disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to Sonya and Evie. I'm so angry.
notes: /squints I literally can't even tell if this makes sense anymore, but here, take it anyway.
notes2: set somewhere in the middle of The Dream Thieves, bc that was right around when I realized I wanted Ronan and Adam to kiss like burning.

title: well, it'll be a miracle
summary: Your collar in his hand, his blood on your lips. — Ronan/Adam.

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Monmouth was dark, and Ronan couldn't sleep.

It was the silent-still kind of dark that hung around in the ungodly hours after midnight, when even the creeps and crooks downtown settled in for the night. Henrietta wasn't a big town, Ronan reflected acidly. It didn't have that sort of bite.

But it didn't matter.

Monmouth was dark, and Ronan couldn't sleep, and the world had gone empty-hearted around him. The insomnia was worse than it had been in a long time—after Adam woke the damn ley line, his dreams had taken on an increasingly eerie sentience, proving only what Ronan already knew—and tonight Gansey was out like a light.

His exhilaration and his awe were heady things, were Gansey's; but they drained him, let him rest.

Ronan had never been so lucky.

Sleeping was dangerous. He didn't do it more than he had to, and only when his body was close up to giving out on him if he didn't, because sleeping led to dreaming, and dreaming led to—well. Dreaming led to other things, for all the good it did him.

Chainsaw was a heavy weight on his shoulder, unerringly comforting, her warmth seeping down into his bones.

And the night called.

"Kerah!" cried Chainsaw.

"Exactly," Ronan agreed, all shark-white smile and murder eyes in the far-off glint of the city lights. He felt flayed raw, like the frogs he used to dissect when he was younger and less Aglionby than he was now.

It was like this:

Pop. Squish. The thin films of pale green frog skin pulled away from its body, pinned down to the dissection table. The red and grey of its insides. The dark brown nub of its dead heart. Its brain beneath its skull. His father's face, covered in blood. Limbs akimbo, spine snapped. The crowbar, and soft blue petals. Blue, herself. People and frogs weren't all that different, really, because dead things were all the same even when they'd come from inside a dream. They all went pop. They all went squish.

And he felt like that. He felt like that, only all the time.

Chainsaw dragged her beak along his skull in neat little lines, something to ground him back in the present. His feathers were the colour of ink. She always knew what he needed before he knew it himself.

"Fuck it," Ronan said aloud.

He was up and moving without another thought. Everything was worse at night: his hunger, his need, his prickling bristling rage and the way it hazed across his tongue like sweet tea. It was always worse at night, though his sometimes-isolation and Chainsaw made it marginally more palatable.

But Gansey was asleep, and Noah, for all his apparent ghostiness, wasn't the person Ro nan needed right then. Blue would have sufficed, because he had recognized from the beginning that they were cut from the same cloth. Cruelty came easy to them: she would have reflected his hollow emptiness, magnified it, and he'd be able to hate her for it. She'd purge him of it, bleed it all out.

Pop. Squish.

Blue wasn't his to bother.

That left only Adam. At the thought, Ronan's lips pulled back from his teeth into a smarmy sneering razorblade of a smile. It sliced across his face from ear to ear red like a sunset, red like the devil. It was all there, laid out like a feral dog on a stoop with rabies around the muzzle.

It anyone would entertain him tonight, it would be Adam.

St. Agnes was a forty-minute walk from Monmouth, from one end of town to the other—at least the part of town Ronan frequented. The rest of the world was outside of his parameters of influence, and, therefore, superfluous.

Adam slept in the church tower, and Ronan didn't do nice things, and this was the way things were.

The night was sticky-warm, cicadas chirping cheerfully from the space in the trees, buzzing over his skin soft as a fingertip. Ronan found himself grinning savagely along with them, alternating black and orange-gold as his shadow grew and lengthened, shortened then grew again beneath the street lamps. His feet ate away the asphalt until there was nothing left, and he stood in front of the church where he spent every Sunday morning, praying for a soul he didn't think he had.

He hadn't even realized he'd walked so far.

Hungry and hollowed-out as he was, walking was nothing. There was a door 'round back with a broken latch and an old lock, easily forced open by a determined seventeen-year-old boy whose nightmares became reality when he held onto them too hard.

Ronan's hands curved white and claw-like around the knob, and he shoved.

The door swung open with a long, pained creak, the kind that came from hinges gone too long without oil.

"Fuck, s'amazing someone hasn't broken in and killed him, yet," Ronan said. Chainsaw scolded fondly at him for his language, as she always did. She was foul-mouthed as they came (he suspected all ravens were, not just this particular girl), a product of his own mind so of course she was, but she hated it when he swore.

"Don't talk to me about security," he told her. "I'm the most dangerous person in twenty miles. I don't need locks."

It wasn't a lie, if only because Ronan didn't lie, not even to himself.

He stepped inside.

Chainsaw scolded again, high-pitched kree-ee! and flew for the trees.

He stopped to look back and blink expectantly at her. "You coming?"

Her beady eyes glinted, and she clicked her beak. "Kerah, kreee-rah!"

As though that meant anything at all.

"Suit yourself," he told her.

But he left the door open behind him. Chainsaw would do as she pleased, even if no one else would. And besides, this was Henrietta. The worst things in this town lived in Ronan's head, and out of it only when he got unlucky.

The church curled in around him like a safety blanket. It felt odd, suddenly; it was too dim by half, and closing in slowly like the walls were beginning to rot and collapse in on themselves. Of course, this wasn't the case, but Ronan usually lived in the margins when he wasn't trying to set the world alight, and the church did not want to be set alight.

And so he ascended the staircase to Adam's room, hand scraping along the bannister, knuckles bruising over gouges in the grain soft as a lover. The real world was very far away. Removed, as it were, and he tried not to think about the lush greenness of the Barns.

The church of his childhood, for all its holy shelter, had none of the warmth and grit he associated with home.

(He could have been sick with longing.)

"Hey, Einstein, you awake?"

He hadn't bothered to knock.

Adam blinked owlishly at him. He wore nothing but low-slung sleep pants that were frayed at the hems, but then, Ronan didn't think there was single piece of clothing that Adam owned that wasn't frayed or patched in some way or another.

The sight of him like this, shirtless and sleep-stupid and utterly inelegant for once in his goddamn life sent a wave of inexplicable fury through Ronan. That Adam could be this person, starkly poor and somehow belonging but not belonging in this shit excuse for a home—it made him churn with an unnameable rage.

"Lynch? What are you—?"

His voice off low and thick with fatigue, the kind tired that came with too many nights of too little sleep, too many hours spent exhausting an already exhausted body. The circles beneath his eyes were old-bruise purple.

The sick thing was, Ronan actually knew what Adam looked like with actual bruises around his eyes. The sicker thing was that if didn't know better, he would have thought they were the same thing.

They'd both been hiding for a very long time.

"You're pathetic," Ronan said, and didn't know where the words came from. Somewhere there was a demon fighting a war for his soul, and he'd been losing his whole life.

Adam stiffend, the sleep-warm loose set of his shoulders hunching into themselves.

Ronan couldn't help the ugly smile.

It was something, at least.

"What," Adam said.

It wasn't a question.

"You heard me," Ronan said. "Pathetic. Living here, away from us, like you can even exist on your own. We all know you can't, Parrish, why do you even try?"

There it was, the frothy rage, salty as the sea. It roiled within him, red and black in turn, a diseased sick thing that just wouldn't die.

Winding Adam up at night was not at all different than winding Adam up during the day. Certainly, it required the same amount of effort (which was to say: none), and certainly, it was just as satisfying. It was a relief, almost, to pour out all the anger and funnel it into something productive, even if that something was destroying Adam Parrish's cracked water cup of a soul.

Adam looked at him with him hollow eyes. The flash of victory didn't feel as good as it should have.

"You think I don't know that?" he asked, coldly. "You think I don't see that?"

But like a poisoned wound that was well on its way to festering infection, Ronan steamrolled over him, and went on spitting out words that tasted like acid on his tongue. "No, you fucking well don't, how are you so smart when you're so fucking stupid?!"

His eyes went hot then cold and Ronan watched the emotions cycle through him, the feelings unprecedented.

"I'm not stupid, don't—"

"You are, Jesus, Parrish, you're so stupid I don't know what to do with—"

"He loves Blue!" Adam shouted. "He loves her, and nothing—!"

And here he stopped, breathing jagged-raw, teeth like marbles in his mouth, chewing on the words exactly the way Gansey was always chewing on mint leaves.

Ronan waiting him out.

"And nothing either of us do is going to change that," Adam finished, dropping his gaze. "I love her, and you—" he paused, had the grace not to say it, though it hung in the air around them unsavoury as curdled milk, "—but it doesn't matter, because he loves her and he—"

Adam's voice went tight, trailed off. He didn't need to say it for Ronan to understand it. But it wasn't like that. It wasn't like that at all. Because you could love a person but not be in love with them, and Ronan sometimes thought he might have been the only person in the world to understand that.

"He's never going to love anyone but her. Not me. Not you."

The air went quiet around them, and the cheeping of the cicadas outside in the bush was the only sound, and even that was muted and far away, muffled through stone and the soupy-thick air. The soundlessness clung to Ronan, stuck his black tank to his skin with sweat. It was spring, but it felt like full summer—the Virginia heat was unforgiving, not as unforgiving as Adam's piercing stare.

Ronan turned away, felt like his mouth was full of broken glass and he was choking on the shards.

His temper appeared like it had never left.

Boxing came east to Ronan. Curl a fist, thumb out so it doesn't break on impact, put your weight behind it. Don't be afraid that it's going to hurt. Don't ever, ever be afraid that it's going to hurt, because whether you like it or not, that is the intention of throwing a punch.

To hurt.

Adam's nose crumpled beneath Ronan's fist. Blood gushed between his fingers, red and alive. For a moment, he was struck by the humanity of it: pulsing and glinting black-wet, slippery-hot against his palms.

Ronan had been covered in blood before, but it had always, always, always been Lynch blood.

This was very different.

Adam staggered back. "What the hell?! What the hell, Lynch, you crazy bastard, what the goddamn hell?!"

God, he was loud.

The two boys stared at each other for a very long time: Adam with his hand over his nose, copper red all down his chin. Ronan, tattoo curving around his throat like a knife in the night, a mimicry of civility where it twined down to his collar bone and out of sight beneath his shirt.

They could have been anyone, but they weren't. They were Adam and Ronan, and they weren't friends, not really, though they would have gone to their deaths for one another and gone gladly.

"I hate you," Adam breathed.

"Once more, with feeling," Ronan replied, and hauled him forwards.

Later, he would remember it like this:

Adam kisses like the end of the world, hot and slick and tasting of metal. It's not a texture you've encountered before, but then, there aren't many people you've kissed. There aren't many people you've wanted to kiss.

Not like this, anyway.

(You determinedly do not think of Gansey, all his beautiful ruffled edges, because he's your brother and it's not like that. You determinedly do not think of Blue, of her soft mouth and her stubborn chin, because she's almost your sister and it's almost not like that, either. They belong to each other, they just don't know it yet.)

He gasps under your mouth, sounds like he's choking on it. You understand, and the world has narrowed and narrowed to this:

Your collar in his hand, his blood on your lips. You want him this way, every way, naked in your sheets

God, you are so fucked up.

You jerk backwards and he's just staring at you, wide-eyed and breathing hard. You think you can see Cabeswater in him for one shining second, dappled green and gold with a dreamer's lifesblood in his veins.

But then it's gone, and he's just Adam again, shabbily dark-lovely in the dim of the room.

You can feel yourself grinning, muscles in your face pulling and bunching, though you don't know why.

"Later, Einstein," you say. Neither of you will ever speak of this again. It's probably a ood thing, and you wheel around fast as you can, head for the door. You touch your chin, smeared in Adam's still warm-to-the-touch blood. Before you leave, you can't help but lick it away, and his gaze follows you until you're gone.

Outside, Chainsaw screams.

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fin.

notes3: don't look at me