Podfic of opening scenes by paraka
Podfic Download: MP3
The last thing he remembers is slamming the door on her tearstained face. Running down the stairs, away from the apartment he never had any claim to. Pushing through the front door and onto the street, all his thoughts focused on escape.
He still isn't used to LA. The street is full of people who push back when he stumbles into them. The door opens behind him and she steps out, holding the door in one hand so it can't swing closed and lock her out.
The last thing he remembers is her voice. "Kris, wait. Kris, you don't understand," reasonable, upset then rising in panic. "Kris!"
He still isn't used to LA. Someone pushes him and he stumbles into the road, the road that is so much busier than the ones in Arkansas and there's a white van and everything seems to slow down.
The last thing he remembers is the road against his cheek, lying in a pool of blood, sure he's dying.
He doesn't die then.
"He's right there," someone is shouting. "He's right there and he's alive so save him."
This feels like dying.
Kris wakes up. That's the first surprise, the second being the lack of pain. He can still feel his arms, his legs, right down to the tips of his fingers and toes and nothing hurts.
He isn't sure that he can move them, but he knows they're there. He can feel the softness of a blanket against his toes and the cool air against his fingertips.
The last thing he remembers - pain, a van, a woman screaming - flashes through his mind but he pushes it away.
"He's awake," says a voice, and Kris can't say for sure if it's coming through his ears or if it just started inside his head. Perhaps it's both. "Can I go now?"
Kris wonders if this is how angels talk, if he didn't survive the van and is lying in heaven somewhere. Except there are no feelings of bliss or the presence of the Lord so maybe... maybe the handful of lives Kris can say for certain that he's saved isn't enough to get you into Heaven these days. A handful of people isn't that many.
"I think you should stay for this." This man's voice doesn't echo in his head at all, so perhaps he isn't an angel. Kris opens his eyes slowly and sees a ceiling made from square tiles which evidently used to be white but have been in use long enough for the paint to yellow and chip.
It seems unlikely that the afterlife uses ceiling tiles, but what does Kris know?
"You're not dead," Adam says which is... Kris hadn't realized he'd spoken out loud but he must have. "I need a drink."
Why is Kris thinking of him as Adam, anyway? The voice is familiar only in a niggling 'heard it somewhere once' kind of way and Kris can't remember anyone called Adam.
"Does he understand what we're saying?"
Kris doesn't understand anything right at this moment. His mind feels crowded and he is talking without realizing it. He wonders if he's on drugs. Morphine or something similar, for the pain he can't feel. Kris's dad was on morphine, after he got ill but before he bonded with Kris's mum. It was supposed to be addictive, though of course the bond took care of that too.
His skin itches. That could be a side effect of morphine.
"Kristopher? Kristopher, my name is Dr. Sanders. I represent Holly Fields hospital and I need you to understand that the establishment takes no responsibility for what has happened to you and you have no grounds to pursue legal action against us." The man sounds uncomfortable, as though he's reading from some kind of script. "Due to the unusual circumstances of the procedure you are allowed to request a removal at any time."
I have no idea what you're talking about, Kris thinks.
"He doesn't understand," Adam says. "I won't disappear or anything, I just really need a drink right now and - no, you're not fucking dead how many fucking times do I have to say it?"
Kris blinks because he is almost positive he didn't say anything that time, he was just quietly wondering if maybe this was hell and hell was just confusion and awkwardness forever.
"Adam -" Dr. Sanders starts to say, which means Kris's random guess of a name was right which is... kind of unsettling. Maybe he heard it while he was unconscious.
If Dr. Sanders is right and Kris is at a hospital, they must be treating him for the accident. He's on some kind of painkiller, one of the painkillers that doesn't actually numb anything but somehow removes all the pain so you can't even tell that you're injured and makes your skin itch uncomfortably.
"Sorry," Adam says. "But my head hurts and my skin itches and no one told me this was going to be a forever kind of deal. I just want to go back to my boyfriend, go to a bar and forget all this ever happened and fuck, Kris Allen, can you shut up for five fucking seconds?"
Kris opens his mouth, then closes it again just to make sure that he wasn't saying anything.
"I'm really not qualified to deal with this. You should be here, you should definitely be here and if you could, maybe, take his hand or something?"
Adam snorts. "No fucking way. I did not sign up for this." There is a clatter like something falling over. "No one told me this was going to happen, no one explained -"
"I'll call a magician up here, we can break -"
"You'll do no such fucking thing." The bed sags as a large shape enters Kris's peripheral vision and, slowly, something warm brushes against his hand.
Warm fingers close around his palm and the itching fades, starting from his hand and spreading across his body until he's left in a state of relaxation. He can move his toes and close his fingers around the hand. He opens his mouth again and is pretty sure that if he tried, he could talk.
His mind starts to pull itself back in order, starting with my name is Kris Allen and working out through I was hit by a van and my girlfriend just left me until it reaches the very edges and somehow slightly beyond that to -
His name is Adam Lambert.
Kris jumps and almost tries to look over his shoulder to find where the words are coming from. Then he opens his eyes fully and looks up at the man sitting on his bed and - yeah - his name is Adam fucking Lambert.
"Yeah," says Adam Lambert (American idol, theatrical, oh God oh God oh God). "Shit."
Kris jerks backwards, but thankfully Adam doesn't let go of his hand because apparently one touch is all it takes for the itching to vanish completely and the headache to fade.
Adam Lambert, Kris's mind is saying over and over. Adam Lambert. American Idol. Rock star. What the hell is going on here?
Dr. Sanders doesn't hesitate. The moment they've made eye contact he ducks away to do whatever it is doctors do when they're not confusing the hell out of their patients. "I'll let you explain, Mr. Lambert. Mr. Allen, I repeat, you are allowed to request an annulment at any time and the hospital is not liable for anything." The door to the room swishes shut behind him leaving Adam sitting on his bed and Kris with no idea what's going on except that Adam Lambert is in his hospital room.
Also, you know, still holding Kris's hand. No explanation for that coming out either.
"Look, this isn't hard," Adam snaps, all of a sudden, as though Kris has been doing something terrible this entire time. "You just imagine throwing up a wall around your head. It doesn't have to be a good wall, it could be made of fucking sand for all I care because I have no interest on pushing at it but right now there is nothing and I don't actually want to know what you're thinking because if I'm honest I want nothing to do with you at -" He stops all of a sudden. Kris keeps visualizing the castle in his head and wonders if Adam is a magician or a psychic or just plain crazy.
"Thank you," Adam says and for a moment they sit there in silence, Kris wondering how long he has to visualize this wall and how Adam is in his head and also why the hell Adam is still holding his hand. "You have to speak out loud. I'm not a fucking mind reader."
Kris turns red and stares at the blanket because it's the only thing in his line of sight that isn't Adam. "I think I'm a little behind here." He says slowly, trying to prompt Adam for an explanation. "You're holding my hand."
Adam looks down as though this is surprising. His chipped back nail polish and perfectly soft fingers are pressed against Kris's rough palm. "Yeah," Adam says, then seems to realize that he still hasn't let go and tugs his hand back quickly. "I mean, whatever."
Kris's hand starts to itch, he reaches across to scratch it absently and then his wrists start to itch to which is just annoying and Adam is still looking at him. "I'm not dead," he says slowly, waiting for Adam to contradict him.
"No," Adam agrees. "You are, however, beginning to sound like a bit of a broken record on that subject. You're not dead, you're still alive, your heart is beating. How many times do I have to say it?"
Kris turns redder. "I get it," he mutters, stretching out his arms before him palms out. No broken bones, no scars, not even any grazes. "It's just hard to believe. I... there was a van. Was there a van?"
Adam closes his eyes, remembering something that makes him wince. "Yes. There was a van."
"There was a van and I was... but I'm not dead? There's... you can kind of see why I might need reassurance. I remember feeling pretty dead." He moves his legs slowly to check if they work. "How long have I been here?" He hesitates because Adam seems to know him and maybe - "How do I know you? Are you... how long has it been? Have I forgotten -?"
"It's not amnesia," Adam says. "You were run over this morning, you died for about a minute early this afternoon. It's now evening."
Kris swallows. "I don't -" he starts, even though he's starting to see because - no - it can't be that...
Adam reaches out to grab Kris hand again, which feels so much better than not touching that Kris is starting to get worried, and turns both their arms over to expose the two forearms side by side.
Kris's mouth falls open a little.
He reaches forward with his free hand, tracing the Eye of Horus tattoo on Adam's arm then moving his hand to touch the same tattoo on his own skin. It's not the same style or the same design of tattoo, it is the same actual tattoo. Down to the tiniest detail.
"You have three guesses," Adam says. "And only the first one counts."
"You have to leave," Katy said. Her hair was pulled back from her face as she stood in the kitchen of the tiny apartment. She looked at home there, in designer clothes with the newspaper open to the audition pages. She looked like an LA girl through and through, like she belonged.
Kris couldn't remember ever belonging in any building. He didn't belong in the house in Conway, he didn't belong on any of the mission trips, he certainly didn't belong in this one bedroom den on the shitty side of LA. He didn't get attached to buildings, didn't like being tied down to one place.
But he'd always thought of himself as belonging where Katy was. She was his rock, his anchor, the one stationary point in his life. He could go to Morocco or Thailand or Haiti and she would always be on the other end of the phone, waiting up when he got home to greet him with a smile and a kiss.
If she belonged in this shitty LA apartment, he belonged there with her.
Except, apparently, he didn't. "Is this about work? I can get work in LA, I don't mind living in LA."
She shook her head and he realized her eyes were red. "It's not about LA, Kris. It's about Haiti and Declan and what I need right now. What I've always needed, in fact."
"And what you need is a waster and drop out with less career prospects that the average footstool who can't afford gas or food or his own apartment."
"This is his apartment, Kris! I moved in with him, he asked me to bond with him." She reached back to tug the elastic out of her hair. "And you can't exactly talk about drop outs with no career prospects, can you, Mr. Just-One-More-Mission-Trip."
"You're going to bond with him?"
The rage drops from her face and she shakes her head in a way that means 'I'm tired' rather than 'no.' "I don't know. Maybe. I'm tired of sitting at home worrying that someone will get themselves killed because I couldn't save him."
"You don't think he's just using you for your body? Maybe he's ill and he just wants the medical benefits without caring that you'll be tied to him forever."
"I hope you and Declan are very happy together."
"Are you okay?" Adam is sitting on the bed still, tracing the tattoo on his wrist over and over with one black-nailed finger. Kris stands by the window looking out over LA and wondering where Katy is now.
"Bonded," he says, for what must be the millionth time. Bonded, his body intrinsically linked to another so that if anything hurts one of them, their body just follows the template of the other person's to fix itself instantaneously. A magical procedure that allows couples - established couples - to guarantee neither will die first, both of them aging gracefully together.
He can see Adam reflected in the window, his face lowered. "Yeah. Bonded."
Adam's face jerks upwards. "You were... they couldn't save you," he says, as though it should be obvious. Adam is a lot of things, but Kris has already established that obvious isn't one of them. Adam drops his head back into his hands. "If you want to break it... they promised they'd do it. Since you didn't consent."
Consent. Never mind that most bonds require at least six months of relationship counselling, large numbers of invasive tests and constant reminders that this is very serious and should not be entered into lightly. In an emergency situation - such as Kris's father's cancer - a long-established relationship could cut the pre-bond procedures to a week.
"I didn't know you could break a bond."
Adam drags a hand through his hair. "They can remove it but it's not... it would be like it had never happened at all. You'd still be..."
Oh. Kris swallows a little as he follows the lights of cars around the city. So if they broke the bond he would go back to just having been hit by a van.
"You'd be in hospital from the beginning," Adam continues. "They might be able to do something, something they couldn't do last time. But they couldn't put the bond back, if anything went wrong. It would be... that would be the end of it."
Meaning Kris would be dead. Permanently. Adam seems to be waiting for him to say something but all he can manage is "Oh."
Adam drags a hand through his hair and stands up. "I need a drink," he starts, but is interrupted by the door sliding open so Dr Sanders can re-enter followed by a middle aged woman in a peasant skirt and white blouse.
"Mr. Lambert, Mr. Allen, this is Ruby Evans, the hospital's resident magician. She's here to answer any questions you may have or, if you like, to break the bond between you." He hesitates, looking over at Kris's back. "Did you want to break the bond?"
Kris's church always stressed the importance of no bonding before marriage (and the reverend at his home church disapproved of it afterwards as well). Bonding should happen in a committed relationship, anything else was just selling your body out and over and over again people used to say that they'd rather die than bond for anything less than true love.
Anyway, Adam can't want this. He certainly doesn't look like he wants this and there can't be space in the world for a rock star whose skin itches every time he isn't touching a random stranger's hand. This was a bad idea all around and if it breaks it'll be like Kris never woke up, like this interlude was just some crazy dream and everyone can go back to their lives because most people don't survive being hit by vans so this clearly isn't part of any higher plan.
All three of them are watching him, probably analysing is every facial twitch reflected in the dark window. Kris opens his mouth to say 'break it' and what comes out is, "I don't want to die."
Adam looks away. Ruby Evans nods understandingly because apparently she's seen hundreds of people who aren't strong enough. "Adam?" she asks, and her voice is surprisingly soft.
"Well I'm not going to fucking kill him now, am I?"
Kris bites his lip, Dr Sanders takes half a step back and Ruby finds a sudden overwhelming interest in her shoes. Adam is tense for a long moment, then he drops on the bed and lets his head fall into his hands. "I didn't mean - I don't want anyone to get hurt."
Ruby shoos the doctor away with one hand and crosses to sit next to Adam on the bed, beckoning Kris over. "Okay," she says softly, taking both their hands in her own and pressing them together. "This is what I need you to do."
"Where do you live?" Adam asks, stiff and awkward. He released Kris's hand the moment Ruby left the room but was still sitting uncomfortably on the end of the hospital bed where Kris was lying, waiting for a doctor to check him over a final time and let him go. "I'll need your address and your phone number, obviously. I don't think the rest of what she said - she clearly doesn't understand our circumstances." He had repeated this theory many times while Ruby was in the room, and she had disagreed with it on every occasion. "If we just don't see each other, that's best."
Kris bites his lip because on the one hand Ruby is supposed to be the one who knows what she's talking about, but on the other hand she seemed to be suggesting he sleep with Adam. "So you think if we ignore our sacred mystical bond, it'll go away?"
Adam looks sideways at him. "Well anything's going to sound ridiculous if you say it in that tone of voice. Cold turkey works for alcoholics and it works for drug addicts. It can fucking work for a vague itchiness when you're not touching my hand." He looks down at the bed and realizes his fingers are inching closer to Kris's, apparently of their own accord.
He jerks them back fiercely. "She said regular sexual intimacy which as far as I can tell means go have sex. I have a boyfriend, you probably have a cute, blonde, wannabe-actress secreted away in some quaint southern town where I would be shot for daring to enter. You're alive, I'm alive, just tell me where you're living and we can go our separate -"
"I don't know," Kris interrupts. "Where I'm living, I don't -" he hesitates, unwilling to admit to Adam being right about anything. "My girlfriend just left me. I can't go back to where she's -" he swallows, trying not to remember Katy shouting at him about Declan's apartment, about moving in with him, about bonding. "My parents are in Arkansas but I can't go home with -" he turns his wrist over to show Adam's tattoo again, eerily perfect in the fluorescent lights. "I have friends back home but I can't afford a plane or gas so I guess..." he trails off, realizing the first time just how serious his situation is."If you can recommend any cheap hotels -"
Adam stares at him for a long moment, possibly in awe as to just how someone can have quite such a shitty turn of bad luck. "How much money do you have?"
Kris looks down at the hospital gown he's wearing. "That depends on whether anyone sees fit to return my wallet but I should be able to get into a hotel." He looks up into Adam's face. Adam's make-up is smudged, his hair is starting to fall down and his studded jacket looks completely out of place in the brightly lit hospital room but he is still very clearly a rock star. A very rich rock star. "For a few nights," Kris presses on. "And then I can probably find a cardboard box somewhere. You know, I'm resourceful that way."
Adam's face sours as though he knows he's being played but there really isn't anything he can do about it. "Come back to mine tonight then. We can figure out what to do about all this in the morning." He jerks his hand away from Kris's again, under the pretence of reaching up to check his hair. "I've always said I'd do anything for a fan. I didn't expect -"
"I'm not a fan," Kris throws out, mostly just because he's tired of being accommodating and wants to see the look on Adam's face. "Your music just isn't my kind of thing, sorry."
Adam looks as though he's just swallowed a lime. "I suppose you voted for Danny."
"Yeah," Kris says, entirely to piss Adam off. In reality he'd voted for Allison right up until the finale when - yeah - he'd voted for Adam because Allison liked him and Danny seemed like an asshole. "He just seemed so genuine, you know?"
Adam stares at him for a long, disbelieving moment then turns away. "Maybe I'll just pay for you to go into a hotel."
Kris opens his mouth to offer up some witty retort that he hasn't come up with yet but is interrupted by the door sliding open and Dr. Sanders re-entering with his clothes in a clear plastic bag.
"You're being discharged," she says kindly. "Clearly there's nothing wrong with you, and as long as Adam's here that will remain the case. Ruby asked me to give you her number in case of emergencies, and told me to remind you that the further apart you are, the worse it gets." She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a business card, looking between the two of them for a moment before handing it to Adam who looks at it for a moment then passes it on to Kris.
Apparently whoever designs his ridiculous jackets doesn't cater for needs such as pockets. Kris programs the number into his phone and slides the card into his jeans.
"A car has been sent for you, it's around the back and I had a word with the driver to make it clear that you needed rest and were to be taken straight home."
Kris opens his mouth to say he's fine, but Adam slams a gloved hand over it. "That's great, thank you."
Dr. Sanders looks briefly between the two of them. "Stay to the back staircase so the paparazzi don't catch a glimpse of you through the front windows, and you can rest assured no one in this hospital will breathe a word about the unusual nature of your situation."
Adam keeps his hand over Kris's mouth until Dr. Sanders lets the door close behind her, and then takes it back so he can drop his head into his hands. "Fuck, I didn't even think - fuck. How the fuck is this going to look? There are photos of me and Drake from yesterday. I'm supposed to be the good guy, I won American Idol, I played at fucking Disneyland."
Kris has no idea what to say, but he feels a slight tinge of guilt for winding Adam up earlier so reaches out to tap Adam lightly on the shoulder. "Sorry."
Adam just lets out a low moan of despair. "Lane is going to kill me."
Dr. Sanders told the driver that they needed rest so that he would take them straight home and Adam wouldn't have to face a business meeting. This turns out not to matter so much, because the business meeting arrives at the house less than five minutes after they do. Adam barely had time to show Kris the ridiculously extravagant main room and the kitchen, where he turned on the coffee machine and - after much searching through poorly stocked cupboards - locates a packed of oreos.
Kris brushes his fingers across the tattoo while Adam searches the cupboards. His mum had got his dad's birthmark when they bonded, and he had got her ear piercing. Kris eyes the large holes in Adam's ears and is very glad he didn't get those. "What did you get?" he asks.
Adam looks over at him, then tugs up the t-shirt he's wearing to reveal Kris's surgery scar snaking down his side. "Coffee?" he asks, at the same moment as the business meeting arrives.
"I cannot believe," the blonde woman Adam addressed as Lane says, touching about a hundred icons on her iPhone at the same time. She arrived with two bodyguards and three more men in suits, but somehow managed to leave them all in the entrance hall so it's only her, Adam and Kris in the study. "That you would be this stupid."
Adam drops onto the chair behind the desk and rests his head in his hands. Kris had followed them through to the study when Adam beckoned, but now he's here he just hovers in the doorway, unsure of where to go. Lane sits on the desk next to Adam and reaches out to rest her fingers on his shoulder.
"I rearranged all your meetings for today by telling people you were busy. We need to decide what to say about Drake -"
Adam's head jerks up. "What happened with Drake?"
"You went into hospital with him and he came out alone three hours later with a splint on his nose. Which - might I add - I had to find out from TMZ which is already playing the domestic violence angle for all it's worth, not helped by the fact that the hospital has been saying 'no comment' in a way that means they clearly have nothing to hide. Now, I am the one who covers up all your shit so I need to know, did you hit him?"
Adam shakes his head quickly. "Of course not. Is that... is he saying that?"
"He isn't saying anything yet. Apparently the doctors told him to take it easy so he went home to bed. There are paparazzi camping on his lawn, I look the liberty of sending a few guys over to keep him in one place when he wakes up. They'll call me at any moment. How did he break his nose?"
"I opened a door without realizing he was on the other side," Adam says tiredly, dropping his head back into his hands. "It's fine, we laughed, he's not going to make a fuss." His eyes flick up to Kris, standing in the doorway. "Believe me when I say, Drake is not our biggest problem right now."
Lane turns to look at Kris as well. "I don't believe we've been introduced."
"Kris," Adam says. "This is Lane, my PA and general miracle worker. Lane, this is Kris Allen... my bond."
Lane drops her iPhone, looking from Adam to Kris and back again. "Please tell me you're joking."
Adam shakes his head weakly and nods to Kris, who holds out his forearm with the tattoo upwards. "He was hit by a van, it was the only way to save his life."
Lane slides off the desk and starts pacing up and down at a rate that will probably wear a hole in the very expensive carpet. "You-" she says, stopping to turn on Adam. "What the fuck were you thinking?"
Kris follows her gaze, unable to help being curious himself. Adam just shakes his head. "I don't know. He was dying. I couldn't just let him die."
"You're damn well going to let him die. You're going to walk right back to that hospital and get them to break this bond then you're going to go to a very expensive restaurant with your boyfriend and let the paparazzi take photos of you feeding each other pasta and kissing each other and having a wonderful time and maybe the label will let us both keep our jobs."
Kris flinches and Adam lets out a low, dangerous sound. "You're going to lose yours a whole lot quicker if you follow this through."
Lane drags a hand through her hair and starts pacing again. "He's already dead, Adam. What you're giving him now - it's just borrowed time."
"I'm not going to kill him."
"It wouldn't be killing him, it would just be... stepping out of the way." She looks imploringly at Kris who bites his lip and stares at the floor so he doesn't have to think about how he's going to ruin Adam's life.
"No," Adam says, and when Kris looks sideways he sees Adam is watching him. "Unless you know a way for us to break the bond with no risk, it stays. Kris can stay hidden, no one has to know." He beckons and Kris steps into the room fully, letting the door swing shut behind him.
Lane looks between the two of them then sighs. "Fine. But no one is allowed to find out. No one. And you have to break up with Drake now."
Adam looks away from Kris instantly. "What? Why?"
"Because when - and I mean when - this all falls apart, you cannot be seen to have been juggling two guys." She crouches down to pick up her phone. "Drake's going to have to have been cheating on you," she says, as Kris sits on the desk. "We say he's been with someone else, they got violent - we can't name names - and you found out. You took him to the hospital, and while there you both talked and agreed that a split would be best. Naturally you're distraught but you can't be with anyone who's unfaithful and what with the tour you're happy to know that he won't be waiting for you." She types impossibly quickly into her phone and fires something off, holding up a hand when Adam opens his mouth to interrupt. "No complaining. You want to keep cheating death for this boy, this is what you have to give up. Drake has to come over less and be gone before nightfall. Ideally we need photos of him with someone else. Now -" she turns. "-Kristopher. I'm going to need you to sign a non disclosure agreement. Does anyone know you're here? Friends? Family?"
"I-" Kris glances at Adam then shakes his head. "No one even knows I was injured. My family, they know I'm in LA but they think I'm living with my girlfriend. I need to call them."
Lane is already reaching into her bag and pulling out some papers. "You need to sign these before I can let you call anybody. You will not mention Adam or the bond to anyone outside of this room. If you want to leave this house, you call me and I will arrange it. There can be no photos of you and Adam together. None. If you have sex, you have it in a room with no windows."
"We're not -" Kris says at the same time as Adam jumps and says "It's not like that."
Lane looks between the two of them with a slight frown. "As for the tour, we might have to sneak you on as a roadie, get all the guys to sign more -"
"He's not coming on the tour," Adam interrupts.
Lane frowns further. "I thought these things required contact, proximity, that sort of thing."
Kris turns bright red, Adam doesn't meet anyone's eyes. "This isn't that sort of bond. It's the 'I don't know you but you were hit by a fucking van so I'll heal you then we can leave each other alone forever' kind of bond."
"Then why is he here?"
Adam looks over at Kris who is wearing all the clothes he owns and has - as they discovered when they checked his wallet in the car - less than fifty bucks to his name. "Because I'm not going to save him from death by van then leave him to starve slowly on the streets."
"I thought the point of the bond was that as long as one person was alive and healthy, the other was alive and healthy. Surely that means as long as you're -"
"Well it would still suck," Adam snaps. "He's staying here, he can keep staying here when I leave for Glamnation and -" he breaks off at Kris's snort. "What?"
Kris tries hard not to laugh any more than he already is. "Glamnation? You called your tour Glamnation?"
"Well," Lane says. "This won't last a week."
Lane leaves after a brief discussion about dancers and costumes that Kris zoned out of because Adam's hand had absently inched forward until their fingers were brushing together and Kris had done his best to store the soothing feeling against his fingertips for the inevitable moment when Adam noticed and jerked away.
That moment is delayed for a while, Adam not moving as Kris scrawls his name on Lane's papers and she leaves. "You know what they said to me," Adam says.
Kris looks around and Adam clearly knows that their touching because he's staring at the way their fingers are almost interlaced but still only barely touching. "What?"
"When I won," Adam clarifies. "When they first signed me. They looked me right in the eye and said the first sign of my lifestyle being anything less than completely wholesome and I would be over before I could say Jim Verraros."
Adam raises his head to look into Kris's face, his eyes despairing. "Exactly. And Drake, Drake is the one good thing to happen to me in who knows how long and this tour is taking so much more out of me than I thought it would. I've been exhausted since the fucking finale and every time I so much as look around it feels like I'm pulling my life apart even more." He laces their fingers fully so he can turn Kris's arm over and examine the tattoo. "I thought I was getting too old for all this but bonding? I'm too young."
Kris swallows and tugs his hand away, even though it means soon the ache and the itch will return. "Are your parents bonded?"
Adam laughs weakly. "My parents aren't together, Kris. I suppose your parents are devout Arkansas Christians who are married and bonded and will stay together forever or whatever."
"They're bonded," Kris admits. "But it's not because... my dad got ill. Cancer. My brother and I were still young, mum couldn't have raised us on her own. My church... they don't approve of bonding at all. There were all these sermons about how it would be better to be dead than in a loveless bond and -" Kris is carefully not looking at Adam and he doesn't even realize he's shaking until Adam's hand presses on top of his. "I wanted to say break it," Kris whispers. "I don't want - I don't want any of this but I was too scared of -"
"It's okay. I - I wasn't trying to make you change your mind." He squeezes tight for a moment. "We'll get through this. It's just a bit of discomfort. We can push through, come out the other side then you can go home and I can get back together with Drake and it'll just be something that's there and we don't have to worry about." He pulls his hand away and pushes the phone on the desk towards him. "I'll get food delivered. Call your parents."
Kris takes the phone obediently and waits for Adam to leave the office before leaning over to the keypad and typing in his home number - why does Adam have a mainline phone, anyway? Kris had always assumed everyone under thirty used cell phones these days - and is distracted thinking about the warmth fading from his fingers that when his mama answers, he half drops the phone in surprise.
"Hello, Allen residence."
Kris catches the phone between his last two fingers and presses it quickly to his ear. "Mama? Mama, it's Kris."
"Kristopher," she exclaims, and for an instant Kris wishes she was right there in the room with him, giving one of her big warm hugs full of love and reassurance. "The caller ID didn't pick you up, where are you calling from? Is that Katy's apartment in LA?"
So Katy hasn't phoned, or her parents haven't spoken to Kris's. Kris pulls his copy of the non disclosure agreement closer, trying to work out what he's agreed to. "It's, no. I'm not at Katy's. She - she has someone else." The words sound strange coming out of his mouth. Finding out about Declan, being dumped by Katy, it all feels like it happened a long time ago.
Kris has died since then, after all.
"Oh Kristopher," his mama says, so full of love and understanding that Kris wishes she was there more than ever and finds tears welling up in his eyes for the first time. "I'm so sorry. And you'd just got back, as well."
He'd just got back. If Katy seems like a long time ago, Haiti could have been a whole other lifetime. "She met him while I was gone," Kris says, hunting the desk for a box of tissues or something. "The house in LA was his, she's living with him, she wants to bond -" his voice cracked on the last word.
"Oh, oh Kris. I'm so sorry. Are you, are you coping? Do you need us to pay for your flight home, or have you got enough left over?"
"I -" Kris touches his pocket where his nearly-empty wallet lies. Adam could afford a flight to Arkansas, if Kris asked him, but he's already said he'll stay around. "I'm going to stay here for a bit. I... I found a job. A music job, playing in a bar. It's not much but I don't - I can't face college just yet. I need some time."
"You have money? Do you need us to send you anything? Can you give us your address?"
Kris rummaged through the drawers until he found a note with Adam's address scrawled across the top. Even if Kris wasn't standing in a four bedroom palace with a kitchen twice the size of Declan's entire apartment, he would be able to tell from the address that it wasn't somewhere a bar-musician could ever afford. "I still need to finalize a few details, but I'll call you as soon as it's settled."
"The moment you want to come home, Kris, you call and let us know. We can pay for your flights and whatever else you need, we just want you back here with us." She sounds so close that Kris is closer to tears than ever. "Your father wants to talk to you, I'll just put you on speaker and -"
Then his papa's voice is there and Kris loses the fight with his tear ducts, finding a box of tissues just in time to pull one out and blow his nose on it.
"You were always too good for her anyway," his dad says, sounding a little like he's crying as well. "I bet in a week she realizes what she's given up and comes chasing after you. You were always inseparable, maybe she just needs more time."
Kris swallows and doesn't ask if three months in Haiti wasn't enough time for Katy to realize she needed him. He's spent his entire relationship giving her space and now, apparently, that wasn't what she wanted and he doesn't know how to fix things. "I -" he says, remembering suddenly that he's bonded and there is no way to fix things. He's never met a bonded person who dated outside of their bond, never so much as heard of the possibility. Maybe there'll be no one in his life again.
No one but Adam, at any rate.
"Can we not talk about Katy?" he asks, his voice low and weak. "I just need time to work things out and I can't -"
"Of course," his mama gushes. "So tell us about Haiti, love. Was it hot? How was the work?"
Kris hangs up half an hour later and goes through to the kitchen to find Adam and a small mountain of Chinese food.
"I didn't know what you liked," Adam says, without look at him. "I got some of everything, you can choose whatever you want."
"Right," Kris says softly, reaching out to pull a few pots closer.
"The girlfriend," Adam says, glancing up from his bean sprouts. "You really loved her?"
Kris looks down at the Chinese food, realising too late that he hasn't hidden the red rings around his eyes as well as he naively thought he had. "She was supposed to be the one. The girl next door, the first love, I was going to be with her forever."
Adam swallows a little. "First love," he says. "That's always the worst."
After that, they eat in silence.