Now completely edited and redone. Contains spoilers for The Raven King.

Adam spends his nights with his hands around Ronan's throat and wakes each time shaking.

He knows, logically, that he's just dreaming and he's not really in danger of hurting Ronan - he was in the service of Cabeswater, not the demon, and besides, both were gone now and had no bearing on him.

He knows this, but his hands still shake when he wakes up.

Tonight's is one of the worst nightmares yet. Usually his dreams are just a rehash of what had already happened - just a constant loop of his hands on Ronan's throat, his eyes spinning in his head, his pleas to be stopped, please, stop him.

But tonight it's just him and Ronan and tonight he isn't pulled away and tonight, right before he wakes up, Ronan is nearly-

When Adam wakes up, his hands are shaking and tears are streaming down his face. His eyes are sore and he can't tell if they're hurting from phantom pain or from crying so hard.

Adam shudders as he sits up and clenches his sheets tight in his hands, letting them ground him and bring him back to now. He begins to calculate the risks versus the rewards of running to the bathroom down the hall when the first wave of nausea hits him. On the one hand, he could get caught by Ronan or Opal or Chainsaw or Matthew, and being caught by one inevitably meant the others would know, but on the other hand, he would rather not throw up in Declan's room and lying down on the cold bathroom tiles was beginning to sound really appealing.

He remembers the last moments of his dream and is almost overwhelmed by the powerful urge to spew his guts and decides the rewards are worth the risks. He throws off the blanket and dashes to the bathroom, not even taking care to silence his footsteps. Once there, he realizes his hands are shaking too much to lock the door and gives that up in favor of losing his dinner in the toilet.

Afterwards, Adam flushes and pushes himself back into the corner between the shower and the wall, resting his cheek on the cold tub beside him. He lets its chill calm him and takes deep, shuddering breaths, squeezing his hands between his knees to try to get them to stop moving.

His thoughts begin to drift back to his dream and he tries desperately to keep himself from sobbing out loud. It's not real, it wasn't real, it happened but not like that. Ronan's okay, he's safe, he's in his room right now. He's probably sleeping or maybe doing something stupid, but he's definitely alive and definitely okay.

It's in moments like these that Adam finds he most misses Cabeswater presence, misses being able to share with it his emotions so it could look them over and roll them away.

For a split second, he entertains the idea of going to Ronan instead, then decides it would be best not to bother him.

As though the thought were a magical summons, the moment Adam had pushed it from his mind he hears a floorboard creak in the hallway. He stills, staring at the door and hoping whoever it is just needs a midnight snack and will bypass the bathroom completely. He almost swears out loud when there's a knock on the door.

"The bathroom's, um. It's - it's occupied." He curses himself for sounding so shaky and prays whoever is on the other side doesn't notice. He prays also that it's Opal, who could probably be most easily convinced to leave.

"Parrish? You okay?"

No such luck.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine, just -" He cuts himself off as he catches sight of his still shaking hands, and sucks in a breath. "I'm fine, Ronan."

"Like fuck you are. Open up."

"Really. I'm okay, I'll be fine."


Adam doesn't trust himself to respond without crying again. His boyfriend was absolutely the last person in this house he wanted to find him and not someone he wanted to see him right now. It was bad enough he was still having these nightmares, but if one of the others found out and if that person was Ronan? He didn't want to have that conversation, didn't want to have to explain what was wrong to any of them, didn't want to have to accept the help they'd offer. He loved them all and knew they loved him, but he was so tired of being the one to accept their help, again and again. He breathes in shakily, trying to calm himself and hoping Ronan will leave without trying the still-unlocked door.

Ronan tries the still-unlocked door and, finding it open, comes in. Adam turns back to the door just in time to see Ronan's face fall in concern as he spots Adam on the ground, curled up against the tub and trying to keep his hands still between his knees.

"Adam." Ronan sighs and shuts the door softly behind him, sinking slowly to the floor in front of Adam.

Adam turns his stare to his lap, not wanting to meet Ronan's eyes and unwilling to watch his hands any longer. "I'm fine, Ronan, really, I just - it was just." Adam takes another steadying breath. "I just had a nightmare and they wouldn't stop . . . they won't stop shaking."

Adam can feel Ronan staring at him, but he refuses to move his head. He flinches when Ronan stands back up, but he just moves around Adam, pulling the shower curtain halfway down the rod.

"Ronan?" Adam moves his gaze up to around Ronan's knees. "What are y-"

Adam cuts off when Ronan bends down and lifts him up. Ronan steps over into the tub and then sits down in the still-dark half, leaning back against the wall. He keeps his arms tight around Adam, but moves his hands from around his side and under his legs to cup Adam's fists instead.

They sit like this for a while, just staring at Adam's hands.

The only sounds are Adam's shaky breaths, which slowly begin to even out, and the reassuring in and out of Ronan's own steady breathing until Ronan interrupts the silence. "You know, I think one of the first things I fell in love with about you were your hands."

Adam's snort sounds more like a broken sob, but Ronan seems to get the message because he continues, "No, really."

Adam breathes for a long time, just thinking, turning the offered information over in his head, then nods and rests his head on Ronan's shoulder.

Ronan doesn't continue, but Adam's okay with that. For once he's grateful that talking isn't one of Ronan's strong suits; he doesn't want to talk - about his dream, about anything. He's content just to sit in the soothing dark of his boyfriend's chilly shower if it means he doesn't have to explain himself. He waits and finds that, sitting here in the silent semi-dark with Ronan, he's stopped shaking.

Ronan breathes deeply, then lifts Adam's hands to his mouth, just resting his lips on Adam's knuckles. It's such a light touch that Adam can barely feel it, but, even so, he decides he likes it. Ronan seems to find some sort of courage from the contact and keeps talking. "You have beautiful hands." He pauses again, breathes, then finishes quietly, "I love them."

Adam can feel Ronan's breath on his hands and realizes that, this time, he believes him.

They sit like this for awhile, Adam's head on Ronan's shoulder. Eventually, Ronan begins to rub little circles on the back of Adam's hands.

In the silence, Adam finds his thoughts drifting back to his dream, but this time, wrapped in Ronan's arms and sitting in his bathtub, the memory doesn't hurt him or scare him anywhere near as much as it had before. Safe in the comfort of Ronan here, right here, he lets his thoughts go back, back even further, past his dream, all the way back to the actual event.

Adam remembers hurting Ronan, remembers Ronan refusing to push him away, remembers feeling completely useless, nothing but a threat to everyone around him and unable to stop himself.

He brings himself back to the tub and finally looks up at Ronan, who's staring straight ahead, lost in thought.


Ronan hums in acknowledgement, but otherwise doesn't react.

"Why didn't you. . . . At the rest stop, why didn't you stop me?"

Ronan closes his eyes and doesn't answer for a long time. Adam would have thought he'd fallen asleep if he weren't still rubbing circles on the back of his hands.

Finally, Ronan's hands still and he turns to meet Adam's gaze. "Because," he sighs, squeezing Adam's hands lightly. "Because I couldn't hurt you."

They just look at each other for awhile, and then Adam laughs. Ronan looks surprised, but grins back and bumps his shoulder into Adam's. "Any more stupid questions, Parrish?" he laughs, before bending down to place a kiss on Adam's forehead. Adam hums like he's seriously considering the question and Ronan laughs and nudges his shoulder again, before leaning back against the wall and shutting his eyes. Adam readjusts himself on Ronan's shoulder, trying to get comfortable. Surprisingly, lying on top of another person in a tub turns out to not be the most restful of places to sleep, but with Ronan present to be a constant reminder that his nightmare was just a dream, he's not exactly missing his borrowed bed. It's not long before he falls asleep, content in the fact that, the next time he wakes up, nightmare or no, he won't be alone.

Title from Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason".

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