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Star Trail

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Podfic Length: 12:03

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Ronan flies out for Adam’s mid semester break. He’s able to sleep most of the flight, but he’s glad he didn’t book a red eye. California isn’t nearly as hot as the Virginia airport he left from, but it’s certainly warmer than the shaded glen of Singer's Falls and the Barns. Ronan balls up his sweatshirt to stuff in his carryon backpack. He hasn’t bothered to bring additional luggage. He’s here for a weekend with Adam, and if he’s lucky he really won’t be wearing clothes enough to get them dirty. Adam’s waiting for him where the escalator opens onto baggage claim. The snug of Adam’s arms feels as close to coming home as anything outside the Barns ever could and Ronan takes a long moment to just hold him back. Adam feels wonderfully solid, filled out with purpose and spring sunshine. His hair is getting longer, curling slightly in sandy wisps where Ronan presses his cheek.

“You got anything else?” Adam asks, nodding to Ronan’s heavy backpack.

“This is it.” Ronan jerks his shoulder, jostling the bag. He follows Adam out to where the Hondayota has just started to bake in the sun. Adam points out landmarks and places he now has a history with as they drive to his postage stamp apartment. Ronan’s ridden in the passenger seat of this route more times than he can count on two hands, but he appreciates the reminders, placing Adam’s stories against the broad windows of coffee shops and grocery stores.

Ronan tosses his bag on the floor and flops slantwise across Adam’s bed, stretching.

“So, ready for another three years here?” Ronan asks as Adam sits down next to him.

“I better be.” Adam answers, his fingers pressing down into Ronan’s upturned palm. “It’ll be different, law school, not undergrad, but I know enough people staying in the area. I won’t have to build that community again.” Adam catches Ronan’s eye, “But if you think about it, I’m over halfway there, closer to moving home than staying here.”

Ronan scoffs. “You’re going to have to put in your time as an attorney. That won’t be in Henrietta.”

Adam hums agreement, “True, but at least D.C. is driving distance.” Ronan kicks out one leg, reaching to poke Adam with a toe.

“To think, you’ll be the one of us eventually running for election. You better get your schmooze on.”

“The youngest judges are maybe thirty Ronan. I’ve got time.” Ronan hooks his ankle against Adam’s trying to drag him forward, ineffectively.

“Well, I don’t have time. I’m flying back on Monday.” Adam isn’t a hard sell, and agreeably he leans down to kiss Ronan. They don’t get much farther than making out however before Adam’s phone chirps with a reminder alert of the restaurant reservation he’s booked.

After a classically romantic dinner with Adam Friday night, Ronan had unfortunately fallen straight asleep upon returning to Adam’s apartment, jet lag and a day of travel catching up with him. Then Saturday, Adam drags him all over the city, showing this park and that bookstore and leading Ronan around his campus. It’s great, but Ronan’s had a lot less time with Adam horizontal on basically any surface than he would like. But Ronan has plans for Saturday night. He got the idea from Adam’s enthusiasm for his Astronomy class last semester. It’s a bit hard to stealthily pack the cooler and picnic basket, but Ronan is a master of distraction and a carefully planned FaceTime call to Blue, Gansey, and Henry allows Ronan to pretend Adam’s distracted enough not to notice. Ronan does make Adam wait in the car for his brief foray into the grocery store for the last of the necessary supplies, so something will at least be a surprise.

Adam drives the Hondayota shitbox, Ronan giving him directions one at a time and refusing to verify the destination. Why Adam has kept this car is a mystery. Clearly he’s secretly a masochist. Adam has refused every offer, whether for a dreamt or purchased vehicle and claims he likes the Hondayota in all its patchwork glory. It's several hours later when Ronan consults his map and nods.

“Here is good,” he says. Adam looks at the scrubland around them.

“Ronan, this is the middle of nowhere.” Ronan nods.

“That’s kind of the point, Parrish. Turn there,” he instructs, pointing at a dirt track branching off their backroads highway.

“Ronan, that is probably someone’s driveway,” Adam protests. If it is, the house isn’t visible from the road.

Turn, Adam.” Adam takes the turn. The car grumbles over the bumpy path until the hills around them have obscured the paved road. “This is good. We can stop here,” Ronan decrees. Adam shuts off the car. Ronan grabs the picnic basket and cooler from the back seat. The sun is golden orange, low on the horizon and throwing long shadows from the hills and car as Ronan spreads the blanket over the packed earth in front of them. Adam folds himself down onto the blanket. The hard dirt isn’t particularly comfortable, but the blanket is nice enough. Ronan carefully spreads out the contents of their meal, twisting the metal cap off a glass bottle of soda before passing it to Adam.

“Finger food, Ronan?” Adam asks.

Ronan shrugs. “You hate sandwiches. I figured this was the better picnic option.” Ronan rips a chunk off the baguette before passing it to Adam. The sun bleeds down over the horizon, washing the hills in red and purple. Adam cuts the cheese into perfect squares with the plastic knife before passing a napkinful over to Ronan. They haven’t finished all the food by the time twilight shifts from teal to darker blue, but Ronan packs up the leftovers, before laying back on the blanket. Adam’s shoulder bumps against Ronan’s as he points out the first stars, naming the constellations he recognizes. Even if it wasn’t in the assigned course material he remembers the mythology, the various stories of the stars above him and Ronan listens quietly. Adam is a dark shape in the corner of his vision, warm against his side, his words winding up to paint meaning across the sky. The temperature drops fairly quickly and Ronan has to admit the ground isn’t all that comfortable. He considers that perhaps he didn’t think this through quite so well. Ronan sits up and tugs at the edge of the blanket.

“Parrish, turn the motor on,” he directs. Adam turns the key, but flicks the lights off before shoving the door closed. He joins Ronan on the hood, and Ronan wraps the clean side of the blanket around the two of them. The car hood warms slowly beneath them. He’s more distracted by the curve of Adam’s lips as he tilts his head back than he is by the stars above them. Adam turns his head, looking over, curious, to Ronan’s gaze. Ronan leans forward to kiss him. Rolling Adam back over the hood of the car is a logical progression. Adam heaves a laugh beneath him, his eyes now on Ronan, not past him at the sky. The night air is cold as Ronan stretches the neck of Adam’s t-shirt to kiss down his collarbone.

“You’ll pull it out of shape,” Adam complains, so Ronan pushes it up instead, loving the jump and flex of Adam’s muscles as he mouths down his torso. He places a bite to Adam’s hip, drawing a harsh gasp. Adam’s hands are wrapped around his head, guiding Ronan as much as following him to the fly of his pants. Ronan pops the button with a grin. Adam doesn’t return the expression, gaze too intent on Ronan’s.

They’ve done this before, not like this outside under the sky and mostly clothed, but Adam’s breathing hitches in a reliable pattern. Ronan holds Adam firmly, always relishing that first grip of his hand. With the cold of the night around them, Adam is blazingly hot against his palm and lips. It is basically everything Ronan’s ever wanted, Adam, braced against the hood and the rumble of the motor beneath them, Adam keeping him tethered to earth, one hand grabbing at the back of Ronan’s head and the stars spinning above them. This is worship. Adam tries to pull Ronan off when he’s about to come, confused and unclear words panting past his lips. Ronan shifts, but doesn’t quite make it, Adam’s come as much on Ronan’s tongue as on his cheek and chin. Ronan feels delightfully filthy as he grins up at Adam. Adam’s other hand, the one that’s warm from bracing against the hood, drags two fingers over his cheek, wiping Ronan off. Ronan turns into it, finds Adam’s fingers with his mouth, pulling Adam in again. Adam’s two fingers press down over his tongue, sweat and spunk and the rough edges of Adam’s nails against his tongue in a benediction. Ronan wonders if maybe he could come from just this, braced above Adam and desperate to get a hand on himself. Adam levers himself up with one elbow. Ronan reluctantly lets go of Adam’s spit slick fingers, which clutch at Ronan’s face as Adam eases him back so Ronan can pant and moan into his mouth, Adam’s other hand scrabbling at Ronan’s buttons. The stars are still spinning overhead, feeling like one of those long exposure photographs of the heavens streaked in circles of light. Adam is true North, the whole world spinning around him. Adam’s hand circles Ronan, jerking quick and harsh, arching Ronan’s back off the rumble of the car. Adam’s lips press praise and exaltation against Ronan’s open mouth. Ronan shakes apart against him.

After, Ronan is grateful for the steadying rumble of the motor, Adam’s weight and heartbeat, Adam’s arms around him. Ronan reaches out lazily to snag one of Adam’s hands. He kisses softly across Adam’s knuckles before tonguing the jutting base of his thumb. Adam shivers against him, and breathes into the close-cropped curls of Ronan’s hair.

“The longer we leave the engine on, the more we contribute to global warming,” Adam murmurs.

“Parrish, that is not pillow talk,” Ronan objects.

“I’m just stating the facts. Come on, it’s freezing.” Ronan finishes doing up his jeans and gathers the blanket off the hood of the car once Adam’s rolled off to the driver’s side. He pauses a moment, watching Adam. Adam leans back, arms and shoulders loose at his sides, neck arched to stare up. Ronan waits, fingers still on the roof of the car until Adam tilts back towards him, settling once more back on earth.

The Hondayota’s lights flick on, washing out the dirt track and piercing through the darkness around them. Adam three point turns them back to the highway before his fingers sneak over the gear shift to quickly squeeze Ronan’s own.

“Thank you,” Adam says. Ronan nods, though Adam’s eyes are trained on the pavement before them as he scans for any nighttime wildlife.

"I love you, Adam.” Ronan says, because that is, of course the most straightforward and true answer. It’s not the first time he says it, it’s not even the hundredth. The years of Skype calls and phone calls and visits all so frequently start and end with those words. Ronan means it every time. Adam glances over, a flash of his eyes, and smiles.

“I love you too.”