Prompt: “You’re adorable when you’re mad”
It wasn’t when Ronan came home with bruises across his knuckles.
It wasn’t when Ronan came home with bruises on his arms.
It wasn’t even when Ronan came home with a fresh bruise blooming in an eye socket, more pink than purple still.
It was when Ronan stumbled through the front door of Monmouth Manufacturing bleeding. Two streams trickling from his nose. A smear of it on his mouth, lining his teeth. A whole gash on his temple, the blood thick and clotting and so apparent with no hair to hide it. And a thin slice down the column of his neck, clean as the cut of a knife.
This was when Gansey finally lost his temper.
“Where is he?” he demanded, the bark of his voice a shock to his own ears, even as he struggled to keep his hands gentle. They wrapped around Ronan, tugged him into the bathroom. They trembled as they turned on the tap.
“Gone, I’m sure,” Ronan mumbled. He avoided Gansey’s eye as he slouched on the lid of the toilet, looking more admonished than hurt. What a terrifying thought, that Ronan could appear at his doorstep looking like a bloody rag and care more about Gansey’s judgment than his own pain. What a terrifying thought, that he would ever imagine Gansey to judge him.
It sobered him. But only a little.
“Where is he, Ronan?” Gansey snarled. He wiped a towel against Ronan’s forehead, thankful to see the bleeding had stopped, but all that red only colored his vision, only fueled the fury in the pit of his stomach.
Ronan didn’t even wince, just ground his teeth tighter.
“He’ll be with his pack of dogs, if he’s even still there,” Ronan evaded again. He sniffed, running the back of his hand under his nose. He looked studiously at the smear, contemplating that part of his body that had made its way to the outside when it was supposed to stay inside.
Gansey took that hand in his own and wiped it clean, too.
“Ronan,” he said seriously, purposefully, intentionally, “Where. The fuck. Is Joseph. Kavinsky.”
Gansey had never driven faster.
The church emerged from the mist, still smelling of a fight.
As predicted, five figures slipped between the trees of the woods that began behind the building. Four of them were silhouetted, visible more by voice than by body. One of them was illuminated by the headlights of a car, parked dangerously close to a locked box of offerings. He was the only one not joking, not scoffing, not mindless to the rage of the night.
Joseph Kavinsky didn’t even squint when Gansey’s headlights joined his spotlight. He simply grabbed the pair of shades hooked on the front of his tank and casually threw them across his eyes.
Gansey killed the engine.
“Don’t tell me you left the dog all by himself to lick his own wounds?” Kavinsky purred. At the sound of his voice the four other ghosts looked up. Their grins reflected the unyielding light. Four sets of bared teeth creeping through the woods.
“That you gave him,” Gansey spat, and his voice sounded foreign. What are you doing here? his real voice asked in the back of his head. You left him all by himself, all by himself, all by—
This was not a night to listen to his conscience.
Kavinsky leaned back against a tree, the length of his body unveiling muscle and power Gansey hadn’t noticed before. Like he was showing off. Like he was saying yes, I am capable of hurting, and I have hurt. And then his hand slipped into the front of his jeans and emerged with a slender pocket knife, and something fell in Gansey’s stomach.
Kavinsky said nothing. He just lounged there, staring, smirking, waiting for Gansey to say what it was he had come to say.
“Stop. Stop touching him. Stop talking to him. Stop looking at him, for Christ’s sake. I don’t want his name on your lips or his blood on your knuckles ever again.”
This is exactly what Gansey had wanted to say. But Kavinsky was not the person he truly wanted to say it to.
Still, Kavinsky was the one who heard it, who rolled his eyes and waved his hand, sending his shadows deeper into the woods, a sudden sense of privacy enveloping the fragile night.
“Dick,” he began, with a self-righteous condensation Gansey had never heard from him before, “Haven’t you ever considered that maybe he likes it? That maybe—” And here he paused to push off from the tree, to step closer until he was eye to eye with Gansey, “He asks me for it?”
No. No Gansey had not considered this, would never dream of considering it, couldn’t fathom why anyone would consider it—
But then Kavinsky’s full lips quirked up and the faintest eyelash fluttered through shaded lenses, and such a sudden fire ignited in Gansey’s stomach that he forgot his anger for a moment.
“Ah,” Kavinsky observed. “Now you understand.”
“I don’t—there’s nothing—he wouldn’t—”
Kavinsky’s skinny hand looped around the back of his neck, his thumb rubbed under Gansey’s ear, and everything inside him stilled. “You’re adorable when you’re mad,” he smirked, “But you’re sexy when you’re flustered.”
Gansey wrenched his body back, wrenching a caw of a laugh from Kavinsky with it. The fire had ascended to his face, where it burned his cheeks.
“I didn’t ask for it,” he finally stammered with any dignity he could assemble. “So don’t touch me.”
Kavinsky slouched back to his post on the tree, and then four shadows were moving through the woods again. “Noted, sweetheart.” He flicked the pocketknife open, then closed. Open, then closed. “But if you’re looking to feel something, you know where to find me.”
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