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Color Theory

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The deep, throbbing ache of inspiration prickles under Erik's skin on an early Sunday morning, pulling him from his sleep and leaving him disoriented. He tosses around on the bed aimlessly for a while, trying to get comfortable, but endless colors and shapes float through his consciousness, begging to be given life.

At first Erik tries to ignore them, but since he won't be able to sleep in any longer anyway, he rolls out of bed, careful not to disturb Adam. He picks out some sweats and a loose-fitting tee for the day and decides to try easing his restlessness with a shower, although that only works against him: the sensations of the hot water and steam and soap only make the pictures and lines and colors come faster. So, finally, Erik decides to oblige them.

He searches their bedside table for his sketchpad and pulls it free from a thick pile of papers. He curses under his breath when something falls off of the nightstand and hits the ground with an ear-splitting thump. Immediately, Erik turns to Adam, expecting him to stir awake at the noise, but he does nothing. Why can't Erik sleep like that?

Erik parts the curtains of the window beside the bed, knowing that this won't startle Adam awake since his back is turned to the light. He all but tiptoes to the other side of the bed, his sketchbook in one hand and a pencil in the other. He settles into a chair in one corner of the room, crossing his legs and pulling the sketchpad into his lap, examining the first blank page: an empty canvas of so much potential, so much worth. He draws in a deep breath and goes to work.

He begins with what looks like a bunch of random lines, laying the foundation for an intricate vision playing behind his eyes and guiding his hands - which glide across the paper as if they're possessed. It only takes a few minutes for him to finish the sketch, and a few more minutes to tidy it up a bit and make the lines more defined.

Erik finds his paints easily and doesn't waste any time applying them, filling every space with bright splashes of color and thoughtful shades and shadows, but halfway through he stops dead in his tracks.

He drops his brush abruptly - leaving the paint dripping from the tip to splatter on a patch of remaining white space on the paper - as if his fingers have gone numb. Erik clicks his tongue in defeat and tears the sheet from the rest of the pad, letting it fall gracelessly to the floor, Something isn't right about it...Something just doesn't come together.

Sighing, Erik taps his fingers against his knee, and his gaze darts anxiously around the room. He needs to paint something.


"Sometimes I just need to paint something," Erik explains, squinting his eyes and tucking the tip of his tongue at the corner of his mouth as he sweeps broad strokes along the expanse of white before him. Adam looks on in awe. "Sometimes I get these pictures in my head and they won't go away until I...set them free, y'know? It's ridiculous, but- "

"No, it's not," Adam murmurs. "I know what you mean. It's the same thing with me and my singing."

"Exactly!" Erik raises his eyebrows at his work-in-progress, contemplating. Then, he looks up Adam, smiling brightly, hopefully. "Sing for me now?"

Erik returns to his compsition, lulled by the pealing-of-bells beauty of Adam's voice rising in the background as vibrant splashes of color fill the still-blank spaces of the canvas. Erik begins to think about how their two arts co-exist and feed from one another, give and take, inspire and imagine.

Even later that night, when all was silent and dark and still, these thought stayed with him as he contemplated the journey he and Adam were taking together, not just as lovers but as artists, both still finding their place in the world, both so young, constantly evolving, creating, learning.


Erik loses himself in memory, not quite realizing he's been gazing at Adam's face for so long: his far-away, dreamy expression, his freshly-painted purple fingernails clutching at the sheets, the blanket caught between his legs and thrown haphazardly over his back, baring more skin than he ever willingly would outside this room.

So shy, Erik thinks. He's so beautiful but always so shy, always bundling himself up in a dozen layers and a mask of makeup just to cover all of his insecurities, his self-proclaimed flaws.

But now, Adam's skin, apart from being exposed, is bare: no foundation, no liner or glitter around his eyes. This is the true Adam, the Adam that the world will never get to see, even if - when - he gets the opportunity to chase his dream and live the rockstar life he's always wanted, always deserved and fought like hell for.

Erik pulls his chair closer to the bed. His pencil seems to move across the paper of its own accord, sketching the planes of Adam's face before Erik even realizes what he's doing. It occurs to him that he may never get this chance again - a lazy Sunday morning, a spark of imagination, and a stunning, candid muse.

He goes slowly, much slower than usual, not just because he has the time, not just because Adam's face is infinitely more complex than a bunch of colorful scribbles spinning around in one of Erik's visions. He feels like he has to, that he owes Adam that much. Somehow.


The first time Adam had watched Erik paint, he'd done it secretly, observing as Erik's hands speed to a blur across his canvas - a proper easel this time rather than a little sketchpad. Erik had been so lost in his work that he hadn't noticed Adam close in from behind and peek unobtrusively over his shoulder.

Out of the blue, Adam had asked, softly, "Why do you go so fast?"

Erik froze, then sighed, then just kind of laughed.

"The pictures I see," he says, "...they don't last forever. I have to be quick."

Adam gazes as Erik resumes his painting, fixing his eyes so intensely on every brushstroke that Erik has to pause again and meet his eyes, his own expression questioning but teasing.

"Sorry," Adam says, backing away and smiling apologetically. "It's just...It's so beautiful."

Erik's face lights up exuberantly, and his smile doesn't fade even as he turns his attention back to the painting.


Drawing Adam really helps Erik put things into perspective. He's easily the most challenging subject Erik has ever sketched; no matter how much he messes around with shadows and structure, something about the portrait never really looks quite right. Eventually, though, after he plays around enough, he comes to a point where he's satisfied.

Painting him proves to be even more difficult. Erik's not sure he has the proper colors - not sure if the proper colors even exist. The few generic skin tones he has hardly match Adam's pale yet somehow sun-touched skin, kissed with a million freckles that Erik adores and Adam deeply despises.

Just as Erik ponders what he can do, he hears a soft, muffled groan followed by the rustling of bedsheets. Erik looks up in time to see Adam's eyes flutter open, big and electric and curious.

"Don't move," Erik whispers, almost teasingly. He can't quite hide the mischief in his eyes, and he tries to hide behind the sketch, though he knows better.. Adam never misses anything.

"Oh, God," Adam blurts out between helpless giggles. "What are you doing?"

Before Erik can articulate an answer, Adam's stretching an arm toward him (although he can't quite reach), silently asking to see what Erik's got down on paper so far. And for the first time since Adam laid eyes on him, Erik looks awfully shy. Drawing real people just isn't what he usually does, and he's not as confident in this piece as he is about practically every other painting of his that Adam has seen.

But Adam wins, of course. Erik gives up and flips the sketchpad around so Adam can see.

Adam's jaw drops, and he looks like he's trying to say something, but the words don't come.

"Fuck," he says, finally. "Baby, that's incredible! I don't know how in the world you do it, but...God, that's so cool!"

Erik blushes a little and fails miserably at hiding it, earning another goofy laugh from Adam. He turns the sketchbook back and looks over his work with new eyes. And, yeah, it is pretty damn good if he does say so himself, especially for not being done yet. Erik wriggles his toes. He can take on the world.

Adam climbs out of bed and rummages through their shared dresser, pausing when Erik says, "Don't bother putting any of those on." Adam turns around to give Erik a heated, knowing smirk before he makes his way to the bathroom empty-handed and runs the water for his shower.

That gets Erik thinking, too. Maybe Adam's skin would be easier to paint with a blush from the steam. He plays around with the colors available to him on a spare scrap of paper until he comes up with a few hues that would fit the portrait.

Again, Erik goes slowly, so slowly that his fingers shake and itch, begging to move faster. He takes a deep breath and steadies his grip on the brush as he paints. He envisions every line and curve of Adam's face, the hollows and shadows defining his throat, and the striking paleness of his legs and belly and chest that would look so out of place on every other California boy that Erik has ever seen.

But something's still missing, something other than the freckles he has yet to decorate the skin with. Another part of Adam still isn't there, and it has nothing to do with his physical features. How can this man's essence, his larger-than-life aura. possibly be captured with just colors and lines?

Adam emerges a few moments later, a towel wrapped loosely around his waist, his dark hair still dripping wet, his skin flaunting the same light flush of sunset-pink that Erik so painstakingly created in his absence. He makes his way toward Erik, taking long, slow strides and pinning him with an expression that can only be described as hungry.

Erik sets the painting flat on his lap as Adam reaches for him, gently taking Erik's chin between his fingers and tilting his head up. With hardly any warning, Adam fiercely brings their mouths together, kissing him messily, roughly, perfectly. Erik gives back as much as he can, but Adam never lets him take over, fisting a hand in Erik's dirty-blond curls, which are still damp from his own shower.

Adam pulls away reluctantly and pants against Erik's jaw, letting his eyes drift to the portrait that Erik's clutching at with restless fingers, letting his gaze play over all the clever little details that he hadn't been able to notice earlier. The part of him that would usually be embarrassed by the mere thought of someone painting him - especially without his knowledge - is invalidated by the part of him that idly finds the whole thing kind of hot.

"You know," Adam begins, "I don't think I'd ever let anybody else do this." He traces a finger over a blank space on the page.

"Paint you?" Erik smirks curiously. "Why?"

" 'Cause I know that no one could do it as well as you can," Adam answers playfully. "And even if they could...You know me better."

Leaving Erik speechless, Adam lets the towel fall from his hips as he flops back onto their bed, trying to throw the comforter over him in the same way it'd been arranged as he'd slept so Erik can continue his work with something to refer to.

Adam pretends to fall asleep again, but Erik's not buying it; he can see Adam watching him intently through slitted eyes. He can feel the love and the warmth in that gaze, but it's distracting.

"You're doing an amazing job, but..." Adam arches his back and tosses his head around on the pillow a bit, his wide, precious smile a stark contrast to the blatant sexuality of his pose, "...there's something else I'd really rather you'd be doing."

Erik purses his lips as a shiver rolls through his body, from his spine to his cock. Slowly, he sets his brush aside as a wicked smile plays over his features. The painting will have to wait.

Typically, Erik would deny him, because he hates it when his work is interrupted, and Adam knows that, but this is different. He's not rushing this time. He's not sweeping his hands a mile a minute over a blurry mural of colors that will fade from his mind if he doesn't hurry. Adam's not going anywhere. Erik can take his time with painting Adam, because he's more than some fleeting vision, more than a fantasy.

Erik pulls his shirt off on his way to the bed and straddles Adam's hips, gently taking his mouth, his lips sliding languidly against Adam's, a night-and-day difference from their last kiss. Adam sighs and curls his fingers tenderly around the back of Erik's neck.

After a few moments, Erik pulls back, brushing his lips against Adam's jaw, pressing kisses to the side of his neck. He traces the contours of Adam's face and throat and chest, thinking about how he would paint them, how he could control each movement of his brush to make Adam's every feature come alive.

Erik slides off of Adam's body and kneels on an empty space on the bed. He dips his fingers into the waistband of his pants, watching Adam lick his lips as he tugs them off and tosses them aside. He stretches his back and his limbs as he crawls into Adam's lap again, lips curled into a feral smile.

"How do you want me?" Erik asks, voice dripping with honey and sugar and everything Adam has no chance of resisting. Erik firmly grasps Adam's shoulders and flips the two of them over so Adam's hovering above him, his strength surprising for his size. "Like this?" Erik bucks his hips and wraps one leg around Adam's waist, grinding their cocks together and making Adam moan helplessly.

"Or..." Erik pushes his palms against Adam's chest, encouraging him to roll onto his back again. He lowers his mouth to Adam's ear, lets his warm breath play over Adam's lobe and jaw, reveling in Adam's slight shiver. "Or do you wanna have me in you? You wanna give up control, let me inside?"

Adam takes a moment to contemplate Erik's words. He shivers pleasurably at first; they've never done it this way before, but it doesn't take long for him to realize he does want that, wants it more than anything in the world in this moment. but as reality sets in, he doubts himself, feeling his muscles tighten uncomfortably. Adam's only bottomed once, maybe twice, and the result wasn't exactly enjoyable.

He knows this would be so much different than those experiences, since this isn't some stranger asking him to give up control. He knows Erik wouldn't ever hurt him, and even if he ever did accidentally, he'd stop. He'd be understanding. He'd never ask again.

"Adam?" Erik's tone switches from one of uninhibited seduction to genuine concern, and he holds Adam's gaze for a few long moments, green on blue, searching.

"It's alright. I'm okay," Adam assures him, trying as hard as he can to believe his own words. "I'm - "

"Hey." Erik brushes his knuckles lovingly against Adam's cheek. "I know you don' this a lot, if that's what this..." - he gestures toward the anxiety in Adam's eyes - " about - "

"No, it's not, I'm - "

"Just hear me out, Adam. Please." He leans in to kiss Adam's forehead. "If this is what you wanna do, I promise I'm gonna make it good. I swear on my life. You just have to trust me. Can you do that?"

Adam takes a few long, deep breaths before he answers, not because he has to think about the question, but because he feels a flood of emotions coming over him, so grateful and enthusiastic and so, so happy, but...yeah, scared. Nervous as hell.

"I do trust you," Adam breathes, and his voice is shakier than he'd like it to be. "I trust you with everything I have."

Erik brings one of Adam's hands to eye level and kisses Adam's wrist, then his palm, then each of his fingers, before lacing them together with his own. His lips delicately brush the skin of Adam's collarbones as if painting their own picture. Adam hums and sighs all the while, the fingers of his free hand gently sweeping wild curls out from in front of Erik's eyes.

Erik makes his way down the length of Adam's torso, leaving a path of unhurried, open-mouthed kisses in his wake, all the while never letting go of Adam's hand. He takes his time, as he'd done just moments ago with a brush instead of his hands and mouth and heart. Adam needs this, needs slow and gentle and soft, because this is still so foreign to him; putting every ounce of his trust in one person, trusting them with everything he has, his body and heart and soul laid bare,

Erik breathes in deeply as he nuzzles and kisses Adam's skin, inhaling subtle soap and smoky cologne and Adam, sighing contentedly. His fingers dance along the sharp, delicious jut of Adam's hipbone, before - with little warning - brushing through the coarse curls surrounding Adam's cock.

Biting back a moan, Adam lightly squeezes Erik's hand: a small, silent plea. But Erik doesn't make any effort to speed up; he just keeps up that teasing, fucking torturous pace, his breath blowing steady and hot over the head of Adam's dick. Adam whimpers, unable to stop the sudden, upward jerk of his hips.

"I got you," Erik assures him softly, and Adam sighs, half frustration and half desire. Still holding Adam's hand tight, Erik trudges to the nightstand on his knees and easily fishes what he needs from the drawer. He returns a moment later, straddling Adam's hips and leaning in to steal a quick, sweet kiss.

Erik eases back and murmurs soft, coaxing words, telling Adam to relax, to let go. He slicks up three fingers right off the bat - capping and uncapping the bottle of lube with only his one free hand - pushing the very tip of one into Adam. He looks up at Adam for confirmation and receives a firm nod.

Encouraged, Erik pushes a little harder and just a little faster, adding another finger after a few moments, feeling the tension melting steadily from Adam's body. Erik scissors his fingers, gently at first, spurred on by Adam's throaty moans and pleas for more.

After adding one more finger, testing the give of Adam's muscles one more time, Erik pulls his fingers from Adam's body, unlacing the fingers of his other hand from Adam's briefly and getting his hands under Adam's legs, lifting them so Adam's knees are settled high around his waist. Erik makes sure Adam can hold them there before he lets go, getting a condom on and slicking himself up.

Adam pulls in a long, shuddering breath, and Erik reaches up to touch his face and lace their fingers back together. As he lines himself up, Erik leans in again to kiss Adam's mouth and whisper soothing nothings in his ear.

Erik pushes in as slowly as his body will allow, even as his every muscle shakes with the effort it takes to hold back. He keeps his eyes on Adam's face, dipping his head for another reassuring kiss every time Adam moans or gasps, making sure he's not hurting Adam.

In no time at all Adam starts babbling, begging, "C'mon, more...More, more, please, baby, I can't..." He arches his back and rolls his hips, sinfully beautiful and tempting, his eyes fluttering shut, his mouth frozen open.

All of it makes Erik have to literally pinch himself, but only after he obliges Adam and, finally, thrusts all the way inside him, reveling in his breathy groans. He has to stay still again for a few moments just to catch his breath, to convince himself that he's really here, that Adam's really here, that this is real.

Erik finds a rhythm quickly, and the world narrows to nothing more than the rise and fall of his own hips, and Adam's broken, needy sounds floating down to his ears every so often. Though Adam tries to string a few words together occasionally, Erik's sure he's never seen Adam so quiet in bed. It worries him a little, but when he searches Adam's eyes, which are now intently focused on him, Erik sees nothing but love and pleasure and something else he can't quite name, but it's not pain - not the bad kind..

They keep constant contact with their hands and lips from then on, kissing each other breathless, whimpering and panting into each other's mouths. Adam meets every thrust of Erik's cock with an eager rock of his hips, and his legs close in around Erik's waist. Erik can tell he's close, can see it in the untamed need in Adam's eyes, in the way his moans have become higher and louder and longer.

He knows he's right when he sees Adam reach for his own cock with his free hand, and Erik gently swats it away as soon as Adam touches himself. Adam whines, his expression one of pure desperation. Erik thinks about it for a second, realizing that Adam's cock must be aching by now, painfully hard and leaking all over his stomach. Biting back his own moan, Erik brings his lips close to Adam's ear.

"I know you wanna come, baby, I know." Erik gets his own hand between their bodies, wrapping it gently around Adam's hard cock, and his thrusts begin to lose their cadence as he feels himself approaching his own high."Just lay back, babe; I got you."

Erik knows it won't take long for Adam to tumble over the edge, knows he's really not sparing Adam much effort. But if he can just scratch the surface of all the things he needs to tell Adam, he'll be satisfied.

"So gorgeous," he begins. "I should paint you like this, while you're all desperate and wanting. You make such a pretty muse." Erik feels Adam shiver at his words, knows he's right there, right on the cusp of coming. He catches Adam's lower lip gingerly between his teeth and presses several deep, earth-shattering kisses into his mouth. "I love you," he whispers, small but heartbreakingly honest, and he repeats it again and again, "I love you, I love you," in the moment before Adam comes undone.

Erik quickly follows, squeezing Adam's fingers and falling apart on a broken cry. He pulls out gently, discards the condom, and cuddles up at Adam's side, stroking his chest as Adam quivers and gasps, still coming down. Erik focuses on the rabbiting of Adam's heart, the evening pace of his breathing, the soft, blissed-out smile playing over his features..

"Was it good?" Erik asks quietly, his lips pressed lightly against Adam's shoulder. "Can we do that some more?"

Adam hums. "Baby," he whispers, his words dripping with affection and honesty and love, "It was...God, amazing." Adam gets his hands on Erik's waist and encourages him to come up and kiss him. "Love you too," Adam murmurs, punctuating his words with teeth and tongue . "So much."

Erik pulls away hesitantly and pads off to the bathroom, returning shortly with a damp wash cloth. He cleans them both quickly but thoroughly, tossing the cloth aside and curling back up against Adam's body. Humming happily, Adam wraps one arm around Erik's shoulders, pulling him close and gently pressing his lips to the top of Erik's head.

It only takes a few minutes for Erik to begin to drift off to sleep, but before he can get there, he hears a sob, and a shaky intake of breath. His eyes flicker open immediately, and he searches Adam's face, feeling his heart break a little when he sees tears pooling in Adam's eyes.

But Adam only smiles at him, and his eyes are shimmering with love, only love.

"Adam?" Erik's interjection of concern is cut short as Adam's arms envelop him and pull him in for a kiss, somehow different from all the others they've shared this morning, from all the others they've ever shared. He can feel the tears on Adam's lips, his cheeks, pouring steadily from his eyes. He tries to quiet Adam's shallow sobs, but is distracted from his efforts when he feels Adam smile against his mouth, and even hears him giggle.

Adam kisses Erik frantically, whispering almost inaudibly into his mouth, "Love, love you, so much more than you'll ever know, love you," and all Erik can do is hold him, kiss him back sure and strong. be there for him as his deepest, purest emotions unravel.


Hours later, Erik folds his legs and pulls the painting back into his lap, studying it intensely. He's almost done touching up the skin and the hair, and all that's really left after that is the eyes. He takes his time thoughtfully blending blues and grays and greens until he comes up with a shade that looks right, and applies it carefully, masterfully.

When Erik had first started the painting, Adam's eyes had been closed, of course, but Erik had decided - at the last minute - to change that. Adam's eyes, Erik had realized, are such a massive part of the essence he's been chasing this whole time that to leave them closed would take some measure of power away from the final product.

After touching up a few lines, Erik takes a good long look at his work and considers himself done. He sighs victoriously and leans back against the chair, his eyes drifting to the ceiling. After he sets his sketchpad aside, though, he begins to wonder what in the world he can do with it. It's a sheet of flimsy paper, so it's not exactly ideal for a picture frame; and even if it was, where could he hang it, anyway?

He decides it might be better to leave those decisions to Adam; it's his body on display, after all.

Adam had gone downstairs a while ago to leave Erik to his work, and just as Erik wonders what Adam could be getting himself into, a welome, familiar sent wafts into their bedroom. Erik's sure it's bacon, maybe peppers, too. Adam only cooks on very rare occasions, Erik knows, and even then, he usually just makes the same thing. Not that Erik's complaining.

Erik closes his eyes and listens closely. He hears the faint hum of a radio, and he's positive that he hears Adam singing along every now and then, tentatively at first, but gradually growing louder and more confident. Erik sinks into his seat and wallows in the sound, but it's not long before he's pulled from his trance when Adam pauses the music to call him downstairs.


As Erik had suspected, two omelettes are plated on either side of the kitchen table, overstuffed with every vegetable Adam bothers to keep handy in the house. Adam's standing in front of the counter, his fingers tapping along to the beat of the song emanating from the stereo in one corner of the room. He looks so utterly content, his eyes smiling as brightly and surely as his mouth.

Adam doesn't say a word while they eat, which puts Erik on edge a little bit, since Adam's always talking about something, no matter how trivial or nonsensical. He wants to ask Adam about it, but just before he can, he notices that Adam's eyes are locked on him, subtly demanding attention then making it impossible for Erik to look away.

He reaches for Erik's hand, just making brief contact, and looks down at his plate, suddenly appearing kind of shy. "Thank you," he says softly. "For this morning. For everything." He takes his hand away and takes another bite of his omelette.

"Of course," Erik returns. Something about the Adam before him is different from the Adam he met only a few months ago, for better or for worse. He's been walking around like he's been struck by Cupid's arrow, which isn't bad, not at all, but it's not like this is the first time they've had sex (or made love, he adds, smirking internally; Adam would so say that).

Erik wants to ask, wants to talk about it, but he doesn't want to make it sound like he's questioning Adam's happiness. So he tries to pin it down himself, and it doesn't take very long for him to find an answer.

He realizes, then, just how much Adam values being able to trust someone, how humble he is in the face of love. It's why he has such a small, closely-knit circle of friends, and a relatively short list of past lovers - a list that is cut to almost nothing when one-night stands are subtracted.

Everything seems to click in that moment, piece by piece. Erik feels his own cynicism and doubt melt away, feels himself become lighter, feels his lips curve into an easy smile . For the second time this morning, anything is possible.

"I finished the painting," Erik muses as he takes his last bite, a tiny glint of mischief in his eyes.

Adam laughs heartily, gathering their dishes and setting them in the sink before practically sprinting upstairs, ahead of Erik.

Erik just shakes his head fondly, and pinches himself again.