04x10:hush

Calm drawn off from the centre of itself bring it back loop it back. Wanders so wander retrieve it loop it back. Worry isn’t worth its tired weight but what to do with it. They aren’t the wild animals you think they are, out there in your worry trees.

Out from under branches: cedar fir juniper. Pine holly magnolia. And how full they sit. In the rain in the dark. Laden with good secrets and stealth.

There you are and all you are becoming. Eucalyptus sleeping in the studio. White and red flowers in night water- whispering? singing? dreaming.

hush

When you dream like Ronan can, you get to be a light sleeper.

It’s so late it’s early on an autumn morning when he hears the soft sweep of his bedroom door opening.  It’s an unmistakeable sound, not like the skittering of something he might have pulled from sleep, which means that he doesn’t reach for the knife he has stashed under his pillow.  Habit makes his heart pick up its pace anyway, frenetic against the cage of his ribs for a long moment.

For a moment he thinks it’s Blue, but Blue isn’t that tall and doesn’t walk like that.  She also smells like sweet pastry and something floral, not like gasoline and cold air, like Adam Parrish does.  

Adam Parrish, who is breaking in Ronan’s room on a school night, puts his arm out for Chainsaw when she makes her low croak and flutters across the room to him through the pitch dark.  She lands on his forearm, scrabbling for balance in a way that must at least leave marks.  Ronan is familiar with the feeling; he’s added a few new scars high on his shoulder.

She mutters something to Adam very quietly, reaching out to run her beak along the hem of his shirt at his shoulder.  There isn’t anything quite so familiar as watching Chainsaw interact with Ronan’s friends, like a black feathery version of himself, except with less knowledge of social boundaries.  Adam puts up with her fussing for a moment before moving his arm so she hops off onto the desk.

“S’up,” Ronan says rather than asks, his voice a sleepy rasp.  Adam doesn’t respond, but he does come close enough to slump with his back against the edge of Ronan’s mattress inside the curve of Ronan’s body where he’s lying on his side. “You can get in.”

“Yes,” Adam agrees, but makes no move to join Ronan on the mattress.

“Hate to be the one to point this out,” Ronan says, after a minute. “But aren’t you meant to be in Massachusetts right now?”

“Observant,” Adam mutters. “I couldn’t sleep.”

“What, yesterday night?” It’s an eleven hour drive, give or take, between Harvard and here. Ronan can say that with great certainty, because he’s made it more than once.

Adam shrugs tightly, shoulders shrinking up to his ears and then dropping sharp and final. “For a while.”

“So you drove to Virginia.” It isn’t a question. 

“Are you enjoying stating the obvious?” He sounds annoyed, now.

“Just clarifying,” Ronan replies, with a turn of amusement. “I know how you feel about assumptions.”

Around them, the Barns are quiet with a hush that the two of them can barely break, supernatural in its totality. This moment, with just them, feels very small amidst that. 

Ronan reaches out and curls a hand around Adam’s nape, feeling the heat of his skin and the delicate shifts of his heart. Quietude that isn’t found in the house of prayer is something new to him, in a way, something he’s still learning. Adam, for all his driven purpose, is a good teacher.

“I’m tired,” Adam says, eventually.

“Get in the bed, then,” Ronan replies, unimpressed.

“No,” Adam corrects. “I’m tired.”

That, Ronan can understand. That bare-boned exhaustion that goes deeper than pain, deeper than the body itself, something that sinks in its teeth and holds hard. He’s lived it, he knows Adam has too, but he wishes, intrinsically and inescapably, that they don’t have to live like that anymore.

Life doesn’t work like that, for people like them.

Ronan murmurs, “Yikes.”  His tone somehow manages to be vaguely sympathetic and derisive at the same time.  It’s a talent.

“Yikes,” Adam echoes. He sounds like he’s smirking. He reaches up and peels Ronan’s hand from his neck, examining it like it’s a foreign thing. As ever, his careful regard is its own creature.

“I’ll offer you a deal,” Ronan suggests. “You get into bed and try for a half hour to sleep, and if that doesn’t work we’ll get up and do something.”

“Do what?”

“Shoot hoops, I don’t know. Fuck sake, Parrish.”

“Like you’ve ever done that in living memory, Raven boy,” Adam says. “Move over.”

“Hard sell,” Ronan says, but does as Adam orders. Adam toes off his sneakers and shoves off his jeans before shoving underneath the covers. The two of them fit together familiar, awkwardly shaped with their sharp elbows and jutting stubborn chins and everything else unused to giving ground but still, somehow, managing to anyway.

Adam empties a breath into the pillow and Ronan’s shoulder, slow. His hand presses over Ronan’s heart. He doesn’t make it five minutes. Ronan, lost in the fragility of Adam’s skull curved in his palm and the easy slump of his limbs, breathes until he follows Adam down.

It’s not the answer, to sleep. It’s just a start.