There was a sound of a gunshot, but Sauli didn't register it, not really. Regular people don't hear real gunshots in real life. But then people were running and screaming, and he couldn't see Adam.
Shots were fired, and where was Adam?
It was chaotic, and hectic, and then when it felt like it wouldn't ever end, then it slowed down and stopped. And then Sauli found himself sitting in a private waiting room in a hospital in L.A. Adam was there, somewhere, where they treated people who had been shot by haters to whom America had given the right to own guns.
It was quiet now. Sauli's ears were still ringing, or maybe he was imagining it. Someone had given him a fresh white t-shirt, dollar store quality, and he had washed his arms, face and chest, but Sauli still felt like he smelled of blood.
Okay, the freak out time was over. Time to pull yourself together and act like a human being. Sauli wrote a quick text to his twin sis to tell what had happened, and to tell her to inform mom and dad. He really wanted Sara here, but right now she was in Turkey with her husband and son, so Sauli wouldn't even ask. Because getting a quick visa to USA in Turkey? Impossible.
The last text went to Katri, she would notify his boss that things had gone seriously haywire in this side of the pond. And no, he wouldn't be reporting on it. Then he turned the phone on silent. He would refuse to torture himself by explaining what had happened. Concerned friends would just have to call Katri, or send a text. He didn't particularly care.
The private waiting room was just like in the movies and tv, with its beige, muted colors, expensive fake plants and faint hospital smells. People were starting to gather. Some of them Sauli recognized, some of them he didn't. All of them, Sauli noticed, seemed to recognize him, and came to greet him first. Then they pulled back to a respectful distance and left him alone. That suited Sauli just fine.
Sauli wrapped his arms around himself. And where the hell you could smoke here, anyway?
The air condition made the room feel too cold. Or maybe it was him. He didn't want to be here. There was nothing he could do, anyway, nothing that would benefit Adam. Adam wasn't conscious (Yet, his mind wanted to add. Yet.) so it made no difference to him if Sauli was there or not. They weren't married or engaged, they didn't officially even live together, and they hadn't said even the L-word, yet. And still he was camping here and everyone took it for granted. It wasn't. He felt trapped.
It was supposed to be a regular morning show promo gig for the first single, only a little bigger because it was tv, and a live broadcast. Not really a big thing as the production went, Adam wouldn't even have his band or his dancers with him but only a backing track.
Adam had first assumed that Sauli wouldn't want to go with him, but of course he had wanted. Cheerleading Adam was fun, and definitely worth of waking the ass o'clock in the morning with Adam. Only that now Adam was still prepping and Sauli found himself with nothing particular to do before stepping out and to the car already waiting them. He sipped his cooling coffee and opened a new tab on Safari. With his emails already checked, he decided that it was the time for some tinkering around.
It didn't take long to find what he was searching for, even if he hadn't been exactly sure what it would be this time. People were setting up twitter lists and secret live feeds for the mini concert, it seemed. And what else…
"Did you know that I'm voted as your second best accessory, after the snakeskin boots?"
A laugh from the bathroom assured that Adam had heard him.
"And that according to Twitter, I'm in negotiations to sell a sex tape of us to the highest bidder?"
"Looks like a battle between TMZ and the Daily Mirror. There is also a campaign going on that your fans should gather the money to save your virtue, or watch it themselves, maybe. It wasn't entirely clear."
"Stay out of the blogs," Adam hollered.
"Yes, dear!" It was easier said than done. This time, Sauli actually did close the laptop.
Adam had a much thinner skin on what was said about about Sauli and his friends than what was said about him. It was a part of Sauli's job to keep up with the entertainment news, and make them. What wasn't in his job description was to be the entertainment news. That was Adam's thing.
"Hey, you take this." Adam handed him one of his pendants, the circular one with the knobs. Then Adam wrapped his hands on Sauli's neck, drew him closer and planted a silly little kiss on his nose. Adam liked to kiss him from the above angle, their height difference accentuated by Adam's fuck-heel boots. The guy had a size difference fetish, Sauli could have sworn.
Sauli chuckled and let Adam to unclasp the necklace on his neck. As distractions went, the kiss hadn't been a very effective one, but definitely the cutest.
Adam then clasped Sauli's necklace around his own neck, where it accompanied a few others. Sauli's street vendor leather chord with a few silver balls was overshadowed by Adam's Steve McQueen bling.
"A switch? What for?"
"Because it's fun. And romantic. And the fans will get a kick out of it."
"Yes." Sauli turned his face up in demand of a real kiss. "But only because of the fans."
Sauli got his kiss. Adam being all made up never made him pass an opportunity to kiss, just one of those little things Sauli liked.
That had happened today. Only a few hours ago.
They had traveled to the television studio where they had met with Lane and Adam had been prepped again. Fans had already gathered outside. Sauli had thought privately that the crowd control was a bit lacking. Maybe people had had the time to forget the frenzy Adam could cause.
The show hosts had came to especially greet Adam before the live broadcast. Sauli got a polite handshake and a smile. He'd tried to recall if these folks were among those who had been too busy to give an interview to him and Katri when they had been just a couple of foreign entertainment reporters, but he couldn't remember.
Sauli had followed the interview on the first row. They had requested, through Adam's management, that Sauli wouldn't get asked to join the interview, or his presence to be highlighted in any other way. They had nothing to hide, but this was supposed to be about the single and the video, and not about the gay guest having a rare phenomenon called a boyfriend in the studio.
Adam had been good; funny, eloquent and entertaining, but for Sauli, Adam was always good. It was Lane's job to view the promos with a critical eye, Sauli was there just for the fun of it.
Then it had been a time to go and meet the fans outside before performing the song in a small open-air stage. Adam had had the venue-supplied bodyguards with him, along with the camera crew. He still didn't have a personal bodyguard on his payroll. He didn't want one, as he still cleared what Adam himself called a Whole Foods Test; meaning that he could every now and then go with his business like a regular guy and hardly anyone bothered him.
It wasn't Sauli place to be there, in front of the cameras. That's why he wasn't on Adam's side when Adam, in the morning light and hundreds of people surrounding him, got shot.
Sauli had arrived to the hospital with the ambulance that brought Adam. He thought. He wasn't sure. It felt a bit hazy when he tried to make clear on what had happened. The only thing that he knew was that Adam had been shot and that it was very, very serious.
Sauli raised his legs up to the chair and hugged his knees. The number of Adam's friends made him frustrated. In Finland, you visited when it was said it was okay to visit. He didn't get this American style where everyone and their dog moved in like it was a some kind of a vigil. Everyone feeling that they had the right to stop their lives and come to camp here, to make a statement of their own worry, Sauli felt that it cheapened the situation.
It just didn't seem real, all of this hand wringing, until the doctor came to tell the news and the reality of it came crashing down on him. The son-of-a-bitch that had shot Adam, had hit him on his back. There were bullet and bone fragments near the spine, he was told. Adam had already been moved from ER to surgery, and the operation would take a long time. It could be ten hours, maybe more. Could a man even survive a surgery that took that long?
Leila was now here, thank god. She had come to sit on the same bench, but not too near. They didn't have a mother-in-law relationship, and at least so far, it had suited them both just fine. Really, Sauli wanted his own mom, but that couldn't be helped. His realistic side, which knew full well that his mom didn't speak English and that coming here would both distress her and monopolize Sauli's time, overrode that little selfish part of him that just wanted his mom.
Sauli felt detached from the room full of people, from the entire situation. He dispassionately tried to assess if it was the absurdness of the whole situation or if he was going to a shock.
These things didn't happen to normal people. This was movie stuff, the things crappy tv dramas were made of. It just didn't happen, this was so far removed from what could happen to some regular dude like him. It was overwhelming.
"I still can't believe that this is happening. I don't know if I can handle this."
Leila's quickly drawn breath roused him to think back what exactly had he said. "Leila?" She was… afraid?
"I-. Please don't leave him. I know it's overwhelming, the scrutiny, all the baggage, and no-one will blame you if you'll go, but I'm asking you, please don't leave now, Adam needs to see you when he wakes up." That had come quickly, and after, Leila was left staring him wide eyed, like even herself couldn't believe what she had said.
Where had that come from? "Oh, I'm not leaving him. Of course I'm not."
Leila looked now calmer. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have assumed. It was just a mother's reaction. Adam cares about you very deeply and I don't wish any more hurt on him."
Sauli took Leila's hand on his. "Yeah, me neither."
And then they waited. And waited. A hushed chatter filled the room. Lane discreetly offered him a pack of Salems.
"Thanks". It looked like Lane, the biggest supporter of Adam's campaign to make him quit, was now, at time of stress, his enabler. Good to know.
The ever-present televisions had been muted. The couch where Sauli and Leila sat felt like an isolated space, where no one bothered them but Lane. Adam's friends were loyal people. Adam collected them like rare jewels, slowly and one at a time, and most of them, no, all of them, had known Adam longer than him. So why the special treatment? It was not like he could just ask Danielle why he was the one sitting right next to Leila, when Danielle had known Adam almost twenty years.
Someone had managed to drag Leila to cafeteria, or somewhere. She had looked to Sauli, questioning, and Sauli had nodded to her. Yes, he would keep the special relative couch standing while she was away, no worries. Sauli sighed. He guessed he would stay here, then.
Leila was great, really, but she liked to be more of a friend to his sons and their boy- and girlfriends. She had never been the parental rock that was sometimes needed. Like now. Even Neil was far better in taking the situation in reigns than Leila. Or maybe Sauli was asking too much for a woman whose son could die at any moment.
"No news, then?" Lane sat down beside him.
"No news. You have been holding the front?" Sauli didn't know what kind of media frenzy this had ignited, and he didn't feel a particular compulsion to know, either.
"Yeah, it's crazy busy there. And oh Jesus, the tape! It's been shown in every network, now. You are a hero now."
"What tape?" Had someone caught it on tape when Adam had been... Of course they had. It had been in a television studio, for Christ sakes.
"You haven't seen it?" Lane looked up to find a tv hung in the corner, like whatever she was talking about would be on, just like that. "You don't know about it?"
Sauli shrugged and gestured the room, indicating I've been here for the whole time, what did you think?
Lane made a small sound to stop whatever he would have been saying, and beckoned towards the television that had news broadcast blaring on mute. And there it was, like Lane would have ordered it for the occasion.
It was almost like an out of body experience to see the clip, broadcasted by who knows how many times by now.
Even without a sound Sauli could see in the crowd reaction when they heard the gunshot. Even when the tape was shot far away, Adam had been on the focus of the lense and the blossoming of red in his middle and then, a second later, Adam grumbling down, was shockingly clear. The scene showed everyone running away. Except one person. In the now shaky picture, Sauli saw himself run towards Adam.
At the time, it hadn't even come to his mind to seek cover, that there had been still someone with a gun. He had only seen Adam going down, and he had gone to him without thinking. It hadn't been as heroic or altruistic as the clip made it seem, really. It had happened so quickly that he hadn't had the time to think about himself. It had been pretty stupid thing to do, actually.
"I wasn't thinking."
"Neither was anyone else. And they run away from him, not to him."
But, still... "Are people making it a big deal? It isn't."
Lane just sighed. Sauli could almost hear the unsaid but it IS a big deal, but thankfully she had learned to not waste her time in pointless arguments.
Right. That clip was now something that pretty much everyone would presumably see. This was not good. His mom would see that clip. Adam would see that clip, if he… Adam would see that clip.
Lane swiftly wiped her face. "Everyone else was running away. I was running away, too." That came quietly, guiltily. What Lane wanted him to say? That he understood? That he forgave her?
"Lane, don't apologize. If you want to, you can tell it to Adam, later, but don't apologize to me."
Lane nodded, composing herself to the professional that she was. What kind of feelings towards Adam Lane had let slip to Sauli to see, he didn't care to know.
When Adam had introduced Sauli around (and just how proud and happy had he been then. Sauli couldn't understand why Adam saw him as such a good catch), Sauli had joked that a half of Adam's friends and co-workers had a crush on Adam, and that the other half that wasn't in love with him was in lust. Adam hadn't appreciated the joke that much, so Sauli had dropped it. Now, though, seeing all the friends, and even people who were supposed to be co-workers only, crammed here or constantly calling, and Lane acting strange for the two hot seconds that she let herself... Sauli felt a bit more understanding on why people were looking at him like he would be something special. They didn't even have to know him, just knowing that Adam saw something in him made him note-worthy in their eyes.
Sauli still didn't know for sure what this was in between him and Adam. Their whole thing was like a one continuing date that neither wanted to end, stretched over days and months. It was too easy to not think what he was doing and where this was going. And that was just their relationship level. On top of that came the "I live on the other side of the world" –thing, and fans and papparazzis, and the "American way of thinking still astounds me" -thing. Sauli knew that at some point, hanging around for fun wouldn't cut it and it would be a time to make some decisions. He just never knew that the point would come and smack him on the face with a tyre iron.
The hospital was full of televisions, and it felt like they were still all blasting the same thing. There was the reel of Adam getting shot, of which Sauli turned his eyes away now. After the first time, he couldn't watch it. Didn't mean that America wouldn't want to eat it like candy, though. But now there was other footage, too. People were interviewed; there were picketers shown, clips of Adam, of course, and even pictures of him. And then there was a clip of a dark mass of people holding candles.
Really? "Lane, is that footage from outside? There is a candle vigil?"
"Yeah, they started to arrive right after the word spread on what hospital we are."
To Sauli, it was just disturbing. It was a vigil, not a wake, but he had only ever associated these things happening when the people were already dead. For him, it was like people were throwing a funeral party out there, just because they could, just because they wanted to be a part of something. He knew that it was irrational to feel this way. They did nothing wrong, it was an American thing, again, Sauli explained to himself, but still he felt like people were already holding a funeral out there. His chances of going home to sleep and change, were now looking pretty dire.
And again they waited, in silence. Maybe it was better that Adam's friends were leaving him alone, if it meant that he would end up supporting them, like he did with Leila and Lane.
Sauli was roused from his thoughts by a new voice.
"I'm sorry to bother you, but could you sign these, please?" A nurse of some kind pushed a stack of papers and a pen to him. Sauli took the papers but left the nurse standing with the pen.
"What papers are these? You know that I can't give any permission on behalf of Adam? I'm not officially a family member."
From Lane's disapproving reaction, Sauli noticed that that might have come out harsher than what the nurse was accustomed to. If the nurse could have hidden herself behind her pen, she would have. Instead she unconsciously placed it between them like a shield. She tried to make eye contact with Lane instead, but she, neither, was having none of it. "Um, I'll get our patient liaison to go through the papers with you?"
Sauli let the nurse go. Of course the hospital had a professional simply for handling difficult patients and their relatives. Of course they had.
The liaison, a no-nonsense woman in her forties, only arrived after Leila had came back. Sauli liked her instantly; it might have been because of her ability to be distantly sympathetic without actually digging her nose in people's business. Sauli had no interest in explaining his relationship with Adam to her, and she had no interest in hearing it. They got along fine. Though it was a good thing that Leila was there now to sign stuff.
The group of friends that Sauli nastily wanted to call hang-arounds parted when Neil stepped to the room and to Leila. Thank goodness he was here. Someone should look after Leila, and for some reason that task had been appointed to him. Sauli didn't know if he could or even should try. He didn't know about Eber, and he hadn't asked. Again, not his place.
Sauli waited until Neil turned his full focus from Leila and shared his attention with the rest of the room. "I'm gonna-." Sauli gestured towards the door.
He didn't move more than two steps before Neil grabbed his arm and physically stopped him. Then Neil noticed the collective inhale of the whole room and ushered Sauli behind the corner.
"What, you are leaving?" Neil sounded pissed.
"But... Now you are here. I don't know if it's my place to-. And it's not like-."
Neil interrupted him. "Do not move."
What was Neil's problem? Sauli crossed his arms and waited for Neil to get it together and spit it out.
Neil didn't hold his anger for long, but his manner changed to defeated so fast that Sauli could only just keep up with his mood.
"I know that this is scary. Adam can be scary, I told him to put his heart back to his sleeve before he scares you away, but did he listen? No, he did not."
"Listen, man, I know that I can't stop you if you really want to go, but this is a special situation. You have to see it through. Later, that's your choice, but not now."
What kind of trend was this? Why everyone was suddenly so scared that he would be leaving Adam? Had he done something to make Adam's family go stalker on his ass? Or had something happened to Adam before to make them believe the worst?
Sauli had to admit that sometimes Adam was afraid of Sauli leaving. Sauli couldn't understand how such a caretaker alpha male could be so insecure at times. And maybe Adam had his reasons to be afraid of scaring Sauli away. The hoard of fans, the media waiting outside the hospital, and Adam's family ready to practically sit on him in the order to make him stay weren't very good arguments for him to stay. The only argument, though, that mattered, was Adam. Not once had Sauli seriously doubted that he couldn't take it, and he wasn't about to start now.
Sauli raked his fingers through his hair, frustrated. "Okay, you can stop now. I'm not leaving Adam, I just want out of this hospital for a few hours, to clear my head. Okay? I waited until you came, so you would be with Leila, and now I'm going to go home and fucking shower, I have still, I have his blood on me-." Sauli raised his hands towards Neil and saw that they were shaking.
Neil grabbed him to a hug. "Okay, okay. I understood wrong. Are you okay?"
This was the first time that anyone had asked him if he was okay, Sauli realized. Neil's heavy hold of him, like it wouldn't be up to Sauli when to end it, felt oddly comforting. "Yeah, I am."
"Take Lane with you, okay? And a bodyguard."
Neil managed a small smile. "Yeah, you haven't seen what it's really like outside the hospital, haven't you?"
The trip to Adam's place was a bust. Simply the amount of people waiting outside was overwhelming to him.
"Doesn't this hospital have a fucking backdoor?"
Lane peered the crowd behind the glass doors. "This is the backdoor. You should see the front."
The bodyguard, no-one that Sauli recognized, came off his cell phone. "Okay, we can have a car pretty close, and ask hospital security for assistance, but personally I wouldn't advise you to this, not if you don't absolutely have to."
Sauli looked outside, where the night had turned the waiting people to one, dark mass. He hoped that his new-found fear of crowds would be just temporary. "No, I don't think that we really have to." There had to be a shower and a bed somewhere in here. Maybe the liaison lady could help.
After a shower and a thirty minute nap Sauli got back to the waiting room to learn that Leila and Neil weren’t there. Sauli felt first a flash of fear. Had something gone wrong in the surgery? Or maybe it was good news, and they had gone to see him? But no, he was informed that Neil had requested yet a separate waiting room for them. Okay, at this point no news might be good news. And he really did understand Neil's need to get a more private waiting area for his mother, though Sauli saw the absurdity in the situation. There were the rooms for the regular folks, and then there were the sacred rooms for people who could afford to pay for it, and even that had the inner sanctuary… Oh well, Sauli guessed that he and Lane would rule this one, then.
And now, again with the waiting. After the nap Sauli had power to feel other things too, than numbness and anxiety. Now he felt angry. Who the fuck would ever think that it would be his job to try and shoot Adam, just because he was openly gay? How was that even possible? And where had the guards been? Why was this country eating it's own?
Sauli jerked up and headed to the private bathroom. There he dared to let go. "Saatana vittu perkele!" He wanted to smash something, to scream and yell, and yet he couldn't even let his feelings show in front of the ever-changing lieu of Adam's friends that crowded the waiting room.
"Saatana! Helvetti! Paskan paska!" Getting the profanity out helped a little. At least he managed to refrain from breaking something, or breaking himself. He felt like doing something that would end up him getting stitched up, but shit if he would ask that kind of attention toward himself.
Sauli washed his face and raked his hand through his hair. His eyes were slightly swollen, people would probably think that he had been crying here. Whatever.
When he came back, the tv's were still mutely blaring the story. It looked like more material, now fan-filmed, had appeared. Lane surfed the web in her mini laptop and saved as much stuff as he could. She didn't offer to share her findings. She was paid to keep up with that stuff, Sauli wasn't.
"You should say something."
Had there been a conversation that Sauli had tuned out? What was she referencing?
"About how Adam is. I'm only his assistant from the label, and Leila can't be asked to give updates on his condition. So maybe you should."
"Would he want me to act as his spokesperson? Would he even want me here?"
"Trust me, he wants it."
"Its just, it would be pretty presumptuous to just assume so."
"It's not just people assuming. I know you. The people who really matter know you. It's those-" Lane made a vague gesture, people outside "who do the presuming." We don't have to, we know. So don't bother yourself asking if you have the right to be here. You have it."
"I'll think about it." They both knew it that this time, was a yes.
Sauli asked Lane for the computer and quickly set up a Twitter account. He would verify it later, but now some butchered version of his name would have to do. There was a good reason for not setting a twitter account before this. He'd seen the shit that Adam received, and being "the boyfriend" would definitely bring out the crazies. Still, in this situation it would be the most effective way to communicate, and be as authentic as possible.
The account set, he texted Tommy and asked him to tweet his account name, vouching it to be real.
Then what? He tweeted,
SauliK 7:20 pm
Waiting at the hospital. Things steady but very serious. Send positive thoughts.
The last part he added because it was something that Adam would have asked. Adam even believed it, that it would help if a number of people would focus on the positive. The thought launched again the pressure in his chest. What if Adam would die? What then?
He didn't read his replies. It was too much for him to handle.
When one of the doctors finally came to tell them that Adam had been through his surgery and moved to intensive care unit, it was like an exhale. Maybe time would start moving now for all of them. It might be the second day in the hospital. Sauli wasn't sure. It didn't matter, anyway.
They'd repaired the damage in Adam's intestines and gotten out all the shards near his spine, the doctor told them, but the swelling was still major and the outcome couldn't be predicted with accuracy.
The careful way the doctor was addressing them was revealing: Adam wasn't out of the woods yet. He was kept alive artificially and thousand different things could still go wrong. Naturally, they wouldn't allow visitors.
Right now Sauli didn't even think of visiting. Adam was still alive and fighting the next battle. Sauli didn't know what to think. He stated down and let the moisture blur his vision. Adam would make it. He had to.
At some point Sauli had fallen asleep, because now he was woken up with Lane's colorful cursing. He didn't think that he had ever heard Lane curse before.
"I knew it was going to be political, but not this much!"
What? God, he needed coffee. And bathroom. "What do you mean?"
"The visa story, of course."
"Uh, what?" Oh shit. His visa was expiring soon, possibly in just a few days. His work permit took more time than they had expected, so his tourist visa required a trip away from USA at least every four months. He had completely forgotten about it. He remembered talking about it with Adam, about flying to Finland, maybe staying with his mom and dad. When had that been? If his visa had already expired, then he didn't know what he'd do. Something complicated and bureaucratic would happen that would make it fucking hard to get back in the country, probably.
"I can't believe it! Fox News tells that the order came from the President, which personally I don't believe, by the way, and now there are demands for the White House to either deny of confirm it. And if they'll confirm it, it's really freaking political, and if they deny it and said that somebody just made a mistake, they'll have to kick you out from the country to prove it. And how would that look like, huh?"
"Wait, wait, what?"
"You mean you didn't know?" Lane glanced to the muted television screens. Yeah, they were blasting, but it wasn't like he had been following them! "Wow."
"Know what? I have been here the whole time! I don't know what it's said in the news!"
"Right, right. Uh, I'll better start giving you regular updates, then, because you'll be asked to comment the moment you step outside. If not even before. The thing is that your visa would have expired in a day or two, but it got extended for another four months. Obviously that was not your doing, not that you could have made that little miracle happen anyway. So, someone leaked it to the media, and now everyone is hunting down the person who decided to bend the rules for you to be able to stay here."
Here, meaning here, by Adam's figurative bedside. Sauli kind of got it why this would be a big thing. Who had bent the notorious permit of residence rules to allow a foreign gay guy to stay by his boyfriend, when this and that straight person had been forced to leave their loved ones? It just had to be a conspiracy, or a gay agenda, or something like that, right.
"Just tell me if I'm kicked out. I don't have the capacity to start worrying over that, now."
Wow. This had become a political issue. Sauli hadn't paid attention when the motivations of that lunatic's attack had been discussed in the room at some point. Had it really been one of those Christian Kill-all-gays –groups? An individual, and his group were washing their hands out of it? Backing him up and taking credit? Personal reasons, political, religious, medical… It didn't help Adam at his point, whatever it had been.
Sauli took the venti, and also a cell phone that Lane offered to him. He didn't recognize it. "Whose this?"
"It's just a phone. But you might want to think beforehand what to say when it rings."
"Why, who is it? I don't give comments, you know that."
"But it's Oprah." Lane hissed the name out.
Sauli almost dropped the phone and then set his coffee down and took a careful strong grip of it, like he was holding a snake. "Care to explain that further, Lane?"
"It's Oprah!" Lane flailed a bit, as much as her unflappable self was able to, Sauli mused. "She wanted you to visit her show, and when I said that you were here, she wanted to call you instead. So be prepared to be live on air when you answer. "
Sauli looked the phone as it would have mutated to a weapon. In what time were those shows filmed, anyway? "Right. And what we are supposed to talk about?"
"Just tell how Adam is doing, thank all the support you have received, plus something inspirational. Mentioning God would be good, but I don't think that I can make you to go for that."
"Yeah." Sauli was still looking at the phone, afraid that it would ring any second.
"And if she asks how the fans could help, mention the Trevor project. And sending positive thoughts, of course. Oprah probably asks people to pray for him, that's taken care of."
"The Trevor Project?"
"Yes. When people are upset, they want to give money to feel that they are helping. Oprah asked about a charity they could mention, and the only one of Adam's charities that's about gay rights is the Trevor, so I gave that one."
"Right." When Lane said "people", she meant "us Americans". The cultural differences came up in the oddest places, like when people gave money to relieve their personal upset. But whatever, at least it would go for a good cause.
"And yeah, could you also ask the fans to donate money instead of sending flowers? That would be great." Sauli took in the room again; the waiting room looked like a flower shop. Flowers weren't allowed in the intensive care, and after the waiting room had filled up, someone had made the decision to just harvest the cards and send the flowers to other patients.
Waiting for the call, Sauli finally gave up and asked to loan the laptop. He knew that it might not be a good idea, but he had to be prepared.
The page that Lane had left open was a sales figure chart. Adam's single was number one in iTunes, as was his album in the pre-sale charts. Even his first album was finally reaching the desired one million.
Sauli wasn't a superstitious person, but for him, people stocking up on Adam's CDs didn't forebode anything good. It was just the upset, and interested people wanting to buy things, nothing more, he tried to assure himself.
The broadcasting company on who's dime Adam had gotten shot gleefully used its unique material and harvested all the media attention they could, at the same time trying to downplay their lacking security at the time of the incident. They didn't want to get sued, for anything. While it was obvious that the security had been at some point asked to stay back to keep from ending in the camera footage, Sauli kind of agreed with their logic. It had been an open-air event, and if someone really wanted to bring a weapon, they could, and no lawsuit would change that. Adam would never sue the television company, that Sauli knew, and he would refrain from even hinting that he would be bitter about the flaws in the event arrangements.
Digging deeper, Sauli got even more frustrated. It wasn't just about Adam, but now the media was covering him, too.
"I can't believe it, CNN went to interview my dad! When, exactly, did I become the epitome of gay love? A spokesperson against hate? A fucking heroine?"
"It might not be so bad. And you could give some statements, it might be better if-."
"I love Adam, but I didn't sign for this! We aren't even engaged! I'm not even a citizen! What do they all want from me?"
"I'm asking you, please go along with it. For Adam."
"Of course I'll do it for Adam, you couldn't stop me from being here."
"I meant the media stuff, too. We don't need anyone too influential suggesting that Adam would have caused this to happen to himself, by being too flamboyant, too gay, too flirty. He needs all the positive support he can get, and while he is under, we are it."
"If people start thinking of him as the threatening homosexual, and that it would have been just a matter of time, then there is only a small step to the idea that it was him who got too much on America's face and who eventually got what he was asking for. And we can't afford that! So if we need to paint him as the non-threatening homo who is just like everyone else, and you as his freaking suffering wife, we'll do it. Is that too much to ask?"
Sauli looked at Lane, who was now looking a bit wild around the eyes. "What was it that Neil used to say? That fear not, twenty five percent of Americans aren't assholes?"
That didn't get reaction from Lane. Guess she was immune to Neil, even by association. "No, it's not. I'll do it."
Oprah called. Sauli went through the call like a robot, but he guessed it went fine since Lane was nodding along with the call, approving. Very moving, Lane had praised him after the call ended, and confessed that she had most feared that Sauli's accent would have come as off-putting. Apparently it had come as exotic, which was fine. Right.
Neil came back to the more common private waiting room, in the pretense of bringing food for Lane and him, but grabbed him again behind the corner.
"Listen, I don't usually go all heart-to-heart with Adam's guys, but I think that this can be counted as a fucking special occasion, so... Again, I'm sorry for me and Leila presuming that you might walk. It has nothing to do with you."
Neil paused and looked around, like wondering just now how he had ended up in this conversation. "Adam has a track record of dating guys that are needy. Not like, annoyingly needy, but people who need emotional support in their decisions. Encouragement. Adam was someone to whom they could pour their issues, who would take care of them."
Huh. Adam had never talked about this. "But I'm not… seeing myself as a person like that." He fucking wasn't. Even when he had twisted his whole life around to be with Adam, he hadn't done it because he would be needy.
"I know that you aren't like that. Leila knows, too. And still we tend to forget. I'm sorry that we didn't show you the trust that you deserve."
"It's okay. With Adam in there-," Sauli gestured towards the intensive care that was or wasn't in that direction, "we all are little nuts right now. It doesn't count, in the long run."
"Okay." Neil looked relieved. Sauli hoped that Neil really believed what Sauli was saying, that he wouldn't take Adam's family's distrust in this situation personally, now or later. "Okay, let's get back then."
56 hours after Adam was rushed in the hospital in on a gurney, he got off from the intensive care. Adam was doing well, considering, Sauli was told. He was moved to his own room, which meant that limited visiting would be allowed.
Adam was still unconscious and he would be for a while, but they wanted to visit him anyway. Leila and Neil were first, of course. Then came Eber, who had finally managed to arrive, straight from his camping trip from the middle of nowhere. Sauli thought that Eber might have smelled worse than he had at some point, which was something.
After that it was Sauli's turn. He asked twice, making sure that it was him that they would allow to visit, him not being actually a close relative, but no one questioned his status. Maybe it was the money. Maybe it was the cool patient liaison lady that had her hands on this, too.
Sauli was happy to come alone to Adam's room, because he couldn't stop himself from letting out a sob when he saw Adam. The man of over six feet, who had always enjoyed towering over Sauli, looked small lying on the hospital bed. Adam didn't have a breathing tube down his throat anymore, but otherwise he was hooked on IVs and monitors and things that were better left unmentioned.
Sauli wanted to run his fingers through Adam's greasy, lumpy hair. He would have to ask for a comb. Adam's hair was still shiny black, and cut very short after his stint with dreads a couple of weeks ago. Sauli moved to lightly caress Adam's cheek. The ginger stubble almost disappeared in Adam's current washed-up, sickbed-white coloring. Sitting back on the visitor's chair, he took a hold of Adam's limp hand. At least the black nail polish was still there.
They had taken his gages out from his earlobes, too. Maybe he had had a catscan at some point, Sauli didn't remember.
SauliK 5:43 pm
Saw A, getting better every minute. Looking gorgeous. Again, thanks for all your support.
Adam was so quiet. This was not a naturally quiet, or naturally still man. This was a man who started humming while doing his face, who would end up singing Wuthering Heights in less than five minutes, without even realizing.
He sat there as long as he was allowed, ignoring the fans' pleas for a picture. In reality, Adam looked like shit, and secondly, who the hell would publish a picture of a person laying on a hospital bed, unconscious? But to Sauli, Adam alive, in any condition, was beautiful.
Adam got better. He went from a medically induced coma to unconsciousness, and then to a regular sleep. And then, a couple days later, he gradually woke up.
Sauli was there. Where else would he be? Adam looked a bit confused and high as a kite, and he didn't try to talk. Sauli scooped his hand between his and kissed the weak fingers. "Hey it's okay, everything is okay. You can go back to sleep."
The second time Adam woke up, he was alert and asking what had happened.
"You were shot, in your back." At Adam's alarmed face, he continued quickly. "But you are better now, and you have all your organs and limbs and brains and shit. And, uh. Your fingers and toes. And hair."
"The doctors said that you probably won't feel your legs right now, but that's only temporary. It's because of the swelling. It will pass." Sauli hoped. For Adam's sake, he really fucking hoped.
Then it was time for Adam's mom and dad and brother, and Sauli gladly stepped aside. They could tell Adam what had happened, and how long he had been out of it, how grueling his recovery was looking at the moment.
After that, Adam fell asleep, and then was Sauli's turn again.
"Okay, this is really shitty to ask, but can I take a twit pic?"
Adam raised his brow lightly, not turning the idea down, but just wondering what it was about.
"I've been twittering about how you have been doing, and then they asked a picture. Since then there has been a persistent rumor making circles that you are still in a coma or that you d-. That you died and that we are keeping quiet about it. And no, I don't know why we would do that."
"You made a twitter account? For me?" Trust Adam to attune to the most irrelevant information. "Yeah, maybe it would be better to give them a proof, then."
Sauli quickly made Adam look as presentable as he could, and snapped the picture. Adam still looked rough with his days old stubble and ghostly white pallor. He must have had some unneeded weight loss already, but the IV drip had bloated his face. Compared to his usual handsome self, he was almost unrecognizable, but all and all, it was a pretty decent picture, with Adam flashing a peace sign and a sliver of a smile.
Sauli felt the now familiar feeling in his chest. Adam was alive and alert. This was the best picture ever.
SauliK 8:34 pm
Adam says hi.
Later Sauli learned that the picture had ended up in news all over the world.
After Adam had woken up, the whole atmosphere changed in the hospital rooms. Most of Adam's friends went back to their homes, as the life threat had passed but they weren't allowed to visit. Lane and Sauli, of course, stayed.
Now it didn't feel so bad for Sauli to check the news coverage anymore, either.
"According to E, a close source revealed that I proposed him as the first thing he woke up."
Instead of laughing, Lane gave him an honest Oh No You Didn't face, and for a second, Sauli's brain froze. "Of course I didn't! What the hell, I wouldn't throw him something like that!"
"Yeah, right. Of course it's bull." Lane turned her head, looking like she was pondering something and then making a decision. "About E, though… Would you be interested in making a True Hollywood Story?"
"But… They already did. Like a year ago."
"But it's old, you weren't in the picture then."
"What, they want to make one of me? Or, include me? That makes no sense, and also, no."
"It would be kinda interesting... I think that they are thinking the whole love story angle. Now they would have a story ending in it, too."
Sauli just looked at her.
"So it's a no?"
"Yeah. For now."
Sauli didn't know a better way to kill time than to talk shit with Adam. He sat on Adam's bed, his bare feet pulled up to the hospital issue sheet. Sometimes he even laid on Adam's side, now that he didn't have the fear about breaking Adam, or pulling some important thinga-ming, but the nurses really gave him a stink-eye from that.
"Oh, and when you were out, I become a professional boyfriend."
"No, I don't think so. Just boyfriend will do."
"Did you know that you people's way to express communal sorrow and caring is really fucking freaky?"
"No, but I'm sure that you'll me all about it later."
"Hey, in case you were wondering..."
"Your mother and Neil have been very concerned about me not sticking around."
Adam kept a few seconds silent before he responded, casually. "Yeah?"
"Just that you will know..." Sauli dropped a kiss on Adam's lips. "Like, officially-." Another kiss. "- That I'm sticking around."
Adam flashed him a relieved smile, which then turned to a more cautious one. "You gonna play a nursemaid for me?"
Ow, that was a loaded question. How was it that when the tables were turned, when it would be Sauli's turn to take care of Adam, everyone, Adam included, feared that it wouldn't suit him.
"I have dragged your ass to jogging, haven't I? Now I'll just drag you to walks. With that walker thing that evil old grannies use."
Adam chuckled, but he didn't look like he would be completely convinced yet.
"Sticking around, remember? And you can tell it to your mother and brother, before they shackle me to your bedpost as a precaution."
"Can I shackle you instead?"
For that, Sauli gladly agreed.
The fans went home, the media slowly quieted down, and Sauli wanted to think that everything had gone back to normal again. But every now and then, it hit him that things were now changed. This time it was the hospital cafeteria newsstand that shook him up again.
It was a cover of the Time, and it hurt Sauli to look at it. It was him. It was a photograph of him, crouching over Adam. His hands couldn't be seen, but the viewer knew that they were covered in blood. His face was a picture of desperation. It was a beautiful picture, in a way.
Sauli didn't purchase the paper, but that didn't mean that the picture would leave him alone. It was picked up by other medias. In a time it became a classic, a picture that people knew.
Adam got better faster than anyone of them had dared to hope. They didn't even have to modify his home to accommodate a wheelchair. But what they decided to keep from the public was how far from normal Adam's condition still was.
Outside, nothing was wrong. Standing still or in photographs, Adam was again as handsome as ever. If you'd hear him sing, it would be as beautiful as ever. It was his painfully slow, cautious walk, and his indrawn expression that telltaled something being wrong. Welcome to the world of a pain patient.
Adam's mom and dad and Neil were there again when it was the morning when Adam would return home. At first a visit to a private rehabilitation centre had been considered, but on Adam's insistence, he was allowed to return straight at home, in Sauli's ward and daily visits from a nurse and a physiotherapist.
Before the big move, though, Neil again dragged him behind a corner for some serious talking to.
"Sauli, you ran to him when there was a gunman at loose. You have stayed the whole time at the hospital, despite that you felt like you hadn't earned the right to stay. And now you honestly don't give a fuck if he ever walks again right, you'll stay with him no matter what. Just how dumb you are? Don't you see that you are in love?"
"Uh." Sauli felt like he was the proverbial deer in the headlights. Confirm? Deny?
"He loves you too, if that wasn't clear to you, like, months ago."
"Okay? Everyone happy now? Bye then."
Sauli was left to gather his thoughts. Okay, then. Maybe it was a confession time, for everyone's benefit. But Sauli knew that Adam was still super twitchy about Sauli helping him around. Also, Adam took his relationship cues from soap operas, it looked like. A confession of love could, in Adam's brains, turn to something that Sauli would felt he needed to say out of an obligation. Dumb, but you just couldn't get the insecure, somewhat drama-prone boy out of the man, Sauli knew.
Sauli went back to Adam's room that was now full of life, and waited until Neil got the clue and removed his parents and himself from the scene. Okay, this wasn't a love confession, not yet, but it would have to do.
Adam turned his concentration, a moment before fully focused on getting out of the bed unassisted, to Sauli
"Move in with me."
Adam's brow rose. "You already live with me."
"Yeah, but it's not like you'd had asked me to move in, I came and stayed because I didn't have a place, and then I just stayed."
"I guess that's true... We're really bad at relationship talk, are we?"
"Yes. So. I want us to officially live together, and then you don't have the right to angst about you using me as a nurse maid, or worrying that I'll get fed up and find another place to lodge. And because I'm me, I'll have to ask you. So yes or no?"
Adam smirked, but he also looked relieved. The man had obviously already been stressing about how Sauli would feel about ending up helping Adam to wipe his ass. Though Sauli was almost sure that no actual ass wiping would be needed.
"Yes. And do you, Sauli, want to move in with me, for the better and worse?"
"I do." Sauli couldn't help smirking then. It was funny, and yeah, romantic.
Sauli handed Adam his walker. He didn't care if the already hated thing would end up as a permanent part of their lives. He wanted to be there for Adam, he wanted to be there for himself, because there was no place where he would rather be. Who cared if their life would never be the same again. Adam was alive and Sauli wanted to spend the rest of his life with him.