Raven Boys, Questions of Stones

Title: Questions of Stones
Rating/Warnings: PG-14
Summary: Cabeswater can be frustrating if you aren’t reading it right.
AN: Speed Shiritori! Poetry lines from a Margaret Atwood poem that was on my flist today, coupled with how I am reading Lily Blue, Blue Lily and rolling all over it. Sorry for all the Raven Boys!

Questions of Stones

“Shoulders but no mouths,” is always what Gansey says when the forest is being particularly unhelpful. Adam had thought it was just a thing to say, a Gansey thing, but eventually had looked it up when Gansey kept repeating it with a particular tone of voice. It’s from a poem, Adam knows now.

Don’t ask questions of stones. They will rightly ignore you,
they have shoulders but no mouths, their conversation is elsewhere.

Adam wonders if that is what he’s becoming, just a pair of strong shoulders, a stone with no mouth to speak. It’s what he agreed after all, to be eyes and hands, and that’s close enough to shoulders, isn’t it? He’s so good at bearing everything on his, the load barely noticeable once it gets heavy enough because his shoulders go numb.

This is the third time they’ve come to the forest in a week, Gansey’s frustration increasing the frequency. After all the activity leading up to Fourth of July, the lull since has been infuriating. Gansey is insufferable and charismatic, desperate to help find Blue’s mother, for Cabeswater to tell them what to do next. They have to arrange their visits around Adam’s work schedule, making Adam feel annoyed at being an inconvenience and then wretched on top of it for being useless.

The forest is dense today, a response to all of them wishing for a break from the heat of summer. Soon it will be the opposite and we’ll wish for cold, Adam thinks, then tries not to think about it as a cool breeze strokes over his cheek like a curious finger.

At first it had seemed like the forest had wanted to show them something, an unusually clear path of fallen leaves guiding them in, and Gansey had struck out like hero in a nature show. Blue had commented that all he needed was a pith helmet and a machete; Ronan had called for him to slow down, asshole, before they tripped into a thicket of pricker bushes again.

Adam hadn’t said anything; the fight with Gansey seemed like it was ending, or had ended, and Adam didn’t want to renew it. Safer to say nothing. Safer to be a stone.

“And what’s your big fucking deal?” Ronan asked bluntly.

Adam startled out of his thoughts, looking up from his sneakers tracing the ley lines to find Ronan watching him. Blue and Gansey were far enough ahead to be almost out of sight, and Noah was loitering in the middle distance, ready at a moment’s notice to run ahead to Blue or to drift back towards them.

“My big fucking deal?” Adam repeated, purposely repeating the syllables deliberately to make them seem more ridiculous.

“Can’t you two just kiss and make up?” Ronan reached out to palm tree trunks as they passed, putting some force into it so that it was halfway between a caress and a slap. The trees were closing in, the path narrowing. On Ronan’s shoulder, Chainsaw was shuffling about to keep her balance, one suspicious eye on the trees and the other on Adam.

“We aren’t fighting,” Adam responded, gaze drifting away.

“I said make up, shithead, not quit.” Ronan as armchair psychologist was almost as insufferable as Gansey without a clear objective. “That your deaf side? Those aren’t the same at all.”

Adam gave Ronan a glare sharp enough that Chainsaw tightened her grip on Ronan’s shoulder, cawing in soft warning.

“Fuck, ease up,” Ronan chastised her, reaching up to try and nudge her off. “Go hunt something helpless, other than Parrish here.”

Adam watched Chainsaw flap off with a couple more reproachful caws, but she didn’t go far. As they walked farther, he could see glimpses of her between the trees, sure to keep Ronan in sight. Sometimes it seemed like she could sense the mood of the forest as well or better than Adam. When Cabeswater seemed warm and inviting, Chainsaw was relaxed and playful; today the raven seemed pensive and watchful, like the trees did as the branches laced tighter over their heads.

“Sorry,” Adam said when the path narrowed enough that they started bumping shoulders. He wasn’t, actually, the solid muscle of Ronan’s shoulder a familiar comfort.

“So again, I ask, your big fucking deal?” Ronan nudged on purpose now that a point of contact had been made. “You’re tense as fuck. Isn’t this supposed to be your place? And where the fuck is it taking us?”

“Nowhere,” Gansey announced, coming back within earshot abruptly. “There’s a rock face just over the hill there cutting off the path. We could bring back climbing equipment but…”

“It won’t be here next time,” Adam filled in. He scrubbed at his face with his hands, feeling tired and useless. What do you want? he thought. How do I even ask you? If I knew how to ask, would you tell me?

“QUID EST TUUM MAGNUM RES COEUNDI?” Ronan shouted suddenly, making all of them jump, but Gansey laugh.

“Your big deal of fucking?” Gansey laughed harder, the tension draining out of him suddenly as he bent to brace his hands on his knees, laughing harder. “Your grammer is atrocious, seriously. It’s a good thing we’re getting a new teacher this year.”

“Go fuck a tree,” Ronan said casually. “Maybe that’ll make it talk.”

“Shoulders but no mouths,” Adam said before Gansey could. Nodding Gansey said enough, for today, better head back before it became winter on them, since Blue hadn’t worn her leggings today.

“Eyes up here, you,” Blue said, brushing past to take Noah’s arm and stroll back the way they had come. Gansey tagged along after, catching up to her other side in a few steps and nattering on about how the Romans considered bare ankles quite sexy, you know.

“Why do you say it like that every time?” Ronan asked. The path had widened, suddenly, but he still walked close enough to pretend it was an accident when their shoulders touched.

“How else should I say it?” Adam asked, his half-attention to Ronan’s big mouth changing to full when Ronan’s leather bracelets whispered against the back of his wrist. “Those are the words.”

“There’s other parts to it,” Ronan informed him, and Adam realized that somehow Ronan knew the poem. “You keep repeating the part that’s like you, frustrating as fuck. Ask of the apple,” he went on, and after a beat Adam realized Ronan was quoting instead of just running his mouth. “Crisp heart, ask the pear or suave banana.

For a beat, Adam just stared at him, this Ronan who spoke poetry in the middle of the wood to him, who was nothing like golden Gansey but instead so fiercely, sharply beautiful that it cut Adam all the more when he carelessly used it.

Then Adam laughed so hard he almost went down to his knees, because seriously, “Ask the suave banana?”

“Shut up, fucker,” Ronan said, giving Adam a sudden push that really did send him toppling over, to bang his hip on the ground, still laughing. He strode ahead, calling over his shoulder. “I’ll fucking show you my suave banana.”

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