They didn't talk about what had happened to Gansey.
That was okay, though, because even though they didn't talk about it, his friends still let the consideration of it inform their interactions with him. Adam didn't roughhouse with him like he used to. Ronan didn't make lewd comments about strangers. Noah was careful not to appear too unexpectedly in a place Gansey couldn't see him.
None of the others knew this, because there was no need for them to know, but sometimes when neither of them could sleep, Gansey and Ronan did talk about what had happened to Gansey.
"The dreams haven't been so bad lately," Gansey said softly. He was in Ronan's bed next to him, head resting on his shoulder. The clock on the dresser read 3:22 AM, but those numbers had ceased to mean much to either of them. The only light in the room came from the lamp next to the bed, and softly they could hear the sound of rain outside the shuttered windows.
"S'good," Ronan replied. He shifted his face so he could breathe in Gansey's scent, all mint and old paper. "Now you've just got to work on falling asleep."
Gansey laughed under his breath. "If I were asleep I'd be missing this."
Ronan laughed too, but in his chest his heart soared. Sometimes he still couldn't believe that Gansey placed this much trust in him - in Ronan, a broken, abrasive boy who could barely take care of himself. Not a day went by that he wasn't grateful for it, though. Gansey's welfare was something he was eternally glad to play a key role in.
"It's become rather...difficult to be intimate with myself," Gansey continued after a minute. "Impossible, actually." His voice was soft. He had straightened up and Ronan could see his face in profile.
Ronan whistled lowly. It was a strange admission, but there were few boundaries left between the two of them. At this point in their friendship they took just about everything the other said in stride. "Shit. I'd go crazy."
Gansey nodded slowly. "It's been strange. It's not as though the want isn't there, but the act itself..." He trailed off, and when he began again his tone was bitter. "I had accepted, after it happened, that I would have trouble letting other people touch me." He paused, licked his lips. "But to not be able to touch myself...feels cruel."
Ronan felt a fresh wave of anger over the situation. Not toward Gansey's attacker, because he'd wasted enough energy on that front. This was bigger now, it was about Gansey solely. "That's unfair. Really unfair. It's fucked."
This was when a blush began to rise on Gansey's cheeks. "I've been thinking about it." Ronan knew that he was just now arriving at his point. "I had an idea of a proposition for you." His speech was halting and uncomfortable, and Ronan already knew that he would do anything that Gansey said if he'd had to make himself this nervous to ask him about it.
"Yeah?" he said.
"Well, I-" Gansey said, stammering now. "I- this all depends on you, Ronan, and if you aren't comfortable with it you've got to let me know. But I wondered if you would let me...be privy to-"
"You want me to jerk off in front of you," Ronan stated flatly.
Gansey blushed magnificently, and Ronan rolled his eyes. "Shoulda just asked, man."
Gansey's eyebrows drew together like they did when Adam questioned a theory of his. "I'm not entirely sure why I think it will help," he admitted. "But it feels like something. What I don't want," he said solemnly, his eyes meeting Ronan's, "is for you to think I'm taking this lightly, or stringing you along or something."
Ronan fixed Gansey with an earnest gaze. "It'd take a lot for me to think you were taking advantage of me." All he cared about was addressing what Gansey needed from him. "I'm okay with it. Don't mind at all...I just hope..."
"Yes?" Gansey asked, wary.
Ronan let his serious expression slide. "That you're ready for this," he said, waggling his eyebrows.
Gansey giggled and sat on the bed sideways with his back against the wall, legs drawn up and arms wrapped around them, watching shyly from where his head rested on his knees.
Ronan laid down on his back again, shucking his boxers with a mischievous grin at Gansey. This was nothing new, not yet - they'd seen each other undressed dozens of times. The minimal light in the room threw Ronan's body into stark relief. Every contour of his torso was understandable, translated for Gansey. He watched hungrily as Ronan, who wasn't hard yet, rolled onto his stomach and closed his eyes. "Don't worry," he rasped at Gansey. "I'm just getting started. Give you a better show in a minute."
Gansey laughed nervously. Ronan let his mind wander to all the latest things that set his mind racing, that made his heart lurch in his chest. Fast cars driven expertly by dangerous men. Dull sets of nails dragging down his back, leaving burning trails in their wake. The way Adam's shirt had clung to him when he'd gotten soaked with dishwater in their disaster of a kitchen. As he let all the thoughts he'd suppressed over the day wash through his mind unbridled he began grinding his hips into the mattress slowly.
As caught up in his own thoughts as he was, he made sure to keep a fraction of his attention on Gansey, watching for any sign of discomfort. Surprisingly, he seemed calm - almost serene. He watched Ronan unblinkingly as if he were an important lecture in history class.
Within a minute or two, Ronan was hard enough that the friction was making him shudder. He got off sometimes just like this, grinding and rubbing up on his bedspread. But that made a mess, and he wanted to put on a better show for Gansey. He rolled over and felt more than heard Gansey's little intake of breath when he saw Ronan's hard cock, flushed and throbbing against his hip. This was new.
Then he reached to his bedside table and produced a little bottle of lube, spreading some over his hand. He could feel Gansey's eyes on him the entire time. His expression was warm and incredibly fond. Ronan briefly wished Gansey were there to stare at him while he tried to answer essay questions during exams.
He began stroking himself as a fresh wave of thoughts flooded his brain. He wondered if Gansey could guess what he was thinking about. They were so in tune that Ronan would be surprised if he hadn't guessed at his attraction for Adam, though he would probably never bring it up before Ronan did. Ronan thought of Adam's hands, his corded forearms and freckled biceps, and the stripe of exposed skin he sometimes saw as Adam's shirt rode up when he climbed into the back seat of the Pig. His cock jumped when he remembered the creases of Adam's hips disappearing into the waist of his jeans, entreating Ronan's eyes and imagination down and down. He thought of Adam moaning, thought of him feeling the same things that Ronan was now. How his lips would part, his eyes hood, dusty eyelashes tease the tops of his cheeks. Adam.
Ronan's hips bucked into his palm and he bit the heel of his other hand to keep from moaning. At the last moment, though, he moved his hand to the sheet, twisting his fist in it and swearing aloud, voice strained and low. The muscles in his torso contracted. With a thrill Gansey saw his balls draw up a little, and Ronan came over his fist, eyes pressed closed, lips parted silently.
When his eyes opened again he met Gansey's gaze with a placid smile. Gansey grinned back. It felt like they were the only ones in on a tremendous joke.
Ronan got off the bed to find a towel, which he wiped his hand on. When he sat back down, he brushed a little kiss against Gansey's cheek, and Gansey blushed with pleasure. Little kisses were okay, he'd made sure to let each of them know. "You need anything?" Ronan asked, his voice low and rough.
Gansey shook his head. He knew Ronan was asking him if he wanted to get off, but he didn't. Being able to imagine how good Ronan had felt was safer just then than trying to achieve the same feeling for himself.
"Thank you," he said, a little surprised to feel tears pricking at his eyes. They felt foreign. Gansey had not cried much after what had happened to him. The emotion he was most familiar with these days was stone cold apathy, and he hated it more than anything. Tears were a welcome change, especially these ones, which felt like something akin to relief.
If Ronan noticed them, he said nothing. Instead he laid down on the bed again, his eyes inviting Gansey to join him. He looked sleepy in his contentment, but Gansey couldn't say he felt any closer to rest himself. He picked up the book that had been splayed open near him on the mattress with a rueful smile.
"Read a little to me?" Ronan said, quietly enough that Gansey barely heard him. He grinned, fished his glasses from between the mattress and the wall, and flipped back a page so he could start at the beginning of the chapter. He doubted Ronan had any great measure of interest in the oral storytelling conventions of fifteenth century Welsh peasants, but he was happy to share. It felt something like returning the favor, no matter how insignificantly.
Ronan was out within five minutes, snoring softly near Gansey's woolen socked feet. Gansey closed the book with a sigh and traced over its canvas cover as he looked at Ronan's face. After a few minutes he removed his glasses and lay down beside him, curling an arm to rest his head on. He wasn't sure when sleep would come that night, but he was content to watch Ronan enjoy it in the meantime.