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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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airpsfic: only take what you can carry, 1/2
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Title: Only Take What You Can Carry
Author: Seperis
Codes: Adam/Kris, Kris/Other
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Things to do in New Mexico when you're lost.
Author Notes: Well. I mean, I guess I could just build astolat a shrine and make my life easier, but instead, I just make offerings of porn. As one does. Thanks to cathalin for early reading and jamesinboots for going over it all again and being fanfic-posting xanax. Title from Snow Patrols' If There's a Rocket, Tie Me to It.
Warning: None applicable.
Disclaimer: Really not real.

Note: this actually started as commentfic.




Now

Adam likes to talk about the life-changing effects of narcotics, the story told so often it's almost like listening to a fairy tale now, misty-edge and faintly unreal. Sleep deprivation may not be a narcotic, but it sure has the some common elements, which is the only explanation Kris has for a flat tire fifteen hours from LA and somewhere not Las Cruces, New Mexico, no matter what the GPS says.

He's still staring at the tire when Adam deigns to get his ass out of the car, because there's only so much time you can convincingly fake sleep and Adam wasn't convincing when they weren't stopped on the side of a road that isn't I-10 and there was actual air conditioning. Kris figures if nothing else, the power of a New Mexico summer battling a flat iron will do the trick, and Kris is pretty sure there's not enough product in the world to combat ninety percent humidity.

"So." Adam looks at the tire like he looks at broken coffee pots and flannel worn without irony. "We have a spare."

"I know." Existential crises shouldn't happen on obscure farm roads, but he's never had an actual one, so what the hell does he know? "I'm thinking."

"About how to change a tire?"

Kris wants to glare, but they're kind of beyond glaring at this point. "I know how to change a tire." Looking up, Kris wishes Adam would at least pretend to be uncomfortable, but he doesn't bother. Kris wishes viciously the sweat would smudge his eyeliner. Just a little.

The jack is where Kris put it, under the car and ready for lifting, and he's holding the wrench like it's his last great hope for sanity, sticky and sliding against his palm and his skin will smell of hot metal for hours now. The tire is right behind him. He even remembers crouching, ready to shout at Adam to get out already so he can get this over with, and he's not sure how long its been, but apparently, it's been a while.

"It's hot," Kris says finally, putting the wrench to the first nut, fingers sliding on the metal before he can get a grip. Dropping it, he wipes his palms on his jeans.

"I'll do it." Kris gives him an incredulous look. "What? You think I can't change a tire?"

To be honest, Kris can't say he's ever had an opinion on Adam's relationship with automobile maintenance. "More that you'd get pissed if you chipped your nails," Kris answers honestly. Maybe he is high after all: three hours of Adam patiently painting them against his knee, foot braced against the dashboard and the smell of OPI filling the car even with all the windows open.

Adam gives his fingers a regretful look, then kicks his knee. "Granted. Now move."

Pushing a hand against the scraggly grass, Kris straightens, fighting the urge to groan at the pop in his back. He'd taken the last seven hours and refused every offer to switch. Right now, he can't remember why he thought that was a good idea. It's not that Adam's a bad driver; Kris just isn't used to not being behind the wheel. "I can--"

Adam doesn't bother listening, which is just as well; Kris has no idea how he would have finished that sentence. Retreating a few steps, he sits down on grass only barely cooled from a long day beneath the glare of the early summer sun. The world is flat fields that seem to go on forever, quiet like even the bugs are feeling less than inspired in this kind of weather. Kris doesn't think he's ever really believed a night could be improved by a coyote howling before, but he'd take it; even the sound of the jack is swallowed by the emptiness around them.

"We could have flown," Kris starts; it's a rote argument, and as an attempt at conversation, it works about as well as he expected. Because it's not the destination, it's the journey, there should be more smelling of roses, and seriously, you never did a roadtrip in college? Baby, we have to fix that.

He's done roadtrips, okay, and if tour isn't an extended roadtrip itself, what the hell is it, but by then it was too way late; Adam had a car outside (like he'd been just waiting for a random afternoon conversation about What Kris Did in College Subsection Crazy Shit to come up) and two passes to South by Southwest were waiting on the seat with two tickets for a very nice, four hour flight across the country, air conditioned and with snacks. Somewhere, there are two people really happy about being unexpectedly upgraded, which is possibly the only good thing to come out of this.

Pulling his knees to his chest, Kris half-watches Adam go about tire changing and half-wonders if there's any beef jerky left. "You need help?" he asks, and tries to sound like he means it.

Adam tosses him a grin. "I love you're saying that without even pretending like you're going to get up."

"Drove for seven hours," Kris answers a little plaintively.

"Offered to change three times," Adam sing-songs back in the key of asshole and loosens the last nut before jacking the car up further. It's almost hypnotic, in a weird way, like Adam's working on some internal beat, something in three four and fairly slow. Blinking the sweat from his eyes, Kris finds himself humming, looking for a song to match and wondering if he may need to write one.

The faint sound of the jack letting loose and the car reacquainting itself with earth isn't enough to get his attention; Adam pushing a boot between his feet and holding out his hand is. Kris squints up at him, then takes out the keys.

"Yes, those too, thank you," Adam says, taking the keys before long fingers wrap around his wrist and pull him unexpectedly to his feet. Stumbling a little, Kris catches himself against Adam's chest and doesn't pull away nearly fast enough. He's always been bad at that. "You ready?"

It's six hours to Austin. "Okay, so I get this is a break in the rules of roadtripdom you made up--"

"Classic and ancient rules honored by millions of stoned people worldwide--"

"--but if I don't get a break from that car, I really won't be responsible for my actions." He's hazy on what those actions might be, but he's pretty sure they'll be dire. They might involve nail polish. "What time is it anyway?"

"Ten?" Adam hazards, because his watch is on the hand holding Kris' wrist and currently involved with pulling Kris to the car despite the fact Kris is leaving a small trail in the dirt behind them. "Look, we'll check the GPS--"

"It says we're in Las Cruces," Kris answers as he's deposited in the passenger seat, moving his legs in only when Adam's light kicking is in danger of escalating.

Adam closes the door before Kris can continue; leaning back against the seat, Kris breathes in the stuffy-hot air of the car until Adam gets in and abruptly, there's air conditioning and Kris can kind of forgive even GPS now that he has that. Closing his eyes, he fumbles on his seat belt as the car swerves back onto the road. "You sure you want to stop?"

Kris turns his head on the neck rest and half-opens his eyes--that's all the effort he can manage--and tries to stare his desperation. "Yes."

Adam sighs. He can just deal with it.




Kris can't really trace at this point where the GPS went wrong; it was probably around the time Adam took off his sunglasses and stared out the window, eyebrows drawn together sharply at the dusk-shrouded terrain and a "Hey, we're not on the highway."

They passed three gas stations and a group of buildings that might have been a town before Kris had to admit that stopping for directions--or hell, a location--probably was in fact a good idea. Adam's "So straight guys really don't ask for directions?" all wide-eyed and curious like a well-accessoried Jane Goodall studying the habits of heterosexual southerners in their natural habitat, though, had added that last hour before Kris was willing to say out loud that yeah, they were lost.

From the way their cellphones are acting, Kris might have driven them straight into a Stephen King short story. The impression isn't lessened when they stop, either; Kris opens his eyes on a motel that bears a startling resemblance to the setting of at least four horror movies. He really, honestly to God wants to care, but he wants to be prone on a non-dirt, not-upholstery, not-moving surface so much more, so much that he doesn't even wonder how the owner (manager, person who gives keys and takes money) had reacted when six-feet-something of glittery rockstar pretending to be dressed down in jeans and failing fabulously had materialized in front of him (her?) asking for a room for the night.

There's a lot of things Adam is, but unmemorable isn't ever going to be one of them. Kris hopes the money the guy gets from TMZ buys some better pillows. He's several hours past sleepy and about a hundred miles beyond wired; turning his head on the flat pillow and ignoring the faint smell of something he cannot bring himself to identify, Kris watches Adam wander around doing Adam-things that involve removing his boots and verifying the integrity of his nail polish with a dissatisfied frown and a dive toward the suitcase that holds an entire cosmetic counter compartmentalized by frequency of use and possibly, ease of application. Adam's the only human being Kris has ever met, male or female, who can manage liquid eyeliner in a moving car while carrying on a conversation and dramatically ignoring the ringing of their phones under the backseat.

He emerges some time later, triumphant with acetone and tiny cotton pads, humming to himself as he edges a knee onto the bed and against Kris' side. Rolling over onto his stomach, Kris feels chill air swipe goosebumps across the bare skin of his back, shirt rucked up beneath him in a way that is probably uncomfortable, but he can't really remember how to care. Turning his head on the pillow, Kris watches Adam settle against the headboard, pillow smashed into shapelessness against the small of his back, one leg pulled up as he contemplates the damage inflicted by manual labor, long, pale fingers spread over his knee.

"Not too bad," Adam says after a moment, like he's trying to assuage Kris' non-existent guilt for his part in it all. "Just a quick touch up. Hold still."

Kris is about four thoughts behind what that's supposed to mean, so his shirt is pushed up around his neck and cool glass is balanced precariously on his back before he thinks to protest, but talking would require moving and he doesn't really want his back stained in glittering purple all that much. Still humming, Adam methodically fixes each smudge with hands steady enough to do brain surgery, which is kind of unfair, because he's been awake as long as Kris and it's not reasonable or sane that he's not on the verge of collapse.

Then again, he's never associated either word with Adam, so the point may be moot.

It's familiar, like living together all over again, and Kris is lulled by the normality of it all, enough that he doesn't even raise an eyebrow when Adam looks at him speculatively while his nails dry. "Still awake?"

"Not really?" Kris yawns (carefully; the bottle shifts against his skin) and waits for Adam to put it up and find something else to entertain himself with. "Probably not."

"Hmm." Shifting fluidly to cross-legged ease, Adam reaches for Kris' hand and not the bottle; Kris summons just enough interest to look a question. "This," he says, spreading Kris' fingers over the age-soft denim covering his knee and picking up the bottle, "is where I take advantage of your exhaustion."

Kris nods dreamily, watching as Adam rearranges his fingers to his satisfaction and unscrews the cap, the tiny brush glinting even in the faint yellow light coming from the small lamp on the bedside table. More carefully than he ever does this to himself, Adam strokes vivid color over his thumbnail, his palm pressing lightly on Kris' wrist in the unlikely event Kris has some intention of moving. If he closes his eyes, Kris can imagine he can feel each languorous stroke of the brush, long wide strips for the center, shorter bordering his skin. When he's done, he picks up the bottle and waits for Kris to turn over and surrender his other hand, the bottle resting low on his belly, trembling with every half-stuttered breath.

"Turn over," Adam says finally, the bottle relocated to safer territory; it's not easy to do with two hands of wet nails, but Kris fumbles himself belly-down with a sigh, Adam's fingers wrapped warm and tight around his wrists as he arranges them on the pillow above Kris' head. "I'll do the second coat when they dry."

"Mmkay." He wishes he'd taken off his shirt; the air conditioner is making the heat bearable, but only just. Jeans, too. Pressing his toes into the mattress, Kris drifts for a while, emerging when Adam wanders off, relaxing only when the bed shifts and Adam's knee presses reassurance against his side.

Circa third coat, Kris squints his watch into coherence; if they leave now, they may still make the first day. Adam stares his hand back into position on the pillow before vanishing into the bathroom; Kris rubs damp palms against the cotton pillowcase, eyes shut against the faint grey light slipping between the plastic blinds. He's half-awake when he hears the bathroom door open, the nearly inaudible pad of feet across the faded carpet, the rustle of the curtains blocking out the coming morning, the lamp flickering off.

"Not quite dry yet," Adam murmurs, settling back beside him, breath startling against Kris' ear. "Sit up."

Kris opens his eyes just long enough to keep his balance, drawing his legs up and sitting back on his heels, Adam's fingers guiding his hands out of danger above his head before reaching for the hem of his shirt. Fingernails scratch brief lines of heat over his belly, and he shivers a little as Adam goes up on his knees to ease his hands free of sweat-damp cotton, hot bare skin along his side that Kris leans into without thought. Adam's hand on his back urges him off his heels, and he watches with detached curiosity as Adam unfastens his jeans one-handed, easing them down his hips, rolling him unresistingly onto his back as Kris presses his palms against he headboard and shivers at the feel of Adam's hands following the denim down his legs.

He thinks about opening his eyes when he feels Adam crawl back up the length of his body, knees settling on either side of his hips. "I think they're dry now."

Kris flexes his fingers against the particleboard, aware of a vague ache in his arms as he draws them back down, brushing his thumb curiously over the unfamiliar, slick surface of each nail. "We're going to be late," Kris says and almost manages to sound like he cares.

A ghost of a touch against his mouth stops that thought before it can go anywhere he wants to follow. "Go to sleep already," Adam answers, sounding more amused than anyone should when they're seeing dawn from the wrong side twice in two days. It's good advice, but it makes Adam move, which Kris likes a whole lot less. He doesn't realize he's rubbing the smooth surface of his nails on the bed until Adam's fingers slide between his, murmuring, "Seriously, sleep," and yeah, maybe he will after all.




Before

There's an entire notebook sitting on the counter between them; Kris gives up trying to explain his feelings of rejection by the entire paper industry when it starts to sound like some kind of specialized break with reality as Adam thumbs through the pages, reading half-completed lyrics and humming snatches of almost-melody. "So how long have you been working on this again?"

Kris doesn’t look up from his comfortable position face first on solid granite and wonders why the hell Adam thinks he's capable of anything as complicated as counting. "A week? Maybe?"

"One song."

Kris shuts his eyes tight and pretends it's normal to have seventy-something pages illustrating his entire career is a weird fluke and he's actually shitty at this whole songwriting thing. "You want to rub that in a little more?"

"Possibly." To his credit, Adam thinks about it. "No. Maybe later, though."

Kris takes what he can get. "Thanks."

"Anytime." A plate pushes itself beneath his elbow, because Adam's having some kind of love affair with domesticity and channeling several worried mothers with strangely edible results. It's not like Kris didn't think Adam could cook; it's just theoretical understanding of the possibility doesn't equal Adam, a kitchen, and The Joy of Cooking occupying the same space at the same time in the real world. Like bending physics, or something. Luckily, it's all food that can be transported by fingers and Kris doesn't even have to lift his head to eat. Faintly, he can hear Adam rifling through the pages again, breathing the lyrics while tapping the rhythm out on the back of Kris' neck in a really useless attempt to make him sit up and act like a normal human being.

LA was supposed to help, and while sure, there's five more pages than there were when he stepped off the plane, by no stretch of anyone's imagination is this an improvement.

The fingers pause abruptly, resting heavily against his skin; it's annoying enough that Kris almost asks Adam why he stopped, then realizes he has no idea how to string the words together in a way that would make any kind of rational sense. The touch lingers, sliding to rest against his collar before pulling away, and Kris picks up something vegetable shaped to avoid the potential of asking anyway.

Adam leans both elbows on the counter, the notebook between his arms; Kris can't figure out his expression, but he feels like he should. "Huh."

Craning his neck to see the page, Kris gropes blindly for the plate. "What?"

"Nothing." Adam lets out a breath, straightening . "Where are you staying?"

Kris tries and fails to remember more than the vague impression of heavy wood and neutral-toned carpet; there might have been a fountain. He may need to call the cab company and find the cabbie to get directions, since he's pretty sure that's how he got here. "Over at--"

Adam looks up, mouth curving in a slight smile. "Wrong answer."

"Here?"

"Good boy. Go take a nap." When Kris reaches for the notebook, Adam snatches it up with a frown. "Good try, honey, but no." Reaching out, his thumb traces a wide circle beneath Kris' eye, speculative. "Though I have some concealer that works miracles--"

"And sleep it is." All at once, Kris feels the last few days like a weight, making every bone feel impossibly heavy. After carefully placing the notebook a length of countertop beyond Kris' best desperate lunge, Adam's hand settles at the small of his back, guiding him away from temptation and toward potentially his first uninterrupted sleep in a week. "I don't need to be tucked in here."

Adam leans against him, snickering against his temple. "Who said that part's just for you?"




Adam flirts reflexively, like breathing, like singing, and he escalates without warning like a neverending game of psuedosexual verbal chicken. If flirting was the equivalent of running, Adam's a marathon. It can be light and funny, or hilariously pointed, and sometimes serious, but beneath it is always the same shy pleasure, because in the end, it's fun, and that's the part he wants everyone to love like he does.

A marathon, right--it's a fairly accurate description of their first couple of days, come to think, before Adam stopped trying to shock him into his potential inner asshole and picked up his guitar, fingers settling tentatively on the strings. Kris had put down his book and took a breath to hide his smile, crawling to the end of the bed and collapsing on his stomach, realizing how closely Adam must have been watching him to imitate the crook of his fingers, the slope of the body against his chest, green-tipped fingers tracing along the edge of the guitar in an unconscious caress, like he can feel the music in it even when it's silent.

After a few moments of ghosting over the strings, Adam carefully sets the guitar aside, and maybe for the first time since they met, Kris think he's seeing the musician and not the proto-rockstar in waiting. Curling his arms under his head, Kris waits for Adam to decide to notice he's watching.

Then, he wanted to say, I'd never hurt you. Now he's glad he didn't. As it turns out, it was a lie long before he would have said the words.




Adam isn't a morning person; that's a law of nature and possibly a commandant that got lost on the way down the mountain. Morning is a fluid state, however, not limited to petty things like immutable time and the movements of the sun; it's a state of being lasting from the moment Adam realizes he has to get up and well into a higher state of caffeination. Unlike Adam and automobiles, Kris lives up close and personal with Adam's relationship with coffee.

Kris isn't either, but he's better at faking it than Adam is, and Kris learned early on to claim what ground he could while the claming was good. Except right now, Adam's curiously drawing lines up his back with the tips of his nails and morning (in fluid form) can fuck itself.

Stretching slightly, Kris feels Adam's fingers still, then start again, abandoning lines for esoteric shapes that Kris tries to identify by feel. Pulling one half-numb hand from under his head, Kris smells the fainted hint of nail polish and looks down at his fingers like a stranger's in the (somewhat) brighter room. The tips are callused from strings, skin hardened and shading darker, but the blunt-cut fingernails he only notices under duress belong to someone else entirely, the glossy surface deepening to the color of a day-old bruise. Stretching his hand on the pillow beside him, Kris traces the faded edges with his eyes, nail-tips worn dull after only hours, and most of them sleeping. "Did I scratch you?"

Adam hesitates, pushing his nails into Kris back as if to mark where he left off. "That's really not the question I expected."

Kris turns his head enough to bring Adam into view. It's bright enough to note Adam's dressed, eyes lined in smoky grey with a hint of purple shimmering behind the sweep of black lashes, and he's attempted low-key in black skinny jeans and plum under leather, which is subtle, for Adam, but not so much for anyone who sees him. Kris regrets he missed it; Adam getting dressed is performance art, the best kind, the kind that's not a performance at all.

Kris holds up his hand, wriggling his fingers. "The tips," he explains as Adam stretches along his back, chin digging into his shoulder, fingers curling around his palm and bringing his hand closer.

"Should have added a top coat," he says thoughtfully. Kris watches Adam's fingers twining through his a little dizzily; with the polish, he's not entirely sure which are his anymore. "Now, the question you should have asked….?"

It's not even a trick question, but there are enough to fill Kris' head so full none can get out; Kris waits until Adam looks at him and raises his eyebrows like he expects whatever answer is coming.

"I know where we are."

Kris tries to roll over and gets exactly nowhere, and Adam just settles himself more comfortably. The fact he isn't humming contentment is worrying; Kris can feel he wants to. "Where?"

"I want to know more about the mysteries of straight men and directions," Adam says against his ear, nose brushing the hypersensitive skin behind it. "Does it drain away testosterone? Do something unfortunate to your palms? Seriously, I want to know."

"Stereotypes are destructive," Kris manages with some semblance of authority.

"Except when I'm sleeping with one. Trust me, then, the hilarity never really ends." Kris processes the first sentence and almost stops altogether, but Adam continues. "What I don't know is how we got here, and for a surprise, the very nice people who sold me coffee down the road are working off the theory that people from LA are idiots. It's not like I can disagree, considering."

"Adam."

For a shocking second, Adam's lips are pressed against his skin and Kris suddenly doesn't care where they are. Then, like it never happened (like it's always happened, like it will happen again), Adam murmurs, "We're on county road twelve."

The road, Kris has to admit, had a county-like feel to it. The potholes should have been an indicator. "And we are--"

"There. On it."

"Town?"

"That's what I said, and no, there's not one. It's like--this, and a convenience store and like, a farm and some cows." Adam pauses meditatively. "Or sheep. They're pretty far away."

For lack of anything better to do, Kris buries his head in the pillow. "This isn't my fault."

"I'll give you the GPS if you admit three hours and seventeen minutes before the tire--and yeah, I so counted--you should have said…" Adam trails off expectantly.

Kris doesn't even fight it. "Yes, Adam, I will stop and ask for directions."

"Beautiful." Abruptly, Adam drops to the bed beside him. "And? Come on, baby."

"Next time, we're totally flying."

Adam's eyes narrow with a danger of pouting on the horizon. "Not the answer I was looking for."

"Yeah, but it's the one you're getting," Pushing himself up, Kris sees coffee and delicious packaged sugar in breakfast form and forgets he was attempting to be mad. "I really love you right now."

It slips out so suddenly that Kris has cellophane clinging sticky to his fingers and a mouthful of pastry before he processes what he said; half a cup of coffee while under the shower later (an idea whose time has come) doesn't get him any closer to an answer (or hell, a question), but it does get him clean.

He dries off quickly, feeling the heat already trying to raise new sweat, and as the mirror unfogs, he sees faint trails of purple curling over his back buried in fading red lines too fragile to last beyond a few more hours; he wouldn't have noticed them if he hadn't known to look. He'd washed the darker smudge of Adam's lipstick away, but he can still feel it, hovering beneath his skin like another kind of mark.

"I'm driving," Adam says from some distance from the door, voice pitched to carry, and right, yeah, Kris can't even pretend to be surprised.




Kris finds his sweatpants buried beneath a pile of slick, butter-soft leather and a collection of loose feathers dyed green shading to pale gold, third closet on the left, like Adam thinks Kris doesn't know the closet system by heart. Picking them up, he pulls them on over his boxers with a faint sense of triumph and decides Adam's immaculate bed is an awesome place to spend serious time contemplating page ninety-five (notebook two) of the song that will never, ever end. Messing up the bed is just a plus, really.

It's also the last place Adam will look for him, which gives him a good forty-five minutes of wallowing before the bed moves and Adam drops on top of him like a particularly enthusiastic cat. Kris assumes by the fact he can't breathe that Adam's late night was not spent in Parcheesi and make-up tips. He's about a hundred times more touchy when he's been laid, skin-hungry. "You're hiding."

Kris kicks one leg up and gets a heel to weakly brush against Adam's thigh. "I love these sweatpants."

"But they look so much better when you're not wearing them."

Kris pushes until Adam lets him roll over, squinting a little. "I can't even tell if you're hitting on me or not."

"To be fair, I'm not sure either." Dropping back on the bed with a bounce, Adam gets the notebook and makes himself comfortable against the pillows, not even bothering to hide his satisfied grin.

Very laid, then. Kris considers stealing the notebook back, then the size of the bed, torn. One promises failure; the other promises mockery of your best friend for being a total slut. Kris has spent most of his puberty-and-beyond male life listening to and trading stories of sexual exploits; Adam's are the first that required a dictionary and active internet connection for definition, context, and occasionally, verification with the help of google and video streams that he will admit he had to use on his deathbed. Because seriously.

It's been a week, and at some point, Kris has to admit to himself this wasn't so much a plan as an inexplicable cry for help and leave Adam to have random sex more conveniently, at home, which apparently Kris' presence inhibits. Kris has tried to start three conversations on the subject, but for some reason, Adam telling him exactly what his tongue was doing and where it was doing it while someone else set up a variety of props in the background is fine, but saying Adam could start doing his frighteningly well-choreographed sexcapades at home as God intended, and Kris will find something to do on the other side of the house is like, awkward.

That it doesn't make sense doesn't worry Kris nearly as much as the fact Adam's smile is fading into unreadable all over again, and no matter how many times Kris reads what he wrote, he's can't figure out what Adam's seeing.

"You really have to let me in on the secret," Kris says, climbing up until he's leaning over Adam's bent knees. Showered and scrubbed clean, he's almost frighteningly capable of carrying off innocent bewilderment. His hair is still damp, and Kris has no way to explain how endearing that is.

"It's nothing," Adam says, closing the notebook with a snap. "Maybe you need to take a break from the pre-emo, though; Wentz is not a look that would work for you." Adams' eyes narrow hopefully. "However--"

"No." Fishing his notebook away, Kris looks at it distrustfully; Wentz? "Is it really--"

"No, no," Adam says, instantly soothing, bare foot pushing against Kris' knee. "You're fine, baby. I am just saying, there's a lot of different ways to wear eyeliner, and that's not the one you want to wake up with."

Kris slow blinks his astonishment that he understands the metaphor. "I could rock heroin chic."

"And that," Adam says, pushing off the bed and pulling Kris after him, notebook forgotten, "really calls for ice cream."

"I know what heroin chic means," Kris marvels, taking a moment. "I really don't know how to deal with that."

"We'll coordinate the ice cream to existential crises by taste," Adam answers easily. "I'm feeling chocolate mousse and hot fudge; how about you?"




After all the time Kris spent not-sleeping in beds, on couches, and occasionally, stretched on comfortable rugs, it's kind of amazing that the car seat hits him like valium; he's out before Adam can throw a fit about the available radio channels and mutter about Sirius.

From the pretty much only directions they can get, if they keep going west, they'll end up on I-60 and straight down to Las Cruces. After that, Kris is vague on the details, since the napkin Adam wrote everything down on is slowly disintegrating into blue-smudged oblivion in the unused ashtray. They'd both stared at it for a while, like will alone would bring back what happened once you got south of Las Cruces.

The fact they both have iphones and the coverage now to use them in ways associated with travel isn't something they're discussing. Eventually, they'll have to retrieve them from under the back seat, but Kris isn't feeling all that inspired to try and Adam acts like his isn't usually surgically attached.

Speaking generally, between the two of them, they've probably given the entirety of 19E new and exciting opportunities to define the words "damage control". That either of them live a life that going to a music festival in a fit of sleep-deprived spontaneity is a cause for highly dramatic voicemail, email, and potentially, newspaper headlines, is even more unbelievable than getting lost on county roads in New Mexico, and Kris can't really blame himself (okay, he can, sure, but it's not like they're stopping, so whatever) for not processing it.

"So did you ever think, you know, when this started, that at some point, we'd actually like, become divas?" Kris asks, staring at the miles of farmland that will eventually, at some point, turn into civilization and people and more worryingly, paparazzi. Just because they don’t (really) know where they are doesn't really mean much; media has a sense about this sort of thing.

"I have not had nearly enough coffee to answer that," Adam answers, then pauses, adding uncertainly, "and I'm not a diva."

Kris turns his head with exaggerated slowness to illustrate opinion, it being bull followed by shit.

"Maybe a little diva," Adam concedes, fingers tightening on the wheel like denial is the new black. "Diva-lite."

"…you're sticking to that?"

"Until my last breath. Oh, look, cows!"

Adam's right--from this distance, they could be sheep. It's not like Kris knows the agricultural demographics of New Mexico. Could be llamas. Could be emus, for all he knows. Kris sinks further into the seat and tries to fall back into the comfortable gloss of half-sleep, rippling in and out of time like that's any solution to the lack of a problem to deal with. Kris likes problems, likes to solve them, too, but it works so much better if they're articulated. Or exist, even.

The air conditioner keeps the car arctic, but Kris could still sweat to the memories of slick-sticky heat and driving hours past anything sane or adult or hey, human. Keeping his eyes closed, Kris tries to think of nothing, head pressed to the body-warm glass and listening to Adam hum, like he does when he thinks Kris isn't paying attention. It's not a melody, not exactly; Bob Dylan by way of Shakira, maybe, changing the beat every three measures or falling into a time signature that hasn't been created yet, like he's having a style crisis of musical faith. Having seen Adam's externalized debate on the merit of one belt over another, it's as typical as it is soothing. It's not that Adam's indecisive; he just likes to be right.

"I'm just saying," Kris says, because the thought was important, or at least, was there, so why not continue it, this is not the person I saw myself being, but it never gets farther than his thoughts. One who gets lost in the great American Midwest and wears nail polish and ends up in a car with a genuine force of nature, the kind you read about in books and think so not realistic, but maybe you hope a little that you're wrong. Because people that live like that should exist, they should, the world can't be just people who only think they do.

"Saying what?"

Dammit. Kris opens his eyes and looks at a universal anomaly less than a foot of upholstery away. "I'm glad I met you."

Adam swerves, just a little. "That's what you were working up to?"

Kris thinks about it. "Yeah. I think it was." Straightening, Kris lifts a foot and braces it against the dashboard and tries to think like people who do things because they want to and not because they just happen and they happen to be in the way. "I'm starving. Is there any beef jerky left?"




Adam's feelings about ice cream are complicated and unfathomable, but some of them have to involve "does this work with hot fudge?". Though off the top of his head, Kris can't imagine an ice cream that requires a caveat of "no fudge", so maybe he's overthinking it. With the sweats vanished again (not third closet, not a curve ball of second closet, not near the laundry, not in the bathroom), Kris is in his oldest pajama bottoms, faded and worn through the knee and inappropriate for anyone who isn't married to him and legally forced to look at him to deal with and a t-shirt that from the size isn't actually his, trying to find the ungodly deliciousness of fudge ripple and failing.

Sitting back on his heels, Kris stares at the freezer, unable to articulate the horror of wanting to just sit back and cry for a while. It's good ice cream, which might justify it, but there's cookie dough too, and he can't remember a point in his life that he's ever felt so utterly screwed by the universe.

Giving up, Kris leans back against the kitchen island and pulls his knees up enough to potentially kick the fridge shut and see if that helps. The sound of footsteps coming toward him is a surprise; he hasn't seen Adam in more than glimpses for two days, and from the state of the closet, he'd been in a mood. A go-somewhere-glittery-and-stocked-with-hot-guys-who-used-to-be-gymnasts-slash-contortinists type of mood, which is the usual reaction to a day where Adam has to meet with a lot of people who irritate him to depression and wear unimaginatively colored ties.

Bare feet flashing three-day old silver nudge against his ankle while Adam takes stock of the patheticness of Kris' life. "Are you--crying in front of the freezer?" He sounds uneasy, like perhaps he realizes that being Kris Allen's friend also involves dealing with Kris' long-repressed but still functional fourteen year old self who had kept a journal (not a diary, for the love of God, not a diary) and sometimes wrote things like, "My parents don't understand me and omg Katy let me touch her boob!" which--well, that wasn't when he was fourteen, maybe sixteen, fine, he deals with it the only way he knows how.

"No," Kris answers, stretching to hide the fact he's surreptitiously wiping his eyes.

"I've run out of ways to make fun of you, so," Adam holds the fudge ripple, dripping condensation onto Kris's lap just out of reach, "you want?"

"God, yes." Looking up, Kris checks himself at the familiar grey fabric that's about three sizes too small stretched long over thighs and knee and goes back south to stare at the good four inches of exposed ankle and leg. "Holy shit," Kris realizes in a burst of understanding, "you want my sweatpants. To like, keep. You envy me my sweatpants."

Adam plucks at the stretched waist with a decided lack of shame. "I get what you see in them." Turning away, he picks out an extra spoon and shuts the drawer with swing of his hip. "You coming?"

Since he's holding the fudge ripple, yeah. Scrambling to his feet, Kris does inventory as Adam leans against the counter and lets him look him over. Reaching out, Kris traces a thumb against the reddened scrape of stubble burn across the tender skin just beneath Adam's jaw and then pulls away. "I thought you'd be out."

"I was." Which is obvious--Adam hadn't done anything more complicated than change clothes--and Kris is reminded suddenly that Adam would share almost anything, but not this part, not really, not except in the stories he's willing to share. It's not dressing up, the vivid blue-red lushness of his mouth, eyes edged in smoky grey and heavy black; it's the person who isn't dressing up when he looks like this, even if when he's performing, he sometimes does. Because there's a world where Adam does this because he's going on a stage and a world where he does this because that's who he is, and it's just a coincidence that they happen to look the same.

They don’t feel the same, though, and Kris takes the extra spoon Adam extends and follows him across cool, lightless rooms, someone he's never met, only seen in brief glimpses that belong exclusively to people that aren't and have never been him.

Kris doesn't look at the TV, curling up on the overstuffed leather couch that never fails to try and swallow him whole, stabbing a spoon into the offered carton. "Bad day?" he asks carefully, navigating by instinct; he can deal with this. He can find the guy he knows with a few words, a look, but Adam didn't mean for him to see this and Kris didn't realize, not until now, how much he'd wanted it and how much it scared him, too. His hands shake a little and he bites down on the spoon to remind himself he's only an idiot when they film him that way.

"Maybe? No? Kind of." Even Adam looks a little less huge when he's fighting the couch for dominance, and Kris watches the battle with interest until Adam pulls his feet up, tucking them against the seam of the cushion in a winning maneuver. It's too dark to see very much, but Kris stares at the faint redness circling one wrist and imagines if he could see the other, they'd be a matched set, brutal and vivid in the normal light of day, or beneath the bald glare kitchen lights if Kris had thought to turn them on. "I loathe music executives."

"Plague on mankind and innovation in the industry," Kris agrees, leaning over in a precarious maneuver to get another spoonful from the carton on Adam's lap, a damp ring darkening the grey of the sweatpants. "They say you can't light yourself on fire on stage again? Let's hate insurance guys while we're going there. They raised my rates again, and I wasn't even speeding." Much, anyway.

Adam leans his head back on the cushions, staring at the ceiling, tongue tracing his lower lip slowly, unhappy; Kris wonders why he came home, why he didn't find what he was looking for tonight. "I just--I expected it. And I wanted it. And I still do."

Kris nods, licking his spoon. "Kind of glad I missed that," Kris answers, which isn't honest, but Adam wouldn't believe the truth, even when he's sitting by it and stealing sweatpants from it.

Adam turns his head, lazy and deliberate and disbelieving, which makes Kris snort. Scooping up a softened spoonful, Kris holds it out. "Bet you didn't even eat lunch, did you? You have to get over the idea broccoli will get stuck in your teeth and just not order broccoli."

Adam doesn't look at the spoon. "I have no idea," he says softly, bitterly, the way things that are true sometimes are, "why you don't hate me."

Chest tight, Kris leans forward and shoves the spoon between Adam's lips before he can hurt himself more. The spoon is stained dark, like staring into lightless water, like the way Adam is looking at him now. Getting another bite, Kris shoves at Adam's feet until the distance between Kris and the ice cream isn't a small country and tastes lipstick waxy on his tongue, richer than fudge in the next bite.

"You need a vacation," he says, instead of all the things he can't. "Even you can't keep up this schedule." Working all day, partying all night, and Kris can't prove he sleeps, but then again, Kris isn't sleeping either, no matter how much time he spends in his bed. Which isn't, in retrospect, much at all.

Adam's mouth crooks. "Sure I can. I'm awesome."

Kris scoops up another bite of ice cream and offers it with a grin; it's playful and harmless and he still thinks he should have known better when Adam tilts his head and leans forward, one warm hand bracing on Kris' thigh as he takes the bite, teeth closing on the metal and pulling it from Kris' nerveless fingers.

This, Kris thinks faintly, was not a well-thought out plan. If there had been a plan, in fact, Kris would say it sucked.

"Jamaica," Kris says carefully as Adam drops the spoon in the carton, metal half-vanishing in into lumps of half-melted ice cream. "Aruba?"

"Sunburn," Adam murmurs, sweetly filthy, silver nails touching Kris' cheek in four points of coolness against warm skin. Kris opens his mouth to add the obvious rejoiner, That's why you own five million kinds of sunscreen, but Adam kisses him, licking the words away, hard and too-fast, like a shock of static electricity in winter, and Kris closes his fingers over Adam's wrist and holds on, breath knotted in the back of his throat.

When he pulls back, mouth smeared imperfect and messy, Kris licks his lips, tasting Adam and lipstick and wonders how time could have dimmed the memory of this when he hadn't thought it had dimmed at all.

He doesn't hold on when Adam jerks back; it's too expected to hurt, and Kris is too used to disappointment to be surprised. Reaching up, Kris wipes his mouth with his thumb and leans over Adam's legs to get the ice cream, pulling out the sticky spoon and licking it clean while trying to make the flashing colors of the TV resolve into something that makes sense. "I think there's a Farscape marathon tonight," he says, ice cream melting cold in his lap.

Almost tentatively, Adam's head rests against his shoulder. Kris wraps an arm around his shoulders without hesitation and shuts his eyes for a moment, because really, come on. He's changed, he's learning, he's learned; he knows how to let go. "Hey, where's the remote anyway?"




There's actually a town called Truth or Consequences. "Seriously," Kris says, staring out the window. "It's actually called--"

"I know," Adam answers, because he's taking a page from the Book of Stupid Testosterone Moments (Kris Translation) and has been driving for five hours with a single gas station excursion for the sake of Kris' bladder and enough water to outfit a small Saharan caravan. Kris remembers fondly the teenage clerk staring out the window in disbelief while Adam pretended he could pass for ordinary and pumped gas. Kris was kind enough just to calculate it himself after the fourth register error, glad the ATM had been working and he had cash; there was no telling what kind of horror could have been perpetuated if the kid had been given a credit card.

"Is that--" the boy squinted, brown eyes growing huge and filled with mindless infatuation as he hit the wrong keys five consecutive times, oblivious to Kris' helpless giggling. After a few minutes of standing around looking amazing, Adam wandered inside, sunglasses more an act of plausible deniability than of any kind of use.

"What are you--hey, are those pop rocks?"

Kris added them to the total and tried to remember his own teenage years clearly enough to recognize the model of cash register, because the kid just went beyond language. Adam looked between them for a long moment, then sighed, like being the sex symbol of a generation was just too tedious for words.

Kris giggles now thinking about it; from the corner of his eye, he can feel Adam trying to stare him into silence, but that just makes it worse. "That's so creepy."

"It's three in the morning," Kris answers with a grin, punchy and sugar-soaked, tiny hits of adrenaline like electricity running over his skin. Maybe he did need to get out of the city for a while, clear his head, maybe Adam wasn't the only one that needed a vacation.

"Maybe we should stop," Adam says, unexpected, and Kris looks at him in surprise. "What? I can't get tired? Hello, lost in the wilderness--"

"We're on a major highway," Kris points out. "And the rules of roadtripdom--"

"Allow for sleep."

"I can drive."

"Yeah, because that worked well last time." Kris scowls. "Fine, the GPS is--I don't know, it went really wrong, and I'm going to call and complain about that, what if we'd been in like, Africa or something? We could have ended up taken hostage or--"

Kris waits while Adam spins out their long and terrifying incarceration by unnamed but terrifying extremists and doesn't even correct his geography, but stops him when they get to the part Adam where offers a free concert as a ruse to escape, unable to stop himself from saying "How do you carry that much ego and still have the strength to walk?"

"That's it--now you're just being mean, and you only get like that when you're tired." Las Cruces is growing slowly closer, and Kris feels his mood fading; tiny motels in the middle of fields of untyped agricultural development are one thing, but this is a place with hotels and broadband, and there's no way on earth Adam's going to get five seconds in public without someone recognizing him and then it's a party with five thousand media outlets broadcasting to the free world and twittering like the apocalypse is nigh. It could bring down the internet.

Also, Kris realizes with a sinking feeling, both his mom and Adam's will know exactly where to call, and Kris doesn't think he can face them both verbally expressing their disappointment with their sons finally going crazy and disowning them via speakerphone. From the look on Adam's face as the city limits approach way too fast, this may have occurred to him as well.

Maybe he is tired; Kris realizes he's been drifting when abruptly, he notices the car is in a stopped position and Adam is no longer in the driver's seat. Frowning, Kris recognizes enough of his surroundings to say with some certainty they're in an alley. From the clock, it's been an hour since the last time he checked.

Crawling over to the driver's seat, Kris sees Adam leaning against the wall a few feet away, phone against his ear; Kris doesn't let the disappointment last more than a moment, settling himself back in the passenger seat and hunting up his ipod and headphones, because it's much easier to face shouted questions when you don't have to hear them.

When Adam gets back in, Kris is still trying to find the perfect playlist; there's a lot of industrial rock on there, and people screeching in his ear about nihilism beats reporters asking him if he gave it up to Adam to win or waited until the tour to become a Hollywood cliché.

"So," Adam says, staring at the steering wheel with a fixed expression, "your mom disinherited me."

Kris twists around. "You called my mom?"

"Do I look stupid enough to call mine? I'd still be on the phone trying to convince her I didn't kidnap you while she traced my cellphone so she could send my brother to lecture in person." Running a hand through his hair (from the look, it's not the first time), Adam frowns at the universe not bending to his will.

"But why--"

"Well," Adam says, "there's a better than average chance that someone, somewhere, who is by the way so fucking fired leaked our route. And since we aren't in Austin, and there's a credit card receipt showing up wherever the fuck we ended up last night--"

"Wow, that was fast." Kris stares at the darkness outside the alley as he interprets the deterioration of Adam's language to mean they're screwed. "Okay."

Adam looks at him. "Okay?"

Kris fingers his ipod. "It's not like I thought--"

"Oh. You thought." Reaching for the ignition, Adam starts the car with a vicious twist of his wrist. "You know what? Fuck that noise. I'm not done. And your mother is awesome, so shut up, because I have a plan."

Jerking the car into gear, Kris grabs for the armrest as Adam pretends he is still someone who regularly drives in cities and jerks out onto the road with a grind of gears that makes Kris wince for the transmission. "Adam," he starts warily.

"Just shut up and tell me if you see a convenience store. Apparently," and here Adam consults his phone, "we're going to need toilet paper. And maybe towels."




Part 2/2


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haven't read this yet, but your offerings of porn are greatly appreciated!
be right back!

omg omg omg you did it, and you posted it!! \o/ ohshit i have to wake up in like four hours so have to wait until tomorrow because there's no way if i even read one word that i'm stopping.

omg.:) <333

I'm not through, but I had to point out a few things that were bugging me. A) LA to Las Cruces is about a 12 hour drive, so 7 hours in (not lost) should put you in Arizona (somewhere between Phoenix (6 hrs from LA if you're taking the Northern route) and Tuscon (7-9 depending on your route) - most likely Casa Grande. It takes a good 9 hours to get to New Mexico (trust me, I live in Silver City NM and have made the trip to San Diego on an almost yearly basis for most my life). Also, point B) humidity - southwestern New Mexico doesn't have any. According to the weather reports we hoover around 50-60% during the rainy seasons, but trust me it doesn't ever feel anything but dry. When I was living in San Diego and came home I could tell a huge difference in how my skin coped with the loss of moisture, so it's probably not that accurate to talk about 90% humidity. Once you hit ElPaso area it gets a bit different, but over here, yeah not so much with the moisture.

Anyhow, I'm loving the story so far, just had to add my $.02.

Back to reading!

P.S. I also used to live in Conway, AR - so if you want any info on the pocket idol's home town feel free to ask.

Ah, the humidity--I actually was planning to add a storm in right when they got to the motel, and for some reason decided against it. Will correct.

I used googlemaps and a friend's Texas to Disneyland and split teh difference on time. I'll recheck; adding more time wouldn't hurt at all.

It's not as if it's a big deal - you could probably ignore it (in fact, I'm sure no one will notice but me), I just had to mention it.

Googlemaps - LA to Austin is the way most people I know would take that trip. You just follow the 10 almost all the way there.

No, I seriously should have noticed when I didn't throw out a major storm. *g*

Let me recheck my route. I threw them off course so they'd hit northern New Mexico instead of south, but I'm betting I missed some mileage after Phoenix. Hmm.

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