Ronan didn’t like him. The reasonable part of his brain was telling him to calm down, that people just didn’t get that close platonically. But the rest of his brain was already envisioning Ronan roughly pushing him away, yelling at him to fuck off, and telling Adam to find his own way back.

Adam began to pull away, an apology already forming when Ronan chased his lips and grabbed his shoulders, keeping him there. The kiss was gentle and sweet and so completely unlike Ronan that he couldn’t help but laugh.

Ronan pulled away so quickly that Adam was left unbalanced and had to catch himself before looking up at Ronan. If Ronan had been gentle before he was anything but now. In full defence mode, a snarl already on his teeth, Ronan looked sharp and dangerous and Adam knew he could cut himself on his edges if he wasn’t careful.

“What the hell was that, Parrish? You think you can just come here and…and fuck with me like that? You don’t know shit.” Ronan’s anger was tangible, spilling over into his eyes, his entire body tense and agitated. Adam had been in countless fights with Ronan and he knew he needed to diffuse it before Ronan said something really offensive.

Ronan opened his mouth to lash out again and Adam ploughed right over, letting snark play in his words, “It was a kiss Ronan. I know you don’t get around much, but I’m sure even you know what that is. And as for why, it’s cause I like you, dumbass. I thought I’d made that pretty clear.”

Ronan’s mouth was still open, sharp teeth on display, but his face held no aggression anymore, draining away just as quickly as it had appeared. Adam didn’t know how Ronan could handle being in a constant state of emotional whiplash.

He watched as Ronan visibly relaxed, his trademark smirk changing his face back to its typical dark mischief, before delivering the line, “Oh I must’ve missed that, care to try again?” before capturing Adam’s lips in his again. It was slower this time and Adam thought it seemed endless.

Ronan’s lips were soft and warm against his chapped ones, but it was still chaste and Adam wanted more. He tilted his jaw, deepening the kiss, and parted his lips. Ronan hummed happily into his mouth at the change and took it as an invitation to step closer, pressing Adam into the swing.

Adam stood up, using his mouth to force Ronan back, doubting the swing’s capability to hold them both if Ronan put any more weight on it. They were so close now, pressed together from chest to hip, Ronan’s hands around Adam’s arms, that Adam didn’t think they could get any closer without actually being inside one another and a shiver ran down his spine at the thought.

Adam didn’t know if Ronan had ever done this, but it sure seemed like he did, the way his tongue swiped against Adam’s bottom lip as if asking for permission, before it licked its way into his mouth.

The feeling of Ronan’s tongue in his mouth was hot and wet and perfect, and Adam couldn’t help the moan that escaped him. One of Ronan’s hands came up against the small of Adam’s back pressing him closer against him, his other hand coming to stroke Adam’s cheekbone. Adam could feel Ronan already hard against his thigh, making him aware of the own growing tightness in his jeans.

Ronan pulled his tongue back and Adam took the chance to nip playfully at Ronan’s bottom lip, before moving down his jawline, dragging his tongue along the edge and leaving a trail of wet kisses. Ronan breathed out a whimper as his head fell back and Adam’s lips fell to his exposed neck, sucking bruises into the tender skin. He wanted to leave a mark, to be able to look at Ronan tomorrow and think this boy is mine.

Ronan’s breathing was coming heavier now and when Adam lightly scraped his teeth against his collarbone, dragging to where it met his neck and biting down, Ronan let out a high keen.

Grabbing Adam by his waist with both hands now, Ronan whirled around, pressing him against the trunk of the oak tree and Adam gasped into Ronan’s skin at the change. Their hips were perfectly aligned and Adam could feel Ronan’s dick pressed to where his own strained against his denim and the sudden friction was almost too much.

Ronan’s lips met his own again, this time a messy, desperate kiss made of want. Adam rolled his hips experimentally into Ronan’s, trying to relieve some of the pressure and Ronan groaned into his mouth before rocking his own hips back into Adam’s. The feeling of Ronan pressed against him was unbelievable, unlike anything he’d experienced and they were both still fully clothed. Adam felt his knees buckle as the sensation sent a new flood of arousal to his groin and his fingers scrambled at Ronan’s back, holding on to him to keep upright.

They weren’t so much as kissing now as gasping into each other’s mouths, hips grinding into each other in a clumsy rhythm. Ronan braced himself around Adam with his forearms against the tree and it’s as though Adam’s completely surrounded by Ronan, pressed to the tree by his body. He can taste the sweat on Ronan’s skin as he mouths at Ronan’s neck, and his breaths come out harsher, as if they’re being pulled from his throat.

Adam can feel the heat building in his groin, the familiar tightness that comes right before he does. He lifts a hand to the back of Ronan’s neck, forcing him to look down into his eyes, wanting to see what he’s done to him.

Ronan’s pupils are blown wide with arousal, his cheeks flush, his mouth wet and swollen, and the ragged breaths from his parted lips feels hot against Adam’s own skin.

I did this to him, he realizes and his head falls back against the tree as he lets out a groan at the sight. At the sound, Ronan’s speed picks up and he shouts Adam’s name as he comes, burying his head in the crook of Adam’s neck, and it’s all Adam needs before he’s quickly following, both of their hips stuttering into each other as they ride out the orgasm.

They stand there a moment, catching their breath and their thoughts, before Adam’s knees finally give out and he slides down the trunk. Ronan collapses next to him and they sit there, pressed from shoulder to hip, at the roots of the tree.

Adam’s head falls to rest against Ronan’s shoulder and he grabs his hand, interlacing their fingers together before looking up at Ronan through his lashes and smiling at him.

Ronan smiles back, a real smile, not a smirk or a snarl, and asks “What are you thinking?” uncharacteristically shy, as if he expects Adam to reject him after that.

Adam considers for a few seconds before replying, “That this was definitely worth getting up early for.”