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Came in Like a Thunderstorm

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Theirs was a saga never-ending. Their love was something untouchable, a remarkable thing that exists inside them, outside them, all around them. Love. That word still caused his breath to hitch every time he thought of it, every time he knew that warmth inside he felt was this love seeping out of him as unconsciously as breathing. Adam Parrish felt so much love now, he could burst.

I love you, Ronan Lynch. I love you so much, sometimes it hurts to simply look at you. Breathing is like taking in a shot of cold air. You’re everything to me.

Late February in Los Angeles could be cold, or it could be hot. The weather here was strange and could never be assumed. Last week it was in the 70s. Today it could rain. It was just another reason why Adam hated Los Angeles. The only upside to this place was it was closer to San Francisco, closer to Ronan and Opal. Closer to home.

"Wonder what the weather will be like today?" he said, standing by the closed curtains at the balcony. Wendy had gotten him a rental for the weekend in the hills, overlooking everything below like the world were made of toy figurines. Small and plastic. He felt like a king this high up. The prospect amused him.

He was meant to be getting ready right about now, but he asked for a small reprieve. After all the interviews and meetings and lunches as of late, he needed it.

He pulled back the curtains and saw rain clouds, thick and dark and just waiting to burst. It was going to rain. Terrific.

"Mm, who fucking cares? Come back to bed."

Adam hummed. Even if he lost today, it was to be the best awards ceremony he'd ever been to, because Ronan was being dragged along with him. While he knew so much of it would annoy Ronan, he was amused by the idea. Ronan couldn't make it to the other ceremonies. Either it was when they were fighting, or he simply didn’t want to go, or there were things he needed to do to help finalize the purchase of a house. Their house. Even thinking about it made his skin tingle, his heart skip.

House hunting was new for him when they started searching, new for them both. Ronan confessed on the drive to their first open house that he moved into the first place that didn’t smell or have any obvious issues when he arrived in San Francisco, and that he didn’t really look that hard or very well. Worked out well enough, Adam thought, but he teased him out loud as their hands met over the center console, fingers sliding into place to where his fingertips felt Ronan’s pulse racing. Ultimately, they found a place in Noe Valley with enough space for all of them to avoid chaos. Three bedrooms and a large kitchen, close enough to the bookstore and Opal’s school it wouldn’t take too much to adjust. Not to mention, it included a backyard large enough for Adam’s wishes. He was most excited about that. Growing up, he dreamed of having a real backyard. It was a luxury he never thought he would get, and now he had one. They had one. Last week, they started moving things in, and just the reminder of it made Adam grin to himself. Hard to believe he could be so excited at the prospect of trekking all his belongings across country, yet here he was daydreaming of just that.

"What's the magic word?" he said, staring across the room at the mess of limbs and sheets on the bed. Sometimes it still took him a solid couple minutes to completely re-register this was his life. This was going to be his life for however long Ronan wished to be in it. Forever, if he could help it. He was happy. He was so goddamn happy.

Acting was meant to be that, and it still was. It helped him become the man he always dreamed of being and always knew he was meant to be. Acting helped him love himself and become stronger as a person. He worked hard for all that, for everything, and he was proud of it. But that day he walked into that bookstore by sheer chance, meeting one of the most beautiful men he'd ever seen, who couldn't flirt to save a life, and suddenly he thought of another path for himself. One he never imagined for himself before.

That first time he met Ronan was, unmistakably, a disaster. The second time, he thought he came on too hard too fast, until he realized he didn’t come on to him strong enough. Adam never felt that way before, the way Ronan made him feel when he made him smile. His heart was held up by strings inside, and they pinched and jerked every time Ronan gave him his full attention. There was a startling jolt in his stomach that he'd never experienced before with anyone. It wouldn't go away, this feeling, as it crept into his veins, his thoughts, his heart.

It was love. He fell in love. It took him a while to wrap his mind around it, to allow himself to feel deserving of it, but now it was all he could think of and all he could want. He wasn't letting it go.

"Sex?" Ronan mumbled, still half asleep and face buried in pillows. “Is the magic word sex?”

"That's not— it works too," Adam confessed, and he hurried back into bed with an eager stride. He jumped onto it next to Ronan, who groaned at the movement. Then he decidedly lay down on him, squeezing him from behind.

Ronan groaned again, louder and more exaggerated. The big baby.

"What are you doing?" he said, muscles twitching under Adam, felt even between the sheets. He was holding him aloft on his back, because Adam willingly put his whole weight there.

"Wake up, sleepy-face," Adam whispered daringly close to Ronan's ear. He liked making him fidget, having watched him do this for months. At first he thought it was because he didn't share the attraction or couldn't handle Adam's heavy hints. Then when they started dating, he realized it was because Ronan didn't know how to handle a compliment, didn't know how to express his more inner emotions without having to make a bad joke. That he was as clueless at this as Adam was. Adam couldn’t handle compliments, either. Not from Ronan. Not when so many times he wondered in the back of his head what Ronan even saw in him. Not when they made his whole face go red.

They were both terrible at expressing their emotions, but they've gotten better since then. A lot better. Honesty and expressing themselves and talking through fights. Okay, the last one still needed some work. But now they were a lot better. It just took a bad trip to New Mexico and a misunderstanding for it to happen.

Now he liked to make Ronan squirm when he did stupid shit like this, for the hell of it.

"Mmget off," Ronan mumbled. "Don't call me sleepy-face, dick.”

"Sleepy-face," Adam repeated, closer to the edge of Ronan's lips. He was full of such vigor and mirth, his body wanting to keep moving and his head clear and quiet, which made him hyper. Today was a good day for hyper. Today was a good day for a lot of things, and a lot of reasons. "Wake up wake up wake up-”

"Fuck you," Ronan moaned, and he turned and grabbed Adam from behind, a lot more limber than he acted half the time, and he pulled Adam down and onto his back. Adam yelped, which turned into a fit of laughter as Ronan rolled onto him, and then just lay there.

"Go back to sleep," he said, voice rumbling low with his cheek pressed to Adam's shoulder. “I like you better when you’re quiet.”

“Asshole.”

While he wouldn't mind spending forever in bed with Ronan, he did have other places to be today. They both did. He actually enjoyed attending the Oscars. The bullshit behind the awards wasn’t fun, but the free stuff they handed out was, and so were the interactions he made through the night and the parties after. This year, he was especially excited to show Ronan off to the world in a tuxedo. He already got a good glimpse of him in it the other night. Made his mind short circuit. He never took himself to be into someone dressing up, into the bourgeoisie idea of fanciful clothing making someone more attractive. Maybe it was the tie.

“Lynch, you’re like a freight truck,” he groaned. “Get off me.”

“What’s the magic word?”

Adam propped out his lower lip, which Ronan sucked on before he even got a chance to talk. Oh, he was happy. He could so easily slip into this happiness and never step out of it.

“What time do you think Opal’s going to wake up?” Adam fingered Ronan’s nape, as Ronan was super focused on his collarbone.

“Hopefully a long, long time from now,” he said, words reverberating on his skin.

“Do you want breakfast?” Adam was starving.

“Sure.”

“Will you make it?”

Ronan moaned as he peeled off him. Eyes rolling, dramatic and immature with his pouting. Then he sat up, sluggish at first. He looked to be giving in, until he kissed Adam. He tried to rid him of his pajama shirt then, nearly ripping the buttons off. Adam’s breath hitched thinking how lucky he felt. How simple this was for some people. He wouldn’t waste a minute not thinking about how amazing a moment like this was to even have. How much he loved Ronan. The way he reacted so grudgingly to the idea of cooking but he was joking. The way in which he reluctantly got up, moving slow to put on clothes. With a melodramatic huff, he set out for the hallway, leaving Adam there to laugh after him.

Ronan surprised him every day. Small surprises amongst the bigger ones. Taking him to art exhibits and making picnics. Writing letters and cooking him meals. He knew how Adam liked his eggs, his coffee, what his favorite brand of hand cream was. He knew when Adam liked to wake up on days he had nothing on the calendar. The temperature of the water in the shower. If he sneezes to grab him a tissue. If he shivers or scrunches his shoulders to his neck to unthinkingly offer a jacket. How after a long day he would rub Adam’s feet without needing to ask. Remembering not to surprise him on his side with the deaf ear, or whisper soft things in there, since the first day Adam mentioned it. What books he liked to read. These silly, tiny, precious things that made up a person that knew him so well.

They spent the rest of the morning alone. There were calls and things, but for the most part they were alone. Ronan brought the breakfast into the bedroom, and they ate in bed, careful not to spill or Adam wouldn’t let Ronan hear the end of it. There was eating, kissing, showering, amongst other things.

After breakfast, Opal was awake, and she made the rounds through the large house they were in. By the time she came into the living room, Adam had already been heckled by Ronan during phone calls that morning, and who was now watching very carefully nearby as he was talking to Gansey and Blue. They came down with them to LA, as makeshift sitters for Opal when she couldn’t come along to certain events, surrounding him now as he sat reading emails.

“Disneyland,” Opal said eagerly when she arrived, like she forgot that’s where she was going today. Adam could’ve brought her with, too, but only one guest could sit with him while the others were put in the back and god he didn’t want to subject her to an evening alone with Blue and Gansey surrounded by famous people. So they were going to Disneyland.

Opal came walking steadily into the room at a pace unmatched, energized entirely by the life she held in her arms. The toy poodle they adopted was still fairly young and small, asleep in her arms as she ran around the house. Ronan got her for him as a surprise just a couple weeks ago, and Opal immediately became obsessed.

Adam outstretched his arms for her, asleep or not, and Opal gleefully transferred the sleeping ball of fur into his lap.

“You’re not taking the dog to Disneyland,” he said, waking her up with a finger at her belly, rubbing until she made a sound. Dogs were so very precious and he was so very in love with this one. They could sense your mood better than people, sometimes better than yourself. There was a dog at the trailer park he used to know, several dogs really, and they would come to him and shower him with affection and pure joy, no matter how poor his day was. No matter his mood. And every time he felt so much better afterward.

He sat here touching at the brown fur of his own dog, his first dog. He remembered crying, wholly embarrassed, on the floor of their bedroom when Ronan handed a him a shoebox with holes in the lid. It was a very strange day. He thought Ronan was being a brat giving him this when they were meant to be packing.

“I think you’ll like this box,” he told him, and Adam offered him a stark glare.

“The more you try to put off packing, the worse it’ll be when we have our move in date. Stop messing around.”

When the box whimpered, Adam stilled with the tape roll in his hands. He turned, quick, and registered Ronan’s smug smirk.

“No,” he whispered, to which Ronan mocked with a breathy, “Yes.” And then the tears.

When Opal realized what Adam said a second ago, she tried to steal her from his lap. “I’m not leaving her here alone!” she protested. He twisted in the chair, frowning at her. Their little puppy whimpered, yawning and stretching.

“You’ll leave her with Wendy,” he said. He stared across her to Ronan, insisting he step in and say something. His jaw tightened, brow furrowing, while Ronan just stared. After a while, Ronan seemed to come out of a daze and jerked out of his slump into the wall. He moaned as he peeled off, his long limbs clunky in an effort to appear unwilling.

“I thought we chose a name for her,” Ronan said. Not helpful.

He rolled his eyes, continuing to scratch the puppy’s belly.

“Chainsaw is not a name for a dog,” he said, looking down at her and nodding as if she agreed.

“Well, yeah, you vetoed that one,” joined Opal. “What about Rocket?”

Adam’s frown only deepened.

“The two of you are ganging up on me,” he said.

Ronan and Opal exchanged a nasty grin.

Children, the pair of them. They were more alike than either would admit. Like one soul that had split apart and then found its way back together again.

Opal took the dog back in her arms, after some reluctance on Adam’s part. He watched how happy it made her, holding the little thing. Ronan was watching, too, until Adam caught his gaze again. He motioned with a lurch of his neck and adamant eyes for Ronan to be a parent instead of stare after him like a lustful teenager. There would be plenty of time for that later.

Caught staring, Ronan’s skin darkened with a flush before he bowed his head and then fixed his face. He was hardier when he reached for Opal, motioning for something.

“Here, hand me the dog, Opal,” he said.

“Rocket,” was all she replied.

Adam was exasperated.

“No,” he said.

“Chainsaw?” Ronan said, already forgetting what he was after when he began to pet the puppy’s belly.

“No.” Adam groaned, head in his hands.

“Well, I give up.” Ronan shrugged.

“Thank god,” Adam said, reluctant to agree. Opal was stubborn and Ronan was so easily sidetracked this morning. He stepped out of his hair to take their dog back into his arms, cradling her as she yipped. He nuzzled their faces together, smiling down at her. She playfully bit at the tip of his finger, so tiny, so delicate. His heart swelled when her brown eyes looked up, melted into her little gaze. As he sat back down, crossed legged in the chair, Ronan moved to pet her still. It felt more like an excuse to stand close to him, but he never minded that. Even now, when his hair was a mess, and his skin broken out from the stress.

“You don’t look at me like that anymore,” Ronan mumbled close.

“I never did.” Adam didn’t look up.

Roused into action, Ronan flicked at his ear. Adam hummed at him, amused. He finally looked up again, smiling. Ronan knew he was his favorite person in the world, that he would call him first for anything, even before Wendy and even before his friends. He was the love of his life. That flush of color was back, spreading along Ronan’s cheeks and ears. Maybe it was the way he was staring at him. Undeterred, he reached for his forehead with his lips. Ronan feigned reluctance, until lips met skin and he seemed to thaw into the small expression of love. Between them, their puppy moaned. His fingers poked very delicately at her nose, and Ronan swallowed.

“I was thinking Gerty,” Adam proposed.

Ronan stepped back to line up with Opal, both looking funny at him.

“Gerty?“ they both said. Ronan wrinkled his nose a no.

“Yeah,” he said. “Like Gerty Cori.” Blank looks met his words. He was baffled. He looked to Gansey and Blue who stood on the sidelines of this entire exchange, silent. They looked just as confused. “She was a biochemist.” The blank looks continued. “Opal, you should know this. The first American woman to win a Nobel prize in science?” Dead silence. He was in utter disbelief. “What are they teaching at your school?”

“I don’t want to call out Gerty.” Opal pouted, looking ready to storm out. She was becoming a teenager more every day. Apparently she had a girlfriend, and when Adam first heard this he thought isn’t she a big young? and then oh my god! He felt proud of her for feeling comfortable enough in her skin, despite everything, despite the paparazzi. She was brazen about it now on this last month, as if all that was left was Adam’s kind words before she told the world. She was still talking, condemning his choice of a name. “Gerty get your dinner. Come here, Gerty. Doesn’t sound right,” she protested.

“Opal, it’s his choice.” Adam smiled at him. “However weird it may be.” The smile withered.

“Says the man that wanted to name her after an appliance,” he maintained.

Ronan rolled his eyes and moved close again, reaching for the dog’s head. His fingers were so gentle as they glided back and forth her little scalp. “Hello, Gerty,” he said, soft.

Adam felt chills up his back. Opal groaned as she looked between them, having realized she lost. Ronan bent closer for a kiss, and when it became all too distracting that it allowed little Gerty to hop off his lap, she groaned even louder.

“Guys, step in here, would you?” She seemed to be talking to the two ghosts in the corner, who talked over one another in protest of helping. Not our place. This is between you and your guardians. I can’t name pets. So on. They disappeared before the kiss was through.

“She’s staying here with Wendy,” Adam told Ronan.

“I’m confused.” Ronan squinted. “I thought she was going to Disneyland.”

“Who are you talking about?” Adam looked after Gerty who was scrambling on the hardwood floor. “The dog?”

“No, Opal.” Ronan groaned.

“What?” Now they were both confused.

“Also, how is she not sick of Disneyland yet?” Ronan slumped into Adam’s lap. He wasn’t a small man, and Adam sucked in a breath at the weight shift. He sat in his lap sideways, moving Adam’s phone out of his hands and onto the floor with a tint clunk. He shot Adam an apologetic look upward before relaxing into him. “We went yesterday. There’s nothing else to see.”

Adam vividly recalled Ronan insisting they go on the Indiana Jones ride and then asking if he still had the costume handy when Opal was distracted by Gansey screaming.

“There’s that whole other park we skipped,” Adam murmured, leaning into Ronan’s hand at his cheek. He was ruining all of Adam’s hard work of focusing on his duties. “The one with the tower thing and the cars.”

“Oh, shit, really?” Ronan tensed. “Why didn’t we go to that one?”

Adam rolled his eyes. “We can go back to it tomorrow if you want to.”

“With the dog?” Ronan sounded hopeful.

“I am so glad i made the decision early on to never leave this dog with the two of you alone.”

“Hey!” Ronan playfully bit at the side of his neck, and it tickled more than anything. “I lived on a farm growing up.”

“I pity the cows you had to take care of,” Adam mused.

Ronan gently took his face in his hands and gave him the softest kiss of the day; a tender, slow thing that he felt down to his toes. Then he hopped off him and grabbed him round the waist, lifting him off the chair.

“What are you—?” He looked sideways at Gansey and Blue laughing nearby. Ronan was defiant of his words and insistent pushing, and walked to the bedroom.

“Hey, put me down!” Adam struggled. “We already had sex this morning. I have to get ready!”

“Oh, fuck off with all that,” Ronan moaned. “You don’t have to for another four goddamn hours, Parrish.”

“It takes time to look good,” Adam dictated.

Not speaking, Ronan shut the door with the heel of his foot. He stepped over clothes and then threw Adam onto the bed. He climbed atop him, rolling his eyes. “I’ll teach you to mock my farming skills,” he said.

His hands got to work, and Adam screamed with laughter for the second time that morning.

“Lynch, stop.” It hurt to breathe. “I hate you!”

“Why did I buy you a house then?” Ronan whispered in his hearing ear, like a prayer amongst the play.

“Because you love me.” Adam shut his eyes tight, always a fan of this game they played, teasing about their affection in such a way it only proved more why they loved each other. His heart still twitched when reminded of all Ronan’s done for him, all he’s done for Ronan. The man’s hands stilled at Adam’s stomach, now just feeling along his skin there for the rhythm of his breathing. He sighed along his neck, and Adam reveled in the sensation.

Wordless, Ronan sat up a bit. When he looked down at at him, it was with a dangerous grin. Adam swallowed, hard. He was half tempted to call off everything and curl up on the sofa with Ronan, order in takeout and watch the Oscars in their pajamas.

Like two nights ago, the first night they flew down to Los Angeles, and they were laying in bed together. Adam’s feet were in Ronan’s lap as he was reviewing lines in a script, a pen in his mouth and a highlighter tucked behind his ear.

Ronan was mindlessly touching at his foot as he was reading a new book, and they were simply co existing in the same space. Quiet and simple and happy. Something he’s longed for his whole life. Something he’ll never have to long for again.

Tonight was going to be chaos. Adam supposed he liked nights like that, too. When there was a balance. Getting to brag about Ronan, brag about the man he loved and how he was his. He was his and they were in love and Adam moved in officially two weeks ago and it was all happening.

How lucky he felt.

How it almost all went away in a blink because of one stupid fight. One jerk paparazzo. One bad decision. One act of stubbornness on both ends.

“I can’t wait for all this to be over tomorrow,” Ronan said, and his gestures were slowed, controlled. “To have you to myself again.”

Adam snorted. “Patience, my boy.”

Ronan groaned, and rolled his eyes melodramatically. He collapsed upon him again, tempting fate not to be thrown off the balcony.

“No!” Adam pushed at his shoulder. “You big oaf! If you suffocate me, there won’t be a tomorrow.”

“Threatening me now?” His voice was guttural. “Kind of sexy. Pull my hair.”

Adam frowned, thinking about the joke too seriously. “You cut it all off.”

Ronan smirked. “Hair grows back,” he teased. “Patience, my boy.”

Adam rolled his eyes, until Ronan kissed him. Soft as the rain outside, a gentle breeze before a storm, Ronan kissed him. Adam wanted that storm, but Ronan liked the slow. The sweet. Sometimes it made him cry. After their first kiss, he cried on the plane, because he never experienced anything like that before. All the men and women before Ronan didn’t give him that glow inside he felt every time he was near.

The kiss ended, and when Ronan pulled back, he was tracing a finger along Adam’s freckled cheek. He was obsessed with Adam’s freckles. Even now it still made him blush. He ran a hand through Adam’s hair.

Adam was happy to have his old color back. But at the same time he got a thrill every time Ronan got caught staring or lusting or looming over it when it was still black. He ran his own hand over Ronan’s close shaved scalp, fingering the hot skin. He had the most beautiful eyes and beautiful face and beautiful heart.

When Ronan looked at him, he wasn’t staring at the celebrity and he wasn’t looking at the boy who came from the dirt. When he looked at him, he was looking at Adam.

“I love you, Ronan.”

“Super duper.”

Adam snorted. The romanticism of it all was over. “You’re a jackass.”

“What’s that?” Ronan bent his ear to his lips. “I’ve got a nice ass? Why, thank you, Parrish.”

Adam tried, but couldn’t stop the smile that formed. Warm and softened, he was so deeply, unbelievably in love with Ronan. They owned a house together now. They lived together now. A place to call home. A man to have his heart.

“When we’re old, I’m putting you in a home,” he said.

“Ouch.” Ronan pretended he was serious and placed a hand to his chest. “Really hurt, that one. What if you go first?”

“Then I’ll haunt you instead.”

“Is Whoopi Goldberg in this scenario?”

That movie you know?” Adam couldn’t stop laughing to a point his face hurt.

 

~~~~~~~~~

 

When the final hours drew closer, the rest of Adam’s team showed up to get him and Ronan ready. Wendy was there, in her usual state of perpetual and existential panic. She was only mean as a poor way of deflecting her own insecurities. Still, he remembered the fight they had about how she talked to Ronan, and then the other fight when she yelled at him to talk to Ronan.

All these years of their friendship and work relationship, and she knew how to handle the people in his life, because usually they always wanted something. But not Ronan. Ronan just wanted him.

Wendy was more excited to see Gerty than she was to see Ronan, who took offense to that. He joked, “None of your friends appreciate me.”

Adam disagreed. When Ronan was helping pack up some of his vitals from New York, he introduced him to his friends. First, he took him around the city to all his favorite spots, some for nostalgia purposes and some because he truly loved them. Ronan’s favorites became the bookstores, after begrudgingly admitting they were pretty nice though, “Mine’s got more panache” he felt he needed to declare. The places were special, but Adam introducing Ronan to his friends was more so. Friends from his brief modeling days, school, and acting. They took to him immediately, after hearing story after story about him for months. It was embarrassing seeing their expressions shift when it clicked that this tall man was “the Ronan Lynch.”

“The infamous Ronan Lynch!” his friend, Marcus, said upon first sight.

They teased Adam for talking about him so much, which later Ronan reprised in the privacy of a moment alone in a pizza place uptown. They teased Ronan for being Ronan, who eventually blended in so well in the camaraderie and heckling that Adam released a breath he hadn’t expected to be holding. Even when Ronan was at first a little standoffish, it didn’t take long to open him up. Of course, they embarrassed Adam in front of him, but Adam witnessed enough suffering with Ronan’s well meaning friends that he supposed it was time he suffered the other end of it with his.

He was tentatively keeping his apartment in New York, for when they planned to go back there in the summer and when he needed to work there for long lengths. He had plans to start getting back into theatre, do a few plays before his next big feature. It would be inevitable in their future for him to be away sometimes for chunks at a time, but Ronan said he could visit more often now because Gansey helped out at the shop on a more permanent basis, and because Ronan was getting less stubborn about letting Adam buy him things like plane tickets. Opal could visit on weekends when she didn’t have school. They’d figure it out as it came, he thought. They had a lifetime to figure it out.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Adam and Ronan arrived to the Dolby Theater around the same time as everyone else, hoisted into the chaos of red carpet photographers and interviews.

“You ready?” Adam asked Ronan, taking his hand before they came to a full stop.

“Be warned, in this tux I may overshadow you and steal all the attention. You have no one to blame but yourself.” He flashed him his charmed grin.

Adam gave him a light shove and a snicker by the time the door was opened for them.

On the carpet, Ronan tried to hang back. His head kept down as he avoided photos and interviews. Adam told him to take it all in as he felt comfortable, until one televised interview asked about the “surly man with his eyes down standing over there”.

“Oh.” Adam looked over his shoulder. “My boyfriend. He’s shy.”

“I am not.” The sheer insinuation jolted his step forward and he came stomping forward into view. He was lousy with a blush, and Adam could only assume he was embarrassed. He took his hand, dragging him close.

“Ronan!” The interviewer knew exactly who he was, and she spoke gleefully like a friend. He could already see the dismay in Ronan’s eyes. “Oh, Ronan. Ronan, hi!”

Ronan opened his mouth to say something stupid, but Adam squeezed his hand. With a kiss to his cheek, he prompted him to calm.

“Hello, Interviewer,” Ronan said, surly.

Adam turned his head to fake a cough into his free hand, masking his laugh with the sound.

“You two are one of the hottest couples,” the interviewer went on to say. She was very hyper.

“We’re lukewarm, really,” Ronan said sincerely.

Adam elbowed him. He was such a jerk, he loved him so.

“There’s buzz around you two, you know.”

In a state of pretend panic, Ronan’s brow raised fast and high. His eyes widened, alert.

“Bees?”

The interviewer faltered, finally. Her smile twitched. She only just realized what he was doing.

Adam leaned in close to his shoulder to whisper, “You are the worst,” he said with a grin. But he loved it.

During another interview, Adam brought Ronan along with him again. He tried to hold back, resisting him at first. When Adam let him go, that’s when he shot him a smile and slid into him like a lock was moving into place.

“Who are you wearing?” someone asked Ronan.

“What?”

“He’s wearing Tom Ford,” Adam answered. “So am I, actually.”

“Well you both look stunning.”

Ronan’s look off that was hinting at what he said in the car. He was being awfully playful now.

“Parrish, more so,” he said, and it surprised him. Adam expected him to make a joke. He sucked in his lower lip, trying not to smile too wide.

“Aw.” His expression shifted when he remembered they were being taped. “We don’t hear much from you up north. How do you feel about dating someone so constantly in the limelight?”

Still staring at Adam, Ronan smiled. Adam smiled back. This felt like it ought to be a private moment, but he reveled in it all the same.

“I’d rather it was lemon, but I don’t mind it,” he said. “If it means I get to have this nerd in my life.”

Adam rolled his eyes.

At the next interview, they were two questions keep again when Ronan was asked, “How’s your daughter doing, Ronan? Where is she tonight?”

Adam’s stomach dropped. He could tell Ronan was made uneasy about all this and was about to put his foot in his mouth. So he took his hand once more, and raised it up to his chest. “Thank you, Maureen. We should get going.”

“Of course. Of course.” Maureen called after them, “Good luck tonight!”

“Thank you,” Adam said over his shoulder.

After that, he didn’t drag him into any interviews. His new publicist, Joanne, marketed him to other interviews down the line, having him ignore certain others she knew would be wasteful. Ronan stood back with her for the remainder of them.

Then they followed everyone else inside.

“Do those things usually take that long?” Ronan tugged at his bow tie, a gesture that made Adam’s mind melt for a flash of a second.

Adam nodded once. “Yes.”

The lines in Ronan’s forehead deepened, then loosened in the span of a few seconds. Adam sucked in a breath as he watched in silent wonder of the structure of Ronan’s face. Elegant curves of his cheeks and chin and nose, ears that stuck out just a little, in a more noticeable way now that he shaved off all his hair. The first thing Adam noticed about him was how striking his features were, that jaw and those eyes and that quiet mind working behind them both. The second thing he noticed was how his body was structured, but that was a thought for another time. Never mind his wide shoulders or his hardworking, strong hands or his very nice legs that worked well in a tuxedo.

He traced a finger along the edge of Ronan’s lips, which naturally held shy or sharp smiles (and dimples, to boot), but now were a thin line to match his furrowed brow.

“Shit,” was uttered from those lips. A quirk at the edge of them made Adam sigh, easily ignoring all the passerby around them. “No wonder you made us arrive so damn early. Ooh, a bar.”

With that, Adam felt himself be dragged across the foyer of the Dolby and past the crowds of people waiting to get inside, to one of the bars being set up in the corner. Adam didn’t smile with him as they leaned into the bar, Ronan waving down a bartender.

“You don’t drink,” he said.

“Two seltzer waters with lime,” Ronan ordered, then he turned to Adam. “No, I don’t. But I’m thirsty.”

“Good.” Adam’s spirit heightened, mood lifted. He raised his hand again to Ronan’s face, over his cheek, fingering his bottom lip that jutted out in such a way it sometimes filled Adam with terribly inappropriate thoughts. Such as now. “Because either way this goes, I planned to have my way with you tonight.”

Behind a blush, Ronan grinned at him a little shyly. “Didn’t you do that last night?” he said more brazenly than he visibly expressed.

So badly did Adam want to bite his lip or push him at the shoulder or tear off his jacket and tie. These last few weeks he’s been so overwrought with hunger for him, and the constant feed only made the hunger deepen down into his bones. Because he wanted it. Because he could have it. Because this was going to be the rest of his life. Plus, he may have been making up for lost time, all those weeks and months they were apart or didn’t yet have this. If he filled the days up with it, maybe in some strange universal way, he was balancing things out.

It didn’t help Ronan kept looking at him like that, like he was his whole world and that he didn’t notice other A-list celebrities pass and acknowledge them. Allowing himself a small but public gesture, he bent forward and raised his lips to Ronan’s for a kiss. Sucking on Ronan’s lower lip, he felt Ronan step into him with his own urgency and want. The seltzers arrived not long after, and it was then Ronan gently guided him off. Disappointed, Adam swallowed, his lips still tingling.

“Mm,” Ronan said, still half lost in the idea of a kiss. His eyes were still focused shut, as he ran a hand over the length of his shaved scalp. “Hands off the merchandise,” he said. “Don’t mess up my hair.”

Adam grunted, annoyed.

“Come on, pretty boy,” he said with exasperation, reaching for the drinks and handing one off to Adam. “Let’s go find our seats.”

With a whirl, Ronan chugged his drink, gagged at the bubbles, then wiped childishly at his mouth all in one sweep of a movement. Adam didn’t even bother drinking his, taking Ronan by the hand and guiding him in with the masses.

Inside, the room was pretty much the same as last time he sat in here. A big open space with rows and rows and rows of seats, the stage ahead smaller than it appears on television. Adam walked down the slow slope towards the front, getting a front row seat this year somehow. Behind him, held together by their hands, Ronan noticeably slowed as they entered, his gaze raising as he took it all in. Adam smiled, watching him excitedly eye the balcony seats above them as he twirled, bumping shoulders with another nominee in the process.

“Shit,” he said, not even acknowledging what he’d done, but still reacting to the breadth of space in here. “I almost forgot just how fancy all this was.”

Adam remembered almost having a panic attack at his first awards show and throwing up in the bathroom after he presented an award, from the sheer luxury of it all. He nodded, tugging at Ronan’s hand to keep moving.

“I would tell you that you get used to it,” he said, guiding him along the tiers of seats, filling with more and more jitters every step, “but I’m still not used to it myself.”

At that, he half expected arms to wrap around him or a kiss to his temple, even a squeeze of his hand. Instead, Ronan full on stopped in the middle of the aisle, their hands slipping apart. When he turned back, he found Ronan frozen, staring off to their right. Returning to him, Adam realized he’d been talking to air, and returned to him to see what the fuss was about.

“What is it?” He tried to follow Ronan’s gaze, but his eyes were held on an area full of a dozen or more people, so it was hard to judge what he was staring at. “See someone you recognize?”

Ronan inclined slow and quiet, as if they were hunting an animal and he didn’t want to spook it off. “It’s Harrison Ford,” he whispered. Nerves spiked his every syllable.

Adam saw him amongst the heads in the collective they were facing, and he almost laughed. He touched at Ronan’s arm, biting back his amusement, his own nerves calming at the quaint delight in this. The poor boy.

“Yes,” he agreed. “Indeed it is. Did you want to say hi?”

Ronan shook his head bountifully. “I couldn’t.”

“You can.” Adam guided his hand back into Ronan’s, who was sweating. If he didn’t know any better, he would be jealous. A sliver of him maybe was. “You’re allowed to talk to people,” he reminded.

“Thanks for the approval,” Ronan said a little snappy. He caught himself with a shake of his head, his other hand coming up to pinch at his collar. When Harrison moved to talk to someone behind him, Ronan ducked his gaze. “I think it’s better to live the fantasy.”

“Come on.” Adam knew better than to let Ronan talk himself out of this. “I hear he’s a bit of an asshole,” he said, in some form of comfort. “I can see the appeal.”

With a scowl, Ronan looked to want to deter him, but the thought of them having a similar personality seemed to appease him more than anything. His fingers continued to play with his collar. “How do I look?”

He was messing up his tie, Adam thought. His hand came to stop the man from fussing with himself. “Like a sexy disaster,” he teased. Ronan shot him another dark look. “You’re the hottest ass in here,” he continued, roasting Ronan with compliments and watching color scatter along his sharp cheekbones. “Come on.”

His free hand raised to roam along Ronan’s forehead, then his stubbled cheeks. Ronan was trying for a beard, and so far it was little to nothing, but even just that little was pretty sexy.

“You know,” Ronan spoke breathily as they backtracked to cross aisles, his eyes hooked on Harrison the entire time, “these months have been great, but I’m sorry. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t live a lie. I’m still madly in love with him.”

“I hate you,” Adam laughed and dragged him forward.

“Fuuuuuuuuuck,” Ronan whispered under his breath.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Harrison was nice enough. Ronan only embarrassed himself a little, which was a miracle in Ronan's world. Adam got a congratulations from Harrison and his wife before he managed to introduce them all to one another, and at that point he could physically feel his boyfriend melting into him.

For a fleeting second, Adam was jealous he never reacted that way to their first encounter, was never starstruck, but his reaction to Adam for the first time was certainly a lot better than that. A real fluster generated by real emotions, not the kind built up by fantasy or attachment to fictional imagery. He remembered the first time Ronan looked at him at that bookstore many moons ago, the sharp glance and briefest little double take as a spark ignited and scratched at Ronan’s voice for a sliver. Thinking about it now, here, he smiled.

Meeting Harrison was a bewildering moment that he was pretty sure Ronan would never shut up about now, but he wanted him to have it. He wanted to have it, too, because of that look of pure shock when Harrison said “Ronan Lynch” out loud. It made him have to bite back another laugh behind a cupped hand.

Eventually, they found their way to their seats, after being pulled into several more conversations and congratulations. When you’re a nominee that year, people collect greetings with you like a bingo card, making sure they’ve said hi to every nominee at least for a second. He was tired already by the time they sat down, thankful the others in their row were as winded as them.

When the ceremony got started, it was the same old stuff. The host that year included Adam and his space film in their monologue of jokes, and the crowd all laughed as he wanted to sink in his seat. They continued to sit through speech after speech after speech, Ronan offering commentary every time, despite not having seen most - if any - of the films nominated for anything. He could tell that Ronan remaining calm and quiet for the majority of the time was hard for him, just sitting there with little to do. Every so often, he was finding excuses to touch Adam, such as playing with his sleeve, picking nonexistent lint off his shoulder, resting his chin there soon after, and even at one point stretching his legs out and accidentally tripping someone who walked past them. His leg bounced in reflection of the lack of movement, lack of interest being kept. Adam knew Ronan wanted to be supportive, but even he was getting drained.

There was excitement and applause when the editor of Adam’s film won, more and more rising inside him alongside anxiety and nerves as the set designer and costume designer suddenly took home the gold, too. This was happening. It was all happening. His stomach was twisting into hard, tight knots. Squeezing Ronan’s hand was all he could do to manage the possibility - the long, impossible possibility - maybe he would win tonight.

“Are you bored?” he finally asked during a commercial break, when they could rise and walk for a few moments before being rounded up back into their seats. As he asked this, Ronan was pacing back and forth down the row like he was an old detective from a mystery film on the cusp of discovering who the killer was.

“No,” he said during one lap. “No,” he said again, coming back around. “I just didn’t realize how much of this was sitting.”

Adam noted this with a twitch of hilarity. “You’ve never seen the Oscars before,” he surmised. “Have you?”

That jolted his boyfriend to a gasping halt. There was that little hint of color flaring in Ronan's face, his cheeks, his eyes a bit wider. Then the reaction was gone, and he was scowling, shoving gently at Adam’s right shoulder with a horribly fake laugh.

“Jerk,” he said. “I’ve seen it before. I'm cultured.”

“Mm.” Adam broke out a teasing smile as he tried to nod in feigned belief. Ronan rolled his eyes and came in for a kiss to shut him up before he even gained a chance to say something cutting. The pair of them laughed in the short embrace, before being interrupted by someone he knew as a producer, followed by a few others he’s considered coworkers or work friends in the past.

Congratulations were had, hands were shaken, and everyone started getting warned to sit down as the commercials were just about up. As Ronan slithered back into his seat, his legs stretched out in the aisle and distractingly long and slender, he breathed rough against Adam’s hearing ear, a muted expression filling his face.

“A little late, don't you think?” he mumbled, and Adam caught the tail of a look of disapproval.

Adam shrugged. “I never see them,” he said. He saw Ronan’s brow furrow in mild judgment. “Shut up.”

“I'm getting restless,” Ronan finally confided, groaning like a five year old being asked to sit through an entire film. “How long does this last?”

Adam deemed it worthy to roll his eyes, even if a smile was fighting to frame his face. “You’re an actual child,” he said, to which Ronan pouted upon hearing. “You asked to come. You knowingly set yourself up for failure. I’m not going to babysit you.”

Ronan repeated back what Adam said in a soft, mocking tone. At the same time, he reached into his jacket’s inner breast pocket, pulling out his phone. Before Adam had a chance to insult him, or comment how he wouldn’t expect Ronan to be taking out his phone, he caught a glimpse at Ronan’s screen. On it were notifications from Opal.

Disneyland is great. I’m never leaving! Why can’t we live in LA?

“Oh, barf.” Ronan feigned a very loud gag, and Adam had to elbow him to shut up. “She wants to move here.”

Adam frowned. “Tell her that’s never happening.”

His tone managed to make Ronan’s grin spread wide. He was utterly kissable in moments like these.

More messages were filtering in as they exchanged their look of agreement. There, on his screen, were new photos of Opal and others at Disneyland, having been there for most of the day. One photo was of Opal, Blue, and Gansey on the tower ride. Gansey looked to be crying, Blue was screaming, and Opal was grinning with her hands raised above her head. Attached were more photos of Opal, posing in front of a bunch of things, some with Gansey posing with her, some with Blue, and some even with cast members from the park. At some point during the day, she must have bought a second pair of ears. Yesterday she was wearing C3PO ears. Today, she was wearing Alice in Wonderland ones.

The last photo, Gansey was mid scream as a pigeon was attacking his ice cream cone.

“Oh shit,” Ronan said with a snort. “I’m framing this.” His laugh carried as the music rose, the cameras were back on, one of them tilting towards them as a presenter appeared to approach the stage. The commercial break was done. Adam knocked Ronan’s phone down into his lap, screen down, as a result.

“Hey.” Ronan frowned, moving to retrieve it. “I wasn’t done with that.”

“Yeah,” Adam leaned to talk into his ear, “you are, unless you want me to murder you on live television.”

“Kinky.”

An eye roll was reserved for later, afraid the cameras would catch it and think it was about the show. Next to him, Ronan was still laughing to himself about the picture.

While Gansey’s certainly grown on Adam over the last year, and especially the last month, living with him in a clustered house not built for four people was a little stifling. Especially when it became an unofficial five with Blue staying over all the time.

There were the pajamas he knew Gansey had of him, the posters, the DVD collection, an autographed picture he found in Gansey’s things when he was cleaning the living room that he didn’t remember signing. It made Opal laugh. It made Ronan cringe. It just surprised Adam mainly.

Blue and he were extremely happy together, which made him grateful for the other, having grown so close to Blue she was more like his sister at this point. He never expected to visit that beautiful, cold city and come away with so much treasure, so many relationships that solidified in his heart and made him feel so whole.

Even still with this newfound respect and fondness for Gansey, Adam couldn’t wait to get out of that house and into theirs; not just because it was impossible to have sex in a room with thin walls next to Opal’s, but because he really wasn’t sure how much longer he could stand seeing himself staring back via pajama briefs when he was making himself coffee in the morning. Living in that house this last month had been quite the experience. Driving Opal to school. Listening to Gansey’s strange music and watching him talk to his mint plants. Seeing Ronan fret about the move when he thought no one was looking. He especially liked walking in on him talking so sweetly to the dog when he didn’t expect someone to overhear, then teasing him for it for the next few hours. To think only a year ago, he was sitting here alone, or well not exactly alone. He brought one of his friends, Fletcher, with him, but it wasn’t the same as this. Holding hands squished together, shoulders touching, feet pressed in, sharing smiles and secrets and being discreetly cynical and snide together about outfits and pretense. Last year, he didn’t think he wanted this. He thought work was enough, his friends were enough, and maybe they would’ve been if he never met Ronan. But this was better.

Thinking of Fletcher reminded him he still needed to make plans to invite his friends to his and Ronan’s when it was moved in, as they asked. They were fascinated with Ronan, some superficially because he wasn’t lacking in the looks department, and some more genuinely because of how he was with Adam. It was apparently very when Ronan made Adam smile, versus anyone or anything else, according to his friends. He didn’t think anything of it, until they brought it up.

“Parrish?” There was a jerk of his shoulder, a nose to his cheek. “Parrish. Adam. Adam.”

“What?” Adam lost his train of thought and it had been speeding off the rails for a while. “What is it?”

Ronan smirked, and he knew that meant he was going to hear about this again later, but he didn’t say much else beyond, “It’s your category.”

“What?” Last year, he was less nervous, because he genuinely didn’t trust he would win, and when he didn’t he wasn’t disappointed or shocked. But this? Two years in a row? For a role he was most proud of? With Ronan here? He swallowed.

A finger was wriggling in front of his eyes as he looked up to the stage.

"You had this nerdy dazed look on your face like you’re taking a shit,” Ronan said. “I worried you left the planet for a minute there.”
“Asshole.”

“Hey,” Ronan’s hand moved to squeeze his, right there with his other hand. “I wanted to make sure you were still in there when they say your name.”

Adam shot him a silencing look.

“Don’t jinx it,” he hissed.

Ronan shrugged. He was very calm and cool about all this. "Can’t jinx something that’s obvious.”

“You’re jinxing it harder.” He pinched his eyes shut and blocked out the ceremony happening before him. “The powers that be probably changed the name on the card just now.”

Next to his ear, he heard Ronan chuckle. “The powers that be,” he said back at him, playful. “You sure think so highly of yourself to assume your name is on that card.”

Adam opened his eyes just so he could roll them, knowing full well this teasing could turn into a serious argument if he let it, or them angrily making out front row with cameras on them at every angle. He shoved at his shoulder as the camera closest blinked on when they announced his name as part of the nomination list off. It was impossible not to be nervous.

“Even if you don’t win,” Ronan whispered above the clip from his film played out, “I’m still proud of you.”

Adam was mute, watching himself acting on the screens around them. The whole room sat in stilled silence as they scene the producers picked for him played out. When it was over, there was a shout of praise form someone several rows back amidst the clapping, before it all faded away in time for the next name on the nominees list. Ronan shook at his shoulder, both in praise and to help snap him out of whatever he was feeling. These nerves were about as numbing as when Opal outed him to Ronan, his feelings being displayed on the table between them to be ridiculed and rejected. He remembered there was a very distinct urge to cry or laugh. He couldn’t remember if he did either. Most of that day was a bit of a blur, and thinking back on it now probably wasn’t the healthiest or most calming decision he could’ve made.

The moment was upon them, as the other nominee’s clip played out, and the music swelled while the presenter held up the envelope.

“Fuck,” Ronan cursed under his breath, and Adam finally snapped his gaze away to Ronan. “Damn near breaking my hand. I need it, you know, for masturbating.”

Adam burst out a laugh so loud it pierced the sound barrier around him. It would forever be his documented reaction by onlookers to when they announced his name on the card.

He almost didn’t hear it, not over his own laugh, or the swell of applause. But he saw it in Ronan’s expression, his eyes jerking to meet Adam’s, his amusement no longer gone, replaced by something more tender.

“Dude, I think you’re being called to the principal’s office.”

“What?’
“I think you won.”

“What?”

“Adam.”

And it was then Adam fully realized what was happening. A camera was squarely in his face when he turned from Ronan to look at the stairs ahead. Some people were standing, others were moving for him, like his producers and costars, whom he hadn’t yet gotten the chance to speak to. His body felt like it was going to shut down, his nerves were everywhere, joints twitching, heart racing like a speeding car.

With glee, he grabbed Ronan’s face with both hands and buried him in a kiss that halted the world, and prompted Ronan to go limp under him. When he pulled away, his boyfriend’s eyes were closed for the briefest of instances.

“Okay, I’m good, thanks.” Adam swallowed, rising from his seat. His nerves were temporarily quelled enough to stand, as Ronan sat there staring back at him with an indiscernible face. He smiled at Ronan, who smiled back, all teeth.

On stage, he needed a minute to breathe. A long, hard swallow before he moved to take the statue. Cheek kisses were exchanged, though he wished they weren’t, and then he was there. In front of the microphone, all the lights and cameras on him, the audience and the world watching. He was blinded, silenced. Thankfully he could still see Ronan, and that’s all he needed.

“I just…." He stared down at the envelope, checking this wasn’t a mistake. There it was, in bold lettering, his name and everything. The statue was rightfully his, heavy and thin. “Well, shit,” he said with a nervous breathy laugh. “This is really happening, isn't it?”up here. The gold man was staring up at him from his waist. He didn’t know what to do with it now that he had it, now that he achieved something so coveted by his industry. His eyes swept over what members of the audience he could see, eyes adjusting to the lights on him. “This means so much to me, thank you. To be recognized at all is a lot, but to be recognized by portraying a bisexual man who is as complex and wonderful and outspoken as Caleb, it means a great amount to me. It's unfortunate we still have to talk about LGBTQIA rights, about anyone's rights, and I know this film is a period piece but it's also very current in its story. We love who we love, and it's unjust and inhuman to say one's love is more real than another's because one's love might be straight and the other isn’t.”

He swallowed again, taking a deep breath. With shut eyes, he did his best to recollect all the speeches he memorized over the years, and what it was people often said or didn’t say on stage.

“I want to thank my manager, Wendy, who has kept me afloat since day one,” he said, “and I want to thank my agent, and my teachers at Yale who always believed in me. I want to thank the cast and crew, because without them I genuinely wouldn't be up here. And the director, Todd, you without a doubt were amazing to work with. My friends, for never letting me doubt myself. Um, I'm probably missing so many names right now. Fuck. I didn't think of making a speech, because I didn’t think I would win, and I know how that sounds. Everyone always says that, but it’s true, and I’m a planner. I plan things. I practice things, but for once I didn’t, and now I wish I had. And now I realize I just cursed twice on live television. Sorry. I hope you’re not watching this, Opal.”

His gaze swept over to Ronan, who was smiling at him, wider when he noticed him looking back. Adam’s eyes held on to his, feeling the rest of the room wash away in the light, feeling himself calm with every second that ticked by.

“I share this with every kid who comes from a broken home,” he then said, “who has to learn what the words love and family mean. Who weren’t given the privilege of feeling that love all their lives. You’re more than your trauma. You’re brilliant, and you can do amazing things. Believe in yourself, and know that you are capable of greatness. I— I came from a bad home, a bad place, and— and look, I just won this little guy.”

Looking down at the Oscar, he registered how heavy it was. Sucking in a breath, he thought aloud, “You don’t expect it to be so heavy.”

A trickling of laughter ran across the room like a wave. Looking up at the large audience, he almost dropped his statue, seeing a note that he needed to wrap up.

“I, uh, especially want to thank the family I've made since I made this film,” he added. “With a very outspoken thirteen year old and her... dad. The best things that have ever happened to me. I love you, Ronan, and I share this with you. Because without you I wouldn't know what love feels like.” As he stepped away from the microphone, raising his statue in hand, the music started to rise. “But I only share it figuratively, because this baby is mine,” he added louder than the music. “Thank you. Ok, I'm going now.”

When the music was fully blasting, the applause was thunderous, and he was grinning ear to ear, being escorted off the stage. He cradled the Oscar in his hands like if he let it go, it would be taken from him. Not thinking clearly, he couldn’t remember the name of the actress who handed him the statue tonight, but she was walking beside him off the stage as he used his shoulder to dab at his eyes.

“That was really beautiful,” she said, going off about something he couldn’t outright focus on.

“Thanks,” he said, voice wavering unmistakably.

On this side of things, he learned firsthand and on the fly what happened after you won your Oscar, from being guided out to a room nearby and given a moment to come down. But he wouldn’t come down from this all night. It wasn’t until he was given a glass in his hand did he register he was shaking. Someone offered champagne, but he had enough brain function to ask for water.

Shortly after, he was taken to another room, to take pictures with his statue. The other Oscar winners in the acting categories were already there, waiting to pose. The four of them stood together with their matching statues, and it was surreal to think about even in the moment.

After, he was guided through to a third room, which was already filled with press and cameras. Offered up to them like an entree, he was led to a microphone on a tiny makeshift stage. He remembered names he earlier forgot, thanking everyone he didn’t the first time around, apologizing to them even though the likelihood of them seeing this was slim.

“I was nervous,” he added, honesty the best policy here. The journalists all laughed in good humor. They were probably used to this.

Then came questions about the film, about the experience and the shock of winning. After answering all he expected, then came a curveball.

“How’s your relationship with Ronan?”

“Obviously going very poorly,” he said, dryly. “That’s why I dragged him here. The final straw to get him to leave.”

They laughed.

“You two looking to get married?”

Flying to San Francisco back in January was one of the most terrifying things Adam has ever done in his adult life. Waiting there on Ronan’s bed for him to come back, judging and misjudging every car that drove past the street. Thinking he heard the door open half a dozen times. Opal needling him with questions that he didn’t know how to answer when half his brain was trying to court his heart and tear him away from what he thought would be inevitable heartbreak. It took all the courage he had to sit and wait there for Ronan to come home, but thankfully Adam was a stubborn man who didn’t quit things halfway, so he pushed through until the end.

Thinking back on it now, thinking back on the journey to here, he was stunned at how often Ronan helped nudge him to press beyond his set boundaries. How often he helped nudge Ronan in return. They were good for one another. They knew each other so well it was still a little disconcerting sometimes, how known he was by him. To have found someone who understood him the way Ronan understood him, and still be desired and adored. Justly deserved, he reminded himself.

His friends thought him mad when he told them the first time back from California about a man he met in a bookstore who so clearly didn’t know who he was, who badgered him about his hat and broke his cell phone in a very hasty collision in a museum. They downright laughed when he talked about how he went to his house and nothing happened. He spent ages waiting for Ronan to text him back, researched him and the bookstore like a teenager with their first crush. It was verging on desperate when he didn’t hear back from him and couldn’t find any form of social media, when he eventually caved and texted him again. No one got into his head quite like that before, it was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time, to want someone and wonder about them and barely know them, to not be seen as the Adam Parrish of Hollywood so many viewed him as these days. He was just simply him, and Ronan was simply a pair of dreamy eyes and a devil’s smile that softened around the edges when he laughed.

He could pinpoint the exact moment he knew he was fucked, the moment he could never take back the feelings bubbling inside him. Knew that they officially escalated to a point that he was drowning in them and had to do something quick or be forced to ride out the pain of unrequited. It was the night in the hotel pool on the roof, when they shared intimate facts about themselves to one another. Adam swore he saw a hint of want in Ronan’s eyes and thought the best plan was to kiss him, but nothing came of that night, except the pounding in his chest from seeing Ronan in very little, and somehow getting him to share a bed. It was incredibly stupid of him, looking back, not to have realized what was staring at him in the face even then, but he was so afraid of overstepping their boundaries and ruining something he never wanted to lose.

He could pinpoint the exact moment he fell in love, too. Or, at least, when he realized it. The feeling of heat in his chest had been there for a long time, that feeling of being at home with a person, your truest self. Adam was

The feeling started after their first kiss, spiraled the entire plane ride home, escalated exponentially when Ronan finished Wires and realized just what exactly Adam left behind so many years ago. But it was the morning after Adam and Ronan arrived to Half Moon Bay that he recognized that feeling with his whole being. That entire night spent in the tent, Adam was so careful to make it special for them both, and it came out a thousand times better than he could’ve imagined. But it wasn’t until he was half awake, staring at a sunrise in the freezing wind with Ronan pressed against him from behind, that it all came to him what this feeling he felt inside could be labeled. Ronan telling him he was both the boy he grew up angry with and the man he so desperately wanted to be, made him cry. That he wanted to wake up every morning next to him. Adam was so careful with his heart his whole life, and a part of himself was always held back, even with Ronan. Yet, somehow he got through, becoming a part of his every fiber. And it wasn’t until their fighting in New Mexico that he became aware he could lose that and it frightened him.

So when he was given the chance to be brave and to fix what he thought had been broken irrevocably, he took it without an ounce of doubt. He was madly, deeply, hopelessly in love with Ronan Lynch. Lost in his eyes and his poor flirting and careful touches. A man who took great care with him, but wasn’t afraid to argue. Boy did they argue. Mostly it was about moving these days, and most often it turned into angry make-outs when Opal was around, or more elicit responses when she wasn’t.

This was to be the rest of his life, fighting over what to have for dinner, rock paper scissoring who had to talk to Opal about teen troubles, texting each other constantly and consistently when they weren’t sharing the same space because they were saps in love.

Next month during Opal’s spring break they were going to drive down from New York to Virginia and he and Opal were to officially meet Ronan’s mother. He planned to wait until then for this, but that was before, when he thought he was going to lose a second time for this award. Now, he couldn’t see a better opportunity than at the peak of joy.

“You two getting married?” the journalist repeated.

Adam glanced back up from his Oscar, smiling faintly to himself. “That’s frankly none of your business,” he said with a laugh. A nervous laugh. Because how did they know?

Someone on his publicity team was standing at the exit when he glanced in that direction. She motioned with her head it was okay to say what he’d been thinking of saying all night to someone. Holding the statue, having some weight to grip, made this slightly easier.

“This is as good a time as any to let you all know that I'm taking a break from acting for a while, to focus on other aspects of my life,” he said. “I still have Wires to promote, but I’ve left the In Space and Time sequel. After last year, I need a short break. I think I’m owed one.”

“Will you be staying in New York?”

“How long will this break last?”

“Why did you leave the sequel?”

“Uh, I'll answer in order. No. I don’t know, until I get restless I guess? And, I just wanted to spend some time at home for once. But I wish them all the success, and I’m sure it’ll be great. Thank you. I need to go check my boyfriend isn’t embarrassing himself surrounded by celebrities.”

With that, he walked off the stage and into a hallway, escorted by several people back through more halls. The sound of the procession was growing louder, and soon he was back in the theater, surrounded by the pomp and circumstance. Just in time, he realized, for the announcement of best picture. Someone took his statue, promising to return it when everything was over, as he was walked down to take his seat beside Ronan.

“Did you know they have people sit in your space when you’re not sitting—?”

He kissed him ferociously to shut him up, and quell a new set of nerves rising inside him. When the clip of his movie started to play above their heads, Adam broke the kiss off to ask.

“Will you marry me?”

“What?”

His reaction was mildly surprising, eyes bulged wide in pure shock. Adam could only touch at his cheek and repeat the question.

“You—” Ronan spoke so accusatorially. “You’re— here—? Like, you just asked me that?” Adam nodded, smiling. “What the ever-loving dick grazing piss in a cheesecloth. You ruined it.”

Okay, this was not the reaction he was expecting, and he frowned.

“I ruined it?” His chest ached, thinking of all the possibilities in those words, when Ronan reached into his own pocket and retrieved a little box.

“Fuck you very much for beating me to it.” Ronan sounded genuinely upset about it, but Adam had no proper time to react.

“And the winner is: To Love a Soul.”

Adam’s heart was bursting. This was profoundly overwhelming. Now he had to go onto the stage, pause this until later. But it was proving hard to do, even a his cast-mates grabbed for him in their excitement. Ronan didn’t say yes, and Adam needed to hear that.

“You’ve got somewhere to be,” Ronan said. “You’re holding up the ceremony. Shit, people need to get out of here. I need to pee.”

“Not until you say yes.” Adam smiled wide. “Or, no, but I don’t think you’re going to say that. Not if you were planning to propose to.”

“Maybe I’m stubborn enough not to marry you for that very reason.”

Adam couldn’t resist, and felt himself collapse into Ronan with a kiss. He kissed him so hard, he was pretty sure for a second that time stopped. As one hand was freed to touch at Ronan’s rough cheek, he felt something cold and circular slide onto his finger.

Dragged properly onto the stage, he stood back behind the producers and director, all of whom were listing off names and key words in their speeches. All the while, he was looking down at his hand, fingering the gold band newly around it.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

At the afterparty, Adam went straight for where to get his statue engraved. Two new things in one day, both gold, sure would get to his head if he weren’t careful.

“You can’t stop smiling,” said Wendy, watching him staring at his ring, staring at the statue. “Is that—?”

“Yeah.” Adam showed it off to her, feeling pretty silly but also fantastic. This was allowed. He was allowed this happiness, to be this full of joy.

“Oh, wow, Adam.” She was smiling. “Congratulations! Since when?”

“Tonight.” They smiled up at one another. “This wouldn’t have been possible if you didn’t push me to get out of my comfort zone and take a day for myself when I was in San Francisco the first time. I walked into that bookshop, and I was immediately overcome.”

Wendy rolled her eyes. “His annoying behavior and quirky anecdotes really nailed you, huh?” she said.

“Maybe so,” Adam replied. “I’d be ashamed if I cared what others thought.”

Wendy’s smile only broadened. Her eyes flicked away from his, to the men engraving his statue. She gestured. “You’re an incredibly hard worker, Adam, and I know it’s been a rough few years since you’ve hit it big, but I think this made it worth it, right?” The statue was returned to him. “All your hard work.”

He nodded and shrugged at the same time, looking down at the statue in hand, then off behind Wendy at Ronan being chatted up by someone. Adam knew the statue was just a statue, to win this award didn’t guarantee anything for his future. That some had careers tank after, some stabilized, some didn’t change at all. He used to believe he needed tangible evidence of success, that there would be a chart and he would fill it and follow it. For his whole life, that’s what drove him, that’s what he believed would make him happy. What made him happy was simply doing what he loved, being good at it regardless if it earned awards like this (though they were nice). What made him happy was excusing himself from Wendy to go and sit over by Ronan in the loud and crowded room, catching him filming him as he walked over.

“Put that away,” he told him.

Ronan smiled snidely. “Don’t be so rude to your fiancé.”

Adam meant to strictly roll his eyes, but a smile couldn’t be tamed and escaped onto his face alongside the gesture. “Fiancé,” he said back at him. “You’re on thin ice, Lynch.”

“You’re all talk,” Ronan replied, before swooping him up in a kiss, only managing one on his cheek when the statue got in between them. “Jesus, I’m being cockblocked by your trophy.”

Adam groaned, looking at him with an absurd amount of annoyance, then down at his trophy. While admiring the engraving of his name on the bottom, he caught a flash go off from Ronan’s phone. With a sigh, he allowed him just this once to take a picture. A part of him supposed it was only fair because he was always taking photos of Ronan.

Around them, the party was going on, music was blasting, people were getting drunk and vivacious. Adam wanted less of this. There was much to celebrate in a solitary way.

“I don’t want to stay,” he said, before Ronan planted another kiss on him. “Do you?”

“Shouldn’t you be parading that thing around here?”

“Just because you have the mental growth of a twelve year old doesn’t mean I do,” Adam teased, inciting another kiss at his neckline. It tickled, and he did his very best not to show amusement.

Close to his ear, so close he felt Ronan’s breath in a way that wriggled a chill up his spine, Ronan said, “I can easily bring you down to that level.”

Adam shot him a dark expression with no real heat behind it, and Ronan’s cheery smile could fuel a city.

“I mean, what does it say about you that you proposed and plan to marry a man who’s emotionally stunted at 12?”

Adam couldn’t think of a comeback quick enough before Ronan barked a laugh loud over the music, and lifted him up off the sofa they sat in together.

“You hungry?”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

At In N Out, they parked on the street in the car rented out for Adam today. He sent his publicity team out to the parties to have fun, told Wendy he would talk to her tomorrow, giving him and Ronan time to be alone-alone. Ronan went inside to order for them, leaving Adam to wait inside with his Oscar in his lap. Still shot up with nerves like he drank 15 cups of espresso today. His one leg jittered in the car, his head trying to fully wrap around it all.

His phone buzzed with a confirmation from Ronan about his order. After finishing his reply to him, he quickly opened up a new chat.

 

adam: i got engaged :)

blue: omggggggggggg whaaaaaat!!!!

adam: don’t tell opal yet. i want us to tell her.

blue: i won’t !!!! but omg congratulations! <3 i’m so happy for you guys. jesus christ you must be over the moon! i saw you won! Idk if you got my text you didn’t reply but I figured you wouldn’t! congrats again!

adam: thank you :) you and wendy have been my rocks.

blue: of course! <3

It was funny, the directions life takes you, like how Blue was the one who convinced him to talk to Ronan during both their fights. How Wendy was the one to get him to talk to him, because she saw how miserable Adam was, but it was Blue who really made him see reason. Told him he was an idiot, that Ronan was also an idiot.

blue: you helped me with gansey and i helped you with ronan. it’s what best friends are for

ugh. gansey’s rubbing off on me what are these emotions

 

“Who’s that?”

The door on Ronan’s side opened up, and there he stood half knelt into the opening with two drinks in his hands, and his forefinger hooked around the bag. Illuminated both by the pale light of the parking lot lamp and the tin shine from the car’s back interior light, Ronan had this weird glow about him. Maybe Adam was hallucinating from how happy he was. Looking rather godlike and beautiful, Ronan handed him his milkshake across the backseat.

“Blue,” he answered, taking the drink eagerly.

Ronan tucked into the seat, the bag between them. He buckled in only when Adam frowned at him until he did, and then they were off. The smell of the burgers and fries was intoxicating, but he sipped on his milkshake until the straw bent inward.

“Are they on their way back from Disney yet?” Ronan thought to ask, slouching over the contents of their dinner. Just thinking about eating made Adam’s stomach growl in hunger.

“Not sure.” Adam leaned in, too, reaching for a fry on top. “That’s not what we were talking about.”

Ronan looked up at him knowingly. “You told her?”

“She won’t tell Opal,” Adam said confidently. “I left that for you.”

“Good.” Eased, Ronan returned to perusing the bag for his animal style fries, His voice was quieter when he then added, “Thank you.”

Overcome with the desire and desperation to eat, they went silent the rest of the drive. It wasn’t long until they reached their temporary home, back inside to find the others returned already and asleep. Opal had Gerty with her in her bed, both passed out. Knowing they were alone, but not alone alone, they were quiet on their half of the place, shutting the door softly before engaging in childlike behavior. Adam thought it was fun to make a picnic on the floor of their room with the sheets off their bed. He shimmied out of his shoes and jacket before sitting, tossing his tie over his shoulder to bend down and eat his burger in peace.

“I’m realizing now we don’t have sheets on the bed to sleep in it later,” he thought, mid-chew.

Ronan was unfazed. He had yet to come down to Adam’s level on the floor, noticeably comfortable towering over him in all his clothes and glory. “This is a fancy ass place,” he reasoned. “I’m sure there’s more sheets somewhere you can put on later.”

"Come sit,” Adam said with a groan. It wasn’t hard for Ronan to agree, obliging him and kneeling. He bent forward to kiss him on the forehead.

“You know,” his eyes raked down to Adam’s lap, “You haven’t let go of that statue since they gave it back to you. do you two need a minute? Should I be jealous? Do you need someone to hold your dick when you pee?”

“What?” The last part threw him, and it took a good few seconds to mentally backtrack, to rehear what he said. He hadn’t realized his statue was in his lap, and he laughed. “Yes,” he agreed, “you should be jealous. You’ve been replaced.”

Swept up in the jokes, Ronan shook his head, looking profoundly upset. But Adam knew he was playing, seeing a quirk in his lips. “I knew it,” he said. “First the dog. Now an inanimate object. Soon it’ll be a bubble I’ll have to fight.”

Gently, Adam shoved at him with the hand holding the trophy. Ronan pretended it hurt.

“Ow,” he said, a hand to his joint. “Hey watch it with that. You could really hurt someone with that thing.”

“Yeah. You.”

“I’m going to take that away from you if you don’t cut it out.”

“Try me.”

Before long, Ronan sat down all the way, watching him eat. Adam was taking another bite out of his burger when he noticed all too late Ronan was taking a picture of him. He glared with his teeth still digging into the bun.

“Hey,” he said with a full mouth. “Stop that.”

“Stop spitting all over the sheets,” Ronan replied. “I’m documenting tonight. You can’t stop smiling. It’s kind of funny.”

It wasn’t until he said anything did Adam catch he was smiling. He glared. “You’re such a bully.”

“Finish your burger,” at once Ronan demanded. He set his phone down to lean in and kiss Adam at the corner of his lips. “You’re taking forever.”

That made Adam chew even slower. “I’m enjoying it. I don’t know what to call what you did in the car.”

“i enjoyed it,” Ronan argued, “just faster.”

With a snort, Adam took another bite, bigger this time. This was so nice and peaceful. A moment he was never going to forget. Sharing it with the man he loves, plans to marry. The ring was shockingly a perfect fit, but he supposed with how often Ronan fiddled with his hands, he surely had them memorized.

This was the life he dreamt of having as a kid, back when he lived in the trailer park with his parents, back when he thought there was no way out of that small town. Adam parrish, a maker of fate.

When he finished his food, he held up the Oscar again.

“Can you take my picture now?” he asked.

Ronan was staring at him and blinked, coming back to the present, like he too went into his head to think. “Yeah,” he said. It was a heavy night for them both, going into the evening and coming out of it very different people.

And yet… not all that different. Their love wasn’t changed at all by this, was it? Adam was thinking too deeply about the ideas and rules of love and marriage and everything, when he was meant to be posing with his Oscar. Holding it up, close to his cheek, he smiled bravely like the sun was in his eyes. When it reality, there was no light at all in the room save for the city light from their view out in the world below.

Adam remembered last minute, for the last picture, to look his statue up so his ring was visible, too.

“Best damn photo of you, if I do say so myself.” Ronan offered his screen for Adam’s eyes, who approved, though it could’ve been better.

“It’s under-lit.”

“You take it then,” Ronan grumbled, then groaned loud with his hands at his neck. “I’m getting out of this suit first. I’m suffocating.”

Watching him leave, Adam leaned back against the foot of the sofa to remain sturdy. As Ronan rose and ripped off his tie, he paraded his gaze along Ronan’s whole frame. A mental picture for the last time he would see him in a suit like this for a little while. “You look good, though.”

A fast jerk of his head over his shoulder caused Adam to smirk, watching as Ronan blushed elegantly. The light was a hint of blue coming in from the world outside, like the ocean reflected on them, though the ocean was still a good half an hour away at best. Something was muttered under Ronan’s breath, even if Adam didn’t catch it, watching him shake his head at him like he was being obtuse. Away from the large balcony window, Ronan started to undress, back to the rest of the room. It stirred something in him watching him move that he stood up to distract himself in the meantime. The Oscar was set down on the sofa cushions like an actual child, before he paced himself to the window. Staring out at the city view, he had a thought of how many people in the world there were, and how unbelievably lucky they were to find one another in that chaos.

His pocket buzzed. A new incoming text from Ronan, who at some point disappeared into the bathroom. Attached to the message were all the photos he took, the last one with the ring his favorite.

 

ronan: if you post this on instagram remind everyone how much you love me :)

 

“You’re a dick,” Adam thought to call out, semi-quietly. He could hear ronan’s laugh from here.

Adam’s deft fingers went to work, filtering and editing the picture until it was a little better lit. Then he posted it, on his public account, no less.

 

happy. academy award winner. :) thank you to all my friends and fans. i am the luckiest guy in the world xx

oh, and thank you to the guy I have to thank the most. i guess. without you i don’t know if this would’ve been possible. don’t let it get to your head though. it’s already heavy enough with all that gold, oscar

His heart felt so full and shaky, his whole body was buzzing. When he felt Ronan’s arms wrap around his waist from behind, his beard chafing at his neck, Adam buzzed even harder.

“I love you,” Ronan breathed into his hairline.

“I love you too.” Adam smiled, bumping his nose against the glass when Ronan moved and accidentally pushed him. Lips began to trail along his nape, his arms squeezing his middle tight. Still facing the glass, he told Ronan’s reflection instead, “i told the press about my plan, you know.”

“To marry me?” Ronan sounded absolutely surprised. Adam whirled to face him, disappointed that was seriously his first guess. “Was I the last one to know?”

“No, dingus.” Adam flicked the center of his fiancé’s forehead. “Of my sabbatical.”

“Oh.” Ronan’s lips formed a very dramatic and overworked o. "How’d they take it?”

“Surprisingly well,” he said. “It’s only a percentage, but I expected something more vocal. I don’t think they believed me. By the way, I need to buy you a ring.”

Ronan’s brows melted together. “Why?”

“i proposed first.”

Hearing that, Ronan scoffed and only squeezed him tighter. “Semantics.”

“But i did.” Adam wouldn’t deny himself the opportunity to reciprocate what Ronan’s done for him.

With a teasing look, Ronan turned his eyes upward to the ceiling with that smug smile Adam wanted to scream at and kiss off. “I obviously planned it first,” he replied.

“Doesn’t matter.” Adam moved from the window, Ronan not far behind, following him in the direction of the bed. “I proposed first.”

“We can argue in the bed.” Ronan’s fingers slid between Adam’s, his middle finger running carefully over the ring.

“You’re just jealous I beat you to it,” Adam said.

An all too familiar smile framed Ronan’s face as he gazed challengingly at Adam. With a long stride backwards for the sheets, only now re-informing Adam of how they stripped the bed of them, Ronan wore that challenge with pride. He backed down into the sheets with the utmost glee.

“But I got the ring,” he said. “And you’re wearing it. So I win the proposal game.”

“I fear for Opal’s future if she learns this behavior from you.”

The challenging smile broadened, and Adam succumbed to the inevitable, perched to argue in the midst of Ronan’s undressing of him.

“Blog entry number—”

“Ronan Lynch, I swear to fucking god.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Moving day came pretty damn fast after everything else. Life really does move at you fast when you’re having the time of your life.

A year ago, Adam didn’t have anyone quite the way he does now. Friends and revered people in his life, sure, but nothing like this. A would-be daughter, a dog, a fiancé.

God, he was so sickeningly happy as he packed the moving truck with the last few boxes.

This was not entirely his life they packed away, he recognized. In fact, his stuff was already awaiting them at the house. But it was every much his memories made here that he was saying goodbye and so long to. Where he and Ronan shared so much. Where he realized a lot about himself and them. The house looked smaller empty, like it couldn’t possibly have housed so much in it before.

His heart swelled several sizes when Ronan came up from behind him and embraced him, arms reaching around his waist to meet at his front. His neck was scratched by Ronan’s scruffy jawline, still testing out the idea of a beard.

“You’d think I’d be the mopey one between us,” Ronan murmured. “You’re the one making me move.”

Adam rolled his eyes. “Can’t give me one moment of peace, can you?”

Ronan growled a laugh into his nape, stirring things inside. Adam’s heart swelled even grander, and he swallowed.

“I’ll miss this place,” Ronan confessed, voice softened as his arms squeezed around Adam tighter. “First place that was wholly mine, for a while anyway. First time I felt allowed to be myself.” He let in a great breath, tickling Adam’s skin. “Plus, it was a shit and a wink to work. I’ll miss that the most.”

“A shit and a wink...” Adam reeled and pushed ever so gently at his shoulders. “Where do you get this stuff?”

“My brain,” Ronan argued, before turning him back around to wrap his arms about him. Behind him, Adam could feel Ronan give a great shrug.

“You know we had that one place a few blocks away,” Adam thought aloud, “but you didn’t like the idea of only there being street parking.”

A grunt was expelled onto his nape.

“My memory’s fine, thank you.”

“There’s only street parking here. I still don’t know what you were—”

“Okay. Okay.” Roughly, Ronan turned him around and kissed him silent. “Shut up,” he said in between kisses. “You’re going to mock me for that until I’m dead, aren’t you?”

“Mm,” and Adam unspooled from Ronan long enough to smile at him, “only until just before then. But yes.”

Ronan rolled his eyes. “Blog entry number—”

Adam bit on Ronan’s lower lip just hard enough to irritate him. “Don’t you dare finish that sentence.”

Greeted by Ronan’s throaty laugh, he pressed into him to fully immerse into the kiss.

“You know,” Adam said mindlessly once they come up for air. His eyes were still focused closed, a little out of sorts. Even after a year, Ronan managed to still incite such reactions. Still entwined, he reached with a crook of his elbow to play with the scruff on Ronan’s jaw. “You’ll have to delete that fake blog in your head before we get married. Otherwise, I will not say I do.”

“Who says it’s just in my head?”

Adam’s hand froze. Panic flared in his chest. “What?”

The truck’s horn blared at that perfectly terrible moment, and against his better judgment, Adam turned his head same with Ronan’s. Opal was poking her head out the passenger window, squinting in the sunshine.

“Come on, you boobs,” she exclaimed, loud enough the neighbors could probably eavesdrop from the comfort of their homes. "I have a movie in three hours. Tick tock.” Even from here, Adam could see her pat at a non-existent watch on her wrist. “You can make out at the new place same way you make out here.”

Gansey and Opal were getting along better everyday, but sometimes they acted like they were childish siblings, as evidenced by their current behavior. Gansey was prodding his head out of the same window, shoving space for himself. A thin argument evolved between them, as they got stuck there in the window, shoving and elbowing for room.

"Yes, if you please don’t mind hurrying this all up,” shouted Gansey. “I do have other friends, you know.”

Both Ronan and Adam exchanged a look, snorting. Adam read it as a let’s go look, but Ronan had other plans. As soon as Adam stepped away, Ronan was there, tugging on his back pocket, hooking his finger into his jeans.

“Come on,” Ronan groaned. “You can be all nostalgic and moody about the place tomorrow, too. We still have to vacuum and shit, remember?”

“Are you telling me you have a real blog?” Adam asked. “Ronan Lynch, who couldn’t even figure out how to post on Instagram until very recently at the behest of the love of his life?”

Ronan laughed but didn’t speak, and Adam’s neck hair stood on end. “Ronan, you aren’t answering me. Why aren’t you answering me?”

He furrowed his brow, to Ronan’s ever infuriating enjoyment.

“Relaaaax.” His boyfriend stepped back to walk in step with him, his long legs moving like tree trunks. He draped an arm around Ronan’s shoulders, dragging him in for another thrilling, simple kiss.

“Lynch.” But his disapproval of this tactic was swallowed up by the sweep of Ronan’s tongue between his teeth. It was alarming how Ronan knew of a surefire way to shut him up. To be fair, it was the exact same way to shut Ronan up, too.

The drive over the bridge was slow, bumpy, and Gansey and Opal couldn’t sit still or keep quiet, but Adam liked listening to the radio while Ronan drove, who was trying to remain calm while Opal kept jerking into the back of his seat. Adam watched, amused, laughing every time Ronan’s jaw twitched.

The rest of the afternoon was spent moving boxes from the truck to the house, filling up rooms with brown squares, like Tetris in real life. As soon as the truck was cleared out, Ronan claimed to need a break, collapsing onto the pile of pillows and sheets they made on the floor of the living room.

“Oh no,” Adam said with a shake of his head. “You get your ass up. We aren’t finished.”

“I’m finished. I filled my quota today of activity. You go and unpack everything. I’m going to take a nap.”

Adam rolled his eyes and grabbed for Ronan’s hand to pluck him up off the ground. Reluctant, Ronan fought back, pushing him away.

“No,” he said, grumpily. He was sweaty and gross and Adam felt just as sweaty and gross, and yet somehow Ronan made the makeshift sofa look incredibly appealing and soft and not sweaty and gross.

“You’re unbelievable,” Adam groaned, relenting when Ronan didn’t budge. “Fine. Dick.”

Ronan continued laughing and being obnoxious in a way that drove Adam mad long enough Opal came back in from taking Gerty for a walk.

“Good walk?” Adam asked, same time as Ronan jumped up from the floor to motion to the mantel in the living room. Sweeping his hand all so dramatically, both Adam and Opal stopped and stared, confused.

“Are you having another old timer episode, Ronan?” Opal asked, holding a squirming Gerty in her arms.

“What?” Ronan squinted. “No. Look.”

Opal’s first place ribbon had been set onto the mantel, next to Adam’s Oscar and other awards. Finally, on the end, was Ronan’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy first edition. Adam had to laugh. Opal squinted.

“Why is that here?”

“I didn’t have anything else,” Ronan grumbled. “And I wanted to participate.”

“Aw.” Gerty howled in Opal’s arms. “That’s so—”

“Sad,” Adam said teasingly. Ronan shot him a look, but smiled right after.

“I was going to say cheesy, but sad works.” Opal sighed, releasing Gerty to run around free in her new home. “Alright. This was fun. Yay family. I’m going to go now."

“Not so fast!” Ronan barreled after her and managed to catch her before she opened the front door. With a scoop of his limbs, he was picking her up in his arms, lifting her off the ground as he gave her squirmy frame a hug. She squealed.

“Oh my god, Ronan!” Opal screamed. “Stop!” Her screams melted into laughter. “Put me down.”

Adam came over to the playful fight and planted a kiss on her cheek, and nearly got elbowed in the face. “We love you.”

“I love you more,” Ronan said, in addition. “This is a contest, and I’ve won.”

He was still holding her, as Opal blushed, combating them both now. Finally, Ronan gave in and let her down. She huffed, fixing her hair, side eyeing them both. A mumble under her breath was nearly unheard. “I love you, too.” Then, at a fuller volume, she added, “God you’re both the worst.”

“See you at dinner, loser,” Ronan called after her.

“Yeah, yeah.” Opal grabbed her coat from the top of a box by the door and jerked it open.

“Don’t be late!” Adam called after.

“You’re such squares!”

Adam laughed, as Ronan took personal offense. The door shut before he was given the chance for a rebuttal. He turned his frustration swift to Adam, who was still laughing. Little did he realize he was signing up for a life with basically two children, one of which he was planning to marry. Ronan was impossible. “Oh, you think that’s funny?” Ronan moaned. “She thinks you’re a bonafide geek now that the celebrity angle’s worn out.”

Adam raised his chin proudly. “I’m okay with that.”

“Don’t you mean potassium?” Ronan said mockingly.

“That’s just K. Really, Lynch.” He clucked his tongue. “You should learn your periodic table better. You’re living with two science nerds now.”

Ronan groaned as loud as Opal would in this situation. “Don’t remind me.”

Adam smiled, looking around. Past Ronan’s temper tantrum and Gerty chasing her tail in the corner, past the boxes and wrapped furniture and unhung photos and paintings, Adam could see something he’d been wanting his whole life. Home.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hmm.” Still embittered by the teasing, Ronan was pouting at his old book. Adam was the one to snake his arms around Ronan’s waist from behind, fingering the belt loops of his jeans as they slid just a little down his very nice waist.

“I love you very much,” he said. His heart needed to stop stuttering in his chest every time he said it.

Ronan’s sleepy smile took full form. His eyelids drooped as he leaned in to touch their foreheads together. Still sweating a little from before, the smell normally would be pungent, but for Adam, this was a very Ronan thing, and he liked it. Fingering Adam’s hearing ear with one hand as he breathed into Adam’s face, Ronan’s lips split a wider smile. “I love you, too.”

He could see the magic of the words in Ronan’s face when he said it back. Every time, he could see that same split second of pure shock and joy and relief when he said those words and heard them repeated back.

Adam’s heart definitely had to stop racing when he heard it back. Like he was running a marathon or something. But there was no need to be running any more.

His voice caught as he said, “I told the movers first thing to put the beds back together.”

Ronan’s lips twisted higher. “Oh?”

“We can unpack later,” Adam agreed, to Ronan’s earlier idea for a break.

“Parrish, are you asking me to put off work for sex?” Ronan feigned a very poorly designed gape. “Is that really you? Have you been body-snatched? Blink twice if you’re not in control.”

Adam slapped at his shoulder. “Shut up.”

Ronan opened his mouth to speak and Adam groaned. "If you say anything remotely close to blog entry number anything, I will go and have sex with myself.”

“That sounds like more fun, actually.”

“Ronan!”

There came Ronan’s grin full throttle, and he knew that look pretty well by now, but there was no time to think back on what it meant, as Ronan then grabbed him by the waist and chucked him over his shoulder without so much as a grunt.

“Final blog entry,” he said, clamoring up the stairs. “Adam Parrish has moved in with me, and we own a house together. We’re getting married in six months, and I have to go live with him in New York for three months when he’s over there in a play during the summer. Barf. But as I write ‘barf’, I have to admit I am very happy about all this. I guess. I never thought I’d be that person who got to have the happy ending, and now I get the best one. No more updates on the celeb front. Signing off.”

At which point, Ronan deposited Adam on their bed, leaving him to bounce a bit from the height. Ronan was quickly undressing, ever the eager beaver. Adam wasn’t really much for moving right now, still thinking over his words.

“That is unforgivably cheesy, and I’m ashamed to be marrying you,” he said. It got Ronan to flash him his million dollar grin.

“Oh, shut up,” he said. “You love it, Academy Award winner, Adam Parrish.”

Adam liked hearing that whole title, and hated that Ronan knew that.

“Unfortunately, I do,” he said sourly, “boyfriend to Academy Award winner Adam Parrish.”

“Fiancé,” Ronan corrected, pushing Adam’s hands down onto the mattress.

“Oh, pardon me.” Adam rolled his eyes, loving every second of the banter. He should. After all, this was going to be the rest of his life.

“You’re excused.” Ronan smiled, bending down to kiss Adam sweetly, slowly. “Just the once.”

Adam Parrish, knowable, lovable. Soon to be married to a Mr. Ronan Lynch, a once upon a time grumpy bookstore owner now slightly less grumpy bookstore owner and love of his life. What a life they were building together, would continue to build together.

“Fuck.” Ronan sat up fast from the bed. “Gerty, get out of here! This isn’t appropriate for your tiny, baby eyes.”

Adam burst with laughter, even after Ronan waved him off, even after Ronan somehow guided their dog into the bathroom and shut the door, even after he climbed back onto the bed. Adam laughed so hard he couldn’t breathe.

“You’ve killed the mood, Parrish.”

“I think that was you,” Adam snorted, coming down from his laughter fest enough to speak. “Do you want to just take a nap?”

“Fuck, yes.”

And so they napped. First full day in their forever home, napping. Adam never felt such at peace except when he was asleep in Ronan’s arms. But he’d never tell him that. Ronan already knew.