The first thing Adam notices when he wakes up is that he’s sore all over. It’s not the soreness of bruises or violence, but rather the kind of ache that comes from being well-used, from roaming hands and being held tight, from the stretch of muscles not-often remembered. He lies in bed for a long moment, cataloging some lingering awareness thrumming underneath his skin.
The second thing he notices is that he’s alone.
He tries to tell himself he’s not disappointed, but Adam has a policy of internal honesty, as far as it’s possible. He can’t deny that it stings a little.
He doesn’t do this. He never does one-night stands, and for good reason. The thought of all that touch and closeness fucks with him all day; he’ll be doing the most mundane thing and suddenly he’ll think about the guy’s hands on his thighs, hitching his legs up and pressing in between them, taking him apart with deep kisses and deeper thrusts.
He almost wishes the guy had left actual bruises. That would be a better explanation for the constant heightened awareness, every inch of his skin screaming to be touched again. He’s not touch starved, he’s not .
Adam is reasonably sure there had been introductions at some point in the evening. Even tipsy Adam wouldn’t have brought back a total stranger back to his apartment, though rationally he knows that’s exactly what he did. The guy could’ve given him a fake name, and anyway a name he doesn’t remember does him no good. It’s not like he’s going to ask Gansey for the name of a guest from his engagement party with just a physical description and no other explanation.
The worst part is that Gansey wouldn’t judge. He’d try to help Adam and that’d be even worse. Yeah, Adam knows he’s got issues but they’re his issues, damnit.
He makes toast and coffee for himself before realising the front door to his apartment is still locked, which is. Well. A small part of him starts screaming that the guy must’ve stolen his keys, because his door can only be locked with keys from the outside, but a quick check shows that both copies are still in place where he left them. And then the same voice starts worrying that maybe the guy is still in the flat and he never left and he’s still watching Adam from inside a cupboard or something, like a true crime story he’d once seen.
But then he realises that the living room window is ajar, and it occurs to him that the guy left using the fire escape. Adam can’t help but wonder how desperate the guy had been to get away from him. It’s not like Adam would have subjected him to anything worse than toast and eggs and mediocre coffee. But then again, he supposes the guy wouldn’t have known that. Maybe he’d been more distressed about having a one-night stand than Adam.
There’s no point thinking about it. It’s not going to lead anywhere. It’s unproductive. He keeps reminding himself of the fact when he can’t fall asleep without thinking about a long line of heat pressed against his back, searing his skin like a brand. A warm hand on his stomach, and a thigh between his legs. The prickle of stubble under his palms and tilting his head back to accommodate soft lips at the base of his throat. God.
He can’t even tell Blue about this, because she’s got enough to worry about with wedding planning, and he doesn’t want to bother her. She’s always been worried about him but this is different. Despite everything, Adam doesn’t regret it, for the most part.
Well, a little. But in a benign sort of way, because someone who’s never had this wouldn’t know to miss it, and that had been Adam, before, and isn’t it just pathetic that the best sex he’s ever had in his life had been with a stranger whose name he couldn’t even remember.
He mostly regrets that it hadn’t led to more, even though objectively he knows the nature of this sort of transaction. It’s supposed to be purely physical and the guy held up his end of the bargain. Now it’s Adam’s turn to do the same.
The barrage of wedding planning both does and doesn’t help. Work has always distracted Adam from his problems but given that the whole thing had happened because of an engagement party in the first place, it’s a little difficult to avoid the fact of it.
“Are you alright, Adam?” Blue asks, putting a small hand on his. Years ago, he’d been miserably jealous after their breakup, but in hindsight he thinks she’s a much better sister for him than she’d ever been a girlfriend. This way, her sympathy doesn’t irk him the way it would’ve done before.
He sighs. “Yeah, sorry. Sorry, I know I’m distracted but I’ve just got some stuff on my mind.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
He shakes his head without even thinking about it. “No, not yet. Not now, I mean. Thanks.” Blue just nods and accepts it, and Adam loves her for it.
Gansey calls for a meeting on the Friday night, and even though Adam almost wants to resent the high-handedness, he can’t. Gansey is just like that . Adam would bet money that Gansey hadn’t even considered the idea that people might not want to spend their Friday night with a wedding party when it wasn’t actually the day of the wedding. And anyway, it’s not like Adam had any plans other than vegetating in front of his laptop with Chinese takeaway.
It’s not exactly a party but it’s not a planning meeting either. There’s food and music and people are talking about the wedding stuff but only casually. It’s actually a pretty good opportunity to meet the other people involved in this thing, Gansey’s closest friends from school and university, whom Adam has heard so much about. He’s probably going to have to deal with his own preconceived notions, because they all seem like pretty cool people.
It’s well aware that they’re all sizing him up too, because it’s definitely unusual that Blue’s ex-boyfriend and best friend is going to walk her down the aisle. It’s not exactly common, but he really does love her like a sister, and for whatever reason Blue hadn’t asked Maura to do it. Who was Adam to protest if it made Blue happy?
“So Cheng and Czerny are the groomsmen, and Ronan is the best man.”
“You said three names but only pointed at two people, you know that right?” Adam’s only teasing but Blue scowls.
“Ronan’s late, as usual.” She doesn’t sound surprised.
“He’ll be here Jane, I promise,” Gansey says, clearly having overheard their conversation.
Blue shakes her head, her dark curls bouncing in all directions. “I know he will. Asshole.”
Adam can’t help but smile. He knows this is the right thing for Blue when he sees the adoring look on Gansey’s face. “Thank you for that ringing endorsement of my best friend, Jane darling.” Adam can’t think of anyone whom he’d rather entrust Blue to, even though she’d probably kick his ass if she knew what he was thinking. Gansey loves her so much it shines through every pore, gleaming out of his eyes. They’ve already forgotten about him when he steps back, Gansey bringing Blue’s hand to his lips to kiss her knuckles. She deserves this.
He can feel eyes on him and when he turns, he sees the other groomsmen looking at him. He makes his way to them, and Cheng claps his shoulder. Somehow it doesn’t feel like they’re sizing him up anymore. Czerny brings up his glass to toast him and Adam accepts it; these people will be their friends now, common property, even if their loyalties are divided. He doesn’t say anything because he doesn’t have any other way to express what he’s feeling, and it’s better than making an ass of himself.
Cheng claps his shoulder again like he gets it, and offers Adam a smile. Adam sighs and smiles back at him. “They’ll be alright, Parrish.”
Adam shakes his head but the smile feels more real now. “Adam, please. And I actually do believe it. I couldn’t imagine anyone better for her than he is.”
Cheng’s smile becomes more real too. “Then please, call me Henry, and this is Noah. Let us leave behind our petty schoolboy customs, for now we are men!”
“Jesus Christ Cheng,” Noah says for the first time, rolling his eyes, “this is why everyone thinks you should’ve been an actor. Start talking like a normal person before Ro turns up.”
Henry raises his hands to cover the back of his head as if protecting himself from a headslap, just as the front door bangs open. It’s not actually that loud, but it catches Gansey’s attention. He turns from gazing soulfully into Blue’s eyes towards the door, and his expression brightens.
“Speak of the devil,” Noah whispers, and Adam freezes, because the guy who walks in is - it’s the guy. The same guy. The one who’d left Adam in the morning. He doesn’t know what his face is doing but he suspects he looks like he’s going to throw up, because Noah grabs onto his other shoulder and leans in, “shit dude, are you alright? It’s just Ronan, he only looks scary, he’s not going to kill us, I promise. Breathe man.”
Finally Adam does, sucking in a deep breath and turning away, looking over Henry’s shoulder and hoping that they don’t ask any more questions. It’s taking all his strength to control his expression and he thinks he’s just about managed it when he looks up at Henry and Noah again. They both look stunned and a little freaked out. “How did you do that?” Henry asks, sounding a little awed. “You looked like you were going to throw up or pass out, and now you look totally normal? Like, what ?”
Adam smiles wryly. Who’d have thought that the lessons learned at the mercy of his father’s anger would have come in handy at a time like this. “Practice,” he replies, even though the answer probably makes no sense. “I’d really appreciate if you didn’t mention all of that,” he asks, even though he knows the fact that he asked is going to draw attention to the unusualness of his reaction. But there’s nothing for it; these are all Ronan’s school friends. They don’t know him from, well, Adam.
“My lips are sealed,” Henry says, pretending to run a zipper across his lips. Noah nods silently.
“Thanks,” Adam says, feeling terribly charitable towards these people whom he’s just met. It kinda figures that they’re Gansey’s friends.
“Adam,” Gansey calls, like he read Adam’s mind. “Come meet my best man!” He sounds obscenely cheerful, compared to the sullen presence beside him. Adam braces himself and walks towards Gansey. “Adam,” he says, once Adam is within hearing distance, “this is Ronan, my best friend and best man. Ronan, Adam is Blue’s best friend and he’s going to walk her down the aisle.” He’s clearly learned the hard way to avoid the phrase “giving away”. Blue’s reaction to the thought that she could be passed from one man to the next must have been a sight to behold. Adam offers a hand and Ronan takes it, shaking firmly.
He’s just as warm as Adam remembers, but there’s no recognition in his eyes. Something in Adam releases and he tries for a smile. “Nice to meet you.” Ronan just grunts in response, and Adam has a vivid flashback of the sounds he’d made when Adam dragged his nails down his back.
Ronan meets his eyes for an intense moment that feels like an hour, and then turns away to face Gansey. “It’s done, by the way.”
“What is,” Gansey asks, and Adam knows he’s been dismissed. He rolls his eyes and steps away.
“The lamb,” is the last thing Adam hears before he steps out of earshot.
Blue is talking to Orla and the discussion looks like it’s getting heated, so Adam avoids them and walks back towards Henry and Noah who are still staring at him in awe. “Balls of steel,” Henry whispers, and Adam rolls his eyes again.
“He likes you,” Noah comments. Adam raises a questioning eyebrow and Henry pretends to swoon before Noah smacks him. “Ronan, I mean. He doesn’t do well meeting new people because he’s an antisocial fuck. That was about as smooth an introduction as I’ve ever seen. You should’ve seen the first time he met Cheng.” Henry whimpers tellingly.
Adam resists the urge to say that their first introduction, the real one, had been even smoother. It doesn’t matter. Ronan doesn’t remember him. Adam isn’t going to bring it up now. It hadn’t meant anything to Ronan and Adam would be the biggest fool to let his stupid hangups ruin these new dynamics before they’ve even settled in. He doesn’t want to make things weird for Blue. He doesn’t want to be left behind.
Apart from that, the evening goes surprisingly well. Most of the people there already know Adam, and those who don’t have at least heard of him. They’re friendly and jovial and all clearly well-off. Adam is thankful that he’s past the stage when the thought of how easy these people have had it would’ve made him scream with rage. He’d been a really angry kid. It’s why he’d gotten along so well with Blue.
The weeks fly past and the wedding parties meet a couple of times, to socialise and to plan stuff. Adam is expressly banned from the hen night by Orla, which is both amusing and also somewhat annoying. It’s not his fault that he’s the only guy in the bridal party, but he doesn’t kick up a fuss because he’s not entirely sure what Orla’s planning, and he loves Blue but dodging this is probably an act of self-preservation.
Of course, when Gansey hears that Adam’s not going for the hen night, he insists that Adam join them for the stag party. Adam doesn’t even have the chance to object because Blue agrees, and Adam knows better than to argue with her when she’s made up her mind.
And of course, because Adam’s luck is non-existent, the stag party is at a strip club. It’s been a long day at work and the night promises to be just as long, if what Hollywood has portrayed is accurate at all. The last time Adam was in a strip club was when he’d been hired to audit the accounts for tax fraud. He’s not exactly the type of person to frequent such places, not because of any value judgment or anything but because he just doesn’t see the appeal of naked strangers.
Though, he supposes his recent fling with Ronan Lynch has made a liar of him. It’s going to be pretty grim to watch beautiful people rubbing up against the man, while wishing that he was in their place. Though, it’s a pretty stupid fantasy. Adam can’t dance to save his life.
He’s pleasantly surprised once he gets past the bouncer. He’s late because of work, so everyone’s already there, but he supposes his rumpled suit won’t be out of place at a joint like this. It’s just on the other side of seedy without actually being gross, which is impressive. Adam hadn’t realised it was possible for a strip club to straddle that boundary so neatly.
The music is too loud and the pulsing lights are bound to give him a headache eventually. The floor is unpleasantly sticky and Gansey is surrounded by women, but that’s as far as Adam’s expectations take him. Most of the women, scantily clad as they are, are sitting around him in a loose circle while he talks to them, moving his hands in enthusiastic circles and pushing his glasses up his nose when they slide down. He’s filled with a rush of affection at the sight. He wouldn’t have judged Gansey even if he’d been doing far more sexual things with these people (because he knows that this night is Blue-approved), but it’s good to know that Gansey is still himself even when no one is watching.
His attention is broken when a body presses up against his left side, a puff of warm breath against his deaf ear, and he reacts badly, flinching away and pulling his arms against his chest to protect himself. Of course, because Adam’s existence is cursed, it’s Ronan Lynch standing there, looking somewhat upset and startled, but with his hands in the air to prove he’s unarmed. He doesn’t look offended. “Sorry,” Adam shouts to be heard, forcing himself to relax. “Sorry. I can’t hear on that side,” he says, surprising himself by volunteering the information.
He thinks the last person he told was Blue, and that had been just after it happened, when he was sixteen. No one apart from the judge and his doctor know the full extent of it, and Adam - Adam wants to kick himself for being so free with his weakness. Why would Ronan even care about Blue’s misfit friends, god, Adam needs to get over this, and fast.
Emotions flash across Ronan’s face before he shuts them down, and Adam can’t read a single one of them. I’m sorry , Ronan signs, and Adam doesn’t think he could have been more surprised if he turned to the stage and found his own father dancing on it.
It’s okay, Adam signs back, a little rusty but comfortable enough. He doesn’t actually rely on signing for much, because his other ear is still fine, but he’d learned it anyway. Just in case.
Want to step outside? Ronan asks, turning back towards the doorway. Adam glances at Gansey and finds that his audience has grown. Henry is on one side, face in his hands. Noah is rolling his eyes even as he pushes a drink into Henry’s hands. They look remarkably sober. They’ll be alright, so Adam turns back to Ronan and nods.
The night air is a blessing, cool and crisp and glorious, compared to the stuffy heat of the strip club. Adam breathes in deeply and turns to find Ronan watching him. “Sorry about earlier,” he says quietly. His face looks so different when he’s not scowling, that it takes Adam a moment to realise he’s probably waiting for an answer.
“No, it’s fine. Sorry, you just startled me. I’m not great with loud places.”
Ronan snorts, and he looks a bit more like himself. “Yeah, I don’t know who is.”
“Coming from the person who organised the stag party, you don’t seem to be enjoying yourself much,” Adam comments lightly. He’s not flirting, really.
Ronan scowls, and honestly, it should be illegal for people to be so attractive. Adam remembers how that jawline tastes , and he wants it so badly his mouth is watering. “You think I organised this shitshow? This is all on Cheng. If they’d asked me, I’d have suggested some sort of historical scavenger hunt or some shit. That would have been more up Dick’s alley than whatever the fuck this is.” Adam can’t even deny that that sounds about right. Gansey is a nerd, through and through, and clearly Ronan knows him well. “I’ve been busy, though. Cheng took over when I couldn’t.”
Adam thinks he could ask more about what Ronan is doing, and why he’s busy, but he knows that this man is not for him. He’d had his shot. People like him didn’t get second chances. Instead he shakes his head. “Well, Gansey seems to be enjoying himself, if not in the traditional sense. What about you? Why are you out here, alone?”
Ronan appraises him, clearly analysing his words in the following silence. “I’m not alone,” he replies eventually. “And it’s not exactly my scene. Not really into girls, you know?”
Adam doesn’t blink. He supposes some part of him had known that, intimately. “Yikes,” he says instead, as lightly as he can manage. “This must be actual torture, then.”
Ronan rolls his eyes. “I’ve suffered through worse for Gansey. Has the maggot told you about his thing for dead Welsh kings?”
“Worse,” Adam replies, taking the out. “Gansey’s told me about it himself.”
Ronan shudders overdramatically. “Well, he’s almost cool about it nowadays. Back when it was new, he was actually crazy. Helen almost had him institutionalised.”
Adam considers. “I’m a single child, but isn’t that normally what siblings try to do? Or is that another lie perpetuated by Hollywood?”
Ronan barks out a laugh. “When you put it like that, you’re not wrong. If he could have, my brother would’ve locked me up years ago.”
“Oh?” Adam teases, “and what could you have done that was bad enough to merit that sort of reaction?” He’s not flirting.
“Are you asking for a highlights reel?” Ronan asks, a smirk playing at the corner of his lips. Adam knows that mouth intimately , and he knows he’s playing with fire.
Adam shrugs. “If you’re offering. Sounds more fun than going back in there,” he gestures back at the strip club.
“Coffee?” Ronan asks, “there’s a place a few blocks over.”
“Familiar with the neighbourhood, are we?” Adam asks archly, raising an eyebrow.
Ronan rolls his eyes again, and Adam can’t help but notice how blue they are. He’s unfairly gorgeous, and Adam almost wants to hate him for it. But he seems like a good guy. “I’m not the best person to be best man, but I did my research. Eventually they’re going to get bored and hungry, and nobody wants to see a hangry Dick.” He says it with such confidence that Adam can’t help but laugh. From the corner of his eye he can see Ronan grinning at him, his cheeks flushed from the cold, and god.
He’s so fucked.
“So I heard you spent the entire stag party with Ronan Lynch instead of watching over my fiance?” Blue says in lieu of greeting when Adam sees her next.
He sighs and collapses into the booth opposite her. He hates this diner, but the coffee here is better than what any Starbucks could even dream of offering, and Blue has an unholy love for their chocolate-chip pancakes.
“Please,” he drawls, “last I saw him, he was educating thirty strippers on the history of the Mayflower or something. They were ten minutes from overthrowing the managers and electing him as their overlord.”
Blue hums thoughtfully. “I suppose the idea of Gansey as a pimp is a little appealing. Kinda sexy, don’t you think?”
Adam closes his eyes and covers his face. “Please remind me, why do I love you again?” He’s got to remember that he’s too old to fake-gag.
“Because I’ve ordered coffee, and because I’m not going to ask you pointed questions about your obvious attraction to the best man?” Blue suggests, as the waitress leaves a cup of steaming coffee on the table in front of Adam.
“Please,” he says, not taking the bait. “Drop it, Blue. It won’t be a problem at the wedding, I promise.”
And because she’s his best friend and she does love him too, she drops it.
Before Adam knows it, it’s the day of the wedding. He hasn’t slept in three days and is pushing even his own extraordinary limits. Everyone else has taken the opportunity to pass out once in a while, stealing cat naps in empty chairs, sprawled on top of wedding detritus, but Adam can’t do that. If he closes his eyes now he’s going to pass out and he’ll wake up after twenty-four hours in a hospital or something. He doesn’t have time for that. It’s his own fault, really. He’s just finished a trial and now they’re less than six hours away from the actual wedding and there’s so much to do .
“Adam,” Blue says, and she sounds exasperated, like she’s said his name a few times. “Adam, calm down. You should be the one calming me down, honestly.”
“I want this to be perfect,” he whispers, letting her pull him into a hug. He’s a lot taller than her standing up, but when he’s sitting down he’s just the right height to fit under her chin.
“It’s already perfect, Adam. It’s going to be perfect. I don’t give a shit about fucking origami napkins or whatever, you know I don’t. I’m going to marry Gansey, and you’re going to be there, and my mom’s going to be there, and I’m going to be surrounded by the people I love most, and it’s going to be amazing.”
He sighs and lets her hold him. “Sorry I’m being neurotic about this,” because he knows he is. He can’t help it.
“If you weren’t neurotic about things, I’d start checking for pod people, Adam Parrish. Thank you for loving me so well.”
“Of course,” he replies, wrapping his arms around her and accepting the comfort she offers.
And of course, that’s when Gansey walks into the room. Adam flinches away from Blue but she doesn’t let him go. He can’t imagine what he’d say if he found his fiance hugging another man on the morning of the wedding. But then again, Gansey is probably the least possessive person Adam knows. It’s pretty much the reason he and Blue hadn’t worked out in the first place. It’s the lesson he learned when they broke up, that Blue isn’t a possession to be owned. Though he can’t deny that it turned out pretty well in the end.
Gansey’s hand lands on his shoulder, and he doesn’t push Adam away or break the hug. “You’ve got to take care of yourself too, Adam,” he says lightly. “You’re important, you know?”
Adam nods. “I know. I’ll be in good shape for the ceremony, I won’t leave you hanging, I swear.”
Gansey clicks his tongue and Blue slaps his shoulder lightly. “We don’t care about that. You’re important to both of us. To Blue, certainly, and well. I’ve been hoping that we could be friends too. I do care about your well-being, you know.” He sounds so shy and uncertain that something inside Adam recoils from it. Gansey should never sound so unsure.
He pulls away from blue and turns his glare on Gansey. “You’re an idiot.” He continues before anyone can react. “We’re already friends, Gansey, seriously. There’s no question about it. I want this to go perfectly for both of you.”
Gansey looks like he’s about to cry and Blue looks so fondly exasperated that Adam can’t help but smile.
“Aw,” Henry says from behind them, “are we doing a group hug? Can I join? I’ve always wanted to do a group hug, ouch! ” The last exclamation is accompanied by the sound of a headslap.
“Way to ruin the moment, dipshit.” And fuck, that’s Ronan. Adam would recognise his voice anywhere.
Henry whines but everyone else laughs, and suddenly the tension leaves Adam’s shoulders. They’re going to be fine. This is as solid a family as he’s ever seen. They’re going to be just fine.
And after that everyone relaxes too, like maybe they’d seen Adam winding himself up towards a breakdown, and they’re all relieved that the crisis has been averted. It’s a little embarrassing but Adam is also awed by the fact that sometimes Noah talks to him about stuff that has nothing to do with their common friends, and Henry makes him try on three suits before declaring that he’s ‘literally edible’, and Ronan — Ronan talks to him, about so many things, teasing and joking and rolling his eyes so many times that Adam thinks they might fall out of his head. Like they’re actually friends.
The next couple of hours disappear in the blink of an eye, and the next thing he knows, he’s walking Blue down the aisle and everyone - everyone - is tearing up, especially Gansey, standing at the altar next to Ronan and sobbing like a child. Adam loves him too.
A fluffy lamb bears the ring tied to a ribbon around its neck and Adam remembers the conversation he’d overheard between Ronan and Gansey the night they’d first been introduced. Of course, Ronan is a soft touch. Of course. Ronan picks up the lamb and holds it like a baby once Gansey has retrieved the ring, but Adam figures that’s mostly to prevent Blue from getting distracted. The vows are beautiful, and when they kiss, Adam has to bite his lower lip to keep from embarrassing himself too badly. There’s cake and food and after that, dancing.
The second person Blue dances with (after Gansey) is Adam. They don’t really have to speak to understand each other. “I’m so happy for you, Blue.” Adam says the words anyway, because he wants to be sure that she knows.
“I couldn’t have done this without you.” Which is blatantly not true, but he’s not going to argue with the bride on her wedding day.
Eventually Henry cuts in to take Blue and Gansey dances with Adam, who gives in to his urge to ask Gansey to look after her. “She’ll kill me for saying this and I know she doesn’t need it but, be kind to her. And love her,” Adam says, knowing that he sounds awful, his voice all choked up and his eyes red from crying. “Love her the way she loves you.”
Gansey who hasn’t stopped crying since Blue appeared at the end of the aisle, not even when he was kissing her, nods. “Thank you, Adam,” he croaks.
“Jesus Christ,” comes Ronan’s voice, “I can’t leave you alone for one second can I? If you don’t drink some water you’re going to get dehydrated and faint,” he snaps, which may or may not be an exaggeration. It sounds like something Gansey would do, so Adam releases him and lets Ronan steer him towards the refreshment table.
He’s just about to step off the dance floor when Ronan’s hand touches his shoulder. “Sorry, I meant to ask. Would you like to dance?” He holds out a hand and Adam thinks he could be a prince straight out of a fairy tale, with his broad shoulders and his blue eyes and the way Adam can’t look away from him.
“Well,” Adam says, trying on a slow smile. “Since you chased away my last partner, it would be the gentlemanly thing to do, I suppose.” He accepts Ronan’s hand and steps back onto the floor.
Ronan snorts ungracefully even though his hands are soft on Adam’s waist. “I officially rescind my request, Jesus Christ. That’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to me,” he says, mock-glaring at Adam. “Gentleman,” he says, like it’s an insult.
Adam doesn’t know why he says what he says next, and the only excuse he can muster is his exhaustion, but he knows he’s fucked up the moment the words leave his lips. “No, that’s true. You’re not a gentleman. Not with that tattoo of yours.”
Ronan blinks and stops moving. Adam stumbles and tries to step out of the circle his arms, but Ronan’s hands are suddenly holding him tight. The flashbacks which have never really stopped hit Adam with a vengeance. “How’d you know about my tattoo?” he demands, suddenly intense. His hands flex in shock and Adam takes the opportunity to flee.
His father had been right all along; Adam’s mouth was always going to get him into trouble, in the end.
Adam isn’t sure what he’d been expecting, but Ronan comes after him. Of course he does. He doesn’t know Ronan very well, but he doesn’t think Ronan knows how to let things go any better than Adam can hear out of his left ear.
But it’s better that this discussion takes place away from the reception. The last thing he wants to do is make a scene in the middle of the dancefloor and ruin Blue’s wedding. That’s the stuff of his nightmares.
Thankfully the chapel is empty and no one is likely to come in here anytime soon. The wooden pew is hard against his ass and Adam supposes he deserves the discomfort. It figures that he’s ruined even this budding friendship.
Ronan drops into the seat beside him and Adam doesn’t flinch. “You remember,” he says, not even feigning casualness.
Adam considers his response. “I didn’t think you did.”
“I haven’t been able to think about anything else, since then.” And really, someone should put a warning label on Ronan’s forehead; his honesty hits Adam like a gut-punch. “Why didn’t you say something?”
Adam wants to reply with a question, to put Ronan on the defensive, to demand why he didn’t say anything, but that’s not the point. “You left, Ronan. I got the message. If all we can be is friends, then I’ll live with that. I wasn’t about to make things awkward by acting like a jilted lover. I wasn’t even sure if you were out of the closet. I wasn’t going to accidentally out you to Gansey or anything.”
Ronan growls and Adam wonders if he’s going to be punched, but then nothing happens. When he turns to look at Ronan, he sees him with his elbows on his knees and his face cupped in his palms. “Fuck,” he swears. “I’m the biggest fuck up in the world.”
Adam opens his mouth to interrupt the flagellation, but Ronan doesn’t let him. “I got lost,” he says, finally looking up at him. His blue eyes are agonised.
“God, this is so embarrassing. I left to get breakfast. I wanted to make you something nice but you only had some bread and eggs in your cupboard. Went down the fire-escape because I didn’t want to take your keys, thought that might be overstepping. By the time I got food, I couldn’t remember where your apartment was.”
“ What .”
“Shit, I know, fuck. I’m so sorry, I got back to the neighbourhood and I don’t know if I got the wrong building but I knocked on a bunch of doors on the fifth floor and none of them were yours, and I freaked out. It was pretty late in the morning and I thought - I don’t know what I thought, but I didn’t want to call Gansey because he’d be all Gansey about it and then it was too late and I - I’m sorry, Adam.” It’s more words than Adam has ever heard from Ronan in one go.
“You were coming back?” he asks, quietly, wondrously. It doesn’t occur to him to doubt Ronan, because Adam knows by now that Ronan doesn’t lie.
He nods, still looking tortured and miserable. “I don’t do that. Casual things, I mean. I was serious. I wanted to get to know you, and I fucked it up so badly, god. Declan was right all along. I’m a moron .”
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Adam asks, a little helplessly. “You should’ve--”
“I thought you might have been too tipsy to remember. You didn’t even blink when Gansey introduced us. I thought you didn’t remember. And it’s not like my dumb ass left a note, or anything. I didn’t know what to say. I’m not good with words.”
“You wanted to get to know me?” Adam asks, holding his breath and praying. It seems fitting that they’re in a chapel, right now. “Wanted?”
Ronan blinks and looks at him, looking straight into him with his sharp eyes. Adam lets him see. He shakes his head. “I want to,” he whispers. “I still do,” he continues, hearing Adam’s underlying question.
Adam leans in until their noses are inches apart and the only thing in his field of vision is Ronan’s face. “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you, since that day.” He deliberately mirrors the words that Ronan had said, because they’re true. Because he wants Ronan to recognise the same longing in him, that Adam sees in Ronan’s eyes.
He doesn’t know who initiates it but their lips meet in the middle, almost like they’d moved at the same time. Ronan’s hand comes up to cup his cheek and it’s just as hot and broad as Adam remembers it, searing his skin. Adam slides closer without breaking the kiss and leans in, biting Ronan’s lower lip softly and tangling their tongues. He scratches gently at Ronan’s scalp and when Ronan moans into the kiss, it’s like Adam has finally come home. It’s even sweeter than he remembers.
Ronan breaks first, pulling away and breathing hard. Adam is no better and he wonders if Ronan can feel his heart pounding in his chest. He hopes he can. “Ronan, we’re in a chapel,” Adam whispers, closing his eyes and shuddering when Ronan runs a hot hand up his back.
Ronan makes a quiet noise deep in his throat, and kisses Adam’s forehead sweetly. “There is nothing more holy than this,” he whispers, pressing his lips against Adam’s cheeks before kissing his mouth again. Adam doesn’t protest; he’s as powerless to stop himself as Ronan is.
But still, the kiss stays chaste and Adam finds himself smiling so widely that he probably looks like a maniac. Ronan’s smile is a wordless answer, like the sun coming out from behind the clouds. “What’s so funny,” he asks, stroking Adam’s hair. Adam closes his eyes and leans into it, melting under Ronan’s touch.
“Nothing,” he replies. “Just, this is pretty rom-com isn’t it? Us doing everything the wrong way around and finally getting our shit together at our best friends’ wedding?”
Ronan laughs but there’s nothing mean in it. “Bet you ten dollars Gansey cries when we tell him.”
“Dud bet,” Adam whispers, turning his face into Ronan’s palm and kissing it softly.
“Worth it.” Ronan matches his tone, and somehow Adam knows he’s not talking about the bet anymore.