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Tightly Knit

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Adam knows nothing about knitting, except for the fact that he's pretty sure it requires knitting needles and yarn, so when his mom declares that the only thing she want for her birthday is a scarf he knitted himself, he decides that she's insane. Apparently someone in her parenting class (yes, she attends parenting classes even though Adam is already in his second year of college and Neil is disgustingly well behaved) said the same thing to her son last year and it turned out to be a real turning point for him.

Now, Adam doesn't really believe in the magical powers of knitting needles and he's not exactly sure he needs a turning point in his life, but if his mom wants a horrible hand-knitted scarf, then a horrible hand-knitted scarf is what she's getting. He does some research on the internet and knitting doesn't seem to be too hard; all it requires is aforementioned needles, yarn and time.

Time isn't something he's well stocked on between school and musical theatre practice, but there's always the hour before bedtime he devotes to playing with his makeup and the hour before classes he devotes to playing with his makeup and also all the time between classes that he devotes to playing with his makeup. Come think about it, this is probably one great ploy from his mother to get him away from the makeup table.

Matt, his roommate, says he should pay some chick to knit the scarf for him, seeing as Adam doesn't really need to add another thing to his repertoire that makes people question his manliness, but Matt is a bit of a douche sometimes and also the only one that constantly questions Adam's manliness, so Adam's not going to take his advice. Besides, he would feel awful come her birthday when his mom opened his present if he hadn't actually knitted the scarf himself.

Since Matt pointedly refuses to come with him shopping for needles and yarn, Adam sets out on his own one Monday afternoon to buy the needed supplies. There's still a certain chill to the air that reminds him of winter, enough to excuse him hiding his unruly hair under a beanie and wrapping a scarf around his neck. It's the best thing, he thinks, about attending college in Pennsylvania - there are actual seasons instead of just degrees of heat.

It turns out there's more than one knitting store in town and he has the hardest time deciding which one to go into. There's a big one on the main street, with a bright window display full of yarn, needles and instructions, but it seems like a place for the insanely crafty, because it also has fabric and various craft supplies. There's another store in one of the gallerias that is more specialized, but nothing in the window is as simple as a scarf.. Adam actually goes into that one, but after a quick look around he steps out again. He wants a place where he would feel comfortable asking stupid questions.

He buys a steaming hazelnut latte from a corner coffee shop and when he steps out again he sees it - Allen's Knitting, a small shop on one of the side streets, with an old-fashioned sign hanging above the door. It looks like the kind of place a grandma would own and he just knows it's the place for him. He sips his coffee as he makes his way over, minding his step on the badly lit sidewalk.

There's a lantern standing on the bottom step, candlelight flickering invitingly and he's sure he picked the right place. The dimly lit window display boasts yarns and needles as well as a few finished projects, among them a simple striped scarf, set against a heavy drape that prevents him from seeing into the store. He takes another mouthful of coffee, before walking up the stairs and opening the door. There's an old copper bell fastened above the door that chimes when he opens it and a male voice shouts be right with you from the back.

He steps fully inside and looks around, a grin stretching his mouth wide. It's exactly like a grandma store; old-fashioned shelves full of yarn in every color and texture imaginable line the walls. The cashier desk is made out of sturdy wood and there's one of those antique cash registers standing on it, black with flowers painted on the sides.

Instead of fluorescent lights there are a number of round glass lamps hanging from the ceiling, giving the room a pleasant glow, and the display tables in the middle of the room hold everything from needles to sewing machines. Adam falls a little bit in love with the atmosphere, because he's totally corny like that.

When he was a kid his grandma used to take him to an old fashioned country shop, where the wall behind the cash register was full of jars with mysterious content, and candy was displayed on the counter in slanted glass jars in a specially built stand. He can still remember the heady smell of coffee and tea, and the sweetness of the candied sugar on a stick the old lady behind the register used to give him. He suddenly wonders if the store is still there and decides to ask his grandma the next time he talks to her.

Since whoever is in the back is taking his time Adam starts browsing around, looking at different yarns and needles without any clue what kind, or how much, he needs. His mother loves purple though and there's a really nice purple yarn he would love to use, but he's learned from his internet browsing that different kinds of yarn are used for different things and he has no clue whether this is the kind he needs.

There is a rustle as the drapes to the back room are pulled aside and a guy enters the store. He hasn't spotted Adam yet, so Adam glances furtively at him from under his cap. Dressed in a plaid shirt and too-big jeans, he looks homely enough to be a store clerk in place like this, but the face above the plaid shirt's collar looks good enough to fit on a magazine cover. Hazel eyes, a straight nose and full lips are quite enough to make Adam's dick twitch in interest, but the blush as the guy looks up and spots Adam is even better.

"Uh… hi," the guy says, diving in behind the counter, as if standing there makes him feel braver. It really only emphasizes the fact that the guy is tiny.

"Hi," Adam says, giving him one of his famous beaming smiles. "I'm Adam."

He steps forward and stretches out the hand not occupied with his latte. The guy looks between Adam and the hand, but shakes it nonetheless.

"I'm… uhm… Kris," he says, his blush growing a few shades deeper. His hair is brown and the kind of too long that makes Adam's fingers itch for some product.

A couple of years back Adam and Matt, in true boys-going-wild-at-college fashion, drafted a Three Step Plan to Seduction. Step one is getting to know the subject's name. Step two is finding out if the subject is interested and step three is letting the subject know that you're interested in return. Over time Adam has found that The Plan is at its best if all steps are rolled into one, thus sweeping the subject off his, or her, feet. Oh, and compliments always work.

"Amazing place, this," Adam says looking around. "Reminds me of a shop my grandma used to take me to. Is it yours?"

"Uh… yeah," Kris says, blinking rapidly. He's really, really adorable. Adam wants to eat him.

"It smells awesome too. Is it the shop, or is it just you?" Adam winks and Kris blushes an even deeper red. It's kind of impressive. Adam doesn't miss the way Kris looks him up and down under his lashes though, so score one for The Plan.

"Scented candle," Kris murmurs, pointing to a candle in a tealight holder on the counter. "Vanilla."

"Cool." Adam beams, because he knows that his smile is his best feature and Kris doesn't seem to be immune.

"Can I help you with something?" Kris asks, sounding slightly bewildered.

"Yeah. My mom wants me to knit her a scarf for her birthday and I don't know the first thing about knitting so here I am." He grins.

"Oh… uhm… Did you have a color in mind?"

"Purple," Adam says. "Actually, I saw some yarn over there, but I don't know if it would be good for a scarf." He gets the bundle of the purple yarn he was looking at earlier and shows it to Kris.

"That would be great for a scarf," Kris says. "But you'll want to use pretty thick needles, like these." He produces a pair of needles from behind the counter and holds them up. Adam thinks they look pretty nifty, thick and black - add some glitter and they'd be perfect.

"Great," he says, putting the yarn down on the counter. "How much yarn will I need?"

"Depends on how long you want to make it," Kris says. "But… uh… maybe you should start with just one, or two, skeins… in case this knitting thing isn't for you."

Adam swallows his grin and nods gravely, but he's pretty sure the twinkling of his eyes betrays the fact that he's onto Kris's plan. "Sounds good," he says. "I'll take that skein, and those needles."

Kris rings it up for him, sadly not on the antique cash register but on a modern computer terminal set a little to the side, and puts Adam's purchases in a bag. As he hands the bag over, Adam scans his fingers for rings but doesn't find any. All in all he feels pretty good about the whole thing.

____spacer____


He doesn't feel as good about it the following night when he settles down with his yarn and needles in front of the computer to get started. He gets 2,450,000 hits on his search for basic knitting instructions and not a single one of them seems as easy and straightforward as he thought they would be. Finally he settles on a page and tries to follow the nine step instruction for how to cast on.

He gets the first step right, because it only requires him to make a slip knot around one needle, but then he gets confused on step two. He fiddles and fights with the needles until it looks like the little picture, only to realize he doesn't have a hand free to scroll with. With a sigh he puts the needles down and scrolls until he can see all the steps on the screen, before taking the needles up again.

Steps three and four aren't all that confusing, so he manages those without a problem, but he immediately has problems again with step five. He manages to get tangled in the yarn and drops the entire thing in his lap. With a long-suffering sigh he starts over again, completing steps one to five, in what he thinks is a pretty speedy manner. He contemplates step six and studies the little drawing closely before attempting it.

It works out fine and so does step seven but step eight proves to be harder. Mostly, he thinks, because he pulls hard enough on the yarn to make the entire thing fall off the needle and vanish in thin air, leaving him back at step one.

Before starting over again, he studies step nine closely to make sure he won't run into any surprises and realizes that step nine is really just starting over from the beginning again.

Full of confidence that he can do this he starts over and manages to complete one stitch and then another, until he has a row of uneven stitches covering his left needle. The instruction says twenty-eight but when Adam counts his stitches he's got over sixty. He's pretty sure 'the more the merrier' applies to knitting as much as it does to other recreational activities, so he decides to head directly for the actual knitting part.

The knitting instructions are more straightforward: Hold needle with stitches in left hand; insert point of right needle in first stitch, from front to back, just as in casting on. With right index finger, bring yarn from ball under and over point of right needle. Draw yarn through stitch with right needle point. This step now differs from casting on: Slip loop on left needle off, so new stitch is entirely on right needle. And with a couple of false starts he manages to knit his first row of stitches. He pumps his fist in the air and starts over, doing it again and again until he has four rows of stitches, at which point he realizes it looks like crap.

It's messy, loopy and uneven, with odd bits of yarn hanging in loose loops from the side and it's easily wide enough to suffocate his mother if she would wrap it just one time around her neck. He throws the needles to the side with a disgusted sigh. He thought he was doing so well and all the time he was really failing spectacularly.

The door to the room opens and Matt falls in. "How's the knitting going?" he asks.

"To Hell," Adam answers with a growl.

"Oh." Matt actually looks contrite. "And here I was all ready to rib you for being a grandmother."

Adam snorts. "I'd make a horrible grandmother. My grandkids would look disfigured in the clothes I knitted for them and I can't bake either."

"Awwww," Matt says, coming over to pet Adam's head as if he's a puppy. "Maybe you just need a crash course from the hot store owner."

Adam has to admit Matt has a point. He was planning on going back to the store tomorrow for more yarn anyway, but he'd hoped he'd be doing so as a knitter and not as a failure.

"I'm sure Kris would be just delighted to show you how to knit," Matt says with a wink. "And maybe you could show him what other kinds of fun you can have with a knitting needle."

"It's too pointy," Adam says morosely.

"Not if you use the knobby end… and oh my God ewwww what am I saying? Brain bleach, give me some brain bleach."

Adam laughs. "Gay is contagious, didn't you know?" he says, sticking his tongue out.

Matt makes a face. "You coming out with us tonight? We're going to Joey's."

Adam thinks about saying no, because he was really planning on spending his night knitting, but since he apparently sucks at that, he can just as well dedicate his night to suck at something more enjoyable, like a few beers, or quite possibly a nice cock, instead.

____spacer____


Joey's is on a side street not far from Kris's store, but Adam is still surprised when Kris is the first person he sees. He's sitting at the bar with his back to the room, nursing a bottle of beer, dressed in a new shade of plaid. Adam doesn't approach him straight away, but tucks himself into a booth with Matt, Megan, Anoop and Annie. That doesn't stop him from keeping an eye on Kris though, noticing that he doesn't talk to anyone but the bartender.

Joey's is a real bar and not one of the college dives they usually frequent and it only takes a couple of drinks for the girls to start griping about how they want to dance. Usually Adam is all about the dancing, but tonight he's got his eyes on Kris. Besides, he's not sure his new boots are ready for the dance floor and he hates blisters.

Matt probably sees the furtive glance Adam casts in Kris's direction, because he doesn't question Adam's decision to stay behind. He just smirks and gives Adam a wink as he guides Annie out of the bar with a hand at the small of her back. Adam raises his eyebrows at the hand and gets a shrug for an answer. Last time Adam checked Matt was still hung up on Megan.

He waves at them as they leave and ignores the lucky knitting Matt throws in his direction, mostly because he's pretty sure Matt means something other than knitting. Once they're gone he hurriedly empties his beer and walks up to the bar, leaning against it next to Kris.

"I really suck at knitting," he says, without preamble.

Kris looks up and does a quick double take when he recognizes Adam. "You do?" he asks, with obvious amusement.

"Yup," Adam admits, slipping onto the bar stool next to Kris's without being invited. "I tried tonight and it turned out to be this huge, lumpy thing that didn't look the slightest bit like a scarf."

Kris laughs. "Did you make sure your cast-on stitches were even before you started?"

"Uh… No."

Kris grins. "That's a pretty common beginner's mistake, and also you have to make sure your cast-ons are about as wide as you want your scarf."

Adam blinks. "Okay… but how wide should a scarf be? And also, the rows I made were all flat, aside from being lumpy. I thought it would look more…" He makes a vague zig zag motion with his hand.

"You probably used the wrong kind of stitches," Kris says.

"There's more than one?" Adam asks, well, whines really. "My mom is never getting her scarf."

Kris laughs again; it's a nice sound and it makes the corners of his eyes crinkle nicely. Adam wonders how old he is and how come a gorgeous creature like him spends all day tucked away in an old-fashioned knitting store.

"I have a little knitting gathering in the store every Thursday night," Kris says. "It's open to both beginners and advanced knitters. We usually have a lot of fun."

"That's sounds really… Thursdays? I have theatre practice on Thursdays and when I don't classes run late."

"You in college?" Kris asks.

"Yeah," Adam says. "Journalism major."

"That's cool," Kris says with a smile. "I always wanted to be a writer."

Adam refrains from telling Kris he mostly just picked journalism to piss of his brother and because he needs something to fall back on if the whole rockstar thing doesn't work out for him. In ten years he'll either be a successful recording artist or a disgruntled unsuccessful recording artist writing bitchy reviews about those more fortunate.

"What's stopping you?" Adam asks.

"Oh…" Kris looks down on his bottle and picks at the label. "Nothing I suppose."

Adam gets a feeling that Kris doesn't really tell people about his writing dreams all that often, if ever, and he really wants to say the right thing to inspire him. It doesn't really matter if Kris is a horrible writer; sometimes the writing itself is enough of a reward, or so he's heard.

"If you want I could read something you've written. I mean if you want some feedback," he says, hoping that it's not the wrong thing to say.

"Would you?" Kris asks, his face lighting up.

"Yeah, it would be fun."

He half expects Kris to pick a manuscript out of his shoulder bag, but he just gestures to the bartender for another beer. When the bartender brings it, he orders one for Adam as well, and the pleased blush on his cheeks when Adam says thank you, speaks eons of his interest.

"You know what?" Kris asks. "If you come around tomorrow afternoon, I'll show you how to knit."

"Really? Thank you."

Adam only barely refrains from hugging Kris and pats his shoulder instead. Matt keeps telling him he makes people nervous when he hugs them and he doesn't want Kris to take his offer back. Kris gives him a small shy smile and looks at him from under his lashes, making Adam regret he didn't go for the hug after all. Kris is simply adorable.

They part ways once the beers are finished, having spent the last half hour talking about all and nothing in that way you tend to do with virtual strangers. Adam learns that Kris is twenty-one and that he inherited the store from his grandma. It turns out Kris is originally from Arkansas but that he's been living in Pennsylvania since he was a kid. Adam tells Kris about his family, his crazy friend, and his involvement with musical theatre, flitting from one subject to the next in a way that comes naturally to him.

They say goodbye outside the pub and Adam is sure he's not misinterpreting the longing look Kris throws his way, just as he's sure Kris can see the same thing in his eyes, but for now he thinks it's better to wait.

____spacer____


On Wednesday afternoon, after classes are over and done with and he's grabbed something to eat, Adam stuffs his sad little knitting project into his backpack and heads out for Kris's store. The lantern from the other day has been replaced with a big glass and wood lantern, but the light flickers just as invitingly as Adam walks up the steps to the store. The bell chimes when he opens the door and this time Kris is behind the counter, going through a book full of neatly written numbers.

"Hey," Kris says, smiling. "I was wondering if you'd show up."

Adam huffs, slightly affronted that Kris seems to think he doesn't take his mom's present seriously. "My mom will be disappointed if I don't show up with a scarf for her birthday," he says. "If you knew her, you wouldn't want to disappoint her either. She wouldn't say anything, but I would see it in her eyes when she opened her presents. And she probably wouldn't let me take thirds of the cake."

Come to think of it, Adam probably shouldn't make her a scarf. His waistline doesn't need thirds.

Kris laughs, and closes his binder, coming around the counter to meet Adam. "I can put your jacket in the back if you want," he says.

Adam shrugs his bag off and hands his coat to Kris, taking the opportunity to shamelessly ogle his ass as he walks further into the store. Kris has a very nice ass and for the occasion it's nicely hugged in a pair of worn jeans. The outfit is topped off with a washed-out t-shirt that's peeking out below his dark grey cardigan. It's hot in a nerdy kind of way and Adam suddenly feels overdressed in his skinny jeans and striped shirt ensemble. Not that it's anywhere close to something he'd consider over the top, but he thinks he and Kris have different views when it comes to clothes.

Kris returns moments later and directs Adam to sit at one of the tables at the back of the store. For the occasion it has been cleared of the products that usually obscure it, and there are several pictures of scarves spread out over the table top.

"I thought the best way to start was for you to pick what kind of scarf you want to make," Kris says, standing next to the chair with one hand on the chair and one on the table.

Adam is kind of touched by the trouble he's gone through and he points to a picture that looks like he imagined his scarf would turn out, except it's blue instead of purple.

"Good choice," Kris says. "And it's pretty easy to do."

"Even if you take into consideration I have two left hands?"

"Yeah," Kris says with a laugh. "Even then. Don't underestimate my powers of teaching."

Adam grins and leans forward with his elbows on the table. "So teach me, Obi Wan."

Kris grins and takes up a pair of needles, much like the ones Adam has in his bag. "I'm sure you're familiar with these," he says and Adam nods. "Good. I thought we'd start with the cast on."

Adam nods again, watching Kris's hands intently as he picks up a ball of yarn.

"There are two basic ways to cast on," Kris continues, pulling a length of yarn lose from the ball. "Knit and long tail."

Adam nods like he understands. The knit way, he supposes, is the one he used yesterday, but he had no idea there even was another way.

"I'm gonna start with showing you the long tail, because it only requires one needle," Kris says, making a slipknot and putting it on the needle. "You can do the same."

Adam realizes that there are needles and yarn on the table for him as well and he blushes slightly. He was a bit too intent in staring at Kris's lovely hands to remember he was supposed to learn something here. He picks up the needle and makes a slipknot around it.

"You'll need a little more loose yarn on the other side," Kris says with a smile. "That's why it's called long-tail."

"Oh."

Adam looks closer at how Kris did it and reties his knot with a lot more loose yarn to the side.

"Okay," Kris says. "Now stretch the yarn between the thumb and forefinger on your left hand like this."

He holds out his hand to show Adam and with some fumbling he manages to do the same, looping one end over his thumb and the other over his forefinger so that the needle hangs in the middle on a stretched thread. The tricky part is to grasp both ends of the yarn with his other fingers to make sure it keeps stretched.

"Good," Kris says with a smile. "You ready?"

"Uh, yeah," Adam says, holding onto his needle with fumbly fingers.

"Look closely. First you pull the needle down and under the part of the thread that runs on the outside of your thumb, so that you get a loop with your thumb and the needle in the middle."

Kris has to show him three times before Adam finally gets the hang of it, but that doesn't seem to set him back at all.

"Awesome," he says when Adam's fingers finally cooperate. "Now you twist your hand a bit like this so that the thread running from your forefinger ends up underneath the needle, before you twist it back with the thread over the needle. Now it should be inside the loop you made earlier and all you have to do is let go of the loop and tighten it."

Kris does just so and ends up with a second stitch next to the slipknot. Adam does so too, at least he thinks he does, but his stitch falls apart and tangles.

"Damnit," he growls, looking down on the mess he made.

"You're not pulling the yarn right," Kris says. "Wait, I'll show you."

If anyone told Adam a few days ago knitting could be sexy he'd have laughed at them, but when Kris moves over to stand behind him, guiding his hands; knitting suddenly feels just like foreplay. Kris loops one hand around Adam's left wrist to help him keep the yarn stretched and puts the other on top of Adam's right hand that's holding the needle.

"Now loop, twist, twist again and pull."

Kris guides his hands as he says it and this time Adam's stitch stays on the needle. He holds his breath as they do it again and again, until Kris is no longer guiding him, just holding on to his hands, with his cheek against Adam's temple. He smells really good and every breath stirs Adam's lashes. It would be so easy to just turn his head to the side and seek Kris's lips out, but he's not entirely sure Kris realizes how close they are, or how brain-meltingly hot it is.

The bell above the door chimes and Kris jumps away from Adam so suddenly he makes him drop his needles.

"You…" Kris coughs. "Keep going like that. It's looking good."

Adam picks up the needles again with a sigh as Kris rushes forward to greet his customer. It turns out to be someone Kris knows and Adam listens to their idle chit chat as he casts stitch after stitch onto the needle. It takes forever but eventually Kris rings up her order and bell chimes again as she exits.

Kris comes back to the table and sits down on his chair again, putting his palms flat on the table.

"Sorry," he mutters, looking as if he's ashamed.

"For what?" Adam asks, even if he can guess.

"Jumping away like that… I just thought it might look…" He licks his lips, but doesn't say anything more.

Adam wants to be mean and ask if Kris thought it might look gay, but he decides against it. If he manages to convince Kris to bend over the nearest flat surface for him, they can have that talk afterwards; having it now would probably make it a lot harder to convince Kris to bend over. Sure, he cares about gay rights and stuff, but not enough to get in the way of getting laid.

He shows Kris his pretty neat row of stitches instead and Kris smiles. "It looks good," he says. "You're getting the hang of this. Just give me a moment to catch up."

Kris picks up his own needles and casts a neat row of stitches in hyper speed, until there's about thirty lined up on the needle.

"Now we get to the actual knitting part," Kris says, picking up the other needle. "There are two basic types of stitches. The knit stitch and the purl stitch. To make a Mistake Rib Stitch like the one you picked, you need to master both."

Adam makes a face and thinks about changing his mind, but there could be worse things than having to learn two types of stitches, especially with Kris as his teacher.

"The knit stitch is the basis of all knitting," Kris says. "And I'm guessing it's the one you learned how to do yesterday."

"I don't know," Adam says.

"Show me then."

Adam haltingly manages to repeat the movement from yesterday, getting an approving nod from Kris.

"Good," he says. "You already mastered the knit stitch. The purl stitch is yin to the knit stitch's yang, and if you know how to knit stitch, learning how to purl stitch isn't very hard."

Adam gives Kris a dubious look, because he kind of think the knit stitches are really fucking hard. Kris completely ignores him and holds up his needles to show Adam.

"This is the knit stitch. See how I do it?"

"Yeah."

"Now with the purl stitch the yarn needs to go over the needle instead of under it, like this."

Kris moves the yarn to rest on top of the needle, before the first stitch and Adam does the same, watching Kris's needles intently.

"Good. Now with a purl you go through the loop from the front instead of the back. Like this… Good. Now you loop the yarn over the needle and kind of slide the needle around until the stitch ends up fully on your right needle."

It looks so easy when Kris does it, even if it involves a flick twist, but when Adam tries his needle skates away and he drops the yarn. So he tries again and again and again with the same depressing results.

"Help," he says and he doesn't even mean it in a knitting is possibly foreplay way, but an honest this will never work for me way.

Kris moves into position again, guiding Adam's hands and this time the stitch ends up on the right needle.

"Yay," Adam says happily, making Kris laugh against his ear.

Kris keeps guiding his hands and the easier the stitch gets, the more Adam notices the way Kris is pressed up close. He isn't even aware of letting his eyes drop shut until the needle pinches his hand.

"Ouch," he says, opening his eyes quickly.

"It would be a whole lot easier if you paid attention," Kris says, but there's laughter dancing in his voice.

"It's your own fault for pressing up all close and smelling really good," Adam defends himself.

Kris laughs and straightens up. "You don't exactly smell bad yourself," he says and when he returns to his chair opposite Adam there's a slight flush to his cheeks.

Adam ducks his chin to hide his grin, but he doesn't think he's entirely successful.

"Okay," Kris says. "Now that you've mastered the stitches, do a couple of rows alternating every second stitch. Like two knit, two purled, two knit, two purled and so on. It doesn't matter if it doesn't add up in the end. I'm not sure how many stitches you have on."

Adam follows Kris's instructions and does a few rows alternating stitches. He finds that it actually gets easier for every row and soon he has a sizeable chunk of knitting, even if it's still a bit uneven and weird looking.

"Good," Kris says. "You're about ready to start. Now for the scarf you want to knit, you'll be alternating stitches like that. For the first row, you'll do two knit, two purled and so on, ending the row with a lone knit stitch. For the second row you'll do it in the opposite order and start with two purled and then two knit and so on, to end the row with a lone purl stitch."

Adam nods and he's quite proud that he actually gets what Kris's talking about. He's a knitter now, if not a very good one.

"I need to close up and stuff, but there's a comfortable chair in the corner," Kris says. "That way I'll be handy if you need any help."

"Thanks," Adam says with a beaming smile.

The comfortable chair is tucked into the corner between two shelves, with an old-fashioned reading light curling its neck over the back rest. There are two knit blankets thrown over it and a couple of pillows on the seat and when Adam sits down it feels as if the chair is reaching up to embrace him. He digs his knitting stuff out of his bag and pulls the knitting he did last night loose from the needle, unraveling the yarn and wrapping it around the ball.

"How many stitches?" he asks as he ties a slipknot around the needle.

"It depends on how wide you want it to be, but start with thirty-three and I'll come look at it," Kris answers. "The important part is that you have an uneven number of stitches."

Adam dutifully casts thirty three stitches onto the needle and shows the results to Kris. They both agree it looks a little thin so he adds another ten to make it wider. Kris goes back to the register and Adam settles into the chair knitting his first two rows without much problem. It's nice, to sit enveloped in the chair, listening to Kris puttering about the store and fiddling with the cash register. Homey. He keeps going at a steady snail pace until he's running out of yarn.

"Help," he says when he realizes there isn't enough yarn to make another row. "I'm out of yarn."

Kris grabs another ball from the shelf and brings it over. "It's not very hard," he says. "You just start using yarn from this ball instead, you'll deal with the lose threads later."

"Cool," Adam says, taking the ball and making another row of stitches.

He looks up at Kris when he's finished his row and puts the knitting down on his lap. "I should head home," he says. "I've got classes in the morning."

"Yeah," Kris says with smile.

"How much do I own you for the yarn?"

"It's on the house," Kris says with a wink. "I think I remember you offering to read something I wrote."

"Yeah?"

"I kinda… uhm… printed it out for you."

"Awesome," Adam says and he means it too. He has no idea what Kris writes, but reading something of his is exciting even if it turns out to be a knitting pattern. Besides, you always learn something about the writer from their writing, and Adam wants to know more about Kris.

He gets up from the chair and packs his knitting into his bag, making a mental note to start with two knits the next time he picks it up. Kris hands him a thick binder with an embarrassed look on his face and Adam takes it greedily.

"What's it about?" he asks.

"Oh," Kris says, swallowing. "It's just a… uhm… story. If you don't like it, you don't have to keep reading it or anything."

Adam sticks the binder into his bag and Kris looks as if he's about to be sick. "Maybe I should take it back," he says. "It's pretty long and you've got course work and stuff…"

"Don't be silly," Adam says, pulling his bag out of reach in case Kris tries to make a grab for it.

Kris licks his lips. "I don't think… God, this is horrible." He wipes a hand over his brow and bites down on his lip. "Just… don't be offended."

"Don't be offended?" Adam's eyebrows shoot up. "Unless you wrote an epic tale on how to commit genocide or rape dogs, I don't think I'll be offended."

"Okay… yeah… You are gay, right?"

"What… Yes. Yes, I'm gay."

"Good. I mean… If you think so… I mean… I don't know what I mean."

Adam laughs and pets Kris's shoulder. "Don't fret, man. I'm a nice person."

Kris nods, still looking nervous. He hands Adam a business card for the store, with a couple of numbers scribbled on the back. "That's my cell number and home number… In case you want to call me."

Adam laughs, and winks. "I might take you up on that."

Kris flushes bright red and mumbles something about getting Adam's jacket. Adam looks after him as he disappears with barely concealed amusement. He can't wait to get home and start reading Kris's novel. Whatever it's about is enough to make Kris wonderfully frazzled, and Adam finds that he's dying to know what that is.

____spacer____


Unfortunately real life (especially Matt) conspires to make sure Adam doesn't have time to start reading until Friday night and even then it takes begging out of a pub crawl to get the opportunity. He makes sure he has water and snacks before settling down on the bed with the manuscript clutched in his hands.

The title page simply says: Brand New Shoes, by Kris Allen, but Adam still spends way too long staring at it. Truth be told, he's wildly curious but also a bit apprehensive. What if Kris is a horrible writer? Adam is man enough to admit that it would change the way he looks at Kris and he doesn't want that to happen, damn it. Writing isn't for everyone, so it shouldn't even matter. It's not like Adam would care if he had a boyfriend, or something, that didn't write.

With a sigh, he opens the manuscript and starts reading the first page and after that he just keeps going. Kris is a good writer, a really good writer, and Adam finds David, the guitar-playing main character, wildly appealing and that's before he gets to the porn. The gay porn. The very graphic gay porn that makes his dick stand at attention and his mouth water.

Apparently David falls for this guy Steve that works in a garage, and with a few false starts they end up having way-too-hot sex on the hood of David's car, and then again up against the wall, and once more on the floor. By the end of the last scene Adam is so hard, he's sure he's going to spontaneously combust. Kris has a way of describing not only the physical acts, but also the way it feels, and it's so spot on it sets Adam's blood on fire.

Without preamble he pushes his sweatpants down and grabs his cock, jerking it hard and fast while reading the last few sentences over and over. It takes about ten seconds for him to come all over his fist with a deep groan that sends shudders through his body. He rolls over on his side and keeps reading, caressing his sticky cock idly.

A couple of sex scenes later, he's literally panting, pulling slowly on his renewed erection with his eyes half closed. It's easy to imagine doing the dirty acts from the text with Kris, bending him over the table in the store, sitting in the comfy armchair with Kris on his lap, sucking him off when he's standing at the counter. The possibilities are endless.

In the story, David is giving Steve a lazy blow job, and Adam grips himself a little tighter, imagining what Kris's lips would look around his cock. It's hard to know what is most exciting, the actual text or knowing that these filthy words came out of Kris's head. Kris, who is the picture of an innocent closeted man. Adam finds himself wondering how many of the sexual acts in the novel Kris has experienced himself.

The plot gets back on track, describing the slow evolution of the actual love story between the two characters - one who thought himself to be straight and the other who has been badly burned in a previous relationship. When the next sex scene rolls around Adam is so invested in the story, he's almost forgotten that he's stroking himself.

He quickly remembers when David and Steve have a tryst in the bathroom of a mutual friend though, stroking himself harder to match their desperate urgency. His cock head slips easy and slick through his tight fist and he groans with the ever harder down strokes. His balls pull up tight before he's even at the end of the scene and he comes so hard, his thighs clench up as if in a cramp.

He keeps stroking himself through the aftershocks, twitching violently with every down stroke, but not even two orgasms make him lose interest in the story, and he finishes the novel with his cock hanging out of his pants. Brad and David end up living happily ever after and it's with a smile on his face that he hits the shower.

He can't stop thinking about the novel, or the fact that Kris wrote it, as he soaps himself up and it doesn't really surprise him when his cock starts to harden again. Taking the shower head with him, he sits down with his back to the wall and his legs spread wide. It's a bit of a tight fit, but if he pulls his knees up there's just enough room. He soaps his swollen cock, making sure it's covered in lather, before letting the water stream hot and hard over it, sending shivers down his spine.

He moves the shower head and repeats the process with the soap, coaxing beads of precome from the shiny tip. He always produces unusual amounts of precome and his recovery time is amazing, or so he's been told, but three times this close together is a lot even for him. Still, it doesn't keep him from moaning when he directs the water back down between his legs, letting it pelt down on his cock and balls.

He moves the shower head lower and sinks down until the water is teasing his ass, adding just enough pressure against his hole to make him long for penetration. He closes his eyes and grabs his cock, pulling up an image of Kris before his inner eye. In his fantasy Kris is bent over the counter with his legs spread wide, panting with need. Adam imagines running his fingers over Kris's sweaty skin, making him ache like Adam's aching now.

He finds the soap and soaps up two fingers, moving the shower head out of the way before reaching down to tease himself open. It's not often he finds the time to play with himself like this, usually he has Matt in the other room, or somewhere to be, but tonight he's got all the time he needs. He groans when the first finger slides in, stretching him open and then again when he impatiently adds another one.

He drops the shower head as he starts to finger himself in earnest, letting it worm around on the bottom of the cubicle sending water flying everywhere. It's not the most comfortable of positions, curled up like a pretzel on the shower stall floor, but when he finds the sensitive bundle of nerves inside, it's totally worth it.

He keeps rubbing his fingers hard and fast over that spot, while he grabs his cock with the other hand, easily manipulating a third orgasm out of his tired body. He quakes with the force of it, groaning Kris's name over and over again, until he's finally completely spent, collapsing in an uncomfortable tangle with the shower head digging into his thigh. He can't wait to see Kris again, because he'll easily do anything to get into Kris's pants at this point, and if Kris doesn't want him back, at least a little bit, he would have never given Adam his porn. He's sure of it.

____spacer____


Adam spends most of Saturday morning re-reading Kris's novel this time with the intent of actually being a helpful reader. He makes little notes in the margin with suggestions and underlines typos and stuff, trying really hard to ignore the scorching hotness of the porn seeing as he has Matt sleeping in the other bed. Once he's done with the novel, he reaches for his knitting, and spends an hour bent over his needles until he runs out of yarn again. It's time for another visit to Kris's store.

He grabs a bite to eat in the cafeteria, while reading one of the boring required reading books for his lit class. He thinks it's amazing that with so many books to pick from, his professors still manage to pick the dull ones to force upon their students. Maybe it's just a language barrier, there's nothing wrong with the plot, but the archaic language makes it difficult to take to heart.

He puts the book away as soon as he's eaten; deciding that he much prefers Kris's erotica to boring classics; too bad that the latter is required reading and the first only for pleasure. As he walks into town he wonders where Kris got the inspiration for his story. If Adam had to guess he'd say that Kris has never had sex, at least not with someone else, but after reading Kris's novel, he's not so sure.

There's a light burning outside the store when he gets there, which is good because Adam never thought to check whether the store was even open on Saturdays. When he walks in accompanied by a bell chime Kris is helping a gaggle of school girls pick out yarn. Kris gives him a near panicked look when he spots him, but Adam isn't sure whether it's the girls or Adam's presence that bothers him. It's amusing how hard the girls, likely no older than fifteen, are coming on to Kris, taking every opportunity to bend over and show him their pert little asses in too-short skirts.

That is, of course, until one of them spots Adam and half of them drift over to surround him instead, asking about his knitting experience and admiring his eyeliner in a very forward way. Adam does his best to deflect their interest, because even if he went for girls, this bunch is a bit too young for his tastes, but it's difficult and he's sure he spends at least half an hour making polite small talk before Kris finally manages to shoo them out of the shop.

"Every Saturday," Kris says with obvious pain. "Every Saturday they come here, looking for yarn and chatting me up. It's horrible, really."

Adam laughs and unbuttons his coat, overheating in the stuffy interior of the shop. "Well, at least they buy stuff," he says.

"Mmhmmm. I'm expecting a call from their parents any day now; they must be spending their entire allowance on yarn and needles. Opal is the only one of the bunch with some real interest, she's very talented, and I think she's a bit sorry she accidentally got the others into this as well."

"Opal?" Adam asks, because he thinks it's so cute that Kris is befriending high school girls.

"The… uhm… bigger one with dark hair. She usually comes to the Thursday meetings."

Adam vaguely recalls a girl with a dark hair cut in an abrupt bob that was standing a little aside from the other girls, not pestering either of them for attention. She was also the only one with a decent amount of clothes on.

Kris looks a bit troubled. "I don't think she has it very easy in school… She comes here sometimes in the afternoons… You think it's wrong of me to encourage her? I mean… I don't think she has a crush on me, but maybe… I'm not sure."

"Why would it be a problem?" Adam asks.

Kris makes a face. "A couple of years ago this… girl used to come here and it was pretty obvious what she wanted, but I kept turning her down. I don't even go for girls, you know. Anyway, she was a bit troubled, and an attention seeker, so when I didn't want her, she accused me of raping her. She planned it really well too, she came to the store first and made a scene and then she ripped her own shirt to shreds as she ran out. Luckily for me, there was a whole bunch of people in the back room, including her mom. So the accusation fell pretty flat."

"Oh," Adam says. "That must have sucked."

"Yeah." Kris sighs. "But they can't all be like her, right? I mean, she was just starving for attention."

Adam smiles. "No, they can't all be like her," he says.

"So…" Kris looks up at him. "Did you… uhm… read the manuscript?"

"Yeah," Adam says airily, reaching behind himself and pulling the binder out of his bag.

Kris takes it with a bewildered look on his face. "So uh… what did you think?"

"I made notes in the margin."

"Oh…" Kris bites down on his lower lip.

Adam ignores him a picks up a new ball of purple yarn, heading for the comfy chair in the corner. "I'll be over here if you have questions," he says.

It's totally worth it to see the dumbstruck look on Kris's face. He just stands there with the manuscript clutched in his hand as if it's an alien object. Adam takes his coat off and settles into the chair, taking his knitting out of the bag. The scarf really looks like a scarf now and even though it's not perfect he's very proud of what he's accomplished. He doesn't think he'll need the entire ball of yarn for the rest of the scarf; it's already getting quite long, but he wants to add a little more length before he starts thinking about tassels.

Kris finally moves to the table and opens the binder, starting to leaf through the pages looking for Adam's notes. It only takes two notes for him to start blushing and Adam happily divides his time between adding another row and staring at Kris. When Kris is halfway through the manuscript he's squirming in his seat, casing furtive glances in Adam's direction. Adam pretends to ignore him even though he's straining to hear the rasp of Kris's breathing over the clicking of needles.

When he wrote the notes he debated whether to give Kris some kind of warning or not, but he decided against it. Besides, they are legit notes, even if most of them are of the X-rated character, explaining why a certain position is anatomically impossible and gleefully suggesting the use of another.

Kris finally closes the manuscript and looks up at Adam, his face pleasantly flushed and the hand resting on the tabletop trembling minutely. "Thanks for reading," he croaks, his blush deepening.

"Believe me, it was no hardship." Adam considers his statement. "Well, some parts were hard but…"

"Oh God, shut up," Kris groans hiding his head in his hands. "I'm so embarrassed right now I could die. In fact I will die… I will die from embarrassment."

Adam laughs. "Why? I think you're an awesome writer, even if some parts would have benefited from more thorough… research."

"Oh God." Kris sinks down so that he has his face pressed against the tabletop and his hands covering his ears.

Adam thinks it's stupidly cute how embarrassed Kris is, and wonders again if he has any sexual experience at all. From what Kris has told him so far he knows that Kris has been pretty sheltered, being homeschooled by his grandmother and spending most of his life in this very store. Kris hasn't said anything, but Adam got a feeling from the way Kris talks about his grandmother that she was maybe not the most open-minded and forgiving person, even if Kris loved her dearly.

She died about two years ago if he understood Kris correctly that night in the bar, and maybe Kris didn't head straight out to grab life by the balls, but stayed hidden instead, living life through his raunchy writing.

"You think this is long enough?" Adam asks, holding his scarf up.

"If you show me your cock I will kill you," Kris mutters, looking up cautiously.

"Jesus, Kris. Some of us have class," Adam says, sticking his tongue out. "But I'm kinda affronted you don't want to see my privates."

"Not in broad daylight."

"I'll have you know my privates are very attractive and can easily stand up to an inspection with the lights on."

"Jesus Christ can we just not discuss your cock," Kris almost shouts, so naturally that's when the door opens and a matronly woman walks in.

"You have cocks for show now?" she asks brightly with obvious laughter in her voice.

"It's not for show. That's what the discussion was about," Adam says with a beaming smile.

"Damn shame," the woman says, looking Adam up and down.

Kris throws his hands up in the air, muttering something about Canada not being far enough, before disappearing into the back room. The woman laughs and walks closer so Adam gets out of the chair to take the hand she stretches forward.

"Jenna Hart," she says. "I've known Kris since he was itty bitty."

Adam laughs. "I'm Adam Lambert, pleased to meet you ma'am."

"With an accent like that you can't be local."

"San Diego," he says with a grin.

"You in college then?"

"Yeah, majoring in journalism."

"And now you've turned to knitting," she says, nodding towards the scarf Adam's still holding onto. "Kris is a good influence."

Adam grins, because he thinks Kris is a good influence too. Kris comes back from the back carrying a cardboard box that he puts down on the table.

"This is everything but the alpacan wool," he says. "They say it'll be shipped by the end of the week, but we'll see about that."

"Awesome," Jenna says with grin, grabbing the box. "Will you bill me as usual?"

"It's in the box," Kris responds.

She carries the box to the door, pulling it open, but stopping halfway through to look back at them. "I really like your boyfriend, Kris," she says, winking at Adam before disappearing out the door.

Kris sputters and gapes like a fish, turning beet red again. "Did you tell her you're my boyfriend?"

"Of course not," Adam answers, affronted that Kris thought he did.

Kris clenches his teeth for a moment, then he looks down. "Gimme that and I'll cast off for you."

Adam hands the knitting over and watches as Kris neatly removes every stitch but one. He has no clue how Kris is doing it and he's not sure what happened just now to make Kris not show him. Kris tears the thread off and hands the scarf back to Adam.

"It looks good," he says with a humorless smile and it's kind of obvious he wants Adam to be anywhere but right in front of him.

Adam looks down on the scarf, but instead of feeling proud and accomplished he just feels stupid for not getting it. "Did I do something?" he asks. "I swear I didn't say anything to Jenna."

"It's nothing… Just… I… I want to be alone for a while."

"Oh."

Adam carefully folds the scarf and puts it into his bag, grabbing his jacket and shrugging it on. Kris doesn't say anything, he just stands there staring at his feet.

"How much for the yarn?" Adam asks.

"Nothing," Kris says, his words tightly clipped.

"Okay… Thanks…"

Kris doesn't answer and when Adam looks back before exiting, Kris is still staring at the floor.


____spacer____

Adam is in a terrible mood when he gets back to the dorm and not even the gigantic sub Matt brings him from his part-time job at Subway makes him feel better. It's delicious, of course, but even as he eats he feels unsettled (and he's probably getting fat, too). Something happened at the store, he's just not sure what. Maybe he was pushing too hard, or maybe Kris thinks he told Jenna he was Kris's boyfriend after all. He thought they were making progress but now it feels as if Kris is slipping away.

"I think The Plan works better in a club setting," Adam says morosely.

"Trouble with the knitting guy?" Matt asks.

Adam shrugs. "I don't even know what I did wrong."

Matt nods wisely. "Well, I say stick with The Plan. It's foolproof. So you experienced a set back? The Plan says, show you're still interested."

Adam looks up from his diet Coke. "But how? He practically threw me out of the store."

"You have his number, don't you?"

Adam remembers the business card Kris gave him the other day and grabs his bag off the floor, leafing around the bottom of it, until he finds the card, slightly dented and worse for wear. He shows it to Matt with a grin.

"You, my friend," he says. "Are a very intelligent man."

Matt nods. "Would you tell my Calculus professor? I think the bastard's failing me."

"Email, phone, or in person? In person is always classier, maybe I could borrow a pair of glasses to look smart."

"Glasses don't make you look smarter, Adam."

"Yeah? Then how do you explain Sienna Winston passing Economy last year?"

Matt blinks. "Boobs, Adam. They're called boobs, and hers are big enough to have their own zip code."

"Oh."

Adam never really understood straight men's obsession with boobs. It's not like he obsesses over any male body parts, he regards the whole package. Like, one guy might have really nice hands, another really nice eyes and a third a really nice ass. Kris actually has all three of those and amazing pouty lips, and he blushes so adorably.

"I want to know where his blushes end," he says morosely. "Is that too much to ask?"

"Awwww," Matt says. "You're totally falling for this guy."

"No, I'm not… You think so?"

"Totally. You talk about him all the time. I bet you think everything he does is adorable, and you want to know where his blushes end? You're so falling for him."

Adam worries the inside of his cheek with his teeth for a moment. Matt has a point, but Adam's not the type to go around falling for people. He doesn't think he's ever been in love, even if he was quite fond of Drake with whom he had some sort of open relationship for almost a year before starting college. He wasn't heartbroken when Drake took off for New York though and the few times they've met since then, usually over school breaks, have been nice in a sexual way, but not in a life altering oh my God I want to spend the rest of forever with you way.

"Wanting to know where his blushes end is totally sexual," Adam says petulantly.

"It was all in the delivery," Matt informs him. "You didn't sound like you wanted to lick his blush until he goes insane, but more along the lines of pressing feathered kisses to every inch of reddened skin."

"I hate you."

"Uh huh. So you gonna call him or what?"

"I don't know."

Adam gropes around the bed until he finds his phone, just holding it in his hand. Kris said he wanted to be alone, so calling might be pushing too hard, but there's nothing wrong with a text message. If he doesn't want to talk, he can just ignore it.

He pulls the phone to his face and pulls up the message interface, writing and rewriting until he's happy with the results.

Just wanted to check that you're okay. If I said or did anything today that made you feel uneasy, I'm really sorry. It wasn't my intent.

He hits send before he has time to change his mind, or to decide that proper punctuation and capitals are for losers. It takes forever for Kris to answer, long enough that Adam tries out several different things to distract himself. He plays with his makeup for a moment, but his new royal blue eye shadow doesn't look as awesome as he wanted it to, and he kind of thinks that the end result makes him look like he's been punched repeatedly in the face.

Then he researches different kind of tassels until he settles for simple yarn ones, but it looks like he'll need a tapestry needle to attempt those, so it means another trip to Kris's store. Just because, he also researches how to cast off, and it doesn't look too hard; he totally could have done that himself if Kris had just showed him.

He has just gotten into researching gay erotica publishers when his phone beeps to announce that he has a new message and he grabs it eagerly.

Don't apologize. I behaved like an ass. Sorry. (It is Adam, right?)

Adam laughs and realizes he didn't sign his message. He quickly writes an answer, before letting himself be drawn back into the world of gay erotica.

Yes, it's Adam. Lucky for you I like your ass. ;)

He regrets it as soon as he's sent it, he was supposed to act like a nice guy, but he finds an erotic novel that manages to distract him until the next message arrives.

of course you like it. it's prime ass. we should talk.

Adam considers it for a moment before sending his reply.

that sounds ominous.

His phone beeps almost immediately.

From: Kris
To: Adam

it isn't.

From: Adam
To: Kris

so you're not going to tell me that just because you go for guys it doesn't mean you go for me?

From: Kris
To: Adam

no.

From: Adam
To: Kris

does that mean the talk will be about how much you like me?

From: Kris
To: Adam

no.

From: Kris
To: Adam

yes.

From: Kris
To: Adam

shoot me now.

From: Adam
To: Kris

i like it when you talk dirty. that was shoot on me now, right?

From: Kris
To: Adam

i hate you.

From: Adam
To: Kris

no you don't.

From: Kris
To: Adam

i never had sex. there, i said it. you can laugh all you want.

Laughing is the furthest thing from Adam's mind when he reads the message. The instant hot flash kind of kills any urge he might have had in that direction. Sure, he suspected as much, but knowing it's actually so, knowing that no one has ever touched Kris in his naughty places, makes his heart trip with excitement.

From: Kris
To: Adam

i never even kissed anyone.

Adam can't imagine how much writing those two messages must have cost Kris. Kris, who doesn't like talking about himself and who spent most of his life hiding in a fricking knitting store. Kris, who writes gay erotica in his spare time dreaming about all the things he's never done. The mere thought makes Adam's heart clench, while his pants tent considerably.

From: Adam
To: Kris

are you trying to make me come in my pants? hottest thing ever.

From: Kris
To: Adam

want to come over?

From: Adam
To: Kris

hell yeah.

Kris replies while Adam's in the shower, making sure he smells good all over and ignoring his blatant erection. So he doesn't read it until he's already on his way downtown.

From: Kris
To: Adam

food first?

From: Adam
To: Kris

meet me outside in ten minutes.

Kris is standing outside the shop when Adam arrives, dressed in a brown parka, a knit hat, a knit scarf and really cool knit mittens. It's a nice outfit, but it's pretty mild outside, so maybe a little overdressed.

"Before you say anything," Kris says. "I'm cold, okay."

Adam laughs. "Mind-reader."

Kris bites down on his lips and shuffles his feet a couple of times. "So… Uh… Where do you wanna eat?"

"Doesn't matter," Adam answers with a shrug. It's not that long since he ate after all, and he doesn't mind letting Kris pick the restaurant.

"There's an Indian place a couple of streets over… Maybe we could go there."

Adam wisely refrains from saying anything untoward about curry and kissing. Partly because he totally thought they were going to spend half the evening debating where to eat in the classic 'where do you wanna go?' 'No, where do you wanna go?' way, but mostly because Tandoori House does an awesome mixed grill with saffron rice.

"Sounds great," he says. "I've been there a couple of times; they do an awesome mixed grill thing."

"I know," Kris says, his eyes lightening up. "With the yogurt sauce…"

"And the red thing…"

"And the saffron rice."

They share a quick look and a grin as they start walking. Maybe taking it slow and connecting on a personal level is what Kris needs to make him relax when it comes to the sexual thing. Adam doesn't mind taking it slow, he's all about delayed gratification and he's sure Kris is a prize well worth winning.

In his head he's already making up a strategy for how to seduce Kris, ease him into the whole thing until he's so desperate for it that he forgets all about being nervous. Adam's first time wasn't all that great, in fact it goes down in the books as the worst sex he's ever had, even worse than that one time that he was so drunk he threw up during the act, and making sure Kris's first time is the best ever makes him feel as if he can compensate for how horrible his own was.

Adam's kind of impressed when they get to the restaurant and it turns out Kris booked them a table. He didn't think him able of that kind of forwardness and when he raises an eyebrow in Kris's direction as they're guided to the table he blushes beet red. (Matt is right- Adam totally wants to follow that blush down his chest with feather-light kisses.) They don't talk much as they sit down and look at the menus. Adam has already made up his mind (the mixed grill) but he can't resist the lure of naan, and a bottle of Indian beer.

Kris orders the same and once the waiter is gone, the silence starts feeling uncomfortable. It's not that Adam can't think of anything to talk about, but all the subjects that present themselves are either indecent or intrusive. He wants to know more about Kris, a lot more, possibly everything, but how to ask him about his undoubtedly troubled relationship with his grandma, what happened to his parents, or how he copes with having what must be the dullest life ever?

"So…" Kris fiddles with the napkin, for a moment. "Tell me about your family."

"Oh… Well I have a mom and a dad. They're divorced. And I have a younger brother named Neil who still lives in San Diego with my mom. Then I have like… a million cousins and aunts and uncles and stuff."

"Big family," Kris says tonelessly, slowly tearing his napkin to shreds. "That's cool."

Adam shrugs. "They're family, you know?" He winces as soon as he's said it because all evidence suggests that Kris doesn't know. Kris looks up for a moment and smiles.

"It's not really a sore subject," he says. "I've had most of my life to get used to it. My parents… died when I was a kid. Got into an accident that killed them both instantly. I was an only child and they were only children, so the closest relative I had was my grandma."

"What was it like, growing up with her?"

"Strict, loving, comfortable." Kris shrugs. "She was very religious but she respected that I didn't share all her beliefs once I got older. I kind of regret that I never had the courage to tell her I'm gay, but at the same time, I wouldn't want to put that on her shoulders. She was old, she was old already when I became her responsibility and she did the best she could. I think she made sure to stick around for long enough to be sure I could stand on my own two feet and then she just gave up. One day she had a cold and the next day she was… gone."

"That sucks," Adam says and he really means it.

"Yeah." Kris makes a neat pile of his shredded napkin, pushing it to the side. "I really miss her. She might have been difficult sometimes, but I could always rely on her. She said a couple of times, in the last years, that she regretted homeschooling me, but that she did it to make sure she could control me." Kris smiles suddenly. "It's not like she locked me in the basement or anything."

After that it's like the floodgates have been opened and Kris just talks and talks and talks and Adam wonders how long he's been keeping all this inside, without having anyone to really talk to. He has friends, of sorts, but no one his own age, no one he can open up to.

All through their meal Adam only gets a few words in edgeways, usually questions to start the flow of words again, because he likes listening to Kris talk. He likes the way Kris seems to sit up taller with every sentence, as if these things, his grandmother's death, growing up without parents or peers, living his entire life in the same building, have been weighing on his shoulders and all he really needed was to open up.

Because the one thing that Adam gets from between the lines of Kris's words is that he isn't unhappy. Sure, he's lonely and his life gets dull from time to time, but he isn't miserable. He has his Thursday meetings, various friends and acquaintances pass through his store every day, and once he turns the lights off in the store, he has hobbies and a pretty wide social network over the internet. Adam almost laughs when he learns that Kris has a knitting blog with attached store, but he bites his tongue, because apparently he does really good business.

Adam's kind of surprised at how good a time he's having, because usually he's the one to talk endlessly. Just listening is fun for once, but then maybe it helps that he finds everything about Kris fascinating. They have coffee for dessert and once it's time to pay, Kris insists that it's on him. Adam puts up a slight fight, but in the end he lets Kris have his way.

Kris doesn't shut up until they're outside, at which point his word flow cuts off so abruptly, Adam thinks he walked into the door. He looks behind him to see if Kris is still there, and he is, but he's got his mouth clamped shut and a pained expression on his face.

"Something wrong?" Adam asks, waiting for Kris to walk down the steps and join him on the sidewalk.

"Did I really just talk the entire time we were in there?"

"Yup."

"Oh God."

Kris starts walking, so fast that Adam has to lengthen his step to keep up despite his longer legs.

"What's wrong?" he asks, putting a hand on Kris's shoulder to slow him down.

"I never talk that much. I just went on and on and on and you let me."

"I was interested."

Kris gives him a skeptical look.

"You don't talk a lot about yourself, and I like the sound of your voice, so yeah, I was interested."

Kris flushes, which was to be expected, and slows down slightly.

"Can I ask you something?" Adam asks.

"Yeah," Kris mutters for an answer.

"Haven't you ever… gone out, intent on finding someone if only for a night?"

"Of course I have," Kris says. "I'm not socially retarded. I've been out, been to gay clubs even, and yeah, the guys were all over me, it just felt wrong. Sordid somehow. I mean… I waited this long, I didn't want to just do it with the first guy to want me."

Adam nods. He feels honored that Kris seems to have chosen him, that he made the cut when others didn't. Kris doesn't say anything more, and Adam lets him be silent. He supposes Kris needs some quiet time to freak out, and he still has his game plan to consider. Eventually they end up outside the store and Kris stops, giving him an unsure look.

"Do you want to… come in?"

"Yeah," Adam answers with what he hopes is a reassuring smile.

Kris fiddles with the keys, appearing to have problems getting the door open, but Adam's pretty sure it's just nerves making him want to put it off. Eventually the door does open though, and Adam enters behind Kris, waiting while the door slides shut behind them. Kris doesn't seem to know what to do with himself, looking everywhere but Adam.

"Come here," Adam says, letting his voice drop low and Kris obeys even if he seems to be trembling from head to foot.

He takes his time to look at Kris, raising his hands to cup his face. Kris shivers at the touch, and his mouth drops open, but he doesn't say anything, staring up at Adam like a deer caught in the headlights. Adam steps minutely closer, until their chests are touching, cushioned by the thickness of their coats.

"You can say no at any time," he says seriously. "If anything I do makes you uncomfortable just say so."

"Elephant," Kris blurts out, flushing deep red. "I… always imagined that to be my… uh… safe word."

"Elephant," Adam repeats slowly. "I will remember."

Kris blinks, his eyelashes fluttering nervously, and he's so beautiful it kind of takes Adam's breath away. The only light comes from the window display, muffled by the drapes shielding the store from direct view, and it gives Kris's skin a silvery, unearthly tone.

Adam bends down slowly, giving Kris time to get used to the idea, and presses their lips together briefly. It's not much, just a brief touch of lips against lips, but a full bodied shudder goes through Kris, a slight gasp puffing against Adam's mouth. Adam hardly remembers his own first kiss, but he's pretty sure he thought it was equal parts slimy and exciting.

He does the same thing over and over again, pressing their lips together in a short kiss and pulling back until Kris goes with him, straining for more contact. Only then does he deepen the kiss, licking his way into the warmth of Kris's mouth. Kris is unsure at first, his tongue skittering away every time it touches Adam's, but after a few tries he gets braver, meeting Adam's tongue half way.

Adam pulls away to look at Kris, delighting in the flush across his cheekbones and the panted breaths coming from his slick open mouth.

"Don't stop," Kris whispers, his voice thick. "Please."

His eyes open and lock with Adam's, shimmery and dark in the dim light. Adam can't resist a plea like that so he bends down again, sealing their mouths together. Kris shivers against him, winding his hands around Adam's neck and Adam finally lets his hands explore, sliding down over Kris's neck to his shoulders, made wider by the coat he's still wearing.

He has no idea for how long they stay like that, sharing warm slick kisses in the dark, hands sliding over thick wool and fabric, straining for more contact. Kris is trembling all over, panting against Adam's skin whenever they pull apart, turning into every touch and feathered kiss. He moans softly when Adam finally finds the zipper to his jacket, pulling it down inch by inch until it's finally hanging open.

"Please," he whispers brokenly, but Adam's not sure what he's asking for. So he lets his hands slide in under the coat, spanning over Kris's chest before sliding around to his back, embracing him properly.

Kris presses up close with a full-bodied shudder, arching his neck. Adam takes it for an invitation and kisses his way down the ivory column, tasting the salt of Kris's skin.

"Oh God," Kris groans. "Adam… I'm…"

He clenches his fingers in Adam's coat, groaning deep in his throat. Adam shivers with excitement, dick so hard he's afraid it's going to burst out of his jeans. He finds Kris's lips again, pulling him into a deep kiss at the same time as he lets his hands slide down to cup Kris's ass.

"Fuck," Kris swears, holding on tight to Adam's coat. "I'm gonna… God."

Adam grins against Kris's lips, dipping his head to kiss his way to Kris's ear, teasing the sensitive skin there with his tongue. Kris's hips jerk against his and Adam wishes he could feel how hard Kris is, map the silky skin of his cock with his fingers, but that will have to wait. He's determined to make Kris come like this, make his first kiss something truly memorable.

He squeezes Kris's ass, pulling him in closer and just like that Kris is a goner.

"Adam," he groans, throwing his head back as his hips jerk helplessly. "Oh fuck yeah…"

Adam keeps clenching Kris's ass, pressing kisses all over his face as Kris shudders through his climax. Slowly easing up as Kris starts relaxing, turning loose and limbless against him. Adam's pulse is thundering in his ears, a heady whoosh of excitement going through him. If Kris as much as touched him right now he'd come. So it's a good thing Kris is out of it, head resting against Adam's shoulder, rapid breaths dampening Adam's coat, because Adam likes to wait for it, denying himself release, because it makes the release, when he finally lets go, just that much sweeter.

It takes a few minutes of rapid breathing before Kris starts to stir against him, raising his head to look up at Adam with shiny eyes and swollen lips.

"That was…" he says, voice still raspy. "Like something out of a book."

Adam laughs. "One of yours?"

Kris shakes his head slowly. "I don't have that much of an imagination."

Adam moves his hands to touch Kris's face, giving him a short kiss. "I better get going," he says.

"Oh… But you haven't… and I thought…"

"I like waiting for it," he whispers into Kris's ear. "Besides," he adds, straightening up. "There's always tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" Kris looks confused. "What are we doing tomorrow?"

"Tassels."

Kris blinks. "Tassels."

"Yup. I think I want pretty plain yarn ones, but I can't make up my mind if I want them to be purple, deep wine, or maybe black."

Kris nods, even though he still looks confused.

"So I'll come by around ten-ish, I think."

"Okay…"

Adam bends down and gives Kris another kiss. "Don't forget to lock the door."

The air outside hits Adam's flaming cheeks like ice, cooling him down considerably. It's a good thing too, since his insistent erection was threatening to make his walk home a truly uncomfortable affair. Step one worked out just as he planned, and tomorrow it's time for step two. He grins to himself as he turns the corner and hurries back towards the dorm. February's looking to be an exceptional month.

____spacer____

On Sunday morning Adam wakes up way too early with a huge stupid grin on his face. As far as he can remember it's the first time he's ever woken up with a smile actually on his face and that thought makes him smile even harder. He slips out of bed, doing his best to be quiet as not to wake Matt who's still sleeping with his head buried in the pillows. Not that it's usually a problem, Matt could sleep through a hurricane.

He pulls on a pair of black sweats and a worn t-shirt, and stuffs his phone into his pocket. He studies himself in the mirror on the door, making sure his hair is okay and that the remembrance of make up around his eyes is smeared in a hot way rather than a sad panda way, before heading downstairs to the cafeteria.

There aren't a lot of people around, there never are on Sunday mornings, and he fills his tray with his usual breakfast food and picks a nice table by the window. Sometimes he's joined by a few of his theatre friends, but none of them seems to be showing up today and as social as he usually is, he's quite happy with the space.

He fishes his phone out of his pocket and puts it on the table, debating with himself whether or not it's too early to send Kris a message. Eventually he sends off a quick 'are you awake?' before digging into his food; since there's no immediate answer he takes that to mean no and heads down to the dorm gym once he's cleared his plate.

The gym barely lives up to the name. It's just a tiny room that smells like old socks and has a couple of bikes, a bench, weights and a rowing machine, but since the weather is a bit cold for his usual morning run, Adam's been making do with what there is. The equipment works and that's really all that matters. Adam has this thing about getting fat again, like he was in high school, and even though he hates exercise he puts in the effort.

An hour later he heads back up to the room for a shower, dripping with sweat and slightly winded, without his phone having beeped even once. Matt's still asleep as he walks in so he takes clean clothes with him into the bathroom and hits the shower. He and Matt are really lucky, they have one of the only two rooms on this floor that actually has a shower in the room. It's tiny, squished in behind the toilet and with barely enough room to soap up, but at least he doesn't have to go down the hall.

When he comes out of the bathroom, blow-dried and clothed in skinny jeans and a black t-shirt, Matt's sitting up in bed, his hair sticking out on one side and flat on the other, making him look like there's a stiff breeze from the side.

"Your phone beeped," he says, scrubbing a hand over his eyes.

"Oh," Adam says, trying to sound casual but ruining it with the way he dives over the bed to get to it.

Matt laughs. "I take it you had a good date last night."

"Uh huh," Adam answers, grinning at Kris's response to his message, a simple, 'I am now'.

He writes 'I'm on my way over', and presses send even though it's not entirely true just yet.

"So I guess you're not gonna hang today?" Matt says as he gets out of bed and heads for the bathroom.

"Yeah, I am," Adam protests. "Just not with you."

Matt laughs and shakes his head. "Whatever dude. It's not like I was gonna wait up, or anything."

"What can I say?" Adam makes a gesture. "You don't put out, man."

"Oooh." Matt pauses with his hand on the bathroom door. "He put out?"

"Well… Kinda." Adam grins as he gets off the bed and pulls his coat on. "Way more than you do."

"It's hard to beat my kind of putting out, so you better gimme details."

Adam rolls his eyes. "There was kissing and grinding and coming in pants… are you sure you really want the details? I thought gay sex grossed you out."

Matt makes a face. "Yeah, it still totally does. I was being supportive towards your lifestyle."

"Did you talk to my mom again?"

"Yeah."

Matt disappears into the bathroom, pulling the door closed and Adam's laughter rings out in the empty room. He loves his mom, he really does, but she started going to PFLAG meetings before Adam even came out to her. Sometimes he thinks she knows more about being gay than he does, but he knows he's very lucky having his family's full support.

Adam picks up his bag from the floor and checks to see that the scarf is still inside before throwing it over his shoulder, pulling a cap down over his unruly hair and walking out the door. His phone beeps as he walks out of the dorm; it's Kris's answer to his message.

From: Kris
To: Adam

'the door is open.

Adam grins and stuffs the phone back into his pocket. It's good to know Kris is expecting him.
There's no lantern on the stairs this time and the sign on the door says closed, but as Kris's message promised it opens easily when Adam pushes it. Kris is standing at the table towards the back, looking down at whatever it is he has there and he doesn't turn when the doorbell chimes.

"Hey," Adam says.

Kris still doesn't look at him, but he shifts his feet. "I laid out a few yarns here, they would all work with the purple but I really do think black would work best if you're going for a different color."

Adam smiles to himself and moves closer to look over Kris's shoulder. Kris slithers out of the way and gestures towards the table. "As you can see there's a wide range of colors to choose from that all go with your yarn. See this magenta here it's… very… magenta."

Adam laughs. "So I can see. Very magenta indeed. And how are you today?"

Kris doesn't answer and when Adam looks at him, he can see the blush staining Kris's cheek even though he has his face turned away.

"I don't know how to do this, okay?" Kris says, scrubbing a hand over his face. "Yesterday you made me come in my pants and now you're being all Adam and… beautiful and I can't even look at you I'm so mortified."

He takes refuge in the comfy chair in the corner, putting his head in his hands. "I'm not cut out for this shit," he says, his voice muffled against his palms.

Adam laughs and puts his bag down on the floor while he unbuttons his coat. "You don't have to be ashamed," he says.

"In my pants," Kris says as if Adam somehow managed to miss that part. "I'm pathetic."

Adam laughs again, shaking his head. "Kris, come on. Look at me."

Kris looks at Adam through his fingers.

"I had a really good time last night. The dinner, the kissing, all of it."

"But you didn't…"

"Come?" Adam asks and Kris promptly hides his face in his hands again. "I told you I like waiting for it."

"But what do we do now? Just hang out, pretend it never happened? Do we kiss again? I don't know how to do this," Kris says from behind his hands.

Adam laughs. "Come here," he says, letting his voice drop into a murmur.

Kris is out of the chair before Adam even stopped speaking, then he stops dead in his tracks and looks up at Adam as if he just realized he's moving. "I hate it when you do that voice thing," he says.

"No, you don't," Adam responds, beckoning Kris closer with a finger. "It gets you hot all over."

"I hate you," Kris says, but there's only lust in his eyes as he looks up at Adam.

"I can work with that," Adam murmurs, the hint of a grin at the corners of his mouth.

He bends down and gives Kris a quick kiss before straightening up again. Kris blinks, leaning into him and tilting his head up. Adam gives him another kiss, staying close enough to feel Kris's breath against his face. Another quick kiss and Kris's arms come up around his neck, pulling him down and locking their lips together.

"You're such a tease," Kris says when they break apart, his eyes narrowed.

"Mhmm," Adam agrees, because it's all part of his plan.

It's really nice to have Kris pressed up close without the thickness of their winter coats between them. The angles of their bodies align nicely and Adam's skin tingles wherever it's in contact with Kris's hard body.

"Do you work out?" he asks, because Kris doesn't really seem to have the body you'd expect from a guy who spends his free time knitting.

Kris blushes, no surprise there, but he nods too. "There's a gym down the street," he mutters. "I go there sometimes, but there's this… guy… I don't do it very often anymore."

"Awww, is he bothering you?"

Kris shrugs awkwardly. "He's creepy and he comes in here sometimes just to talk… I don't really like him."

"Give me a call if he ever shows up again and I'll come and save you," Adam says with a grin, thinking himself quite the knight in shining armor.

Kris snorts. "To think I managed on my own for ages before I met you."

"I didn't mean it like that," Adam protests. "I just wanted to be the hero."

Kris laughs, saying something Adam can't quite hear, but he's pretty sure it's you're already my hero and it's funny how that makes his heart constrict.

"So… tassels?" Kris asks, taking a minute step away.

Adam grins. "Yup," he says.

"Okay." Kris starts walking towards the table but stops and looks at Adam over his shoulder. "Is this… real?"

Adam doesn't hesitate. "Yes."

Kris nods, looking slightly confused, but he moves over to take a seat at the table. The thing is that Adam's not really sure what Kris meant and he really has no clue what his answer meant. It's real as in it's really happening, but he doesn't know if it's real in the relationship way. Adam doesn't really do commitment, he's never had reason to. Common courtesy dictates that he's not going to go out tomorrow night and get laid with someone that isn't Kris, but he's not sure that means there won't be someone else looming on the horizon a few weeks from now.

Besides, committing to someone who has his whole life here was never part of Adam's plan. Adam's plan has always been more along the lines of make it through college and then move to LA first thing. The only reason he didn't choose a college in LA is that he thought for sure all that glitz and glam would prove too distracting and he'd drop out as soon as he started.

Adam really wants Kris's first time to be great. He wants to teach Kris everything he knows about sex and make sure that he knows what to ask for in the future. Of course he's not only doing it for Kris, he's obviously doing it for himself too. He thinks sex should be fun and this thing he has with Kris now is certainly fun and awesome in every way, but he's not really sure it's fair. What if Kris falls for him? He's the first guy to really be giving Kris this kind of attention, so it's not that hard to imagine he'll get attached. Adam doesn't want to be mean; he doesn't want to have to break up with Kris if it comes to that, but he's not comfortable with leading him on either.

Matt would tell him he thinks too much, but then Matt's already halfway convinced Adam's falling for Kris and he's not ruling that option out just yet. What if he falls for Kris and Kris decides to move on? Adam's never had his heart broken and he's not that keen to try it. He wants true love and he wants romance, but he's also pretty sure that this is not the time for it.

"Do you have your scarf?"

Kris's voice brings Adam back to the here and now and he nods, pulling it out of his bag. There's no use in thinking about what might come a few weeks from now, because he knows he's not backing down unless Kris asks him to. Kris takes the scarf and unrolls it, smiling at Adam as he does so.

"This is really quite good," he says. "It seems you have a hidden talent for knitting. The first scarf I made looked horrible. "

"And you were how old?"

"Five."

Adam laughs, but he appreciates the praise nonetheless, because he knows Kris wouldn't have said it if he didn't mean it. Kris starts sorting the yarn he picked out into two piles, the please don't and the maybe pile, but Adam decides to go with Kris's first suggestion, black. It turns out to be really easy to make tassels, and Kris only has to show him once.

They work in amiable silence, Adam making tassels and Kris knitting on something big and grey that looks really impressive. Every now and then he realizes he's stopped with the tassels, just to watch Kris's hands move. He's a fast knitter and a sure one, every line he produces looks exactly like the one before. It's totally stupid to find Kris knitting hot, but it totally is. He's just so fast and comfortable and skilled, and Adam's always had a thing for people who know how to do stuff and do it well.

For instance he thinks Hank, his mechanic back home, is oddly hot even though he's an overweight, scruffy looking man in his fifties, just because he has this innate talent for engines. Hank only has to listen to the engine to know what's wrong and when he lifts the hood, his hands just know exactly where to go. In the same vein Adam has a fanboy crush on most of his teachers, they know their subjects and they love their subjects and Adam thinks that's HOT.

"Stop staring at me," Kris says, when Adam's done with the tassels and focuses his attention solely on Kris.

"What are you making?" Adam asks, ignoring the order, because it's not like he hasn't noticed Kris spending way too much time looking at him.

"A sweater," Kris says, his face coloring slightly.

"Cool. I like the color."

"Yeah?" Kris looks up and Adam grins.

"It's for me, isn't it?"

"No," Kris says, but he sounds like a petulant child.

"Awww, that's so adorable, you're totally knitting me a sweater."

All his doubts come rushing back into his mind, but Adam pushes them away, focusing on the adorable way Kris blushes.

"It might be for you... I haven't made up my mind yet," Kris says.

Adam laughs. "Oh, it's so for me and you know it."

Kris mutters something and looks down at his hands.

"What was that?"

"Nothing."

Adam laughs and looks at the knitting again. He really does like the darkish grey color and the yarn looks incredibly soft. He wonders if he'll ever be good enough to knit a sweater; it looks really hard, but then Kris is a good teacher and Adam is sure Kris would teach him if he asked.

"You hungry?" Kris asks after a few minutes of Adam staring at him. "I was thinking of making pasta for lunch."

Adam's stomach rumbles on cue and Adam laughs. "I'm always hungry," he says. It's true, of course, since he's always on a diet, but he likes saying it and making it sound as if he's the type of person that can eat whatever.

"Please, tell me you're not still growing," Kris responds with a grin.

"Hey," Adam says, pouting. "I'm not that big."

"Big enough," Kris mutters looking at Adam through his lashes. Adam decides to not be insulted, Kris is obviously not talking about his waistline.

"Just you wait 'til you see the rest of me," Adam says innocently, making Kris blush a deep crimson.

"Are we talking about your cock again? I'm gonna lock the door if we are."

"Maybe," Adam responds, trying to sound even more innocent.

"I hate you," Kris says and puts his knitting down. "There's something seriously wrong with you."

Adam laughs as Kris gets up and heads over to lock the door to the store. "No you don't," he says as Kris comes back towards him. "You're knitting me a sweater."

"Yeah? Worst idea I ever had."

Adam pouts before sticking his tongue out. Kris heads towards the backroom, pausing and looking over his shoulder when he realizes Adam isn't following.

"Are you coming? I don't actually live down here, you know."

"Oh... Yeah, of course not."

So maybe Adam kind of thought that Kris did live in his store, just a little bit, with the table and the comfy chair and everything. It wasn't all that hard to imagine he had a cot tucked away somewhere and a microwave for all his frozen dinner needs.
Kris leads him through the backroom and up a set of stairs to an apartment door. The door isn't locked and Kris pushes it open, leading Adam into what turns out to be the kitchen. It's not very large, but nicely colored in different shades of blue, with a small table standing by the window with chairs on either side of it. There are flowers in the window, lots of them, and to Adam's surprise the curtains aren't knitted.

"So this is the kitchen," Kris says, making a gesture. "It's kind of small."

Adam looks around; it is small, but homey.

"It's cool," he says and Kris smiles.

Kris leads him out of the kitchen and into the living room. It's kind of messy with mismatched furniture and lots of colors, but Adam falls in love immediately. The couch is a huge, kind of hideous brown thing, but it looks stupidly comfortable and the coffee table is stacked high with papers and magazines. There's a medium-sized flat screen TV mounted on the wall and a stereo is set up below it, but those are the only modern things as far as he can see. Everything is old and worn out, colorful and homey. It's a room to live in, and Adam never wants to leave.

"I love it," Adam says, looking around. "I want to move in here and never leave. Reminds me a bit of my dad's house."

"Yeah?" Kris asks.

"Totally."

Adam heads straight for the couch, burrowing himself into its plush depths, not caring in the slightest if Kris had plans to extend the tour. He pulls the edge of a blanket over his legs and picks up one of the magazines; it's about knitting surprisingly enough.

"You go cook," he says with a hand gesture. "I'll be right here."

Kris smiles a little. "Okay. You're not allergic to anything?"

"Not a thing." Adam opens the magazine to a random page and looks at the pictures.

Kris disappears into the kitchen and Adam flips through the pages of the magazine. The pictures are bright and glossy and the patterns could be in Greek for all Adam understands, but it's strangely fascinating to read. Knitting a scarf wasn't all that hard, maybe he could learn how to knit something else.

The magazine doesn't hold his attention for long though and he pushes himself up from the couch to explore. Kris's CD collection keeps him entertained for a while - noting music they have in common, music that can be used as future blackmail material, and music he ought to check out – but eventually he drifts into the kitchen to see what Kris is up to.

Kris looks up when he enters, giving him a tiny little smile, and Adam smiles back feeling a giddy sort of nervous. Something about being with Kris makes everything feel brand new, as if Adam is entering uncharted relationship territory. In a way he is, because he's never been in the section marked on the relationship map as having fun with adorable virgins or the one named domestic but as he takes a seat at the table to watch Kris cook, he thinks he appreciates the view even if he's not quite ready to settle down here yet.

Kris sings while he cooks, mostly humming with snatches of the lyrics thrown in here and there, and from what Adam can tell he's pretty good. He finds himself humming along, raising and dipping to create a backdrop to Kris's monotone and after a moment Kris turns around to look at him.

"You sing?" he asks, eyebrows raised in question.

"Yeah," Adam admits.

"Huh." Kris looks thoughtful. "Sing me something."

Adam purses his lips for a moment, thinking, then he starts singing Ring of Fire, because there was a Johnny Cash album in Kris's collection and the song's been nagging at him since he looked at it. By the time he gets to the refrain Kris is staring at him with his mouth hanging open and Adam adds some vocal acrobatics that maybe aren't that pretty but that showcase his voice very nicely, and he loves putting on a show.

"Are you for real?" Kris asks when Adam cuts himself off.

"I'd like to think so, yes," Adam responds with a grin.

"I mean… with a voice like that what the fuck are you doing studying journalism in Bumfuck, Pennsylvania?"

Adam flushes happily. He knows he can sing, but impressing people he likes never grows old. "I think the sauce is burning," he remarks and then he explains his five year plan to Kris. It's a long plan, so Kris has time to finish cooking and set the table before Adam stops talking.

"You're probably the oddest person I ever met," Kris says when he sits down opposite Adam.

Adam thinks that's pretty rich coming from the closeted virgin that knits and writes gay porn in his spare time, but he supposes it's true that not everyone outlines their life five years in advance.

"It feels good to have a plan," he says with a shrug. "I mean... It's not fool proof, I know anything could happen, but I have my eyes on the goal, you know?"

"Yeah," Kris says with a small smile. "That's nice."

He doesn't mention that he was high out of his mind when he formulated the plan, Kris doesn't need to know that.

"So what's your five year plan?" he asks, while he loads his plate.

Kris shrugs, busying himself with the salad. "See where the road takes me?"

When Adam looks up Kris is looking uncomfortable and he decides to drop the subject, turning the conversation onto music instead. It turns out to be a topic that suits them both and he's delighted and a little awed to learn that Kris plays the guitar, the piano and the viola. For someone so tiny and unassuming, he's surely full of surprises.

"You have to play me something," he says, when he's finally done eating, leaning back in his chair.

"Sure," Kris says vaguely, licking the last drops of sauce from his knife.

Adam zeroes in on Kris's pink tongue caressing the length of the blade and just like that he forgets all about music because damn. Kris looks at him curiously, the tip of his tongue still pressed against the very edge of the blade and Adam swallows hard wondering if it would be terribly rude to climb over the table to get to Kris's mouth. Kris pulls his tongue back and swallows, looking uncertain again.

"Do I have something on my face?" he asks, brushing the back of his hands over his lips.

He really has no idea how hot he is. It's a refreshing change from the club boys Adam usually hooks up with.

"Yeah," Adam says, pushing himself up to round the table and crouch beside Kris's chair. "Here let me…"

Kris willingly turns his face into Adam's hands, eyes fluttering shut when Adam rubs his thumb over Kris's slick lower lip.

"Okay… yeah," Adam says, standing up and pulling Kris with him. "Lunch is over."

"Wha…" Kris starts eyes opening wide in surprise but Adam shuts him up with a kiss.

It's not the same type of kiss they've been sharing so far. This is Adam getting his top on, devouring Kris's mouth until his lips feel numb and breathing becomes a serious issue. Kris sways on his feet when Adam lets him go, blinking up at Adam, wide-eyed and breathless. It's too much of a temptation to resist and Adam dives back for more, sucking on Kris's plump lower lip and licking over his teeth until Kris's fingers digs bruises into his shoulders.

When he pulls back again Kris is panting harshly, mouth wide open and red from Adam's kisses. He looks thoroughly debauched and Adam can't remember ever wanting anyone like he wants Kris.

"God," Kris breathes, fingers still tight on Adam's shoulders.

Adam pulls him in for another kiss, sliding his hands in under Kris's shirt, finally touching skin. It makes Kris moan into his mouth, his entire body trembling, and Adam needs to get him naked right this very second. Kris looks dazed when Adam pushes his cardigan down over his arms and pulls his t-shirt up over his head, swaying on his feet when Adam lets him go for a moment. Adam doesn't leave him waiting for long, unbuttoning Kris's jeans and pushing them down over his slim hips, taking his boxers with them. Kris obediently steps out of them when Adam kneels down to help him, letting Adam pull his socks off as well until Kris is standing fully naked before him, cock curving hard and flushed towards his stomach.

"Fuck yeah," Adam groans, turning around to sit on the chair Kris abandoned and pulling Kris down on his lap.

"Your clothes," Kris says vaguely, pulling on Adam's t-shirt with fumbly fingers.

Adam obeys and pulls his t-shirt off, throwing it to the side, before pulling Kris into another luxurious kiss, a little slower and less demanding now that he has Kris exactly where he wants him. He links his fingers behind Kris's back to keep him steady as he starts kissing a trail down his chest not pausing until his lips find one of Kris's nipples.

Kris lets out a shuddered groan when Adam licks over it and of course he can't resist that kind of temptation, teasing the tiny little nub into a hard peak and sucking on it until Kris's voice goes hoarse and wild, hips rocking back and forth against nothing. Adam's so hard he thinks he might die, but opening his jeans would mean letting go of Kris for a moment and that just isn't going to happen. Instead he kisses his way to Kris's other nipple, licking and sucking it until Kris's moans turn into unintelligible babble, fingers tightening and releasing on Adam's shoulders.

Kris's responsiveness is addictive, as is the thought that he's the first one - the only one - that has even seen Kris come undone like this. His arms are straining to support Kris's weight and his neck is aching with his awkward position, but he just can't stop, not when every swipe of his tongue makes Kris shudder and groan, every sound hotwired to Adam's aching dick.

"Oh… fuck fuck Adam…" Kris babbles, voice broken and raw. "Jesus, I'm gonna… Adam. Adam. Adam."

Adam sucks Kris's nipple into his mouth, grazing it with his teeth, and just like that Kris is coming, body quaking in Adam's arms. Adam shifts back in the chair, pulling Kris with him so that he's able to get a hand in between them, jerking Kris through his orgasm without risking them falling off the chair. Kris moans weakly against his ear, head lolling against Adam's shoulder while Adam makes sure to milk him dry, not stopping until Kris's moans turns pained and his body trembles limply against Adam's.

He doesn't let go completely though, fingers toying idly with Kris's slick softening cock while he tries to catch his own breath. He's so wired he's pretty sure the slightest stimulation will make him go off like a fire cracker, cock throbbing with his erratic pulse.

"I can hear your heart beat," Kris murmurs, pressing his lips against Adam's neck. Adam smiles and turns his head to capture Kris's lips in a slow languid kiss that really does nothing to slow down his pumping heart.

Kris's fingers slide down from Adam's shoulder to his waist, pulling at the waistband of Adam's jeans. "I want to see you," he murmurs and Adam doesn't even have to look at him to know he's blushing.

"Mhmm," Adam agrees. "In the bedroom."

Kris stiffens slightly. "You gonna… uhm… fuck me?" he asks.

Adam laughs softly, pressing his lips against Kris's forehead. "As much as I want to, I don't have any condoms and I don't think you're ready yet."

"Why not?" Kris asks, straightening up with a move that makes him wobble precariously on Adam's lap until Adam steadies him with his hands on Kris's waist.

Adam smirks. "You'll see… in a minute."

Kris eyes narrow. "You're talking about your cock again, aren't you?"

Adam tries to look innocent. "Well, at least it's appropriate this time. Don't you think?"

Kris's eyes flicker down between them and he bites down on his lower lip. Adam laughs again and gives him a kiss.

"Come on," he murmurs. "Show me your bedroom and I'll show you my…" Kris cuts him off with another kiss. Adam can't say he minds.


____spacer____


Kris's bedroom is tiny, but he has a nice-sized bed and the small window set high in the wall makes it look cozy and intimate.

"My grandma's old room is bigger, but… uhm… I got used to sleeping in here," Kris says, with half a shrug, obviously embarrassed.

"I live in a dorm room," Adam says. "This is huge in comparison."

Kris shots him a quick look and smiles as he pulls the comforter off the bed. Adam's impressed he bothered to make the bed when there's a door that closes. He doesn't bother making his bed half the time and it's visible from all angles of his room. It drives Matt insane, for some reason he's very anal about making the bed up right.

"So…" Kris says, dragging the word out and looking at Adam through his lashes. "I showed you mine."

Adam laughs, leaning back against the door and sliding his hands down to his zipper. He's still hard, but not quite as urgently so as a few minutes ago. The way Kris keeps glancing at him, cock already at half mast again, doesn't exactly make him wilt though.

He makes a show out of it, popping the button one handed and dragging the zipper down slowly. When he's sure he has Kris's full attention, eyes riveted to Adam's movement, he yanks his pants down all at once, laughing at Kris's gasp.

"Oh," Kris says, eyes flickering up to Adam's face and then down again, staring. "Wow."

Adam smiles and kicks his pants fully off.

"That's…" Kris swallows. "Kinda big."

Adam shrugs, being well-endowed is a blessing and a curse all at once. It impresses and intimidates people in about equal measures and he learned to be patient a long time ago. He crosses the floor to give Kris a kiss.

"Just you wait," he murmurs against Kris's ear. "I'll have you begging for it."

Kris slides one of his hands down to wrap it around the base of Adam's cock, looking up at him through his lashes. "What if I already am?"

Adam thinks that pushing Kris down on the bed and climbing on top of him to kiss his breath away is a just response to that and once Kris has stopped flailing he seems to think so too, sliding his hand down to explore Adam's cock again, sending sparks of pleasure skittering up Adam's spine.

Kris is fully hard again, his cock a searing line against Adam's stomach and he starts kissing a path down over Kris's chest. Kris makes a sad little sound when Adam's cock slips from his fingers and Adam laughs into his skin.

"You can play with it later," he promises.

Kris makes a disgruntled sound that turns into a moan when Adam finds the swollen nub of a nipple, pressing the flat of his tongue against it.

"Oh fuck," Kris curses, fingers coming up to bury in Adam's hair. "Not again."

Kris responsiveness to every touch is pretty much the biggest turn on Adam's ever encountered and he's tempted to wring another orgasm out of him from just playing with his nipples, but then Kris shifts, dragging his cock against Adam's skin and Adam remembers where he was going. He kisses, licks and nips his way down until he's crouching between Kris's legs, hands tight on the inside of Kris's thighs.

He pushes against Kris's thighs until Kris scoots up the bed, putting his head on the pillows. Adam grins up at him, holding Kris's eyes, as he bends forward licking a stripe up Kris's cock with the flat of his tongue.

"Holy fuck." Kris arches off the bed with a moan and Adam clamps his hands tight around Kris's hips, keeping him pinned to the bed.

"Watch baby," he murmurs, and then he sucks Kris down to the root.

Kris actually screams, flailing around with his hands until he fists them into the sheets, hips squirming against Adam's hands. Adam moves back up slowly and pulls off with a pop, licking idly at the head while he watches Kris through his lashes.

"Oh my God," Kris pants. "Jesus fuck."

"Again?" Adam asks, with a smirk.

"Oh fuck yeah," Kris responds, body already tensing in preparation.

Adam takes it slower this time, savoring the way the head of Kris's cock bumps against his palate, taste exploding everywhere. Kris makes a sound through clenched teeth that Adam wishes he could record and play on repeat forever, it's just that hot. He pulls off just as slowly, keeping the head in his mouth, sucking lightly.

Adam loves sucking cock. He loves the taste and the feel of steely flesh against his tongue. Coupled with Kris's broken moans it's a match made in heaven. He could spend forever sucking Kris's dick and never grow tired of it, but he supposes his jaw would ache something fierce.

Kris isn't used to having someone's mouth on him though and it doesn't take many minutes before his broken moans become desperate pleas for more, one hand pulling on Adam's hair while the other twists against the sheets.

Adam takes pity on him, sinking down until he's got his mouth buried in Kris's pubes, swallowing around the thick cock lodged in his throat. Kris arches up, body pulled into a tight bow as he comes, hips shuddering hard against Adam's hands. Adam pulls back to catch Kris's come against his tongue, swallowing some and letting the rest dribble out to join the slick mess on Kris's cock.

"Oh fuck," Kris pants when he collapses back against the bed. "Oh… Jesus fuck."

Adam licks him clean with quick swabs of his tongue, making Kris shudder and twist under his hands, caught between pleasure and pain. Then he slides up Kris's body in one fluid move to kiss his panting mouth, until Kris's tongue comes out to lick lazily at Adam's lips.

Adam's cock is throbbing with his pulse, drooling strings of precome on Kris's stomach, and he grabs one of Kris's hands, wrapping it around the base.

"Come on baby," he murmurs, hips already twitching. "I'm so fucking close I can taste it."

Kris blinks his eyes open to look at him and tightens his fingers.

"Yes," Adam hisses, just barely resisting the temptation to just rub himself off against Kris's taut stomach. It feels like he's been on the edge for hours upon hours and if he doesn't get to come soon, he's sure he will die.

Kris seems to get it though, because he starts jerking Adam off, hand fast and sure. There's no finesse to it, but Adam certainly doesn't need any, groaning every time Kris's hand closes over the head. Then Kris flicks his wrist and Adam's gone, coming so hard the entire world tilts on its axis, come splattering all over Kris's stomach and chest, some of it even getting on his face.

Kris laughs hoarsely, licking at his lips and Adam just has to kiss him again before collapsing beside him on the bed.

"Fuck," he mumbles, trying to catch his breath. "That was intense."

"Mmmm," Kris agrees, stretching languidly. "I'm kinda gross though."

Adam blinks his eyes open to look at him and gross isn't the word he would have used to describe Kris at all; mindnumblingly hot is more like it. He puts his head back on the pillow, still feeling lazy and blissed out.

"We'll shower in a minute," he promises, snuggling up closer.

"Okay," Kris agrees, sleepy and adorable.

'In a minute' turns out to be almost an hour later after a much needed nap. At that point Kris really is kind of gross and he smells a bit rank, but it's nothing Adam's soapy hands can't wash off his skin. Of course the way Kris turns into his hands, breath rapid and raspy, turns out to be too much of a temptation and Adam ends up blowing him again.

He takes his time, mouth taut around Kris's flesh while he slowly rubs his soapy fingers up and down Kris's crack, fingers catching lightly against his opening, and when Kris comes it's with his legs spread wide and his head tilted back, groaning his release towards the roof.

He's not that surprised when Kris sinks to his knees afterwards and even less surprised when it turns out Kris is too short to make that work for him, but Kris is persistent and eager enough to find a position that works and while he's a bit sloppy and not overly careful of his teeth it's still one of the best blowjobs Adam's ever gotten. What Kris lacks in technique, he sure makes up for in enthusiasm, and when Adam comes Kris does his best to swallow even if most of it ends up smeared all over his face.

Afterwards they snuggle on the couch, watching silly TV-shows until hunger makes them go out for dinner. All in all it's one of the best days Adam has ever had and when he kisses Kris goodbye outside the store, it's with butterflies running rampant in his stomach. For all his musings on relationships and whether he wants one, there's one thing he's certain of - he's not ready to give Kris up just yet.

____spacer____


It's weird how easy it is to fall into a kind of routine with Kris. Adam goes to the store after classes are done for the day and then he hangs out talking about all and nothing to Kris and whoever shows up to shop, until it's closing time. Kris even lets him take one of the tables for his own and he does most of his homework on his laptop while watching Kris do whatever it is he's doing from the corner of his eye.

On slow days they sit on opposite sides of the table, feet tangled underneath it, while tapping away at their laptops, Adam doing homework and Kris writing (but he absolutely refuses to let Adam have a peek). Jenna stops by every now and then, she's a regular, and Adam likes listening to her talk shop with Kris. Most of the discussions go way over his head, but he likes the way Kris gets really into it, hands waving around and face animated, while he argues the merits of one kind of pattern over another.

Opal is another one of the regulars that Adam gets to know really well. She stops by every other afternoon, shy at first, not sure of her welcome now that Adam is there all the time, but gradually she opens up until Adam finds himself looking forward to her visits. She reminds him of himself at that age, chubby and unsure, just waiting for life to throw her another curve ball, but she has a good heart and quirky sense of humor that never fails to make him laugh. Besides, she's willing to talk astrology with Adam for hours, both of them ignoring the way Kris rolls his eyes in their direction when they start debating whether Kris is really more of a Gemini or more of a Cancer.

Adam doesn't stay the night a lot, not after that time where he overslept and had to stumble into class in yesterday's clothes, smeared make up and his hair in violent disarray. His thing with Kris hasn't gone unnoticed among his friends, and his classmates start dropping by the shop at random times pretending they're shopping for yarn, while checking Kris out. It makes Adam feel oddly exposed and whenever someone he knows shows up, he introduces Kris with a vague sense of unease. He's not ashamed of Kris, but something about their affair being common knowledge leaves him restless and nervous.

Kris notices, of course, but he never comments on it and he never seems to have the same problem with introducing Adam. They don't advertise their relationship, going with 'friends' as the party line, but Adam's sure most people can read between the lines of their easy affection. The only people that never show up at the store are Adam's actual friends. Adam knows they're waiting for him to introduce Kris on his own, even if Matt threatens almost daily to take up knitting as a hobby.

He's not sure why, but the thought of introducing Kris to his actual friends makes Adam break out in a cold sweat and the way they keep pushing makes him feel pissy and annoyed. He knows he's blowing his friends off to spend time with Kris, but it's not like they've never done the same thing. He likes having his life separated in nice little compartments, one where he's a student goofing off with his friends and one where he's with Kris. Blurring the lines between the compartments would mean bursting the bubble he has with Kris and he's not ready for that yet.

"I started writing a new book," Kris says one night, cuddled up with his head on Adam's chest. He's still out of breath from his orgasm and Adam thinks he could listen to him talk forever.

"Yeah?" Adam asks, because even though Kris let him read Brand New Shoes, he's been very secretive about the rest of his writing.

"Yeah," Kris says, lifting his head to look at Adam. "The working title is Endless Foreplay."

Adam flushes, avoiding Kris's eyes. He thought that maybe he'd managed to distract Kris from the fact that they haven't actually fucked yet, but maybe not so much. Kris sighs and plops his head back down on Adam's chest.

"I just don't get it," he says, pulling idly at Adam's chest hair. "You know I'm ready."

If there was any doubt, the way Kris just came with four of Adam's fingers buried deep inside his body would pretty much have clued Adam into that fact, but it's no longer a question about whether Kris is ready, but if Adam is or will ever be.

"I'm just waiting for the right moment," Adam says, worrying at his lower lip. He can't even explain to himself why he hasn't fucked Kris yet. He's certainly not going to be able to explain it to Kris in a way that makes sense.

"Okay," Kris says, as if that is an actual explanation, settling in more comfortably against Adam's side.

Adam clenches his teeth, weirdly annoyed at Kris's ability to just go with flow. He's malleable to a fault and sometimes it pisses Adam off. Kris never really asks for anything, too happy with whatever Adam's offering, and it's no way to be living your life.

"I have to go," he says, words coming out clipped.

"Oh," Kris says, lifting his head again with a frown. "I thought you had tomorrow off."

"Yeah, but I have theatre practice in the morning."

Kris blinks, with an unsure smile. He can probably pick up the annoyance coming off Adam in waves. "But I'll see you tomorrow, right?"

Adam wants to say no, because he's tired and too lax to be feeling this angry, but the confused look on Kris's face is enough to make him feel like the worst kind of asshole.

"Of course," he says, pushing himself up to give Kris a quick kiss. "I'll drop by after practice."

Kris still looks confused and slightly hurt when Adam leaves, but he doesn't say anything. Adam can't stop thinking about it on his way home, turning his own reactions over in his head. He's got no reason to put off fucking Kris and he's got even less of a reason to get pissy with Kris for bringing it up. Shouldn't he be happy that Kris seems to be happy with whatever he offers? Wanting him to ask for more and then getting angry when he does makes no sense even in Adam's own head. It's possible this whole thing is actually driving him mad.

____spacer____


Time seems to be moving too fast and between homework, theatre practice and Kris, Adam is running himself ragged, until it's finally time for Spring Break. Adam made his plans ages ago, he's going home first to celebrate his mom's birthday and then he's heading to LA with Danielle and a few other friends to run wild in the clubs. He's been looking forward to it all year, but when he walks downtown to say goodbye to Kris the night before he leaves, it's with a weird itchy feeling under his skin. It's late, the sky dark and overcast, and Adam should already be in bed. He said goodbye to Kris yesterday, with lips and teeth and tongue, but somehow he can't resist seeing him one last time.

Kris lets him in through the store, looking sleepy and rumpled, and Adam's reaching for him before the door is even closed. Kris moves to him easily, fitting himself into Adam's arms, but when Adam bends down to kiss him, he can tell that something's off.

"What's wrong?" he asks, pulling away to look at Kris in the dim light.

"Nothing," Kris says, way too fast and his smile looks entirely fake.

Adam narrows his eyes, reaching up to cup Kris's face in his hands. "That didn't sound like nothing," he says, swiping his thumb over Kris's lower lip.

Kris shrugs, eyes skittering off to the side. "I'm just tired," he says.

Adam knows that he's lying, he can tell from the tense line of Kris's body and the way he won't meet Adam's eyes, but he doesn't know how to call him on it without starting an argument. He doesn't want to argue with Kris, he just wants to hold him for a minute, one last Kris fix before going away for almost two weeks.

Kris sighs, reaching up to press his hands against Adam's chest. "What are you even doing here, Adam?" he asks, scratching his nails over Adam's jacket.

"I'm saying goodbye," Adam says, vaguely hurt. He thought Kris would be happy to see him.

"I don't mean just now," Kris murmurs, eyes downcast. "I mean… here… with me… at all."

Adam shrugs and swallows, heart tripping against his ribcage. He should have known this was coming; Kris has been unusually quiet these last few days, letting Adam ramble on about spring break and his friends back home without offering much input.

"I don't know," he finally says.

Kris chuckles mirthlessly. "I figured," he says, pulling out of Adam's embrace to lean against the counter.

"I just wanted to say goodbye," Adam murmurs, reaching out for Kris but letting his hand drop when Kris moves away.

"You already did," Kris says, licking his lips.

This is not what Adam envisioned. He just wanted to make out a little, maybe blow Kris against the counter.

"Look," Kris says, running a hand through his hair. "Just go on your trip, okay? I'll see you when you come back."

"Oh…" Adam worries at his lower lip. "Okay. Bye, I guess."

Kris doesn't answer, face turned away. Adam shifts on his feet a couple of times, trying to make sense of what just happened, but in the end he just leaves. Screw Kris and whatever crawled up his ass.

____spacer____


Adam's in a terrible mood when he finally gets home, picking three different fights with Neil before it's even time for dinner.

"Jesus Christ," Neil says eventually. "What the fuck is your problem?"

Adam glares at him, because obviously Neil is his problem.

"You've been home for three hours and I haven't seen you in four months. Is a simple 'hey bro, nice to see you again' too much to ask?"

Neil actually looks hurt, which is just ten kinds of wrong.

"Hey bro, nice to see you again," Adam says obediently.

Neil rolls his eyes. "Whatever."

The thing is Adam actually did miss Neil. They fought like cats and dogs through most of their childhood but with age comes wisdom and ever since Adam went off to college they've been nurturing a new kind of relationship, one that Adam doesn't want to ruin with childish antics.

"I'm sorry," he mutters, scrubbing a hand through his hair. "I guess I'm just in a bad mood."

"No shit," Neil says. "Trouble with the boyfriend?"

"He's not my boyfriend," Adam says, glaring a little for good measure.

Neil rolls his eyes again. "You hang out with him all the time, it's impossible to have a conversation with you without every other word out of your mouth being 'Kris' and he made you take up knitting for fuck's sake. If that isn't the definition of a boyfriend, I don't know."

"Mom made me take up knitting," Adam protests.

Neil throws his hands up in the air. "I rest my case. Obviously, the fact that mom made you take up knitting changes everything."

Adam bites his tongue to keep from starting another fight and stomps off to his room. No one understands him and what's up with all these labels anyway?

____spacer____


Leila opens her present after dinner. It's not actually her birthday, but Adam will be knee-deep in finals on the actual date so this is a nice compromise (or it would be if Adam didn't feel quite as much like a thunder cloud).

She doesn't say anything at first, slowly pulling the loops of the scarf from the package, letting it pool in her lap. It isn't perfect, the sides are uneven in places, some rows inexplicably shorter than the others, and there's a whole section in the middle that is decidedly narrower than the rest where he pulled the stitches too tight. He was so proud of it when he finished it but looking at it now, clutched in his mother's hands, it looks messy and stupid.

Then Leila looks up and there are actual tears shimmering in her eyes. "Thank you," she murmurs, voice uneven. "It's beautiful."

Adam hugs her, long and hard, and in his mind he remembers Kris's hands on top of his helping him through the first few rows. He's a lot more willing to believe in the magical properties of knitting needles now than he was when she first brought it up and for a moment of he's reminded of his childhood certainty that his mother was actually a witch.

As soon as they pull apart Leila wraps the scarf around her neck and she doesn't take it off for the rest of the evening much to Neil's dismay. He keeps glaring at Adam, and Adam's sure that if it wasn't so hard to stay angry in the face of their mother's happiness, Neil would be the one picking a fight this time. It's not Adam's fault he just set the bar very high for birthday gifts, if he wants to trump this one he'd better learn how to knit a sweater.

____spacer____


His horrible mood comes with him all the way to LA, churning below the surface, making him bitchy and grumpy. He tries to wash it away with cocktails and dancing, but all the pretty boys pressing up against him look wrong and the way they grab at him as if he's public property sets his teeth on edge, until he retreats to a booth, nursing a lime green cocktail and glaring daggers at everyone who dares to approach.

"Okay," Danielle says, sliding into the booth with a powder pink drink clutched in her hand completely ignoring Adam's annoyed glare. "This has got to stop, baby."

"What?" Adam asks, feigning innocence.

She gives him an exasperated look. "This bitch act of yours. I don't know what the fuck crawled up your ass, but you're acting like a dick."

Adam narrows his eyes and sips at his drink. So he's been a little short of temper lately, it's not that bad.

"Look around," Danielle says. "Hot guys are throwing themselves at you and you just keep blowing them off. That's not the Adam I know. So either you tell me what happened, or you'll have to find somewhere else to sleep."

"It's nothing," Adam says, too fast.

"Yeah, well, tell me about nothing then," Danielle says, crossing her arms over her chest.

The music's too loud and Adam's pants are clinging uncomfortably to his skin. His head is spinning with the alcohol and the last thing he wants is to talk about Kris.

"Spill," Danielle demands, voice pitched low, and Adam does. Once he's started it's impossible to stop, the words almost tumbling over each other in his haste to get them all out. He doesn't hold back, he tells her everything he can think of and then some, until his heart is tripping with it. When he's done Danielle leans back and regales him calmly.

"Wow, you're kind of an asshole," she says.

"What?" Adam protests. "I didn't do anything."

"Exactly." Danielle leans over the table to pat his hand. "I love you, honey, but sometimes you're really, really dense."

"I don't get it," Adam murmurs, turning his drink over between his fingers. "I thought we were happy."

"You're such a guy," Danielle sighs, leaning on her elbows to move closer. "Kris let you into his life without reservation. You've been dating for what? Two months? And you've met everyone he knows."

"Yeah, so?" Adam asks petulantly. He already knows all this.

"But he hasn't met a single one of your real friends. Doesn't that strike you as odd?"

Adam shrugs uneasily. "We mostly hang out at his place," he says vaguely.

"Darling," she says softly. "You have to make up your mind. No one wants to be a secret forever."

"He's not a secret," Adam protests. "People know about him."

"Does he know that? Look, I know you, okay? You've probably been rambling on about the trip and the clubs and the drinks, and quite possibly the boys, forever. If I had a boyfriend and he did that… I'd tell him to take a hike as well."

"He's not my boyfriend," Adam says reflexively. Why does everyone insist on these labels? "And we didn't break up."

She rolls her eyes and leans back again. "Okay," she says. "I can tell this might take a while. How about we go home and split a bottle of wine? The club'll still be here tomorrow."

Adam nods in agreement, the bass beat is giving him a headache anyway.

Danielle's apartment is tiny and they turned it into a complete mess with clothes and glasses scattered everywhere in just two days. It's kind of impressive really.

"So where were we?" Danielle asks, when they're settled on the couch with a bottle of wine and some snacks. "Oh, that's right, I was telling you why you're an idiot."

Adam snorts. "I thought that was the point of our every conversation."

"Oh it is," Danielle says with a grin. "But this time it's more specific."

Adam sips from his wine glass and waits for Danielle to start talking again. He doesn't really like the picture of him she's painting. He's not really that clueless, is he?

"One question first," Danielle says, leaning back and planting her feet in Adam's lap. "Why haven't you fucked him yet?"

Adam sputters and glares at her, cheeks coloring. She's his best friend, but sometimes she really toes the line.

"Come on," Danielle says, rolling her eyes. "I've seen you with guys, it's not like I don't know you're a toppy bastard."

"I don't know," Adam says with shrugs, feeling acutely uncomfortable. "Bad timing?"

"Bullshit," Danielle counters, eyes narrowing. "Why?"

Adam squirms and rubs a hand over his chest. His heart is beating too fast, banging uncomfortably against his ribcage. "I don't know," he says again, feeling sweaty and gross all of a sudden.

"Why?" Danielle pushes, eyes calculating.

Adam can't breathe properly, blood whooshing too loud in his ears. He pulls at the neckline of his shirt because it's choking him, looking everywhere but Danielle.

"Goddamnit Adam Lambert," Danielle says. "Just admit that you're in love with the guy."

Adam sucks in a breath, dizzy with the rapid throb of his pulse. "Fuck you," he says. "Fuck you."

Danielle rolls her eyes again and digs her heel into his thigh. "Don't be such a fucking baby, Adam. Falling in love is scary as hell, but there's not a lot you can do about it now, is there?"

Adam lets out his breath, deflating completely. In his head everything finally aligns right and he can't believe how blind he's been. "I'm in love with him," he mumbles, admitting it out loud. "And I didn't fuck him because I'm scared that he'll leave me once I've taught him everything I know."

Danielle crawls across the couch to pull him into a hug. "Now that wasn't so hard, was it?" she murmurs, petting his hair. "I'm proud of you, baby."

"I don't want to introduce him to anyone," Adam whispers into her shoulder. "Because then it'll be real and if it's real it can be taken away."

"Oh sweetie," she says, scratching at his scalp. "What am I going to do with you?"

"He doesn't fit into my plan at all," Adam murmurs, completely dejected.

Danielle tightens her arms around him. "Sometimes life throws you curve balls," she says softly. "And don't worry about your plan, it sucks anyway."

Adam snorts, finally straightening up to look at her. "Thank you," he says, feeling oddly at peace now that it's out in the open.

"Any time," she says, running her fingers over his cheek. "Any time."

Adam doesn't even pretend to have any dignity left, snuggling up close with his head tucked into her neck, letting her pet his hair. He wonders what Kris is doing, if he's thinking of Adam at all. It hurts to think that maybe he isn't and Adam squeezes his eyes shut, wondering if being in love is supposed to be this scary.

____spacer____


Adam arrives back at the dorm late on Saturday night, after a hellish delayed flight and a cab ride that never seemed to end. Matt's asleep in Adam's bed, his own stacked high with bags and boxes, but he blinks his eyes open when the door falls shut behind Adam.

"Hey," he says, blinking sleepily. "I'm not moving."

Adam dumps his bags on the floor, flipping the suitcase open to dig out some necessary supplies and the present he bought for Kris.

"I'm game for some gay cuddling if you are," Matt murmurs, obviously halfway back to sleep already. "Leila told me I should not be afraid to express my love for you physically."

"Or you're just too lazy to clear your own bed," Adam remarks, stuffing lube, condoms, his gift for Kris and clean underwear into his backpack.

"Or that," Matt agrees.

"You're out of luck though," Adam says, straightening up and sliding his backpack on. "I'm gonna see Kris."

"Oh." Matt opens his eyes again. "You two are getting quite serious, huh?"

Adam's heart does that uncomfortable flip-slide-lurch thing it's been doing lately whenever he thinks of Kris and the way they ended things before his trip.

"I…" Adam swallows. "I hope so."

Matt pushes himself up to lean on his elbows. "Does he know you're coming?"

"Uh…" Adam scrubs at the back of his neck. "No."

Matt glances at the clock. "Maybe you should call him. It's after midnight."

Adam knows exactly what time it is and he also knows that if he waits he'll completely lose his nerve. He spent the entire plane ride thinking up a game plan and he's not going to mess it up by having Kris turn him down before he can even see him. He sent exactly thirty-two texts to Kris in the last two weeks, Kris didn't answer a single one and Adam's pretty sure that if he called now, Kris would put it off and he's not going to let that happen.

"No, I'm just going to… Yeah."

Matt blinks a couple of times. "It's like that, huh?"

Adam isn't sure what that is supposed to mean but he nods anyway.

"Well, good luck then," Matt says, flopping back down on the bed. "Don't wake me if he sends you packing."

Adam's pretty sure he would have to wake Matt if Kris sent him packing seeing as how Matt is in his bed, but he doesn't say anything. He's kind of holding his breath hoping Kris lets him stay the night. Danielle's theory makes sense, but Adam really has no idea whether she's even close to right. Maybe it's not even about Adam, maybe Kris found someone else and just doesn't know how to let Adam down easy. The possibilities are endless and the only way Adam can know for sure is by talking to Kris, so that's what he's going to do. He's been thinking about this for two weeks now, and he's not going to put it off another minute.

Matt murmurs something that is possibly goodbye when Adam leaves, but Adam doesn't stay to find out if that's the case. Matt's half asleep anyway, he probably won't even remember Adam's rudeness tomorrow morning.

The streets are mostly empty when Adam makes his way downtown. There are a few people scattered outside the bars, but nothing like it usually is on a Saturday night. He figures that's because a lot of the college students won't be back until tomorrow, squeezing the very last drops of free time out of their vacation. Adam used to be like that too, but after his first year he realized that falling into bed at 1am on Monday morning, exhausted after a long trip, really didn't make for a happy 8am class.

There's a lone light burning in Kris's living room window when Adam finally makes it to the store and he almost gets cold feet. Maybe waking Kris up in the middle of the night isn't really the best plan he could have come up with. He fumbles his phone out of his pocket and brings Kris's name up on the screen, hitting dial before he can change his mind for real.

Kris voice is sleep rough and uncertain when he answers, obviously without looking at the display first. "Kris Allen."

"Uh… hi," Adam says, Kris's voice hitting him like a punch to the gut. It's possible he didn't understand just how much he missed Kris these last two weeks until just now.

"Adam?" Kris sounds adorably confused and marginally more awake. "Where are you?"

"Outside."

"Outside, where?" Kris still sounds sleepy and befuddled; Adam can imagine him looking all rumpled and amazing. Sleepy is such a good look for Kris.

"Outside the store," he clarifies, biting his lip while he waits for Kris's response.

"Oh… You're home?"

"Uh… yeah," Adam says, frowning. "But I already told you that."

"You did?"

"Yeah, in the text I sent this morning."

"Oh…" Kris trails off. "I uh… haven't really been reading those."

Adam blinks; out of all the scenarios he could have imagined this was not one of them. "Why not?"

"I… uh… I'm coming down."

Kris disconnects the call and Adam stuffs the phone back in his pocket, staring at the door to the store with a new sense of trepidation. It's probably crazy to think Kris had the time to meet someone new, but a lot can happen in two weeks and Kris got odd before Adam even left.

Kris looks just as amazing as Adam imagined he would, hair sticking up in every direction and eyes sleepy. He's dressed for the occasion in plaid pajama pants that hang on his hips and a threadbare white shirt that clings to his pecs. Just looking at him makes Adam's mouth water and he almost forgets they have things to talk about in favor of mauling him against the counter.

"Hey," Kris says when Adam steps in through the door, smiling a little.

"Hey," Adam responds, reaching out before he can stop himself.

The way Kris walks into his arms does a whole lot to ease his frazzled nerves, and he envelops Kris in a bear hug, clutching him to his chest. Kris laughs against Adam's shirt and wraps his arms around Adam's waist, clinging just as hard.

"God, I missed you," Adam murmurs, nuzzling his face against Kris's hair.

"Tell me about it," Kris responds, words muffled against Adam's chest.

Adam pulls away minutely to look down at Kris. Kris tilts his head back to meet his gaze and Adam can actually feel the moment their eyes connect right down to his toes. If this isn't real then he doesn't know what is. Kris smiles slowly, as if he can read all of the things Adam isn't saying in his eyes and he twists his fingers into the back of Adam's shirt.

"So those texts…" he says, licking his lips. "They weren't about how you were going to leave me for a pretty LA boy, huh?"

Adam laughs, because it's impossible to hold back, happiness bubbling up inside. "That's what you thought?"

Kris flushes, but he doesn't look away. "You spent two weeks talking about how much fun you were going to have without me," he murmurs.

Adam blinks; obviously Danielle is psychic and Adam should buy her a car once he gets famous. "I'm sorry," he says softly. "I think I was kind of freaking out."

Kris frowns. "About what?"

Adam swallows, this is it. "Falling in love with you."

Kris stares at him for a moment with his mouth hanging open. Then he pretty much climbs Adam like a tree to get to his lips. Adam laughs against Kris's mouth until Kris cuts him off with his tongue making Adam choke on a moan instead. Things go a bit hazy after that and Adam completely forgets about the little speech he prepared on the plane in favor of kissing Kris until his head is spinning with it.

Kris pulls back first, arms linked behind Adam's neck and one leg wrapped around his hips. He tilts his head back, looking up at Adam with dark eyes and shiny lips.

"You gonna fuck me now?" he asks, voice husky and deep.

Adam laughs and kisses him again. "You bet."

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They manage to disentangle long enough to get upstairs to Kris's bedroom, stopping to kiss every five steps until they're breathless with it, stumbling along punch drunk and happy. Kris chucks his shirt the minute they're through the door and his pants follow directly after. Then he slides onto the bed and lies down on his back, looking at Adam expectantly.

Adam laughs and starts undressing himself. He's too eager to make a show of it, tearing his clothes off and throwing them to the side. He grabs the condoms and lube from his bag before joining Kris on the bed, sliding them in under one of the pillows to have them handy later.

"You came prepared," Kris says, teasing glint in his eyes, as he pushes up to give Adam a kiss.

"I'm a freaking boy scout," Adam agrees, nipping lightly at Kris's lush lower lip.

Kris laughs and runs his hands down Adam's back to cup his ass. "I'm sure there's a whole section in the boy scout handbook about the proper care and use of condoms and lube," he murmurs.

"Mhmmm," Adam says, sucking a line of kisses down Kris's throat.

"I do have condoms and lube, you know," Kris murmurs, tilting his head back to give Adam better access.

"Yeah?" Adam asks, mouthing kisses over Kris's chest. Somehow he really can't picture Kris buying those things.

"Yeah," Kris says firmly. "You can buy everything online these days."

Adam laughs against Kris's skin, moving up to claim Kris's lips again while his hand travels down over Kris's stomach. "I'll make you feel so good," he promises, trailing his hand lower to cup Kris's balls.

"You always do," Kris answers, gazing up at Adam with nothing but trust in his eyes.

Kris spreads his legs wide for Adam's hand when he slides it even lower, gazing up at him with a smile on his face. Adam brushes his fingers over the silky skin between Kris's cheeks, raising his eyebrows when he encounters a very familiar slickness around Kris's hole.

"Someone's been playing with himself," he murmurs and Kris blushes beet red, eyes skittering away from Adam's. "I like it," Adam adds, sliding the very tip of one finger into Kris, testing the slickness.

He pulls back and pours more lube over his fingers before putting his hand back, sliding two fingers into Kris's waiting body. Kris moans and bites down on his lower lip, cheeks still red with embarrassment.

"Did you miss my fingers, huh?" Adam asks, pressing a kiss to the corner of Kris's mouth. "Did you miss the way I make you feel?"

Kris opens up so easily around his fingers, obviously still loose from whatever he did before falling asleep.

"Yeah," Kris moans. "Mmm."

"How many fingers did you use?" Adam asks, pulling out only to slide back with three, his own cock throbbing in time with the leisurely thrusts of his fingers.

"Three," Kris grinds out, breath hitching. "Oh… Oh…"

Adam smiles, moving his fingers away from that spot while pressing kisses all over Kris's flushed face. Knowing Kris was doing this to himself earlier is enough to make his cock swell to impossible hardness.

"Was it good?" Adam murmurs, pulling almost all the way out only to thrust all the way back again. "Did you scream my name?"

"Oh God." Kris pulls his legs further apart, hips shifting restlessly against the bed. "Yessss."

Adam adds more lube, pulling out and sliding back in again, over and over until Kris is writhing against the sheets with a constant stream of moans falling from his lips.

"You ready, baby?" Adam asks, biting down on his lip. If he doesn't get to be inside of Kris soon he thinks he will actually die.

"Please," Kris begs. "Adam… Please… Now. Oh…"

Adam doesn't waste any time sliding the condom on and slicking himself up. Kris opens his eyes when Adam moves into position, rubbing the slick head of his cock up and down the crease of Kris's ass.

"Isn't it…" Kris groans when Adam pushes forward minutely only to pull back again. "Fuck…"

He reaches up to curl a hand around the back of Adam's neck while the other knots in the sheets. "Isn't it supposed to be easier if I'm on my hands and knees?" he asks, words almost unintelligible with his panting.

Adam pushes forward again, letting the head slip into Kris's body. "It's easier for me like this," he whispers, bending down to kiss Kris's slack open mouth. "And I want to see your face."

Kris blinks his eyes open, keening when Adam pushes forward slowly, fighting the urge to just slam home with quivering thighs.

"It's good," he pants, fingers tightening against the back of Adam's sweaty neck. "Oh God it's good."

His eyes almost roll back into his head when Adam pushes forward again and Adam wonders if maybe fingers aren't the only thing Kris plays with.

"Oh God," Kris begs, digging his heels into Adam's back. "Jesus Adam. Fuck me."

Adam just can't hold back any more, thrusting forward until his hips are flush with Kris's ass, pulling a long moan from Kris's lips. He bites down on his tongue, forcing himself to stay still while he searches Kris's face for discomfort.

"You okay baby?" he asks, bending closer to nuzzle Kris's ear.

"God yeah," Kris answers, breath puffing hard and fast against Adam's cheek. "I'm fucking amazing."

Adam takes that as endorsement and starts thrusting with short, sharp snaps of his hips. The way Kris just takes him, hot and tight like a vice around his dick completely steals his breath away, making him reckless and too eager. Kris doesn't seem to mind though, hands sliding desperate over Adam's skin, and his hips lifting into every thrust.

Adam bends down to breathe encouragement into Kris's mouth, kissing him slack-jawed and stupid. Kris moans with every thrust, and digs his heels into Adam's back, his head lolling against the pillows. Adam can feel his orgasm building at the base of his spine and he pushes his hands in under Kris's hips to angle him just right.

"Ohhh, fuck yes," Kris hisses, his entire body spasming and Adam takes it as his cue to give him more, harder, faster until his thrust loses all finesse, hips slapping against Kris's ass.

Kris's nails dig into Adam's back when he comes, mouth open on a soundless scream and Adam kisses the breath right from his lips, managing a few more erratic thrusts before he's coming hard, and shaking apart at the seams. He keeps thrusting, slow and languid through the shuddering aftershocks, rolling over on his side and pulling Kris with him.

"Yeah," Kris breathes, sliding his leg over Adam's hip. "Like that."

Adam pulls out slowly, discarding the condom with a practiced move. Kris makes a vague sound of protest, fingers sliding into Adam's hair. Adam smiles, pushing two fingers into Kris welcoming body, to keep him open and lax while he waits to catch his breath.

Kris murmurs in appreciation, eyes closed and lips slack, gently rocking onto Adam's fingers. Adam pulls out only to add more lube, sliding his fingers back before Kris has the time to voice the protest obviously on his lips.

"Feels so good," Kris murmurs, blinking his eyes open. "Don't stop."

"I won't," Adam promises, pulling out only to slide back with three making Kris moan weakly. "You're so gorgeous like this."

He's not fully hard when slides on another condom and fits himself into Kris, but it's almost better like this. The two of them trading lazy kisses while they rock together, the pleasure building slowly, until it peaks in a brilliant crescendo. Kris comes first again, his cock clutched loosely in Adam's fist, his harsh gasps eaten by Adam's waiting lips. Adam follows soon after with a series of sharp thrusts and a drawn out moan that Kris's kisses can't quite silence.

____spacer____


"That was... wow," Kris murmurs afterwards, cuddled up to Adam's side with his head on Adam's chest.

"Mhmm," Adam agrees sleepily, trailing his fingers down Kris's back.

Kris doesn't say anything for a moment, sliding one of his hands in under Adam's shoulder and humming under his breath. Then he sighs, lifting his head to look at Adam. There's a hesitant look in his eyes that Adam doesn't like.

"So... I... uhm..." Kris worries at his lower lip. "Does this mean you're really my boyfriend now?"

Adam smiles, reaching up to touch Kris's cheek. "Yeah," he says. "It does."

Kris still looks uncertain, as if he's got a question he wants to ask, but can't quite formulate.

"I've never been in love before," Adam says honestly. "And maybe I'm a crappy boyfriend; I've never really had an opportunity to try it out before, but we can learn together, yeah?"

"Yeah," Kris agrees and his smile is so wide it almost touches his ears. "We can."

Kris settles down again, pressing his lips against Adam's chest and Adam decides that he really doesn't mind Kris screwing up his five year plan. He can make a new one and right now it goes in five years I want to be able to knit a sweater and still fuck Kris Allen whenever I want. It's a good plan. Solid. And even if he never learns to knit well enough to make a sweater, it's still the best plan he ever had.

The End

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Notes:

I started writing a long long time ago (the original .doc was created November 5, 2008) based on a prompt by [info]spazzer_mctwich. It's been a long time coming, but it's finally finished. YAY!

In addition to the amazing art this fic also has a soundtrack put together by my lovely artist. You can find it at the Art Post. :D


Credits (in no particular order):

A LOT of people has been involved in the making of this fic over the last two years. I'm so very grateful for all the help and encouragement I've received, but I'm afraid my brain is not big enough to name you all. If you are one of those people, thank you! <333

[info]dansetheblues – For being the best alpha reader anyone could ever ask for. She worked her magic on this fic more times than I can count. Thank you, BB. ILU! <333

[info]sbb23 – for beta-reading and general awesomeness. The feedback you gave me for this one literally made me blush. ILU!!! <333

[info]fucking_bibs - For the amazing art and the soundtrack. Thank you so much, BB! We made it, even if we suck at the emailing thing. ;) You should all visit the Art Post and heap love on her. <333

Kradio – for the friendship, the love, and the constant encouragement. ILU, BBS! (Even tho you're all h0ars.) <333

Beep – for being ~good times on the internets and for putting up with my random fic whining in the DDOTs. I don't care what people say, you are beeping good times. <333

Flist and twitter peeps – for always being there when I need you. <333

And thank you for reading. ♥