*A Roah story for @glitterghost because it’s their birthday! (FYI: sort of nsfwish!)
“Jesus Fucking Christ!” Ronan lands on the cracked cement hard enough that he sees stars, his elbows scraped raw and weeping, his already distressed jeans sporting two new holes at the knees. There’s blood in his mouth from where he accidentally bit his lip. “Mary Mother of God!” He swears for another minute as he lies on the pavement, feeling every cut searing alive with the rapid pounding of his heart.
“Not bad, not bad,” Noah calls out from his spot on the top of the hill. He has Ronan’s phone in his hand. He’s spent most of the evening trying to teach Ronan how to do skateboarding tricks but so far Ronan has only managed to collect an impressive amount of injuries and possibly a concussion. Noah plays back the last video, smirking at Ronan’s failed attempt to do an ollie.
Ronan limps up the hill, skateboard held behind his shoulders like he knows what he’s about. Noah thinks it’s hilarious and undeniably hot: Ronan, tattered and bloody, scowling and eyes on fire.
“What.” Ronan’s staring at Noah, a challenge in his eyes but that trick doesn’t work on Noah. He grins and reaches out to snag the bottom of Ronan’s jeans, pulling him off balance and sending him crashing down in the scratchy, dry grass.
“Son of a bitch!” Ronan yowls but then he grabs Noah and they’re a tangle of arms and legs, a laughing, hysterical mass. Their momentum sends them rolling down the hill, onto the sidewalk. Ronan yowls again as his cheekbone meets the concrete.
“Sorry!” Noah can barely say the word he’s laughing so hard. He holds up Ronan’s phone, showing him the crack across the screen. Ronan shrugs; he hates the phone so it’s no big deal. “Here,” Noah twists his body around until he’s lying on top of Ronan. “Watch this video. It’ll show you how to ollie.”
“Fuck that,” Ronan bats the phone away and there’s a pause, the moment zinging with connection and possibilities. Then Ronan’s bloody, bruised fingers are touching Noah’s face, moving from chin to jaw and into his fair hair. Noah doesn’t gasp; he saw this coming from a mile a way, he knew this would happen but still—it feels unexpected and new. Every time it feels new.
The kiss happens like all the previous ones, like lighting a match and watching it burn, burn, burn. Ronan’s mouth on his is hot and his tongue is so warm and Noah swears he can feel it—the kiss—scorching through his entire being. This time he does gasp and Ronan makes a pleased noise before he twists them around, pushing Noah into the grass. Then it’s thighs pressed between legs and friction and Noah reaching down to press the heel of his hand against Ronan and Ronan swearing quietly and mouthing at Noah’s neck.
It’s heady and good and fuck Noah wishes he was alive, even though Ronan’s thoughts are so loud and they’re telling him that he’s enough enough enough. He can feel Ronan’s pleasure, connected with him in a way that he still doesn’t understand. It’s not an invasion, it’s bonding on the most essential level and—Ronan goes rigid above him, gasping quietly, and warmth flows through Noah. He presses a cold hand to the back of Ronan’s neck, feeling the tension relax, his fingertips trailing over hot, sweat-slick skin.
“Good?” Noah asks, though of course he knows the answer.
“Yeah,” Ronan’s voice is a hoarse rumble. “Fuck. Yeah.” A pause as Ronan tries to think again. Noah watches his scattered thoughts realign, amusement pricking through him. “Quit grinning like you know shit,” Ronan snaps. Noah laughs at that, brushing his hand down Ronan’s neck, down his chest, letting it rest over his rapidly beating heart. “Was it… good for you?”
Noah’s charmed by Ronan’s awkwardness, every time. “Yeah,” Noah replies, stretching lazily beneath Ronan. “You make it good.” Ronan’s already flushed but his blush increases by several shades. He’s holding himself up on his elbows, as if he would actually be able to crush Noah. His fingers lightly trace the hollow under Noah’s eye and he looks pensive. “I wish I could make you better.”
“Please.” Noah presses both hands against Ronan’s chest, prompting him to sit up. They’re both a mess, covered in grass and dirt and, in Ronan’s case, bodily fluids. It’s too dark in this space between the street lights for anyone to see them and Noah loves it, knows that Ronan loves it, too—the thrill of messing around in a semi-public place, at night, close to the road where Ronan spends so much of time.
Ronan’s still gazing at him with sad eyes so Noah taps the phone and the Murder Squash song goes off, loud and raucous. Ronan jolts in surprise but then he’s laughing and singing along with Noah, “Squash one! Squash two!” By the time the song ends Ronan is back to his usual self and Noah feels relieved.
“Here, let me show you this video,” Noah says. He’s worried about what Ronan will think but ever since he found it he’s been dying (ha, haha) to share it with him.
“I don’t need some jackass telling me how to skateboard!” Ronan complains. “That’s what I got you for.”
“What if it was me showing your how to skateboard?”
Ronan’s brows furrow and he cocks his head to the side. “Really?”
“Uh-huh. Here, take a look.” The video was made a little over seven years before, back when Noah spent his time skating with Mountain High students at a makeshift skate park on the other side of town. In the video Noah is wearing a Warped Tour shirt, band bracelets that wrap around his left wrist, white jeans that are torn and dirty, a Blink-182 cap (worn backwards, of course), and extremely well loved Vans with flames on the side. The camera follows him as he goes through the course, executing tricks with ease. In the background someone is blaring “All the Small Things” and Noah sings the lyrics. There are boys and girls, laughter and cursing. It’s idyllic, really, a brief snapshot of the way life used to be, for him. Noah stops the video before it’s done, but he’s shown Ronan all he wanted him to see.
“Dude.” And just like that Ronan’s gone quiet inside. He takes the phone from Noah and plays the video again. And again. “You were so tan.”
Noah snorts. “Of course that’s what you would notice.”
“I just… you look good. Then, now. Different.”
“Hmmm.” Noah hums. He’s got Blink-182 stuck in his head again and he starts singing it softly. Ronan gives him an appalled look before joining in at the chorus. “Say it ain’t so, I will not go, turn the lights off, carry me home nanananananana!!”
Ronan scoops him up and carries him, fireman style, over his shoulder and Noah shrieks happily as Ronan walks them back to Monmouth, up the creaky old stairs, and into the apartment. And because Gansey is out of town for the weekend Ronan carries Noah into his room and they find lots of fun ways to pass the time.
Ronan wakes up in the middle of the night, his mind fuzzy from his dreams. He had been dreaming about skateboarding tricks; in the dream he had nailed everyone and he hopes that his mind and body could still do them in the waking world.
The spot where Noah had been lying earlier is cool, but it would be regardless. Ronan pats the sheets even though it’s apparent that the other boy is gone. Chainsaw rustles in her cage and Ronan stretches, fingers scrambling in the sheets until he finds his phone. He digs his thumb into the crack, wipes away some of the smudgy fingerprints. He knows what he wants to do but he’s stalling…
The video is in Ronan’s Youtube history and he pulls it up. He rewatches Noah’s skateboarding antics and then lets the video play on, past the point where Noah stopped it. The video fades to black and white letters appear: In Memory of Noah Czerny. Gone but not forgotten. What follows is a montage of video clips and pictures, set to the Blink-182 song “I Miss You.”
The angel from my nightmare,
The shadow in the background of the morgue.
The unsuspecting victim of darkness in the valley.
Ronan feels a chill creep over him, raising goose bumps on his arms. It intensifies as the song continues and he feels cold, so cold. Seven years dead cold.
Where are you?
And I’m so sorry.
I cannot sleep, I cannot dream tonight.
I need somebody and always
This sick strange darkness
Comes creeping on so haunting every time.
A door creaks and wind gusts through Monmouth. Ronan can hear papers fluttering, the groan of the old building settling. He tells himself it’s not Noah, that Noah isn’t haunting, that they’ve sorted that problem, buried him again on the ley line.
Silence, except for the song, the chorus repeating and repeating.
Don’t waste your time on me.
You’re already the voice inside my head.
(I miss you. I miss you.)
The final image is Noah sitting on the front of his tricked out Mustang. He’s wearing his Aglionby uniform and he’s grinning widely, like he’s just heard or told the best joke. So alive.
“Noah?” Ronan calls out. “It’s okay. You know that, right?”
He’s not sure what he’s trying to say, something like I don’t care that you’re dead but that it’s right. Of course he cares. He wishes Noah wasn’t dead. It’s more that he doesn’t mind; he’s not put off by Noah being a ghost.
“C’mon, Noah. You gonna make me sleep by myself in this creepy place?”
And that does the trick. Noah appears at the end of his bed, looking faint and not all there.
“Hey,” Ronan says, gruffer than usual. “C’mere.”
Noah crawls over the mattress and into Ronan’s open arms. He weighs nothing but that’s all right.
“I think I figured out those tricks,” Ronan mumbles into Noah’s hair. “I’ll show you tomorrow.”
Noah doesn’t say anything but he nods, face smushed against Ronan’s chest. His freezing fingers hook into Ronan’s black tank, his icy feet tucked under Ronan’s legs. It’s cold as fuck but Ronan just pulls the blanket over them.
“Night, Noah,” he says, feeling not a bit close to sleep, but it needs to be said.
Quiet, like a whisper on the wind, Noah says, “Night, Ronan.”