Chapter 1: This is the Life
* Prologue *
This is the Life
This is the life. The whole fucking life.
His fingers fly over the strings, and he can feel the atmosphere take a running jump into insane.
Adam is singing, on his knees in the front of the stage, and Tommy doesn’t need to look to know that on his face is the biggest, most blissed-out look you could ever imagine with. It’s a natural high, brought on by performing, because Adam is Adam, and Adam is a performance whore; always has been, always will be.
The Glam!bulge is loud and proud tonight, and Adam grins as he stalks over to Tommy, all teeth and smiling like a predator. He runs a be-ringed hand through Tommy’s floppy mohawkish hair, and Tommy leans in close, his throat exposed as Adam licks up a stripe up it.
They haven’t planned this, but Tommy leans in close, pressing himself against Adam’s bare chest, his throat exposed as Adam whispers something to the skin over his pulse, and Tommy can hear someone (probably Neil) in the background, groaning out “I don’t need to see this”. He doesn’t give a shit, but Adam chuckles in his ear, and Tommy knows that Adam heard as well.
They haven’t planned this, but the crowd love it, are screaming like a bunch of wild animals as Adam grabs him by hair on the back of his neck, and pulls his head back so he can sing straight to his face. And the whole time, Tommy Joe’s fingers don’t let up, they keep right on playing because this… this is what he does, he carries on while Adam uses him to perform. He’s just in the perfect headspace, and Adam can feel it as well, can see his fingers are moving without his brain even telling them what to do. Adam’s smiling at him, all teeth and lips, and Tommy leans in for a quick peck, but Adam catches his hair and pulls him close, close, closer, and it’s a good ten seconds before they break for air.
Adam leaves him alone for a while after that, and slopes off somewhere else to do some more singing, and Tommy settles back to his bass, propping himself on the edge of an amp just to have something to stabilise himself for a second. Being around Adam is weird, is intense, and it takes a moment to establish yourself when he goes away. At least, that’s how Tommy sees it.
Out of the corner of his eye, he sees some guy in a crew t-shirt, hovering around the edge of the exit off stage, but he pays him no mind – there’s always some, usually the newbies who haven’t see all the bands yet, who want to see a live performance up-close and personal.
There’s a moment of hush, when Adam wraps up the last song before intermission, and then the crowd is applauding so loudly, that the bottle of water on the stage beside Tommy vibrates, just like in Jurassic Park.
Fucking A, man.
Adam rushes off to do and do a costume change and the rest of the band lay aside instruments to go and have a smoke, or to piss, or just take moment to come down off a high that has been building all night. This is a moment to breathe, to catch yourself before the second half of the performance, to inhale sanity, and exhale the performance rush.
Monte claps him on the shoulder when he brushes by, and Tommy sends him an open mouthed grin, because they are both loving this; it’s what they signed up for in the first place. He shuts himself in the bathroom, to take a leak after his run through the gauntlet of backstage staff, and security people. God, he’s been dying for one since the third song, and that was what, an hour ago? But it’s insanely hot out there, and he’s been chugging back the bottles of water that the in-house bar has been throwing at them all day because he will not faint from dehydration again. Adam always comes over and checks to make sure, anyway, and good luck trying to get out from under that motherhen act, because he’s been trying for six whole weeks, and it’s still ain’t worked.
All too soon, there’s a hundred people pushing them back on stage, and Adam is his usual fabulous self in a new costume, waiting to his moment to get back on stage and be fabulous again. He runs a finger down Tommy’s neck, just before he hits the stage, and damnitall, if he hasn’t got goose bumps running down his back, spreading like wildfire. He growls low in his throat, and Adam chuckles at him, pushing him onto the stage, and Tommy promises that he’ll pay him back later.
Maybe he’ll stick his ice cold feet on Adam’s stomach again. God, the shrieks last time, and Adam never lived it down. Ha. He’ll deserve it, hot blooded freak, s’not Tommy’s fault he runs like fifty degrees cooler than Adam.
They’ve been playing for about twenty minutes, been through the introductions as well, and Tommy is totally in the zone, totally living through the music, and it’s just perfect. He can’t remember the name of this city off the top of his head, but he will will find out from Lane, so he can make them play again on the next tour (he avoids wondering whether there will be another one) because the crowd here are perfect, and the stage, and the crew, and everybody is just so amazing.
The guy is back again, and he’s got a strange little smile on his face. Whatever, sometimes music makes you feel weird. Sometimes, Adam gets like that, so do they all, really. There’s always a song that turns your mind upside down, and life gets complicated when you listen to it, and you just get it. There’s something intoxicating about Adam as well, and he turns away from the other guy, focuses on Adam who’s busy prancing around Monte, and the girls are loving him, as always. He can’t blame the guy for staring at the singer, because frankly, Tommy’s been touring with him since forever, or so it feels, and even he’s not immune to the Lambert!Effect.
He just shrugs off the gaze he feels burning into his neck when he turns his back on the guy again.
He carries on, and they launch into a new song, a different one with a heady beat, and a very complicated lyrical set that Adam’s particularly proud of. Tommy takes a sip of water, and jumps right in along with Adam, who is writhing around on the front of the stage, and the atmosphere turns electric as he turns his back on the stage entrance to his left. Then the screaming for Adam turns into real screams of fear, and Adam is screaming at him to get down, and in his ear someone is shouting at him
to look up.
When Tommy looks up again, the crew guy has a gun in his hand, and the strange smile is still there. And it's pointed straight at Tommy, and the guys hand is rock steady, even with the screaming, and the eyes on him, and the eleven million cameras pointed in his direction.
And every bit of sound drains out of his world, in a quick rush with a sucking sound and a breath of wind rushes through his skin. And his world goes down to his bass under his fingers, the guy with the gun, who mouths, “I love you, Tommy Joe” at him, like it’s a secret, something between the two of them. And Tommy Joe can feel every camera flash from the audience, can see every flash from the glitter on the stage from where it's been thrown by the fans, and he thinks there is no secret here - he's all on his own in this sea of people with a psycho with a gun, a gun with a trigger that is being molested by the blonde in a crew t-shirt that Tommy realises isn't actually a crew t-shirt at all. That finger on the trigger is tightening by increments of millimetres.
And then the world explodes into sound again.
And his guitar's neck shatters in his hands, and something is pullingTommy to his knees, then backwards, sprawled out and looking up into the roof of this concert venue. Someone’s left a strip of candy striped safety tape dangling from one of the spotlights, and it waves in the breeze, backwards and forwards hypnotically. It’s such a stupid thing to notice, but there’s so much happening that he takes a moment to reset his brain, to focus on something small, because in a minute he’s going to have to get up and deal with the fucker who just broke his damn bass.
He loved that bass.
He’s gonna have to fuck up the fucker who broke his fucking bass, and then because he fucked up Adam’s show, and fucked up Tommy’s high as well, and that’s just not fucking cool, man, not cool at all. It’s his fucking bass, you know, his fucking bass, and his show. How he earns a living, and the fucking fucker just broke it so he’s gotta break the fucker right back, because he’s a rock star now, and rock stars don’t just lie down and take it like he’s doing, they get up and punch shit up.
But there’s more, and he feels his body shuddering under his bass, and something hits him in the chest, the leg, some other places that he can’t tell where but knows he’s hit, and suddenly, getting up is a lot more difficult, and he’s lost his grip on the amp that he was using to haul himself upright with.
And the crowd is screaming again, but it’s muted, and fading as fast as the warmth is spreading at his back, and Adam’s face appears above his. Tommy Joe feels like he should smile, should say something reassuring but the tears in Adam’s eyes, the tears streaking his make-up make Tommy think twice, make him think thrice, as the black begins to slide down the face of the man he knows so well, after all this time.
Because Adam doesn’t cry like this, not in front of everybody. Because Adam doesn’t grab his hand and hold on like he’s the only thing in the world keeping Tommy Joe in this world, gripping his fingers so tightly they slip and slide between his larger ones. Because Adam doesn’t fight Monte when he and Neil pull him back when someone wearing a fluorescent jacket, and carrying a big old box of shit starts shoving his shirt this way and that, cutting it off of him.
He wants to protest when they cut the strap of his bass off of him, wants to say something when Adam takes the bass from them because that’s his bass damnit, how could they take it away from him, because how they could they how could they how how how how….
And suddenly the world catches up with him, at the same as he reaches out for Adam, but when he tries to call out, blood bubbles up, and something inside of him is cold, cold like fire. He wants Adam, he wants Adam by his side, but there’s more people in bright yellow t-shirts, and Monte is clutching onto Adam’s shoulders with a grip so tight his knuckles are white.
And there is only silence, and Tommy really wants to say something, wants to ask what happened, because everything starts hurting, and he really really can’t help the tears welling up in his eyes, and Sutan is going to give him hell when he gets up in a minute, because he’s made his makeup run all down his face and it’s supposed to be waterproof and the fucking packaging lied. Again. But there’s more red bubbling up from his lips, so that’s good – Sutan won’t have to do his lips for him, because he’s already got enough smeared around them to make him a glam vamp, but Adam doesn’t seem to approve, as he drops to his knees beside Monte and Neil.
And then there’s black and grey creeping in the sides of his vision, and he doesn’t like that, because that’s not what he needs right now. He needs Adam, and someone to tell him what happened, and why is there red everywhere, all over Adam’s chest, and his hands, and the knees of the guys surrounding him, actually climbing the green fabric like some alien infestation.
It’s too much effort to keep straining his neck around to see Adam, who is white faced beneath the glitter and rhinestones now, kneeling on the floor beside Monte, and Neil’s hands are holding on to Adam’s while his face is buried in Adam’s neck, and Isaac is standing on the drum stand beside him, and his mouth is hanging open, and his drums sticks clutches in his hand like they’re the only things that mean anything anymore. The guys around him keep pulling at him, keep trying to talk to him, slapping his face, and pushing on his chest, his thigh, deep into his belly, which hurts. A deep, slow hurt which comes and goes in waves.
His head is too heavy to move, so he goes all boneless and relaxed, like he does when he’s on the couch on the tour bus, and he can almost imagine his head on Adam’s lap and Adam’s fingers brushing across his head, as some shitty TV program plays in the background.
The last thing Tommy Joe hears is his heart beating off time in his chest, swishing back and forth like the ocean in Cabo, and he can smell the sea salt and he’d be back there if he wasn’t so fucking cold; this bone chilling ache that causes his teeth to press together with the pain of being so damn cold.
He wants to look at Adam, see Adam and tell him everything going to be just fine, because he’s a rockstar now, and this kind of thing is just walked off, but his body isn’t responding anymore, isn’t working like he wants to, and the last thing he sees isn’t Adam, but the candy stripe piece of tape swinging in the breeze, like a
little warning flag
that he didn’t
bother to pay
Chapter 2: Regrets Like Fuck
~*Regrets Like Fuck*~
Rewind to a year before the shooting, and life itself is imploding in the wake of the Glam!Nation tour.
They’ve got a second album on the boil - well on the way to completion now, another tour planned for later that year, and life is good.
And someone out there likes Tommy.
Likes him a lot.
He keeps getting presents, which isn’t new in of itself – fans are generous people, and he loves them for it all the more, and while he doesn’t eat the food; Adam’s press staff have dibs on that; he does enjoy the books, DVDs, links and posters he gets sent. If someone wants to send him a handmade knitted figure of himself and Adam, well that’s the fan’s prerogative, and he’ll just stick it on the next tour bus, and tweet about it non-stop, because then he’ll get a whole fucking army of the glamily in knitted form, and Adam thinks they’re kinda cute.
No, whoever this is is determined that he’ll notice these presents, so they’re wrapped in a soft pink and white candy stripe paper, with different coloured bows on them. It takes him a while but he figures out what they mean – gold is food, usually sweets and always red or pink and white striped in some way; red is books; blue is images - DVDs and photos, and green is something he’ll never guess.
Everyone thinks these presents are kinda strange, and Tommy would suspect Adam of sending this shit, but there’s no way in hell Adam could be sending anything what with his schedule as insane as it at the moment. And besides, Adam wouldn’t be so… intimate with the things. Books are one thing, but a DVD of his favourite porn star’s best acts which he’d been wanting for a while, is just something that Adam wouldn’t do. For one thing, she’s blonde, and buxom, and so not Adam’s type that it’s not really funny. So yeah, who the hell else could it be?
He doesn’t eat the sweets, and turns the books over to other people, and binned the DVD as well, because try as he might, the presents are creepily close to his heart – they’re his favourite sweets, his favourite books, his favourite porn star, and it’s like someone knows him so well, but isn’t revealing himself. How could this mysterious stranger know that he loves Stephen King’s Carrie but only the version with the cover of a washed out white image on a red background that is only sold in Europe. How could this person know that he loves candy canes but only the fresh, tart peppermint ones that are handspun using imported flavoured sugar, with cinnamon afterburners in the bottom of the box that’s only sold in one store in LA? How could this person know that he really loves the smell of lavender and sandalwood, and send him candles which are, according to the bottom of the box, genuine handmade candles from Italy, shipped to the office by a courier?
How come this stranger know that he’s addicted to ahem… a certain porn star, when he’s pretty sure he’s never tweeted or even spoken about it with any of his band mates. Hell, he even left all his porn at home when he went on tour the first time, and didn’t let anybody else read his internet history when he was on the tour bus, and in motels and hotels.
He’s started to get just a little bit paranoid but everyone thinks it’s cute, and so he doesn’t raise too much of a fuss over it.
Three days later, he regrets that decision. Regrets it like fuck.
He went out the previous night – to some club he didn’t even know the name of and sat himself down at the bar with the intention of staying out at least three hours, because he cannot take another night of lounging at home, doing fuck all for the fifteenth night on the go. Didn’t get hammered, but got nicely buzzed, a couple of beers, and some whiskey shots, and he hooked up with a nice chick who recognised him from the TV. She didn’t even ask about the stage gay, and that was a big plus in Tommy’s book. Nothing happened in the end, part from some kissing against a wall that got pretty hot and heavy, before she sauntered away, leaving him propped against a wall with a raging hard on and a rapidly departing buzz. Great. He loves women, would happily worship them most nights, but damnit, that’s just fucking unfair for a guy.
But that’s not why he regrets not making a fuss. Nah, he’s okay with that because that’s her right, and she can walk away at any time, and he’ll just go and try again another night with someone else. See, he’s not a misogynistic asshole at all, he knows about women’s rights and he can even respect them. He’s a fucking gentlemen, that’s what he is.
Because the next morning, he arrives in the press office at Adam’s agency, and there’s another present for him, a pink and white striped envelope this time. He rolls his eyes, and gets snarks from Monte and Isaac but they leave it at that, going back to talking to some people in suits and really snooty expressions. They’re far more interested in their own futures right now, and they’ve got some other prospects they need to hash out with the suits, and Tommy’s just fine propping himself up against a column and drinking his coffee with his eyes shut. Adam’s there as well, talking to Lane about tour dates, and album shit that Tommy’s not nearly paid enough to be interested in at this ass-crack-of-dawn time. Seriously. Who the fuck schedules a meeting at eight in the morning? He’s a rocker at heart – and proper rockers do not rise from their pits at least until after twelve.
So yeah, he doesn’t regret not making a fuss, and he’s clutching the envelope with two fingers around his bag of cookies (fuck Adam’s health food lectures, the sun’s only just up, and he wants a sugar hit like two weeks ago) until he steals Monte’s chair at a side table, and puts his coffee down so he can open the envelope and figure out what crazy thing the stranger has sent him this time. He slides a finger under the flap with one hand, and rams a double chocolate and hazelnut half cookie into his mouth with the other. When it comes to food, Tommy Joe Ratliff can multitask like a bitch.
He turns it upside down, and a whole bundle of photos fall out onto the table, at least a hundred of them.
A moment ticks over, and then another, and then another just for variety’s sake. Because this isn’t happening. His cookie doesn’t turn to ash, but it sure gets stickier and less chocolate goodness in his mouth so he has to force it down with a gulp of coffee because this is just… creep-city creep out. He turns over more of the photos and feels the cookie want to revisit him in short order again.
Because there’s him.
Him and that chick, her wrapped around him like a second leather jacket. Her stroking his hair in the bar, him giving her his patented half smile. Him on his own in the bar, talking to the bar tender. Him chugging back shots of whiskey, and him on his own in the alley outside, the expression on his face frustrated and his fists clenched after she walked away leaving him hard and wanting. There’s him getting in his piece of shit car on the way home, and him getting out of the car in front of a take-out place, some Chinese place that does wicked dim sum whenever he wants it. Him coming out with a bag of take out, him waving goodbye to the staff, him waiting at a stop light, eating a prawn cracker straight out of the bag, one hand on the wheel, the other out of view in the bag.
And then he goes even colder because there’s him. This morning. Getting coffee, getting back into his car, entering the agency building. Not two hours ago. He wants to throw up.
And then there’s a postcard sized piece of card, and on it is printed, “Was she worth it?” in really shitty calligraphy font.
And then he’s hunched over, feeling really cold, and shaky, and Adam asking him, “Tommy, what’s wrong?” as he kneels beside him on the really nice hardwood floor. Monte picks up one of the photos, “Oh shit,” and Tommy can’t help but think that’s the right sort of senti-fucking-ment, because he’s got a stalker, it’s all official and shit, because the fucker is taking photos of him now.
Monte shoves one of the more general photos from this morning at Adam; him in the coffee shop this morning, and Adam goes very very very still. His hand stops stroking Tommy’s hair, even, for a whole fifteen seconds, and Lane whistles low and long.
“Oh, hell.” Isaac’s got a thing for stating the obvious, but this time it’s true as all… well, hell. Because stalker creep has just gone from about weird, to plain all out freaky, and Tommy is so not down with that. For sure, he’s not down that. He wants his life stalker free, thanks very fucking much.
Lane’s beckoning over one of the secretaries, and Adam’s demanding they call in the police, because as he says, “This is creepy shit, and it’s gotta stop now!” And now Adam’s doing his toppy shit, but Tommy’s just happy with Adam carrying on stroking his head, because that means he can close his eyes and not focus on the world right now. Because the world, right now, is a scary place, and that’s not what he’s cool with. Not at all. He liked the world when the biggest thing he had to worry about was whether or not the barista made his coffee right. He can just stay here, and Adam can keep doing that thing with his hand, because right now, that’s the only thing that’s preventing him from flipping out something weird.
Because, let’s face it, while he’s a big showman inside his head, Tommy Joe knows that Adam is the main man, and the one who everybody loves. Adam’s the one the girls go gaga over. He’s just the bassist, but someone fixating on him like this is just wrong. As much as he loves Adam, he loves being able to go into a store and not be recognised, he likes being able to go to the grocery store and be able to do his thing in peace, not have everyone clambering over shit to get him to sign their boobs (well, okay, maybe a few fantasies about that last one but nobody needs to know that). He’s only there for stage gay and the music. And some other stuff, but that’s not important right now. Adam’s supposed to be the crazy magnet, not him.
Monte is rubbing a hand on his shoulder, and Isaac is looking lost, and Lane is looking fucking pissed, and Adam is practically vibrating with energy right now. Lane comes over again and says, “Police are coming.” And that makes this shit realer than it was five seconds ago, because now the fucking fuzz are coming to take his statement and the photos.
“Tommy.” Someone’s calling his name. “Tommy!” It’s Adam, kneeling down again to look him in the eye. “Lane wants us in one of the conference rooms. We need to move.” And Tommy knows he knows the meaning of those words but right now his brain is just stuck on this, just stuck on the fact that some creep out there is taking photos of him without his permission, and that’s one hell of a brain breaker. “Tommy, we need to move. Stand up.” And suddenly he’s on his feet, and moving in some direction he doesn’t remember discussing, but Monte’s brought his coffee, and Lane’s got his bag of cookies, so he’s not left anything important behind and Adam’s got his hand in his, pulling him along. And he lets him do that, because when Adam’s doing his dommy shit, he’ll not let anything stop him, so it’s easier not to argue.
And maybe Adam'll make it all alright again.Because that's what Adam does.
All Tommy Joe has to is trust.
If only it was that easy.
I'm such a sucker for a toppy Adam.
And really fond of run on sentences... No idea why. Still. Please comment!
Chapter 3: Take Our Advice
~*Take Our Advice*~
Adam is being all toppy still, but Tommy’s come down (or is that up?) from wherever he was half an hour ago, and he can actually function again. So it’s weird but it’s not life threatening or anything, is it? It’s just creepy as all hell, and he’s talking to the police now. They’ll fix it for him, make it go away. They’ll stop the fucker for him.
But the overwhelming answer to every question that they put to Tommy is “No.”
“Can you think of anyone who might know you like this?” – No. He’s a sort of private person about his real life, and no single person would know all this.
“Did you notice anyone paying you unusual attention to you last night?” – No. He was too busy trying to get into someone else’s pants to watch for anybody else.
“Had you ever seen the girl before?” – No. He never even got her name, and that’s something his mother would smack him for.
“Do you always go here for coffee?” – No. First time he ever went, and it’s the last time he’s fucking going there as well.
Tommy doesn’t need a degree in psychology to know that they’re concerned with his lack of knowledge, but there’s nothing he can do. He doesn’t know where the girl came from, he hasn’t noticed anything weird, hasn’t received anything like this before from the freak with the candy stripe obsession. He just thought Candy Stripe was just another slightly too obsessed fan, another overly excitable present giving man. The police write it all down, make him sign it at the bottom with his scrawl of a signature and make him say that he swears it’s the truth.
They haven’t got any answers at the moment, but they put the photos in an evidence bag, and the envelope and all the other gifts that still linger around the office. and Lane’s on the phone to the security agency, trying to rustle up a security guard for him. His own personal security guard. Now that’s rockstar, and he’s quite happy with it. It could almost be fun, he imagines, having his own personal bodyguard to keep busy until he remembers why he’s got to have one in the first place.
He rubs a hand over his face, and wonders where it was in his contract that the crazy came for free with the pay and excellent health insurance.
Adam’s pissy. Big time, big style, Lambert!tantrum pissy. The leather jacket he has on is all tough bitchiness, and he’s taking on the personality - he’s one step away from his stage persona of being domineering all over everyone in the room. “I want someone who’s built like a line-backer. Someone terrifying and scary and who’ll keep it him safe!” Adam means well with all the shouting and the demands; he doesn’t cope with situations where he’s not got control. He paces up and down the table, and Monte keeps out of his way by sprawling in a chair next to Tommy, and Isaac goes off to find coffee for everyone again, because when Adam’s pissy, the whole world better watch out. And have coffee on standby. Because Adam needs coffee when he’s pissy because then he has something to focus on. He hates coffee most of the time, so he bitches about it when he has to have it, and then everyone gets a break from his toppy shit.
“Adam!” Lane holds the phone against her shoulder and fixes him with a glare. “They are sending their biggest, toughest, most pants shittingly scary guys over as soon as they can, so will you please go back to Tommy and let me work!” She points a finger at Tommy and narrows her eyes, and Adam’s got two choices – be bitchy and probably get shoved out of the room to calm down with Monte, or do as he’s told and stay with Tommy.
Adam huffs but he goes back to stroking Tommy’s head, and that’s just fine with him. Monte is talking to the cops now, but there’s not much he can tell them. He’s never seen anyone following any of the band apart from fans, he’s not noticed anyone following him or his wife, and he hasn’t got any of the gifts that Tommy’s been disposing of to other people. He finishes up with the cops inside of five minutes, they move on Isaac, and Monte comes over to where Adam is with Tommy.
“How you doin’?” Monte is such a dad; you can feel in how he comes down to eye level with Tommy, who’s sat in a big black leather executive’s chair, instead of looming over him. It’s such a dad thing that for a moment Tommy can feel his heart clench as he misses his own. It hurts, but only briefly – a pang of regret that’s been scarred over, rather than the raw, bleeding edge it used to be.
“I’m fine. Mostly.” He adds the qualifier because he’s still feeling off-kilter but there’s nothing like freaking out to wear you out, and he’s a bit too tired to really get worked up and frothy topped about it. Adam has that covered for the moment.
Monte narrows his eyes at him for a moment, to check if he’s telling a lie but apparently Tommy’s half-truth has satisfied him for now, because Monte scoops up his bag of cookies and hands them to him. “Eat. You’re still skinny as hell.”
“Yes, Monte.” Tommy doesn’t bother to argue with any of the glamily over his eating habits, because that’s a sure fire way to make sure they hover over him even more. He’s a skinny fucker, he gets it, but apparently nobody else does and there’s always someone shoving a sandwich under his nose or a bar of chocolate into his hands just to make him eat. He’d get sick of it, but hey, free food. You don’t live the starving artist lifestyle for long before you learn to take advantage of free stuff, especially food.
The police come back over, having questioned Lane, and picked her brains over the gifts. “Mr Ratliff?” Adam’s sitting on the arm of his chair, and Tommy’s leaning his head into the bigger man’s chest, like he could just bury himself away from the world. He withdraws from that quickly though, turning to meet the police officers head on, shoving on an expression of casual politeness. He’s nothing if not a consummate emotion hider.
“Tommy, please. I’m not respectable enough for Mr Ratliff.” He tries for humour and it makes Adam huff into his hair, so he supposes that it worked a bit.
“Okay, Tommy. We’re taking these ‘gifts’ away with us for testing, but on first look there doesn’t seem to be anything really wrong with them.” When Tommy’s face turns confused, the tall black officer elaborates, “There’s no smoke bomb in the candles, no razor blades hidden in the candy canes that we can tell, no strange powders coating the books.” Oh. Makes sens- No, wait. It doesn’t. But the officer carries on. “We’ve warned the staff to be on the lookout for gifts coming in that particular packaging, and there’s a few safety precautions that we’re gonna run over with you now, and then with the rest of the staff in a minute. For one thing, no more eating foods that your fans send you.” Damnit. There’s a fan here in LA that makes the most awesome English food gift baskets and sends one to them every once in a while. He’s gonna miss that. “Any presents you get from this guy, in this packaging, you can take straight down to the police precinct right here and then we’ll investigate it.”
The blonde female officer cuts in here, “Do you want any of the presents back?”
“God, no.” Only that’s not Tommy answering, but Adam. Adam then runs his hand over Tommy’s, and says, “We don’t need any more shit from that creep, thanks.”
“Mr Ratliff?” Oh, good. The woman obviously wants Tommy to answer for himself, so Tommy pushes an elbow into Adam’s side as a warning, and says, “What he said. I don’t care if you burn it; I don’t wanna see it again.”
“Okay, that’s good. We’ll keep it in evidence then.” Or they could do that with it. “We also want you to have some more security for you-” And this time Lane butts in, with a sheaf of paperwork in one hand, and a mug of hot sweet coffee in the other.
“Here, Adam. Drink.” She hands the mug to Adam, and gives Tommy the paperwork. “Thanks officer, but we’ve got some extra security on the way, who’ll be Tommy’s very own. No sharing, no expense spared.” The officer raises an eyebrow, because on the top of the paperwork is a photo clipped to a bio, and the guy isn’t just built like a line-backer. He is built like a brick shit house, so wide his shoulders barely fit into the frame. Hulking and his face looks like he slammed it into a wall a time or ten. The guy looks like he chews bricks for breakfast, and then washes it down with a bucket or two of blood and guts. Adam chokes on his coffee when he sees him.
Tommy likes the look of him already.
“I see.” The black officer, Sanderson from his nametag, “Is one going to be enough?”
“No, that’s why we’ve hired two.” Lane pulls another photo clipped bio out from the stack and slides it over to the police officer. This one is even scarier, broken nose, and big fists, and from the little that Tommy can read upside down, he’s nearly seven foot tall, weighs more than three times Tommy’s weight, and been in the business for nearly twenty years. Looks like they have themselves another winner.
“You listened to me, then.” Adam mutters as he studies the bio of the first guy. He takes another sip of coffee and Tommy can feel the wince all down his left side where Adam is pressed against him. It’s not what Adam wanted, but he needs sugary coffee at a time like this.
“You said scary, I got you scary. These guys will eat a stalker alive.” Lane taps her hand on the stack of paperwork. “Even got the insurance to cover it. Asset protection and all that.” And that’s good because how the fuck Tommy would even begin to pay these guys’ salaries, he doesn’t have a clue. He flips through the stack, but doesn’t see anything interesting – it’s all contractual information and boring legal shit. “We’ll get to work signing those in a minute.”
“Alright.” Chaplin, the female officer, picks up a plastic bag full of the gifts which are in more evidence bags. “I want you to also fit some more locks on your residence, since I understand it doesn’t have private access.” Fuck no, he lives in a dump. He was lucky to get off-road parking, never mind security gates and a fence like Adam’s place. “You need to consider adding some more protection to your front and back doors, maybe some deadbolt locks. Also, have a look at your screens, and windows.”
“Why?” Adam looks confused.
“You would be amazed at how many home burglaries we get where the thief managed to jimmy a downstairs window with nothing more than a wire coat hanger, and a bit of determination. Take our advice. Check and then get them replaced if necessary.”
Lane’s adding all this down in her PDA, tapping away with her stylus. “Anything else?”
“You might want to consider investing in some form of personal alarm and pepper spray. Just in case.” Oh fuck no. That’s like… what girls do, and he respects the need to defend themselves totally, because he loves women like fuck, but he’s a dude. He doesn’t want to carry pepper sp-
“I’ll get some sent over right now.” Fuck you, Lane. He so doesn’t need pepper-spray like some defenceless chick. “And don’t look at me like that.” Shit, she’s got eyes in the back of her fucking head. “You’re getting it, and you’re carrying it if I have to staple it to your hands.” Tommy resists the temptation to stick his tongue out because that would just be childish. He’ll carry it for a few weeks and then just sort of stop- “And if you think about ditching it, I will hurt you.” Fuck it.
Adam’s hand appears under his nose, holding the big mug of coffee. “Here, drink the rest of this.” The coffee is sweet, cream laden and oh so fatty. Just the way he likes it and Adam does too, but won’t have because it’ll go straight to his ass.
“Why?” It’s Adam’s, not his.
“Because I’m not feeling coffee, and I want tea.” Adam’s hand scruffs his hair again. “Now drink up.” He does, but only because he’s thirsty and not because Adam told him so. He so doesn’t do what he’s told when it comes to Adam. He doesn’t! Adam struts off for tea, obviously feeling a bit happier about the whole thing, which is more than Tommy can say, and in fifteen minutes he’s back with a mug of hot tea and Tommy pulls a face because when Adam is sat that close to him, he can smell the Earl Gray and it’s totally ruining his coffee bliss.
The police give them some more advice, and then take off back to the station, and leave them all alone. Adam is pacing again, but it’s his thinking pacing, not angry!pacing, so Lane’s happy to leave him to do so. Instead, she works Tommy though the paperwork, explaining things to him, telling him what all the fucking legalese means. He signs where she points, and eats more cookies when Monte or Adam tell him to because arguing isn’t an option right now, and then it’s midday, and there’s a knock at the door.
Lane goes to answer it, and in walk the two new security guards. And holy shit, those photos do not do them justice. They are scary fuckers; both are taller than Adam and look like they could bench Tommy without breaking a sweat. They are both mean looking, and wearing suits that barely cover the muscles beneath. He wonders for a moment if they’ll break him in two if he tries to ditch them, because those arm guns are as big as his head around, and there’s ominous bulges at their sides that smack of either guns or Tasers. Lane said they were trained for both.
Then they both ruin the whole impression by breaking into perfect white toothed grins and coming forward to shake everyone’s hands.
Well, at least everyone else will be terrified of them.
Adam is clearly pleased with Lane’s choice as he shakes their hands, grinning widely, and even Monte and Isaac are impressed. It’s not often you meet two people who have to bend knee to get into the room. They come over to Tommy last.
“Mr Ratliff?” The shaven headed black man’s voice is deep, booming, and it practically resonates around the room. “I’m Callum Alawi.”
“And I’m Robert. Robert Matthews.” The slightly smaller blonde haired beside Callum leans forward to shake his hand. Tommy tries to stand up, but Adam’s hand is on his shoulder, pressing him into the plush seat even further.
“Tommy, please.” He aims an elbow at Adam’s side. “Hi.” He extends a hand to Callum, who shakes it in an incredibly firm grip before offering it to Robert, who gives it even more effort. When he finally gets his fingers back, he flexes them quietly. “Ah…” Alright, lesson learned; these are hard men, and he’s a little bit below their league to play man games with them.
They go into their spiel, reassuring him that his safety is their top priority, and that they’re the very best out there so he can depend on them to keep him safe. Monte and Adam get into it, quizzing them on their training, and what skills they have, but Tommy’s not interested in shit like that right now. He’s come over all tired, and sleepy because he didn’t sleep fantastically well the night before after that girl ditched him, and then the ass-crack-of-dawn meeting that still hasn’t happened has screwed up his plan to sleep in till like two in the afternoon, and the sunlight is hitting him just right….Adam’s hand in his hair is also sending him to sleep as well – pushing him further and further into that drowsy-half awake state where you’re not really asleep, but not really awake either.
With an effort, he hauls himself away from Adam, out of the chair and into the present. “Lane, are we gonna have this meeting?” He’s tired, so damn tired, and he needs to push to bed now because if he tries to work through it, he’ll end up with chronic insomnia. For the fifth time in as many weeks, and he’d like to go sleep on a regular basis, if that’s okay with his fucking brain. She doesn’t hold it against him though and tells him to push off home because there’s no way he can concentrate now.
She’s right, but how’s he gonna get home now? He hasn’t got room in his car for both of these guys – Adam struggles to fit in the front seat, and these guys are twice his weight with change, and the back seat is all covered in junk and shit…
“We’ll follow you, Mr Rat- Tommy.” Evidently Callum is the more senior of the two as he decides what’s gonna happen. “From there we can make a list of what needs to be changed at your house, and talk to some people.” Some people? Full service bodyguards then. And then Adam’s invited himself along as well, and Tommy’s being ushered out to Adam’s car service.
He wonders about his own car, but Adam says he’ll swing by to pick him up tomorrow, and to just get in the fucking limo, okay, because every second he’s in public might mean another minute that he’s being photographed with a telephoto lens. Fuck it, he’s right, so Tommy climbs into the limo and Callum and Robert get into their own car – a high performance saloon car that’s understated and classy – black, with silver trim and nice leather seats from what he can tell in the 0.3 seconds he gets to be nosy when Adam ushers him by.
Then they are on the way to his house, and he’s feeling just a little bit nervous because yeah, okay, where he lives isn’t ghetto slum bad but it’s nowhere near as nice as Adam’s bachelor pad or even Monte’s four bedroom house in the burbs. It’s dingy, and the furniture as low rent and student housing as you can get, and Mike hasn’t got around to changing the carpeting so it still smells like tour funk even though there has never been nor will there ever be a tour in Tommy’s house. Still no point regretting it, as he’s had some of the best times in the world here, got laid a whole bunch too so it’s not gonna kill them to suck it up and deal with it like normal people and not Hollywood people.
He gets out when they arrive, face first into the warm heat, jogging up the front steps to the front door, and Mike is propping it open with half a crate of beer, having a cigarette in the mid-afternoon sun, sitting on the porch. He’s still wearing his sleep pants, and is shirtless and pasty white in the sun. It’s such a normal scene that Tommy could kiss him – if of course, he were a) interested in Mike like that, and b) deranged enough to want to kiss someone for having a cigarette. Too much coffee, he thinks. Mike raises an eyebrow but doesn’t say anything more than that at the entourage that Tommy brings into the house – two big bruisers and a flamboyant singing sensation. Could be worse. It could be the time that Tommy got lucky on the sofa, only to find the next morning that she took off, and left him all hanging loose and easy breezy for Mike to find in the morning.
God, that had not been a good start to the day.
Adam gets that frown on his face when he sees the dingy nature of the place, and even the bodyguards look a bit taken a back. Hey, it’s his fucking money and he likes where he lives now – it’s cheap and he doesn’t have to deal with the paps because nobody famous ever lives in a dump like this. See, it’s the motherfucking reverse psychology!
Then, Tommy gets to spend a terrifically boring two hours showing every door and window to the bodyguards, watching them take photos with a neat little digital camera of all the locks and the lattice beside his window, and then they all get to sit in the living room on the ratty old couches and talk business. Tommy’s sat next to Adam and he’s mostly in the warm yellow sunshine coming in through the back window, and it’s just right - listening to them debate the merits of locksmith companies, the lull of words he’s not really listening to lulling him to sleep because he’s just very tired right now. Could really do with another five or six hours in the sack, just being generally lazy, not getting up unless he needs a piss, and then straight back to bed.
It’s not until he hears Adam’s chuckle that he realises that he’s been slumped into Adam’s side for oooh, at least the last forty minutes, snuggled away from the world, and completely out of the conversation that’s been happening over his head. Again. He makes a valiant effort to pull himself back into the world of the living for a moment.
“Right. Yeah. Umm… What’s happening?” he gets for his troubles two raised eyebrows from both his bodyguards, and Adam’s hand stroking the back of his neck. “What’s going to happen?” He corrects himself.
“Well, we’re going to go now, and you need to lock up tight. Tomorrow, we’ll get the locksmith round; make him change the locks and stuff. We’ll also get in a DIY guy, improve your fencing a bit because it’s…”
“Shit.” Adam interrupts Callum, and keeps right on stroking the back of Tommy’s neck. “You’ve got more holes in it than Kesha’s tights, so you need a new one.”
“Riiiight…” Tommy’s spent many days when they were on tour perfecting the tone for that word – drawing it out into one long raised eyebrow in verbal form. His fence is shit, but unless the next one comes electrified, it’s not going to prevent anyone climbing over it.
“We’re not going to be live in bodyguards…” Robert waves a hand around his head, “Because you haven’t got the…” Clean house, nice car, money… “space,” of course. “But we’ll pick you up every morning that you need to go out, and take you wherever you need to go, as long as it’s on a list of acceptable locations – and we have strict orders that Taco Bell is not acceptable.” Lane’s orders probably; Robert gives him a look of Hollywood superiority – Tommy likes junk food despite what the whole of Tinsel Town has against it. “We’ll make sure you get to the grocery store and meetings and stuff…” He’s still talking but Tommy’s got just a little bit pissy now.
“I do not need a baby sitter.” Because he’s finally clocked what Adam’s been trying to avoid letting him know. Adam’s bodyguards follow Adam. If Adam fancies a restaurant on the other side of town from the one he picked out ten weeks ago, they get in the cars and drive across town to go to the damn restaurant that Adam picked. They follow behind him in cars while Adam rides in the limo. If Adam wants to go shopping, they man up and come along, and get stuck wandering around the shops for six hours. If Adam decides to go for a wander down to the beach when they’re on location, Adam gets to go and the bodyguards get to look hilarious in suits and smart shoes on the white sand beaches of Miami, or Bali or wherever. They listen to Adam and do what Adam wants.
What does Tommy Joe get? He gets a pair of fucking babysitters who’ll make sure he gets to the grocery store to buy healthy shit and to his meetings on time, and make sure he doesn’t go anywhere unattended. Fuck off, Adam, he wants to shout, but Adam’s fingers are scritching just above his ear, and frankly, he can’t summon the energy to be pissed right now. He’ll deal with it in the morning. Just like everything else in his life, he’ll deal with it tomorrow.
Everything happens in both double time, and half speed, and it feels like five minutes and it’s actually been another hour and the body guards have left, and Adam’s kissing him just behind the ear on the front porch, telling him to get some sleep because he’ll have to be up early tomorrow for the meeting that didn’t happen today. When the last of the entourage have flounced, strode or lumbered down to the cars and finally, finally driven away, Mike looks up from where he’s been drinking and smoking, and generally being Zen on the steps and says, “What the fuck what was that?” without even taking the cigarette out of his mouth.
And Tommy just shrugs. A rockstar doesn’t need to know what it’s called to know when it’s time to call it a night. Even if it is half past four in the afternoon, and the rest of the world is still wide awake and functioning human beings. Sometimes, you just gotta stick your head down, and deal with it when you wake up.
It’s worked all his life until now. No reason why it can’t work again.
Chapter 4: Serious Like a Bitch
~*Serious Like a Bitch*~
It’s his phone that wakes him up, not his three different alarm clocks, or Mike’s banging on the door, twice.
Fever blares out from somewhere under his pillow, and propels him face first out of the dream he was having about Cabo, and white sand beaches. Shit, he’s gotta stop letting Cam near his phone – she’s always doing dumb shit like that, changing his ‘tones. The phone keeps on vibrating, rattling his skull because he won’t move his head from the pillow while he searches for the phone from hell one handed. He finds it teetering on the edge before going down the back of his mattress, and that’s one hell of a good save, because he has no idea what the hell is down the back of the bed. It’s been two years since he checked, and he doesn’t know in the name of God above could be growing in the seething mass of shit that got shoved there.
“Speak, fucker.” He’s still knackered, and is not in the mood to be polite to whoever woke him up at… he checks the time on the screen… eight in the morning, fuck it all. He wanted to sleep until midday, at the earliest.
“You know, one day you’re gonna answer like that to your mama, and she ain’t gonna like it.” It’s Sutan. Bright, and pervasive as sunlight into his sleep deprived mind, Sutan has officially made Tommy’s hate list for today.
“Yeah, well, you’re my Tranma not my mama, so bite me.” He rolls over, now on his back in the middle of the bed. The sunlight peeks in around the two layers of blackout curtains and he raises his middle finger at it. Now he’ll never be able to get back to sleep. He debates on the merits on getting up for a piss. Can he truly be bothered?
“That’s me, and only if you’re good~” Sutan trills at him, slurping at something that sounds suspiciously like…
“Is that coffee I can hear?” Tommy Joe has a preternatural ability to tell when there’s coffee around, and Sutan makes it just the way he likes it; cream laden, sugared up to the max, and with a chocolate dusting over beautiful, deep French roast. He’s practically drooling just thinking about it. Hot, sweet and soooo gooood…
“If you get that flat ass out of bed and in the shower in the next fifteen minutes, I can have one here with your name on it just like that!” Sutan snaps his fingers, and Tommy Joe has to wipe the metaphorical drool from his chin at the thought of one of those coffees at this time of the morning. “I’ve got full-fat cream here and Belgian chocolate to dust it with…” Temptation has Tommy by the nuts.
“I love you, you know that?” He would cross hot coals barefoot and blindfolded for one of Sutan’s excellent coffees, and Sutan knows it. Knows it, and loves to torment him with it, regularly. There’s been many a time he’s worn experimental makeup, weird clothes – hell, even drag on one memorable occasion – in exchange for one of those coffees.
“Of course you do, darling. How could you not love me?” Sutan slurps the coffee again, just to make him jealous. “Adam says to tell you that your bodyguards will be there in half an hour, so you need to move that non-existent ass out of your bed, and downstairs. And since when do you have bodyguards, by the way?”
“You haven’t heard?” Tommy is actually no longer horizontal now, sitting on the edge of his bed, trying to locate a pair of jeans that don’t have weird stains on them. Nope, the pair from last night have a pasta stain right in the crotch from when he dropped his dinner before he gave up the pretence of eating and went to bed last night, and the pair by his wardrobe are practically forming sentient life forms on their own. Adam would have a shit fit. Tommy just avoids looking at them.
“I flew in last night from Mexico, darling. Still in the car, on the way to the agency. Nobody’s told me anything. So come on, spill!” Sutan moves the phone away his ear, and Tommy can hear him swearing at the traffic. It’s LA, and it’s just before the work day – the traffic is hell, and Sutan is one of the few people who can still make his way to work in twenty minutes or less. He drives like an Egyptian taxi driver on crack, and they’ve all given up wondering how he manages to do with a coffee in one hand, and fixing his hair with the other. Horns blare in the background before Tommy hears the screech of brakes and Sutan comes back on the phone. “God, LA is insane. Now, tell me how you got bodyguards!” Sutan’s on a mission – Tommy can hear it in his voice. The man is curious as fuck, and he’s like a Rottweiler with a chew toy; he won’t give up for anything,
“I got a stalker.”
He can practically hear Sutan’s mind go to a grinding halt over that one. Probably what it sounded like yesterday when Tommy’s mind did exactly the same thing when he found out as well. It’s two long minutes while Tommy pulls on his jeans, and starts rummaging around his wardrobe for a t-shirt before Sutan speaks again. “You. Got a stalker. You?” The amazement in the voice is tempered by worry, and confusion.
“Yep.” His favourite Metallica t-shirt still smells like tour funk even now and something else as well, and so do all his other favourites. Fuck. He meant to do laundry sometime last week, but he forgot – somewhere in between the boredom and fifty hour marathons of True Blood, CSI, and some other shit that he’s had saved up for a while for his insomnia nights. “Real stalker. Took photos of me and everything.” It’s easier for him to process that now that he’s gotten over the actual implications of being under surveillance by someone he doesn’t know.
“Photos?” The voice on the other end of the line stutters over that word.
“Yep. A lot of them.” He finds a black t-shirt with a silver Celtic cross on the back, and gives it a sniff. For some reason it smells fresh, and Tommy digs further into the back of his closet to find out why. There’s a green duffle and it’s got several more items of clothing stuffed in it. Ah, it’s the bag he took to Adam’s when he stayed over for a weekend last month; they had an epic marathon of films and shit, and just hid away from the world. It was nice. The shirt smells like Adam’s home – warm, spicy, and safe. He pulls it on, because he needs something that makes him feel safe today. He purposefully avoids thinking about the connotations of linking what it means that he thinks of Adam as safe, and reality.
“Okay.” And that right there is telling more than anything else. There’s jokes about crazy fans, and obsessive people; they’ve all laughed about Adam’s weird worshipping glamberts, and all the band have occasionally suggested that one of them might be carried off in the trunk of a car by an obsessive freak, but that’s just joking. That’s just fucking around with friends when there’s security guards, and locks on doors, and bulletproof glass on the windows of the tour bus. The minute it becomes real then Sutan gets serious. Serious like a bitch. “Okay, you’re gonna come in with the bodyguards, right?”
“Yeah, Adam made me leave my car behind at the agency.” He’s actually dressed now; he’s even wearing socks, and shit, so he opens the door and then remembers. “Shoes.” He reminds himself, turning around and reaching for the tallest pair of shoes he can find. He needs something to make him feel taller than the world today; something that will make him able to stand eye to eye with Adam and maybe actually win an argument with the man. For once in his life.
“Don’t wear your creepers today, sweetie.” How the fuck did Sutan know he was reaching for them? “Because when you’re stressed, you wear high heels, darling. More stressed you are, the higher you go.”
Do not, he thinks. And, “They’re creepers. Not high heels.” He feels morally obligated on behalf of his straightness, gender, and non-drag tendencies to point out the difference between the two. Adam can wear medges or what the fuck else he’s calling them, because he’s Adam. Tommy Joe has his creepers, thanks, and they’re not high heels. Girls wear high heels. Girls wear platforms, and wedges, and have different names for whether or not it’s a spike, made of cork, whether it has an inny-bit or an outie-bit, or whether it’s high high, or just high, and what the fuck is the difference is beyond him but men (and he draws an invisible line between men like Tommy Joe and men like Adam because Adam isn’t quite like any other men Tommy fits into his own category) don’t wear high heels. Tommy Joe is a man. Thus he wears creepers. “Why?”
“I dunno. Check your phone, sweetie, Adam says he’s texted you. He just told me to tell you “No creepers for the kitty”!”
“Kit – Wait, what? Kitty?” He’s going to kill Adam when he gets to the agency. Ever since he said it on stage, the fans have run with it, and now Adam’s taken to calling him it to other people! He is not a fucking pretty kitty. He’s not!
“I think he likes it.” No shit, Sutan. “Now, you get dressed, and wear flats, and when you get to the agency we’re going to have a sit down and a talk about this stalker thing.” That’s the last thing he wants to do right now, because that means acknowledging that it’s real, that someone is really there to stalk him. Saying it is one thing. Discussing it brings a whole new level of reality about it that he seriously does. Not. Want. “Sweetie, we need to talk about it.” He knows that Tommy is gonna do everything he can to get out it, so he ups the stakes. “I’ll make you coffee~!” That last bit is a blatant bribe, and he tells Sutan this while searching out for a pair of something flat-ish. “You know it!” Sutan’s coffee will wake the dead for another taste, and Tommy’s a long way from dead.
Sutan hangs up the phone with a “Take care, sweetie.” that’s somehow less sparkly magic and more worried that he probably intended, and Tommy makes a dash for the bathroom before he pisses his only clean pair of pants left. He makes it just in time, and when he’s finished stands in front of the mirror in the hallway, trying to figure out what the fuck his hair is doing today. It’s got a bit in the back that’s gone all flat, but the rest of it is sticking out in every direction including straight up from his shower last night – trying its hardest to be a Mohawk without the gel and hairspray that it actually requires. He scrubs a hand through it, and that really doesn’t improve it; now he looks like he’s had a bad electric shock. Sutan’s gonna love the new look. Not. The man freaked when he went pink.
Fuck it, Adam’ll just mess it up with stroking it, or grabbing it, or running his hands through it again, so why he’s bothering to make an effort, he doesn’t know.
He takes the stairs two at a time, running into his room to try to find a pair of shoes that will meet with Adam’s approval, and suddenly he realises he hasn’t got a single pair that match that description. Even his lowest creepers are at least an inch high, and when Adam says no to them there is usually a good reason. Once it was a beach trip, then a long walk through a park, then a visit to a stable and there’s been many more occasions where Adam’s spontaneously decided on a trip out somewhere, and the glamily is pulled along helplessly in his wake. Especially Tommy. It’s always Tommy that Adam pulls the puppy dog eyes, practically forcing him to agree to go. Fucker knows he can’t say no to him.
Fuck it, he thinks. He can hardly go barefoot, can he? Adam might not mind, but Lane is all about appearances and that won’t fly with her while they’re in LA and not working. He reaches into his wardrobe, rootling through the shit that the bottom to see if he’s got something in there that will meet her approval and Adam’s requirements.
Straining fingers brush against something in the back of the closet, and Tommy gets down on his knees and really reaches for whatever it is. It takes some pulling, but he finally brings whatever it was to the light of his room. Ha! It’s a pair of converse, but they’re his pair from years ago – black and worn out in places, and going grey in others from overuse. He used to love these before he got sick of being a short-ass and started wearing creepers. He slides them on and wonders of wonders, they still fit perfectly. It’s been seven, nearly eight years since he’s worn them – they’re a part of his life long before he met Adam and the glamily; it’s like the meeting of the two halves of his life. The pre- and post-Adam lives he has now. His fingers caress the worn canvas, and he thinks of all the times he’s worn them – running down alleys with old band mates, doing some half ass parkour with men he thought he’d be friends with for life while they’re high as kites, and drunk off their asses. He doesn’t even remember half their names, now.
There’s a knock on the front door, and Tommy can hear Mike banging on the floor of his room. “Answer the fucking door, Ratliff!” he bellows. Tommy sticks a birdie up at Mike’s door as he hurries past, and goes to ‘answer the fucking door’ just as the man asks.
As he suspected, it’s Callum and Robert, hulking out on his porch. The wood creaks ominously under their combined weight, and they don’t look entirely at ease. “You ready, Tommy?”
“Gimme a second.” He pats his pockets – phone, keys, wallet, iPod and headphones; all there – “Yep. I’m good.”
“Right.” Tommy pulls the door shut behind himself, and they walk to the car – the nice BMW from yesterday, with black leather seats, air con, and tinted windows. Callum holds open the back door on the passenger side, and Tommy climbs in. When the door shuts, he takes a deep breath in, releases it slowly and gently. Inside the car is quiet luxury, the peace of money, and the security of a well-made German car. Robert slides into the passenger seat, and Callum starts the car. It rolls away from the curb and Tommy’s house with a deep, rich purr. He digs himself deeper into the comfortable seat, takes his phone out of his pocket and heads straight to his text messages. Just as Sutan said, there’s one there from Adam. He opens it, and an involuntary smile edges his lips half a degree upwards.
“Dont worry bout a thing, glitterbby. gonna make sure ur safe 2day. promise <3”
He's holding Adam to that.
Another chapter. This fandom is addictive~. More will be posted too, but you're welcome to comment and help with characterisation. Particularly on characters who don't tend to get a lot of camera time like Sutan so they're a bit harder to grasp.
On a side note, three questions to ask.
1) Where is this interview/piece of internet lore where Tommy said "You can like, grab me and stuff," because all I'm getting is second hand information and it's driving me insane.
2) Do we know the names of Monte's kids?
3) There is apparently a music video where Tommy is cut and bleeding, running down an alley. Who's video is it? (I've seen the GIFs and OMG, I want like hardcore.)
That is all.
Every comment is loved and appreciated!
Chapter 5: An Island of Calm
~*An Island of Calm*~
It’s only a short ride to the office, and Tommy spends most of it on his phone. Twitter, emails, his schedule – his life is on this device, keeping him sane when they’ve been on tour for so long he can’t tell if it’s a Monday or a Thursday and he doesn’t know what country they’re in never mind which city. It keeps him on track when he’s losing it in the intensity of being on tour, or in the public eye, and now there’s this stalker shit happening, he’s turning to the solitude again, turning to the parts of his life where he controls what he puts out there, which sides of Tommy Joe the fans get to see. Adam says he’s got control issues.
Tommy Joe thinks that Adam is right, but he tells Adam to shove it up his ass and blow smoke out of it anyway.
The car arrives outside the agency and Robert gets out to open his door, and then walks him all the way into the lobby and beyond into elevator space. Tommy avoids looking in the mirror in the elevator when he gets in – no make-up, no eye shadow, nothing. He’s clean shaven which is something he supposes, but his hair is lying to him and trying to be a Mohawk again, and his bags under his eyes are huge. He looks wrecked. Absolutely washed up on a beach wrecked, like after a night out on the town. He can’t get out of the mirrored box fast enough to escape his reflection telling him he’s less than perfect today.
When they reach the main bull pen on the third floor, Tommy says, “I’m good now. You don’t have to stick around now,” he means it. He’s perfectly capable of functioning without bodyguards all the time, has been doing so very well for the last thirty years of his life. Robert gives him the most impressive raised eyebrow he’s seen in his entire life outside of Raja and points to a sofa with an authoritative finger. Tommy’s half way there before he remembers to raise a protest, and then it’s too late because Lane’s spotted him and also points to the sofa while she talks on the phone that’s clamped to the side of her face.
So he sits on the sofa like a good boy, and waits. Five minutes later, he digs his phone out of his pocket, and logs into the Wi-Fi of the agency. While he waits for it to load, he opens up the text from Adam. He rubs his thumb over the screen, grins again at the glitterbby and swallows hard when he reads his own reply. ‘thanks bbyboy. holding you to it.” For some reason, he wishes he could take back the emotion he feels that he’s broadcasted with that text – the insecurity that makes those words sound needy and pathetic in his own head. Adam’s really good at reading people, and he takes it to the next level when it comes to reading Tommy. He could probably give lectures about his piss poor emotional stability, and his mental issues with love and sex, and his horrible, horrible, no good sense of self-esteem. Over the last few years, Tommy Joe has worked hard to create a good façade to the world – one that is 90 % himself, but with a few tweaks and alterations. He’s a private person, a good liar, an excellent emotion hider, and he’s got a wicked poker face when he needs it.
But that really doesn’t matter, because when it comes to Adam, everything falls away. Adam can always see right through him.
Always. Right back in the beginning at the auditions, and during the first few practises with the band, Adam’s been able to get under his skin with just a look, drawing out his emotions, understanding that when Tommy tells him thanks he isn’t saying that in particular, he’s saying so much more but he doesn’t know how. It’s only got easier for Adam to read him as time and their relationship progressed. Living on top of each other on the tour meant that Adam gained a supernatural ability to know Tommy’s emotions. His mind. His body. And ain’t that one a bit of a weird thing –.
Fuck. He’s just sent a text message that says, “I’m needy, and insecure, and frightened over jack shit,” to the one person who can actually read that in between the lines. Shit, he messed up good with that, didn’t he just... He rubs his eyes, pinches the bridge of his nose, and wishes for a moment that he was back in bed, back in the shelter that was his room, where there wouldn’t be any Adam who could practically read his mind. Who is no doubt on his way right now to the office with his entourage, and a plan to take Tommy out on the town somewhere where he will inevitably not fit in -
“Coffee!” A white mug appears under his nose, and he must be wired more than he thought today because HOLY SHIT, he wasn’t expecting that.
“Jesus!” He feels like he leapt three feet sideways out of his skin. Sutan looks slightly taken back and Robert’s got one hand tucked into his jacket like he was reaching for the Taser that’s sitting at his hip. Everyone in the office is looking at him now, and Lane’s got a pissed off look on her face as she turns away, one finger to her lips in a shushing gesture. Sutan frowns at him, eyes far too aware of Tommy’s less than stellar appearance to make him feel better. The coffee is placed in front of his nose again, and Tommy reaches for it but Sutan pulls it back a little bit.
“You know, I’m not sure you need the caffeine.”
“Fuck you.” It’s not the nicest reply, but Sutan’s threatening to take away his coffee. Nobody, but nobody, threatens his coffee. He wraps his fingers around it, takes a sip and it’s just to die for. He’s pretty sure he makes an inappropriate moan over it but who the fuck cares. It’s one of Sutan’s masterpieces. He could die happy right now. When slender brown fingers try to wrap around the mug as well to take it off of him, he bares his teeth and growls at them.
“Feisty.” Sutan’s not at all fooled at the bravado, and Tommy knows that Sutan isn’t interested in playing coy when he says, “Come here.” He opens his arms wide. Tommy tries to hide down inside his own jacket, and pretend to be interested in his coffee but Sutan gives him one of his looks (he can see Raja in Sutan when he does that) the one with the narrowed eyes and a slightly furrowed forehead, and Tommy knows that Sutan isn’t playing today. He puts his coffee on the side table next to him, stands up and retreats into the taller man’s arms. They’re a physical barrier against the world; protection against the battering force of his own mind and the stalker together. There’s a scent of Sutan around him with little hints of Raja; makeup and coffee, and a hint of something spicier – more sultry and darker playing just out of reach. Tommy lets the sense of the man overwhelm him, lets Sutan clasp him as close as he can without physically removing clothing.
It must be nearly a minute before Sutan breaks the hug, drawing back but not letting go of his arms. Tommy has to tilt his head up to actually meet his eyes. “I keep forgetting how little you are,” the taller man says, threading his hands gently through Tommy’s hair.
“Fuck off.” Imaginative retorts are not his forte this early in the morning. He turns to grab the coffee, and Sutan grabs his other hand. “Wha-?” he says through a mouthful of coffee flavoured cream with chocolate dusting.
“We’re going to chat.” Shit. Robert steps closer to them, already shaking his head, but Sutan barrels right up to him, fearless in the face of such bulk. “Tommy’s defence league, right? Don’t worry; we’re just going to have a chat in one of the side rooms over there.” One perfectly manicured finger points to a door of a room that’s been set aside for the troupe when they need to hang around without annoying anyone. “We’ll be just fine so don’t you worry.” A half smile that promises pain if the guy doesn’t move aside now, and then they’re moving again, Sutan pulling Tommy along helplessly in his wake. Robert looks slightly bemused at what just happened, and Tommy raises his mug at in a hasty salute him before turning to face the way he’s going so he doesn’t trip over his own two left feet.
“It does best not argue with him,” is the last thing Tommy hears from one of the PA’s to Robert before Sutan closes the door behind them. The loss of sound is almost a noise in of itself – the heavy weight of silence loud between the two of them. Sutan guides Tommy away from the doors, around the coffee tables and chairs to a couch right at the back of the room.
“Sit.” And Tommy sits. A big squashy purple couch with room enough for three or more people and Sutan sits next to him anyway, leaning back against the arm of the sofa. “Talk to me, Tommy Joe.”
“What do you wanna know?” He doesn’t know where to begin. Is there even a beginning?
“Since when do you get a stalker?” Straight to the point. No fucking around today. He doesn’t know if that’s a good thing.
“Since a while back apparently.” He takes a breath, another sip of coffee, and tries to focus his mind. “You remember the candy stripe packages? Pink and white and shit?”
“Yeah, different coloured ribbons, really nice presents inside.” Sutan raises a brow, and then gets it, “Wait, moneybags candy guy? That’s your stalker?”
“Sweetie, he sent you a hundred and fifty dollar candles, imported from Italy. He’s money-bagged up to here.” A finely manicured hand waves somewhere above Sutan’s head, pointing out just how moneyed the douche canoe actually is. Sutan puts down his mug on the floor beside his boots, points a finger at Tommy and frowns. “But that’s not what’s freaked you out is it?” Sutan’s eyes see far more than Tommy wants them to right now – he can see right down to the insecurity and unease Tommy’s been harbouring about this for the last day or so. Tommy confesses to Sutan because he knows that he won’t be judged, that Sutan knows if Tommy’s got a hunch, he’s not just being paranoid.
Tommy runs through what happened – the feelings he’s been having over the presents and how personal they are, the evening at the club with the girl and then his morning before the meeting that never happened. The message left with them. He doesn’t have to say, but he can see Sutan’s face become more frustrated as he goes on. Why the porn DVD tipped his weird meter just over the edge, why the photos just really freaked him so – so much so that he just shut down, let Adam control the situation, ceded any power to somebody else and just trusted that Adam would see him home safely. Sutan isn’t happy - his lips are thinning, and his hand is clenching tighter and tighter around Tommy’s the more he continues.
But that’s not the worst of it. Tommy had a lot of time last night to think, and he was in the shower at about midnight when he finally remembered what was so weird about the shots with the girl.
“What was so weird about her?” Tommy doesn’t look at Sutan, instead choosing to twist his wrists with Sutan’s fingers curled around them. The other man’s fingernails are a pretty midnight blue today, and Tommy runs his thumb over one of them. He really likes the colour; would rather talk about Sutan’s manicure than this or anything really, but Sutan’s not having it and pulls him back into the conversation.
He takes another deep breath, swallows the last of his coffee. Clutching the mug in one hand, Tommy talks to their hands instead of Sutan’s face because that… that would make this difficult. That would mean acknowledging the reaction and he knows, just knows that it’s not going to be a good one. “Because in a lot of the shots, she was looking at the camera.” He carries on over Sutan’s half started gasp, “Like, really looking at the camera. Straight into the lens and smiling.” That’s the bit that got him. She was smiling. She was getting off on it. “She knew whoever it was was….”
“…Was there.” Sutan finishes his sentence, plucking his empty coffee mug out his hands. He places it carefully on the floor beside their feet, and uses both hands to grasp Tommy’s. “You’re sure?”
Tommy’s had all night to remember those photographs, and the actual event in the alley. He thought she was just nervous about being seen – even though he couldn’t work out if she didn’t want to be, or if she got off on it, what with all the excited gasps every time someone walked across the entrance to the little side street. She had kept looking around, smiling a weird smile but he’d been too focused on getting his rocks off, trying to keep on kissing her while trying to slide his hands under her shirt to wonder about it, to wonder who else was there. “Yeah. I’m sure.” She had known someone was there. She had known the stalker was there with the camera, and that creeped him out more than anything. They were working together to get him in the crosshairs, and that’s as much as fuck a mind bender that Tommy can handle right now.
“Oh, sweetie…” Sutan crushes him into his chest again. He doesn’t object; he takes the comfort that’s being offered, wraps his fingers in the expensive linen of the shirt that covers surprisingly hard muscles, and holds on for dear life. Fingers are combed through his hair, and he relaxes into the touch.
“You know, this is why Adam calls you a pretty kitty…” The fingers don’t stop stroking through his blonde hair though.
“Fuck off,” he mumbles but because he’s smooshed against Sutan’s chest it turns more into a vibration and a groan which really isn’t at all threatening. Sutan chuckles right back. And those damnable fingers don’t stop stroking his. Fucking. Hair. For a second.
Sutan keeps up the hair stroking for a while, breathing slowly and evenly so Tommy can follow him; chilling them both out. They’re lying back on the sofa; Tommy laying half on, half beside Sutan, and anyone looking in would be amazed at how familiar, how intimate the hold is. They’ve always been close, Sutan being Tommy’s Tranma, his voice of reason in the swirling glittery world that is Adam and the Glam Nation Tour and everything else besides. Don’t mistake it for being ungrateful – he loves everything Adam’s done for him and wouldn’t take it back for the world, but it’s a big step up from playing small gigs and having a couple of hours in bars to playing big international concerts and being on the road and in and out of hotels and shit. Tommy’s world used to be back alley clubs, and metal bands, and working out of a cubicle farm so he could save up enough money for health insurance and some rent money. Adam brought him into his bright, loud new world, but it’s a big difference.
Sometimes, Adam’s world is a rushing spinning vortex of glitter and cameras and stress, and Tommy Joe doesn’t handle that well. He struggles to deal with a world where anything he says might be wrenched out context and put all over the news and made into bad headlines for Adam; a world where people take photos of him, and have fan clubs and obsess over him and send him sex toys in the mail as symbols of their love and devotion (and that’s not just a little bit creepy); a world where he is constantly under scrutiny by everyone from Lane to Monte, and the fans, and the cameras and interviewers and even his mom, now that his Dad passed away and she needs something else to focus on.
It’s a very different world that Tommy finds himself in these days, and sometimes, he needs an island of calm to find himself again. Sutan is that island. The man could halt an avalanche with just a look, Tommy is sure of it, could prevent the end of the world with just a snap of his fingers sometimes, and Raja can out sass even Adam which is a feat in of itself. When the world is too noisy, too demanding and raw on his nerves and Adam’s too busy or in another interview, Tommy goes to Sutan. Sometimes he gets his make-up done, or his nails or it’s just a chat over coffee and really good cookies. Sometimes, it’s just enough to sit in the make-up room and watch Sutan make himself up or unpack or just even hug Tommy tight for twenty minutes.
Right now, Tommy just floats in the wonderful place between here and wherever and the land of dreams. He’s feeling actually pretty relaxed round about now; all mellowed out like he’s smoked a good batch of cannabis only without the pretty visual effects to go with it. For some reason his trips tend to be just a little bit psychedelic and glittery these days. He’s almost positive that’s a side effect of hanging around with Adam – the glitter invades everything including your mellow mellowing with the hash.
“What’s happened now, then?” Sutan doesn’t stop stroking his hair, and Tommy doesn’t withdraw his face. It’s easier to talk when you can more feel a person’s words than hear them.
“Lane got bodyguards for me. Insurance even paid for them, and stuff.” He huffs, “Adam pitched a shit fit – wanted only the best and scariest.”
“Sweetie, you know he only wants what’s best for you, you know that.” A finger trails down his spine and Tommy reluctantly releases the tension that’s been hoarded there for the last hour or so. “He wouldn’t want you to get hurt by this freak.”
“Yeah, I know….” He mumbles into the linen shirt. “He really flipped his lid though; went all diva until Lane gave him coffee-”
“He was worried. That’s how Adam deals.” Sutan prods his shoulders, “He would never forgive himself if something happened to you.”
“I’m just the bassist. He’s the star of the show-”
“Stop it.” A finger comes under his chin, pushing him up to meet Sutan’s gaze. “Stop right there. You know he cares for you; know he’d do anything for you. He lo-”
“Don’t.” Tommy tries to sit up, but Sutan’s stronger than he looks, and keeps him down with an iron grip across his waist. “Don’t go there, Sutan. You know…”
“Yeah.” Sutan sighs, “I know.” And that’s something that they’ve been avoiding for a while now. “But what else?”
“New locks, better door, new fence because quote “It’s got more holes than Kesha’s tights,” At that Sutan huffs something that sounds like, “Adam!” Into his hair, and Tommy grins just a bit, “I gotta get some pepper spray and shit as well, cause Lane’s makin’ me.”
“Lane’s making you?”
“She threatened to staple it to my hands.” That’s all that needs to be said really. She’d do it, if it made the execs happy and everyone knows it. “And then that’s it, I guess…”
Sutan nods. There’ll be more no doubt in the meeting they’re all having today, but those are the salient points, the ones that Sutan cares about. They lie there for another few minutes, Sutan pushing away the tension in Tommy’s shoulders by talking about anything and everything, and Tommy just lies there, accepting it. He doesn’t need to understand what’s being said; only that Sutan is talking. This is his retreat, his island and he’ll damn well enjoy while he gets the chance.
All too soon though, it’s time to move, and Sutan pushes them both into a sitting position. However, this gives him optimum reach to gain access to Tommy’s hair, and he pushes his fingers through it, rubbing the roots and scrubbing his fingers through the shaven side of his head, where it’s still soft and fluffy and short. Tommy can’t help the purring sound that follows before Sutan withdraws his fingers from his blonde fauxhawk and turns back into being Sutan, the makeup artist and all around fashion fixer. His fingers primp at Tommy’s locks, pulling at the frazzled hair. “What did you do to your hair, baby?” he moans under his breath, and Tommy quirks a lip. He knew that Sutan would hate him for doing it, but he did it anyway.
“It died. A bit.”
“Yes, it did.” He pulls Tommy’s head closer to inspect it. “You bleached this yourself, didn’t you?” He accuses.
“Would you kill me if I said yes?”
“Not now. But do it again, and you’ll have my stiletto heels wedged where the sun don’t shine, cutie.” The threat is not idle. “We’ll have to do something with it, you’ve completely fried it.”
“Well, not quite. But you’re pretty close. It’s not good for your hair to keep doing this to it.” He waggles a finger at him. “You’re torturing your hair.”
“Torturing my hair?” He can’t quite keep laughter out of his voice. He did not go all medieval on his hair, start subjecting it to the iron maiden and shit.
“You might as well put it on the rack and tell it to. Confess. Its. Sins.” Sutan grabs a chunk, pulls gently to punctuate his point. “I’ll give you the name of a good brand of conditioner to help restore some of the protection it lost while you’ve been murdering it.”
“Thanks.” He means for everything, but says it response to the obvious statement. Sutan knows what he means though; the other man gives him a blinding smile.
“No problem, baby.”
A knock at the door. Lane’s voice comes at them through the wood. “Conference room in five minutes, guys.” She doesn’t come in, and Tommy’s grateful for her not invading their space right now. He needs a little while to put himself back to together, pull his defences back up to maximum.
Sutan lets him do that, spends the time pulling Tommy’s hair about, make it stand on end, and then smoothing it down. It’s helping Tommy piece himself back together, and brace his defences. He nods when he’s ready and Sutan grabs the coffee mugs with one hand and Tommy’s hand with the other. Together, that’s what the hand says, we’ll face it together.
Breathe deep and then Tommy’s ready to face the big bad world again.
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Chapter 6: Basking in the Warmth that is Adam Fucking Lambert
I did delete the previous chapter six - for those of you who commented, thank you - but this is the real chapter six, so you can comment again!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
~*Basking in the Warmth that is Adam Fucking Lambert*~
In the conference room, Tommy finds everyone, and he wasn’t expecting that. He pauses in the doorway, and looks around the room but it’s real, what he’s seeing - the whole troupe is there; Sasha, Brooke, Terrance and Taylor, Cam and Monte, Isaac and Neil. He and Sutan make up almost all the missing elements. But someone’s not there, and it takes him a full fifteen seconds to work out who.
He rubs a thumb over the phone in his pocket, wonders where the singer is if he hasn’t texted him, and is so in his own head that he nearly makes a repeat performance of jumping out his skin when Sutan nudges his shoulder to push him further into the room.
“Jumpy…” Sutan mutters in his ear, and Tommy growls as he is propelled across the room to go and stand next to the fern in the corner, Sutan still hovering close by. Lane comes over, shoves a white box into his hands and gives him her patented ‘don’t you dare object’ look, and he knows exactly what’s in it. His pepper spray and stuff which he doesn’t want but has to have. Lane makes stapling motions with her hands until he actually takes the box from her, and she powerwalks off somewhere to terrorise some other poor musician or dancer. Sutan leans in close. “What’s in the package?”
“Pepper spray.” He sighs. “And other shit.” He’ll open it later, where there aren’t other people around. “Where’s Adam?”
“Check your phone,” Sutan says unhelpfully, continuing to primp at his hair. “God, Tommy…. Next time you wanna dye your hair, come speak to me. Or Adam. Or anyone…”
He tunes Sutan out, choosing to ignore the commentary on his incompetence with a bottle of bleach and the continued threats of dismemberment if he does it again. There’s only so many times he can bothered to listen to it. Tommy yanks the blackberry out of his pocket, unlocks it with his passcode, and goes straight to his text messages, hoping for something from Adam. There’s nothing there, and he turns to tell Sutan who is still coming his hair with his fingers, but Taylor is waving the other man over and he regretfully leaves Tommy’s side, with a hug and a last ruffle of his hair.
Tommy shifts from leg to leg, wondering whether he’s just not getting his messages again since that happens sometimes – oh wait. He goes out of his text inbox, goes into his private email. Sure enough, there’s a quick message from Adam, “gonna b late – some asshle had road rageeee, went safter some other ficker with a baseball bat and the police r dealin with it. Gotta love LA. Adn im hot – not in a sexiiii way.”
He laughs, shows it to Brooke who hands him a Starbucks cup and kisses him on the cheek. It’s been ages since he spoke to her, and she says “We’ll talk later,” in his ear while she wraps her arms around him and squeezes so tight he can barely breathe. She snickers at Adam’s whining and then pushes Tommy into a seat at the table, and his body guard goes and stands by the door, his sunglasses and suit out of place with everyone in jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies. His phone vibrates again on the black glass table top. Adam’s sent another email. “*fucker. Goddamnit, need a new boner.”
Tommy wheezes with laughter, bangs a hand on the table, and Neil looks over at him from where he’s talking with Monte, confused. He waves him off, turning back to his phone, almost missing the next email: “Me n Apple gonna have some issues. *P. H. O. N. E. h8 autocorrect!” He doesn’t show Sutan yet because the man is off talking with the dancers, but he gets a look which says, ‘I’ll get you later,’. He texts back, “Seen your phone nd your boner. u dont need a new one. Hows the glam_bulge.”
Three minutes later, “Boner doing great, thx for askin. Will need new phone ater I throw dius one out of the window.” Adam’s brand new top of the range iPhone has caused no end of hilarity amongst the group – Adam remains convinced the device is haunted by a demon of epic proportion and distaste for letting Adam say what he wants to say, and every week threatens to get a new one. The fact that this one was a free gift from Apple in exchange for a super exclusive single deal five days ahead of normal release meant nothing except the fact that he couldn’t throw it away like he wanted to. So he just bitches about it, day in, day out, but doesn’t actually get rid of the fucking thing and Tommy gets some hilarious text messages just when he needs them.
Everyone starts moving towards the table, and Sutan scoots the chair on his left a little closer. “Adam having phone trouble again?” Tommy shows him the email and Sutan laughs long and loud, a deep belly laugh without restraint. “He’s never going to live that one down, is he?”
“Nope.” Tommy saves it to the memory disc, so he can have it to lord over Adam whenever he gets too confident with his phone, and leans back into the plush chair. He can feel Sutan’s eyes on the side of his head, and he wishes he put on make-up this morning. He feels very exposed under that knowing gaze. “You can stop looking at me like I’m going to break…” He says, “I’m fine.”
“You’ll forgive me if I don’t believe that, honey.” Sutan’s voice is calm, but the words are Raja’s – the softest of emphasis of the nickname, the flap of the wrist, the roll of the shoulder. “You tell him what you told me about the girl, you hear? Cause if you don’t…”
“Yeah.” He knows that Sutan will make him tell – that he shouldn’t hold something like that back from Adam because if he finds out from someone else he’ll be disappointed with Tommy. He likes to know everyone is safe, likes to be all up in everyone else’s business, likes to be in control with everything. There are no secrets in the glam troupe, that’s rule number three of the list that Adam pinned to the noticeboard on the bus for the last tour. No secrets, no lies, no dishonesty, no hiding. Truth is golden, and Adam holds everyone to it.
Everyone else starts moving to the table, fighting over who gets the plush execs chairs and who has to perch on the arms because there aren’t enough chairs for everyone. The chair to Tommy’s right, at the head of the table is still empty though – that’s Adam’s even without anyone saying so. Monte turfs Neil out of the chair opposite with just a look and a finger, and sits down with a sigh. He looks up and cocks his head at Tommy. Tommy nods back – the unspoken question of “Are you okay?” answered without a word between them. Monte looks satisfied with his answer, however brusque it was, and drinks from his coffee cup, frowning at the taste.
Fifteen minutes, Adam rolls in. “Honey, I’m home!” he says as he pushes both doors open and strikes a pose in the entry way. Far from being the meltdown he had bitched about in his last email, he actually looked way too perky and happy for this time of the god-for-fucking-saken time of the morning. He’s not dressed up today though, Tommy notes – his casual shirt and jeans mean that he’s content, and happy with himself, and whatever he’s going to announce now. It’s a good look for him, minimal make-up and his freckles not loud and proud but not hidden away under layer upon layer of makeup that he normally uses to protect himself from the paps. Adam only lets himself be seen like this when he’s at peace with himself, not needing to hide away from the rest of the world behind glitter and leather.
Reassured that today is not going to be as bad as yesterday, and that Adam isn’t going to drop a complete bombshell on him, Tommy flicks back to his phone, responding to various tweets and twats of people who wanna know when he’s going to team up again with Ravi again (whenever he wants~ haha lol), when Adam is going on tour again – (shhh, its a secret. can’t tell anything yet!) to what he had for breakfast (coffee. whole Lotta coffee~ :DD). Adam makes his way around the room, hugging people, gushing over Brooke’s new hair, poking fun at Neil’s new shirt which he has been smoothing down for the last fifteen minutes, admiring Sutan’s nail polish before a quiet, “And Tommy?” from Adam.
When Tommy hears that, his head snaps up so fast he thinks he might give himself whiplash, because Sutan points a very neatly manicured nail his direction and says, “Tommy Joe has something to tell you. Something very important….” And he really really wants to raise his middle finger at Sutan but he knows that the other man is just doing it because if Tommy is left to his own devices, they’ll have to pry it out of him with crowbars and booze and it’s far too fucking early to be breaking out the amount of Jack he’d need to drink to be drunk. Drink to …. Yeah. Drink to be drunk.
“Oh?” Adam’s oh is far too calm but Tommy can feel the steely blue gaze burning into the shaved side of his head. “We’ll talk. Later…” It’s a promise, Tommy knows it, and as much as he wants to hate it he knows that Adam is only doing it for his own good – secrets like this are no good for anyone – but it’s really difficult for him to start talking about his feelings and talking about last night is bound to bring up so many of them. About the girl, about the situation that he now finds himself in, about the fact that there’s now two people trying to get him into the crosshairs. Adam’s gaze rakes over him one last time before Terrance grabs Adam in a bear hug, and Tommy is safe from releasing his feelings for another few minutes.
Not forever, though.
After a few more minutes of meeting and re-greeting everyone, Adam claps his hands, moves around to his seat at the head of the table and everyone goes to sit back down again, starting fresh squabbles over the chairs, and Neil tries to take Monte’s who still isn’t having any of it, and it only takes one threat of dumping his coffee over that brand new shirt before Neil wises up and goes off to drag Taylor out of his chair. Being the baby of the group means you don’t get a chair is the last thing Tommy hears before Terrance leans on Taylor’s behalf and starts a tickle fight that Neil ,amazingly enough for the self-proclaimed King of Tickle Fights, loses.
Adam clears his throat. Once. Twice. A third time. “NEIL!” Lane barks down the end of the table, and Neil drops Taylor’s arm like it’s red hot.
“Spoken like a true younger sibling…” Monte stage whispers from across the table, and Lane’s lips twitch suspiciously before she orders Neil to sit on the arm of Taylor’s chair and stop pissing around.
“We good?” Adam asks, and everyone nods. It’s the first time they’ve all been back together since the last party of Glam Nation, and it’s fucking awesome to be back. “Alright then – good news first.” Adam leans forward. “The album is finished!”
Everybody whoops, applauding loudly. Adam’s been working flat out to produce this album hot on the heels of the last tour – every song has been picked over, dissected and reset until Adam is content with it, but it’s finally finished. Fourteen songs, four music videos, and two different photos shoots in four and a half months; it’s been hell on everyone – nobody in the same place at the same time, everybody having five am starts and midnight finishes for days on end, far too many hours crammed in a sound booth for all the band but finally… finally…. Everything is done; Adam has given his final go ahead, and soon…. Tommy’s favourite part, the bit he’s been missing since that last night together in the Club Nokia in the middle of the City of Angels.
“So,” Adam opens his arms wide, “guess what that means?” He waggles his fingers, playing up the theatrics.
“Hmmm…” Sasha and Cam give long drawn sighs, over exaggerating their thinking faces, until one of them cracks – “Is it… a tour, Adam?” Sasha pouts prettily, her hands raised in the air in an air of innocence while Cam has one finger against the side of her head, her face screwed up like one of Monte’s daughter confronted with especially difficult homework as she speaks.
“Five points to the keyboardist!” Adam points to Cam with both hands who whoops quietly. “It means another tour – and I want all of you back. Again. Lane?”
Lane reaches under the table, draws out a whole pile of paperwork – neatly stapled, freshly printed contracts for them all. “Hot off the presses,” she says as she splits the stack in half and hands one to Neil. “There you go…” They go around the table distributing the personalised contracts to each of them, and Lane drops Tommy’s on his head when it’s his turn for a fresh stack of paper to sign. “Enjoy!” she says, before moving on for the next person. Tommy sticks out his tongue at her and turns to the paper in his hands. It’s at least twenty pages long (thirty actually, when he checks the back page), and everything is outlined there in black and white. There are no tour dates, just spaces for where they’ll be filled in later, but there’s his pay (and he’s pleased to note a very nice increase from last time) and his health insurance benefits defined in the fucking legalese again, and the health and safety declaration that his doctor will have to sign when he gives him a final say so after a physical.
“What’s going to happen now?” He asks because Lane is handing him another pile of paper. “What the hell?” He flicks through the second, smaller batch but he doesn’t get it. “Why did I get two?”
Adam leans over. “Main tour.” He says, tapping the first set of papers, “Promo tour.” He grins as he taps the second batch. No way…
“Really?” Tommy’s as pleased as fucking punch right now – he gets both tours with Adam? Fucking A, man. He says as much to the singer who gives him that special, open smile he so rarely has when he’s in the office like this. It steals away Tommy’s breath every time; the naked truth of Adam’s face is so very pure when he does that. Nothing like his own, crooked smile when he looks in the mirror.
“Of course, Tommy. Whole band goes on the promo – that means you as well.” Adam’s running one of his fingers over Tommy’s knuckles as they loosely grip the edges of the promo tour papers.
“I can’t be expected to do bass all the time…” Cam chips in, her smile wider than wide.
Tommy can’t speak, can’t say anything, but he hopes the gratitude is showing in his eyes because he is so completely happy right now. He’s going to be spending the next ten months with the people he loves the best, doing what he’s always dreamed of doing, and this time he’s getting not just the main tour, but all the build-up to it at the same time. This is what he wanted, and once again, it’s Adam who’s making it come true. He gives one of his patented half smiles, and Adam grins back.
“This is going to be awesome.” Tommy declares, and he means it. Sutan coos quietly behind him at his excitement, and Tommy looks down the papers in his hands in embarrassment. He might actually cry, and wouldn’t that just be adding insult to injury after this morning’s meltdown? He focuses on Adam’s hand on his knuckles until Lane clears her throat, and Adam regretfully pulls back his hand, but Tommy notes that a booted foot swings his way, staying tucked next to his leg. Touchy feely Adam won’t give him up, it seems. “When does it all kick off?” he asks, changing the subject, and Monte coughs. Not subtle there, Tommy - is the implied hint but Tommy shoves a middle finger up at him. He’s doing that a lot lately – maybe he should get a new comeback or something….
Lane stands beside Adam, puts her hands on her hips and Tommy stifles a groan because there in her left hand is a remote control. There’s a whirr from the projector overhead, and from the curtains being pulled shut, and everyone else groans as well. Slideshow time. Monte and Isaac across from him roll their eyes theatrically at him – Lane likes slideshows. Everyone else? Not so much… Still, it’s the price they put up with for her amazing management skills.
She starts by pointing out the dates on the screen with the handy dandy little laser thing, and they all settle in to take notes and pay actual attention because they’ll be living what she’s laying down right now, so if they have a problem, this is their chance to speak up.
Tommy doesn’t have a problem – not with the dates, not with the fact that he’ll be living on a tour bus with everybody again, that he’ll be back to existing out of a suitcase for the next ten months and being on and off planes and flying half way around the world one day and back again the same night. He’s going to be doing what he’s dreamed of doing since he was thirteen and imagining his second hand guitar from his uncle was a brand new red and white Fender and he was playing for someone whose face he couldn’t picture but he knew they had to be bigger than the Beatles. He’s going on tour again, and all is right with the world.
Underneath the table, he feels Adam’s leg pressing against his own, and the heat is reassuring him that this is real, that it’s not another dream, and Tommy can’t think straight - not when Adam is giving him that smile again.
So he doesn’t think. He just grins and basks in the warmth that is Adam fucking Lambert.
And it feels good.
For your viewing pleasure - unmade up Adam.
First of all,
I hate you.
That is all,
Second of all, I have a few thank you's to make, to the people who have helped to make this chapter actually come to life, and who provided me with excellent sounding boards to think of ideas for the future. For the hours of betaing, emailing, random comments on twitter at stupid hours of the day and night, dealing the fact that I have no sense of organisation, and in general being amazing, I give you:
huntersprey, casey270, Donna and Harshinib
You are all shining stars in the midst of this very very very confusing fic.
Please let me know what you think, and I'll try to post again soon!
Chapter 7: Nothing Else to Tell
~*Nothing Else to Tell*~
The meeting is finished, Lane’s finished bitching about keeping the tour buses clean, and remembering to wear underwear because of low riding pants (“One time!” Isaac shouts amid snickers about seeing the real Carp of Carpenter), and not fucking losing passports (Tommy looks around the room innocently until he realises every fucking eye in the room is fixed upon him), and generally keeping everything running smoothly, which is her job… Now they’re all heading down to the little room where Tommy had his little meltdown this morning, where they can be as noisy as they fucking please because they have two hours to kill and nothing to do before Adam’s big thing that he’s been planning for days.
Tommy scuffs down the corridor, keeping quiet in the shadow of his gigantic bodyguard and hoping against hope that Adam’s too busy talking with the others to actually have a word with him because he’s too fucking tired and Adam’s just going to throw another shit fit over it, and really, it’s not that big of a deal is it? Just a couple of pictures and a creep-tastic woman who’s working with the stalker, but Adam hardly needs to know that, does he? Tommy Joe doesn’t think so but he doesn’t think Adam will see it quite the same way –
“Tommy.” Fuuuck, Tommy hears Adam’s quiet command all bound up in his name, softly spoken but like a nail through his heart because he knows that Adam’s waiting, waiting for him to spill his stupid little secret, and Tommy feels sick. He slowly turns to face Adam and out of the corner of his eye, he spots the lift arriving – he wonders if he could make it into the box before… – “Inside, now.”
Everybody in the troupe stops, and stares at them, Lane raising an eyebrow, Monte side eyeing them like he’s thinking about pulling a dad act out and demanding to know what the fuck is going on, and Sutan standing there all smug because the fucker knows that Tommy didn’t want to fucking talk about it now, and then there’s everybody else just standing there looking vaguely confused.
When he finally looks at Adam, his belly lurches because Adam’s holding the door open to a random office, pointing inside like he just expects Tommy to just o-fucking-bey, and wouldn’t you know it, Tommy does o-fucking-bey because he’s already shuffling towards Adam like a naughty schoolboy, his flat converse making him feel smaller than ever next to Adam’s towering height. Everything about him is divided between wanting to run away, and wanting to tell everything.
He doesn’t know which is worse, honestly.
“What’s going on?” He hears Taylor ask, but Adam slams the door shut before Tommy hears the response beyond Sutan telling everyone to head down to the side room and not to bother waiting. Through the little glass window in the door, Tommy sees his bodyguard settle against the wall, obviously expecting to be in for the long haul. Fuck. No help there then. He sees the last of the group disappear into the lift and he knows he’s on his own now; alone with Adam and this secret. He turns around slowly.
“So.” Adam’s sat on the edge of the desk, legs crossed at the ankles in a deceptively relaxed pose. Tommy ain’t fooled for a second; inside Adam is probably jumping up and down, fighting to restrain himself from shaking it out of Tommy by force. “I hear you have something to tell me.”
“Ah.” Tommy is going to kill Sutan when he gets out of here. This was not how he envisioned telling Adam; he rather hoped he would wait until later, much later. Like in the car, via text message later. But obviously he’s not going to get that today, and isn’t that fucking great?
“Tommy,” Adam sighs, “don’t hide it. If it’s important enough for you to go to Sutan like he said, then it’s more than important enough for you to tell me.” He sounds a tiny bit disappointed in Tommy for not coming to him first, but Tommy couldn’t, not when he hasn’t sorted himself out first – he needed Sutan’s own brand of calm this morning, not Adam’s HBIC routine.
“I… Yeah… Can I have a minute?” he says weakly, trying to marshal his thoughts into some sort of order.
“You can have as long as you like, Tommy. We’re not leaving here until you tell me what’s got you freaked the fuck out.” Adam uncrosses his arms, hooks his thumbs in the pockets of his jeans. “I can wait all day, Tommy Joe.”
Tommy knows Adam’s not lying. The man can be as patient as fuck when he wants to be, content to wait for days to get revenge on a prank or to pay back one of Neil’s little brother tricks. If he doesn’t come up with the goods, Adam’ll just wait him out. So he’d better get thinking….
He sighs, props himself by the door for support but… “Ah, no, Tommy.” Adam shakes his head, points him to the chair in front of him, where he’ll be right under Adam’s shadow. No way to hide then.
“Here.” Adam clicks his fingers, points, sounding all the more pissed off and Tommy Joe’s really not with it this morning, because instead of protesting or shoving a middle finger up at Adam at the very least, he just shuffles over, slides into the uncomfortable seat, wraps one leg around the leg of the chair and rubs a hand over his face. God, where to begin? Tommy ain’t got a clue. “Baby, what’s wrong?” Adam’s sounding less stroppy, more concerned now and that’s helping a little. Tommy really can’t take Adam being mad at him right now.
“I… This is a bit difficult….” Tommy drags his phone out of his pocket, needing to have something in his hands even if he’s not using it at the moment, and Adam slides a little closer, so he’s nearly touching Tommy with his outstretched legs, offering some much needed physical comfort. “You know the st-stal-…”
“Freak. Call him the freak.” Adam suggests. Tommy can’t say stalker out loud but in his head, that’s all he can think of the guy as.
“Alright, the freak. You know he took photos of me?”
“Yes, Tommy.” Adam refrains from any sarcastic comments even though Tommy left himself wide open for them given that Adam was there when he kind of had a mental breakdown over said photos.
“You remember the one outside the club, when I was – when I was with that girl?” He doesn’t know what else to call her – bitch seems too weak; stalker woman seems too… real. He settles on girl if only because right now, he can’t process anything else. “In the alley?”
“Uh-huh.” An eyebrow goes up. Adam doesn’t say anything else. He really doesn’t need to.
“I remembered something… something about her.”
“A name? Or something else?” Adam reaches for his pocket, probably reaching for his phone. “This is good news, Tommy! Maybe they can start hunting her down now - we can call the detectives, let them know-“
“No. Not a name. More… more about what she did.” Tommy turns his phone around and around, his fingernails clicking on the plastic case. He looks down – he needs another manicure. Maybe Sutan’ll give him one when they go down to the side room - Adam cuts off his little side track into his mind, pulling him back into reality and the conversation with a gentle kick against the leg of his chair. “When we were in the alley… She was really…” He stops, can’t carry on. When he told it to Sutan, he barely managed to hold on - saying it twice just makes it all the more real. He can’t do that.
“She was what, honey?” And now it’s bad when Adam pulls out the ‘honey’ nickname… it means Tommy Joe’s making him worried, making him more concerned that he thought. Adam’s phone glints in the sunlight, makes pretty slashes of colour across Tommy’s vision. He talks to the light that dances across his sight, instead of Adam’s face.
“I thought she was just nervous, worried about being caught. I thought she maybe she had a fucking bruiser ex or something.” Tommy’s been with a couple of girls like that, ones with violent partners that they’ve separated from, and they were always so nervous, worried about being in public with another man until they got more confident, settled back into themselves – he hadn’t thought twice about her being so on edge, always looking over her shoulder while he kissed down her neck, and his hands tried to go up her shirt, into her bra… “But… I keep thinking about it. And she wasn’t nervous at all. She was smiling.”
Adam’s hand drops his phone; the noise is like a gunshot in the quiet office. “Wh-what?” He obviously wasn’t expecting that.
“She was fucking smiling, kept looking around, kept trying to turn us – turn me and now… now that I’ve seen the pictures…” Tommy’s never had an eye for angles and lines and directions, but his photographer friends have taught him a few tricks of the trade over the years, and when he thought about those photos last night, he recognised what she was trying to do. “She was trying to put me in the view of the camera, get us further under the streetlight so we’d be better lit…” When he’d finally clocked it, he’d nearly puked. He still feels kind of like that now. “That’s the reason you can see so much of my face, my body in the shots – not just her.”
“Fuck.” Adam says, before he can think Tommy finds himself engulfed in a hug, Adam’s arms tight around him. “Oh my God, Tommy.”
He winds his own arms around Adam, buries his face into the side of Adam’s neck, trying to block out the world with the smell and feel of Adam, wanting to just forget everything about that fucking bitch of a woman because if she knew, if she was doing that on purpose it opens up a whole new can of worms that Tommy doesn’t know if he can deal with on top of everything else. Adam squeezes tighter, and Tommy lets him, needing the close contact right now.
Inside Adam’s embrace, Tommy feels a bit safer, a bit more able to deal with the world, and he breathes in the smell of Adam; it’s something he’s never been able to figure out, some cologne, a fancy detergent, but most of all it’s something Adam; spicy, musky, deeper than deep and so Adam Lambert that if Tommy could get it into note form inside his head, he’d never stop fucking playing it. It’s a few minutes before Adam draws back, kneeling down properly on the floor in front of Tommy but somehow he still manages to seem so damn tall, and Tommy doesn’t want (read: can’t) to let go, so Adam slides his hands down, wrapping those long, carefully manicured fingers around his own chewed and abused hands. “Is there anything else?” He asks, softly, and Tommy is so, so, so glad there is nothing else to tell because he doesn’t think Adam or he could manage that. This revelation alone was enough for them.
He shakes his head. “Other than Sutan threatening me for doing this to my hair,” he points, “nothing else.” Adam pulls a half smirk out of somewhere, but he still looks so serious that Tommy has to do something else to stop that frown from making itself any deeper. “Pinky swear,” he says, holding out his little finger to add yet more truth on top of his words.
Adam hooks his own little finger around Tommy’s. “Pinky swear?” he says, and it’s so serious that Tommy can’t help the little quirk of his lips, but he nods. He promises that there’s nothing else to tell. “God, Tommy… Never change…” He grins, and leans forward to rest his forehead on Tommy’s for a moment, and Tommy grins wider; Adam believes him, and that means things are looking up. “Alright then,” the man says, getting to his feet, reaching around into his pocket. “We’ll need to call the detectives-“
“Hey, how come you have their number, and I don’t?” Tommy doesn’t remember being told about contact details….
“Because some of us were paying attention yesterday.” Ouch, Tommy feels the subtle bitch slap in that. but he doesn’t object. Adam’s kinda right – he was very out of it yesterday. “And gimme your phone later. I’ll programme it in for you.” Fair enough.
He waits quietly while Adam talks to the detective’s voicemail, just asking whoever the fuck it is to call him back, and he doesn’t really give a shit that Adam leaves both his own number and Tommy’s in the message because that’s just so Adam that he’s kind of gotten used to over the last few years. He’s a bit of a Head Bitch in Charge sort of guy, and this has no doubt stirred up that side his personality again, so the best thing to do is just stay calm and wait him out until he comes back down again and is nice, pleasant, softie Adam.
He’s too tired to do anything like objecting to what’s going on – and even if he did, he suspects that Adam would just give him a look and he’d shut up anyway so…. he just watches in silence until Adam’s done.
Adam hangs up the phone, throws it carelessly onto the desk before he reaches over, slides a hand through Tommy’s hair, pulling gently at the roots. He doesn’t even ask – just straight in there, and Tommy lets him do it. It’s such an Adam move – one the man has perfected after weeks of tour and just being together, and Tommy leans into the caress, craving the touch to give him something to focus on. There’s no need for talking, only this wordless interaction, and he keeps massaging at Tommy’s head, soothing the beginnings of a pounding headache away before they can really get started, until he’s a puddle of Tommy Joe Ratliff flavoured goo in the chair.
“Such a touch-slut,” Adam says, and Tommy grumbles, but it’s so fucking true. He could go to sleep right now, just like he does when Adam does it on the tour bus, or when they’re watching a film, or when he’s in Sutan’s make-up chair, or like last month, curled up with his head on Adam’s lap while they watched shitty eighties films until they could barely see straight enough to climb the stairs to go to sleep in beds instead of on Adam’s amazingly comfortable new eight seater couch with deep cushions and fucking gorgeous throw blankets to wrap yourself in.
He is such a cuddle slut, a touch slut, an all-around affection whore; it’s kind of not fair really because he never used to be. When he was in his metal bands or working in the call centre, he really didn’t need all this hugging and touching and kisses behind the ear and always having an arm wrapped around his shoulders, and Adam constantly in his shadow – or him in Adam’s shadow, he’s never worked out which way around it goes – but he doesn’t care. This, right here, right now, feels so damn good.
He likes the affection, even if it does get him called kitty cat by the rest of the troupe. He loves the hugs, the touches, the need to constantly be in physical contact with other people, with the troupe and his parents and Adam. He needs it now, needs it like sunlight and water, and music in his blood because without it, his world would be colder, darker, lonelier and he’s been there and done that, spent years isolating himself away from the world to protect himself from it. It wasn’t fun.
The old Tommy? Can go screw himself because he’s better than he was before - he’s warmer, more open, more social than he ever was when he was chained to a desk or hiding behind Manson and tattoos because of his height, bulking up to appear hard and tough like he still isn’t.
But now, he looks up at Adam, stares into those grey blue eyes, and right away he knows that Adam’s worried about him, worried about what that girl was doing, but just as soon as he spots it, Adam raises his eyebrow, and pulls up a shield, blanking out his thoughts and that means that Tommy Joe don’t get to see no more because only when Adam is ready will he tell what’s going on inside that glittery whirlwind of a mind and nothing Tommy will do can change that.
And he thinks that’s really unfair because Tommy Joe doesn’t get the same privileges - Adam don’t let him have secrets, not big ones anyway but he figures that’s just what it means to be in the man’s presence – there’s no way to keep secrets from Adam, not really.
The head massage starts to wind down – they really can’t hide out inside someone’s office all day, even if that’s kind of what Tommy would sell his right foot for now. That’s just not professional, a little voice in the back of his head that sounds a hell of a lot like Lane is saying, and he purses his lips as he tells the voice to shut the fuck up before he realises he’s talking to a voice inside his head aaaaand now he’s officially going crazy. Peachy. Just what he needs on top of everything else.
“…to Tommy?” Oh, shit. Adam’s talking. “Earth to Tommy? You in there?” Adam waves a hand in front of his face, and Tommy goes to bite it before he really catches on to what’s happening. “Ooh, feisty kitty this morning.” Adam cackles, pulling his fingers back out of range even as he speaks.
“Oh, fuck you.” Tommy flaps a hand at him, dismissing the joke. He doesn’t really mind the kitty jokes – not unless it’s in front of other people, because Adam delights in embarrassing him like that - but he’s not in the mood for it at the moment.
“Alright then, Tommy,” Adam slides off the desk, stuffing his phone back into his pocket. “Let’s go fuck around with the rest of the gang.” He offers a hand to Tommy, wiggling his fingers.
“Do we have to?”
“…You wanna go home?” Adam asks, and he’s not being cruel, or joking around, Tommy knows that Adam’s never like that around him, but he’s worried for Tommy because there are days when he can’t take the social interaction, can’t stand being around people anymore, and he just needs to retreat to his room and to his DVDs and the peace of being in an environment that he can control. Tommy Joe hates this, hates this world of people and socialisation and being normal sometimes – he doesn’t want it, wants it to all back off and let him be and Adam’s known him long enough to understand that. Can you cope? is what Adam is asking, and Tommy seriously considers the question because he knows the reality of trying to force himself out into the wide world of people and conversations and communicating on more complex basis than “Do you need a bag with that?” If he pushes himself too far, makes himself try too hard, it just comes back to bite him in the ass later on.
He’s not ever going down that route again.
He shakes his head. “Not at the moment. I’m okay for now.” There – he’s left himself an out, knows that Adam’s caught the little exit he’s given in that statement but won’t pick him up on it. He’ll just have to deal with the guy paying him really close attention every time he starts to pull back a bit, or starts but that’s nothing new. Not really, these days. “I’m alright,” he says, offering a tiny smile, and Adam grins back, full and open, and his whole face just lights up.
“Alright then,” he says, offering his hand to Tommy again. “Let’s go fuck with my brother’s head again.”
Tommy grins. Now that he can do.
Screw me for having such a shit timing schedule, thanks to everyone who betaed this/looked it over/dealt with my flailings - point out any mistakes and have a nice evening.
Chapter 8: Make up and (almost) Meltdowns
The room smells like coffee, and face powder, and lip gloss. When Tommy lifts his glass to drink, he can taste a faint dusting of it on the rim, and that’s so familiar.
Adam sits at his dressing table, debating between foundation brushes. His face is intent, completely focused on the task at hand as he sorts what he wants to take on his trip to Miami to meet with produces, and Tommy could sit here forever to watch.
He’s not even supposed to be there - Mike wondered if he wanted to be at home while the security staff refitted his home with new doors and a better fence and shit, but Tommy didn’t. He’s got more than enough shit to worry about than standing over some people who know more about screws and bolts and deadlocks and barbed wire than he does. DIY has never been his thing - putting together his music equipment is as far as he goes when it comes to putting holes in walls and running cables.
Mike’s there anyway, and Tommy spent a whole two hours cleaning out his room so they could refit his window and bedroom door to make it more secure because Mike might have put his foot through it a few days before when he was drunk and Tommy’s alarm kept going off at six am.
Tommy Joe’s housemate is not a morning person.
So instead, Tommy ducked out, pleading boss babysitting duty, and now he’s sitting on a mini sofa thing that is apparently very expensive because Adam said if he put his feet on it, he could forget about earning anything from promo this time around.
So Tommy kicked off his shoes and said fuck you to Adam. Now he’s curled up with his feet on an old hoodie of the man in the mirror, watching with hooded eyes as Adam works.
“This one or this one?” Adam holds up two virtually identical mascaras in the mirror, obviously anticipating an answer, and Tommy hasn’t a fucking clue. He usually buys whatever’s cheapest, and then Sutan throws a shitfit and gives him some spares he’s always got lying around from Max Factor or Maybelline or some brand that Tommy doesn’t care enough about to know more than it’s black/brown, and it’s supposed to be waterproof.
“Umm. Left.” He picks randomly, and Adam raises his eyebrow. “What?”
“Nothing - nothing...” But the left one does go into the travel makeup kit and the right one ends up back in the drawer it came from, and Adam moves onto eyeshadow, contemplating the merits of olive versus coffee or whatever. His voice is soft in Tommy’s ears after a whole day of people and talking and traffic.
A candle flickers in a hurricane vase next to the mirror, throwing strange shadows onto the wall, and Tommy sighs. This is one of his safe spots, his bolt holes from the world, a bunker to retreat to after mandatory excursions into the world.
It’s Adam’s house.
The large four story mansion with a three car garage and an outdoor pool is a world away from Tommy’s own shit heap of a three bedroom house that he shares with Mike and a third roommate when they’re tight for money, and at times like this, it really feels it.
The furniture is new and quietly expensive but comfortable, which is, in Tommy’s opinion, a very good thing. Big sofas, soft rugs on the hardwood floors, drapes instead of doors in the main area to promote chi and the free flow of good energy. What the fuck ever. They look awesome, that’s the main point.
The windows are floor to ceiling, the air conditioning so quiet you can barely hear it, the maid service so quiet and discreet that they managed to clean around Tommy while he was sleeping on the couch and and he only woke up when he heard their car backing down the drive after they’d finished.
The electronics are sleek and shiny, and the massive fifty inch TV in the den where he and Adam have their movie nights is a gift straight from Samsung, buttering Adam up to market something that Tommy doesn’t care about. It’s big, it’s shiny, and it gets all the cable channels - he doesn’t need to know anything else. It even has a rotating DVD tray so they can load in three films back to back and not have to get up to change out discs.
The bathrooms are huge, with power showers, and imported tiles, with underfloor heating, and Tommy is sorely missing that in his own home where they have skanky tiles and a mold problem that’s kinda getting out of hand. The pool outside is complemented with a hot tub on the deck that seats ten but usually only has to hold two.
Even the kitchen is pretty cool, and Tommy would happily drop his pants and let Adam fuck him raw if he gets a go at the coffee machine that can dispense barista grade coffee with a drop of the hat and the push of a billion buttons. Adam tells him it’s not necessary, he’s granted Tommy permission to raid it whenever he wants.
He’s also got permission to raid the fridge and the crisper drawer - especially the crisper drawer, Adam informs him - and every so often, he actually dares to, sneaking away with a plate of chicken couscous, or last night’s leftover Chinese or Thai. He usually waits for Adam to tell him what to grab, partly because, you know, it’s Adam’s fridge which is kind of personal, and also because the last thing he wants is a low calorie low fat, low fucking taste pasta sauce thing that Adam’s been saving for breakfast.
So yeah. Pretty much Adam’s house is his favourite place on earth these days, because his own house is a shit heap reinforced like a grenade bunker, and well... where else is there to go?
Adam doesn’t seem to mind. Tommy has an open invitation to come in when he needs to - or even, Adam said, when he wants to - and more often than not Tommy finds himself settling into Adam’s ridiculously comfy sofa at least twice a month.
The open invitation is one of the many things Adam has gone above and beyond to give him.
He’s also granted Tommy a key.
The implications are huge, but Tommy doesn’t think on it. He’s more than tired enough to just accept what he’s given and move on. On his keyring now, between his house key and his Sydney keyring from last tour, he’s got four brand new shiny keys - garage, house, gate, and the plastic security key to disable the house alarm. He’s also got the code imprinted in his head - 09-22-*55 - so he doesn’t, like, call the SWAT team to the house when he tries to break in at four am or some other asscrack of dawn time with a slightly drunk Adam after being called to pick him up from a bar as he occasionally does
After Lane’s press conference, they’d retreated as a group down to the room where Tommy had started the morning face first in Sutan’s chest, laughing, joking, catching up. It had been like old times – Tommy could almost believe they would be getting up, called onto the buses one by one as if they were on tour all over again, but they hadn’t.
They stayed in the room for a good four or five hours, waiting to cycled through to sign contracts and understand exactly what was expected of them as representatives of Adam’s label and shit, and the only one who wasn’t called was Tommy.
Lane’s face said it all, and Tommy fingers one of his earrings absently as he remembers her expression of anger mixed with resignation when she’d told him to come back tomorrow.
Adam’s frown had worried Tommy more than anything.
The rest of the group had picked up on something, and it showed. Under the surface of jokes and playfighting, there had been a tension that had coiled under everyone’s skin, even those not in on the secret. Glances that were full of meaning were exchanged over Tommy’s head, Monte had been unusually attentive to the group, rather than retreating with just one or two people as was his usual practise, and Sutan had hovered over Tommy, fretting, smoothing his hair, trying to get him to test a new eyeliner, pacing the floor during lulls in the conversation, unable to sit still for long.
Something was up, something big and everyone knew it.
But Adam hadn’t let him dwell on that for long.
Adam had pulled Tommy close, got them to share a sofa to themselves, plying him with coffee, and when Lane’s order from the restaurant came through, he insisted on paying for Tommy’s bacon and cheese sub with lettuce, hold the mustard, heavy on the mayo. And the coffee. And the bottle of diet soda that Tommy, in a moment of madness, had also ordered.
Tommy let him.
He won’t accept a lot in life, up to and including money from Adam’s hand that he hadn’t earned – he’s a man; he’s got his fucking pride, you know? – but he’s never turned down free food. Ever. You pay for Tommy Joe’s taco, or his beer, or his coffee in the morning (especially his coffee, actually), and he’ll be sweet on you forever. He lets a few people get away with it a lot – Sutan usually manages to ply him with cookies and coffee twice a month at least, and Monte’s wife sends in plenty of home baked shit that Tommy can’t resist… And well, Adam. Adam does it a lot.
When Tommy places his order at the coffee counter, sometimes he gets to pay, but sometimes a hand comes down over his, and Adam offers a twenty dollar bill to the barista, and that’s that. Or when the cheque arrives during a meal in a restaurant, Tommy reaches for his wallet, only to have Adam fix him with a look and a crisp fifty dollar bill, and change lands on the stupid little plastic tray.
It had been Adam’s MO all along really. Right from the word go, when Tommy arrived at the studio clutching a sheaf of music notes, hastily adapted for the bass, and a rented guitar because he didn’t own an electric bass after Adam had promised to just listen to him a second time, Adam had taken him under his wing, so to speak.
Tommy didn’t know how to take it at first because it was mostly a difficult sort of time for him, moving in those circles, being a somewhat vaguely famous person. Back up bands don’t bring in the big shit, that’s the long and short of it in the industry. Monte gets more because he’s got an extra title to his name – Creative Director or something, and Brooke gets a little more because she has to work to choreograph as well as dance, but Tommy Joe? He gets expenses paid, and a little bit on top, but he’s not rolling in it.
So when Adam started buying him lunch, calling it a favour because if he has someone else there, he can resist the call of the dessert menu, Tommy Joe was a little floored and nervous. But he accepted. He didn’t know if he could say no at the time, even though Adam would totally have accepted it and rolled on with a smile and a joke.
Their first dinner was in a two star greasy spoon cafe, and it was the best fucking dinner Tommy ever had. Ever.
It’s kinda grown on him now, and he lets Adam do it here and there because it’s nice to go out to places he used to park cars as a valet at before. Or even if it’s just paying for coffee,and Tommy pays him back by learning that new song of Adam’s in double quick time so Adam can stop stressing about it. He values those meals as well. Adam’s a really nice guy, and Tommy enjoys spending time with him whether it’s outside or staying in, and ordering from the really good delivery company.
And it’s especially nice because, well… money’s a bit tight at the moment. He’s not completely out of pocket, but he’s got gas to buy, and his rent to make, and then his health insurance as well… and if he’s got promo to worry about then that’s another expense on top of everything else. He’ll need some more clothes, and smart shit depending on where they’re performing, and then he has to go pick hunting and spare equipment buying. And that’ll take all day because Tommy Joe does not trust many places to give him the right sort of pick.
Maybe it’s a control thing, maybe it’s just a Tommy thing but he thinks his picks bring out the best in his guitars, and if he’s playing promo as well, he needs that edge.
He’s been playing with Adam for a while now, but he’s still kinda scared that if he doesn’t play well, he’s gonna be booted off home without a second glance. Even if Adam’s told him to his face time and again that he wouldn’t do that to Tommy, he still worries about it.
“Why did I buy hot pink eyeshadow?” Adam is holding up a searing pink palette, and Tommy winces. It’s horrible, and Sutan would die of horror if he ever saw it.
“No idea. Maybe you were drunk?” It’s a perfectly legitimate question. Adam does a lot of strange shit when he’s drunk, like making a lot of toast to build sculptures, and eating ice cream straight out of the tub with a ladle, wearing nothing but his boxers. Tommy totally maintains it’s to do with his diet and cravings breaking out when Adam’s defences are lower against the evils of sugar and candy, because nobody can subsist on green shit for the rest of their days, and it has to come out sometimes. Adam usually tells him to shut up and pass the chocolate sauce.
And Tommy does because, hey, he always gets a spoon and it’s free food, remember?
“Hell no.” He’s up for a lot of things, but he draws the line at that. It looks like it’s been dipped in radioactive waste or something. “Give to it Monte’s kids?”
“Good point.” The girls are growing up fast, Tommy sees it all the time when they come to the studios or he goes to Monte’s to play for a bit. The girls have gone from yay high to WAY high, and it’s fucking scary. Their father came in a few weeks ago, bemoaning the fact that his oldest two wanted makeup kits for their birthdays, and where did the years go?
Tommy had said nothing. Time moves quickly, and he’s not such a fan of that.
Time is a bitch, in Tommy’s opinion, a fucking low bitch that sneaks up on people and stabs a knife in their backs. It took away Tommy’s father - he managed just twenty minutes beside his dying father’s bedside before Death took him away forever. It lost Tommy a lot of respect in high school because he had to choose between friends and grades, and time ran out before he could make that choice.... Time is a whore bitch, and Tommy never has enough time to do everything he wants.
Adam throws the eyeshadow into the little bag on the back of the chair that he’s planning to give to Monte’s girls as soon as it’s full. He gets so much free makeup and shit, he wants to share the love.)
Adam likes to share the love. He’s a total love person.
He has a bag hidden in the drawer of the mirror stand that he thinks Tommy doesn’t know about, and it’s full of more free makeup, but better quality, better brands, more expensive than the cheap Walmart shit. Tommy’s nosy, and he found it one night when he was staying over and Adam was downstairs in the study on the phone to some jackass producer. It’s all carefully picked out, brand new, and the right colours for a pretty gay Christmas Elf.
It takes work to put together a kit like that, and he appreciates it. He’ll get it for Christmas, even though Adam doesn’t celebrate Christmas, being a lapsed Jewish person and all that, so it’ll probably be on like, December 29th or something.
Or New Year’s.
Tommy likes New Year’s Day - the whole starting over, wipe the slate clean thing appeals to him. Plus, you know, spending time with Adam and friends and family that comes with it.
Adam’s full of little gestures like the make up kit towards everybody, and Tommy thinks it’s what makes him such a good boss. Yeah, he’s a fucking hardass about the dumbest things during sound check, and he’s a bear with a sore head when he’s stressed over the fucking label giving him orders over the new album, but he’s also just… kind.
It’s a fucking stupid word, but Tommy thinks it fits.
Adam just is spontaneous with gifts and things, and he doesn’t seem to mind if Tommy can’t find the words to express how thankful he is for things like Adam paying him for the six days he took off when his dad was dying even though he wasn’t playing (and he heard Monte saying how hard he had to fight the executives for it). Not to mention, when he’d found out the news and had no fucking clue how he was going to get home because he was broke ass broke from not getting his first paycheck yet, and his boss had stepped in. Adam had given him a tissue with one hand and handed him a return flight ticket to Burbank with the other, and he wouldn’t take it back no matter how much Tommy pushed it away.
Tommy had cried into Adam’s shirt all night long for that, and when he caught the plane in the morning, Adam waved goodbye to him from the airport barricade.
So yeah. Adam’s pretty fucking awesome.
He got dragged here after everything they did today, and Tommy’s not usually so ready to be so close, but it’s Adam, and he’s really fucking familiar and everything else that Tommy needs today. So Tommy sits in Adam’s walk in closet and watches him carefully sort through the hundreds of brushes, applicators and bundles of cotton pads, and he sighs.
It’s been a long day – up so early for the meeting, his worry over everything, camping out away from his bed as Adam dragged the crew to a restaurant for dinner and then onto an avant-garde film extravaganza in the basement of an old library – that had been kinda cool, actually.
So now, it’s ten past nine at night, and Tommy is still hiding out from going home where he has to confront his new reality of the stalker being real yet again by seeing the door locks and shit. He’s staying at Adam’s tonight – he’s got the clothes on his back and that’s it, but Adam’ll lend him some shit – and he’s done with everything.
He sighs again.
Tomorrow is shaping up to be another scary day again. The police are coming to take another statement from him and getting him to talk to a sketch artist to try to get a better idea of the girl’s face because all the photos are apparently shit. He’s also got to talk to some higher up about the new expense of his bodyguards, and Tommy hopes they don’t try to get him to take over paying them because frankly, Tommy’s got not enough cash to have a guard mouse, never mind pay for two oversized human guard dogs.
Adam will hit the roof if they try though.
“You wanna go find our DVD for tonight?” Adam zips up the bag, places it into the case beside him. “I’ll order the food if you want?”
Yeah. Tommy can do that. Veg out tonight, worry about tomorrow in the morning.