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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, 2/2
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Part 1/2



There are perfectly normal and sane people who prefer to stay at home and avoid contact with other human beings, but when you're avoiding your email because it feels like too much work to hit reply and say hi, that's a problem.

To compromise, Kris wanders out on the back deck so he can honestly say he's been outside the house in the last three weeks without outright lying (to whom he'd be lying is unclear; that requires contact with other people). Curling up in a deck chair, he looks out on the illusion of privacy created by the trees, relaxing despite himself in the warmth of an LA spring, sunlight spilling over the wood only a few feet away.

Maybe here, he thinks drowsily, leaving his notebooks in a pile on the deck to deal with when he feels more sane, he'll finally be able to sleep.

It's impossibly quiet, like they aren't in a city at all; half-dozing, Kris hears the doors open behind him, Adam's voice as he wanders around in Kris' sweatpants for any telephoto lens to see. Kris cracks his eyes open enough to see Adam roll his eyes and make a vague sound that could be interpreted as assent before hanging up. "Have I been doing this long enough to get away with hanging up on everyone and say my inner artist is starving or something? Crazy, but less Carrie Fisher, more--" Adam pauses, frowning, "--not Carrie Fisher."

Kris smirks as Adam pushes his legs aside and straddles the foot of the chair, cracking open his eyes just enough to watch Adam typing into his phone with a frown, like he's doing something hugely important and not trying the latest version of Pac-Man. He looks tired, but when he looks up and sees Kris watching, he smiles, and Kris feels his chest tighten, like the first time they met and even then, even then--

"Two more meetings and you're done," Kris says, letting his eyes fall shut, unable to help grinning as the phone rings again, imagining Adam's scowl. "Want me to make dinner?"

"It won't take that long," Adam sighs in utter misery at his lot in life to be famous and wanted by the entire world. "Though this feels like a pizza night, don't you think?" Kris listens to him stand up again, bare feet padding toward the edge of the deck as he answers the call.

Then he stops. "No," he says, in a voice stripped of expression. "I haven't."

Adrenaline can feel like panic, or maybe it's the other way around; Kris sits up, watching as Adam paces back toward him, nudging him over. The chair really isn't big enough for an Adam sized person and anything bigger than a purse size dog, but that doesn't seem to be a deterrent, and Kris lets Adam ease him back down, resting his head against Adam's shoulder and comfortably sprawled half across his lap.

"No," Adam says finally, very softly, fingers sifting through Kris' hair absently, with hypnotic results. "I won't. Try his phone. I think we're done." Adam ends the call, then turns it off, dropping it on the deck. "Yeah, I'm taking the day off."

For a second, Kris almost wants to fight it. "Adam."

Adam traces a finger down his cheek, raising goosebumps as he cups the back of Kris' neck. The words are simple, but the implications are anything but. "I want to."

That's no surprise at all; Kris thinks he may have been counting on it, but he's too relieved to be ashamed. "Okay."

After a second, Adam says, "So did I tell you my PA is having a really disturbing affair with that cute technician we had on tour? The one that--" Adam makes a gesture that indicates the universal sign of "fucked several times, including one really embarrassing time in your bunk, which I'm not really sorry for, because it was hilarious". "You know."

Kris frowns. "I thought he was gay."

"So did I." Adam pulls at the edge of his shirt, fingers stroking down the small of his back, long and languorous and perfect. "There's--" Adam waves, "--drama. When did this happen? Where's my drama? I have to subsist on her anecdotes about kinky heterosexual shenanigans, and at this point, there's a fair to good chance it's not just because I'm an awesome boss."

"Your drama ends up in the tabloids. Remember last time? With the--" Kris gestures, indicated the universal sign for "And then everyone with an internet connection had a picture of your cock, and the macros were hilarious" and Kris totally felt bad for Adam, but he also has a hard drive of the macros. It almost made up for the bunk thing. "You said it wasn't worth--" Kris catches his breath as he realizes where this conversation is going, startled; Adam had never been the type to be subtle. Almost involuntarily, Kris looks toward the phone.

"Yeah, I was wrong," Adam says, sounding sleepy and vaguely smug. "I kind of like drama."




"Well," Kris admits after a few long seconds of staring into the bathroom, unable to speak, "the toilet paper was a good idea."

"Googlemaps reviews," Adam says in satisfaction from his sprawl across a horribly colored comforter that somehow manages to look gaudy even faded three shades. Closing the door carefully, Kris looks at the mass of their accumulated luggage on the other bed (Kris, one bag, one guitar case; Adam, everything else). There's a faint smell of disinfectant and insecticide and possibly, decomposing bodies. Kris has watched enough television to avoid looking under the bed; this feels like the kind of moment he actually might find something.

"My mom recommended this?" It's not a really subtle punishment, Kris thinks, but it's effective.

"Eventually," Adam answers evasively, turning off the phone with his thumb and tossing it toward the other bed to drown itself among the bags. "She tried to conference my mom in, but then my battery ran out, which is a shame."

Kris raises an eyebrow.

"It did." After a moment, he sighs, rolling on his side. "She says hi, and I'm supposed to make sure you eat and sleep and burn the goddamn notebook. Which had occurred to me--"

Kris glances worriedly at his bag.

"--but really, let's be honest here, I love that notebook."

Kris wonders if he's missing time; this conversation no longer makes sense. "You take it away and hide it in really obvious places."

"I'm getting better at it."

"You're really not." Kris wonders if its too early (or late? Something) for delivery. It's not that he's hungry, but stranger things have happened, and you really can't go wrong with pizza. There's a pile of faded take-out menus scattered across the bedside table, and Kris allows himself a single second to mourn the life he's become accustomed to, which includes room service any time of day or night and rooms where major crimes were probably not committed, or at least, the cleaning staff cleaned up after them thoroughly. "What time--"

"I was thinking about a vacation," Adam says, very quietly, like an admission, though of what, Kris doesn't know. Sitting up, he pulls off his boots and tosses them to the floor before swinging his legs over the side of the bed, bracketing Kris in black denim. "Like, a real one, without my phone."

Kris snorts his opinion on that as he picks up the menus, greasy and smelling faintly of rancid meat. Yeah, he's losing interest in even the theory of eating now.

"And then you showed up, which was a surprise--"

Kris glances at him. "You should have said something; I didn't--"

"And my assistant tried to quit when I told her to cancel it, because my vacation spot of choice showed up on my doorstep, which just proves that, yes, in LA, anything can be delivered."

Kris feels the greasy menus sliding out of his fingers and tosses them blindly in the direction of a flat surface. "Believe it or not," Kris says slowly, staring at the peeling paint above the lamp, "I missed you, too."

He had, in that way that he'd spent a lot of time ignoring, and if it wasn't successful, he was pretty damn good at pretending he was.

"I like your notebook," Adam says slowly. "I like that you know where I hide it, even when I forgot, which by the way was embarrassing. I like knowing you take it everywhere with you, and you wouldn't leave without it. And I like knowing as long as I have it, there's a fair to good chance you won't leave."

Kris doesn't answer for a second, then Adam stands up, taking up all the space that Kris is tired of having empty anyway, hands closing on his hips. This, Kris thinks, would be a good time to say something--anything-- "You never called," Kris says, and that--that wasn't what he had in mind.

"Kris--"

"I really, really didn't mean to say that." Taking a deep breath, Kris turns around, wanting to touch Adam, but tonight, he's not strong enough to feel Adam flinch. "I'm just tired. I have no clue what I'm saying."

Adam's forehead presses against his, a spot of bright warmth that doesn't last nearly long enough. "Go to bed," he breathes, pulling away. "I'm going to take a shower."

Sitting on the edge of the bed, Kris pulls up a leg to pull of his shoe. "Turn on the light and wait a minute before you go in there," he offers. Adam hesitates, looking worried. "Give them a chance to hide."

"Them?"

Rockstar, Kris thinks fondly, tossing the shoe onto the second bed. "Yeah. Them. Just don't look around too carefully."




Kris isn't sure what woke him up, blinking blearily into the smooth softness of the pillow with late morning sun spilling across the foot of the bed; to his surprise, he realizes it must have been hours since he fell asleep. It's been a long time since that happened. That it happened here isn't a surprise, and it may very well be a statement.

Following the faint sound of voices, he steps over discarded leather and shoes piled haphazardly in a pile near the closet, smelling of cologne and smoke, down the stairs to see Adam leaning against the island and drinking coffee with a nervous looking member of his security.

In retrospect, Kris thinks he's surprised it took this long. Swallowing, he sees Adam's head jerk up before he finishes the "Hey."

"No worries," Adam says to the guy without looking away. "The great groupie experiment of last summer still lives evergreen in my memory. And in the pages of a thousand tabloids to memorialize the horror just in case my attempts at deliberate amnesia ever pay off. No comment, and oh, look mean, okay? I love watching TMZ flinch."

"Adam," the guy starts, but then seems to remember who he's dealing with. "I'll keep you informed."

Morbidly curious, Kris starts toward a window; from this angle, he wouldn't usually see much, but on a guess, this won't be usual.

"Hey, hey, no," and like that, Adam's only steps away, holding out a coffee cup, waggling it slightly mid-air and managing against the laws of morning to not spill a drop. "Avoid the temptation. Come to the coffee, the very good, life-affirming coffee."

"Your coordination isn't this good this early," Kris says suspiciously, willing to take the bait. "How long have you been up?"

"Not long," Adam lies, like he always gets dressed before the sun rises every day and looks like maybe he saw a bed once and didn't see the point. "I--"

"Adam," Kris says steadily, setting the cup down before he drops it and staring at the granite. "I really--maybe it's time I--"

"Oh, that." Adam glances at the window, faintly satisfied, taking another sip from his cup. "I've been wondering if we were going to have to have this conversation. Normally, this is where I'd talk you out of trying to leave, but there's a fairly large human barrier that's doing it for me, so that's some saved effort there. Hungry?"

Kris shakes his head, not trusting his voice. There's a newspaper on the other side of the island, and he hasn't seen one in weeks. Adam is not subtle. "How--"

"The wonders of a really good telephoto lens and a hotel clerk with a distressing lack of discretion," Adam answers, watching the toaster intently. Reaching back, he picks up his phone, waving it in Kris' general direction. "I got something like a million twits in five seconds flat before the site crashed."

In Kris' least optimistic moments, he hadn't imagined anything like this. He's glad he's so close to the island; his legs don't feel like they're going to hold up much longer. "Fuck."

Faintly, he hears the toaster pop, but he can't make himself lift his head. A stool is shoved against his knees, and Kris uses one foot to brace himself and slide on as a plate is slid beneath his elbow, filling the tiny space with the smell of butter and apricot preserves. "Baby, grey is not a good look on anyone."

Licking his lips, Kris makes himself straighten; it's the third hardest thing he's ever done. Adam, braced on his elbows, sips his coffee thoughtfully, scrolling down his phone with an interested expression.

"I--didn't think it would be this bad."

Adam looks at him incredulously. "I did."

Kris finds himself staring at the paper, because it's been four weeks and somehow, he'd thought, maybe (please) he'd been wrong after all, they'd all been wrong, and in retrospect, that was stupid like a lifestyle choice. Swallowing hard, he takes the coffee cup in both hands and finishes it in a gulp, scalding his tongue and wishing for a shot of whiskey.

"Hey, hey, no, don't do that," Adam pulls the cup out of his hand before he drops it, turning him on the stool, and hey, something against his back is a really good idea. "Kris. Kris. It's people with cameras and suggestively long microphones, not the Marines. The worst they can do is get you at a bad angle, and you don't have any."

Kris hiccups a laugh, surprising himself, and Adam grins back. "That--" Kris thinks of Twitter and gulps. "I didn't want--Adam, I didn't come here to--I never meant to--"

"Yeah," Adam says, leaning close enough to press their foreheads together. "If you'd meant to, it would be a lot easier."

Kris pulls back. "Adam--" It's like the long hours in the hotel room all over again, his publicist calling until he turned off the phone, like anything she says can ever fix this, staring at a notebook filled with the confessions of everything he never thought he'd do. The smart thing to do would have been to stay there and watch time run out, but he'd stopped being smart a long time ago. "You know--you know what will happen if--" when, his mind offers, he's blown past conditionals, this is when, but maybe, maybe-- "--it wasn't--they'll never believe it wasn't you."

"Oh." Adam pulls back, picking up the plate and pulling Kris off the stool, shoving it into his hands and pushing him in the general direction of the living room. "Yeah, whatever, let them."

Kris tightens his grip on the plate, fingers numb as he watches Adam pour two more cups of coffee and pick them up, kicking Kris into motion as he passes. There has to be a response to that, but Kris can't remember how words fit together in sentences right now. Gripping his toast, Kris follows him, setting his toast carefully on the coffee table beside the cups, then Adam pulls him down on the couch, the overstuffed leather warm against his back and Adam braced on one elbow above him.

Not looking away, Adam aims the remote at the television, and from the corner of his eye, Kris can see the grainy picture of Adam's deck and two tiny, indistinct figures curled up on a chair filling the screen, voices background noise swallowed beneath the pound of blood in his ears.

Adam shrugs, dropping the remote and cupping Kris' cheek, smile gone. "Breathe, baby. We'll get through this."

Kris licks his lips and watches Adam's eyes focus on his mouth, not bothering to hide it, not hiding anything, Christ, he hadn't known this, hadn't even guessed.

"Because really," Adam breathes, "it should have been me."




Kris feels one of his earbuds pulled away before Adam drops on the bed beside him. Fighting the urge to change the playlist, Kris watches Adam frown slightly before his expression clears into amusement, giggling as he relaxes into the flat pillow. "So this is where you're getting your emo."

Kris scowls half-heartedly. "Whatever, man, it's awesome."

"I don't even know what to say to that." Picking up the ipod before Kris can grab for it, he scrolls down the playlist, smile growing at the list of tracks before setting it back down between them. Through the window there's a sudden, bright light, and Kris flinches, sitting up before he can stop himself, heart in his throat.

It passes--they're near a major city street for God's sake--but it's a lot longer before he can make himself relax, unable to look away from the window, glare-spots filling his vision like the lights of the press.

Taking a deep breath, he looks down at the bed and Adam and wonders how the hell he can have lived with this for so long and how he learned not to be afraid.

"Suggestively large microphones," Adam says, mouth quirking in a ghost of a smile, and Kris laughs; it's all so insane. Dropping back to the bed with a bounce, he buries his head on the mattress beneath the pillow because laughing is way too close to crying and he's just not in a place where he's ready to cry in front of another human being. Like, ever. "Breathe. Seriously, you have a pillow over your head--what, you think you're leaving me alone with this? Not a fucking chance."

Kris swallows his reflexive protest; Adam wasn't supposed to be involved at all. One hand rests on his back, rubbing slow, soothing circles; to his own surprise, it works. "My publicist wrote all these statements, and I don't even know which one she went with. I don't even know if she works for me anymore."

Adam snickers softly, breath warm and ruffling Kris' hair as he takes the pillow, tossing it aside, fingers resting in Kris' hair. "We'll get through this," he breathes, settling close enough that Kris doesn't have any choice but to see the sincerity behind the smile, because Adam writes his own press and believes every word of it. "It'll be okay."

Swallowing, Kris reaches out, fingers brushing Adam's cheek, skin warm and soft beneath his fingers. "What did you call boys like me?" Kris whispers, just to feel Adam flinch. "You used to tell me about them, all those guys who pretended what they came for wasn't exactly what they got; you even told me the clubs where it happened. Like maybe you knew--"

"Kris--"

"Like, was it funny, that I didn't even know and you did?" Maybe he did know, though; he wouldn't have remembered otherwise, stored up the names in the back of his mind for a long night when a temporary separation seemed like it would be more permanent than he was ready to admit. There are a hundred words for the kind of boy who goes places like that, but at least he didn't pretend it took two shots to get him there. "I didn't want to be that guy," Kris breathes, pulling away, fingertips burning. "But I did it anyway."

Adam catches his hand. "You can cry now, if you want," he answers, mouth quirking. "It's Hollywood, baby; you're allowed to make mistakes."

Kris tries to jerk away; Adam just blinks his surprise Kris makes the attempt. "You want to talk about it now? I'm used to straight boys confessing they're drunk when they're swallowing my cock. The difference is--"

"I'm not blowing you?"

Adam touches his face, gentle, sweet, and inevitable. "There's that, though I wouldn't object."

Kris hiccups a giggle, shaking his head.

"And you're not drunk, though there's a convenience store right next door and I'm game if you are--"

"Yeah," Kris says, staring at Adam's mouth; he can't remember why he shouldn't. "Thing is, I'm not straight, either."

It's the second hardest thing he's ever said, and it's not really hard at all. Adam pushes himself up on one elbow, and Kris has moment to wonder when he stopped being afraid. "I knew," Adam agrees, like it's a secret when it's anything but. "But I didn't tell you so you could fumble your way through a gay epiphany in a goddamn back room alone."

Kris used to be the kind of guy things just happened to; he's not sure who this guy is who makes them happen. Who twists back into the mattress, watches Adam lazily lean over him, like maybe he's figured out that he doesn't need to ask. "I wasn't alone."

Kris shivers as purple-tipped black hair sweeps across his cheek, Adam pressing a kiss against his jaw, leaving the outline of his teeth in Kris' skin that will bloom plum-black by morning. Kris reaches up, fingers scrabbling over the worn material of the t-shirt until he can find skin, slick and damp at the small of Adam's back, using his nails to hear Adam hiss and pull back, pink tongue licking over his lips as his eyes fix on Kris' mouth, eyes narrowed in something between anger and lust and hope all three.

Sitting back on his heels, he pulls off the t-shirt, and Kris catches his breath as Adam fingers slide through his, stretching his arms over his head. "And that's okay," Adam whispers, knee pushing between Kris' legs, the words slipping over Kris' lips like a kiss. "Firsts are so overrated; I just want to be your last."




"You know," Adam says, peeking out the blinds with a slightly manic grin from overconsumption of espresso when coffee stopped cutting it around noon, "I think we're beating Britney's latest breakdown."

"God," Kris breathes, changing the channel; now that the dam of denial has broken, Kris has become one with the remote control. Adam in a fit of sadism left the laptop open tabbed to more gossip pages than Kris knew existed, and the sheer lack of loading is even more of an indictment than the crowd outside. There is no denial when ONTD can't refresh; all that's left is acceptance. "Shut up, Adam--"

"Huh, there's a guy climbing the wall," Adam says helpfully. "Rock those ninja skills. Think they teach them that in paparazzi school?"

"Are you high?"

Adam grins, retreating from the window. "On life, baby." Picking up the laptop, Adam takes the remote and turns off the TV that's been broadcasting the same view of the house for hours, with short breaks to comment on the fact nothing is happening in portentous tones that seem to imply marathon sex is the only reason that Adam and Kris haven't come out--irony, Kris thinks desperately, so much irony.

Their phones stare at them from the coffee table among the detritus of two empty tubs of ice cream and no attempt at a food group that doesn't involve the word "junk".

"Nothing's loading," Kris says hopefully, which is when Perez comes up in Pepto-pink and Adam says, "Hey, I turned you gay; you know what kind of cred that gets me?" which is so not what Kris needs to hear right now. Or see, though that doesn't stop Kris from leaning over Adam's shoulder and reading. "No, they don't have his name, honey. The mystery continues."

Kris flushes, pulling away before Adam catches his wrist, keeping him in place as he scrolls through comments; he knows what to look for better than Kris does anyway. "So," Adam says, changing tabs, the asshole, "maybe we'd better get our stories straight. I have place--thank you, Perez, you're actually useful, you fuck--date and time. I'm willing to improvise--"

Kris covers his face with his free hand. "God, will you shut up about your--that's not a plan, I don't even know what to call that--"

"Because yours is going to work really well," Adam says with maddening logic. "The hiding until it all goes away thing, really? You want to try that? Because eventually, we're going to run out of food."

Kris looks at the coffee table dubiously; he's seen Adam's pantry.

"Okay, it will take a while," Adam admits. "But the point stands. I miss Starbucks already."

"I can leave," Kris says, involuntarily looking toward the window with a shudder. "And, and call my publicist--" He has a publicist for a reason, and that's because he fails at knowing what the hell to do most of the time.

"It's like you suddenly acquired brain damage," Adam says, tightening his grip on Kris' wrist on the off-chance Kris finds the will to stand up or something. "Admittedly, it would be hilarious to watch you try to navigate this--"

Kris groans softly.

"--but counterproductive in the long run." With a quick pull, he's half-sprawled across Adam's lap, grabbing uselessly at the slick leather for traction. "Details, baby; I can't sell this unless I know what I did."

Kris stares up at him. "You want me to tell you--" He stops there; Adam's talent for sharing information isn't one he's ever acquired and this doesn't seem the time or place to start. "You think they'll ask for details?"

"I think," Adam says, "that part, they know. Discretion apparently was not the better part of valor in backrooms."

Kris thinks about that. "They don't even have his name. I don't even--" Kris stops himself short; Adam might have guessed, but he hadn't known. Closing his eyes, Kris takes a deep breath; he could be more of a cliché, but it would take some work to get there. "I don't know his name," Kris says slowly. "I--didn't ask."

"I guess it's only fair," Adam answers in a voice that Kris doesn't recognize, settling back against the overstuffed cushions, head tilting back in thought as he stares at the ceiling. "You didn't tell me and half the world found out without so much as a call, thanks by the way, but you really didn't need to try and protect my fragile sensibilities by leaving it to fucking TMZ to be the messenger--"

Adam's hand holds his hip when he would have moved away.

"--so really, it's nice to know something that half the world doesn't, even you."

Mouth dry, Kris waits as Adam lifts his head, eyes flat and unhappy. "What?"

"I don't actually need details," Adam says softly, and maybe brain damage is about right. He'd thought he'd imagined every reaction Adam could have to this, but this one he hadn't. "And if you thought I did, you really don't know me very well."

Adam's mad, and Kris hadn't expected that; then again, he should have. He knows what they call boys who did what he did, what people like Adam think of them; Adam taught him all the names. He can't expect to be the exception. "I--didn't think--"

"Obviously," Adam answers, ruthlessly soft, and he'd known he'd disappoint Adam somehow, had always know, but he'd never imagined anything that felt like this, like the world coming to a stop. "We've been playing a really fun game here of I know something you don't, but I think I just won. I know his name."




"So this is how it went down," Adam says, Kris' shirt gathered in his hands as he slides it up until Kris had to sit up, let him take it off. "You met me there. You were two months into the separation and it was a bad time--"

"Adam," Kris watches with a faint sense of unreality as Adam scoots back enough to get at the button of Kris' jeans, a one-handed twist that looks easy and Kris couldn't manage if he was paid. It's not a reminder, exactly, of how many people Adam's fucked; he sees it on TV, on the cover of every tabloid in world, brilliant across youtube and gossip blogs, boyfriends that lasted the length of time it took for Adam to finish a track, an album, a tour; groupies and friends and people in dark clubs. It's not that he doesn’t know, that it's new; Adam's done this to him since they met. Adam had thought Kris was safe, and the truth is, Kris had thought so, too.

"And I said you needed to get out of the house for a while," Adam continues, fingernails scraping against his waist and down to his hips in sharp, white-hot flickers like summer lightning, there and gone, over before they even began. "Get you out of your head." Adam looks up, smiling encouragingly. "It writes itself, really."

Kris chokes on a laugh, lifting his hips obediently, watching his jeans vanish before Adam's fingers close over his hips, pulling him into his lap, soft denim rough against the skin of his inner thighs, shivering when Adam's hand slides to press against the small of his back.

"Now," Adam says softly, nosing against his throat, "you had better refresh my memory. How much did you drink?"

"I didn't." Adam pulls back, looking at him, eyebrows raised. "I--I let him think I was--"

"Let me think, hello, fucking up my narrative here--"

Kris laughs a little. "You would have known the difference."

Adam tilts his head back, studying Kris the way he had when they met and more times after than Kris could easily count. "You're right. I would have." Long fingers curl around the back of his neck, and Kris can't see anything but Adam's mouth, cherry red and vivid even in the dark. "Then--"

"Dancing," Kris says as Adam's fingernails draw shivering lines up and down his neck, ruffling the short hair against the grain before smoothing it anew; it's hard to think. "It was awful music and the sound quality was terrible; I kept wanting to go and check their set-up--"

"Yeah," Adam says, lips parting in a sudden smile, "I did too. No help for it; substandard equipment. No one goes there for the music anyway."

Of course they don't. Kris licks his lips helplessly, fighting the shiver at each stroke of Adam's fingers, the press of memory. It was hot, too, not enough light and too many people in a too-small space, brushing up against him with every step, trapping him in manic, breathless excitement that made him feel drunk the way he'd thought water that night would avoid. He's too short to survive that kind of crowd on his own; everywhere they went during tour, Adam had been there, huge in a way that wasn't just height and weight, but a presence that opened up space without effort, a circle of safety in a crowd that wasn't. All that heat and presence and frenzy was just beyond them, with Adam's fingers wrapped in his belt loops to keep him close, the others joining them sometimes, Megan and Matt and sometimes even Danny, but always Adam, who thought Kris was safe.

Then someone's fingers had slid into the loops of his belt, tugging him before he could start to panic; someone who fit against the curve of his back, catching his hip and easing him into the rhythm of the music, someone who didn't think that Kris was safe at all.

"Kris."

Kris still wakes up sweating from the memory; the press of unfamiliar bodies, the surprise of being touched by someone who meant it, who wanted it, and the shock that he really hadn't come here just to see; he finished his water and turned into the arms of someone he'd had never met and realized he hadn't really come here to answer any questions. He knew the answer.

"Did you tease him, baby?" Adam breathes against his ear. "I loved to watch you like that; you didn't even know, did you? All pretty," a slow lick beneath his ear, "wide-eyed innocence with your hand on my ass and riding my thigh and I could feel you up in front of half the club, and no one ever cared."

"I didn't--"

"That wasn't," Adam says, catching the lobe of his ear between his teeth like a warning, "a complaint."

It hadn't lasted long; he'd been eased toward the edge of the crowd in minutes, breaking into a back room too dark with the flashing lights from the dance floor still burned into his retinas. Pushed back against a wall, cool against sweat-damp back, thinking finally, this was where it had been going, where he'd been going, stubble stinging his skin when the guy had kissed him, quick and hard, because you didn't--

"--go back there just to kiss." Kris opens his eyes, startled at the sound of his own voice, and Adam cups his cheek and kisses him.




Adam's house is huge; what he does with the space, Kris has no idea. It's easy to get lost in, but Adam projects presence in quantities sufficient to make it so much smaller than it is. He can count the times he's seen Adam really angry on one hand, but one finger is enough when it comes to him.

It's nearly dusk before he forces himself to close the laptop, flipping off the television, unable to help thinking of the front door. He's not afraid like Adam thinks he is.

He told his wife, broke her heart and broke his own all at once, knowing this was something she would have been willing to forget. He told his parents in his mother's bright kitchen, that his marriage was going to end, and then he told them why, knowing they'd prefer any lie to an easily concealed truth. In the end, he could have saved himself the effort; it took a year and a scattering of days, but truth really does set you free. The divorce papers citing adultery had hit his hotel at the same time his publicist asked him who else knew in the voice of his wife, his parents, asking him to pretend that nothing had changed, himself least of all, when everything, everything had.

It was four weeks between the first hints hit the gossip blogs until the story broke; there aren't pictures yet, but Kris thinks that's a matter of time. He didn't know the guy's name, but apparently, he'd known his. It shouldn't have surprised him, but it still does.

It's nearly dusk when Kris hears the quiet pad of feet over hardwood, muffled by the occasional rug, slowing with proximity like relativity in reverse. Kris shuts his eyes, wishing for his ipod, for headphones and being able to pretend he doesn’t know Adam is there.

"I seriously want to get you a bottle of whiskey and a guitar; it's all very Johnny Cash, pre-June," Adam says, clearing a space on the coffee table and sitting down. "Crying alone in the dark--"

"You didn't make me cry, Adam," Kris answers, voice thicker than he likes. Keeping his eyes on the ceiling, Kris tries to breathe normally and think of nothing, nothing at all.

"Yeah, but I really wanted to. I still kind of do. Not like I'm proud of it or anything, but as you know, we all do things we regret--"

"I don't. Regret it."

He's not sure how convincing that is when he feels like he's suffocating, but that's all he's got. It settles between them like a bomb, or a maybe a badly worded expression of affection; since it's them, it's up for interpretation either way. The only thing about Adam Lambert that's ever been easy is falling in love with him; that's what makes everything else so hard. Kris would have stopped if he could; a lot of his choices have, in the end, been about the one thing that wasn't a choice at all. Comparatively speaking, everything he's done since that moment has been fucking genius, right up to going on his knees in a backroom in a world of camera phones.

"Did you ever, even once, think about--"

"Adam," Kris says, shutting his eyes; this is the part that's going to hurt. "I always knew what I was doing. There's nothing about this that I didn't see coming."

The response isn't immediate, which just makes it worse. Then, "And you thought this was a good idea?"

Kris turns his head, blinking at the faint amusement in Adam's voice. Adam looks very Adam, showered, apparently, in Kris' stolen sweatpants and biting his lip against the kind of laughter that only comes when you are so fucked you can feel it on your skin like fresh sweat, the kind when you're about three drinks past sober and feeling up your best friend at a club and pretending it's safe. It's not that it's funny except in all the ways it is.

"At what point--and I mean this seriously--did going to fucking WeHo for your special moment seem like a good idea?" Abruptly, Adam stands up, knee shoving at Kris' shoulder until he moves in self defense, curling up in the corner and trapping Kris before he can get too far with arm across his collar. "Couldn't you have done this in college like a normal straight boy? What the hell were you doing anyway?"

Kris twists around, trying to loosen Adam's hold; it's not a surprise that he can't. He's been trying for years and hasn't managed yet. "I--studied? Got drunk? Picked up girls? What straight boys do."

"Drunken roadtrips to make out with your male friends and blame it on the alcohol?"

Sometimes, Kris wonders about Adam's porn. Like, a lot. "I never did roadtrips for gay sex, what did you--" Kris stops himself. Burning Man, right. Adam's context is very contexty indeed.

Adam looks at him with suspiciously sharp eyes. "Seriously, you never did a roadtrip in college?" Abruptly, he pushes off the couch; unbalanced, Kris catches himself on one arm, watching Adam scoop up his phone and dial a number. "We have to change that."

Kris opens his mouth, but he's a little too slow; Adam straddles his lap and kisses him, druggingly slow with the taste of sleep-deprivation and adrenaline both. It goes on until abruptly, Adam pulls back, head tilted, leaving Kris vaguely aware something really tragic is about to happen but not really caring all that much. "Yeah, no, not important. No. Shut up, thanks. We're going to South by Southwest. Tell me how we can do that and not like, pull a Princess Diana on the freeway? Call me when it's set up." Shutting off his phone, Adam runs a thoughtful thumb over Kris' lower lip. "We should start packing."

Kris licks his lips, catching Adam's thumb, and nods. "Yeah, okay."




It happened like this: Kris Allen went down on his knees in a backroom of a forgettable West Hollywood club where boys like him go to do just that. He closed his eyes, lips burning from a stranger's kiss, and opened his mouth to a stranger's cock, shivering and aching and finally knowing what it was he'd been wanting so badly. It wasn't special and it wasn't unique except in all the ways that it should have been and in all the ways it actually was. He wasn't scared when it started or when it ended. All he remembers is how it felt to finally be sure.

This is Adam, though.

Adam says: You met me there. It was just to talk. I watched you drink, then I watched you dance, then I touched you because I couldn't stop myself, not anymore. Anyone would understand that. People do stupid things when they're in love.

Adam grins at him, mouth swollen red, stretching him out on the bed, fingers tangled between Kris' above his head.

He says: This is what happened that night.

"We left after that," Adam says, curling his fingers around the headboard and letting go. "I'd waited for this for years; I took you home with me and asked if you were sure a thousand times in the car. You didn't talk but you nodded every time, and that had to be enough; it was enough. Letting you go was the hardest thing I'd ever done; I couldn't do it twice."

Adam kisses him, rough and eager, tongue pushing into his mouth, teeth scraping his lip, burying every sound Kris would make and reminding him of all the ones he already has. Gulping air between long kisses, Kris feels Adam's nails drag down the length of his chest, four bright lines of startling warmth, pulling away to lick down his throat, leaving the outline of his teeth in Kris' collarbone, his shoulder, above his nipple, hard and a little mean, low on his stomach to make him gasp, shocked. He spreads his legs, hearing the wet sound of Adam slicking his fingers, dragging them over his cock and then back up, an awful, wonderful tease, Adams' jeans rough against his thighs as he looks up, smudged and flushed and bright, like hot stage lights on a hundred states and the longest LA summers and that moment after a performance ends, adrenaline-hot and riding the edge of mania like he'll never come back down.

"I took you to bed and asked one more time," Adam breathes against his mouth. "Are you sure? This time, I needed to hear your answer."

Kris licks dry lips, tasting Adam there, tasting him everywhere, soaked into his tongue and his mouth and his skin. His voice breaks a single syllable into two: "Yes."

Adam smiles, slow and maybe shocked and like he didn't know the answer to a question he never thought to ask, cupping his face and kissing him, gentle on his bruised lip and asking, asking, asking with every soft kiss, and Kris says yes with his tongue and with his fingers and with his lips. Yes, of course. It's not even a choice. It never was, not for me.

"Then I sucked your cock."

Kris manages one belated breath before Adam moves, swallowing him with that easy experience like it's nothing at all. Adam's fingers push new bruises into his hips to hold him down for this, blue eyes watching Kris fall apart beneath his mouth and under his hands. Fingers tangled in Adam's hair, silky against his skin, Kris gasps into the ceiling, the slow heat flaring into something irresistible and unstoppable, low in his belly, heavy, pushing him back into the mattress. He catches his breath at the push of two fingers inside him, slick and strange and good, better than he's done with himself, but he can't move more than Adam lets him, and that's not much at all.

He thought of this in the Idol mansion with Adam three feet and a different life away, in bunk beds and hotel rooms and sprawled on couches, before he knew how to ask and before Adam could have known he could take. He thought about it before he knew what he wanted, only that there was something there to want, something new rearing sluggishly to life, not surprised, not surprised at all, waiting.

"…please, please, please," and that's him, that rough-low-broken voice, dirty-pretty like after he's sung for hours and forgot to stop, how Adam would look at him after, and he can feel Adam shiver, fingers clenching tighter on his hip before a third finger stretches him open wide, God, "Adam."

Pulling off with a slow, wet sound that makes Kris twist helplessly, Adam licks his lips and shoves off his own jeans finally, all that bare, gorgeous skin, then he's pushing up Kris' thighs, still opening him up with those amazing fingers and driving him insane. Kris wants to cry when he pulls them out, even if it's just to grab a condom, because even those seconds last forever.

Adam kisses his eyelids, his forehead, brushes his lips over his ear, murmuring, "Kris," filthy-sweet, cock pushing just behind his balls and nowhere near where it's supposed to be. Half-folded and shaking, Kris tries to form words and forgets what they were before they can find air. Adam reaches down, and Kris feels the blunt first push, almost too slow and burning just a little. "That's it," Adam says, catching his hand and sucking a kiss into his wrist, dragging his teeth up to the heel before lacing their fingers together and pinning his hand to the pillow. "Open up for me," Adam says, pulling back enough to watch his face, twisting his hips just a little, and Kris feels his body giving way, easing inside.

"Adam," he whispers, digging his nails into the broad stretch of back, arching up into the endless burn. "Adam, fuck me."

Adam's fingers tighten almost painfully around his, then he draws back, and holy fucking shit….

It hurts and it's incredible; his still-wet cock aches against his belly, sensitized with each bare brush against Adam's bare stomach, wiry hair like an endless rough tease. Adam steals his breath with every stroke, catching every half-uttered word that's Adam's name, no different from the crowds at every performance chanting it like a prayer, abject adoration and devotion and endless, aching want that won't ever be slaked, only eased to a softer burn. Adam mouths his shoulder, licking over skin still raw from his teeth, gasping softly and then reaching down and wrapping a tight hand around Kris' cock and looking up, staring into Kris' eyes to say, "I want to see you come."

It's been building too long to stop even if he wanted to--minutes, hours, weeks, years--and with a gasp, Kris feels the first tingling tremors in his fingertips, shuddering over the surface of his skin and hot and heavy down his spine, Adam breathing, "Come on, baby, give it up for me," and Kris does, like the command is hardwired to his cock.

He may be screaming, but he can't hear it; Adam licks open his mouth and swallows the sound, shifting into something rougher and harder, bending him in half and coming while Kris is still shaking from the aftershocks.

There's no way his body can keep this position forever, but a part of him wants to try anyway. Slowly, slowly, Adam pulls out, kissing an apology against his sternum when he catches his breath. There's a sound like a condom being tossed somewhere in the vague direction of a trash can, then Adam curls up around him, fitting them together effortlessly, perfectly. Kris closes his eyes, burying his face in warm, sweaty skin and Adam's chin rests lightly in his hair, fingers stroking the length of Kris' back.

"That's how I remember it," Adam says, so softly it's barely a whisper.

Kris nods slowly; he thinks now that's how he'll remember it, too.




In the end, their combined ninja skills get them away from the house when dawn barely breaks the skyline white and golden-pink; how, Kris isn't sure and Adam looks too shocked they pulled it off to want to ask. Sneaking down the road eight blocks, they find the car waiting, keys in the ignition and a pile of papers on the seat.

This is such a bad idea, Kris thinks, staring at the open passenger door for a second. Such a bad idea. It really can't be worse.

Adam turns him around and pushes him back against the car, licking the tip of his nose playfully. "Don't worry. I have a plan."

It's not that he didn't know Adam was insane. It's just maybe he doesn't really care. "I'm not letting you do this."

Adam grins, hands on his hips, kissing him lightly before leaning back, pleased the way he always is when he knows he's right. "Then I'll just have to convince you." With a slap on the hip, he steps away. "Get in the car."




Fourteen hours later, they arrive in Austin, though to Kris, it feels so much shorter. It's the first time he's slept so long in weeks. Waking groggy, Kris stares down the length of Congress, blocks away from the end of SXSW and a media circus like the end of the world, or at least, a temporary cessation of the world wide web.

"I've heard good things about La Quinta," Kris says a little numbly, rubbing his eyes blearily.

"Too late to--" Adam says cheerfully before breaking off. "Oh thank God." Making a hard right onto Cesar Chavez, Adam pulls over less than a block in and cuts the ignition before scrambling for change for the parking meter. Kris rolls his eyes, staring at his worn sneakers for a second before watching Adam climb out to look at the existence of Starbucks in something like joy. "Come on."

Kris bites his lip; this still isn't a plan. He's not sure what you call potential career suicide by media, and even now, maybe, maybe, maybe--

Abruptly, his door opens, and Kris stares up at six-one feet of rockstar, the too-pretty face of a superstar with Adam's smile stretching glossy lips, leather and warm cotton and silver chain, his best friend, once-upon-a-time rival, and very possibly the love of his life. "You know," Adam says, crouching to rest his chin on one purple-nailed hand, black and silver-lined eyes narrowed in thought, "it's way too late to back down now."

Kris licks his lips; he's left a woman and a marriage, a family and a life scattered as casualties in his wake. Adam being willing to become one doesn't mean Kris should let him. "Adam--"

"You made me wait," Adam says softly. "And you made me hope. And maybe somewhere in there you broke my heart. You owe me a lot, but I'll start with this." Grinning, he leans forward, catching Kris' chin and rising to his feet, pulling Kris with him. "Get out of the car now so I can get a fucking latte."

Kris blinks up at him as the door closes from a satisfied-sounding kick. "It's kind of hot when you do that."

"I thought you'd like it." Even on a Sunday, there are enough people around to notice Adam being Adam in the world. That's not something you can miss. Following him up onto the sidewalk, Kris grabs for his wrist before he gets inside; once Adam finds caffeine, it may be a while before Kris can get his attention again.

"Adam--"

Adam hesitates, looking down at him thoughtfully, then cups his cheek, and God, there are people watching, and they may not know what they're seeing, but any moment, someone will.

"It'll be okay," he says, with a little careless shrug that's anything but. "Everyone knows that people do stupid things when they're in love."

Adam's ridiculously tall anyway; the boots don't help. Pushing up on his toes, Kris pulls him down into a kiss, slow like in the motel, deep like they're fucking, and from the corner of his eye a camera phone comes out, right on schedule.

He hopes they break the fucking internet.

Pulling back, Kris nods jerkily, purple-nailed fingers curling through Adam's and staring into bright blue eyes that look at him like he can see the rest of their lives already, like maybe he always has. It's going to be amazing. "I love you, too."


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*blinks* Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

"He hopes they break the fucking internet."

They so would! My fingers have never scrolled so fast to find where I had left off.

Awesome awesome story! Incredibly hot! Probably the most ruthless story I have read in the fandom— from both Kris and Adam's perspective.

Okay, that is seriously awesome feedback. I'd wondered if that came across. *hugs* Thanks very much.

<3333333 story of my HEART! I love everything about this.

Again: I LOVE THIS A LOT AND IT'S THE EPITOME OF DELIGHTFUL. TRUFAX. \o/

*purrs at you* Thank you. And thank you for prereading it so I wouldn't go into hysterics.

A devious and vaguely predatory Adam never goes awry. And Kris here is just heartbreaking and adorable and kind of hilarious. [grins] The road trip is almost dreamy, the way you describe it, hot and dusty and unreal, and this is just such a gorgeous, gorgeous story, honey.

Thank you, babe. *smooches*

OH, WOW.

This fic is like the BESTEST coming out fic ever. It is like the fic I have been craving for ever since I found out about Adam and Kris back in May last year. This is beautiful and I LOVE it to tiny bits.

Question out of curiousity - was the story written in the order you presented (2 timelines intercutted into one) or was it first written in a chronological manner and than cut into chunks and linked together? I'm curious becauase your Epic Star Trek fic is written in a similar manner.

Anyways, LOVE this so VERY NUCH!

I wrote as presented. I really love timecuts like whoa. My favorite is writing backward completely, but that one is hard to pull off. It started as commentfic for astolat so it's actually literally posted as written. *G*

And thanks very, very much. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.


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*giggles* I send characters to LaQuinta alot. I figured Motel 8 deserved a chance.

Thanks very much!

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OMFG! i know its a cliche, but i am dead, you seriously killed me with this. i feel like i might never have to read another kradam again......deaddeaddead

"Kris twists around, trying to loosen Adam's hold; it's not a surprise that he can't. He's been trying for years and hasn't managed yet."

this says it all............

*happy* Thank you very, very much. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

I'm pretty sure it'd break the fucking internet. And that the internet will not mind.

The internet will love it and be so happy.

Thanks very much!

Awwwwww! Thanks for finishing it. The style kind of confused me a bit, but I liked it. :D

The only thing about Adam Lambert that's ever been easy is falling in love with him; that's what makes everything else so hard.

Oh. Ohhhhhhh. Gorgeous. All of it.

(insert looong keysmash here.)

i... this... just... gorgeous stuff here. the ending scene alone did me in, not even going to begin on the rest of the fic or else this could go on forever.

He hopes they break the fucking internet.

they so would break the internet -- then quite possibly make the universe simultaneously collapse in on itself (since the universe ships kradam and all, too).

*grins* Thanks very, very much!

What I appreciated most about this story (apart from its complicated structure) is that Kris is slowly revealed to be quite active in his own destruction/reinvention. It's not hard to believe Adam goes after what he wants (I think one of my comments to this when it was posted in comments is that he comes across as Lex-ish) and I've seen fic like that before. But Kris is very, very different in this one. At first it looks like something happened and Kris freaked out and went to hide at Adam's house; only toward the end does it become clear that he did that but he also engineered the "something" and while reeling a bit from the aftermath, had a plan for convincing/manipulating/coercing Adam into a relationship. Thanks for writing and posting it!

Thanks very, very much!

Astonishingly good. I only wish the fic could have lasted forever.

I want to leave you really great feedback but I'm pretty much stunned speechless. Loved it obviously and the structure of it was perfect. The tension throughout was amazing.