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I Don’t Wanna Know About Your New Man

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Adam didn’t go to work the next morning.

To his credit, he tried. He very deliberately got out of bed and made it all the way over to his closet, but every bone in his body ached, and his muscles protested, and he just barely made it back to his pillows before his legs gave out. So he said he was sick, and his father was just hungover enough not to make a fuss. Adam spent the entire morning laying in bed staring at the ceiling, his ribs throbbing, his body and mind both dull with pain.

He was relieved he’d told Gansey and Ronan that his home phone was broken. He didn’t want to have to talk to either of them. He wanted to wallow, to be alone. He didn’t want to think about the night before; about Kavinsky’s cruel words telling him he didn’t matter. About Ronan’s revelation that they weren’t really friends.

And he definitely didn’t want to think about what happened when he got home. When he closed his eyes he could still see coloured lights flashing behind the blackness of his eyelids. He wasn’t a child anymore, but sometimes he still felt like if he closed his eyes hard enough, the pain would stop.

Adam just wanted to be by himself. Which, of course, meant that he wasn’t going to get the chance. After his miserable lunch, Mason came by to visit. Adam had told his mother he didn’t want to see anyone, but she let Mason into Adam’s room anyway.

If Adam didn’t know the universe hated him before, he sure knew it now.

“Hey buddy,” Mason said.

Adam was sitting up in bed reading a novel, a half-eaten sandwich on the table beside him. He put down his book as Mason sat down on the edge of his bed.

“You good?”

The question was absurd. If Adam was ‘good’ would he really still be in his pajamas at 2pm on a weekday? Sometimes it was like Mason didn’t know him at all.

“Not really,” Adam intoned.

“What’s been happenin’?”

Mason was inspecting his nails. He didn’t look concerned. In fact, he seemed utterly disinterested. Adam wondered again if he really wanted to know what was happening, or whether he was just asking out of convention.

“A lot.” Adam slowly ran a hand through his hair trying to calm his breathing, but then he gave up and tugged at it in frustration. “I wish I’d never let you talk me into trying to be friends with Lynch.”

“He’s a pain in the ass, huh?” Mason laughed.

“He’s fucking unbelievable.”

“Man,” Mason said, pulling his legs up onto Adam’s bed. “The point of this wasn’t for you to fuckin’ cosy up to Lynch. It was to mess with him. It was to steal his girl. Or have you forgotten?”

Adam had, in fact, forgotten. He turned away, embarrassed. He’d been so caught up in his fascination with Gansey, how endeared he was by Noah, how in love he was with Monmouth, that he’d forgotten he had ulterior motives for being there. He’d started to find Ronan fascinating, started to think he was funny, interesting. He’d almost even started to think he was… sweet. 

God, he was an idiot.

Mason’s mouth popped open. “Parrish. Man. Don’t tell me you didn’t follow through with the plan!”

“I was working on it,” Adam said, hastily. He frowned down at his quilt. “He started asking me for advice, remember? And I told him things I knew would cause a rift between him and Blue.”

“What kind of advice?”

“Just…” Adam ran his hand through his hair again. If he were to explain his reasoning to Mason, it would sound pretty stupid. Telling Ronan to take Blue to dinner with his brother was hardly terrible advice.

Adam swallowed. “I’ve been going to see Blue,” he said. “Behind Ronan’s back.”

Mason’s eyes lit up. “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

“We made fun of Ronan once. A few times, actually. One time I told her about how much of an asshole he was to me in school. I told her that he’s kind of a bully. I told her some real stuff, but I also made up a lot. I think…” Adam blew out a breath. “I think I’ve been poisoning her mind against him.”

Bit of an exaggeration, but Mason looked pleased so Adam didn’t care.

“I think she’s charmed by me,” Adam admitted.

He hadn’t missed the way she sometimes ducked her head when he complimented her, the way she sometimes tucked her hair behind her ears, tentatively, and just a little flirtatiously. 

“You dog.” Mason grinned. “You can’t give up now, man.”

“I’m done with him.”

“Dude! You’ve almost got her. See, if Lynch catches you cosyin’ up to his girl now, he’ll kill you before she has a chance to get more interested in you. If you keep bein’ his friend, he’ll trust you and he won’t suspect anythin’ until… bam! It’s too late.”

Adam chewed on his bottom lip. He suddenly felt fatigued again. He wanted Mason to leave. He wanted to go back to sleep.

“Think about it,” Mason pressed. “Think about gettin’ revenge on Ronan Lynch.”

Adam didn’t want revenge. He just wanted to forget about Gansey and Glendower, about Noah’s charming weirdness, about everything that had transpired between him and Ronan.

He wanted sleep. He rubbed his face. Mason didn’t leave, and he didn’t ask him about the bruises on his arms. Adam wasn’t sure what to say even if he did.

*    *    *

Adam couldn’t afford to miss both his shifts. Not that his father would let him, regardless. Adam could be bleeding out on the floor, crying with pain, but as long as he could move, his father would probably just hand him his coveralls and expect him to be on his way.   

As the sun went down, Adam took three painkillers and made his way over to Boyd’s. He was in too much pain to cycle, so he walked, every bone in his body singing painfully with each step. But he made his way to the garage, and dutifully got to work, opening up for the night-shift. He ripped open his backpack and stripped down to his boxers. Then he slipped into his coveralls.

He was unlocking the front door when he spotted a familiar charcoal-gray BMW pulling up outside. His heart started hammering at twice its normal speed.

Ronan got out of the car with all the nonchalance of a man who knew his entire life was sorted out. Adam clenched his jaw. He watched Ronan make his way to the front door. He took a deep breath, braced himself, then flipped over the ‘open’ sign.

“Parrish,” Ronan said, spotting him. His eyes travelled down to Adam’s ribs. Hastily, Adam zipped up his coveralls.

“What do you want?”

“What happened?” Ronan asked. “Those bruises…”

“Does your car need repairing?” Adam asked, cutting him off. “If not, kindly fuck off.”

He knew he should turn around and go inside, ignore Ronan and the reason he was here, but Adam found himself rooted to the spot. His legs were betraying him today. Instead, he crossed his arms in a show of irritation.

Ronan ducked his head, scraping his boots on the welcome mat. “You weren’t at your job this morning.”

Adam frowned. “You went to the factory?”

“I need to talk to you.”

“I don’t have time to talk.”

Adam stomped back inside. Ronan followed him. Adam tried to ignore the odd, nervous pangs in his chest.

“For fuck’s sake, Parrish,” Ronan said. “You can’t be that angry with me.”

Ronan was here to apologise. Adam could see it from his posture, from the tense energy that was in the air. It was a strange and unfamiliar energy for Ronan, who was usually so brash and sure of himself.

You don’t have to lose them, a small part of Adam’s brain reminded him. They can still be your friends.

Adam shut the voice down. He didn’t need them as friends. He didn’t want them as friends

“I’m not angry,” Adam said, picking up his tool belt. “I’m busy.”

“Too busy to talk to your fucking friend for five seconds?”

Adam gave him a cool look, snapping on the belt. “We’re not friends.”

Ronan let out a frustrated exhale. “I just said that to Kavinsky. I didn’t mean it. Who fucking cares what he thinks anyway?”

I do. You’re embarrassed to be friends with me. I don’t need that shit in my life.

Adam sat down on the ground and tried not to flinch as he carefully scooted himself under the Mini Cooper he was working on. Ronan’s boots appeared next to his legs.

“Parrish.”

“I’m working.”

“Oh fucking hell, Parrish. Kavinsky is an asshole. If he knew we were friends he’d be worse to you than he already is.”

Adam almost banged his head against the underside of the car. Did he have grease in his good ear, or had he just inhaled too much petrol? Had Ronan just admitted to trying to protect him?

“What?” he asked, blankly.

“He’s fucking crazy, man.”

“Yeah, funny enough, I gathered that.”

“Dude’s obsessed with me. Like… fuck. I know he’s a piece of shit to you. I just didn’t want to make it worse.”

Adam felt betrayed by the relief that was filling him now. Who cared that Lynch wasn’t embarrassed? Who cared that, in his own stupid way, he was trying to help him? Adam didn’t need his help. He tried to recover the burn of rage he’d been feeling just moments before.

“I can take care of myself,” Adam said, coldly.

“I know you can. Fuck. Just…” There was a thud as Ronan leaned against the car. Adam could picture him running a hand over his buzzed hair, a nervous tic of Ronan’s that he’d noticed. “Gansey wants you to come with us to DC.”

The words were unexpected. Adam felt a sudden thrill of excitement, but he pushed it down, swallowed it. 

“I don’t have money.”

“Gansey has a helicopter.”

Of course he did. Adam rolled his eyes and bit his lip, trying to focus on the car.

“We’re going in two days.”

“Ok.”

“So you’ll come?”

Adam said nothing. He frowned into the underside of the car, but nothing seemed to be making sense anymore.

“Parrish?”

“I’ll see.”

“Fucking hell, man. You can’t be that pissed at me. I was drunk.”

“That’s just your excuse for everything, isn’t it?”

Ronan paused. “There were also these fucked up pills…”

God, Ronan. Seriously. I don’t care what you took.”

Adam watched Ronan’s boots shift. He thought he was going to leave, but Ronan just shuffled in place and then resumed his leaning.

“You encourage him, you know,” Adam said, quietly. “Kavinsky.”

“How the fuck? I don’t do shit.”

“Yeah, but you stand around while he does shit. You’re his… back-up. Like Prokopenko. You don’t tell him what he’s doing is wrong so he keeps doing it. It almost makes you as bad as him.”

There was silence. Adam swallowed. He reached for a screwdriver from his belt, and then realised it was all the way across the garage. He let out a muffled groan.

“What?” Ronan asked.

“The screwdriver.”

Adam slid out from under the car then cringed.

“What’s wrong with you?” Ronan’s eyes travelled down to his chest again. Adam touched his ribs to make sure they were covered. “Did you get into a fucking fight, or some shit?”

“Yeah,” Adam said.

He rested his head against the car, shutting his eyes. How was he going to survive the rest of the evening when he could barely move without hurting?

He opened his eyes to find Ronan squinting at him. “You got into a fight,” he said, slowly. “What… after the party?”

“Yeah.”

Adam was slowly starting to develop the ability to understand Ronan. He was starting to figure out his quirks, what was unsaid but implied purely through his actions. Right now, he could read the look in his eyes by the divot in his brow as clearly as if he’d said the words - you’re lying.

“Did you get mugged?” Ronan asked.

“Fuck, Lynch. It’s nothing. Just drop it.”

He tried to get to his feet, but Ronan held out a hand, stopping him. “Jesus Christ, it’s like watching a foal learn to walk. I’ll get it. Just… tell me which one.”

“Red handle.”

Ronan stalked over to the back and grabbed it from the work table. He tossed it to him. Adam caught it, and then slid back down under the car. The fell back into silence as he resumed his work. He could hear Ronan fidgeting with something on the other side of the garage.

After a long while, Ronan came back over to the car. He leaned back against it and said, “Gansey will be really pissed at me if you don’t come to DC.” 

“That’s not my problem.”

“I thought you said I was stuck with you.” Ronan nudged one of Adam’s legs with the tip of his shoe. “Don’t tell me I successfully managed to chase away Adam ‘Stubborn Asshole’ Parrish.”

Adam let out an annoyed grunt. Ronan really knew how to get under his skin. As soon as he made it a competition, Adam felt the need to prove him wrong.

“I said, I’ll see,” Adam snapped. He picked up a wrench irritably, clanking it against the ground.

“I’ll come to pick you up.”

Immediately, Adam said, “Don’t.”

The only thing his father would hate more than Adam going to DC for a few days, was a BMW coming to take Adam to a helicopter that would take him to DC for a few days.

“Shit, Parrish, it’s not… a big deal. It’s no trouble.”

“Just don’t, Ronan.”

There was a pause. Ronan took a deep breath.

“Friday. At 10,” he said.

“Fine.”

Ronan hovered around for a minute, then pushed off from the car. Adam waited, watching till his boots disappeared from view before he scooted himself out from under the Mini Cooper. Ronan turned back. They stared at each other for a moment, Adam’s heart still palpitating from the surprising nature of the invitation.

“Does Gansey really want me to come?” he asked, quietly.

“Yes.” There was a beat. “Blue too.” There was another beat, and Ronan looked at his shoes. “I wouldn’t… completely hate it either.”

Something fizzled up in Adam, in his blood, but he ignored it, swatted it away.

“Chainsaw too,” Ronan added, quickly. “Fucking traitor bird has a crush on you.”

Adam had to resist the urge to smirk. “She has good taste.”

“It’s some stupid fancy thing with politicians and shit,” Ronan said. “Bring like, a suit or whatever.”

Despite himself, Adam scoffed. “A fancy thing with politicians? Doesn’t really sound like your scene.”

“It’s not.” Ronan bit on the leather bands on his wrist. Another nervous tic of his that Adam had noticed. “But someone needs to start shit. Gotta live up to my reputation.”

Adam couldn’t help it. “And what reputation is that? Your reputation as a bunny hugger?”

“Oh for fuck’s sake, Parrish.” Ronan sounded annoyed but he looked embarrassed. “There were no bunnies. Christ.”

Adam almost laughed, but caught himself just in time. They weren’t doing this. Ribbing each other. Teasing. Not while Adam was still angry at him.

“So, Blue’s coming?” Adam asked, trying to school his tone into an unaffected monotone.

“Yeah.”

“Ok,” Adam said.

He scooted back down under the car.

“See you Friday then,” Ronan said.

Adam said nothing. He waited for the rasp of Ronan’s boots against the floor to fade, but they didn’t. Instead Ronan walked over and sat down beside his legs, his back against the car.

“What are you doing?” Adam demanded. “I thought you were leaving.”

“You can barely move.”

“So?”

“So you’re too fucking proud to ask for help.”

Adam glared at his back. “And how is you sitting here making shitty comments meant to help me?”

“Who said I’m here to help? I’m here to laugh as you attempt to carry heavy shit.”

Adam rolled his eyes and stared up into the bowels of the car, trying to get back that anger he felt that morning. But it was all gone. In its place, all that was left was the relief that had settled in his gut and pleasant drumming of his heart.

*    *    *

When Adam approached his father to ask if he could go to DC, he came prepared with a list  - three notebook pages, front and back - of all the things he was willing to do in exchange for a weekend off.

Robert Parrish was sitting on the sofa in the living room, and he gave Adam a bored look when he came up to him, paper crushed in his hands. Adam’s stomach had been a complete ruin. He’d stuttered and re-started at least three times just explaining his first offer - that he would work four extras shifts the week he got back, if his father allowed him to go.

His father had taken a long time before responding. He surveyed Adam coldly with deep blue eyes that matched his own, before giving him one curt nod.

“Fine,” he said.

Adam’s heart stilled in his chest. “What?” he asked.

“Are you deaf?”

Halfway there, because of you. “No,” Adam stuttered.

“How many days are you going?”

“Two.”

Robert sniffed. “Alright then.”

Adam was rendered paralysed with shock.

He’d done it. His father had given him his permission. He’d said yes.

Four extra shifts would take time away from searching for Glendower and would cut into the time he’d set aside to get through his summer reading list, but Adam could not have been happier. He was getting to go on a trip. A trip. Two days away from the stifling town of Henrietta. On to the exciting streets of DC.

Adam’s mutt followed him around the morning he was to leave, watching with large brown eyes as he packed his meagre possessions into a beaten down suitcase. She wagged her tail happily each time Adam paused his work to lean over and scratch her behind the ears.

The thought that Adam would soon be out of his house, out of Henrietta, seemed too good to be true. He was going to DC to live in a house where he could slam doors and walk with his shoes on and make noise and not worry about someone getting angry to the point of aggression. He could spend the night with his friends without worrying about the time and getting home too late. He held the thoughts close to his heart, and they warmed each inch of his skin. 

He was bringing his bag to the porch when he heard the honk from Ronan’s BMW.

And just like that, everything stopped.

Adam dropped his bag and scrambled to the door, but he’d barely reached the porch steps when his father’s voice snagged him.

“Is that the Lynch boy?”

Adam turned around, blood draining from his face. He hadn’t realised his father knew who the Lynches were, but he recognised that tone of voice. They were definitely not a family his father approved of.

His father’s lip curled with scorn.

“Who does he think he is, driving up here in his fancy fuck car?” He spat on the ground. “Does he think he’s better than us?”

“He’s just here to pick me up,” Adam said. “He’s not…”

“You hanging out with the Lynch boys?”

“No,” Adam said, before he could stop himself. “No, he’s just friends with one of the boys…”

Robert grabbed him by the collar, his fingernails scratching Adam’s neck.

“Don’t lie to me, boy,” he snarled, his breath hot and sour on Adam’s cheek. “Elijah said he saw him hanging around the factory a few days ago, waiting for you. You think you can just lie to my face and get away with it, huh?”

“No,” Adam choked out. He was painfully aware of Ronan’s car in the driveway. Painfully aware that Ronan would be watching this whole scene. “No, dad. I’m sorry. I just meant…”

“You’re not going,” Robert said.

No.

“Dad…”

“I said, you’re not going. That’s final.”

He let go of Adam roughly. Adam lurched before regaining balance.

“But, you said…”

And then Robert Parrish’s fist collided with Adam’s jaw. Adam dropped to the ground, hands covering his face.

“Get up,” Robert growled. He kicked Adam in the ribs, and Adam winced. Compared to what Adam was used to, it wasn’t a very hard kick, but the bruises on his chest were still raw from his last beating. “I said get up. Unless you want to lose your hearing in the other ear as well.”

Adam’s heart was rattling around in his chest. He made to stand up, but the fear choked him. The father kicked him in the stomach. The pain was so intense, it was blinding.

His father lifted his foot again.

No. Please.

He put his foot back on the ground. "What do you want?” he shouted.

I want you to stop, Adam thought. Hot tears were filling in his eyes. But when he looked up, he realised his father wasn’t talking to him.

“To do this,” Ronan snarled, and then he punched Robert Parrish.

*    *    *

Adam had been on a helicopter once before with a third cousin of his, and he’d hated every minute of it. He’d spent the entire journey imagining the copter crashing and him hurtling to his death.

When he got on the helicopter with Ronan, Gansey and Blue, he was so numb even the thought of crashing to his death didn’t frighten him. The other three watched him with concern, and Adam couldn’t even summon enough energy to feel conscious about it.

In the back of the helicopter, Adam had a small suitcase. In it, were all his things. That is, everything he owned that he could fit in a suitcase. Everything else of his - his mother, his dog - remained in the double-wide.

Well, except for his father. He was sitting in the police station. 

Ronan’s knuckles were bloody, and he was staring out the window, his mouth pressed thin. Adam couldn’t believe that Ronan had punched his father. Adam couldn’t believe that he had told the cops his father was beating him to save Ronan from going to jail. Ronan turned towards him, and Adam turned away, his throat raw.

What was he going to do now? Gansey had said he could live in Monmouth with them for as long as he needed, but the idea didn’t appeal to Adam at all. As much as he loved Monmouth, it didn’t feel like it was his. All the rooms were occupied, so Adam would be sleeping on the couch. It would feel like he was an intruder.

But at least he had somewhere to go. A few months ago he couldn’t leave even if he wanted to. Maybe one day he’d come to think of this as the best thing that could have happened to him, but right now he was tired and scared and intensely embarrassed by the fact that Blue was sitting there, watching him curiously.

Adam pretended like he was fascinated by the scenery. Truth was, he barely saw anything.

When they landed, Gansey pulled him aside.

“Are you alright?” he asked. Adam looked at him and Gansey sighed. “It’s a stupid question, I’m sorry. I know you may not be up for this weekend…”

“This weekend is exactly what I need right now,” Adam said. His voice was rough, like sandpaper. “I need to be away from there.”

Gansey nodded. He grabbed Adam’s shoulder and shook him gently. “I’m here if you need anything, alright? Absolutely anything.”

A few months ago, this might have made Adam snap. All his years of suffering abuse, all his years of saving money, dime by dime, penny by penny, and at the end of the day he’d still been ‘saved’ by two rich Aglionby boys. A few months ago he would have felt shame at Gansey’s words. Rage, even. Pure, unadulterated frustration at not having been able to get out of there himself.

But that was a few months ago. Before the beatings had gotten more frequent. Before he'd lost his hearing in one of his ears. Before he'd started to give up hope that he'd even be alive by the time graduation came about.

A few months ago, Adam might have snapped. But right now, all he felt was tired.

He gave Gansey a watery smile. “Thanks.”

The others had filtered into a large SUV that was waiting for them. Adam realised their helicopter driver, a tall girl with brown hair tied in a messy bun, was driving the car as well. He hadn’t been paying attention when Gansey had made introductions, but he realised now that she must have been Gansey’s sister. She smiled at him when they made eye-contact in the rear-view mirror, and Adam looked away, flushing slightly. Gansey must have told her why Adam was so out of it.

Was this going to be a weekend filled with people feeling pity for him? Adam’s stomach turned. Maybe this weekend wouldn’t be quite the welcome change he’d imagined.

 

The Gansey home took Adam’s breath away. It was so large, that each of them got their own rooms. Adam was assigned one on the third floor that overlooked the swimming pool. A maid showed him to the room, and Adam threw his bag to the side and stared at the queen bed. The bed was his. The entire room with an attached bathroom and giant bed was his. He dropped down onto the bed, and stared up at this ceiling. Had circumstances been different, Adam would have been deliriously happy. Instead all he felt was hollow.

The party was going to start in the evening, and Gansey had set aside the next day to take them around DC. Ronan seemed utterly uninterested by the idea of sightseeing, but Adam couldn’t wait to see the White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial. He wasn’t, however, looking forward to tonight. He wasn't exactly in the mood to mingle with rich, cultured people when he felt like utter garbage.

To make matters worse, Adam didn’t own any suits. A fact he only realised when Gansey came in to announce that the first guest had arrived.

“Gansey,” he said, quickly. “I don’t own a suit.”

“Oh,” Gansey blinked. He looked Adam up and down, biting his lip. “I have a few spares, but I doubt they will fit you. You’re much taller than I am.”

“I’ll just stay in my room,” Adam suggested.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Let me ask Ronan.”

Gansey disappeared, and a few minutes later there was a knock on the door. Adam opened it to reveal Ronan, who threw a hanger in his direction. Adam caught it, staring down at the expensive blue suit in his hands.

“You had an extra suit?” Adam asked, disbelievingly.

Ronan was already in his suit. Black and fitted. The buttons were open, his shirt was rebelliously untucked, there was no tie, and Adam could see his tattoo rearing its head from his collar, but Ronan still managed to look like he belonged in it. Adam felt a surge of jealousy.

“Hurry up,” Ronan said.

“You can go ahead,” Adam said. “I’ll just change and…”

“Nice try, Parrish. I’m not suffering through conversations with old stuffy people about school alone. You’re going to be doing all the talking.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s for the best. I know these people. They like little brown-nosers like you.”

Adam huffed, but started taking his t-shirt off. What difference did it make if Ronan saw his bruises now? Half of them were from work, and the other ones… well, Ronan had seen the worst of his father’s wrath anyway. The bruise on Adam’s jaw was already starting to go blue.

He shucked his t-shirt onto his bed. Immediately, Ronan looked away.

Adam pulled on the white shirt, relishing the soft feel against his skin. He’d never worn clothes this expensive before. The shirt was loose, especially around the shoulders, and it was a bit long on the arms, but Adam preferred it being loose to it being too-tight and short. He was half-way through buttoning it up when Ronan spoke.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Adam turned around, surprised. “What?” he asked.

Ronan still wasn’t looking at him.

“About your dad,” he said. “About… you know…” he rubbed his chin, now clean-shaven, which was unusual for Ronan. “I don’t think sometimes. Like you said. About…” he exhaled. “Consequences. When I saw him beating you I was just… I was so angry. I didn’t think about how you would have to make that choice. You know. Lie to the cops about your dad, or… be kicked out of the house. I didn’t think. I just… I wanted it to stop, and I didn’t know what else to do.”

Adam’s throat felt painfully dry.

“I’m sorry,” Ronan repeated.

They stayed that way in silence for a minute. Ronan looked everywhere but at Adam, while Adam stood awkwardly with his shirt unbuttoned, staring down at the soft carpet beneath his feet.

“I thought that’s what I wanted,” Adam admitted. “You know. To… get myself out of there myself. No help from others. I mean… that is what I wanted. It is what I want. But…” He glanced at Ronan. “It’s ok. What you did, I mean. I’m not…” he took in a shaky breath. “It’s fine.”

They looked at each other for a moment. Adam swallowed. “I can’t hear out of my left ear, you know? Because of him. He… did that to me.”

He wasn’t sure why he was saying all this; why he was trusting Ronan with this secret he’d never told anyone before. But it felt good to get it off his chest, to have someone else know how much Adam had been through, how much he’d survived. Ronan’s expression didn’t change. There was no sign of pity in his eyes, no concerned press of his lips. The relief that hit Adam was so intense, he felt faint.

“I’m glad you did,” Adam continued, and he was shocked to find that he meant it. “You’re right, I mean… I don’t know what would have been the best thing for you to do, in that moment. But I’m glad you didn’t just stand there and do nothing.”

Ronan rubbed the back of his neck. “Thanks,” he said. “For not letting them take me to jail.”

“You’ll get there yourself one day, I’m sure.”

“Asshole,” Ronan said, but he grinned, a smile so small and so hesitant, if Adam hadn't been the one witnessing it, he wouldn't have believed Ronan was capable of it. 

Adam grinned back.