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The Cultist and the Hero

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California Green Commune

“I’ll show you my spot,” Kris said, smiling up at the tall, black haired man with the beautiful and intense blue eyes.

When Adam – they didn’t have last names at the California Green Commune – came to live with them, the commune elders decided that Kris would help Adam become accustomed to their way of life. Kris was deeply honored to be chosen, even though he had been at the commune for only six months. He thought that the commune elders must have seen something worthy in him, being so new to the life, to give him Adam. Kris was determined to do his best and make sure that Adam’s entrance to the commune was smooth and effortless.

With a deep sense of commune love, generosity and warmth, he invited Adam to stay with him in his roomy red tent until Adam worked for fourteen days consecutively in the fields and therefore would earn his own tent and be able to choose a piece of the commune land as his “spot” – they all owned the land but they were allowed to have a spot to call their own. He crawled through the opening first, just to make sure that everything inside was neat and orderly, and waved for Adam to come into his home.

“I know it’s going to be a little strange at first,” Kris said, smiling dreamily at Adam, who was so really lovely to look at. “But I have faith that you’ll settle in right away. I mean—“ He cleared his throat and kept his gaze completely on Adam’s face. “Not a lot of new initiates to the commune go right for the, um, complete nudity lifestyle.”

“I’m determined to become part of the commune,” Adam said, nodding fervently at him. “So tell me more about the leadership. How does the politics work? Who has access to the title for the land? How do you pay your taxes? Is there a computer somewhere? When do you think—“

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Kris said, raising his hands and chuckling softly. “You have plenty of time to get to know everyone and how things work. It’s a really lovely community here. Everyone is so nice; they’re like hippies or something; you know, people who care about the environment and they’re anti-pollution.”

Adam nodded, his gaze serious. “Is part of your philosophy to become eco-terrorists?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Kris said, cocking his head to the side. What on earth was an eco-terrorist? “Everyone is really nice. I mean, when I first came to LA a year ago, it was so hard to find genuinely nice people. I think they’re nicer here than the people back home.”

“Where are you from?”

“Well, we don’t really talk about our pasts,” Kris said, ducking his head and biting his lip for slipping up. One of the rules of the commune was that they left their past baggage out there; that they lived each day here as if it was the only one that mattered.

Adam placed his hand on Kris’s arm and leaned closer to him. Kris bit back his groan because Adam smelled so good. “Have you been forced to participate in any kind of sexual rituals? Has anyone taken advantage of you under the guise of performing commune initiation rites? Do you feel sexually violated?”

Kris’s eyes widened and he felt his cheeks go hot. “What? No! I mean, all those stories about wild orgies are totally exaggerated. A few people come here thinking that it’s just sex all the time, but it’s really not. We actually believe in self-love and self-expression; and when a pairing happens, it’s something that the whole commune will bless.” He scratched his ear. “Um, so if you’re here because of that…”

Adam stared at him for a long moment and then sighed, looking away with a shake of his head. “You don’t know anything, do you?”

***

Back home, out there, Kris was once a Business major in college and part of his job in the commune was to do some general bookkeeping, logging in the money that they made from selling the fresh vegetables and unique plant life that they specialized in growing. Kris was more than proud to help out, feeling very pleased to be trusted with the commune’s money. He was good with numbers; he had a head for numbers and he enjoyed the quiet time in the small office, that was also their community center, going through the books and making sure that all the columns added up correctly.

He closed the books and made his way outside to watch the commune members working with the funny smelling five-leaf plants in the high tech greenhouse. The commune member in charge of the greenhouse was Megan, who was tall and lithe with the longest blonde hair he had ever seen. It looked like spun gold in the sunlight. Megan was tanned and wore a little top and a long skirt. He enjoyed spending time with her because she often gave him a few of the dried buds from the plant.

The first time she handed him a small bag of the dried plant buds, he looked at it and then looked back at her. “Well, what do I do with it? Should I plant it?”

Megan chuckled and wrapped her arm around Kris’s shoulders. “Well, first you crush up the buds and then you roll them into little white papers.”

“Okay?”

She sighed and kissed his temple. “And then you smoke it, Kristopher.”

“Oh,” he said, nodding. “But I don’t smoke. I thought smoking was harmful to our lungs.”

“Oh Kris, you’re really too cute,” she murmured, kissing his temple again. “These won’t hurt you, I promise. They’re natural. Anything that comes from the earth and the Mother Goddess can only be good for you, right?”

“I think so,” he said, agreeably. “Do you have any of the little white papers?”

She handed him a small envelope and pulled out a pack of matches from under her shirt. “For you.”

“Thank you,” he said, taking the items from her. “This is so generous of you. I…don’t have anything to give you in trade.”

“It’s okay, sweetie,” she said, shooing him out of the greenhouse. “Why don’t you go sit by your tent and have a go at it.”

That sounded like a wonderful idea. He smiled at her and walked towards his spot, sitting on the warm, thick grass and rolled his first joint.

“This is amazing,” Kris said, slumped on the ground, his fingers moving through the thick grass. One of the commune members named Lil walked past him carrying a basket of fruit in her arms. She was in charge of the strawberry patch and the apple orchards. “Hi, Lil.”

“Hey, Kris,” she said, smiling warmly at him. “I see you’ve been to the greenhouse.”

Kris waved his hand and giggled softly. “Yes. Megan’s greenhouse has these wonderful five-leaf plants. She gave me some.” He held up the baggie and waved it in his hand. “Would you like some?”

“I have my own, thank you.” Lil laughed, handing him a couple of apples and a handful of strawberries. “Here. You’ll want these pretty soon, I think, when the munchies hit.”

“Thank you, Lil, but I don’t have anything to trade for them.”

She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “It’s all right, baby. You just relax and enjoy your high.”

“Okay,” he murmured, putting the fruit on his stomach. “Bye bye.”

***

Kris was reading “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck by his campsite lamp when Adam crawled into the tent, falling on top of their sleeping bags. He groaned and turned on his back, his hands pressed over his eyes. It had been four days since Adam joined their commune family and Kris was happy to see him working so hard. It made him feel proud. Tomorrow, he would join the others in the fields and work beside them.

“Are you all right?”

“Just tired,” Adam said, breathing deeply. “My entire body aches. I think my dick is sunburned.”

“Oh,” he said, flicking his eyes away before he saw anything below the waist. Kris opened a small box that held some of his favorite things and pulled out a long piece of cotton hemp cloth. It was long and wide enough to be worn like a sarong. “Here, you should wear this around your waist when you’re in the field. And I have an aloe plant. I can rub some aloe on your skin.”

Adam pulled his hands down and turned his head to look at him. He took the cloth and smiled. “Thanks. But I don’t have anything to trade.”

“It’s okay,” he said, smiling at Adam. “I like to share.”

“Would you put some aloe on my back?”

“Yeah, sure,” he said, dropping the book on the ground and going outside to the huge aloe plant by his tent. He broke off a large and thick leaf, bringing it inside. He caught his breath when he saw Adam sprawled out on his belly. He clutched the edge of the tent opening as his eyes traced down Adam’s broad back, his small waist, his beautiful heart-shaped ass, and the thick thighs and long, long legs. Adam turned his head to look over his shoulder at Kris.

“Something wrong?”

“No!” Kris squeaked, crawling towards Adam with the aloe leaf in his hand. “I got the aloe. Um. Let me just…”

He squeezed the aloe plant over Adam’s back, the silky liquid dropping on the freckled, pink skin. “You’re skin is so pale.”

“Yeah,” Adam murmured, closing his eyes. “It sucks to be a redhead.”

“You’re a redhead?”

Adam opened his eyes and looked at Kris. “You didn’t notice that the top didn’t match the bottom?”

“Pardon?”

Adam laughed and let out a deep breath. “I forgot, you only look at me above the neck. You can look at my cock, I don’t mind. It is a very nice cock. Everyone has been kind enough to tell me.”

Kris blushed hotly, putting the leaf on the ground. He slowly reached for Adam’s back and began to gently rub in the aloe across his smooth, unmarked skin. He really didn’t try to look at any of the commune members who preferred to be nude all the time. He didn’t think it would be proper to stare, no matter how perfect someone was. He kept his eyes on Adam’s shoulders, trying not to look anywhere below the waist.

“That feels fantastic, Kris,” he said, groaning softly.

Kris swallowed, feeling his cock harden under his long shorts. He backed away and moved to the other side of the tent, picking up the book and nonchalantly setting it on his lap.

“Thank you.”

Kris smiled, staring up at the top of the tent. “You’re welcome, Adam.”

***

Sometimes, it was cold during the summer nights. Kris usually liked to bury himself under two sleeping bags, but since he was sharing his tent with Adam, Kris gave his other sleeping bag for him to curl into. Kris shivered, listening to the wind bat against the tent, whistling into their small space.

When his teeth started chattering, Adam rolled towards him. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m just a little cold,” Kris admitted, shivering.

He heard Adam unzip his sleeping bag, sliding towards Kris in the darkness. He pulled down the zipper to Kris’s sleeping bag and Kris swallowed his squeak of surprise when Adam crawled in beside him, his body hot along Kris’s back. Kris wiggled to the folded edge of the sleeping bag and held his breath as Adam zipped up their bag. He used the other sleeping bag as a blanket, covering them.

Adam rearranged their arms and legs, curling against Kris’s back, his legs tangled with Kris, feet rubbing Kris’s cold legs to warm him up. “How’s that?”

“It’s…warmer?” Kris blushed, hiding his face in his pillow. He clenched his jaw, a soft moan slipping out when Adam pressed harder against him. He could feel Adam’s cock pressed against the back of his thigh.

“Hmm…I love sharing body heat,” Adam murmured, sleepily. “God, you feel good, Kris.”

Kris held his breath, trying not to move.

“You’re so tense, are you still cold? Do you want me to move closer?”

“Oh God!” Kris muttered, panting loudly. “Adam—“

Adam’s long arms wrapped around Kris’s middle, a large hand sprawled over his chest. He wondered if Adam could feel his heart slamming in his chest. “Shhh…just sleep, Kris. I’m not going to hurt you. Just be warm.”

“Okay,” he murmured, taking deep, calming breaths and feeling his body loosen and unclench against Adam. He closed his eyes and swallowed thickly, praying to God to give him the strength not to take advantage of Adam when he was being so generous and sharing his body to keep him warm. “Thank you.”

“Hmmm…you’re welcome, baby,” Adam whispered into his ear, pressing his nose against the back of Kris’s neck and breathing deeply.

Kris was in so much trouble. There was a rule that during an initiate’s first fourteen days of living with the commune, no member could partake in any kind of sexual activity with them. Kris thought it was a totally acceptable rule. He bit back his moan when Adam pressed his hips snug against Kris’s butt, his semi-hard cock like a hot piece of wood against Kris’s skin, burning right into him. He wiggled back against Adam and heard Adam let out a soft moan of pleasure, his arms tightening around Kris and pulling him closer. Kris believed in the no-sex-with-non-members rule. It was an important rule; a smart rule. A commune member caught breaking this rule would be exiled from the commune. Kris loved it there. He didn’t want to be exiled for accidentally having sex with Adam. He heard the gossip from the other members – they all liked Adam; they all wanted to be paired with Adam once he became a full member of the commune – so it wasn’t like they would believe Kris if he accidentally had sex with him. It was an impossible situation.

Adam snored gently against him and Kris sighed, sending up another prayer asking for strength and fortitude. Why did Adam have to be so perfect for him? He hoped that Adam would pass his fourteen days and maybe put his tent in a spot that was close to Kris’s spot.

***

It took Kris awhile to feel comfortable during communal bath days. There was a gorgeous lake on the commune property and during the warm days, after working hard on the land, they all enjoyed gathering at the lake for bath time. And because they were so dedicated to preserving their land and water, each commune member used their homemade environmentally-friendly biodegradable soap.

Kris gathered his towels and his soap and made his way to the lake. He wasn’t surprised to see everyone already there, bathing and playing in the water. And he wasn’t surprised to see that Adam was in the middle of it all, all of the commune members circling him, helping him with his bath.

“Hi Kris!” They called out, waving to him from the waters.

“Come on in, Kris!”

“Let us know if you need help bathing, Kris!”

He smiled, blushing slightly, as he waved to his neighbors.

Still feeling a bit shy, Kris took off his clothes and folded them neatly on the strip of beach and picked up his small bar of soap and waded into the waist deep waters. It felt cool and wonderful on his skin and Kris dunked himself, getting all wet, and started soaping his arms and chest. He tried not to watch as the other bathers laughed around him, splashing water at each other.

He stayed under water to wash his privates and then his legs. He dipped his head into the water and rubbed the soap into his hair and then used his fingers to massage his scalp. He let out a soft sigh of happiness, closing his eyes. He dunked his head into the water to rinse and he stood up, smoothing his hands over his head to squeeze out the excess water. He opened his eyes to see Adam wading across the lake towards him. He looked like some kind of mythical sea god – his thick black hair slicked back, water cascading around him, hands skipping on the surface of the water, broad shoulders and tanned skin glistening with water droplets.

“Hi Kris.”

He smiled. “Hi Adam.”

“Can I help you wash your back?”

Kris opened his mouth and closed it quickly. He bit his lip and grinned, nodding. “Yes. Thank you.”

He picked up the floating soap and handed it to Adam, turning around. He bit back his groan as Adam ran his soapy hands over his shoulders and down the back of his arms. He felt Adam step closer to him, felt the heat of his body on his skin, felt his breath on the back of his neck. Adam stepped closer, hands roving up and down his back, fingers massaging the achy spots on his back.

“Your skin is so soft,” Adam whispered against his ear.

“It’s the soap that we all use,” he said, trying to swallow down his want. His cock was already hard and there was no way that he would be able to walk out of the lake without showing everyone just how much he liked Adam touching him. “You have freckles.”

Kris made a face. “You have freckles, too.”

“You noticed.”

He sighed. “There isn’t much that I haven’t noticed about you, Adam.”

Adam’s hands slipped down to his lower back, short fingernails grazing his waist and slipping down his hips. He pulled Kris back and they both moaned softly, Kris’s behind pressing against Adam’s hard length.

“I know the feeling,” he husked against Kris’s ear.

“We can’t—“

“Hmmmm,” Adam murmured, pulling Kris further towards the center of the lake where it got deeper and deeper. Kris could still stand on the bottom and the water was only up to his shoulders. He turned Kris around and smiled, looking at him. “Put your arms around my neck, baby.” He chuckled when Kris put his arms around Adam’s neck, clinging to him. “Now put your legs around me.”

Slowly, Kris wrapped his legs around Adam’s thighs and made a low squeak when their cocks pressed together. Kris widened his eyes, looking around at the other commune members. No one was really watching them, too busy in their own special bathing rituals. “Adam, we can’t—the rules—“

“Shhhh,” Adam said, grinning. “I’m just helping you wash. You need to be clean. I think you missed a couple of places.”

Kris cocked his head to look at him and then caught his breath when he felt Adam’s hand wrap around both of their cocks, his other hand sliding down Kris’s behind, his middle finger slipping down between his cheeks to rub at his opening.

“Oh! Ohh!” Kris bit his tongue, afraid to cause any kind of attention to them. Sound carried over water.

Adam’s hand moved frantically on them, stroking hard and fast. Kris grabbed hold and started to thrust his hips, trying to get closer to Adam, the press of his cock hot and wet and so sexy. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, unable to hide his throaty moan when the tip of Adam’s finger slipped inside of him.

“Adam!”

Kris wiggled against him, splashing water around them as he jerked and thrust and mewled and squeezed his arms and legs around Adam, burying his face against Adam’s neck, panting. His ears buzzed and he felt his skin flush hot. His arms squeezed around Adam’s neck when he felt Adam’s finger push into him all the way, stroking against his prostate. He clenched and throbbed around Adam’s finger, blushing hotly when Adam chuckled. He gave a meaningful moan, shuddering against Adam, coming into Adam’s hand and against his cock.

Adam let out a pleased grunt and Kris held him close, feeling him come and tremble. Kris pressed kisses up and down Adam’s neck, licking up his jawline to suck on his earlobe. He bit Adam’s neck when he felt the finger thrust into him again and then pulled gently out of him.

“I think you’re very, very clean now,” Adam murmured, nuzzling his ear and kissing his temple.

Kris caught his breath and moved back to look at Adam, his hands moving along Adam’s cheeks and through his hair. He pressed a kiss on Adam’s mouth and pulled back to meet his blue eyes.

“After…after your initiation, do you think…you’re welcomed to stay with me, at my spot, for as long as you want.”

Adam smiled, his large hands stroking down Kris’s back. “Did you just ask me to move in with you, Kristopher?”

Kris bit his lip and ducked his chin, nodding.

“Well,” Adam said, tucking his thumb under Kris’s chin to lift his face and meet his eyes. “If we’re going to live together, then I think it’s only proper that everyone knows that we’re officially a pairing. Don’t you?”

Kris hugged him and let out a soft giggle. “Yes. Yes, Adam, yes!”

***

The initiation ceremony was really just an excuse to have a vegan barbeque. One of the things that Kris missed was a good thick steak, but he rather liked the tofu burgers that they grilled. Once everyone had their food, the two commune elders – Nick and Nora – placed their hands on Adam’s shoulders, called him brother, and welcomed him as a full member of the commune.

Kris watched as every member stood and took their turn hugging Adam and kissing Adam. Some whispered in his ear but Adam smiled, shook his head, and looked at Kris.

“Figured he’d want to be paired with you,” Matt said, snickering as he sat down beside Kris on his picnic blanket.

Kris licked the sauce from his fingers and grinned at Matt. “I like him. He’s great.”

“Uh-huh. You’re just lucky all of us love you because we’ve seen you sneaking off with Adam all over the commune,” Matt teased, chewing on his celery stick.

He froze, looking at Matt. He didn’t want to disappoint Matt because Matt was the person who helped Kris get through his first few weeks in the commune. Matt was his closest friend and brother.

“Not to mention that you get really loud at night. Your tent isn’t soundproofed, dude.”

“Oh man,” Kris said, feeling his face heat up. “Am I going to be in trouble?”

Matt snorted. “Doubt it. Just be glad that Danny got exiled two months ago or he’d be complaining to everyone about you and Adam. Nick and Nora like you and Adam too much to exile you and no one really liked Danny all that much anyhow.”

Kris mulled that over. He wanted to like Danny; he thought they would get along. But as Kris got to know Danny, he was so…self-righteous about his faith, about what he thought was right or wrong, just about everything. Commune life wasn’t for him, Kris thought. Danny reminded him of some of the missionaries he had met during his time in Africa. They hated everything about missionary work and Kris wondered why they were missionaries to start with. It boggled his mind. Plus, Danny never shared with anyone.

“I love it here; I know Adam does, too.”

Matt leaned close to him and dropped his voice. “Tell me something, Kris, you don’t miss it? Out there, I mean?”

He shook his head. “I never really knew my place out there. This is the first time I feel like I belong.” He turned to look at his good friend. “Are you still feeling homesick?”

“Yeah, I guess, sometimes,” Matt said, shrugging. “I miss my piano.”

Kris knew what that felt like. “Me, too. I miss playing and singing. I wish…well, that’s neither here nor there, I guess.”

“Here’s comes your man,” Matt said, patting Kris on the shoulder and getting to his feet. He smiled as Adam came towards them, giving him a hug and patting him on his back. “Hey, Adam, welcome to our little corner of the world, dude.”

“Thank you, Matt,” he said, sitting down next to Kris and grabbing his potato fries from his plate.

“Hey! Get your own!”

“I’m the guest of honor,” Adam proclaimed, snatching another few off Kris’s plate. “You should share with me.”

Kris sighed and slid his plate towards Adam. “Okay.”

“See you guys later,” Matt said, waving at them. “And seriously, try to keep it down, Kris. Don’t make us vote to have you move your spot to a more private place. It’s not nice to flaunt it in everyone’s faces.”

“Oh man,” Kris mumbled, covering his face with his hands. Adam laughed, moving to lie down on his side, propped up on his elbow. He stretched his long legs behind Kris and snickered.

Adam stroked Kris’s head, his fingers trailing down his ear. “So…initiation’s over. I’m officially a member of the commune.”

Kris smiled at him, full of affection and happiness. “Yeah…”

***

Kris was working on the books in the office when Adam came inside, looking around. He pushed up his eyeglasses and grinned. “Hi Adam.”

“Hi, sweetie,” he said, coming to his desk. “So this is where you work.”

“It’s not all that exciting,” he said, leaning back in his chair.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Adam murmured, moving behind him and rubbing Kris’s shoulders, making him moan. “Show me what you’re working on. Maybe I can help? I’m good with business stuff.”

Kris leaned his head back so he could look up at Adam. “Really? You don’t think it’s boring?”

“I’m a whiz at paperwork, baby.”

Kris grinned, happy to share some of the tediousness of bookkeeping with someone else for a change. Adam grabbed a chair and slid it right next to Kris and sat down, looking over his shoulder and playing with the long strands of Kris’s hair.

“So these are the accounts for all of the vegetables and plants that we sell,” he said, showing Adam the ledgers. “We’ve been doing really well with the plants—“

“The marijuana,” Adam said, nodding.

“No, Adam,” he said, chuckling softly. “It’s not illegal. We grow this unique plant that you dry and smoke – sometimes Megan will make special plant brownies and those are so delicious – and she sells them to the runners wholesale. It’s for health and medicinal purposes.”

Adam gave Kris a long and intense stare and Kris blushed under Adam’s gaze, smiling a little. He liked it when Adam looked at him like that, like Kris was something mysterious that he was trying to figure out – not that Kris was all that mysterious but he was glad Adam thought so.

Adam sighed and turned to look at the ledgers, flipping back to past pages. “Wow. That’s a pretty tidy profit that the commune is making off the special plants.”

“It’s amazing,” Kris said, nodding. “It costs a lot to keep the commune going, even though we live in this…paradise. Unfortunately, paradise isn’t free, you know?”

“I know,” Adam murmured, softly.

***

“Kris, wake up.”

Kris mumbled, swatting away Adam’s hands. “Come on, Adam, let me sleep. My butt hurts.”

“Kris!”

He grumbled, snuggling into the sleeping bag. “Adam, I can’t. Wasn’t three times enough for you, sex maniac?”

“Kristopher, get up right now,” Adam hissed at him, shaking his shoulder roughly.

Kris yawned and turned to look at Adam. “What is it?”

“Get up, get dressed, now.”

“But why? Are we going somewhere?” He said, throwing off the sleeping bag and stretching luxuriously. He opened his eyes to see Adam looking at his body and Kris chuckled, dropping his arms over his hand and parting his legs in that sexy, slutty way that Adam liked. “Okay, one more time but you have go slow and be gentle.”

“As much as I’d like to fuck your gorgeous ass right now, Allen, we don’t have the time.”

Kris froze and stared up at him. “How do you know my last name? Adam, how do you know my—“

“Get dressed!” He threw some clothes at Kris and Kris felt his heartbeat spike, sensing that something was wrong. He scrambled into his clothes and pulled on his battered sneakers. “Adam—“

“Shhh! Don’t make a sound. Let’s go.”

Adam grabbed his hand and dragged him off the sleeping bag. He opened the tent and looked out, then pulled Kris outside. They started walking very quickly across the commune towards the entrance way. Kris dug in his heels and pulled Adam’s hand so that they stopped.

“What’s going on?”

“The feds are on their way; they’re going to close down the commune and arrest everyone on site,” Adam said, pulling on Kris’s hand, quickening his pace so that they trotting across the grass.

“The feds? Why are the feds here? What’s going on? I don’t understand—“

“I’m a Special Agent with the FBI,” Adam said and Kris laughed. “What the hell is so funny?”

“You’re with the FBI? What kind of a joke is this?”

“It’s not a joke. I’m trying to help you!”

Kris swallowed. “You’re trying to help me? No, Adam, stop! I don’t want this! You’re wrong! Why are you going to arrest us? We didn’t do anything wrong!”

“Goddamn it, Kris, shut the fuck up!”

Kris bit his lip as Adam pulled them onto the dirt road just beyond the commune. They stopped for a moment and Kris tried to pull his hand free but Adam clutched him tighter.

“Adam—“ Kris stopped talking when he saw headlights turn on and flash. Adam pulled him so that they walked towards the car. “What’s going on! Please, tell me!”

“I’m getting you out of here before the bust goes down,” Adam said, waving to the car. The black Mustang rolled to a stop and Kris looked inside to see a guy not much older than Adam inside the car. “Thanks for coming.”

“Dude, have you been walking around the commune naked this whole time?” The man with short brown hair said, his eyes moving up and down Adam’s body appreciatively. Kris frowned, wanting to tell him not to look at Adam like that. “Have to say, baby, you’re looking good.”

“Not now Brad. This is Kris Allen. Get him out of here; take him to my place and stay with him. Don’t let him out of your sight for anything,” Adam commanded, opening the back door and shoving Kris inside. He slammed the door closed and Kris looked out the window at him.

“Adam?” Kris said, just a little bit afraid. He didn’t understand any of this. Adam was an FBI Agent? This wasn’t a joke? His friends were going to be arrested?

“Get out of here, Brad!”

Kris breathed heavily as Brad put the car into gear, speeding down the dirt road. “ADAM!”

***

“Kris. Kris, baby, wake up.”

Kris let out a soft gasp, burying his face into the pillows. He pulled the soft sheets over his head, hiding in the luxurious bed. “Leave me alone, Agent Lambert.

“I can’t do that,” Adam said, stroking his hand down Kris’s back. “Kris.”

“What do you want from me?”

“Kris, I just—“

“You took away the only place that I felt like I belonged.” He sighed and opened his eyes, turning to look up at Adam. “You lied to me. You—you moved into my tent and you—you used me and—“

“No,” Adam said, shaking his head. “I didn’t use you! It wasn’t like that! What I feel for you—“

“What you feelfor me?” Kris shouted, taking a deep breath. “Where are my friends? Did you put them in jail?”

“Your friends are fine. They’re in protective custody but they’re not in jail. We’re interviewing them and getting them psychological help—“

Kris frowned. “Psychological help? We’re not crazy, Adam!”

“I didn’t say you were. We offered them a chance to talk to a psychologist to see how they were doing. If you want to speak to someone, too, then I’ll make sure you have your own doctor,” he said, gently. Kris watched as Adam took a deep breath, running his hand down his exhausted face. “Come on, sit up for a minute, I need to talk to you about this.”

“I’m not going to lie for you. I know that you’re going to threaten me and offer me a deal so that I’d point out my friends and rat them out.” Kris licked his lips. “I want a lawyer.”

“You’re not under arrest.” Adam quirked a grin at him and Kris wanted to…he wanted to slap the look off his face…or kiss him and beg for Adam to…make this right. “And I’m not the bad guy here, Kris. Come on, sit up. Please.”

Slowly, Kris moved up so that he was leaning against the leather headboard. He curled his legs under him and his fingers plucked at the soft sheets. He gazed at Adam for a moment and realized that he didn’t recognize him, not really. He was wearing a suit and a necktie. His hair was slicked back. He smelled of cologne. Kris didn’t really like this…transformation.

“First of all, are you okay?”

“Why did you have to bust us? We weren’t hurting anyone. We weren’t doing anything wrong,” Kris said, looking into his blue eyes. “You know, you lived with me – with us, I mean. You saw what we did. It wasn’t…”

“Did you know that the leaders of your community were drug traffickers?”

“No,” he said, shaking his head fervently. “No, Adam, you’re wrong. You are way off base!”

“I’m not wrong, Kris,” he said, staring at him. “California Green Commune moves marijuana up and down the west coast. They’re the biggest suppliers of pot in the whole state. The community members are used as mules – do you know what that is?”

Kris shook his head.

“Mules smuggle and transport illegal drugs—“

“No!” He shouted, shaking his head and pushing away from Adam. He was going to leave. He didn’t have to listen to Adam’s lies. They couldn’t hold him, he hadn’t done anything wrong. “We’re not like that! You’re lying!”

“I’m not lying, Kris! We have proof! We know what’s been going on with the commune from the beginning,” Adam said, grabbing Kris’s arms and holding him against the headboard. “Please, listen to me. I know you think they’re your friends. I know you think the commune was a paradise. I know. That’s why I didn’t bust you. I believe that you’re innocent in all this. And because I believe you, I believe that there are others in the commune who are innocent, too.”

Kris bit his lip, turning his face away. “How do you know all this? I mean, I lived there for nearly seven months and I never saw…”

“We’ve been watching the commune for years but we haven’t been able to get on the inside long enough to find out what was really going on. Agent Gokey was the last agent who was able to join the commune—“

“Danny? Danny is an FBI Agent?” Kris said, his eyes widening. “He was…undercover?”

Adam nodded, grimacing. “When he was exiled from the commune, we knew that we had to take a different tactic with all of you.”

“A different tactic?” Kris said, frowning. “You mean…me? You mean…playing me.”

“No, Kris, not like that. Just that…I needed to fit in; needed all of you to trust me and like me.”

He made a face and sighed, shaking his head. “Well, that…explains so much about him.” He looked up at Adam, trying to gauge what he was thinking. “But that doesn’t explain anything about you. You loved it there, Adam, I know you did. You thought of us as your friends. How can you do this to us? How can you sit there and—and try to justify what you did to us? We trusted you. We…we loved you.”

And that was what hurt so much. He looked at Adam – this man that he didn’t know, this man who wore business suits and lied with his pretty face, this man that Kris was in love with…who was this man now?

“Kris—“

Kris shook his head and sniffed a little, looking away from him. “So what now?”

Adam strokes his hand down Kris’s face, but he pulled away from Adam’s gentle touch. He heard Adam sigh and sit back.

“I’ll let you go.”

***

5 Months Later
Los Angeles, California

Kris finished his set and smiled as the small group of people in the bar clapped their hands. They weren’t the most enthusiastic crowd but Kris was just glad that a few of them bothered to pay attention to his music. He got off the stool and shifted his guitar off, carefully putting it into the guitar case off to the side of the makeshift stage. He closed the lid and picked up his case, walking towards the long bar at the back of the room.

“Hey, good set, Kris,” Jack said, sliding a cold beer across the bar counter towards him.

“Thanks, man,” he said, picking up the bottle and raising it in thanks. He took a long drink and sighed, feeling restless. On the good days, he only felt restless; on the bad days, he couldn’t even leave his small studio apartment.

“Hey.”

Kris turned, jumping slightly, and smiled at the tall man with dark brown hair. “Hi.”

“That was great, man, really great,” he said, smiling widely. He gestured to the bar stool by Kris. “Mind if I sit?”

“Go ahead.”

“I’m Sam.” He said, holding out his hand. Kris placed his beer on the counter and wiped his hand on his jeans before shaking Sam’s hand.

“Kris.”

Sam chuckled. “Yeah, I kind of knew that. I’ve heard you play before, a few times – not that I’m stalking you or anything – just that you’re pretty good.”

Kris bit his lip and nodded. “Thanks.”

“So, have you been playing long?”

“I’m not…” Kris sighed and stared at his beer bottle, watching the condensation run down the side of the glass.

“Gay?”

He looked up at Sam. “Um, no.” He frowned. “No, I mean, I am. I’m bi, actually, but that doesn’t matter. I’m not…looking for anything right now.”

Sam stared at him for a long moment and he grinned, licking his lips. He leaned closer and Kris felt his heart race, the hair on his neck rise. “I wasn’t thinking that far ahead either. Just thought it might be fun to get out of here together and see if we could have a good time.”

Kris sat back, looking at Sam. “Sorry, man, I’m not, um, into one night stands.” He flicked his eyes at Sam and was relieved to see the other man nod in acceptance.

“Maybe next time,” Sam said, getting off his stool and giving Kris a small smile. “But really, I meant what I said about your music. You’re good, Kris.”

“Thank you.” He meant it, too.

He stayed for a little while longer, finishing off his beer and getting his bearings. He left Jack a tip and picked up his guitar case, heading for the door. One of the good things about playing at the bar was that it was just two blocks from Kris’s crappy studio apartment. He shifted the case and walked slowly down the sidewalk, trying to enjoy being in the city.

After five months, he wasn’t used to it. He went back home to his family after…and he felt trapped and coddled and lost. He understood that they were worried. They didn’t know what happened to him, just that he mailed them boxes of his belongings and a short note that he was going to “live on the earth”. He missed his life at the commune so much that he dug through the garage to find their old camping gear and set up the tent in their backyard. It was the only peace he could find.

For weeks, his parents begged him to speak to someone. Kris obligingly went to speak with his Pastor, who then referred him to a therapist. He was honest about his life on the commune. He spoke about Adam, but not in great detail. Kris didn’t think he was ready to talk about everything. He liked keeping the memory of Adam to himself; it was a perfect memory. He didn’t think too much about what happened after he was taken away.

He couldn’t stay home forever so he packed up his old beat up truck and drove back to LA under the guise of finishing his Business degree at UCLA. He won a scholarship to finish his last year. He was making ends meet by playing a few nights at the bar and doing part-time bookkeeping work at a variety of local small businesses. Despite everything, he was still really good with numbers. They didn’t lie.

Sometimes, he admitted to himself that he was going back to LA because Adam lived in LA. Most times, though, he ignored that Adam existed outside of his memories. It was better that way.

He knew that something was off with him so he went to the free counseling office at UCLA and spoke with someone about his experiences. He was really kind of disturbed that they called the commune a “cult” and that he needed to speak with a therapist who had experience with “exit counseling”. Kris stared at the counselors and thought that maybe they needed some sessions. Whenever he tried to explain why he loved living in the commune so much, they would all give him serious looks and try to get him into a “deprogramming” group. Kris knew he had issues, but he didn’t think they understood what he was feeling so he didn’t go back to talk to the counselors.

He trudged up the stairs to his third floor studio and nearly fell back down the stairs when he saw a familiar figure standing by his door. He swallowed, taking a few deep breaths, and pulled his keys from his pocket.

“Hello, Agent Lambert.”

Adam gave him a small smile. “I think you can call me Adam.”

Kris bit his lip and moved to his door, unlocking it. He looked up at Adam. “Do you want to come inside?”

“Thank you,” he said, pushing off the wall and nodding quickly.

“Okay.”

He opened the door, his face hot and heart beating frantically. He felt Adam’s presence behind him and Kris dropped his guitar case and walked around the small space turning on every single lamp that he owned. He jumped when Adam closed the door.

“How are you doing?”

Kris snorted. “I’m fine and I’m not crazy. I’m not going to run to live on another commune any time soon or whatever.”

“I heard that you’re finishing your Business degree at UCLA.”

Kris narrowed his eyes at him. “You heard?”

“I’ve been checking up on you, now and then,” Adam admitted, softly.

“Wasting taxpayer money to stalk me is a little more than just checking up on me.” Kris said, his voice a little harsh. He paused, seeing the way Adam looked guilty and sad. He walked to his kitchenette. “Do you want something to drink? I have water and milk.”

“I…water would be great. Thanks.” Adam took a deep breath. “How are you doing?”

Kris shrugged. “I don’t know.” He shook his head. “I don’t really know.” He held the water bottle in his hand, letting the cold sink into his palms. “What happened…after I left?”

“We arrested and charged Nick and Nora with multiple counts of marijuana felony cultivation, possession, and sale; they both got seven years. A couple of the Elders were arrested, too, but for lesser sentences when they turned state’s evidence on Nick and Nora. Their real names are Jason Steeger and Melinda Carson. We let your friends go. Some of them asked for our assistance in getting back to their lives; almost all of them opted for therapy.”

Kris bit his lips and nodded, a sense of relief coming over him. He looked up at Adam and gave him a small smile. “Thank you. For helping my friends.” He moved to his futon and sat down, motioning for Adam to sit down, too. “I really liked Nick and Nora. They were so nice to me when I first joined, you know?”

“If it’s any consolation, I don’t think they would’ve asked you to run drugs for them,” Adam said, looking at him. “They didn’t ask a lot of the commune members to do it. They kept it just among the Elders.”

It didn’t make Kris feel better because at that time, he would’ve done anything they asked him to do.

“Do you miss it?”

Adam quirked a small grin. “Yeah, I do. I miss it. I miss the freedom and living day by day. I miss not having to worry about what I was going to do. I miss the sense of community.” He looked at Kris. “I miss waking up next to you. I miss working in the fields with you. I miss bathing in the lake with you. I miss looking up at the stars at night with you. I miss—“

Kris took a deep breath and stood up, walking to the other side of the small room. He pressed his forehead against the wall and took long, deep breaths, trying to calm his racing heart. He dropped the water bottle to the floor and held onto the wall, letting it ground him.

“Kris! Are you okay?”

He trembled, holding out his hand like he could ward him off. “Just…just panic attacks.”

“Shit.” Adam muttered. “What can I do?”

“I don’t know if there’s anything that you can do,” he said, sighing deeply. He breathed slowly and deeply, trying to find that elusive calmness within.

“Kris, I’m so sorry for what I did to you,” Adam whispered, stepping closer but not enough to make Kris feel like he was invading his space.

“Did you get an award for your big bust?”

He heard Adam swallow. “Yes. They nearly suspended me, though, for breaking so many rules.”

Kris pushed away from the wall, turning so that he was leaning back on it, looking up at Adam. He could see the sadness in Adam’s eyes, the strain on his face. “Was I just part of your cover? Just part of your job?”

“If you were, then I wouldn’t be here; I wouldn’t be using FBI resources to keep track of you, make sure you were okay.” He said, wryly. “I know you don’t care about this but I put my career on the line when I snuck you out of the commune that night. Danny knew you were missing and he made a big stink about how I must’ve let you go, but he never had any kind of evidence so the FBI let you go.”

“Thanks. My hero,” he said, flatly.

“Kris, please, tell me what I can do to help you? To fix this between us?”

Kris blinked, his hands tightening and loosening. “Why do you care?”

“Because—“

He watched as Adam licked his lips, looking nervous and scared. “Because?”

Adam stepped closer to him, his hand reaching out slowly to stroke along his face. “Because I fell in love with you.”

“I can’t…”

“Can’t what?”

Kris looked away but Adam’s fingers moved on his chin, turning his face back. “Adam…”

“You can’t what? Tell me.”

He was so close and he smelled so good. Not like the way that he smelled on the commune, like sunshine and sweat and nature; but these new smells like expensive cologne and laundry detergent and dry cleaning and the city, they were tantalizing.

“Adam?”

“Hmm?”

Kris leaned up and brushed his lips against Adam’s. It was just a soft press, nothing like the heated kisses that they shared on the commune. This was new and different, too. Adam made a soft moan and pressed back but he didn’t push for more. He waited for Kris to want – and Kris wanted, he wanted Adam, that feeling hadn’t changed or gone away.

“I’m sorry. I never wanted to hurt you,” Adam murmured, moving closer so that he could cup Kris’s face with his hands. “I just wanted to save you from them.”

Kris stared into his blue eyes. “I didn’t need you to save me. I was happy with you there. I dream about it all the time. I can’t move on and it’s making me crazy.” He sighed, biting his lip. “That’s all I ever wanted. And you took that away from me. But you know what’s worse, you took that away from yourself.”

“I never lost it. I’ve always been close by, Kris, but this is our life now. I want us to try again. I know you haven’t been with anyone else…”

Kris stared at him, his mouth dropping open.

“Well, okay, I’m a little obsessed.”

“I want to be mad at you for lying to me and hurting me—“

“Kris—“

“—but I love you,” he said, softly. “And I want that life with you, too.”

Adam smiled at him, his eyes bright and wide and happy. Kris smiled back, that usual sense of fear and hopelessness fading just a little. “I’ll take good care of you, I promise, baby.”

Kris sank against him, feeling Adam’s arms tighten around him as he kissed him, all tongue and heat, just like when they were on the commune. Kris breathed in all of Adam’s new smells and he liked them a lot. He chuckled softly as Adam dropped kisses all over his face.

“I know we have a lot to talk about,” Adam said, holding him. “Are you hungry? Let me buy you something to eat. I know this great 24-hour diner that has the best brownies.”

Kris nodded. “Like Megan’s brownies?”

“No, baby, those were illegal and I’d rather not get arrested,” he said, rubbing his hand over Kris’s head.

Kris smiled at him. “Okay. I’ll accept the brownies…and the talking. But I don’t have anything to give in trade.”

Adam kissed him again, gently. “Yes, you do. You can give me a second chance.”

He stared at Adam and was surprised to find that he was happy – not as happy as when they were on the commune but Kris was willing to find another way – another life with Adam. Maybe they could go camping in the woods, somewhere private and warm, where Adam could walk around naked again and Kris could watch him and blush when Adam caught him staring.

“Okay, Adam.”

He watched as Adam laughed, throwing back his head, his arms still around Kris. “Okay. That’s a good start.”

The End.