The lessons started as soon as Adam had found out that they'd be visiting America on the third leg of the Boy tour, a discovery that had quickly led to a conversation on nothing but the beaches of Southern California and Florida for a good two hours. Edge and Bono had nodded and smiled and agreed, the three making plans to take any time in between gigs for surfing lessons or maybe scuba diving or possibly even sailing. Bono had gone as far as to mention something about shark hunting, but that's where Edge had drawn the line.
As the conversation had grown, Adam couldn't help but notice a suspicious lack of input from Larry. Many minutes of prodding from Adam, teasing from Bono, and sympathetic inquisition from Edge had found that Larry, a lad of some eighteen years, had somehow managed to escape childhood without learning the oh-so-important fundamentals of swimming. And right on the spot, Adam had vowed to teach him and Larry, thinking it a joke, had laughed and agreed.
At noon the next day, Adam showed up at Larry's doorstep, swim trunks and towel in hand. The tour was to start in a week; they were running out of time.
"No fucking way." Larry said as he opened the door.
Adam just grinned from underneath a pair of extraordinarily large and orange tinted sunglasses and Larry rolled his eyes. "C'mon, Lar', it'll be fun. And you need to learn someday."
Larry gave a huff and several curses, but thirty minutes later they were on their way to the community pool.
The first day was spent solely teaching Larry how to float, a task that proved to be much more difficult than Adam had ever imagined as somehow, Larry had been cursed with something akin to a sack of bricks in his ass and thus kept sinking with disturbing regularity.
"Would you just-" Adam slipped a hand under Larry's back.
"Stop it!" Larry splashed wildly, nearly smacking Adam in the face.
Adam winced. "Lar', just bloody'-"
"I swear to God, if you fuckin' touch my arse one more time..."
"I'm trying to hold you up, Dumbfuck, since you can't seem to manage it on your own!"
Larry stood up angrily, grumbling something incoherent under his breath and pushed Adam away from him. "I can't do this with you touching me all the time."
"You can't do it without me touching you. I let go and you sink like a fucking rock!"
"Christ!" Larry threw his hands up in the air, smacking them hard against the surface of the water as he hurriedly (and rather comically) tried to walk towards the side of the pool. "I give up! This is fucking pointless anyway. I don't need to know how to swim. I wasn't born with fins, you know, I'm not a bloody fish!"
"Larry, you're just making it harder than it really is. Just... calm down and let yourself float. It's really not that difficult."
"No. I'm through. This is ridiculous."
Adam reached out and grabbed him roughly by the arm as he tried to pass. "C'mon, Lar'. This isn't like you. You're not a quitter."
Larry glared at him for a second, inwardly cursing Adam's somehow innate ability to know exactly which buttons to push. He gave a sigh and slowly moved back in front of Adam, placing a hand on his shoulder and leaning back. "Just don't touch-"
"I won't touch your arse." Adam promised. "Jesus Christ."
Twenty minutes later, Larry lay sprawled out on the clear surface, his arms relaxed and spread wide, legs stretched out, kicking occasionally to keep afloat. Adam stood next to him, a hand resting delicately at the small of Larry's back. He let go and took a step backwards.
Larry's eyes sprung open as he sensed Adam's absence and held back a small whimper of disappointment as he could feel himself sinking already, but he heard the bassist shushing him gently. "Just relax, Lar'. Just relax. Let it happen." He willed his eyes closed and straightened his back. A few minutes later he could feel Adam's hand on his back again and he smiled contentedly to himself and opened his eyes.
Adam stood twenty feet away.
The following day began with teaching Larry how to tread water. This process was significantly less time-consuming than floating had been as Larry was quick to understand the concept of flailing about wildly to keep his head above water. He saw it as simply a good way to stay alive and strength-wise he could certainly handle it. It only got tricky when Adam insisted he do it for ten minutes without the use of his arms.
Larry looked at him like he'd been asked to maim a basket of puppies.
"It's really not as difficult as it sounds."
"Yeah, that's what you said about floating, too."
Adam sighed and pulled his arms out of the water, holding them above his head as he kicked with his legs. "See? It's not that hard."
"For ten fucking minutes?"
Adam sighed, "Look, I'll do it with you, okay?"
Larry grumbled a bit more, mumbling something about being a 'fucking two-legged dog' before mimicking Adam's pose with his arms, using his legs alone to keep him above the surface of the water.
Adam smiled at him and brushed a stray curl out of his eyes. "See? Not so bad, is it?"
And Larry had to admit that it wasn't, though he refused to let Adam know as much. Instead he stared evenly back at his teacher, showing no ease nor distress, the two locked in an unwavering gaze as their legs kicked steadily beneath them. Larry suddenly became very aware of the occasional slick brush of Adam's feet against his as they moved. He mumbled an apology and Adam just grinned, his eyes never leaving Larry, who turned a light red and quickly looked away.
A few minutes passed before he heard and quickly tried to ignore the sound of Adam's ragged breathing from a few short feet away, the quiet whimpered grunts as he continued to kick. Larry looked over to see him with his hands folded over his disheveled curly hair, squeezing his eyes shut and biting his bottom lip as he strained to keep above water. Larry groaned and felt his legs go limp underneath him, sputtering as he slipped beneath the surface, reemerging wet and frustrated.
Adam took a deep breath, lowered his arms back into the water and smiled evenly at Larry as he moved closer.
"Nice job, Lar'. You did good. Tomorrow we swim."
"Like a what?!"
"Like a frog.'"
"And how exactly does a frog kick?"
"Like a frog, Larry! Like a fucking frog! Please don't tell me that you've never seen a frog before."
"I've seen a frog. I just don't understand how... 'kicking' like one will get me anywhere."
"Here." Adam sank underwater, floating a bit on his stomach and bringing his feet up towards himself before scissoring them outwards. "Like this. Like a frog. Get it?"
Larry let out an exasperated sigh. "I suppose."
"Give it a shot."
Larry grumbled as he lowered himself underwater and tried to mimic Adam's movements. He gave two short kicks before standing up angrily. "I feel like a bleedin' idiot."
"You'll feel like an even bigger idiot when you fuckin' drown."
"I can tread water." Larry glared at him.
"Treading water won't do shit when there's a shark after you."
"Swimming won't do shit when there's a shark after you, Adam. That's when you stop fucking moving and start praying."
"... Or get Bono to 'hunt' it for you." Adam chuckled.
Larry laughed despite himself and five minutes later, Adam had him kicking. Like a frog. Larry reached the far wall and stood, turning to see his teacher leaning up against the ledge of the pool where he'd left him, small beads of water trickling down his chest as he smiled softly and applauded.
The next day, when Adam was sufficiently satisfied with Larry's abilities on the breast stroke, he decided to introduce freestyle.
"The most important thing about this one is counting."
"Yeah. One, two, three, breathe. One, two, three, breathe. One, two, three... like that."
Larry gave him a puzzled look. "...Okay."
"Here, we'll practice above water first. Hold your arms out like this." Adam extended his arms out in front of him so that they connected at the fingertips and waited as Larry reluctantly followed suit. "Now... tuck your head down..." he lowered his head between his arms, "and then you go," Adam brought his right arm back, "one," left arm, "two," right arm, "three," he lifted his left arm and then tilted his face towards Larry, "breathe." He repeated a few times as Larry watched and attempted to follow. Adam stopped for a bit as Larry continued.
"No, no." Adam grabbed Larry's right arm, "Bring it back more." Larry felt Adam's fingers run smooth and slick along his forearm and he swallowed as Adam pulled it gently back and then lifted it as he explained. "And then you go up."
Larry nodded dumbly and continued for a few more minutes, almost wishing he'd mess up so he could feel Adam's hand on him again.
No wait... he did not just think that.
A few moments later Adam was nodding, "That's good, that's good. Now do it in the water."
With surprisingly little objection, Larry lowered himself and extended his arms as he had earlier. "Wait. What do my legs do?"
"Like a frog?"
Adam laughed. "No, like... just back and forth. Just kick."
"Oh. Okay." He kicked his legs up as he tried to rest on his stomach and stuck his face between his arms.
He heard Adam mutter softly behind him: "And don't forget to breathe," and resisted the urge to stand up and flip him off. He started his strokes, counting silently to himself, "One, two, three, breathe. One, two, three, breathe..."
He'd only gotten a few meters when he felt a warm hand on his back and rough callused fingers on his elbow, sliding down to his wrist. He stopped his strokes and blinked back the liquid in his eyes. "What? What'd I do wrong?"
Adam's eyes flickered to Larry's for a second as he absently licked his lips. "Em... ah, your hands." Adam rushed out, grazing a finger over the back of Larry's hand and grasped a hold of his fingers lightly, spreading them out. "They, ah... need to be straighter."
"But I thought I had them straight."
"You did." Adam insisted, suddenly letting go of Larry's hand a scratching the back of his head. "You just... needed them... straighter. I guess."
Larry frowned as he looked down at his hands. "...Okay..."
"Just... just start again," Adam mumbled as he headed over to the side of the pool. "You're doing fine."
Larry shook the confusion from his head before lowering back into the water and starting again.
Adam reached the other side and hoisted himself on the ledge, watching as his student skimmed across the water. His eyes wandered over the expanse of lean, toned muscle under smooth, pale skin, the lights on the ceiling highlighting all the right areas. Larry's blonde hair stuck to his forehead as his face rose up for air, mouth wide and eyes tightly shut.
These lessons were certainly turning out much more interesting than Adam had originally planned.
Adam held out his hand as Larry reached him, pulling the drummer up beside him on the wall, his hand lingering in Larry's a slight second longer than it normally would have. But neither seemed to notice.
"How was that?" Larry asked as he tried to hide the fact that he was a little out of breath.
"Very good." Adam grinned. "Very good."
Three days later they were checking into a hotel in Washington D.C. Adam set his suitcase on the floor of the room and immediately dived for the phone.
Larry began meticulously unpacking his things as he looked over at Adam curiously. "Who are you calling? Miss mummy already?"
Adam ignored him and picked up the receiver. "Front desk."
"To find out if the- Hello. ...Yes, I was just wondering if your pool might still be open? ...Oh really? Eleven. Okay, and when does it open in the morning? ...Alright. Thank you."
Adam hung up and faced Larry with a smirk on his face. "Lessons continue at nine tomorrow morning. Be ready, Lar'."
The following week was spent perfecting Larry's breast stroke and freestyle, along with ventures into backstroke and butterfly. The latter quickly became Larry's favourite, which was only logical given his upper body strength.
In Boston, Adam bought him a pair of goggles, which pleased the drummer immensely as now he could swim in a straight line and not have to worry about chlorine stinging his eyes. And Adam was pleased too; Larry had become quite an eager student.
Adam sat at his typical position along the edge of the pool as Larry swam gracefully up to him and lifted himself out of the water, setting himself beside Adam, who handed him a towel.
"We'll be in San Diego tomorrow," he said, wiping his face.
"Yes. We will."
"There are beaches there, aren't there?"
Adam chuckled. "Yes, Lar'. There are beaches."
Larry lowered the towel and looked earnestly into Adam. "Do you think I'm ready?"
Adam stared back for a moment, not answering, gazing directly into Larry's bright blue eyes. A good half minute passed and Larry didn't look away. Finally, a smile found its way to Adam's lips and he whispered, "Almost."
"Where is everyone?" Larry asked as they walked.
Adam shrugged and took a final drag off his cigarette before flicking it to the ground and rubbing it out with his shoe. "I don't know. Maybe everyone figured it was too cold," he breathed and continued walking, Larry right beside him.
"What do you mean 'too cold'? It's fucking twenty-one degrees out."
Adam smiled as he kicked his sandals off. "But we're from Ireland, Lar'. Ten degrees is a fucking heat wave to us. Plus, it's nearly nine o'clock. I doubt many people go swimming at this time of night."
Larry tore his eyes from the expanse of wide, murky black water and looked determinedly at Adam. One corner of his mouth twitched slightly. "... No. People don't. Which means, we aren't either."
"We aren't?" Adam asked, trying to sound surprised.
The drummer steeled himself with a deep breath, his eyes burning into the side of Adam's face as he shoved his hands into his pockets. "No. We're not."
Adam continued onto the pier. His boots thudded loudly, the sound ricocheting off of unknown objects and ringing in Larry's ears. "You still wearing your suit under those?" He asked nodding at Larry's clothing.
A scowl pulled shadows over Larry's features. "It doesn't matter. I am not swimming in the bloody dark."
"I think you are."
"Well, you think wrong."
"I don't believe so." Adam grinned as he pulled his shirt over his head.
"You don't..." Larry's eyes grazed over Adam's chest as slightly tanned skin rippled over muscle and bone and Larry suddenly found himself wondering what that might feel like under his hand... or his lips. He cleared his throat suddenly and continued. "You don't swim without sunlight."
Adam threw his shirt to the side before grabbing a hold of Larry's upper arm and pushing roughly. "You do now."
Larry immediately tumbled into the water below him, cursing as he fell. He landed with a highly ungraceful splash and thrashed his way to the surface. "You arsehole! I can't believe you just fuckin' pushed me!"
Adam snickered as he slipped his pants off and leisurely sat down on the edge of the pier, grinning down at Larry.
"I still have my fuckin' shoes on, you wanker!"
Adam shrugged. "So take them off."
Larry started moving towards the shore. "No. I'll need them to kick your arse when I get out of here."
"Lar'," Adam sighed, "This is your last lesson. After this you're done."
"This is a lesson?"
"Well... more like a test, really. I mean, I know you can swim. But can you survive in dire circumstances? If you're in a boat and it sinks, you're not gonna have time to change into a pair of swim trunks, are you?"
Larry glared upwards, his head the only visible part of his body. After a minute or two he gave an exasperated sigh. "Fine. What do I have to do for this fuckin' test?"
"First, take off your shoes. They only weigh you down."
"Yeah, no shit." Larry struggled for a bit underwater before finally bringing his left shoe to the surface and chucking it at Adam who caught it just before it smashed into his nose. A minute later the right one - aimed directly at his forehead - followed.
Adam paused for a minute. "Em... hold on." He slid off the pier and jumped into the water much more gracefully than Larry had. He rose to the surface and swam slowly over to his student.
Larry waited anxiously. "So... what do I do now?" he asked as Adam sidled closer.
"Ah... you..." Adam tried to think of something; he hadn't thought this far ahead. "You..." he trailed off.
Larry's eyes were gazing inquisitively into his, shining bright blue in the moonlight, innocent and trusting. Adam felt himself moving closer and he noticed something pass across Larry's face, realization maybe. But he didn't back away. And then Adam felt himself pulling his hand out of the water and pressing it against Larry's cheek, brushing it softly, outlining his cheekbones, cradling his jaw, his thumb passing over pouting red lips. Larry's eyes closed and Adam smiled as he leaned in, pressing his mouth lightly against Larry's.
Larry whimpered and opened his mouth almost instinctively, breathing softly into Adam. They kissed in tandem for only a few moments, tongues entering shallow and eager before Larry slowly pulled away, opening his eyes and licking his lips. "Was that... was that my test?"
Adam shook his head. "No." His hand found the bottom of Larry's t-shirt and he slipped a hand underneath, running up the drummer's lean back. "I don't... I don't know what this is," he admitted, smiling.
Larry shuddered underneath Adam's touch and edged closer, his chest pressing against Adam's as he placed a hand on the bassist's hip, their feet moving in time with each other, keeping them both afloat. Larry stared into his Adam's eyes for a moment before opening his mouth, his voice shaky.
"I think... I think this is drowning."
He dived in for another kiss.