idols live tour rehearsals
Adam and Allison are at the mics practicing Slow Ride, Danny's goofing off with Matt and they're making far more noise than ten people in a big room should be capable of.
Kris kind of loves life right now. "This is going to be awesome."
Anoop snorts from his sprawl next to Kris on the couch. "Yes, because spending months at a time trapped on a bus with ten other guys is my idea of a good time. By the end, we'll all hate the sight of each other's faces."
"Aw, no, I could never hate your face. It's so...round."
He grins big and doesn't flinch when Anoop jabs him in the side with his elbow. Whatever, they'll be okay.
idols live tour
In Little Rock, he stands there taking in the roar of the crowd, the sea of people cheering and screaming his name before he can even get a single note out, and has something like an out of body experience.
Everything he's ever done since picking up a guitar at thirteen feels like it's been practice, little steps leading up to this moment.
And he can't help but think - this is only the beginning.
magic school bus solo tour
See, what happened was that Lizzie had said we should get a nice tour bus since you're going to be living in it for months, and Kris said awesome, let me know what you decide and Lizzie got this gleam in her eyes and said and money? and Kris said I trust you, go nuts because what the heck, right?
And that's how they ended up with the Magic School Bus. Which is not an acceptable nickname, Cale, even if the inside is so nice it does seem kind of magical.
Never let it be said that Kris doesn't treat his band and crew right.
The Idol tour ended up being an exercise in patience at times, even for someone as relaxed about personal space and boundaries as Kris. It's not that anybody else was particularly irritating, or that he wasn't just as annoying to the other guys sometimes. It's just that the schedule was a little bit like a war of attrition, especially towards the end, and especially for him and Adam and Allison, working under deadline to pull an album together at the same time.
(Before those months, he hadn't known it was possible to need something to be over and want it to never end at the same time.)
This time, the bus is a little quieter. None of the guys in the band or the crew are what anybody would call loud, and Kris had been a little worried about that at the beginning. Funny as it sounds coming from him, there is such a thing as too much low-key in one place. But that was before they broke out the Wii games.
Turns out, even Andrew can't resist trash talking while playing Mario Kart.
* * *
Hearing a crowd sing along to the words and melody he came up with is – Kris can't really describe the feeling, except that it's overwhelming and addictive and he'll never stop wanting it.
Being on stage always felt right, even back when it was just him and a guitar at some bar with four drunk guys clapping along. It's a reaffirmation of his faith, every single time. Makes him certain that this is what he's meant to be doing in life.
That certainty hasn't always been unshakable. He thinks of it as a gift from every single person who ever thought he could be this. And he's honestly grateful, especially when he can see and hear that belief in the screaming and the upturned faces. It makes him want to lean into the touch of every outstretched hand, maybe offer a piece of himself up for everyone to see.
That, maybe, would be a fair trade.
* * *
It's a little cold and rainy after the concert, but not enough to be properly uncomfortable. And anyway, Kris's not ready to be shut up on the bus yet. Especially not when there are still people waiting around to say hi.
Cale slipped away as soon as it started raining, and Kris was just reminding himself to tease him for being a wuss when he comes back out with a bundle of material.
"I got you a jacket."
"I'm fine," Kris says quietly, not at all surprised when Cale just ignores him and drapes the jacket across his shoulders anyway.
His hands go up automatically to grasp at the sides to keep it from falling. The material feels familiar, but not because it's one of his. It's worn and soft and smells faintly like Cale's cologne. Which is - nice.
Kris shakes his head, pulling the jacket closer and meeting Cale's sheepish grin with one of his own.
* * *
Sometimes, Kris is a dumbass.
In his defence, the cold started out as just that. Just a headache and – more annoyingly – his throat feeling like a frog just expired in it. He's had a lot worse. No big deal, no need to get everyone alarmed and all that.
He even does a good job hiding it until Chris trounces him at Mario Kart for the third time in a row.
The deeply sceptical look on his face would make Kris laugh if he wasn't sure he'd start coughing. "Are you feeling okay?"
"Come on, gloating is just mean," Kris mumbles distractedly, most of his concentration going to looking down and hoping for the room to stop spinning. Any minute now.
Weirdly enough, Chris's hand on his upper arm – there and gone in an instant - helps. "Woah, you're burning up."
Well, crap. "I – I'm just a bit tired."
"Go take a nap," Chris says, looking a lot more worried than the situation warrants. "I'll tell everyone to keep it down."
Kris would ask him not to tell Lizzie, but protesting that he's fine at this point would take an Oscar-worthy performance, and whatever else he can do, that's not really a possibility.
* * *
Two hours later, Kris wakes up wishing he hadn't. There's someone shaking his shoulder, probably not very hard, but even that little bit of motion is enough to make him nauseous. His head feels like it's twice its usual size – and not in the I-need-a-reality-check way – and the dead frog in his throat is probably decomposing.
"Hey, sorry to wake you up, but I swear it's for a good cause."
He's so out of it that identifying the voice takes a moment, never mind processing the actual words.
When he finally manages to get his eyes open, Ryland's oddly serious face swims into view. "I come bearing cold meds that actually work."
Wow, that's not good.
His throat doesn't want to work. Which should make the next few shows - interesting.
And other words, but he's not up for thinking about that right now. The pills in Ryland's outstretched hand suddenly seem a lot more important.
"Touring essential," Ryland is saying softly, voice pitched low enough to be soothing to his pounding head. "Guaranteed to make you feel less like death."
It takes him a couple of attempts, but he finally manages to take the glass of water being offered along with the medication. The moisture helps with his throat, too.
"You're a wonderful, wonderful man."
Ryland chuckles. "Stop it, you know I'm taken. Go back to sleep."
* * *
Kris wakes himself up shivering. Which seriously has to be one of his least favourite ways to wake up, right up there next to 'persistent pain' and 'being drenched in cold water'. He feels better – sort of. A little. More clear-headed, at least.
These things are relative, he's been sick enough to know that. This isn't that bad.
Eventually, he finds that he can almost stop shivering by hugging his knees and all but burying himself in the blanket. He's too busy feeling miserable to even be embarrassed when Lizzie comes in and sees him like that.
She takes one skeptical, hard-eyed look at him and heaves a long sigh. "Guess I'm cancelling everything I can cancel."
Kris shakes his head and regrets it immediately. Turns out the headache hadn't gone away so much as receded into the background.
"But - wait, Lizzie - I don't. I don't want to disappoint anybody."
It still hurts to talk, which is okay, but his voice sounds like it hurts, which is not.
Lizzie gives him her most stern disapproving glare. "No. You're going to keep taking your meds and sleep. I'll get one of the guys to watch you, don't think I won't."
(This is where Kris would protest, if he didn't know how futile it would be.)
One moment she's standing in front of him trying not to look worried, the next thing Kris knows there's a box of tissue next to him on the bunk and she's stalking away like she didn't just produce that out of nowhere.
Sometimes, Lizzie is scary.
* * *
The next time Kris wakes up, everything is warm and comfortable and he's already burrowing further into the source of the heat before his brain catches up and processes enough to place Cale's arms wrapped around him.
The realisation just makes him relax more easily against every point of contact. Cale's always been a piece of home for Kris, as cheesy and crazy as that sounds. It's a little more complicated the other way around, maybe, but the basic gist is the same.
He can feel the sudden tension in Cale's body when he wakes up, gone as soon as he gains his bearings, his breathing evening out again and big hands beginning to move in soothing circles on Kris's back.
"Katy's going to kill me," Cale says eventually into the top of Kris's hair, voice hushed. "We're not even past the first week and you're already sick? Epic care-taking fail."
Kris would scoff if it didn't take valuable energy. Cale's not his keeper, and Katy will be too busy worrying to blame anyone. Besides, it's his own damn fault.
Speaking of which.
"Y-you should move. Before you catch whatever it is I have."
Cale touches his forehead to Kris's, slow and gentle and relentless. "I don't care. Shut up and sleep."
* * *
Kris wakes up groggy, but feeling significantly less like death warmed over. The patch of warmth on his forehead turns out to be somebody pressing their hand against it, and he has to fight the urge to follow the source of that heat when it withdraws lightning quick the moment his eyes open.
When he blinks the world into proper focus, it's just Andrew sitting beside him, hands laced together in his lap and looking like a kid who just got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Kris would totally giggle if he could spare the energy. But even raising his head seems like too much effort, so he just smiles up at Andrew instead.
Andrew meets his eyes for just a moment before looking away and making to stand up. "Shh, don't talk. I'll go bring you some tea."
Instinctively, Kris tries to grab at his shirt and misses by at least five inches. "No, don't - "
That gets Andrew to sit back down real quick.
"You want me to stay here?" he says quietly, gaze intent on Kris's face.
What kind of question is that?
"Yeah." He'd nod, but that's probably still not a good idea. "So how'd you get stuck baby-sitting me?
Andrew mutters something under his breath.
"What was that?" Kris says quickly. The fact that his throat doesn't protest too hard this time? Just a nice bonus to the sight of Andrew trying not to be embarrassed.
"I volunteered. And stop talking. Cale's going to wake up, come in here and freak out at me for making you strain your voice."
Andrew's stern face isn't nearly as good as Lizzie's. Kris really wants to giggle. It's possible that he's still a little groggy.
"Cale doesn't freak out."
"He doesn't like it when you're sick. At least that's the most sense I got out of it. And stop talking," Andrew says, still in that hushed, even voice.
Kris's attempt at a protest is cut off by Andrew's long fingers on his throat, the touch feather-light and almost ticklish.
The look on his face is typical Andrew serious, tempered by the kind of affection he's getting increasingly worse at hiding – the warmth that Kris can't help but look for from him these days.
* * *
Later that day, during Come Together, he goes up to Cale, just like always, and puts an arm around his shoulder while their voices mingle. If he's leaning more heavily than he usually would, well, it's fine.
That's just how things work, for all of them - the people in the audience lending him their voice, Andrew, Chris, Ryland and Cale playing extra hard to make up for his sluggishness, Lizzie and Steve and everybody backstage making sure everything happens like it should.
It's pretty awesome.