Adam was not comfortable in his bunk. He wasn’t comfortable anywhere. Nothing felt good when you were feverish and shivery and torn between the desire to bundle yourself in fifteen blankets and the urge to throw everything out of the fridge and curl up in the salad crisper.
As the salad crispers of the world were a) occupied by salad and b) non-existent on the bus anyway, Adam curled up under his coverlet instead and hugged his knees. It was comforting for a second but then the press of his own sticky skin became unbearable, so he kicked off the covers and sighed accusingly at the roof when his arms immediately put up a protest in the form of a billion goosebumps.
His head thumped sullenly and his spine ached from lying down too long. Usually the movement of the bus sent Adam right off to sleep like he was being rocked in someone’s arms, but tonight he could feel every bump in the surface of the road. Every slight swerve felt like he was rolling on rough seas, and the symphony of snoring (usually disguised by Adam’s iPod) was so elevated by the fact that everyone was sick at the same time that Adam couldn’t drown it out unless he turned his music up too loud to be able to sleep. Earplugs made his already-blocked system feel like his head was going to explode, and anyway he was annoyed because he knew the snoring was there even if he couldn’t hear it, and being annoyed was like mainlining Red Bull for Adam, he wouldn’t sleep so long as he could lie there and stew furiously instead. Stupid stubborn Aries moon.
Adam glowered meaningfully at his own toes, and then Danny made a noise like someone was murdering a baby rhino in his bunk. Adam threw his curtain open and dropped loudly into the aisle, grabbing his blanket and thumping as loudly as he could past Danny’s bunk on his way to the lounge. If he accidentally tripped on the way and his knee jabbed hard into Danny’s side, well, Adam couldn’t help it. The highway surface was totally uneven.
He made a dramatic, irritated entrance into the lounge, letting his cover fly out from his shoulders like a cape, and sighed long-sufferingly at no-one.
“When I’m on tour by myself,” he said to the pile of clothes some untidy jerk had left on one of the couches, “I won’t have to share with a bunch of assholes, and I will forbid snoring on my bus.”
“You won’t be able to ride with yourself, then, Snorty McPhlegm,” replied the pile of clothes.
“I sleep like an angel,” Adam told it indignantly.
“You sleep like a trombone violating a pig,” said the clothes, and then they sat up and revealed themselves to be Kris. “And nice superiority complex, man.”
Adam blinked, and considered being embarrassed, but then decided he didn’t believe in that so he just drew his coverlet around him and said icily, “You.”
“Me,” said Kris. He rubbed the side of his head. His hair was sticking out. It was annoyingly adorable.
“Plague bearer,” Adam hissed, valiantly resisting the adorableness and injecting as much accusatory venom into his voice as he could.
Kris made a sad face. “It wasn’t me,” he said plaintively. “Michael got sick first.”
“You got sick last!” said Adam. He pointed, but that made him drop his cover-cape onto the floor. He put his hands on his hips and pretended he meant to do that. “I was fine until you started sneezing all over everything.”
“You weren’t fine,” Kris frowned. “The doctors first told you to rest your voice like a million years ago. If anyone brought the plague onto this bus it was you.”
Adam picked up his cover from the floor – slowly, because bending down made his head swim – and retreated to the couch opposite Kris, where he bundled himself up and peered suspiciously out from a gap in the blanket. “If I was on the brink of immuno-deficiency, it was you who pushed me over it, hanging off me all the time and getting your germs in my face.”
“I can’t hear you,” said Kris, drawing a circle in the air by his ear.
Adam poked his fingers out, made a mouth-gap in the blanket, and repeated himself. “Your hugs are poison,” he added.
“Oh,” said Kris quietly. He shrank into his own blanket. “I’m sorry,” he said stiffly. “I didn’t know – I won’t do it anymore.”
“Good,” Adam snapped, and then felt terrible when Kris’ face fell even further. He didn’t want Kris not to hug him. He loved Kris’ hugs. They were real hugs, not that fake air-kiss clutch or the stupid back-slapping thing. Kris’ hugs were the kind where someone put their arms around you because they loved you and they wanted to hold you close to their heart.
“It’s just that it makes me feel better,” Kris said a little haltingly. He traced a shape on his knee with his fingertip and darted a furtive little look up at Adam’s face. “Being close to you, I mean. I wasn’t trying to bug you with it.”
For the love of God. “For the love of God,” said Adam. “Come here.”
Kris looked doubtful. Adam beckoned impatiently, and Kris gathered his blankets around him and shuffled over to Adam’s couch. He perched on the edge, out of reach. “I came out here because I thought I might keep you awake coughing underneath you,” he said, and shivered so hard Adam could see it through the blankets. “I didn’t know you were going to come in and be mad at me.”
“I’m not mad. I’m just bitchy when I’m sick,” Adam said honestly, and wormed his arm out from under the covers so he could hold it out to Kris. Kris eyed him a little, then shifted over and burrowed into Adam’s side, sighing in contentment when Adam’s arm closed around him. “You’re a shit,” Adam said, watching the smug, self-satisfied expression on Kris’ face. “You’re not sorry at all. You were playing me!”
Kris laughed, and clung when Adam tried to tip him off onto the floor. “Come on, I’m here now,” he said. “You can’t get rid of me.”
“Apparently not,” Adam said grumpily, but then Kris felt so nice to hold, small but solid, just right, that he couldn’t keep being mad. He put his other arm around Kris instead and rested his cheek on the top of Kris’ head.
“Mm,” said Kris. Adam felt an arm snake under his own covers and around his waist.
“If I don’t sound hot on stage tonight it’ll be awful,” Adam worried aloud. “Everyone already hates me because I don’t always sign after the show.”
“Nobody hates you,” said Kris, muffled in Adam’s shoulder. “Stop reading your Twitter replies.”
“You read yours!” said Adam.
“Mine aren’t crazy.”
“Like fuck they aren’t,” Adam scoffed. “What about those chicks in England who want to put you in a Perspex cage?”
“Well, at least they aren’t in America throwing dildos at my face,” Kris said reasonably.
Adam groaned. “My life,” he said dramatically.
“It’s hard,” Kris consoled him, and rubbed Adam’s hip, which was less comforting and more guiltily tingly.
“Do you ever feel like a terrible person,” Adam whispered to take his mind off it, “because here you have everything you ever dreamed of and all you want is a week off?”
“Screw that,” said Kris, cuddling closer. “I want my Mom.”
“Me too,” Adam admitted. “Mine, I mean. And her chicken soup.”
“Does that actually work?”
“I’m Jewish,” said Adam. “Hello.”
“I want cough syrup blended with ice and ginger ale,” said Kris, and sneezed.
“Bless you,” said Adam. “I want frozen orange juice with a bendy straw.”
“I want to lie on the couch with the good comforter and watch infomercials.”
“I want ice cream in my special bowl,” Adam moaned.
Kris sighed. “I want toast made into triangles with the crusts cut off.”
“I want my Grandma to feel my forehead and tell me the only thing to do with pain is live through it.”
“I want my Dad to bring me his old photographs to look at.”
“I want Neil to bring my homework and do the math for me.”
“I want Katy to let me lie on her while we watch movies on mute with the subtitles turned on.”
Oh, thought Adam, and he didn’t have anything to say to that, because he’d never been sick in front of Drake, so he couldn’t give Kris a tradition in return. He gave him a little squeeze, instead. Kris made a happy noise and pressed closer. His fingertips stroked Adam’s collarbone where his shirt was old and stretched out of shape.
“Do you ever feel like a terrible person,” he said drowsily, “because here you have everything you ever dreamed of, and all you want is to go home?”
Adam’s stomach clenched. “To Arkansas?”
“To L.A.,” Kris murmured. His lips brushed Adam’s throat.
“Oh right,” said Adam, and like always when he remembered, he felt a happy tingle in his veins. “Katy found you guys a house there.”
“Mmm-hmm,” said Kris. His breathing was even and deep.
Adam rubbed his cheek against Kris’ hair. “It’s where you need to be,” he said, trying to cover up his own selfish pleasure. “For both your careers.”
“’S’where you are,” Kris slurred, and then he went heavy against Adam’s side, relaxed in sleep.
Adam felt the rumble of the wheels underneath him. He felt the throb in his forehead and the pressure in his sinuses and the ache in his throat. He felt the warmth of Kris pressed against him, and his skin where Adam’s fingers had slid under the gap in his blanket, and the soft tickle of his hair under Adam’s cheek.
He hugged Kris a little closer. Kris sighed and nuzzled at Adam’s throat.
The only thing to do is live through it, Adam thought, and closed his eyes.