The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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airpsfic: (this is) not a statement, 8/10
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
(this is) not a statement, 8
by Seperis
AIRPS, Adam, Kris, Adam/Kris
Notes: Title from starandrea who named it in delicious and saved me the effort, as titles stress me. Thanks to tricksterquinn and transtempts for prereading and shinetheway for beta efforts and with any kind of luck I fixed all my weird tense issues.

A huge thanks, again, to daemonicangel for commissioning art for this from katekat1010 for this story, which is here and did I mention, awesome? As it really is.

first part, second part, third part, fourth part, fifth part, sixth part, seventh part, eighth part, ninth part, tenth part



"Will you--okay, just brace your hands on the wall."

Kris twists around, unraveling what little progress Adam's managed again. "I told you these were too tight--and laces, really, laces, buttons weren't good enough for you?"

"For fuck's sake." Turning him around, Adam gets his wrists and sets his hands against the wall by the closet. "They're fine, you just keep moving. Hold still." Kneeling, Adam picks up the laces again and pulls them tight, tying them off at the hip. Sitting back, Adam checks the give between leather and skin and nods in satisfaction. "Told you. Perfect."

Kris taps his fingers impatiently against the plaster. "Can I move now?"

Getting up, Adam drops into the armchair to contemplate a view well worth seeing. "Give me a second." Leather may be a cliché, but Adam embraces clichés with these kinds of results. "A few more seconds. Maybe a minute or two."

"Take a picture," Kris mutters. "It'll last longer."

Adam grins back. "Now why would I need to do that? I'll just dress you myself when I want to see it again."

Kris looks down with a pained expression. "You'd kind of have to. No way I could manage this myself," he admits, craning his neck to eye the laces nervously. "Done yet?"

"Not really. But go ahead." Hooking a leg over the arm of the chair, Adam watches Kris frown as he walks over to pick up his water, like getting dressed is just that exhausting. "Okay, relax a little?"

"In these?" Carefully, Kris sits on the edge of the bed, looking uncertain. "Okay, so they're not that bad," he says grudgingly.

"And my work here is done, except not." When Kris twists around to put down his bottle, Adam sees a flash of blue-black just beneath the collar of his shirt, the faint impression of teeth around the edges. With a sigh, Kris drops back on the bed, pulling up one bare foot to brace against the edge. "You can't possibly be tired."

"Someone," Kris tells the ceiling, "made me walk the entire goddamn strip ten times--"

"Exaggeration. Eight, maybe."

"--looking for the perfect boots for--did you actually tell that girl petite?"

"You overheard that?" Adam wrinkles his nose and pushes himself out of the chair. "I promise, I was trying to avoid that."

"Thanks," Kris says with nearly visible irony. "By the way, it's four hours until we have to go. Why am I wearing these now?"

"So I could look at you in them for a while. Clubs are a little dark." Picking up his phone from the bedside table, Adam scrolls through his messages; nothing particularly important. "Besides, it'll take you that long to relax about being seen in them. Strange yet true; the larger the audience, the larger you seem to prefer your clothing to be. There's a pattern. Pretty sure a burqa would be making an appearance if I left you to yourself."

"Not the worst idea ever." Kris rolls on his side, arm tucked beneath his head. "You know, it just hit me--I only have a couple of months left recording. It feels--weird. I mean, sure, promotions and everything after but--I don't know what I'll do with all that free time. I've been working pretty much non-stop for almost a year."

Pushing Kris' knee aside, Adam sits down, tossing his phone onto the pillow and lying back with a little bounce. "Some people might think vacation. Ever heard of it?"
"You'll just whine about sunburn," Kris answers, nose wrinkling. "More than you do already."

"I do not--"

Kris snorts softly, reaching out to touch the tip of Adam's nose when he turns his head. "Right."

"I'll invest in extra sunscreen," Adam answers, equally soft. "Happy?"

"I'll believe it when I see you on the beach," Kris answers. "You have three months of touring left?"

"Nine weeks, not that I'm counting or anything." Rolling on his side, Adam reaches out, threading his fingers through Kris' hair. "I'm seriously liking this look. Very independent musician who reads a lot of post-modern poetry."

"I needed to try something new," Kris says, eyes half-closing under Adam's touch. "Mamma thinks I should cut it. Dad loves it, weirdly enough; I think he's having some nostalgia for the youth he didn't misspend. It's kind of an even split."

"Don't cut it." Tightening his fingers a little, Adam catches Kris' eyes, the slow, sleepy smile. "I like it."

"Okay." Then, "I need a blender."

Adam thinks about that for a second; Kris' mind moves in strange ways. "Because those are rare in LA--"

"No. You said I'd get rewarded for keeping to your frankly insane schedule--"

"How can you say that when I haven't even made it? It's a kickass schedule. You know. When I'm done with it."

"Mmm." Kris tilts his head a little, frowning, and Adam starts stroking again, rubbing his fingertips into the skin. "I need a blender. And maybe a rug? The floor's cold."

"Just a second--you want me to bribe you with household goods so you'll do what you should do anyway? Really?"

"I saw this great rug," Kris muses. "Fire truck red--"

"I take it back. That's a brilliant idea." Rubbing gently behind Kris' ear, Adam thinks about it. "Do you have a dresser yet?"

Kris opens his eyes, widening them insincerely. "I thought I wasn't allowed to buy major furniture unescorted. Far be it from me to argue. Even though I want to remind you, art deco sofa that was never meant to be used for sitting--"

"You really need to get over that." Running his thumb over Kris' cheekbone, Adam studies his face. "I can't wait for you to see yourself when I'm done with you. You never let them do very much even when on tour."

"It felt weird." Kris frowns. "I used to watch you, you know. You were always so comfortable, you know, dressing up. Especially when it wasn't really dressing up for you."

Adam smiles at the distinction; he hadn't known if Kris got that. Not many people did. "I didn't know you paid that much attention."

Kris shrugs, faint color spreading across his cheekbones.

"How much," he breathes, "did you watch?"

Kris looks away, mouth curving in an embarrassed smile. "It's stupid--"

"Oh no you don't. This I have to hear." Turning Kris back to face him, Adam tries to remember Kris ever watching him; to his surprise, there's far more than he would have expected. He just hadn't been paying attention. "Weird? Interesting? Somewhere in between?"

"Weird at first," Kris answers after a moment of thought. "But mostly just--well, you. You made it seem really easy. Like it didn't really matter what anyone thought. I mean, it really didn't matter."

Adam thinks about that, because there's an easy answer and there's a true one. "It mattered," he says slowly. "It just never mattered enough. Not enough to be willing to change anything. You know?"

"Yeah, I do." Kris yawns then looks apologetic. "Sorry. You made me get up at seven for shopping hell after three pizzas at two in the morning--"

"Don't remind me." Three boxes, God. What the fuck was he thinking? "Take a nap. You'll be up late tonight, too."

Kris wrinkles his nose. "Chasing Jared so he doesn't do something stupid? In these pants? Really?"

"That's Leah's job, not yours." Adam strokes Kris' hair until the brown eyes fall closed. "Yours is to entertain me."

"Mm." Kris nods sleepily, going boneless. "Why am I not surprised? You should nap too. I require a lot of attention, you know."

It's not a bad idea. Adam reaches behind him for one of the pillows and shifts a little closer to Kris. "Trust me, I know."




Clearing a central area on the bathroom counter, Adam lifts Kris onto it, amused by Kris' surprised look. "You're tiny," he says, pushing his knees apart and tilting up his face. "Look up--there we go. I'm making a plan."

"There's a plan?" Kris shifts, hands first on the counter, then moving to his thighs and back again, nervous.

"Strategy. A--how do I put this?--a method. Hold still." Even this close, Kris' skin is nearly flawless; some people just have amazing genes. Keeping one hand on Kris' chin, Adam studies what he has available, which is pretty much everything; on tour, he's forgotten socks, underwear, and his keys, but makeup, never. "You want me to narrate or be surprised?"

Kris thinks about it. "I won't know what you're talking about anyway, so either one."

"Narration it is. Moisturizer first, and let me say again, one day you are going to wonder why you aren't doing this daily." Using his thumbs, Adam smoothes it on with long, careful strokes, ignoring Kris' brief shifts; at the best of times, Kris does not enjoy sitting still. "Now this, which with your skin is highly superfluous, is to make sure the rest stays." Hunting up one of the small sponges, Adam taps a small amount from the bottle, then turns back to Kris, tilting his face until the light is right. "Hold still," Adam breathes, touching lightly against the slant of Kris' nose and working his way outward.

"Still," Adam murmurs again, concentrating on the fragile skin beneath his eyes, not quite dark enough now to need concealer. Kris makes an effort, shutting his eyes and wrapping both hands around the edge of the counter as Adam finishes blending at the hairline and tilts his head high enough to smooth the almost invisible lines below his jaw. "Look at me," Adam says as he lowers Kris' chin. "All right. Next is your eyes and this part is important, okay? I'm going to be crazy and try liquid with you, so you can't move at all."

Kris licks his lips then nods quickly. "Got it."

"Close your eyes." Picking up the bottle, he takes out the wand and presses a thumb against the corner of Kris' eye. At the first touch against his eyelid, Kris twitches, which Adam can't even say he didn't expect. This is Kris. "Right. Got it out of your system?"

Kris shrugs minutely. "Sorry?"

"Hmm." Pressing a little harder, Adam draws a thin black line, pulling the wand out of range in anticipation of the next twitch; he's watched Kris at makeup often enough to know what's coming. "Don't touch," he says, slapping blindly at Kris' rising hand. "Keep them in your lap, baby."

Kris manages to stay still when Adam does his other eye, but Adam can almost feel him vibrating. The discomfort he expected, but he's pleasantly surprised how much effort Kris is putting into trying to stay still; even now, this is still better than anyone in makeup could manage with him. "Now open your eyes."

Kris wets his lips, eyes fluttering open curiously.

"Look up," Adam says, smoothing his thumb beneath Kris' eye before leaning forward. Kris shifts a little just before the wand touches his skin. Reaching down, Adam curls his hand around Kris' thigh and squeezes once, hard. "Sit still."

Kris blinks, eyes wide, then nods slowly. Tapping once last time in warning, Adam concentrates on finishing both eyes while Kris is so tractable, leaning back to check his work with a sense of barely averted disaster. "Perfect." Meeting Kris' eyes, Adam cocks his head. "Think you can keep still for me while I finish?"

Kris raises his chin in the faintest impression of a nod, eyes fixed on Adam.

"Good boy. Close your eyes." Adam sorts through the colors on offer thoughtfully. Subtle is not his forte, but he thinks he can manage it. Something warmer, maybe; picking up and unscrewing the top of one of the smaller containers, Adam touches his finger to the color and checks it against Kris' skin, liking the faint hint of gold. "This should work."

It does, unnervingly well; softer than the name espresso implies, and applied with a very light hand, the faint golden sheen is even stronger. Belatedly, Adam thinks that maybe he should have considered all the potential aspects of this clever plan. When Kris opens his eyes, Adam takes a careful breath and tries a smile. "Just a little more," he says huskily, using his thumb to blend the edges of color at the corner of Kris' eye. Wiping his thumb clean on a convenient washcloth, he takes a steadying breath. Mascara, just a little, shading those impossible lashes dark against his skin. A quick hint of pale pink on each cheek, just enough to bring out those amazing cheekbones. His mouth--

"Kris," Adam breathes. Kris opens his eyes, lashes sweeping up, sweetly teasing, brown nearly invisible and swallowed in black, a little dazed and leaning forward before Adam cups the back of his neck and tilts his head up for a kiss. It's rougher than Adam means it to be, but Kris leans into it, lips parting when Adam bites his lower lip, sliding his tongue along the smooth skin before pushing inside, wet and soft and tasting of clean water and Kris alone.

Adam's too practiced to make a mess of all his careful work; pulling back, he catches his breath before automatically checking, but Kris is still flawless, except for his mouth, lips a little swollen and softly pink, flushing bright along his cheeks. Adam runs his thumb along Kris' lower lip and thinks of taking him anywhere looking like this, and how much he wants to.

Picking up the tinted lip gloss, Adam glances down to see Kris' hands are still in his lap. "Almost done. Then I have to get ready." Slicking Kris' slightly parted lips, Adam steps back, cupping Kris' hips and easing him to the floor before turning him to the mirror. Leaning his chin on Kris' shoulder, Adam grins. "Look."

Kris' eyes flutter open, slow, a little dazed. It's an incredibly good look for him. "Oh," Kris breathes, blinking at himself. Reaching up, he almost touches his eyes and stops himself, smiling a little self-consciously, leaning back against Adam. "Wow."

"I do good work. Then again, I had excellent material to work with." Ruffling his hair, Adam straightens. "Now. I need to--"

"Can I watch?" Kris eyes meet his in the mirror. "If you don't mind."

Adam had never noticed before, not really, but now he does, memories of Kris in their shared room or on tour, casual and surprisingly careful. It makes Adam wonder what else he hadn't noticed. He imagines doing this now, with Kris watching him, and wonders just how automatic doing this is for him. He's about to find out. "I really don't."




"Jim is never going to forgive us for this," Adam breathes against Kris' ear, watching the floor from VIP. From their vantage point, they watch Jim fend off another girl at the wide bar who can't possibly be out of high school. "Caught in the bathroom snorting lines off a twink's ass, okay, underage involvement anywhere within fifty feet of me, he gets my publicist stalking him to ask why he let this happen. Then he won't let me go anywhere."

Kris looks at him curiously, eyebrow raised. "Lines off a twink's ass. Really."

"It's an expression," Adam answers impatiently. "Mostly."

"Didn't you just do a PSA on drug use or something--"

Adam glares at him, pulling back onto the quiet couch, relieved to see drinks have appeared, along with Cale, who hadn't necessarily been in any dark corners for any reason with anyone in neon green, and Leah, flushed and sparkling, razor cut blonde hair swinging against her cheekbones as she sits down with a breathless laugh. Adam leans back to verify that she's in fact wearing neon green and smiles. The fact that Cale was helping her with her zipper for purely platonic purposes just makes it that much cuter.

Kris elbows him as Adam reaches for their drinks, handing it to Kris. "You'll like this one," he says as Kris gives the bright pink liquid a dubious look. "Live a little, Allen."

"You keep saying that." Taking a sip, Kris make a vague attempt to frown before admitting, "Fine, yeah. Girly drinks for the win."

"Nice misogyny, Allen," Leah says, sipping from her own. "So not a total disaster. They may actually pull this off."

Kris settles an elbow on the table, looking at Leah curiously.

"Let's say Dean and math never got along. Maybe they hired an accountant." Shrugging, she takes another sip. "They're making these strong," she comments in surprise.

"They'll start watering them when they get a regular crowd." Adam supposes if he'd ever thought about it, this would be the kind of place that ex-Indie kids would find their platonic ideal of a club. The music is completely unfamiliar for the most part, with a few familiar songs thrown in as a sop to the clientele, they pretty much went all-out on sound, and they went minimal on the lights outside the main floor. Adam can't tell for sure, but there's a lot of fluid sexuality going on pretty much everywhere. It could have been so much worse. Adam's standards aren't actually all that high, but he remembers Memphis with not a little trauma.

Jared wanders over as Leah makes Kris try her drink, also girly, sweet-edged with something like mango. "Two of those next, totally," Adam says, giving it back to her. Jared sits down on the other side of Leah, throwing back a shot and looking over at Kris immediately. Adam feels Kris tense and drops a hand to rest on Kris' knee; Jared's focused attention is getting more annoying by the minute, and Jared's not even trying to hide what he's doing anymore.

"You should come down with the plebs for a while, pretty," Jared says, smiling a little when Kris twitches. "You've been hiding up here all night."

"I'm good," Kris says, finishing his drink, eyes dark over the rim of the glass before he sets it down, leaning back, shoulder warm against Adam's. "Crowds," he says, wrinkling his nose adorably. Adam snickers, which gets him a raised eyebrow from Kris. "You want to add something, Adam?"

Adam looks his inclination to say nothing at all, thanks very much.

"Come with me; God knows my husband has two left feet," Leah says coaxingly, eyes flickering to Adam and adding quickly, "Mind if I steal Kris for a few minutes, Adam? Please?"

Kris glances at him, murmuring, "You say yes, all injuries are your responsibility."

"You're not bad, and I wish you'd stop thinking you are," Adam mutters against his ear before giving him a slight push, nodding at Leah as Kris gets to his feet and follows her to the stairs. Jared looks interested in following, but a flat glare from Leah puts him back in his seat. Adam hides his smile, turning to Cale when he mentions checking their setup with the same voice some people talk about religion. It's not that it's not conversation that's relevant to his interests, but half his attention is following Kris down to the floor, because honestly, Leah really has no idea what she just got herself into.

"Speaking of nothing I was talking about just now," Cale says, sounding amused, "you want anything, Adam?"

Adam snaps his attention back to Cale. "Two of whatever Leah was drinking," he says. "And a bottle of water. I’m not going to ask why you're laughing."

"Probably wise," Cale answers with a smirk. "Question--Tommy said I could make out with him if he could take pictures for his girlfriend. True/false?"

"True, just know now you'll get texts for a threesome after she sees the pictures," Adam answers. Cale starts to flush interestingly. "Tell him to CC me."

"Yeah, and Kris would take that well. Thanks, but I have to see him every day."

In retrospect, Adam thinks he should have seriously grabbed Cale and made him stay, because now it's just him and Jared, and for some reason, Adam just does not think this will end well. Jared is still playing with his first drink, condensation creating a wet circle beneath his glass, and not for the first time, Adam thinks how young he really is and how very little that has to do with age. Even with Kris--maybe especially with Kris--it shows, like a teenager with his first crush but in all the wrong ways. Sixteen to eighteen it's understood you're a jerk and eventually you'll grow out of it, or someone will make you, but Jared's twenty-three and he doesn't have any excuses left.

"Kris sent me a demo of what you're working on with him," Adam says carefully. There's a faint, rather embarrassing feeling he might have liked Jared if they'd met pretty much in any way other than how they did. "You were classically trained, weren't you?"

"Age six to age sixteen; my parents were Pavarotti fans and had a dream," Jared says, taking a swallow from his glass. "We've been working on his range. He's a lot more flexible than he thinks he is--no pun intended." With a smirk, Jared puts down his glass with a thump. "He's a lot better than I thought he was from what he had out. I thought Leah fell for the hype."

Adam was surprised too, and he shouldn't have been; when Kris is on, really on, Adam's never heard anyone quite like him, and his music is following along, slowly growing more complex as he leaves AI behind and finding his own sound. Adam's not sure when it started, but he suspects Kris found more at SXSW than a pet Indie band and a voice for his music.

"He's not hype," Adam answers.

"You ever heard him off a major stage?" Jared says, faintly challenging. "A month or two before we started recording, we took him down to Austin and got him to do a set at Black Cat on the drag--a three shot investment, but totally paid off. By the end of the night, people were standing outside to hear him. I didn't let them use his name," Jared says, smile turning reminiscent, "but trust me, six hours later the university servers were working hard with all the file-sharing going on and everyone knew Kris Allen was back. His little AI teenies aren't the only ones waiting for this album to drop."

"He didn't tell me about that." Though if he had, Adam would bet Kris' version would be on the order of "sang at this place, pretty cool." Not informative. That does mean, however, in the age of cameraphones, it's online somewhere. Which tells him how he'll be spending his nights after they leave Vegas.

Jared smirks, tucking green-streaked blond hair behind his ear. "Not that I notice this shit or anything, but I think you were fucking around in Europe. I may have noticed when Kris' started getting hard to get hold of, though."

Timeline established; Adam wonders where the fuck Cale is with those drinks. "I'll ask him about it."

"You should." Jared cocks his head. "I recorded it. The copies online are shit; mine are better. You want?"

Adam would have guessed Jared would give him those over one of their dead bodies. "Stupid question. What do you want for them?"

"Freely given." Jared finishes his drink and pushes it toward the center of the table, slumping back in his chair. "Just thought you might want to see what you missed. There's video and audio-only. I took him there to see him perform, so I was prepared." Taking out his phone, Jared types into it, then slides it across the table with a smirk. "It's on my site; username and password attached. Send it to whatever number you're comfortable me having."

"Not worried about you stalking me," Adam answers dryly, typing in the number and hitting send. Pushing the phone back across the table, Adam nods. "Thanks."

"No problem." Tucking his phone somewhere in skin-tight jeans, Jared traces a finger through the water beneath his empty glass, looking up at Adam like he has something to add, but to Adam's endless relief, Kris and Leah are coming up the stairs, both flushed and giggling, but Leah with a slightly dazed look that Adam's used to seeing from people who actually believe Kris when he says he can't dance.

Because really, that was enough awkward and potentially incendiary conversation for one night. Like a miracle, Cale shows up again, dodging Adam's unsubtle kick with a grin and "Anyone want a drink?"

Kris drops down beside him, taking the bottle of water Adam silently hands him with a, "Fine, but let's remember which of us can drink the other under the table," before finishing half of it.

A little unsteadily, Leah downs half her glass before lifting her hair from her neck and blowing out a surprised breath, looking at Kris to ask "So who taught you to dance again?" and seems unsurprised when Kris answers, "During the AI tour, Adam said it was depressing to watch me, and he and Alli made me learn. There was grading involved. It was embarrassing."

"He really can drink me under the table," Adam admits reluctantly, handing Kris the mango drink after enduring several seconds of intent staring. "Please don't let that get out."

"I'll tell everyone I know," Cale says cheerfully. "Though I will say, he slows down when there are shots involved."

"Lightweight," Kris says smugly. "That a challenge, Cale?"

"Aww, still think you're a teenager?" Cale answers mockingly. "Game on, Allen."

Catching Kris' knee before he comes off the couch, Adam leans over. "How many?"

"He's had four drinks; it won't be many before he actually does try to make out with Tommy in front of a camera," Kris whispers back, grinning. "I overheard them earlier."

"That's cruel," Adam says admiringly. "I like it. What's your drink, baby?"

"Tequila."

"So I get to watch you commit sexual acts with drinks while torturing Cale?" Kris nods enthusiastically. "What's your limit?"

Kris pauses, eyeing the table and remaining glasses. "He'll be down before I get close." Kris tilts his head back. "Of course, after that, I may agree to make out with Tommy in front of a camera. I do like his girlfriend."

"No, you really won't." Adam wonders when this night went so very off-track. "And that's not what I meant. How many should you do, not can."

Kris hesitates. Glancing at Cale's smug grin, Adam thinks quickly. "You seriously want a three day hangover? If he beats you, I'll send him straight to Tommy. His girlfriend also finds Cale hot. Deal?"

Kris looks at him thoughtfully, then nods slow agreement. Relieved, Adam faces the table, feeling like he may have just averted a major disaster. "So today the part of Kris and Cale will be played by teenagers--"

"I'm in," Leah says, slamming down her empty glass. "I was in practice rooms until midnight at Julliard when I was a teenager. Couldn't even hold a shot glass after that."

Jared nods agreement. "I had rehearsals at five am. Bring it."

"Seriously?" Adam stares around the table. "Do not tell me I have to be the sober one--"

"Someone has to be sure I get home," Kris answers in satisfaction, pushing Adam's shoulder. "Get us a bottle and four glasses. I have some kids here to school."




It's not like Adam had thought this could go too wrong; technically, they're all adults, even if he's reserving judgment on just how old Kris and Cale are if this is the kind of shit they come up with, and this is a fairly public venue. On the other hand, Kris and Cale have descended to, of all things, trash talking each other. From vague memories of calling Kris during football season, he really should have seen this coming.

Kris looks almost gloatingly at the neat line of shots, smirking at Cale challengingly before picking up the salt. "You're really going to regret this tomorrow."

"It's like supervising a really alcoholic middle school," Adam observes, picking up the first shot glass and watching Kris lick his wrist, sprinkling salt and licking it again, then taking the shot in a single quick movement, throat working briefly. Flipping it over, Kris drops it on the table and takes the slice of lime between his teeth, smirking when Cale coughs, groping after the bowl weakly.

Jared and Leah both manage a little better, but then again, it's a taste you either get used to or give up the joy that is a good margarita. Picking up the salt, Kris looks around the table with a smirk. "Ready?"

The second is a little faster, everyone following gamely along wherever Kris wants to take them; Adam's more than a little fascinated by the way Kris twists his wrist around, pink tongue slicking along the knob of bone, the way his lips part for each shot, then sucking on each slice of lime for a little longer than is strictly necessary.

By the third shot, Adam gets Kris' bowl of lime slices when Kris' hand shows the first faint tremor. "Look at me," Adam murmurs as Jared blinks at his shot glass; it takes years and effort to build up enough tolerance to do a row of shots after everything they've been drinking the last couple of hours. It takes even longer to known how to handle it, and they really don't. From the corner of his eye, Adam sees Leah's husband with a bottle of water, watching thoughtfully.

Kris looks up, tongue wetting his lips. "I'm okay."

"Okay." This is what bottled water was invented for, Adam reminds himself, watching Kris lick his damp wrist once, slow, eyes half-closing. Also, he may need to stop watching that so closely.

The next two go easy, but Cale fumbles his salt entirely, and Adam finds himself taking a relieved breath when he stares at the glass for a long second. "So I really don't want to die tonight," Cale says thoughtfully, Arkansas-slur so thick it makes Adam smile. Kris giggles, bracing a hand on Adam's thigh and leaning over to say, "And this is why I win forever and ever, world without end, amen. Bitch," he adds in an afterthought, then shakes his head. "Yeah, no, leave that last bit out."

Leah grins, taking her last shot with a quick twist of her wrist before pushing back, pulling up one knee. Her husband is by her side almost immediately, giving her the bottle of water. "Thanks," she says, smiling up at him with surprising sweetness, a very intimate look in a very public place. "I'm out."

"I'm still in," Jared announces, slumping in his chair, eyes fixed on Kris. "Still up for it, pretty?"

Kris straightens, picking up the salt. "Let's go." Kris wipes his wrist on his knee, flipping it back over and slicking it slow, eyes on Jared as he takes the next shot and dropping it after to hide the fact Adam's pretty sure he couldn't set it down. Sucking on the slice of lime, Kris waits as Jared finishes, eyebrows raised.

Jared slams his glass down. "Again."

"Kris," Adam says softly.

"I can do it," Kris breathes. "He's seriously pissing me off."

"I think that's the point." Adam counts the glasses, aware they've acquired a small audience. There aren't cameras up here, but everyone and their goddamn dog has a cameraphone. "I'm not cleaning up after you. Just so you know."

"That's why hotels have maid service." Kris picks up the salt, not steady at all. "I'll be fine."

"Two more and you're done."

Kris stills, glancing at Adam. "Okay. I can stop him in two." Taking the bowl from Adam, Kris turns his hand over, exposing his wrist, thumb tracing along the thick lines of the tattoo. "If you don't mind being the object of something really inappropriate."

Adam bites his lip, taking the salt. "Where I come from, this isn't even close." Leaning over, he licks his wrist, sprinkling the salt over the wet skin, watching as Kris bends down, tongue soft and wet; after a few seconds, Adam realizes he's tracing the outline of the tattoo. Belatedly, Adam picks up the shot, watching as Kris lifts his head and takes the edge between his lips, pulling out of Adam's fingers when he tips his head back.

Kris drops the empty glass on the table, eyes flat. "Again?"

Jared's fingers tighten around his glass. "Ready when you are."

"One more," Adam says in Kris' ear. "Make it count."

"Oh, I will." Taking a deep breath, Kris smirks, leaning down to drag his tongue over Adam's skin, watching Adam sprinkle the salt before doing it again, finishing with a brush of his lips and lifting his head. Holding Adam's eyes, he bends to take the shot, one hand dropping to rest against his thigh, fingers pressed against the inseam, then pushes up on his knees, catching Adam off-guard in a kiss, open mouthed and tasting of tequila. Adam catches Kris' jaw in his hand, swallowing quickly; this one is really going to count.

Eventually, Adam thinks they should probably stop; pulling back, Adam brushes a kiss against the corner of Kris' mouth and eases him back down, glancing over to see Jared still has his shot in front of him, eyes narrow and dark.

Kris looks at him, taking the last glass and flipping it over against the surface of the table. "I win."




("Adam," Kris murmurs, still smiling, "where's the restroom? Room's spinning a little. A lot."

"Totally called it. Come on. I'll watch the door.")




"So that was inappropriate," Kris says when Adam pushes him into the alley, thankfully deserted and hopefully free of cameras. Some things really shouldn't show up on film just for the sake of personal dignity. "Oh God, I forgot I really don't drink like that anymore." Finishing the bottle of water, Kris sighs, still grinning. "I can be a little competitive sometimes."

Adam bites his lip against a giggle as Kris leans back against the nearest wall, looking both contrite and still a little proud of himself. "If you ruin those pants, I'll kill you. You're never, ever doing that again. Do the words alcohol poisoning mean anything to you? Not to mention liver function--"

"I'll be careful with my aim," Kris says with a sloppy grin. "Sorry. He just--I don't know what the fuck he thinks he's doing anymore. He wasn't acting like this when we were recording this week."

"And that's a surprise. Hold still." Tilting Kris' head up, Adam checks his eyes first, pressing his thumb against his pulse. "Okay?"

"Just drunk," Kris murmurs, eyes half-closed. "I'll grab another bottle of water when we go inside."

"Yeah, you're cut off for the night," Adam answers. "And hello, if you don’t know why he's acting like that, you seriously need to get out more."

"Didn't say I didn't know why," Kris answers, wrapping his fingers around the edge of Adam's jacket, eyes flickering up. "He only does this around you. My math's pretty good."

"You can count shots, but I'm going to doubt you'll be able to do much else tonight," Adam answers, leaning his forehead against Kris'. "Though I do want to see what this does to your rhythm, so--"

"You're making me dance?" Kris pouts; it's one of his most effective weapons, and no amount of time seems to make it less so. "That's how I get rewarded?"

"For getting drunk off your ass? The reward is the hangover, baby. Enjoy it. I plan to."

Kris snickers, pulling at Adam's jacket. Bracing a hand on the wall, Adam frowns as Kris looks up at him, too-pretty, shadowed eyes and soft pink mouth. "I was good. You said two shots. That was one and a half."

Oh. Reaching down, Adam pulls Kris' hands free of his jacket, easing them over his head and pressing them against the warm stone. Kris glances up briefly, mouth curving in a surprised smile before Adam kisses him, not bothering to slow it down. Kris was licking his goddamn wrist and kissed him to piss off Jared; Adam thinks he deserves this one for himself.

Shifting his grip to hold Kris' wrists one-handed, he presses his thumb against the dark bruise at Kris' neck, licking the taste of water and tequila from Kris' mouth. With a little moan, Kris arches, which is an invitation. "Keep your hands there," Adam says against his ear and wraps his hands around Kris' hips, leather slick under his palms and lifting him up against the wall, thighs spread and open around his waist. Kris sucks in a breath, startled, ankles locking behind his back and pulling Adam in.

Running his hand up Kris' thighs and over his ass, Adam tries to catch his breath; one of them has to be thinking, and he's not nearly sober enough to do it. Kris bites his lip, grinning when Adam pushes him into the wall harder, licking down the side of his throat, mouthing the day-old bruise before sucking just a little, just so it'll last until Kris goes back to LA.

Drawing back, Adam waits until Kris opens his eyes. "We're leaving," he says, pressing his thumb against Kris' lower lip, the faint impression of teeth vivid red on the skin below. There's no way Adam's letting anyone see him like this. "You're about thirty minutes from passing out, and that's being generous." Letting Kris slide back to the ground, Adam holds him up until Kris is tracking. "Arms down now."

Slowly, Kris lowers his arms, touching the faintly red finger-shaped marks thoughtfully. Curling his fingers around one narrow wrist, Adam leads him toward the door, taking out his phone. "I'll tell Leah."




Kris is mostly unconscious in a huddle of blankets when a phone starts to ring and doesn't stop. Irritably, Adam tracks it down to the bathroom and finds Kris' phone half-buried in leather and two towels. Belatedly, it occurs to him that he doesn't actually have to answer Kris' phone, but Leah's name appears on the screen, and that can't be good news.

Coming out into the bedroom, Adam checks the clock and sighs as he answers. "He's asleep. This better be to say it was a lovely evening and we should all do this again sometime. Preferably with a lot less tequila so I can have a conversation with Kris that isn't primary making fun of my hair. Hilarious, but not something that improves with repetition."

Leah hesitates. "Adam?"

"If I open my laptop, what are the chances I'll find out why you called faster than you can tell me?"

"Pretty fucking good." Blowing out a breath, Adam hears the unmistakable flick of a lighter. "I don't know what the fuck happened--"

"I'd say Jared." Sitting on the edge of the bed, Adam verifies Kris is dead to the world; Adam had gotten two bottles of water into him before letting him go to sleep. "Baby, I feel for you, but--"

"It really wasn't his fault," Leah says breathlessly. "I don't make excuses for him, okay? Trust me, I learned the hard way not to do shit like that. He's stupid, but he--he and Dean had a fight at closing. I do know Jared was avoiding both of them, Dennis was with him if I couldn't be right until he went to get the car. Jared came because they asked and he knows us being here would help them out, but that was it. Publicity, you know?" There's an edge of bitterness in her voice; it had surprised her. Somehow, even after talking to Kris, he hadn't really thought she'd think it could be anything else.

"Yeah," Adam answers softly. "You think Dean provoked it?"

Leah hesitates. "I don't know. I know this though; every goddamn camera managed to get footage from start to finish. Jared won't say a goddamn word, but Dean doesn't have a mark on him," Fighting in public with the ex, perfect, "and neither does Rich." Both of them. No one can be that stupid. "My brother--" she stops uncomfortably. "He wouldn't do that. Not to them."

"No, this I actually believe." Closing his eyes, Adam tries to think. "What's his bail? This isn't his first offense, even if it's his first in Vegas, and tell me it's his first in Vegas? Just, don't even answer that question, we'll just say it is."

Leah's quiet for a few long seconds. "That's not why I called," she answers, voice painfully even, like she's fighting the urge to hang up on him.

"I know. And I know the standard contract rates. Did you call your publicist yet?"

"No," Leah admits. "I didn't think--"

"Get used to it. That's your first call; trust me, I learned that the really hard way. Tell her everything, do what she says, then call me back so I know what to tell Kris when he wakes up and sees this. If you can't get the money--"

"I can."

"--if you can't, make this easy on everyone and tell me, okay? Now I have to disable everything that has an internet connection in the room just in case Kris wakes up early. Get back to me. Soon." Hanging up, Adam wonders if anything good has ever come from a phone call after three am. That would be a big fat no.

Dropping Kris' phone on the bedside table, Adam hears Kris snort softly, the pile of blankets moving a little, and rolls his eyes at the fact that sure, he'll be up until dawn with this shit, but somehow, it's pretty much worth it.




Adam blinks slowly at the lack of covers and sheet, aware he's losing the fight to keep them and coming abruptly awake to see Kris unsubtly kicking the entire pile to the floor before sitting down, wet hair flattened on one side of his head and committing grand theft closet with a pair of Adam's sweatpants and a Grateful Dead t-shirt older than he is. "Hi," Adam says blearily, checking the clock. It's noon. There is no fucking way he needs to be up this early. "I don't know if I like you more than sleep; I want that on the record."

Kris holds up his phone. "I found this in a purple sequin jacket you haven't used since Toronto, still packed. Also, Leah hung up on me when I called to ask why my log shows six calls to her last night--"

"Jared got in a fight. It wasn't his fault. They're back in LA, please God. Long version is the same, but involves me staying awake for longer than two minutes. I want to sleep." Adam makes a vague grab for the phone and succeeds in missing entirely. Suppressing a yawn, he sighs. "Can I have my blankets back now?"

Kris frowns. "That was--disturbingly easy."

"Like I'm going to lie to you? TMZ has pictures, I think? I don't remember; it was nearly six and Leah was loading the entire crew on a plane without killing any of them. Sleep now, please?"

"They don't have enough to post bail," Kris says, dropping his phone. "I know they don't. I reviewed their contact before they signed."

Of course he did. It's Kris. "I can still buy food and shoes. I really don't need blankets; just be quiet, that'll work."

After a second, Kris crawls down, tossing the entire mass on the bed before untangling it, looking pensive. "Adam," Kris starts, careful, "you really didn't have to do that."

"I kind of wanted to leave him there for the night," Adam admits, getting a pillow. "But Leah sounded so stressed--"

"You really didn't--" Kris stops, shaking his head and finally, warmth, blankets all back in place. "You didn't do it for Leah."

Adam thinks about his answer; like everything in his life now, it's complicated. "I did it for Leah, because you told me--they worked for this. They fought for this. They don't deserve to lose it, not because Jared's an idiot and his exes are psychopaths or whatever."

Kris nods warily.

"Because you would have," Adam says finally. "They're important to you, whatever. He's working on your album. By definition, it's important to me."

Kris looks at him for a few seconds, biting his lip, before crawling across the bed, bending down to kiss him slow and sweet and like it could go on forever. They're getting very, very good at this, Adam thinks hazily, and some amount of time later, Kris pulls away, murmuring, "Okay, go to sleep. You're amazing. Probably knew that, but repeating it never hurt anyone."

"I may like you a little more than sleep sometimes," Adam answers as Kris settles down beside him, curling up with comfortable familiarity under his arm.

"I'm getting that impression, yeah," Kris murmurs back. "Feeling pretty secure."




ninth part

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awww, Adam. He's so good at being the responsible one, it's completely endearing.

Loved the dress up scene, though I must know - were those side lacing leather pants? Was Kris forced to go comando?

Anyhow, love the story, love updates, love you. Not necessarily in that order.

Also, yay! First comment! I think this is the first time ever in all my years of stalking your journal.

Awesoem chapter, i love adam being the responsible one. <33

so if you're interested, my night is perfect. sitting on the back porch while it snows, smoking a cig and reading a seperis fic. that's my life and i'm not even trying to deny it! this story is just pure love for me. i'm wallowing in the slow build of their relationship and loving the ride....

Aww, thank you very much!

it's like 2:30 am and i screamed when i saw this was posted (you interrupted my first time watching tropic thunder, btw! lol like i care) and now i am just going to comment on this as i'm reading, because i am annoying and creepy like that

- LACES. LEATHER. WAY TO DELIVER, AHAHAHAHA, but it went from "heh. leather pants" to palpable contentedness so fast, i feel all melty myself now
- "It mattered," he says slowly. "It just never mattered enough. Not enough to be willing to change anything. You know?"
♥________________________♥
- Clearing a central area on the bathroom counter, Adam lifts Kris onto it, amused by Kris' surprised look. "You're tiny," he says, pushing his knees apart and tilting up his face. "Look up--there we go. I'm making a plan."
i'm not even going to TRY to pretend that this isn't how i wish all porn started :|
- i've been writing a fic about . . . well, makeup routines and watching them and reversing them, and am now under the impression that with one scene you have totally invalidated all 3000 words i have of it so far. nghhhhhhhhh what is it about adam putting eyeliner on someone that's so hot? idek idek alsdkfjsd
- oh my god i am dead how is it you make me feel dirtier reading about a kiss with my dad in the house than i do reading out-right porn, kgjsd
- aww cale awwwww. leah is just such an adorbs character
-"True, just know now you'll get texts for a threesome after she sees the pictures," Adam answers. Cale starts to flush interestingly. "Tell him to CC me."
AND IL TOMMY'S NAMELESS GF TOO, WHAT IS THIS
- "During the AI tour, Adam said it was depressing to watch me, and he and Alli made me learn. There was grading involved. It was embarrassing."
. . . is it bad that i have no doubt whatsoever that that actually happened? looooooolololol kris dancing
- nghhhhhyghdskjfsdf UP AGAINST A WALL SO MANY KINKS HIT WITHOUT SO MUCH AS AN NC-17 RATING, SO LITTLE TIME
- oh, shit. it just. how is jared so stupid? drunk, yes, but also stupid
- annnnnnnnnnd we're back to meltingly happy again. how do you DO that?

OKAY I'M DONE, THIS WAS PROBABLY RAMBLY AND CREEPY AND YOU DIDN'T READ IT BUT ILU AND THIS AND WANTED TO LEAVE A COMMENT OTHER THAN MY USUAL BROKEN-RECORD "omg awesome everything, moar plz". though the sentiment still stands, so . . . more please :D? ♥

YOUR COMMENTS MAKE ME RIDICULOUSLY HAPPY OKAY?

*glee*

. . . is it bad that i have no doubt whatsoever that that actually happened? looooooolololol kris dancing

Totes had a hilarious vision. And it was hilarious. With like, scorecards, figure-skating style.

Thank you. I read this several times and cackled! Happily!

There's something about this (and every recent) chapter that makes me want to roll around and snuggle with it. I love the complicated more-than-friends thing they have going on, and I love the pace at which you're building the story up. I find myself going back and re-reading chapters just to make my reading experience longer. I don't want this to end.

(happy sigh) Off to re-read this wonderfulness!

jsasjfsklafjsdlkfdjslkjdfasdfjksjdaasd

you updated tonight/morning/whatever. \o/

uhmmm, idk where to begin with this. i seriously have a tl;dr gushy comment written and saved in my notepad and i'm not sure if you want to see it, because... yeah, haha, it's so bad and so, so flaily. idek.

anyway, again, i'm glad you liked the poster so much! you totally deserve it for writing this amazing story that's become like somewhat of a monster, haha. it's funny how far the boys have taken you with this (and where they still plan on taking you(?)).

I LIKE TL;DR COMMENTS.

And thank you very, very much!

Favouritest WIP fic ever!!!

I just spent a good part of my lunch reading this and I have a meeting to prepare so maybe I'll go grab a sandwhich to have something but seriously, I needed this like coffee today. And that's saying something as I was at work 7am this morning.

<3 <3 <3

*winces* Coffee, yes. God, I'd love some coffee right now.

Thank you very much!

What a wonderful treat - another installment :-)

what lovely and misleading first line.

I just love this.

Hee! A bit, yeah.

Thank you!

I am taking this story for drinks and then buying it something sweet afterwards.

*purrs*

That makeup scene...oh...my...God. BDSM porn where everybody's completely dressed and there are no orgasms. I love you a little more than is decent.

*grins* Thank you very much!

Holy crap is Kris a passive aggressive bastard sometimes. \o/

I fall more in love with this story every time I read a new segment!

"It's like supervising a really alcoholic middle school," Adam observes
for some reason, this line in particular (out of many funny lines) made me bust out in giggles. luckily, no one was around at the time, cause *that* is always hard to explain to coworkers

All technical adults, all drinking dangerously. *G* Thank you very much!

*Looks back at the body of the text*

"Yes," she murmurs to herself. "The next installment was even better."

This wip is simply addictive. The mental image that will stay with me is of Adam applying Kris' make-up. It was a feast of words that instilled a mental picture as clear as if it had really happened.

Everything else from Tommy's offer to Cale and to the aftermath of the night at the club was just an added bonus.

*Plants self in front of monitor to wait on part 9*

*glee* Thank you very much!

Oh my gosh, ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

I love this story so much I don't even have anything to say. It just keeps getting better! Thank you!

God. Now I want some cookies. *reaches for icon desperately*

Thank you very much!

*sigh* How long can you keep writing this? I'm really not in a hurry for you to finish.

Apparently putting makeup on is a lot hotter than I thought. Even when everyone involved keeps their clothes on. And Jared is making me nervous. I want you to keep him away from Kris, except when having Jared around leads to Kris making a point about who he does and does not kiss with Adam. But his interest in Kris is too intense. Don't turn your back on him.

So how is it that Kris doesn't seem to know how he feels about Adam? Cale and Tommy both seem to have figured it out.

This so f-ing much! Yeah ok, the UST is heart-wrenchingly good and all, but when they started making out around part five and still haven't gotten hit by the clue-by-four... IDEK.

Seperis, you are my writer idol regarding the way things are left unsaid and events happen "off camera". How do you do it? I fall into the explanation trap way too often.

Ag this story is somehow so hot (omg the kisses) and tender, but also somehow very painful and bittersweet in a realistic, everyday way.

I love Adam here, trying to be so responsible and such a caretaker, but also being so potentially foolish with his own heart (Kris is just separated, not divorced after all, and seems sweetly clueless). You write Adam and Kris with this amzing connection, but I don't blame Adam for trusting Brad more... Kris still seems kinda "open-minded straight guy" who doesn't quite get what he doing to Adam or how serious the flirting and playing can get. His kissing Adam to score points off Jared is just the perfect encapsulation. It's not like Adam *minds* but maybe he should...

But I love that you had the earlier bit with Jared crossing lines to show that Kris's innocence/ignorance there isn't something that means he's "asking for it" though, and that Adam's always tried to respect that and even likes that about him. (And I'm wondering now if his previous lack of contact with Kris wasn't subconsciously trying to protect himself a little. And now I'm remembering a RL interview where Adam said he liked taking care of people, but sometimes wished for a boyfriend who'd chase/take care of him and just ;_;)


Also: I love the whole band sub-plot, Jared and Leah and their rise.

I love this comment. I keep coming back to read it and think about it. Like, a lot.

Thanks very much.

You are wildly prolific. It's nice. It's very nearly instant gratification;)

I've read a lot of "Adam trusses Kris in leather and liner" in fic but it never gets old. Like ever. And I like the pacing of the story--the time Adam and Kris are taking with each other.

So very very good.

*grins* Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed!

This just keeps getting better and betterer!!

I, like, love you and stuff? I'm creating a super creepy shrine to you as we speak.

Seriously, though. Your voices are *unreal*. It's actually a little ridiculous. Also, Cale/Tommy making out. For the fucking *win*. And you totally hit my make-up kink right where it counts.

And...um...yes. Keep doing this exact thing because you're killing me with this.

*dies* Thank you very very much! I'm very glad you're enjoying it.

While I never saw this coming, your involvement of Kris's pet band to such an intense degree really *works*, and it's absolutely pulling me along. I can't work out exactly how I feel about Jared just yet - and I think that's how it's supposed to be - but I know that I want to like him, that he's who Adam could have been in another life. I'm really excited you've gone so far with something that was brilliant, but really just a tiny snippet.

Thank you! I didn't entirely anticipate I'd have them around this much either. At least, not quite to this degree.

LOL! I love the sheer *extent* to which they are out of the realm of plausible deniability without even realizing it. I keep waiting for someone outside their circle -- who hasn't been watching this evolve -- to suddenly find themselves confronted with all the "casual making out between friends" and be all flaily and "WTF???" to Kris when they get him alone. LOL!

I have so much love for this series it's positively SCARY! They are the cutest boys EVER. And I love Adam being the mature, responsible one in this chapter.

You know, you gotta wonder what this looks like to people who haven't been just kind of around teh entire time.

Thanks very much!

Jared needs to be slapped. And possibly punched again. *scowl*

But ADAM! ♥

(do you know how amazing it was to check on this fic and find that you'd updated 3 more sections????)

*dies* thank you very much!

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