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In the Land of the Delta

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The hotel air conditioning goes first, snapping off sometime before dawn with a dull clang that barely stirred the sleeping guests; it's midmorning when the Memphis power grid crashes under the weight of demand on day thirty-two of the heat wave that's been burning its way across the South. The last of the cool air, jealously guarded in each suffocating room, vanishes near one, windows propped open for the hope of a cooling breeze that never comes.

This is the South in a way that's hard to get across to Northerners who have never slept through the heat-drenched, sticky nights, body restless and bed slowly dampening with sweat until the world finally cools in time for morning to break impossibly bright across the horizon. Archetypal pictures of people draped in languorous ease across rocking chairs on front porches don't seem so mythical when heat's soaked through skin and into bone and there's nothing you can remember to want that can compete with ice tea, condensation wetting your fingertips as you chase the last cool mouthful, diluted sticky-sweetness clinging to lips and throat and tongue.

The deserts in the west are different: burned-out heat, bleached rock and sand and bone reflecting the unforgiving glare of the sun, browns and whites and greys cut with vivid asphalt drawn in squiggly ball-point pen across the landscape; Memphis is lush color and too-thick air, breathing the memory of rural Southern hospitality and Southern atrocity.

Memphis is the youngest of Tennessee's major cities, looming high above the Mississippi River and a history of a world of plantation homes clinging to the distant memory of a way of life that ended with civil war. It's the birthplace of the Blues, the post-Emancipation soundtrack of the growing African American communities in the Deep South, though it would be over half a century before sheet music would be published that traced the unique and complicated rhythms and traditions that would forever change the face of popular music and oversee the birth of a genre that would revolutionize the world as Rock and Roll exploded into history.

For a musician, it's a formidable history confined into just over three hundred square miles, this birthplace of modern popular music, but each degree the thermometer rises diminishes awe beneath exhaustion, and Kris is ten degrees beyond caring where he is.

At three, he'd abandoned his laptop, spots of dampness in the shape of his fingertips visible on the case and the screen; by seven, he'd showered twice and stripped to boxers and a clean t-shirt that was damp from sweat almost before he emerged from the claustrophobic confines of the bathroom; he's dozed half-aware for hours today, spread out on the bed stripped to fitted sheet and blankets piled in the corner as he stretched out at the foot to catch the hint of air from the crosswind between the windows. The heavy wooden bed, four posts in dark cherry shrouded in gauzy white cotton, feet sunken to the depth of years into the hand-made rag rug, had precluded any attempt to move it even if Kris had had the energy.

It's nearly eleven, eighteen hours past air conditioning and thirteen past working lights and working ovens; his PA had delivered sandwiches for lunch from a nearby deli, brown paper wrapped bundles growing steadily warmer in the outer room of the suite when everyone's appetite failed; dinner was too-warm salads wilting brown-edged and limp as soon as they were removed from what coolness remained in the hotel's refrigerator. Kris is out of practice with dealing with the South in summer, when even the cool tang of cucumber and celery can't tempt anyone to exert themselves to eat; between bottles of lukewarm Evian, Kris sticks to the familiar flavor of his childhood with pitchers of too-sweet tea from the hotel kitchen delivered by his homicidal interns.

Kris shifts carefully, easing out of the hot, damp hollow his body had created in the last hour to a cooler stretch of cotton sheets that warm to his body too fast to appreciate the contrast. It's too hot to feel the inclination to do more than that, and even that effort feels like far too much. Sighing, he licks his lips, salt and sugar, wondering how they'll get anything done if the blackout doesn't end by morning, and it's not like this isn't already taking more time than it should have.

Through the open bedroom door, Kris hears the faintest sound of knocking on the heavy hardwood doors of the suite; turning his head, he thinks about answering just to stop the noise, but that feels like too much effort. Come in uninvited or go away, he can't bring himself to care; all he wants now is the night to finally cool and let him get some rest.

The door opens with a rolling groan like southern gothic brought to life; it matches the wide white curtains that hang to the floor in heavy folds of linen and cotton, unmoved by even the fantasy of a breeze, the heavy wooden furniture, and Kris' fatalistic mood. A vampire, a monster, the ghost of Elvis drifting in to kick his ass for what he let this stupid video become in the home of Rock and Roll, they don't hold any terror even this late at night; in this heat, he can't do anything but envy them.

"Kris?"

That's not his PA emerging from the hotel refrigerator to kill him, though at this point, he couldn't even blame her.

Kris can just make out the shape crossing the room and hovering at the doorway, big and familiar, the outline of boots that sink into the rug, the faint sheen of leather, and the glitter of sweat on pale skin lit by the moon outside. Pushing himself on one arm, Kris squints through damp lashes and wonders at the turns of fate, unable to stop the heady smile, a rush of excitement, because yeah. "Adam?"

"In the flesh. The rapidly decomposing and likely to break my neck on the fucking stairs in this place flesh." Like a heat-dream, Adam pads across the room, sitting gingerly on the edge of the mattress only a foot away. This close, Kris can see the pale, freckled skin, makeup abandoned with the exception of what Kris suspects is waterproof eyeliner smudged around shadowed blue eyes, lush mouth turned down in an unhappy pout. "What, no hug?"

"Do I have to move?" Kris asks inanely, clambering awkwardly across the mattress and falling into Adam's lap, grinning at the grunt of breath as he wraps his arms around Adam's shoulders and holds on, the thin material of his tank top damp against his cheek and smelling of an hours-old airplane shower beneath the faint tang of new sweat, joined with traces of soap and leather and skin. "I hope you aren't a heat-induced hallucination," Kris tells him sincerely. It's too hot to cling like this, but Kris feels a little too lazy to rush a withdrawal quite yet, and it's been too long since they saw each other for more than moments at industry parties or between studio runs.

"I wish I was," Adam sighs, bare arms circling Kris and pulling him in tight. "I wouldn't feel this hot." Tipping over, he tumbles them both to the mattress before rolling onto his back, one arm trapped beneath Kris as he draws in a long breath. "Remind me not to ever surprise anyone with a visit in the summer before checking for blackout conditions. How the fuck long has it been like this?"

"All day," Kris answers, settling lazily against Adam's arm. "Hi, and by the way, leather pants? Really?"

"Not like I packed for death by heat exhaustion," Adam answers a little too slowly; it's getting to him already, LA meeting a Tennessee drawl, vowels dragged out long and soft. Linguists might consider the origin of the southern drawl a product of the heat of summer, when even talking was too much a of chore. Adam's voice is already a lethal weapon; he doesn't need any more advantages than he already has. "They lost my luggage, so even if I had, fucking lot of good it would do me now."

"Welcome to August in the South," Kris says, exaggerating the Arkansas twang deliberately; days of exposure to the rich lilt of Tennessee has reshaped his tongue. Too long here and he'll be incomprehensible to anyone north of the Mason-Dixon. The mattress grows steadily warmer beneath him as sweat dampens the sheet, and he feels like he's sweated out more water than his body could ever have held. "Want anything?"

"Wake up in LA?" Adam says dispiritedly. "Water--oh God, there's ice, right?"

"Not since noon," Kris answers soothingly, pushing himself upright and scooting slowly toward the side of the bed, letting his bare feet dangle inches from the floor for a few long seconds before sliding down. The windowless bathroom is even more ridiculously hot than the bedroom, the blue-veined marble sink filled to cool every bottle of water Kris' conscience would let him confiscate. Draining the sink, Kris refills it with water marginally cooler and soaks two washcloths dripping wet before grabbing one of the remaining bottles and returning to the bedroom. Adam makes a vague motion like he might sit up, but Kris knows better than to depend on that, crawling onto the bed and depositing washcloth and water on Adam's chest before seeking out the remaining areas of cool cotton to collapse across. "Could be worse."

"I don't want to know how," Adam answers, muffled beneath wet cotton. Kris watches curiously as one hand reaches out, fingertips skimming the bed before they find Kris' ankle and wrap firmly around it. "How much longer is shooting going to take? I thought you said like, a day or two on location."

"When we get power back? God knows." It had been a bad week; a video that should have been shot in a day stretching over four, and he's learned to hate the sound of his voice, looped over and over for take one, take two, take three, take three thousand and one. "I'm never taking advice from anyone who owns all of Meatloaf's albums again."

"He certainly had a vision," Adam agrees. "Though I still think red velvet doublets would have been amazing--"

Kris groans at the thought of thick velvet surrounding him in this stifling heat, sweating in sympathy to the him a universe over who didn't think to shoot down that shit and probably died the first day on set. "God."

"I go by Adam usually," Adam answers, thumb rubbing distracting circles against the round bone on his outer ankle. "Though I guess that doublets wouldn't work with this entire--" Adam gestures with fingers barely lifting from the bed and still manages to convey his utter amusement with the situation. "Theme."

Kris ignores him, settling his own washcloth over his face and shivering even though there's little difference in temperature between air and cloth. Sweat pools at the hollow of his throat and leaks steadily down his neck, soaking his hairline and making everything pointless but stillness. It has to end, someday; with his horrible luck, he might even have to survive it.

"Did you go to Graceland again?" Adam asks, apropos of nothing; Kris can't imagine where he can possibly find the energy to talk. "It's--"

"I've been working." Kris wonders when in the endless days reshooting a music video like a potential Oscar nominee for Best Drama he could possibly have spared the time. The Metropolitan Opera had been neglected for forty takes of five seconds of Kris' throat, stretched long against a showy black satin background at four separate angles; Broad Street discarded when evening fell and the choreographer quit for the fifth time in three hours before Robert went to soothe him once again; Beale Street and the Memphis Walk of Fame forgotten when the morning dawned too early after only three hours of sleep. His life has never been sane, never, but there's no precedent in it for this semi-modern gothic nightmare inspired by the love of a million teenage girls for Twilight and urban fantasy gone horribly, horribly wrong. "I can't believe I thought this was a good idea."

"Well," Adam starts, breathless, suppressed laughter throbbing in every word, "at least you don't--"

"Don't say it."

"Sparkle. I think that's trademarked, though."

Kris stares up at the swoops of white cotton above him helplessly. He signed off on this. "Just--just fuck my life." Horror, like shame, however, requires energy that Kris doesn't have to spare; ignoring the faint remains, he shifts over three inches to the left for a brief, beautiful moment of pseudo-coolness. The hand around his ankle tightens briefly before he's released and the mattress dips as Adam moves, rolling Kris against his shoulder. It's too ridiculously hot to want to touch furniture, much less another human being, but Kris will sweat his body weight before he moves away. "We're going to die here."

"I don't think we have that kind of luck?" Adam answers, helpful as always. "How early does Graceland open anyway, I can't remember. Let's go again."

Kris starts to answer, when we have electricity, then gives it up, leaning his forehead against Adam's bare arm, the still, humid air shrouding them into silence. Belatedly, it occurs to Kris that Adam's visit is actually kind of weird, now that he thinks about it. Wasn't he in Norway? "Why are you here?"

Adam snorts, hot breath stirring Kris' hair. "Thanks for the welcome, baby."

"No, I mean--" He's not sure what he means, to be honest, and he cares even less. Adam's here. "Never mind. How long are you staying?" Morbid images of Adam deciding to watch when they start up again are almost enough to make him want to suggest they leave tonight; he'd probably lobby for more glitter and artistically angled shots of Kris' shoulder.

Adam shrugs carelessly. "Had some free time."

The sound of his phone ringing disrupts that disturbing train of thought. His phone is on the other side of the room, and its battery is apparently eternal, world without end, amen. "I'm not answering that," he mumbles into Adam's shoulder.

Ignoring it doesn't seem to accomplish much; five seconds of silence pass before it starts again. By the third repetition, Kris wonders why they can't tap into the cellular towers' power supply for air conditioning and enough light for him to find the people who convinced him to do this so he can fire them or kill them or maybe both at once.

As the fifth repetition winds to a close, Adam sighs, rolling himself up in a single sinuous movement, bonelessly graceful and flashing a strip of pale skin from where the tank rucked up; Kris kind of hates his own reaction to seeing that. "Where is it?"

"Dresser," Kris says, memorizing the contrast of skin and shirt, the vague outline of Adam's spine that he can almost feel against the flat of his tongue. "Throw it out the window, please."

"Such a polite boy." Adam doesn't, of course; as the sixth repetition commences, Adam picks it up, face briefly lit in the unholy white light of the screen with an expression that Kris can't quite interpret before he bounces onto the bed and shoves it at Kris. "It's Robert."

Fuck Kris' life indeed. "I hate you," he mouths bitterly before saying, "Robert, it's kind of late--"

"Kris?" Robert's voice seems too thready; Kris hopes devoutly that it's the phone and not Robert trying to sound tortured and artistic again. "I'm sorry, I know it's late, but I--I can't sleep and we need to talk."

Kris shuts his eyes, even the memory of energy fading; Robert has that effect on him these days. "Um--"

"I'll be up in five minutes," Robert says in a rush before hanging up; Kris lowers the phone, staring at the door of the suite and wondering if he can motivate himself to get up long enough to lock it. Let Robert wait out in the tight, hot confines of the hall and yell whatever he wants, muffled through the thick door, then go away, hopefully forever, but at least until Kris is cool and dry and ready to deal with humanity again.

Adam's expectant look is unnerving, though.

"Um." He has no idea what to say right now, because wow, awkward.

"He's coming by?"

"Yeah?" Kris groans, staring up at the swoops of white canopy hovering over them like a gothic romance plot device; all that's missing is the eerie wailing. "Kind of wants to talk? It won't take long, trust me."

"My downstairs bathroom begs to differ," Adam replies, implying nothing about an early summer barbecue where Kris learned about Robert's talent for performance art-quality day-long fights apparently best achieved with an audience of far too many people. The bathroom sex and the late night margaritas after everyone went home were actually the only good things about that day, and he has to admit that Adam's margaritas were probably better than the sex.

"It's not like that," Kris says weakly, covering his face; he's not in a place to talk about Robert and everything that was wrong about the last few days, especially with Adam. He'd vented to Ally, which had helped, if for no other reason than the soothing quality of her various plans to inflict suffering on Robert's person the next time she saw him. "You're never letting me live that down."

"Not really, no." Adam snickers, kissing his forehead before getting up again. "Mind if I shower a layer of sweat away while you two cuddle or whatever?"

"We're not--" Kris bites his lip and gives up. "Sure. Clean towels are above the toilet and there are two candles on the sink. You won't be able to drown yourself under the spray, by the way; the water pressure is shit."

Adam looks his certainty that if he was determined enough, he could in fact drown himself no matter how low the water pressure might be. This being Adam, Kris doesn't feel the need to challenge him, content with watching him stand up, stretching long and unselfconsciously slow, drop dead gorgeous rockstar and filthy fantasy made flesh and blood. In moments like this, Kris is no different from the millions who offer him devotion and worship in equal measure when he steps on a stage, before a camera, spread across the glossy cover of a magazine.

Running a hand through the professional mess of his hair, gleams of purple and iridescent greens and blues like the tail of a peacock worked in among the glossy black, Adam looks back long enough to throw him an unsettlingly sweet smile before sauntering into the bathroom. Kris sighs to himself; it's been years too long for even the most persistent of crushes, but it's not like admitting unrequited love would be an improvement at this point.

Worst of all, he's ridiculously hard and boxers cover no sins at all. Humiliation should be enough to get him into jeans, but sadly, it's not.

The faint sound of knocking drifts to Kris from the outer room; Kris doesn't move. Good manners died with the lights. "Come in," he says, raising his voice just enough to be heard if Robert's hearing is acute and the world abruptly goes silent.

The universe never did like Kris, that or Robert has the ears of a goddamn rabbit or something. "Kris?" Robert says, leaning in the open doorway, expression lost to the lightless room. Sighing, Kris forces himself upright and then to his feet, unwilling to sit on the bed when his feet can't quite reach the floor and feel any more at a disadvantage than he already does.

"Kris," Robert breathes. Here in this moonlight splashed room, Kris can read the reason for this late night visit in the expression of abject regret artfully mixed with careful hope, like two nights spent in bed with the choreographer before being caught on the night of the third are a simple matter of a Broadway-quality apology. Kris isn't feeling it, looking over the wonder that is Robert, tall with a dancer's long, strong body, dark haired and blue eyed and the physical admission of Kris' carefully unspoken type. The surreality of having the original in the bathroom is a little too much after everything else; Kris meets his eyes and just waits for Robert to finish so he can tell him to leave and then promise himself to never, ever, ever pick up another actor from off-Broadway musicals, like, ever. This is kind of what he gets for letting his dick control his choice of boyfriend, so it's not like he has anyone to blame but himself at this point.

"Kris," Robert says urgently, hands closing with theatrical gentleness on his shoulders, looking vaguely unsettled when Kris digs in his heels at the first light pull, "I wanted to--look, I know it was stupid, but the shooting schedule just--it's getting to all of us, you know? We've been fighting since we got here and I guess--I guess I thought--"

Abruptly, the shower cuts off, and Robert blinks, aware of the sudden absence of sound.

Right, Kris thinks fatalistically, because Norway is eighteen hours and three connecting flights away and he really should have known better. The bathroom door opens and Adam wanders out, glossy hair soaking wet and ruffled attractively, blue eyes heavy (eyeliner intact, of course) and skin flushed, wearing nothing but a fucking towel, thick and blindingly white against pale, freckled skin still beaded with water from the shower.

Kris slow blinks his acknowledgment that he will never not get hard from this memory: the suffocating heat of summer, a dark room and a white-swathed bed, and Adam like a pornographic hallucination born of the best case of heat dementia in recorded history.

"I think the leather's unsalvageable," Adam says casually, smile cloyingly intimate because subtlety is for losers, leaning against the doorway all endless bare skin and the confidence to wear it like he does his most outrageous costumes, wanting to be watched, be seen. "You're paying my dry cleaning bill, baby."

Kris manages a dreamy nod; if Adam had asked him to jump from the window, he wouldn't have been able to respond in any other way.

Stretching lazily (Christ, Kris thinks, mind blanking out briefly before overload commences), Adam looks at Robert like he just realized Kris had company. "Sorry," he says, dripping sincerity like the water that trails him from the bathroom door to Kris, one arm circling his waist from behind in casual possession to pull Kris against wet, naked skin (and out of Robert's reach), and looming at his inch and a half advantage over Robert. "And you are--?"

Robert flushes at how five meetings are suddenly the victims of surprisingly specific amnesia. "Robert Evans," Robert says stiffly. "We met--"

"Oh, at that thing--" Adam gestures vaguely with his free hand; from the look on his face when Kris tilts his head back to catch a wary glimpse, the 'thing' will not be a horrible, horrible barbecue but might involve motel rooms that charge by the hour and rentboys past their expiration date.

"Yeah," Kris interjects blankly. How can this be his life, standing between two ungodly hot men in a Memphis hotel room during a heatwave, painfully aroused and sweating out even the memory of water, and wondering what the hell was wrong with life lived as a repressed heterosexual with a record deal. Fuck Kinsey and his scales. "Um--"

"I may need to borrow something to wear," Adam murmurs against Kris' ear, intimate and pitched for an audience of three, chin digging into his shoulder. "Luggage is still on route to LAX and I didn't feel like waiting for it."

Adam will perform pseudo-fellatio on national TV just because he can and a private performance only invites escalation. Kris could find himself being fucked purely on the strength of a too-long silence and Robert's inability to hide how attractive defenestration through one of the wide-open windows might be. It's not actually a thought that Kris thinks he should explore, or he might have to admit he wouldn't mind at all.

"Robert, I'm kind of busy," Kris manages awkwardly, saying the lines like a half-edited script from a prime time WB show, or possibly the least plausible reality show in history. "I just--"

"No, I get it," Robert answers, doggedly reading from the same cut-budget script. "I've been replaced."

"I prefer 'upgraded'," Adam answers cheerfully, deadpanning his lines because you never really grow out of the theatre or being a dick, then wriggles his fingers toward the door. "We're a little busy right now," and hello, is Adam's hand sliding under his boxers in the spirit of verisimilitude? "so if you wouldn't mind--"

Robert's eyes narrow in a way familiar from a certain barbecue and many other nights since. Kris sighs in resignation as Robert, right on cue, shouts, "Who the fuck do you think you are," and Adam….

Well, he escalates.


"It was Ally, wasn't it?"

This is Memphis, the city of music and the home and shrine of Elvis Presley himself, where the forefathers of modern music first formed their craft and changed the course of musical history. This is Memphis, celebrated by Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon, Trisha Yearwood and Bob Dylan in song and rhyme and Top Forty hits. This is the home of Tennessee Williams, the Memphis National Cemetery, and their college basketball program isn't anything to sneeze at, either.

Kris spent four long, horrifying days draped over wide, white-blanketed beds with a genealogy that dates to the American Revolution or buried in red-tinted bubbles in ancient claw foot tubs surrounded by the cast of Rent wearing black bodysuits and moaning in key. He'd stared dead-eyed and disbelieving at a camera from a dozen MySpace-era angles, let himself be discreetly glittered to emulate sparkle, and rolled in fake blood with Justin Timberlake's former backup dancers like the Dali aesthetic was taking the leap from art to film, but so much more surreal. And all of this, all of this because his ex-boyfriend wanted to turn a song about your girl leaving you into a short film exploring the urban-fantasy vampire myth due to an unrequited crush on RPatz and an iconic Meatloaf video. In Memphis. The home of Rock and Roll.

Now Adam Lambert--Adam fucking Lambert--is lounging on the gorgeous antique bed like he belongs there, dressed in nothing but a towel and wide, pleased smile after having sent Robert storming from the room by regaling them all with the beginning of an imaginative, excruciatingly detailed and unsurprisingly filthy description as to what Robert had interrupted and why Kris no longer required Robert for anything, including specific acts associated with that goddamn bed that Kris isn't even sure are physically possible and what the ever-loving fuck?

In Memphis. The home of Rock and Roll.

Kris wonders if the King had ever had these kinds of problems.

"She was worried about you," Adam answers, matching Kris' drawl like the theater geek he still is at heart. "And kind of pissed she couldn't come herself. We're supposed to call if we need help hiding the body, though."

Kris covers his face and tries to imagine a life selling shoes that had never involved an hour long shower Lady McBething away what felt like gallons of fake blood and understanding her despair at the one spot that would never go away. "I didn't really like him that much," Kris tells his palms, muffled. "I was just pissed. So you know. Traumatizing him for life wasn't necessary."

"So no drunken ice cream and vodka tonight?" Adam asks sincerely in a powerless hotel while Kris begins to wonder if it's possible for a human being to melt. "Whatever, you get the idea."

Dropping his hands, Kris shakes his head helplessly. Only Adam. "I'm good."

"Come here." Adam motions toward the bed, swinging those impossibly long legs onto the mattress and patting it invitingly. "Get some sleep and we'll leave before anyone else gets up in the morning."

Before Kris can answer with something stupid and pointless like I can't leave and You know you're only wearing a towel, right?, something wonderful curls up his spine, a finger of not-hot so surprising he stills; it's gone so quickly that Kris wonders if he imagined it. Waving a hand at Adam's raised eyebrows, Kris stares at the curtains and after a moment, they flutter.

Kris was born and bred in Arkansas; he knows Southern heat and long summer nights and the ways to survive them. The second set of curtains stir, briefly, and Kris looks at Adam as another finger of cool drags along the skin above his collar like an open-mouthed kiss.

"We need to move the bed."


It's only a couple of hours later that Kris is awakened by the strengthening breeze pushing beneath the rucked up hem of his shirt and around the hand braced at the small of his back, warm and secure. Adam is sprawled on his side beside him, one arm curled beneath Kris' head, bare shoulder close enough to kiss if Kris closes his eyes and makes a wish to be brave enough to try. Even with the breeze, it's too hot to be this close willingly, pressed together the length of their bodies, one long leg tangled between Kris' and the towel clinging to decency with the weight of Kris' thigh. Kris doesn't want to ever move again.

The overwhelming heat has faded enough for Kris to almost relax, t-shirt uncomfortably damp and boxers clinging to his thighs, skin sticky with the drying sweat of them both. Reluctantly, he pulls a hand from Adam's almost-bare hip to push back the tangled mess of his hair, roots still damp beneath his fingers, lifting his head enough to watch the occasional flair of white curtains floating on the faint breeze, observe the still, quiet room draped in the faint silver of the full moon, and this bed, this ridiculous four poster bed they'd shoved three feet from the wall to take advantage of the crosswind between two windows and the only casualty Adam's towel for three seconds that lasted forever.

This close, Adam's imperfect and flawed and impossibly young, maybe younger than the day they met, practiced expressions and careful control softened by sleep and peeling away their shared history in tissue-thin layers of time until Kris thinks he sees the man that shared his room and offered his friendship and reset the course of what might have been a normal life to something so much more.

He thinks of the last four days, dressed in outfits each more bizarre than the last while imagining Adam's laughter when he saw the final results, a surreal mess of color and sound and Kris dancing with the cast of Rent as the girl runs screaming from the monster she'd thought was a friend. It's an old song, the sacrifice of friendship for a relationship that was never meant to be, leaving the emotional landscape burned out beyond any hope of repair. The risk of revealing an unwelcome truth against a lifetime with single moments like this, rare and precious, tucked carefully in memory to be drawn out and remembered later, sweet like that last mouthful of tea on the most impossible of days.

This is one of those, and he builds it in sensory detail, body memory, sleep and salt on his tongue, the weight of Adam's arm over his waist and the fluid press of their bodies, the smell of sweat and soap and clean cotton, the smoothness of skin beneath his fingers and the soft sound of Adam breathing above the steady beat of his heart only inches from Kris' ear. Then he pulls away, easing himself free of tangled limbs, dropping to the floor with skin that feels too cool everywhere they had touched. Shaking himself, he stumbles over the rough coils of the rug and to the bathroom to relieve himself before finishing the last inch of lukewarm tea in the pitcher and grabbing a bottle of water in afterthought to set on the bedside table in case Adam wakes up first.

Grabbing the discarded pillows and the air-light weight of the sheet, Kris chooses the side furthest from Adam and climbs back on, careful feet of distance and the friendship of a lifetime stretched between them. Pushing one of the pillows into Adam's easy reach, Kris curls up and shuts his eyes to wait for the dawn to bring a new sun-drenched morning.


"…can you stand that?" whispered sleep-soft against his ear. Kris half-opens his eyes on the dark room, moon almost gone to prepare for the new day, and Adam stripping away the sheet with fumbling hands before curling big and warm around Kris with an anchoring arm around his waist and pressed together from chest to knee. "'S too hot."

Kris wonders where his pillow is in that way he wonders why he's singing on a stage with polar bears in stiletto heels, tucking his nose sleepily into the warm curve of a familiar neck, sighing at the feel of Adam's hand sliding up beneath his t-shirt, following the curve of Kris' spine before slipping back down again and fighting the urge to arch like a spoiled cat into each careful touch, maybe take off his shirt to get even more of it.

"Go back to sleep," Adam murmurs thickly against his hair, breath warm against his temple before lips press there for a shocked moment, heat lingering behind. "Not morning yet."

"Hmm." Kris flexes fingers wrapped around the smooth, bare skin of Adam's hip, clinging, sleep-stupid and content enough to fight emergence from the hazy cocoon of sleep. It's inevitable that he'll fail, and drawing back, he sees Adam's unnervingly awake and looking at him, thoughtful and something else, too. He thinks that he should pull away, but he can't remember why or how.

The slow stroking pauses, palm pressed flat against his back before sliding out and cupping Kris' cheek, thumb drifting along one cheekbone and tilting Kris' head like a question that will be asked only once and never again.

Kris surprises himself with the answer; on this impossible night, he remembers that once upon a time, he auditioned before three judges and performed every week before the world, the risk of failure buried beneath the burn of hope that if he tried, maybe he could. Closing his eyes, he follows the gentle pull of Adam's hand, eyes falling shut at the tentative brush of lips like the touch of cotton sheets, dry, warm pressure that feels like it might last forever.

A shared breath breaks them apart; Kris can feel his own shock like electricity shivering over the surface of his skin, like the frozen moment before every song he's ever sung on more stages than he can ever hope to count, stillness that's the hum of potential and waiting for the sound of the first note that crosses that invisible line between silence and everything that music lets him say.

"Yeah," Kris breathes, staring into searching blue eyes, closing only for the next press of that lush mouth, thumb urging him open and pliant for the long stroke of a tongue that tastes of lukewarm Evian and salt. He buries his hands in black hair, still damp and sliding between his fingers as the mattress presses against his back, stretching out for the weight of Adam's body, hooking a knee over the curve of his hip, and it's not enough, he wants more.

He can feel Adam hot and hard against his hip through the thin cotton of his boxers and wonders whatever happened to the towel before Adam's fingers slide between elastic and skin, leaning back to skim them off Kris' boxers, running green tipped fingers from ankle to knee in an endless tease of nails, palms easing him open before Adam presses an open mouthed kiss against the sensitive skin of his inner thigh, a scrape of two days of stubble bright and hot.

Eighteen hours and three connecting flights from Norway to LA to Memphis in the middle of a heatwave blackout without even his luggage; Kris doesn't think he does stupid as a lifestyle choice, but you couldn't prove it by this.

Adam sits back on his heels, hands closing over Kris' hips and tugs Kris into his lap with the same uncanny strength that helped move the bed and makes Adam's trainer Kris' new favorite person, right before Adam kisses him again, licking out coherent thought, working Kris' t-shirt up and breaking only for the brief seconds it takes to tug it off and toss it away.

Kris shifts his hips, hissing at the press of Adam's cock against his own, hard and heavy, head rubbing slick trails over his belly as Adam cups his ass and grinds up, and Kris is moaning into Adam's mouth, smearing words into incomprehensibility against Adam's tongue that they're all Adam's name. Reaching down, he stretches his hand to encompass them both and Adam catches his lip between sharp teeth with a half-muffled growl, fingers clenching into his skin like he wants to leave the print of his fingers behind, mouthing up the side of Kris' throat long enough for Kris to gasp a breath that he uses to say "Adam," in helpless adoration and filled with years of hopeless yearning.

Adam kisses him quiet, breathing, "That's it, baby," whispered endearments smudged against his mouth and his cheek and dragged the length of his throat, "Kris" like it encompasses the entirety of the world. Kris squeezes them together and tries to match the staccato rhythm of their bodies while pleasure builds molten at the base of his spine and they're both slippery with fresh sweat like they've never understood the meaning of cold. It's too good to last long, and Kris comes in a long stretch of heat that burns away everything, even thought, slicking Adam's cock with his own come for three strokes before Adam buries his groan in Kris' shoulder, riding out the aftershocks until the only thing keeping Kris upright is the arm wrapped around his back and Adam's tongue licking lazy satisfaction into his mouth.

Eventually, Adam eases him back to the bed, ignoring Kris' whine when he shifts his weight to the mattress beside him, one thigh draped across Kris' legs and kissing slow and lazy and like he never wants to stop. Kris tangles his hands further in Adam's hair and falls asleep breathing the smell of sex and Adam, curled so close that he hopes they'll find it impossible to sort themselves out again.


The third time he wakes up, it's to a room bathed in orange and pink-gold light pouring from behind closed windows, the hum of a working air conditioner, his own bags neatly packed by the door, and Adam kissing him as he tucks his phone back in the impossibly tight pockets of his leather jeans. "Good morning," Adam murmurs against his cheek, catching Kris' confused response with his tongue. It wasn't a heat-induced hallucination after all; Adam's friendly and all, but Kris can't remember him being the type to say good morning with his tongue quite like this.

There's a breakfast tray, too, smelling of food and coffee, all things run by electricity. "The power--" he starts uncertainly when Adam finally lets him sit up some hazy amount of time later, trying to decipher this turn of events and failing utterly.

"--came back on, I noticed, yeah." Fingertips trail down his cheek followed by a teasing kiss that lures him into the bathroom for a quick shower, toothbrush left by the now-empty sink; stumbling back out cleaner but still not entirely awake, he raises his arms sleepily for the clean t-shirt and is almost able to participate when Adam tugs his jeans up his legs. "You forgot--" he starts blearily as Adam thumbs the buttons of his jeans closed before he wraps his fingers in the waist to pull Kris close enough to kiss.

Adam pulls back with a obscene sound. "Baby you really won't need them."

Okay then.

Face hot, Kris tries to orient himself as his shoes are dropped by the bed. Abruptly, a cup of coffee is shoved into his hand as Adam enthusiastically works his way through the muffins. "We have two hours until our flight leaves, so hurry. Your PA will keep everyone distracted until we're gone."

Kris sips his coffee, finally eating when Adam starts playing with his fork hopefully and Kris has to take it away before being fed becomes a real possibility. Adam is not one to remain idle, though, stealing kisses between bites and coaxing him into his shoes when the plate is empty. Kris is still swallowing the last mouthful of coffee as they reach the door with no clear idea how he got there.

"My bags," Kris starts, desperately balancing the cup on an antique highboy that's probably worth more than all the furniture he owns as Adam twines their fingers together and tugs him out the door. "I need to--"

"You won't need clothes for a few days," Adam answers positively, as aggressively cheerful as this bright morning and even more beautiful. Kris stares at him in the merciless light of day and wonders how he's supposed to remember to breathe faced with this. "Don't worry about it."

It's not that he's not used to Adam and his methodology of getting shit done; it's more orgasm has eroded his ability to care what they do as long as Adam's there. "Wait--"

"I think I've waited long enough." Shutting the door, he presses Kris up against it, kissing him slow and hard, silent promises he writes with his tongue in Kris' mouth and his hands on Kris' hips. "Let's go home, baby."

Kris nods dazed agreement, only managing to murmur, "We maybe should talk," and Adam answering, "I'll pencil that in for next week when we get out of bed," and that's fair enough, yeah.

They emerge into the too-hot morning, day thirty-three of the great Southern heatwave and Memphis coming frantically awake around them after almost an entire day asleep. A taxi lounges only feet away, engine rumbling eagerly, and Kris thinks of all he has to say, years of words that want to spill his secrets into the air, You helped me become the person I always wanted to be and Thank you for waiting. He can't say it, syllables jumbled on the tip of his tongue, but he can pull Adam down for another kiss that's a promise that he will, soon, that says, I'm glad you came, and I need you, and I love you.

Adam's fingers trail down his face, sweet, answering with a kiss like a promise and confirmation both; I love you, too.

"Let's go."