(this is) not a statement
AIRPS, Adam, Kris
first part, part two, part three, fourth part, fifth part, sixth part, seventh part, eighth part, ninth part, tenth part
"I really don't know," Kris says somewhere over his head, "what I'm going to do with you."
Adam squints through his sunglasses at Kris standing over him; before he can stop him, the glasses are pulled away. "And sunglasses at night? It's almost too easy."
Adam rolls his eyes, reaching for Kris' ankle and considering a quick pull. The sand is soft enough this far out, but he learned the hard way that Kris has a lifetime of experience meteing revenge on people too tall to wrestle to the ground.
Wrapping his hand around Kris' ankle, Adam gives a little tug; Kris sighs melodramatically and lowers himself to the grassy rise, catching his breath at the view of the beach before them, stretching dark and a little restless, breaks of unexpected white that trace the movements of the waves. "Okay, you chose a great place for your sulk, gotta admit it."
Adam thinks about protesting, but it feels like too much effort to expend on an obvious lie.
"It's my birthday," Kris sing-songs, "And I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to…."
"Not." Pushing a foot against Kris' knee, Adam sits up, feeling the alcohol hit in a shocked rush; Kris catches him, easing one arm around his shoulder. There's the faintest shift in his stomach, not quite nausea but a warning all the same. When he can focus his eyes, he starts to straighten, then thinks better of it and sinks back down and lets his head settle in Kris' lap. "They still out there?"
"You can dream," Kris answers easily, fingers rubbing gently into his shoulder. "Alex is entertaining them for the moment, but there's still hope you'll wander in and throw a fit or something. Paparazzi never sleep. They're like vampires." Kris thinks. "Or maybe I'm thinking of Lovecraft?"
Adam doesn't groan, but he wants to. Kris laughs, strong fingers working soothingly into the back of his neck so well he almost forgets he's supposed to be angry. "Fucker," he tries experimentally, but the heat fades before the word finds air. It's been a long time since he had enough energy invested in anything but his music to care about the waste. "I think."
"Slut--no, wait, you like that in a guy." Kris says matter-of-factly, nails scratching at the hairline distractedly. "How you feeling?"
It shouldn't be a question you should have to weigh the answer for, but Adam's a couple of years past giving answers on the fly; even friends aren't exempt from that automatic caution. "Okay," he says finally. "Would kill for a joint, though."
"Surprise, surprise." Kris shifts on the sand, stretching his other leg with a sigh. "It's a great party."
Adam snorts, rolling on his back to see Kris' face; Kris is very not a party person. "Really."
"What's not to love?" Kris grins down at him. "The foam filled swimming pool was inspired. By fraternities, true, but whatever--"
"Fraternities," Adam says mock-dreamy to make Kris giggle. "I totally could have pledged."
"It's really not like the porn. Football night did not metamorphosis into group blowjobs--"
"--except that one time," Kris says reflectively. Adam tilts his head back, feeling the first real smile of the night tugging at the corners of his mouth all unwilling. Kris widens his eyes innocently. "It's not gay if it's during the Superbowl. Guy rules."
"I really need to cultivate an interest in football." Adam thinks about it. "I bet now you're going to tell me that initiation didn't have public spankings either and totally fuck up my fantasy life."
Kris bites his lip, color blooming hot across both cheeks. Adam watches, fascinated, as Kris pretends to watch the ocean. "Wow," he breathes in surprise. "Happy birthday to me."
"Fuck you." Kris covers his face, laughing a little. "It's less kinky than it sounds."
"No, it's really not." Kris flicks his fingers through Adam's hair playfully, then brushes it back into place, fingering the hot-pink streaks thoughtfully. "It fades fast," Adam says, closing his eyes and fighting the urge to purr. "Bitch to redo every two weeks."
"Looks good with the black," he answers, letting go.
"Hey, don't stop." Adam doesn't open his eyes. Kris laughs again, fingers threading slowly through his hair, fingernails making a second pass against his scalp. There's every chance Adam could fall asleep like this, on warm sand with the ocean a background rush, but it's mostly Kris, who he sometimes forget he should have stopped missing years ago. "How long are you in town?"
He feels Kris shrug. "We're not starting work on the album for another few months. It's weird," he says thoughtfully. "I hated touring, but now it's--you know. All nostalgic. Like, I seriously had this craving for Denny's the other day, because during the tour, we'd decided to eat at a Denny's in every state. I actually started to drive to one, but without the band, it's harder to make fun of the food."
Adam tries to imagine that and fails. "That must have been a circus."
"Not everyone is as recognizable as you," Kris answers with a snicker, catching a tangle and patiently working it free. Adam stiffens. "Oh God, are you going to get weird again? Trust me when I say, I never wanted your life."
Maybe not; probably not. It doesn't change the guilt, stupid though it might be. "I won't be weird," Adam answers, opening his eyes. Kris grins, and looking at him, it doesn’t feel like five years since they met; it feels like yesterday and like the entirety of his life at once. "What am I saying, I'm always weird. Stay in town for a few days; we'll catch up."
Kris nods easy agreement, like he doesn't remember every time Adam's let a lunch date slide or forgotten a dinner planned for weeks, too many near-misses that should have eroded a friendship much stronger than theirs. Kris just learned to lower his expectations.
"I'm serious," he says, pushing himself up. "I'm not that busy--"
"Planning your upcoming tour, promoting the new album, redefining the sexuality of bicurious boys everywhere," Kris' smile widens wickedly, "making the careers of up and coming paparazzi, fighting with your boyfriend in public when you get bored, and thirteen interviews in the next six weeks. Like I said," Kris says, leaning back on both arms, "I really, really don't want your life."
When he puts it like that, Adam doesn't either. "You make it sound so sordid." And weirdly boring. He's not sure what to do with that part.
"Sordid is a good look for you. Ready to go back?"
Adam glances unwillingly at the lights of the hotel; they seem closer than they were from the safety of Kris' lap. Alex, he reminds himself. Making paparazzi careers. Bicurious boys, fine, that part never gets old. "Sure," he says, but Kris just laughs, so maybe he didn't hide the reluctance as well as he thought. "No?"
"We can hang here for a while." Reaching out, he pushes on Adam's shoulder until he willingly lies back down, relaxing from tension he hadn't even known he'd felt. "It's kind of nice to see you without paparazzi documenting it for posterity."
It's too easy to make Kris happy; it should be harder. In a sane world, five minutes on a quiet beach with a friend shouldn't be treated like such a goddamn gift. "Stay with me for a few days," Adam says seriously, watching Kris' smile fade to bemusement. "I have like, ten security people on retainer," he says sincerely. "I'm pretty sure they'd kidnap you if I asked."
"That's actually kind of sweet," Kris says after a moment of thought. "Does this story end in a basement?"
"This isn't a Cobra Starship song," Adam answers; over the sound of the ocean, he can hear someone's voice calling and has to make himself sit back up. "I'm not that unoriginal." Catching Kris chin, he waits until Kris looks at him. "Stay. You can call Katy from my suite."
"I don't actually need permission for a sleepover," Kris says, rolling his eyes. "Fine, a few days, but seriously. I get you're busy. Don't turn this into a thing."
Adam snorts, leaning forward to brush a kiss against Kris' smiling mouth. It's his birthday, and he has years of teasing to repay. Pulling back, Kris' lips are stained pink and the brown eyes are wide. "Like I said," Adam says, wiping the lipstick away with his thumb before licking it clean. "Happy birthday to me."
Kris stares at him a few seconds longer before he starts to laugh. Getting to his feet, Adam pulls Kris up with him. If he'd turned away a second sooner, he would have missed it, caught at the corner of his eye like a mirage, a flicker of pink as Kris tongue slips out to slide over his lower lip, lingering like he's searching for the taste.
All the pictures are of Adam and Alex that night, their drama acted out against the background of a hotel and some of the most beautiful people in the world. Adam searches through them idly and finds himself stopping at only one, ten pages deep and uncaptioned because even the paparazzi sometimes miss seeing what they're supposed to watch.
There's a small break in the glittering crowd, Alex sidelined by the pool with someone blond and hopefully of age; a space between bodies that shows a tiny rise of grassy beach with a figure sitting and watching the ocean and the impression of someone stretched out on the sand beside him.
He misses Kris leaving for the airport, but that's not even the worst part; five days of brief meetings in the kitchen don't count for much, chatting over coffee and whatever Kris finds to make for breakfast. For days after, Adam runs across napkins and take-out receipts, scraps of notebook paper crumpled and tossed, scribbled with single lyric lines under the couch and beneath the guest bed, lost beneath the counter behind the trash can like an endless game of hide and seek. Adam cancels the cleaning service for two weeks straight to make sure he finds them all and spreads them out on his bed one night long after he should have tried to sleep.
The final part is a short note that's three lines to say good luck and see you soon. Kris is a lot like the music he writes; it's only simple when you don't stop to pay attention. Attention is something that takes energy, reminding him what he'd thought on the beach and now has to revise; it's been a long time since he invested energy in anything when it wasn't required and Kris stopped thinking he was allowed to require anything a long time ago.
Kris' life is spread out before him in unfinished lyrics and half-written chords, ink smeared with mustard and soy sauce, stained brown in grease. A quarter of a pizza box has a chorus that Adam hears for days, and he taps the melody line through a lunch meeting and three parties, not searching for why Kris wrote it, but why he stopped.
It's not quite fair to be pissed Kris won't call him on being a shitty friend; Adam's been training expectations down for years. Sixteen pleasant text messages and a phone call later, Adam spends eight hours in the studio recording a dozen versions of the chorus and looks for Kris in every one.
He Fedexes the results on a single disk with a single line: show me the rest.
It's three days and two interviews later when he gets an email back, subject blank with a body of five words and a single file: this is not a statement.
A guitar picks out the melody line slow and rich, nothing like anything Adam's ever heard him play, inevitable like the tide pulling from the shore and how you can make a choice not to feel regret.
I don't want your life, Kris had said, but Adam had forgotten how to interpret the way Kris wrote a melody; what he'd meant was I miss when you were part of mine.
Kris comes to LA for a soul-eating meeting with his publicist, grounds enough to wait outside the back door until Kris emerges blinking into the light of day and still dazed from third-hand image dissection by proxy. "Yeah, it's a kidnapping. I have security waiting and everything."
"So you're going to be weird," Kris says in resignation, surrendering his guitar without a fight. "A pizza box is not a statement--seriously, you went through the trash?"
"That is kind of disturbing, true," Adam agrees, taking off his sunglasses to stare Kris into acceptance, "but just roll with it. It was a statement. I'm a shitty friend."
"Was really not a statement," Kris sighs but follows along to the car since Adam took custody of his guitar. "How long?" he asks, taking out his phone. "You know, so Katy can start collecting ransom."
"Tell her not to worry; I'm easy." Adam shoves the guitar into the trunk as Kris is herded into the car. "I just want that song."
Kris frowns out the smoked windows as the driver starts the car. "That's pretty much all there is," he says a little helplessly. "Four lines and it ends."
"No," Adam answers as he pushes play, the wistful sound of guitar filling the space between them; that can’t be all there is. "That's just how it starts."