Tommy met Ryan when he was five years old, he was in the sandpit, minding his own business, trying to build a sandcastle when resident bully, Andrew Lucas pushed him into the pit and pressed his face into the sand, Tommy struggled and felt tears leak out of the corner of his eyes when he felt bits of sand go into his mouth and sand stick to the corner of his eyes.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he was free. He surged up quickly and starting coughing while rubbing his eyes to get any possible sand out. He looked up with tears in his eyes when he felt a cool bottle of water being pressed against his fingers. There was an older boy, who looked to be about seven, standing there with a friendly smile, he quickly knelt down and brought his hands up, ignoring Tommy’s flinch, to gently wipes Tommy’s eyes with the pads of his thumbs before helping Tommy rinse his mouth out.
Tommy smiled up at the boy gratefully, the boy couldn't help but smile back before saying softly, “Don't worry, he won't bother you anymore.” Before turning around and walking in the other direction towards his group of friends, Tommy’s eyes followed the boy until he was no longer within sight.
Later when Tommy was in the car with his Mom and sister, driving home, he told his Mom all about the boy who helped him, declaring at the end of the tale, “I’m gonna marry him Mama.” His sister rolled her eyes and said, “Boys can't marry boys.” Tommy looked towards his Mom with a frown but she flashed him a quick, but bright, smile before returning her eyes to the road, “You can do whatever you want baby, and don't you ever let anyone else tell you otherwise.” Tommy smiled, satisfied with her answer.
But as Tommy’s Mom turned back to the road she bit her lip and tried to force back a few tears, knowing without a doubt, that if her son continued down this path, the path of liking boys in more than friendship, that his life would be difficult and that is the last thing she ever wanted for him.
When Tommy is thirteen he got in a fight with this kid, Matt, because he called Mia fat and said she was ugly. Tommy get s black eye but Mia is his best friend and she is totally worth any bruises he may get on his body.
When Tommy sees Matt the next day, he’s walking with a limp and he has a large bruise over his left cheek. Tommy frowns because he knows that he didn't do that to him, the fight wasn't that intense. He looks up when he feels someones eyes on him and Ryan is there smiling softly at him, Ryan’s eyes flick over to Matt briefly and then move back to Tommy’s and he winks.
Tommy flushes slightly and he doesn't know whether to feel pleased or offended, he settles on pleased after a few moments but only because Ryan has been protecting him since he was five, he’s the entire reason as to why none of the bullies pick on Tommy despite how small he is.
Tommy and Ryan start dating when Tommy is sixteen, nearly seventeen. Tommy is completely taken by surprise when Ryan asked, all he could do was blink stupidly and ask, “Why?” Ryan had chuckled softly, “Because I’ve wanted you forever.” Tommy blushes and looks away shyly before giving Ryan a coy smile and nodding his head before walking away, he looks back over his shoulder before he turns the corner at the end of the hallway to see Ryan standing there with this stupid grin on his face.
Mia hates him but Tommy doesn't take it seriously, he just figures she’s jealous because all of his time isnt devoted to her anymore. She’s still his best friend though and he always tells her about the things that he and Ryan do and she’s always the first person he goes to for advice and she always talks him through it without letting her dislike for Ryan get in the way.
Mia hates Ryan, and she tells Tommy when they first start dating, she says, “He’ll break your heart Tommy, he’ll hurt you.” But Tommy just shakes his head and says, “NO, Ryan would never do that. He’s my protector.” Mia sighs but never says anything bad about Ryan again, she’s said her bit, she’s given her warning and now she’ll support her best friend through everything from this point onwards.
Still, she really hopes she doesn't have to say ‘I told you so’.
Tommy meets Monte when he’s seventeen; Mia takes him to a concert playing just outside of town and they manage to beg the bouncer to let them in. Tommy’s been playing guitar since he was seven and he loves the feeling it gives him, until his time with Ryan, nothing had ever made him feel so alive as when he had a guitar in his hands and could play the strings effortlessly.
The band is amazing and Mia and Tommy dance and sing a long and scream with the rest of the people in the club, Tommy feels the music pulse through his vein and he picks up the guitar cords straight away. The lead guitarist is amazing and Tommy hopes he can play half as well as this guy does in a few years time.
After the concert Tommy is standing at the bar with a drink in his hand when the guitarist slides up next to Tommy and orders a drink, he smiles at Tommy briefly before turning away but he quickly tuns back and raised an eyebrow, “Aren't you a little young to be in here?” He asks with a smirk, Tommy flashes a sheepish grin back.
“I just really wanted to see the band, you were amazing.” Monte smiles softly and tips his glass in Tommy’s direction in thanks, “You play?” He asks Tommy and Tommy’s face lights up in a smile and he spends the next three hours chatting with Monte about the guitar and all of Monte’s experience and all of Tommy’s dreams.
Before Mia can drag him away so her Mom doesn't freak out too much if they get caught coming home, Monte and Tommy exchange phone numbers and Monte says, “You better keep in touch Tommy Joe, I’ll be watching out for you.”
Ryan and Tommy have a blissful year together, everything is perfect. Sure Mia and Ryan can't stand each other and Tommy gets frustrated because sometimes Ryan won't put it aside even when Tommy asks him to and sometimes Mia complains that Tommy never spends any time with her at all anymore but overall its an amazing year and Tommy finds himself happier than he’s ever been before. He’s starting his final year at High School and he’s excited to graduate and hopefully start playing his music for real.
Things start to go downhill about three months into the school year. Ryan is at the local college here, having decided that he’d rather stay close to Tommy than go off with his friends. Tommy has a massive assignment due for History and he’s busting his gut, along with his partner, to get this assignment correct and finished. He’s suppose to meet Ryan at 4:30pm so they can have a coffee before Tommy has to get home for dinner with his parents but he gets so caught up in his assignment with his partner that he ends up being half an hour late.
He rushes over to Ryan when he gets to the cafe' and starts apologising immediately but Ryan just gives him a look of death before grasping Tommy’s wrist in his hand tightly, Tommy’s tries to pull away but Ryan is too strong and he can't get his wrist released.
“Why are you so fucking useless that you can't even get to the cafe on time?” He snarls at Tommy before throwing his wrist away, getting in his car and driving away. Tommy holds his wrist to his chest and takes a few gulping breathes before making his way home. He makes it through dinner with his parents and sister before excusing himself to go and do homework. He makes it to his room and turns on the radio before he lets himself collapse on his bed and start crying while cradling his wrist to his chest.
He wears a long sleeve t-shirt to school the next day to cover the finger print marks that Ryan left on his wrist.
It gets worse after that, Tommy kind of gets used to the harsh words and bruises showing up on his body but Ryan always apologises and Tommy tries harder to be good for Ryan because he knows its at least partly his fault, or rather he starts to believe it after hearing it so many times.
He’s three quarters of the way through his last year when he sneaks out of his house on a Thursday to see Monte play at some club in the city. He’s excited to see Monte after its been so long and he makes sure to cover up the bruises on his hips with an extra long t-shirt, he knows Ryan didn't mean it but he’s sure Monte wont understand that.
He arrives at the club and gets ushered in right away, no problems as Monte put his name on the list to be let in. He walks in and finds a secluded spot, as soon as the band make their way on stage, Tommy sees Monte and smiles when the older man winks at him.
The set is amazing and Tommy feels privileged to even know Monte, he comes down to sit with Tommy after the performance and they talk for a couple of hours, laughing and catching up, having a fantastic time. Tommy’s in the middle of a story about Mia and her latest boyfriend when he reaches up high in the air, trying to imitate Mia when Monte stops laughing and stares at Tommy’s hips, Tommy frowns and looks down to see his shirt has ridden up, Tommy quickly pulls it back down but the damage has already been done.
“Tommy what the fuck is that?” He doesn't yell but Monte’s voice is low and deadly, Tommy looks away and wont meet his friends eyes.
“Do not lie to me, little guy.” Tommy can't help but look at Monte with unshed tears in his eyes when Monte uses the nickname that only he could ever get away with.
“It was an accident, he didn't mean to.” The words are out of his mouth before Tommy can stop them and he watches as Monte’s eyes go wide and his jaw clenches.
“What the fuck Tommy, seriously? He doesn't mean to? How long has this been happening? And how in the hell do you even let him touch you?” Monte’s angry, Tommy can feel it thrumming through his body, he watches as Monte’s body shakes with anger and realistically Tommy knows that Monte would never hurt him, never lay a finger on him to cause pain but Ryan’s body shakes when he’s angry too.
Tommy pushes his chair back in fear and starts to back away from Monte. Monte frowns and makes move to grasp his wrist to get him to stay but Tommy just turns and runs out of the club, trying to get as far away from Monte as physically possible. In the background he can hear Monte calling after him but he ignores it and keeps running.
Tommy doesn't know why or how but somehow he ends up at Ryan’s place, he stands outside his door for a good fifteen minutes before deciding to knock and see if his boyfriend is home. Ryan swings the door open and Tommy smiles but it quickly disappears when he sees how angry Ryan is, his body is shaking and before Tommy can escape he grabs harshly onto Tommy’s wrist and pulls him into the apartment, almost taking Tommy’s shoulder off in the process.
“I know where you’ve been you little slut.” Tommy whimpers at the harsh words and tight grip on his wrists, “Been with that ugly old guitarist who probably wants to fuck you, Lucas saw you and rang me, you should know by now to ask before you go out with anyone.” He finishes up rudely before throwing Tommy on his bed and quickly climbing on top of him so he can't get away.
He rips Tommy’s shirt from his body before quickly undoing both his own and Tommy’s pants. Tommy’s struggling, trying to get away from Ryan because the last thing he wants is to have sex right now especially the angry kind when Ryan slaps him hard across the face, “Stop struggling, you bitch.”
“NO.” Tommy shouts, “No, no no no, stop it, get off me. The answer is no, you fucking asshole.” Tommy screams but it doesn't do him any good. Ryan is still, at least, ten times stronger than Tommy is and when he pushes into Tommy with barely any preparation at all. Tommy just gasps in pain and turns his head away, he knows he can't do anything anymore and maybe he’ll hate himself later for just laying there and taking it but right now he has no energy left so he turns his head away and lets the silent tears roll down his cheeks.
Ryan collapses on top of him when he finishes, and Tommy notes somewhere in the back of his mind that it didn't take very long, he grasps Tommy’s chin gently, and Tommy notes the irony in that, and pulls Tommy’s face towards him whipping at his tears, “Why are you crying?”
Tommy wants to scream at the top of his lungs, ‘why do you fucking think I'm crying you fucking asshole’ but he doesn't he just looks at Ryan with dead eyes.
Distantly he hears the door bang loudly and Ryan drops his hand and turns around with a frown before turning back to say something to Tommy when Ryan is physically ripped from Tommy’s body and thrown against the wall. Tommy looks up to see Monte punch Ryan in the stomach and a few times in the face before Monte grabs a pair of Ryan’s handcuffs and cuffs him to the table at the front of the room.
He rushes to Tommy’s side and pulls the sheet over his body to save what's left of his dignity.
“Its okay Tommy, its going to be okay. The police are coming, I’ve got you.” He whispers as he brushes Tommy’s hair out of his eyes repeatedly and bites his lip when he gets next to no response from the lifeless boy in the bed.
He sighs in relief when Tommy grasps his other hand tightly and refuses to let go.
At the hospital, Monte sits out in the waiting area with his head in his hands and his body shaking, cursing himself in his head about not following Tommy right away and not getting into the apartment sooner and not beating Ryan up a little bit more.
He looks up when he feels a hand on his shoulder to see Mia right in front of him big fat tears in her eyes and behind her are the rest of Tommy’s family, they all look terrified and Monte really can't blame them.
“Monte?” Mia asks quietly, “He had finger print bruises on his hips.” Monte says out loud and he hears the horrified gasps from behind Mia, “I yelled at him because I didn't understand how he could let Ryan do that to him and then he ran off, he ran off all the way to Ryan's and ....” He trails off in a whisper and watches as Tommy’s sister runs as fast she can down the hallway and into the bathroom and Monte swears he can hear her throwing up her dinner from out in the hallway.
Tommy’s mother just cries, she slips bonelessly into a chair and cries with her face in her hands and sobs wracking her body, somehow Monte finds himself able to put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
Tommy’s Dad kicks a chair half way down the hallway and screams in anguish, his body shaking with disbelief and fear.
Monte looks away from Tommy’s father because his grief is too strong, too right there in Monte’s face and he can't take it, he just can't so he looks down at Mia whose body has completely fallen to the ground, her hand up to cover her mouth and tears silently making their way down her cheeks. Monte can't help but think that she looks a little bit like Tommy did when he found him, tears sliding silently down his cheeks.
“I told him that Ryan would hurt him, I told him when they first started dating but I didn't ... I mean I didn't ... not like this, never like this.”
Tommy doesn't get over it, not really. He gets to a point where its bearable, where he can accept what happened and move on with his life, be somewhat happy. But its not easy and it takes him quite a few years. The first two years after he barely leaves his bedroom, too scared. But he has an amazing family and amazing friends who rally around him and support him and push him through.
He can’t date men anymore, whenever he first meets guys that are tall, broad shouldered, dark hair and have charming infectious smiles he tenses, just for a moment, lets the fear overtake him. They could be the nicest men in the world, they could worship the ground he walks on but he’ll never trust them enough to let them in and there is always the initial fear.
He meets Chantala on a Wednesday, she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. Her long blonde hair falling down her shoulders and light make up on her face, she has a friendly smile on her face and her eyes are tired but she still looks beautiful to Tommy.
They hit it off right away and Tommy asks her out because he just has to have her in his life, he can't explain it and when asked he refuses to talk about it but he needs her. She’s so light and fun and he has a good time when he’s with her. They date for a while but Tommy thinks Chantala knew from the start that it wouldn't last forever.
They break up on a Sunday but Tommy doesn't feel sadness because he knows that some people are with you forever and Chantala will never leave, what they had, what they still have won't be leaving any time soon.
Tommy still loves playing the guitar, after everything with Ryan, some days playing the guitar was the only thing that would keep him sane, in fact playing any instrument seemed to work. He’s lost count of how many he learned over the years.
He made a promise to himself a long time a go, that he would take his love for music and he would make it something real, that he would be in a band and that he would be successful like Monte is, he made that promise to himself well before he dated Ryan and three years after the “incident”, as everyone likes to call it – never naming it for what it is, he made another promise to himself to not let what Ryan did to him, what Ryan took from him, to not let it change what he wanted to do with his life. He was going to be in a band and he was going to be successful, if its the last thing he ever did.
The band part came easy, the success? Not so much but Tommy was okay with that. In the end, while money and fame could have it perks, Tommy wasn't in it for that, he was in it for the music and he was going to continue down that path until Tommy had nothing left at all.
Monte calls Tommy up and tells him that he’s got an audition that he needs to go for, its for Bass in Adam Lambert’s band. Tommy listens to Monte ramble on on the phone about how this is a fantastic opportunity and he knows Tommy can nail it. In the end when Monte finally takes time to breathe, Tommy asks, “Whose Adam Lambert?” Tommy can practically feel Monte roll his eyes.
“Honestly Tommy.” Monte says and Tommy grins to himself before biting his lip and contemplating whether he should really do this.
“I haven't played bass in a few years, I’m probably rusty.”
“Stop coming up with excuses not to do this, I know you. You can pick up any instrument and learn it within a couple of weeks – sometimes less. You can do this and the audition isn't for another week and a half. Pick up your bass again, wipe the dust off and practice, you can do this. I’m sending you a few sheets of music, pick one and own it.” Monte says passionately and Tommy can't help but smile fondly even though Monte can't see him do it, Monte is the only person who can motivate him to do things with music, to take chances.
“Ok.” Tommy whispers and he hears Monte let out a puff of breathe, a sign that he is pleased.
“And for God’s sake Tommy, go see my wife, she misses you.”
Tommy considers looking Adam Lambert up on the internet but when he hears Chantala and Mia talking and the words “gay” and “amazing” come up and he thinks maybe he shouldn’t, sure it would be nice to know what he’s up against but he knows that what happened to him with Ryan still affects him every single day and there’s a slight chance that he could talk himself out of going to the audition if Adam even resembles Ryan in the slightest way so he leaves it, he dusts off his bass like Monte told him to and he nails the song choice and lets the nerves curl in his stomach for a different reason, a reason that is all to do with performing and nothing to do with Ryan.
The day comes, his name is called and he follows the guy into the room and when he sees Adam, he freezes, pauses mid step and let’s fear overtake him, maybe he should have looked him up on the internet after all. Adam, in hindsight, doesn’t really look anything like Ryan. Ryan wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that much make up and he sure as hell doesn’t have blue streaks in his hair and his hair was never that dark, his eyes were never that colour and his smile was never that bright. But all Tommy sees is broad shoulders, dark hair, soft easy going face and the only thing running through Tommy’s head is Chantala’s voice, “Gay, gay, gay.” Chantala’s voice in his head doesn’t sound cruel but it sends fear running down Tommy’s spine and he feels like he can’t breathe, the never ending question of “What if this guy is just like Ryan?”
He can feel Monte’s gaze on him and he knows without a doubt that Monte knows something is wrong and he’s begging Tommy with his eyes to look at him, to stay focused on him so that Tommy can do this.
With a lot of difficulty Tommy rips his gaze away from Adam and makes sure to look at Monte. He tries to follow Monte’s breathing pattern so no one catches on to what just happened and he knows that Monte is the only person in the room who really knows what’s going through Tommy’s head right now and he looks downright worried.
Tommy gets through the audition and is only able to do so by keeping his gaze firmly on the point behind Adam’s head, where Monte is standing. When its all over Adam gives Tommy a bright smile and says the usual, thanks that was amazing, we’ll let you know the outcome, Tommy barely hears any of it over the loud thump of his heart.
He rushes out of the room when he’s been dismissed and hears Adam call for a five minute break before the next person comes through and Tommy knows that Monte will follow him and he feels relief in knowing that no one will get to him while Monte’s around, he’s safe.
He pushes the door open and gets outside before finding a spot of grass and collapsing on the ground, he lets out a few deep huffs of breath as all the feelings he tried to contain in the audition wash over him and once again he feels like he can’t breathe, not even for a second.
And then Monte is there kneeling behind him, rubbing his back and pressing a damp cold cloth to the back of his neck and Tommy sinks back against him feeling safe for the first time since he stepped into the room.
“It s okay, I’m here, I’ve got you.” And Tommy feels like he can breathe again.
“Sorry, I’m sorry.” Tommy whispers and Monte just wipes the hair out of his eyes gently and Tommy knows that Monte’s not upset with him, he’s just concerned.
“It’s just ...” Tommy starts but trails off before he can finish and Monte hands him a water bottle.
“I know Tommy, broad shoulders, dark hair, easy going face, that’s Adam.” He pauses to watch Tommy take small sips out of the water bottle, all while still rubbing slow circles on his back. “But Tommy Adam is nothing like Ryan.”
“But ...” Tommy trails off as Monte urges him to turn around, which he does eventually. Tommy looks into Monte’s eyes and he can see Monte’s heart break a little bit at the fear that Tommy is sure is being shown in his own eyes.
“No buts Tommy. I know you can’t trust Adam and I’m not asking you to, you don’t even know him and trust is earned.” Monte pauses to make sure Tommy understands what Monte is saying and when Tommy nods Monte continues, “But trust me okay? I’ve known Adam for years so believe me when I say, he will not hurt you. He’s kind and gentle and would hesitate to step on a bug, he will not harm you and I’d never let him, never let anyone, never again.” Tommy nods his head several times as he lets Monte’s words sink in before slipping his arms around Monte’s neck and holding on tight, Monte squeezes back just as tight and they stay there like that until Monte has to go back inside.
Monte pulls Adam aside before the bass auditions, Adam starts talking at a million miles an hour before Monte can even open his mouth and only shuts up when Monte lets out an exasperated huff, Adam looks sheepish, “Sorry Monte, what did you need?”
“Look I thought I should let you know that I know one of the guys who is going to audition for bass so if you don't want me on the selection panel for it I get it.” Adam frowns in thought, he doesn't want Monte to not be on the panel, his input is too important.
“How close are you with this guy?” Monte raises an eyebrow at the question.
“Very. I’ve known him longer than I’ve known you.” Adam’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise at that though. He ponders, he shouldn't really be surprised, Monte doesn't tell him everything, sometimes Adam think he barely tells him anything at all, most of the time they don't need words.
“What if you just sit out on the actual day, let the rest of the panel decide on his talent. However, I still want your opinion on the type of chemistry you’ll get off the applicants.” Monte nods his head.
“Whatever you think is best.”
By the time they get around to this guy that Monte knows, Adam is tired and ready for the day to be over, who knew so many bassists would turn up for the audition and he admits quietly in his head, who knew some of them would be so awful.
Monte is standing behind Adam, his back presses against the wall, a soft smile on his face, Adam knows that this means that Monte has an unmeasurable amount of confidence in this mans ability to get the job done.
He looks down at the piece of paper in front of him, Tommy Joe Ratliff, he’s not sure what to think of the name, its just a cover, like the front of a book, you can't really tell what it like until you open the cover and start reading.
He hears the door open so he looks up, the Tommy guy is short, so short that he can really only see his shoes behind Mark, the guy walking him in. Mark offers a smile before stepping out of Tommy’s path. Adam’s breathe hitches when he gets a look at him, he’s beautiful and just Adam’s type, fuck. His blonde fringe is resting over his eyes and he has make up on his face, Adam wonders if he wears make up all the time or if he just did it for the audition. Adam notices as Tommy pauses mid stride and just looks at Adam, Adam swallows and offers a bright encouraging smile, Tommy doesn't return it but shifts his eyes instead to the point behind him where Monte is standing.
Adam takes a deep breath and pushes everything to the side, everything he’s thinking and feeling and just lets the audition take front and centre and its amazing, he can admit that. He understands why Monte had that little grin on his face earlier, Tommy Joe is amazing at bass and his image would fit right in with what Adam is looking for. Adam lets himself flick his eyes up to Monte to see his reaction, sure that he must be more pleased than anything but Monte doesn't look pleased, he doesn't even look at Adam, although Adam is sure Monte knows he’s watching, Monte looks worried and he keeps his gaze on Tommy. Adam bites his lip and tares his eyes away from Monte to look at Tommy, he’s obviously missing something because he can't see one reason why Monte would be worried.
Tommy finishes up and manages to take his eyes off of Monte to give Adam a hesitant smile and Adam gives him a bright beaming one back before thanking Tommy for coming and letting him know that they’ll be in touch regardless of the result. He turns to the others once Tommy starts to leave and calls out to take five, it takes Monte less than five seconds to follow Tommy’s path.
Adam bites his lip and clamps down on the need to follow Monte’s path and to see what's going on. Part of him wants to follow because he needs to know if there is going to be a problem if Tommy gets the spot in the band and another part of him just wants to follow because he feels this unnatural pull towards Tommy, he can't describe it, he just needs to know that he’s okay.
Adam pulls his phone out of his pocket to distract him and to keep an eye on the time to make sure everyone gets back with time to spare. He manages to distract himself for all of three minutes before he gives into temptation and announces that he’s going to find Monte.
He steps outside after he’s looked in pretty much every room on the way there, he’s starting to get frustrated when he can't find any sight of Monte when he looks up and his breath catches. Tommy looks a wreck and Adam has to fight back the urge to go over there and offer the same kind of comfort that Monte is obviously already offering. Adam stands where he is and just watches the two of them, Monte has Tommy pulled so tight against his chest that if Adam didn't know better he’d say it was uncomfortable, it occurs to Adam, in that moment, that whatever is bothering Tommy has nothing to do with nerves about the audition.
He contemplates turning back around before Monte can see him when he sees Monte pull back and press a soft kiss to Tommy’s forehead before pushing himself up off the ground and helping Tommy up. Adam realises that he needs to talk to Monte about this anyway so he stays where he is. Monte turns around and heads towards Adam soon after that.
“Everything okay?” Adam asks quietly when Monte reaches him.
“I think so, at least it is now, anyway.”
Adam doesn't say anything else, just walks inside with Monte but he’s sure Monte knows that Adam will want to speak about this.
The auditions are over, finally, Adam can't help but be glad that all that's left to do is choose his bass player and then get all the band together for introductions and the like. He watches as everyone packs up and gets ready to go, shouting out goodbyes as they walk out the door. His eyes flick easily over towards Monte who sees to be straggling along behind talking to Lisa on the phone, as soon as he hangs up Adam makes a move to grab his attention.
“Something you need, Adam?” Monte asks with a soft indulgent smile.
“Can we talk?” He pauses for a second, “About earlier, with Tommy.” Monte sighs but nods his head regardless before setting his bag down and dragging two chairs out into the middle of the room, Adam smiles softly knowing that Monte prefers the relaxed atmosphere.
“What do you want to know?”
“Whatever he was upset about, is that something I need to worry about if I choose him for the band?”
“If you choose him?” Monte says with a knowing smirk and Adam pouts.
“Shut up! I know he’s my type, fuck. Did you tell him to wear that make-up?” Monte laughs at Adam’s put out tone.
“No I didn't tell him, he’s been wearing make-up for years.” Monte replies and fuck if that doesn't make him even more attractive to Adam.
“That's good to know.” Adam grins at Monte before soon turning serious again, “Seriously though Monte, I love his talent, he really took me by surprise and he’s got the right look for the band as well but if what I saw earlier is going to be a problem ....” He trails off and starts at Monte who looks back just as seriously, “If its going to be a problem, Monte, then I need to know now.”
“I honestly don't think its going to be a problem Adam.” Monte replies with a sigh, “Tommy has some issues in his past that I wont discuss with you as its not my place but they aren't pleasant Adam. “ Monte pauses and Adam uses that as an opportunity to jump in.
“Something reminded him here today?”
“Yes Adam, but Im at least ninety-seven percent sure that it wont affect him in the future if you decide he’s who you want ... for the band.” Adam bites his lip, ignoring Monte’s little dig at the end.
“Can you tell me what set him off?” Adam asks hesitantly and Monte tilts his head back and looks at the ceiling, contemplating how much he should let Adam in on.
“Don’t take this the wrong way Adam but it was you.” Adam looks truly horrified and Monte knows he’s taken it exactly the wrong way.
“But I didn’t ... I’m not ...”
“Adam, calm down. This isnt personal, its not about your personality or something you have physically or emotionally done, its just your general shape.”
“And that's not going to be a problem if we go on tour or he gets groped by fans?” Adam manages to ask once he’s taken a few deep breaths to calm himself down.
“No, it wont be a problem. If it was an every day problem he wouldn't be able to leave the house or play in any of the other bands he has been apart of, its more of a close quarters deal, once he gets to know you and trusts you he will be the best friend you can ever have but until that time he’s going on my word.”
Monte looks at Adam and can tell he’s still not one hundred percent convinced.
“Look Adam, in the end its up to you, you need to decide if his talent is worth the risk.” Adam nods his head in agreement, “But let me tell you Adam, putting my friendship with him to the side, he was the best talent wise and to let you in on a little secret, he hasn't picked up a bass in six months, he didn't even know who you were, he learnt that song and how to play it in three days.” Adam’s eyes widen in surprise and Monte can't help but smirk, “You wont get any better than that Adam.”
Both Chantala and Mia are there when Tommy gets home, along with Dave. He gives them a shaky smile and they beam back at him.
“How’d it go babe?”
“I think I played well.”
“You think?” Dave asks with an amused look on his face. Tommy smiles softly before curling up on the couch with his head in Mia’s lap, she starts running his fingers through his hair and Tommy knows that Mia knows that something isnt right, she only ever plays with his hair when she knows he’s upset.
“Adam ... I ... He looked liked Ryan, for a second.” Mia’s hand stills in his hair, he hears Dave suck in a sharp breath and Chantala is at his side in all of two point five seconds. She rests her hand against his cheek and rubs her thumb across the skin softly.
“Oh baby.” She whispers, “You know he’s not right? He doesn't even really look like Ryan.” Tommy closes his eyes at the sensation and the words before replying that he knows.
“Are you okay now?” Mia asks softly. Tommy always finds it easier talking to Mia about Ryan because she was there for the immediate aftermath, he doesn't know what he would do without her.
“Yeah I’m okay now, Monte was there.”
“Good, that's good.”
There’s a long pause in the conversation where all he can feel is Mia’s hand in his hair, Chantala’s thumb stroking his face and Dave’s gaze on all three of them. Then Dave asks, “Do you think you blew it?”
“Maybe, I don't know.” Tommy bites his lip in thought, “I managed to get through the audition without fucking up and I don't think anyone noticed that something was wrong other than Monte. I’ll just have to wait and see.”
Lisa greets Monte with a kiss as he walks into the house.
“How’d Tommy go?” She asks when they pull apart.
“He had a freak out after he finished, Adam saw the end of it.”
The vote was unanimous, Tommy was it. Adam felt both good and bad about it, no one else knew what he witnessed and he knows Monte appreciates his caution. He knows he’s taking a leap of faith here, he just hopes it doesn't come back to bite him in the ass.
He twirls the phone around in his hands, still putting off making the phone call to Tommy when Monte walks in and looks at Adam in amusement.
“Your making the right decision Adam.” Adam looks up with a soft hopeful smile.
“You think so? Your not just saying that because he’s one of your closest friends?” Monte chuckles softly.
“No Adam, I’m not just saying it because Tommy is like my little brother.” Adam’s eyes widen slightly at Monte’s words, he hadn’t realised they were that close, “Look Adam I’m going to say to you what I said to Tommy. You may not trust Tommy and you may not trust yourself with this decision but how about you put a little faith and a little trust in me.”
Adam nods his head in agreement, if there is one thing he has learnt in the time he has known Monte, its that the guy has never let him down, not once, so he can trust him with this.
“You sure you don't want to deliver the news to Tommy yourself?” Adam asks with a cheeky grin and Monte laughs.
“I’m sure Adam, your not getting out of it that easy.” Monte replies back with a grin before turning serious, “Besides it’ll mean a lot more to Tommy if its come from you.”
Adam swallows thickly and nods his head. Monte gives Adam an encouraging smile and squeezes his shoulder before leaving the room.
Tommy hates the waiting around to find out if you got the gig or not. Auditions are nerve wracking, even when you don't have a breakdown, but the aftermath, the waiting is so much worse. He’s worried that he wont get it but he’s more worried that he will get it and that the only reason he got it is because Monte pimped him out.
He’s at home, its been two days since the audition and he’s woken up both mornings with nerves fluttering around in his stomach and spent the entire day stressing about it. Today though he is determined to just focus on other things. Like right now he is watching The Exorcist and letting one of his favourite horror movies distract him beautifully. He settles in and lets the movie calm him, most people don't get a calming feeling from horror movies but Tommy’s always felt some sort of relief from them probably because they are so far removed from reality.
The movie is half way through and he has let it take over his mind so much that he doesn't even think about who could be on the other end when the phone rings.
“Hello?” He answers the phone lazily and presses pause on the DVD.
“Is Tommy Joe Ratliff there?”
“Ah hey Tommy, its Adam Lambert.” Tommy sits up so fast he thinks he might have whiplash.
“Oh right, hey, hows it going?” Tommy asks and then mentally kicks himself for sounding so pathetic.
“Its going pretty good actually.” Tommy hears Adam reply with a soft laugh, “Listen I know how nerve wracking this all is so I'm just going to jump right in, your audition was amazing, everyone was totally blown away, so the job? Its yours.” Tommy feels like he can't breathe, he got it, he fucking got it despite his melt down.
“Tommy?” Adam’s voice filters to Tommy’s ears and he sounds worried and it occurs to Tommy that he hasn't spoken for a good five minutes.
“Oh sorry, I’m still here, just in shock I guess.” Tommy can't help but laugh.
“Well you shouldn't be. You were the best, by far.”
Tommy smiles stupidly to himself and then feels the panic set in as his earlier thought of only getting the job because of Monte enters his mind and he just knows, without a doubt that he has to make sure.
“Adam? Can I ask you something?”
“Can you be honest with me? I need you to be honest.” Tommy bites his lip as he waits for Adam’s answer.
“Absolutely, count on it.”
“I didn't get this because of Monte right? I mean it was because of my talent not because Monte and I have known each other for years?” He hears Adam sigh over the phone.
“Now I know why Monte wanted me to deliver the news and not him.” Adam says it with a laugh, “Tommy this is one hundred percent because of your talent. Monte is great, I always feel honoured to know him but this is my band and its important for me to get it all perfect and your just what I need.”
Tommy feels relief course through his body at an alarming pace.
They talk for a few more minutes, with Adam giving him all the information he needs and informing him that he wants to do a little get together with the band before rehearsals start and then they hang up.
Tommy falls back on the couch when the conversation is over and grins to himself, he can't wait to tell Mia.
Mia reacts just the way Tommy knew she would, with no excess excitement, well with barely any excitement at all, at least to those who don't know her, her smile is normal, her attitude is normal but her eyes shone with happiness for him, she knows how much this means to him and hugs him extra tight.
Chantala rolls her eyes at Mia’s lack of excitement before throwing herself into Tommy’s arms with excitement. Tommy laughs and picks her up, spinning her around and around until she’s screaming, “Stop it right now Tommy Joe!” He laughs again and puts her down, the whole time grinning.
“I want naked Adam Lambert photos.” Chantala says very seriously when she’s calmed down from her dizzy spell. Tommy snorts.
“Good luck with that.” He replies.
She pouts for the rest of the night.
Monte picks him up for the gathering around at Adam’s place.
“Nervous?” He asks softly and Tommy can't help but think how much he hates how well Monte knows him sometimes.
“Yeah I guess. I mean everyone has more experience than me.” Tommy replies with a shrug.
“You’ve got to start somewhere.” Monte says, “But you know that wasn't what I was talking about.” Tommy looks at Monte out the corner of his eye to see a little smirk playing on the other mans lips, Tommy huffs.
“You couldn't just let it go?”
“You know me, I never let anything go.”
Tommy laughs softly before biting his lip and choosing his words carefully. Is he scared? Nervous? Unsure about Adam? Fuck yeah. But is he going to let that ruin this chance? Not a chance in hell.
“I’m trusting your judgement.”
They’ve been at Adam’s for a couple of hours and Tommy is starting to feel more relaxed in the presence of everyone.
The first thing he noticed about Lisa is her pretty smile, she greets him with it and Tommy feels at ease within seconds.
The first thing he noticed about Longineu is his hair, with those dreadlocks hanging down his shoulders there is no way that Tommy could ever mistake him for Ryan, Tommy is unbelievably grateful and warms up to the other man instantaneously.
There was an awkward moment when Lisa and Longineu asked what his experience was and Tommy didn't know what to say, there was an awkward pause before Monte jumped in saying Tommy had real talent but so far no one had snatched him up, Tommy shot Monte a grateful grin while Lisa nodded her head and Longineu said, “Their loss is our gain, right?”
But other than that, Tommy is having a really good time.
He finds himself drifting towards Adam and he just knows, without even looking, that Monte has a smug look on his face but Tommy can't find it in him to care. Monte is right, Adam is nothing like Ryan. Tommy can't say he trusts Adam yet but he’s well on his way there. He loves how much he and Adam have in common and how with only a couple of hours under their belt they seem to be able to talk about anything, plus Adam’s favourite movie is Velvet Goldmine and that is just perfect as far as Tommy is concerned. They spend a good half hour trading quotes back and forth until the other three tell them to shut up, they both grin at each other but agree to be quiet now.
They get onto the topic of sexuality, Adam doesn't want to pressure anyone into revealing anything they aren't comfortable with but he wants to know that they are going to be comfortable with him and what he expects of them on stage. He also wants their partners to be prepared for how far Adam wants to go with it.
When it comes to him to speak Tommy just shrugs his shoulders, “I’m not seeing anyone right now but I’ve been with a few girls.” He says it as if it means nothing and Tommy doesn't feel bad, technically he didn't lie. He has been with a few girls, but the flicker of disappointment in Adam’s eyes that Tommy is sure he saw and the look Monte shoots him makes him think that no one else agrees with him.
They finish well into the night and Adam makes arrangements with the band to meet up for rehearsal in a weeks time and hands out sheets of music tot hem all to practice.
“I’m so excited, I can hardly wait.” Adam gives them all beaming smiles, his excitement showing clearly on his face, “This is going to be amazing, I can feel it.”
The AMA’s arrive before Tommy knows it. He never knew time could move so quickly but with rehearsals happening sometimes twice a day and getting to know the rest of the band and spending pretty much every waking moment with Adam, time has just really flown.
It still surprises Tommy how well he gets along with Adam, how well he not only he trusts Adam but how well Adam trusts him.
He could barely believe his eyes when Adam showed up on his doorstep after the breakup with Drake; Adam had looked miserable and Tommy opened the door without question. They spent the entire night snuggled up on the ratty old couch that Adam could barely fit on watching Velvet Goldmine and talking. Adam was smiling by the time the night was over and Tommy went to bed feeling good about himself.
He’s lost count of all the things that have happened since then, all he knows is that he trusts Adam more than almost anyone else in his life. Adam makes him feel safe which is truly terrifying and something Tommy doesn't like to dwell on too often.
Tommy’s pulled out of his internal musings when Adam asks for everyone to get into their positions again. Its the day before the AMA’s and they are getting one last practice in before the big performance. Tommy gets in his position before letting his eyes fall on Adam again.
Tommy can tell that Adam isnt really feeling the rehearsals at the moment, he keeps stopping and starting and his entire body looks agitated. Tommy can kind of see why Adam is frustrated, For Your Entertainment is a hot song and while the dancing fits in with the song, it doesn't seem to be quite enough, it needs to push against the boundaries a bit more.
“This isnt working.” Adam finally yells in frustration, Tommy knows this outburst from Adam has been building up ever since they started over two hours ago. Everyone steps slightly away from Adam when he yells. They’ve all been with Adam long enough to know he needs space when he gets like this, all except Tommy anyway. Tommy likes to think he’s the only one with enough balls to do it. Monte says Tommy’s actually the only one stupid enough to do it but he says it with a grin and a proud look in his eyes, knowing how far Tommy has come with Adam, so Tommy doesn't take offence.
He approaches Adam and places a gentle hand on Adam’s shoulder when he gets there, Adam spins around but relaxes when he sees its Tommy. Tommy smiles knowing that that right there is why he’ll never be afraid to approach Adam when he’s upset because he knows that Adam trusts Tommy more than almost anyone and would never ever hurt him. Adam runs a hand over his face and sighs deeply.
“Sorry everyone, I ... Just sorry.”
Everyone in the room hums their acceptance of the apology and a few offer Adam encouraging smiles. Adam still has his hand over his face, rubbing his fingers into his skin trying to ease the stress when Tommy speaks softly, “Adam?” He speaks softly but firmly so Adam will look at him seriously, “Heat it up.”
“Huh? Its hot already.”
“Not hot enough.”
“I don't know how to heat it up even more without getting us pulled before we even get on stage.” Adam admits with a frown, he knows Tommy is right but that doesn't mean he knows how to fix it.
“So improvise, do it on the night, just heat it up. Its a sexy song, make everyone feel it.” Tommy pauses and lets his words sink in before adding, “You can grab me and stuff, if you want.”
They stare at each other for what feels like hours and Tommy knows that Adam is making sure that Tommy is one hundred percent okay with Adam doing that, that he’s not going to freak out on him, he seems to find what he’s looking for as he nods his head and replies, “Okay, lets do this.”
Its early January when Adam asks Tommy if he has a passport, Tommy answers no with a completely bewildered look on his face. Adam grins at the look on Tommy’s face before replying with, “That's ok. I’ll get Lane to organise it for you.”
“Why?” Tommy asks, still not understanding what's going on.
“Because you're going to come to Cabo with me.” Adam replies with a grin and Tommy’s sure he must look completely blank because Adam’s face falls and he quickly adds, “You know, if you want.”
Cabo is all Adam has been talking about for the last month, he is so ready for a break and Tommy can admit that if anyone needs it its Adam. Things have been completely insane since the AMA’s, from getting their appearance on Good Morning America cancelled to all the performances they’ve done since, its just really been really hectic.
But despite all that, despite all the shows and despite getting a solid pay check every week, Tommy absolutely cannot afford to go anywhere that requires a passport.
“Adam of course I want, I’d love to go on a holiday with you but there’s no way I can afford that.”
“Oh that's okay, I’ll pay for you to come.”
That is so not the answer that Tommy was expecting.
“Adam ...” Tommy trails off, not knowing how to explain how embarrassing that is. Adam seems to understand without Tommy saying anything and steps forward and brings his hands up to cup Tommy’s cheeks, brushing his thumbs against the redness that Tommy knows is gracing his cheeks.
“Please let me do this, I really want you to come.”
And just how is Tommy supposed to say no to that? Those eyes will be the death of him, he’s sure of it.
Adam smiles as he hears Roxy’s loud laughter and turns his head to gaze upon his friends, Tommy has tackled Roxy into the sand and is tickling her while she kicks at him trying to get him to stop, all the while laughing and Taylor and Sutan just pretend they can't see what's happening but have big grins on their faces. Adam doesn't think he can truly express in words how much it pleases him that Tommy is just slotting right in among his friends. Adam was worried at first, he can admit that. On top of being protective of Tommy in general, Monte actually threatened him with bodily harm and destruction of make up products if one hair was harmed on Tommy’s pretty head. It seems like neither of them had need to worry, Tommy is having the time of his life.
Adam’s attention is caught again when Tommy bumps into him when he lets his body fall on the sand. He looks up at Adam with a bright happy grin and Adam feels his heart beat a little bit faster before returning the smile.
“Having fun baby?” Adam asks as he reaches over to brush a strand of hair out of Tommy’s eyes and caresses his forehead with his thumb before dropping his hand away to rest on Tommy’s chest.
“The best time ever.” Tommy replies with a smile, “Your friends are great.” Adam smiles at his answer because yeah they really are.
They’ve only been on tour close to four weeks when Tommy starts to feel a bit overwhelmed. Its not the actual playing, he loves that, the rush he gets from playing in front of a crowd is unreal and its not the fans because he loves them, he loves hugging them and spending time with them after the concert and he loves playing it up on stage for them, that's the problem, he loves it a little too much.
Adam started to heat up the stage a bit more as each concert happened and Tommy is getting his breathe sucked out of him pretty much every night and he knows its just for show so he laughs with Adam afterwards but on the inside he’s sinking. He’s sinking too far too fast and Tommy isnt sure he’s ready for what that means so he makes a decision to push it back, to the far reaches of his mind so that he doesn't have to deal with it, possibly ever.
They’ve been on tour a little short of two months when Tommy gets the phone call, his entire body freezes and when he hangs up he feels like he can't breathe, like someone has punched him in the stomach. He stares at the phone and can distantly hear Terrance asking him if he’s alright. He is not alright. He turns around and heads back towards the bus, he knows Monte is on there with Adam discussing music for the next album and tossing some ideas around. He doesn't care if he’s interrupting, what he needs now more than anything is his big brother even if Monte isnt really his brother, he is in all the ways that count.
He climbs onto the bus and notices that Adam and Monte are sitting in silence but both look up when he walks on.
“I thought you were going ...” Adam trails off when he gets a good look at Tommy and Tommy knows he must look awful but he doesn't care, nothing is going to stop him from getting to Monte. He reaches him and climbs on top of him, Monte lets out a puff of air at the unexpected weight on top of him but doesn't complain just shifts his weight and gets Tommy into a more comfortable position.
“What's the matter?” Monte whispers in Tommy’s ears, the worry in his tone seeping from every corner but Tommy just shakes his head and tucks his face into Monte’s neck. His phone is loose in his hands and he feels like he’s going to drop it at any moment but before he can someone takes it out of his hand.
He sits in Monte’s lap and tries to let the slow circles on his back soothe him but nothing is working, he just feels empty. It feels like hours since his phone was removed from his hand but its probably only been minutes, he can distantly hear someone talking on the phone, probably Adam, but he can't make out the words, all he can hear is the thumping of his own heart and all he can feel are the tears sliding down his cheeks wetting Monte’s neck.
After a moment he finally hears someone speak, “His Dad’s in the hospital, its not looking good.”
“Fuck.” He hears Monte whisper and the older man's arms tighten around his body and rests his cheek on the top of Tommy’s hair, Tommy knew Monte would understand, he’s surprised however when he feels a hand slide around the back of his necks in support and he knows from the rings that its Adam and all that does is make Tommy cry harder.
Tommy has just left and Adam is fidgeting. He wanted to cancel everything and just go with Tommy to his family to make sure Tommy didn't fall apart without his other family with him but Tommy would have nothing of it and insisted, once he’d calmed down, that he’d be back in no time and when Adam tried to bring it up again Monte gave him a look of death so Adam wisely shut up.
But he can't help but feel that nothing is right, being up on stage without Tommy is just going to be weird. He misses him already and hopes to God that Tommy really is back soon because he knows that he is getting on everyone last nerve with his pacing.
Adam is pulled from his thoughts when Neil grabs his arms and yanks him down to sit on the couch next to him. He glares at Neil and is about to yell at him when Neil shoves Adam’s own phone in his face, he takes it and says “Hello?” In a completely bewildered tone.
“Adam? Neil says your being a pain in the ass.” A reluctant smile graces Adam’s features as he hears Brad’s voice drift down the phone.
“Brad.” Adam says and is slightly horrified to hear his voice crack.
“Oh baby, you should have called me earlier.”
When Adam hangs up the phone almost three hours later, he turns to give Neil a sheepish look and an apology that he knows he wont have to say out loud, at least not to his brother. Neil just rolls his eyes and calls him a drama queen.
Tommy stands in the doorway looking at his dad in the hospital bed, he’s been in the hospital for over half an hour trying to pick up the courage to go and see his Dad, he’s finally made it to the door and all he wants to do is run in the other direction, his Dad looks awful, Tommy has to fight off the panic he feels at seeing his Dad like that.
“You just going to stand there all day? Especially after all that time you spent in the hallway.” Tommy is startled at his Dad’s voice and flushes when his mind registers what his father just said, Tommy stands there completely confused because his Dad hasn't even looked away from the TV.
“How did you know?” He asks with a slight whine to his voice and he’s happy to hear his Dad laugh even if it is weak.
“My main Nurse, Becca, saw you in the hallway. She tells me everything.” His Dad finally turns away from the TV to look at Tommy and Tommy sees the mischievous twinkle in his eye, “She’s sweet on me.” Tommy can't help but laugh.
He shuffles his feet forward and into the room to hover at the side of his Dad’s bed, his Dad just rolls his eyes before giving a ‘are you kidding me’ look.
“Take off those ridiculous shoes and join me up here.” Tommy cracks a rare smile because his Dad always teases him about his creepers, joking that he doesn't know why Tommy wears them, he’ll still be the shortest guy in the room.
Tommy quickly leans down and removes his shoes and puts them to the side a safe distant away so no one will trip over them before climbing up onto the bed, being careful of all the tubes and other medical instruments in his way before curling up against his Dad’s side. His Dad’s arm comes to rest around his shoulders and it pulls him a little bit closer, Tommy holds on for dear life.
“Now, lets pretend you are still a little five year old who can curl up on my chest without a worry in the world.”
“Well, I’ve got the little part down.” Tommy states dryly making his Dad laugh, “And you still fit pretty well under my arm.” Tommy smiles and his Dad leans over to press a soft kiss to his forehead.
They are both quiet for a few moments, finding comfort in just being with each other, Tommy can almost pretend that they aren't in a hospital.
“Tommy, you know what this has made me realise?”
“What?” Tommy whispers almost afraid of the answer.
“That life is far too short. You don't have enough time to be afraid of your own shadow.” Tommy frowns at his words, trying to understand his meaning.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that in the last few months since you’ve joined Adam’s band you’ve been happier than you have ever been, even when you were with ...” He trails off and Tommy can feel his Dad’s body tighten in anger and Tommy feels tears sting his eyes, “At the beginning when you were with Ryan, you were never this happy. When you first started talking about Adam, your Mother and I were sure that’d you be back to dating boys in no time, that you’d be dating Adam.” Tommy’s face flushes at his father’s words, he can't find the words to describe how embarrassing that is.
“But you aren't.” He pauses as if trying to find the right words, “I know you're scared, and by God if anyone has a reason to fear dating boys its you, but its time to stop letting it run your life Tommy, its time to start living again.”
Tommy sniffles slightly, though he tries to hide it but his Dad hears it anyway.
“Hey, none of that.” His Dad says softly, “Come on sit up so you can look at me.” Tommy moves his body slightly so that he can get up more easily. He still rests on the bed but he’s sitting instead of lying down, his Dad uses the bed controls so that he can sit up as well. He looks at his Dad, who has a serious look on his face. His Dad brings a hand up so he can brush Tommy’s cheek with his fingers, Tommy closes his eyes at the familiar touch, savours it.
“Tommy, if you want to do anything to make me happy, to lift my spirits while I'm in this dreaded hospital ...” His Dad trails off and Tommy opens his eyes to get a better look at his Dad who looks tired but hopeful.
“I’ll do anything to make you happy.” Hi Dad smiles softly at his answer.
“I know you would.” Tommy smiles hesitantly, nervous about whatever it is that his Dad is going to ask of him, “Tell Adam.” Tommy sucks in a ragged breath at his Dad’s statement, he doesn't even have to say what he should tell Adam, Tommy knows and it scares the hell out of him, “You could be real happy with him Tommy, I always knew that in order for you to truly feel safe again you’d have to find someone real special, and with you only dating girls since Ryan I worried that that would never happen.” Tommy feels tears in his eyes at his Dad’s words which sound raw and filled with fear about his son not ever feeling safe again, “But Adam is special Tommy and he already makes you feel safe and that is more than I could have ever asked for.” Tommy bites his lip and nods his head, he figures his Dad is just saying what he thinks everyone else who knows the two of them wants to say but doesn't have the balls to say it. Tommy always knew he got his courage from his Dad.
“So take a chance Tommy, because all I’ve ever wanted was for you to feel safe and happy and you’ve got that, you’ve got that right in front of you and all you need to do is reach out and grasp it.” He pauses for breath, “That is what would make me happy Tommy, that is what would make everything in my life worth it, just to know that you were safe and happy again.”
Tommy stands at his fathers funeral with Monte on one side and his sister on the other, the rest of his second family are scattered around the place and he can't really describe how good that makes him feel despite the circumstances. Adam is here too, hidden more conspicuously, but here none the less and Tommy lets the warmth of that wash over him as he tightens his grip on his sister who is sobbing next to him, he wishes he could do more for her, say something to make her feel better, he thinks though that nothing anyone says will ever make this feel better.
The service, much To Tommy’s relief moves quickly and Tommy can't help but feel relieved when its all over. He takes time to go up to the coffin where his Dad is laying, they have an open casket which creeps Tommy out a bit but its nice to be able to see his Dad’s face one last time. He brings trembling hand up to trace his fathers features before leaning down to whisper in his ear, “I promise Dad, I promise I will tell Adam.”
A little bit later just before they are about to leave and go to Tommy’s home with the rest of the family, Monte comes over and slips his arms around Tommy’s shoulders giving him a quick squeeze. Lisa appears in front of him and Tommy gladly leaves Monte’s arms to fall into her warm welcoming ones, just like Monte, she always knows what he needs. They pull back and she brings her hand up to brush away a stray hair from his eyes.
“I hate to make this day even harder Sweetheart, but I think you have a right to know that Ryan’s sister is standing over there.” She says it quietly so no one but the three of them could hear, Tommy registers her words and he feels shock shoot through him like fire. He spins around and there she is, Natasha, she has her hands in her pockets and is watching him. He swallows before heading in her direction, “Be careful Tommy.” Is Monte’s only warning and its justified, she has been the biggest bitch in the past.
“What are you doing here?” He asks quietly as soon as he reaches her.
“Paying my respects.”
“Why? You never respected us in the past.”
“I know.” She whispers and removes her hands from her pockets before bringing them up and running them through her hair in frustration, “He did it again.” Tommy sucks in a painful breath as her words hit him right in the chest, “I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty or anything, I just ...” She trails off and Tommy bites his lip in apprehension, “I just wanted to say sorry. Sorry for everything I said to you, you know after.”
Tommy looks at her with hard eyes, “Thanks but that apology? Its about eight years too late.”
He walks away from her after that and he can feel her eyes on him the entire way but he never turns around, she doesn't deserve a reaction from him, other than the one he gave her.
Adam is standing with Monte and Lisa when he gets there and when Adam opens his arms in invitation and Tommy doesn't even hesitate just steps into them and welcomes the warmth he always received whenever he’s with Adam, he feels Adam’s hands run from his neck down to his lower back and then up again, its a comfort Tommy is more than willing to accept.
“Who was that?” Adam asks against Tommy’s ear and Tommy moves back in Adam’s arms slightly to look up at him, “I’ll tell you later.” Tommy says and he means it, he will tell Adam, he promised.
They only have a couple of days back in LA before they head off to Singapore to start the Asian leg of the tour and Tommy has decided that this is the time that he should tell Adam, his Dad was right, its time to stop hiding, time to start living.
He reaches Adam’s front door in record time and that's when he starts to panic. What if Adam isnt home? Should he have called first? What if Adam doesn't want him anymore afterwards? His breathing starts to get shallow with all the unanswered questions, he gets to the point where he has to snap himself out of it and take deep calming breaths before he reaches a full on panic attack.
He takes one final deep breath before ringing the doorbell and can't help but giggle as he hears Queen music coming from inside, only Adam would have that built into his doorbell. The door swings open and Adam’s standing there in sweats and an old t-shirt with bear feet and minimal make up. He smiles when he sees Tommy.
“Hey baby, what are you doing here?”
“I needed to talk to you.” He pauses and looks up at Adam with a half smile, “Sorry should I have called first?” He asks softly but Adam just shakes his head with a soft smile and moves to the side to let Tommy into the house. Tommy moves easily to the lounge room where Adam’s huge TV and comfortable sofa is. Adam follows him and collapses down on the sofa when he reaches it.
“So what's up?”
“Its kind of serious.” Tommy down plays it a bit and Adam’s eyes go wide.
“You want to leave the band.” Before Tommy can even open his mouth to respond Adam has continued, “Of course you do, I mean why would you want to stay with me? An old band got a big break right? That's so great Tommy, I’m so happy for you, I know you’ll be really successful.” Tommy stands there in complete bewilderment as Adam rambles on and on about Tommy leaving the band, how did this get out of hand so quickly, Tommy can't help but wonder.
“Adam.” Tommy says but Adam just keeps going and Tommy doesn't know how to make him stop, his eyes glance wildly around the room looking for anything to help him, he spots a cushion on the floor that must have fallen off of the sofa and he thinks, well desperate times call for desperate measures. He picks the cushion up and throws it at Adam, it hits him square in the face and Adam lets out a low noise when it connects.
“What the hell Tommy?”
“You are such a fucking drama queen.” Tommy replies and can't help but laugh when Adam pouts.
Tommy laughs some more before saying, “I’m not leaving the band Adam.”
“Oh.” Adam’s expression is the most hilarious thing Tommy has every seen, “Oh, wow, you're right. I am a drama queen.”
They are quiet for a few moments save for Tommy’s giggles bursting out at points when he can't contain them.
“So lets start again, what's up?” Tommy laughs before sobering up quickly.
“Well .. I ... the thing is ...” Tommy sighs, “Fuck.” Tommy says and Adam raises his eyebrows in confusion before Tommy moves forward and climbs on top of Adam, Adam looks at him in surprise.
“This is ... this is really personal Adam and I can't look at you while I say it.” Tommy watches Adam seriously until he sees Adam nod his head, once he has that confirmation he rests his head on Adam’s shoulder and finds a comfortable position on his lap. Adam’s arms tighten around Tommy and tug him nice and close.
“Whenever you’re ready.” Adam whispers into his hair.
“I met Monte when I was seventeen, Mia and I had somehow gotten into this club where one of his bands was playing, I guess you could say he inspired me to want to become a musician, I mean I wanted it to happen before that but Monte made me believe that it could happen. But this story of mine, its not really about Monte though it wouldn't be the same without him in it. It starts when I was five, I was in the sandpit and long story short this bully got sand in my face and was teasing me, this older boy came up and helped me out, gave me water, was good to me. His name was Ryan, I think I fell in love with him right at that moment.” Tommy pauses as he lets the memory of that moment wash over him.
“You’re into guys? Or you were?” Adam asks and Tommy can hear the shock in Adam’s tone.
“Yeah Adam, I’m into guys.” Tommy replies before falling silent, waiting to see if Adam will say anything, he doesn't so Tommy finds the courage to continue.
“He always looked out for me ya know? Always made sure I was safe at school, I never felt better than when I was around him. We started dating when I was sixteen well almost seventeen, it was like everything I ever wanted came true and it was amazing for a little over a year anyway. I had Ryan, I had Mia, I had my family and I had Monte but then things started to go downhill.” Tommy pauses to take a deep breath and already he feels like things are starting to be too much, all the memories are pushing down on him, the only thing keeping him steady is Adam’s strong presence and the soothing slow circles Adam is making on Tommy’s lower back.
“Take your time baby.” Adam whispers and Tommy nods his head, thankful for the assurance.
“At first it was just verbal abuse, he yelled at me a lot and called me useless even when I thought I had done something right but it quickly escalated to physical abuse. I always defended him, not to anyone else, no one knew, but to myself, in my head. He doesn't mean to, he always apologises, all that same shit, I thought it I said it. He was always so jealous and possessive and he used to mark my hips with his fingerprints so that he could see that I was his, so that he’d have physical proof, I used to say to myself that he only did it because he wanted to know that I loved him.” A tear runs down Tommy’s cheek at the memory, “I started wearing long sleeve t-shirts even in the middle of summer because I didn't want anyone to see the bruises.”
Adam stops Tommy there, pulls Tommy gently away from his chest and Tommy can see the fire in his eyes, Adam is angry, beyond it even, he’s furious.
“He beat you?” Adam asks with controlled anger in his voice, Tommy nods his head slightly and feel Adam go rigid beneath him but he can't have that, not yet.
“Please Adam, don't do that, not yet.” He pauses, “I need to finish this.” Adam nods stiffly before leaning back against the sofa pulling Tommy with him, Tommy doesn't look away this time, he looks at Adam as he finishes the story.
“Then one day it all fell apart, Monte was in town and we were catching up at this bar, I was having the best time but my shirt had ridden up and Monte just froze, he stared at me in horror and then he yelled at me and it felt just like Ryan.” Tommy picks up as though Adam had never interrupted him.
“Realistically I knew Monte was nothing like Ryan, that he would never ever hurt me in a million years but I couldn't handle it so I ran, I ran and ran and ran, I ran so much and so blindly that I didn't even realise that Monte was following me.” He sighs with exasperation at his own actions and Adam cracks a small smile at Monte’s persistence.
“I ended up at Ryan’s, I wanted comfort but I didn't get it there. One of his friends had seen me with Monte and Ryan hated Monte with a burning passion, he was so mad at me, he ...” Tommy trails off, still after all these years finding it almost impossible to say the words. Adam brings his hands up and cups Tommy’s face in his hands, using his thumbs to rub slow circles on Tommy’s cheeks.
“He raped me.” Tommy whispers and Adam sucks in a horrified breath, “I remember not feeling anything during it, I mean it hurt like hell. I just felt numb, but I was crying, I remember that part and when he finished he actually had the nerve to ask me what was wrong when it was all said and done, like he didn't understand that he had raped me. I don't really remember much, somehow Monte knocked the door down and got to me, he ripped Ryan from me, threw him across the room and punched him a few times before securing him and calling the cops. He wrapped me up in his arms and he took care of me, got me to the hospital, stayed with me. He was, he is, my life line.” Tommy doesn't even realise that he has tears running down his cheeks not until Adam wipes them away gently.
“It took me a while but I got to a place where I was okay but only okay, never happy or safe, just okay.” Tommy shrugs his shoulders helplessly, “I haven't dated a guy since then, I haven't even hooked up with one, I couldn't trust them enough to do that, everyone reminded me of Ryan. Even you for a little bit. So I just resigned myself to only being with girls.” Tommy breaks off and waits for Adam to say something, anything but he doesn't and Tommy realises Adam is still processing everything.
Tommy is startled when Adam easily lifts him and places him on the sofa so he can stand up, he starts pacing and Tommy watches him go back and forth with his fists clenching and unclenching and a look of anger on his face.
“FUCK.” Adam screams so loud that Tommy winces, “That fucking asshole, if I ever meet him I swear to fucking God I’ll kill him, I’ll strangle him with my bare hands.” Adam rants and Tommy swallows thickly because he knows that Adam isn’t really a violent person but he always acts out when people he cares about are hurt. Adam spins around and looks at Tommy.
“Who was that girl? At your Dad’s funeral, is she part of this? Is that why you wouldn't tell me about her right away?” Tommy nods his head.
“She’s Ryan’s sister, she was horrible to me after it all came out about what he did. Said the meanest things ...” Tommy trails off and Adam just gets angrier.
“What a fucking bitch, tell me you put her in her place?”
“At the funeral? A little bit but honestly? I just wanted her gone, I don't like to relive those moments in my past.”
Adam takes a few calming breaths before dropping to the floor and sitting in front of Tommy.
“Wait, are you saying I’m the first guy who has kissed you since Ryan?” Adam’s eyes goes wide and Tommy can tell he’s been going over the conversation in his head and has finally clued into the fact that his first kiss with a guy post Ryan was on national television.
“Um yeah.” Tommy replies with a flush.
“OH God, how did you not freak out?”
“Cause I trusted you by then.” Tommy replies with a shy smile that Adam can't help but return.
They sit there silently for a few moments, Tommy doesn't say anything because he knows Adam is still processing what was said, he can tell because Adam has started to get himself worked up all over again, Tommy can see the anger in his eyes.
“I hate that someone hurt you so bad and I couldn't do anything.” Adam speaks out and Tommy looks at him in surprise.
“What Adam? No. Don't feel guilty about something you couldn't control. You didn't know me then, you couldn't have stopped it, just be grateful that I had Monte.” Tommy pauses to wait until Adam has physically calmed down before continuing, “Besides that's not why I told you.”
“Why did you tell me?” Adam asks hesitantly.
Tommy slides off the sofa so he’s only inches away from Adam.
“Because I promised my Dad I would and because you make me happy and safe in a way that no one else ever has and because its time for me to take a chance again.” Tommy bites his lip and looks at Adam from under his eyelids, he watches as Adam’s swallows thickly.
“Are you saying .... do you want me?” Adam asks shyly and for a second Tommy sees the shy boy that Adam used to be, the one who still comes out when Adam’s old insecurities flare up without warning. Tommy doesn't answer Adam he just leans forward and brushes his mouth softly against Adam’s. Its barely a kiss at all, just a press of lips against lips, letting Adam know exactly what Tommy wants.
Tommy pulls back but not far, he’s still so close that Adam can feel Tommy’s breath on his face when he says, “Please say you want me back.”
That's all Adam needs to hear, he slides his hand around the back of Tommy’s neck and pulls him in for a real kiss. Its slow and languid, Adam takes his time, just slides their lips together for a few moments before running his tongue a long Tommy’s lips begging for entrance, once he gets it he spends, what feels like hours to Tommy, exploring Tommy’s mouth. They only pull back when the need for air is desperate.
“Of course I want you. I have since the moment you walked in to audition.” Adam whispers once he’s got his breath back, Tommy gives him a beaming smile in return. Adam grins happily before laying down on the carpet and bringing Tommy with him so the smaller man can rest on top of Adam. Adam keeps his arms tight around Tommy and Tommy smiles against Adam’s neck, he’d forgotten how amazing it is to be held in such strong arms, he’s glad that Adam’s around to show him.
“We’ll take this slow baby, no rush. I’m going to show you what its like to be worshipped like you deserve. I’m going to show you everything.”
Tommy can hardly wait.
Monte knows as soon as he sees Tommy and Adam walk into the airport. He knows without a doubt that Tommy has told Adam.
“You told him.” Monte says quietly to Tommy when he manages to catch him alone, Tommy looks up at Monte with a shy look in his eyes and Monte smiles softly.
“Yeah I told him.” Tommy pauses and bites his lip, “Think I did the right thing?” Monte knows that he has to word his answer carefully, he doesn't want Tommy to freak out in any way possible. He slides closer to Tommy and tucks him up under his arm so Tommy can rest comfortably against his side.
“There’s only three things you need to know. One. You did what you had to, if you wanted to move forward in your friendship and the something more that I know you want, Adam had to know. Two. You’ll feel better having him know, not only is it a weight off your chest but now you can feel safe in the fact that Adam will protect you with everything he has, even more-so than before.” Monte pauses and lets his words sink into Tommy’s brain, he looks down at him and sees the soft smile on Tommy’s face, “And three? I am so proud of you.”
Tommy turns around in Monte arms and throws his own arms around Monte’s neck, he holds on tight and Monte wraps him up just as tightly.
“Thanks big brother.” Tommy whispers into Monte’s ear before pressing a feather light kiss to Monte’s cheek.
Monte can't help but smile as he watches him walk away, big brother indeed.