32: “Just kiss me, you idiot.” (happy birthday!!! I accidentally made this too long yikes)
They’re tramping through the tall grass along the fence of Ronan’s property, Ronan wielding a stick as if it were a machete and the grass was thick jungle. Gansey is terribly charmed by this, and by the way the Barns doesn’t actually seem to have a definable edge, just a fence and then more Barns beyond it — or the same Barns? It’s strange, but it almost looks like a mirror image.
It’s not the first time Gansey’s been invited to a friend’s extravagant home and been made to feel impressed, but it’s the first time he’s been to the Lynch’s. It feels hard earned, like he’s built up a rapport with a distrustful dog rather than purchased an expensive steak to distract it. Not that Ronan is a dog, or anything short of a prince, really, here in his domain; tufts of creatures and jewels of barns spread out on rolling fields like an overturned jewellery box.
“I wish you could have met my dad today,” Ronan’s saying, and his stick swishing gets a bit more aggressive.
“Well when does he get home?” Gansey asks, casting an eye back at the outline of the house against a dewy afternoon sky.
“Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the next time the moon’s full. Maybe only at the strike of midnight on the twelfth day of the month.”
An extraordinarily enigmatic answer that Gansey can do little with. “He travels?” he asks weakly. Ronan laughs.
“Yeah Dick. He travels. He likes to surprise us.” He hits the fence with his stick, and Gansey frowns when the white paint turns blue at the point of impact.
The thing is, a lot of people have tried to impress Gansey, and a lot of people have walked away satisfied that they have done so. He’s never had such a condensed feeling of curiosity about a singular person who isn’t Glendower. He’s never wanted so badly to keep his awe concealed, to see what else Ronan Lynch can do.
Ronan seems to be able to tell anyway, and he smirks at Gansey. Then his eyes drop somewhere below Gansey’s gaze. And then they slide sideways, and his mouth twitches up, shark-like. A shark in training.
“Mom’s calling,” he says, and Gansey spins to see her, a honey blonde waif like a maiden from a renaissance painting, the sun plying her hair with golden kisses.
She’s waving one hand and holding the door open, and the whole thing feels like a dream come to life or a farm house from a movie, a hero called in to a gritty made-from-scratch supper. Like in the movie though, there’s something sinister about the perfection of it, and from the look on Ronan’s face, he’s in on it.
They reach the main house and Aurora smiles curiously at them. She smiles with her whole body, somehow, like if Gansey could only see her eyebrow or the crook of her arm, he could still tell what expression she was making. “Did you boys get into mischief way out there?”
“Of course not,” Gansey answers at the same time that Ronan says “Oh yeah,” and laughs a little nastily. “Barns burnt down, no little brother is safe.”
“Ronan,” Aurora scolds gently. “You know Matthew would follow you anywhere.”
“Yeah, mom, that’s why it was a joke.” He rolls his eyes at Gansey conspiratorially. He grabs what looks like a pear from the branch of a coat rack before he walks off to the kitchen, and Gansey does a double take.
Aurora smiles warmly at him, and takes his elbow. “You must be hungry.”
Gansey’s eyes are still narrowly watching the coat rack. He feels himself smiling, one part automatic politeness, two parts thrill; the inexplicable magic of the Barns making him feel closer than ever to his quest. And just as importantly — closer than ever to Ronan.
He looks up, and Ronan’s watching him from the kitchen doorway. He recognizes the challenge in his face, and Gansey squares his shoulders. “Starving, thank you, Mrs Lynch,” he says, but then he reaches back and plucks a second pear from the rack. Ronan’s grin widens when Gansey bites into it.
“Come sit down, you idiot. You’ll spoil your appetite,” Ronan says, and just like that, Gansey’s in.
I looked down and couldn’t help but smile at our little girl, sprawled out in the middle of our bed. She was so tiny, but yet she managed to take up more space than her father and I combined. “Do you want to take her to her bed?” I asked looking over at my husband who was watching television.
A smile spread across his face as he nodded. Neymar had been so good with her for the past two years, I couldn’t have asked for a better person. He leaned down slowly to pick her up. He lifted her as gently as he could so that he didn’t wake her up. Still smiling, I watched him cradle her in his arms as he exited our bedroom.
Neymar walked down the hallway, passed Davi’s room, before entering a bedroom at the end of the hall. He walked slowly and set the little girl down softly into her own bed. Pulling the covers over her shoulder, he sat down beside her bed just to watch her sleep for a moment.
“I love you so much,” he said quietly, leaning down to kiss her lightly on her forehead before sitting back in the chair. He smiled to himself as he continued to sit there. “I remember when your mom told me she was pregnant,” he told her.
“I was so excited to bring another baby in the world. And I remember when she told me we were having a little girl,” he chuckled a little. “You scared me more than anything. I couldn’t imagine having a little girl look up to me,” he smiled.
“You know,” he told her.
“I almost missed you being born,” he explained, “I remember running through the hallways of the hospital, praying to God I didn’t miss it. And you waited. You waited for me to get there before you decided to grace the world with your presence.”
He leaned up in his chair so that he was closer to her. He lowered his voice so that he was sure not to wake her up. She looked so peaceful and beautiful while she was sleeping.
“I remember holding you for the first time and looking down at how tiny you were,” he was smiling again. “I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t cry like a baby,” he admitted, laughing quietly.
“You had me wrapped around those tiny little fingers of yours from the moment I saw you.”
“And the first time those little hands of yours wrapped around my finger,” he shook his head. “I knew from that moment, that I would do anything for you. Anything in my power to make sure you are happy and safe.”
I began to wonder what happened to Neymar and decided to go make sure she didn’t wake up. Before walking all the way down the hall, I peaked into Davi’s room to make sure he was sleeping as well. After checking on him, I peaked into our daughter’s room and saw Ney sitting beside her bed. Not wanting to interrupt, I stopped in the doorway and rested my head against the doorframe.
“I love you more than you can ever know,” he told her again. “And you are the most beautiful little girl God has ever created,” he smiled as he brushed her hair away from her face.
“I promise,” he led in, “I will always put your dreams ahead of mine and I will help you every step of the way,” he told her.
“And I will protect you from all of the bad things in the world so that I never have to see you hurt,” he said as his voice started to get a little shaky. “And just know, not only am I always going to be there for you, Davi will always protect you.”
“I can’t tell you enough how much I love you and how perfect you are in every single way,” he smiled. “I’ll tell you this until you’re sick of hearing it, but I want to make sure you know it. I love you, you are beautiful, and I am always here for you. No matter what.”
“Goodnight, baby girl,” he leaned down and kissed her forehead. “Sweet dreams.”
I stepped forward slowly and placed my hand lightly on Neymar’s back. He turned around and smiled at me before he stood up. I rested my head on his shoulder as the two of us stood there in silence.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
“For what?” I looked up at him.
“Her,” he smiled.
I leaned up so that I could kiss him lightly. He pulled me in closer and hugged me tight. “It’s me who should be thanking you,” I looked into his eyes. “You are the best dad either of them could ever ask for,” I assured him.
“And I know you’re going to love our baby girl as much as anyone can love,” I smiled. “And whenever I think that I can’t love you anymore, I see you with her and that love just grows and grows.”
He smiled before grabbing my hand and leading us towards the doorway. I caught him turn around and look into her room one more time before continuing towards our bedroom. My heart warmed and I couldn’t help but smile.