(this is) not a statement, 3
AIRPS, Adam, Kris
first part, second part, third part, fourth part, fifth part, sixth part, seventh part, eighth part, ninth part, tenth part
Touring teaches you professional insomnia and the ways to cope with it when you're not willing to turn to heavy pharmaceuticals, and physical exercise is constrained by the limits of a bus. It's surprising the number of things you end up doing after a while, because poker and movies stop cutting it pretty early on. So it's not that he can't think of something to do--or someone, God knows it wouldn't be hard to get laid on his own tour--but most of it would require actually getting up and interacting with other human beings, and what do you know, that's just not happening tonight.
He ends up calling Kris just for the fuck of it; show business also teaches you to turn off your phone if you're serious about sleep, so Kris has no one to blame but himself. Two rings later, Kris answers, voice husky-low and drawl-edged. "Hey, Adam."
Rolling on his back, Adam grins up at the ceiling. "Two am, huh?"
"What?" Sounding bewildered, Kris hesitates, then abruptly starts to laugh. "Fuck you."
"You're going to wake up Katy if you keep that up." Shifting the phone to his other hand, Adam tucks a pillow under his head. "What are you doing up this late?"
"In LA," Kris answers. Now that he's listening, Adam can hear noise in the background that definitely isn't late night TV. "I--hold up, I need to--" Muffled--Kris must have put his hand over the microphone--Adam hears Kris yell, "Gotta take this. Be back!"
After a few seconds, Kris returns, and the room is noticeably quieter. "Sorry about that. They're not actually recording, but apparently being in a studio after hours still requires silence or something."
Adam tries to remember what Kris had scheduled for this month and comes up blank. "Why are you--?"
"Crap, right--sorry." There's soft thump, which Adam assumes means Kris found a comfortable couch. "I was asked to collaborate on a new band's album. They're Austin indie going mainstream, and they wanted--" Adam can hear Kris' smile, "--well, American Idol is pretty mainstream. They're called Romantic Embargo."
"You're writing for them?" Adam doesn't recognize the name, but if Kris is willing to work with them, he really thinks he should find out. "Let me rephrase: you're cheating on me with a younger, shinier band."
Kris giggles, and Adam can hear the sound of the springs in the couch. "I thought we had an open relationship, Adam."
"I'm nursing my betrayal here. Tell me more about my competition." He's mostly joking. Mostly.
"Their writer is also the lead singer, so let's say it's been an adventure." Kris says, with a sigh that tells Adam exactly how Indie these kids are. "He's kind of artistic."
"Oh yeah. Though it didn't help he didn't get a lot of choice about it, either. He'll get over it."
"So why bother?" Though he thinks the answer to that is the fact that Kris genuinely likes to write; being asked specifically was probably just icing.
"Kind of promised?" Kris blows out an impatient breath. "I met Leah last year at SXSW and we really hit it off. She said her brother was on board with anything she wanted to do--"
Adam makes a sympathetic noise: siblings, yeah.
"--yeah, that. It's not that bad," Kris adds quickly, like he's trying to convince himself. "They usually take the fights outside and pretend it's a smoking break. They don't actually smoke, I don't think, but we pretend they do, so it works."
"How long will you be in LA?"
"This time, just this week. I'll be back again next month and stay until they finish the album. And then--" Kris makes a sound that encompasses "my album" and "promotions" and "oh God, 19E", and "FML" at once. "God. What the fuck was I thinking?"
Adam hums agreement, wondering what Katy had said about that. With Kris, what's not said is a lot more important than what is, and the fact that Kris hasn't said they're moving back to LA is a conversation all by itself. It's not by any means an impossible schedule, but it's not one Kris would enjoy it, either, especially considering his attachment to his family.
"Anyway," Kris says after a few seconds of meditating his pain, "how's tour going?"
Adam wrinkles his nose. The answers are "normal" and "boring" and "amazing" all three; language doesn't really have a way to express the surreal state of being that is living on a bus and performing almost nightly, the deafening scream of crowds chanting his name, the experience of being the opposite of invisible and still finding it impossible. If he was high, Adam would compare it to an uneven speedball of life--hard up, hard crash, and sometimes, sleep and a shower. It's not fun, exactly--nothing like this could be encompassed with a word meant for games and trips to the beach and hanging out with friends--but it still blows his mind he's actually paid to do this. Not always liking it doesn't mean he doesn't love it, too.
"Good," he says finally, knowing Kris will pick up the subtext without elaboration. "Miss you," he adds; experience says Kris will miss the subtext there altogether.
He can feel Kris smile over the phone, settling on that couch again with a whine of springs. "I miss you," he answers. "Be in LA anytime soon?"
Not soon, no, but hmm. Adam thinks over the tour schedule and answers before thinking it through, "You have a day or two before you go back to Conway?"
Oh for the love of God; he's never calling Kris when he's sleep deprived again. To his surprise, though, Kris doesn't answer for a second. "I know your schedule," Kris says slowly. "You don't have--"
"I have two days off. I'll use the miracle of flight to make it all work." And his PA, because that's why God invented people with godlike administration skills who are easily pacified with regularly delivered Godiva and sometimes, begging. "If you don't have time," he starts to add, feeling a faint twinge of guilt. Contemplating the horror of Kris' schedule shouldn't lead to making it worse, but it's true; he does miss Kris, and misses the time he lost before. "I'm sure there's something I have to do while I'm there?"
Kris snickers. "Is there?"
"No, but I'll figure something out."
Kris laughs. "Yeah, I have time. Text me when you get in and I'll pick you up." From the background, a voice intrudes; Adam can't make out the words, but the tone is clearly "get the fuck off the phone already". "Okay, I gotta--"
"Go, yeah. Plan to sleep anytime soon?"
"Probably when you do, actually," Kris sighs, standing up with a squeal of springs. "Get some sleep. I'll see you soon. Night."
"Night," Adam murmurs, ending the call. To his surprise, it's much easier to sleep now.
The flight, as flights tend to do when Adam actually needs to be somewhere, gets into LAX five hours late. Getting his bag, Adam scrolls through his text messages and finds a new one from Kris. at leos. call when you get in.
Dialing with his thumb, Adam ducks into the bathroom, surprised to find it deserted; even this late, LAX isn't exactly what anyone would call calm. "Hey," he breathes, leaning against teh cool metal of the stall door. His PA may be in line for a Saks gift card now. "So. Let's say I'm stuck at LAX and trying to surprise someone. A car and a distraction would be nice."
Even for a city that really doesn't sleep, it's late by the time Leo lets him in the backdoor of a West Hollywood nightclub on just the wrong side of shabby-chic, but only just. Adam lets himself take a second to stare at Leo's aggressively shaved head and new piercings and doesn't comment, because Leo would just enjoy it too much. "Mostly cleared out," Leo says, looking mildly disappointed at Adam's lack of reaction, "but the band's hanging around still."
Adam raises an eyebrow, but Leo only smirks, leading him by the manager's office and out behind the bar caddy-corner to the cramped stage. Leo's right; the room's mostly cleared of the usual audience of semi-hipster teens with fake IDs, poetry majors from the local community college, and a speckling of Indie kids who want to pretend they're here to mock the music. Near the stage is a small knot of bodies, skinny jeans competing with ripped denim and at least two latex minis; there's something both hilarious and unsettling about at least three separate schools of youth subculture mixing like that. "Your boys?" Adam asks Leo, who turns from the liquor to frown and cover his mouth with one finger in the universal sign of shut the fuck up.
Rolling his eyes, Adam picks up his drink and braces his elbows on the bar, taking a sip just as a tall, skinny kid cross in front of them, heading toward the group, bleached hair tipped in aggressive robin's egg blue and orange in the definition of a mixed message. Like magic, the little group opens up for him, and Adam sees Kris cross-legged on the edge of the stage, guitar spread across his lap. Skinny takes the quickly vacated spot beside him, extending the beer and taking the guitar before Kris can put up a fight. Fascinated, Adam feels Leo's shoulder settle against his as Leo murmurs, "Yeah, I thought you'd get a kick out of this. Watch."
"...back, please?" Kris is saying, taking an absent drink of the beer.
"I want to hear that song. Wouldn't it be nice if we both got what we wanted?" Bracing a boot on the stage, Skinny settles his chin on his knee and smirks. "Pay or play, pretty."
"Huh," Adam breathes, biting his lip against a giggle, because he may not know it, but Kris has a type. Taking another drink, he watches as Skinny swings one leg in an idle kick when Kris starts to look like he might try the direct approach for guitar retrieval. Scowling, Kris settles back down among the laughter of the tiny group. "Okay, break it down; all I know is what Kris told me over the phone."
"Keyboard is the little blonde chick who looks like she could break in a good wind, Leah," Leo says, gesturing to the table nearest Kris, where a girl in vinyl is seated, legs draped across a tall guy in black jeans. "Her husband David, guitarist. His best friend Dennis, drums," a red-haired proto-punk who seriously doesn't match pretty much anyone there, from the hair all the way down, "and her brother," and that's Skinny, no shock, "singer, songwriter, and changes his name twice a goddamn month, but everyone just calls him Jared, yeah, Bowie reference deliberate. She kept it in the family pretty much; there's a couple missing that are working some other gigs right now, but you've got the core right there."
Adam nods thoughtfully, taking another drink. "She's Julliard, right?"
"She and Jared, yeah, dropped out their second year." Leo shakes his head slowly, looking amused. "Their first album did okay in Austin. Leah went looking for something a little more--mainstream to balance them out and see if they could break out." Leo hides his smirk behind his glass. "Three guesses how long it took Mr. Tortured Artist to feel a little less artistic when he saw who she brought in."
Adam snickers, watching Kris talking to the drummer as Jared strums random chords, tuning the guitar by ear. Not as young as Adam had first thought; he couldn't be more than two or three years younger than Kris himself, painful hair aside; in no sane world is that color combination anyone should embrace. "Refresh my memory; Kris said Indie, but I'm not feeling it from the look."
"They did the Austin circuit," Leo murmurs. "Leah met Kris at SXSW two years ago when their first album was released. Like I said, they did okay, but they were pretty niche and Leah's not stupid. They lost their drummer and their bassist right after, then Jared fucked off for a year; when he got out of rehab, Leah brought in Kris for their music, and as they say, the rest is history."
Adam can do the math on that one. "Which one left him?"
"Both." Adam looks at Leo, eyebrows raised in surprise. "Gotta love those Austin boys. They really do everything bigger down there."
Abruptly, Jared switches, looking at Kris as he strums a familiar chord, mouth widening into a smile when Kris looks up in surprise. It only takes a second for Adam to recognize the song, straightening as Kris starts to flush.
"How the hell did you--"
"You know I only need to hear it once." Jared starts again, fingers sliding expertly over the strings as he picks up the chorus of Postcard Face without missing a note. "Come on, pretty, I want to hear the whole thing."
"Since when do you care about what I write if it's not for you?" Kris answers, making a half-hearted grab for the guitar.
"Since it's the only one you won't let me hear." Switching, Jared repeats the chorus, changing the time to something slower, with the wistful edge that Kris had discarded for something a little more upbeat.
"Jared," Leah says, sounding amused, "what have I said about teasing straight boys?"
"That he likes it?"
"He's still right here," Kris says clearly. "Wanting his guitar back. I gotta leave in a few minutes--"
"Superstar back in town?" Jared switches to a ear-bleeding minor, rolling his eyes. "I think he can entertain himself without you for a night."
"Jealousss," Dennis sing-songs, tapping out a fast beat on the table. Kris shakes his head, mouth curving in a reluctant smile. "What did we say about hitting on the straight boy?"
"Aww, feel left out?" Jared aims a sharp smile toward the table. "Didn't mean to hurt you, baby, it's just the way I roll."
"You," Leah says, swinging her legs to the floor, "need to get laid."
"If you didn't notice, trying here?" Abruptly, he switches into something softer, picking up the piano line flawlessly as he looks at Kris sings, "Maybe you've fallen down, and maybe you just took the long way home, but you could never love you like me…"
Kris bursts out laughing, bent half-over as Leah buries her head in her arms on the table and Dennis giggles into his hands. Throwing up his hands, Jared falls back on the stage dramatically, telling the ceiling, "You're totally fucking the mood here, guys."
"You're such an asshole," Kris says, wiping his eyes and crawling over to retrieve his guitar. "You said One Less Reason were sellouts," he says as Jared sits up.
"Well, so are you, so I thought you'd appreciate it." With a sharp smile, he lets Kris take back his guitar, and abruptly, Adam realizes he's holding his glass way too tight and tries to loosen numb fingers. "I can lower myself for a great piece of ass--"
"So does that like, work for you? Ever?" Kris says, looking amused as Jared slings an arm around his shoulders and jerks him off balance in a rough hug that could be mistaken for a badly executed headlock. "Because I'm getting why you don't get laid."
"Maybe I'm just waiting for the right one," Jared says softly, fingers curling around the back of Kris' neck, and Adam puts down his glass with a thump.
"He's just teasing," Leo says, glancing at Adam curiously. "Kris can handle it."
"He shouldn't have to." Crossing from behind the bar, Adam watches Kris pull away with a laugh, head turning and catching sight of Adam, eyes widening as he flashes an incredulous smile. Jared jerks his head around, and yeah, that's what he'd thought; Jared wasn't teasing, and that's a problem just waiting to happen.
"What are you doing here?" Kris says, sliding toward the edge of the stage, guitar cradled protectively against his chest. As one, the group's attention follows Jared's, falling silent in deeply appreciated shock; Adam is not up to being actively famous tonight. "I thought you were going to call--"
"Flight got in late, so I thought I'd surprise you." Pulling Kris off the stage and into a hug, guitar quickly left behind, Adam ignores Jared's flat stare. "You ready to get out of here?"
"Yeah." Pulling back reluctantly, Kris looks around. "I need my case--"
"Leave it here," Jared says with a quick smile. "I'll bring it the studio tomorrow."
"I'm off tomorrow," Kris answers, frowning a little. "Okay, where--"
"Backstage," Dennis says, setting the chair back down on all four legs. "I can--"
"I'll do it," Adam answers, climbing on the stage; he knows where they keep their equipment. "Where's your jacket?"
"Probably with the guitar," Kris says after a second of thought. "I was running a little late."
Adam turns to flash a grin. "Sorry, baby," he says insincerely. "Did I keep you up past your bedtime?"
Before Kris can answer, he ducks behind the stage, finding Kris' case easily, jacket discarded on top. Coming back out, Jared's sliding off the stage, saying something to Kris about recording this week, and Kris pulling out his phone, flipping through his calendar. "--Tuesday, maybe? I'm leaving Thursday, so we need to wrap this up," Kris is saying as Adam comes back, tossing Kris his jacket before crouching to pick up the guitar. Catching it, Kris smiles up at him. "Thanks."
Leo leaves off trying to talk to Leah when it's fairly clear none of this little group is paying attention, wandering over to Adam and leaning against the stage to murmur, "Is it good to be king, Adam?"
"Simba knew what he was talking about," Adam answers with a smirk, snapping the guitar case closed and jumping down, wrapping an arm around Kris' shoulders and easing him farther from Jared. "Ready, baby?"
"Yeah. I'll see you Tuesday," Kris tells Leah, who nods, eyes wide. With a wave at the group, Kris leans against his shoulder briefly and makes a vague grab for his guitar case. "So chivalry isn't dead after all." Kris glances up at him, eyes dancing as they approach the door, the group behind them still shocked silent. "Have fun?"
"Yeah," Adam says, grinning back. "I really did."
Adam's used to people teasing Kris; it's his own favorite hobby, after all, and he can't blame anyone for trying when they know the odds of success are about on par with ice in hell. It used to surprise him how easily Kris dealt with it from men when women still could throw him; then again, women hit on Kris via underwear and that's pretty disconcerting for anyone when you know your wife is watching. It's not the first time someone's pushed too hard, either, but it's the first time that Kris didn't seem to notice. Kris has flexible lines, though, and God knows, if he thought Adam was supposed to be modeling appropriate ones, there's a fair to good chance he wouldn't pick up actual intent until someone had him up against a wall.
Flexible lines when it comes to friends, Adam caveats, and Jared's a friend, apparently; that makes the difference as far as Kris is concerned. "So."
"Say it." Kris settles into his seat more comfortably, knee pulled up against his chest, eyes dancing. "It's been killing you for the last ten minutes."
"It hasn't--" Adam stops, giving Kris a look. "Do you carry a beacon or something? How do you--"
Kris bursts into laughter.
"Fuck you." Adam half-wishes he'd kept the driver around, but this discussion isn't one he'd want to have in front of someone else anyway. "Okay, you told me he was intense. You didn't tell me he was trying to crawl into your pants."
"He does that with everyone," Kris says, waving a hand. "He's really used to getting his way, you know?"
Adam looks at Kris disbelievingly. Kris frowns, leaning against the door. "Leah told me three things to watch for: Dennis never sleeps, so don't be surprised by three o'clock phone calls, just hang up; David never talks, so don't try, just watch football with him and offer a beer; and Jared never thinks, so when he doesn't take the hint, a punch to the face will remind him he's supposed to. Which, well--" Kris shrugs. "He's trying to prove something to himself, I think. This--LA--is important to them all, but to him, it's like, I don't know, an affirmation of existence or something."
"So he's a musician, then."
"Pretty much, yeah." Kris gives Adam a wary look. "And there's--it hasn't been easy the last few years for him."
"Leo gave me the background; let me add, not reassuring." This topic isn't going to improve with conversation; Kris is pretty much easy on everything right up to the point where he's just not, and Adam learned a long time ago which battles were worth winning. "Okay, so tell me what you've been working on with them."
Kris follows the change in conversation with unconcealed relief. Wrinkling his nose, he leans an elbow on the door and looks at Adam speculatively. "I don't know--should I share with their competition?"
Adam gives Kris a sideways look. "So they're competition?"
"For you?" Kris grins and shakes his head. "Not even close."