Actions

Work Header

David Cook Breaks His Rules, or How Kris Allen Got His Groove Back

Work Text:

WEEK ONE

SUNDAY

Rule Number One: NEVER date an employee, no matter what level of attraction.

David Cook had a set of rules, and he had never strayed from them; after running his bar for twelve years and owning it for two, he had broken his rules only once.

He had dated an employee. It had been wonderful and messy, perfect and terrifying. It had ended badly, and David did not want to entertain those sorts of complications again. So begat his rules.


He had inherited the bar from his grandfather, who would probably die again if he walked in. David had taken the watering hole and made it into one of LA's most sought out destinations, a quiet bar/club where anyone could come and enjoy themselves. A Dose of Ambiance was known for two things: tolerance of all types, and its infamous theme nights. It was Sunday, which was Sports Day, at least when it was open, so the crowd was mostly straight and mostly male. David mistook Kris for another customer, because he seemed to fit into that category.

David found out soon enough that categorizing Kris was next to impossible.

David had been watching the man all night, had recognized him from the Friday before.

The man had been friendly to all the wait staff, had left a very nice tip, and hadn't bothered anyone. He had noticed David watching him, winked slowly and smiled. David had been taken aback, because the man had looked; well, as straight as an arrow. But considering the variety of his clientele, David wasn't completely shocked.

The guy wasn't David's type at all, and he had really given up on relationships for the time being. After all, it had been almost six years since his last serious relationship, but considering that disaster, it wasn't surprising David kept his relationships to one night stands and brief steamy affairs. But Friday, David's eyes had kept wandering back to the booth.

And now the guy was back and walking towards the bar. David had an 'I'm not interested remark' prepared, but then the guy tilted his head and said, "You're the owner right?"

David looked at the man in front of him, plaid and scruffy, freshly scrubbed and probably totally inexperienced.

"That's right. How can I help you?"

"Kris Allen," the man said, and held out his hand. "I saw the Help Wanted sign. I did some bar tending back in Arkansas, which I'm sure doesn't hold a candle to this, but I'm willing to work hard for little pay. Any pay. I can offer references if necessary."

David took the offered hand. There wasn't anything special in the handshake, except that the fingers were rough like his own, and the hold firm. "A guitar-playing waiter in LA. So original."

Kris rubbed his hands together. "Well, you know, I'd go for stripper, but I'm just not that coordinated."

David laughed again. "So how long did you work as a bartender?"

"About a year in Arkansas. Six months over at Indulgence."

"Indulgence? As in the dance club?"

"Yes."

David took a long look at Kris. "Why did you leave?"

"Because I had gained everything I needed to learn from there. Plus I didn't want to be a dancer and the owner likes his employees to be multi-talented superstars or something."

"Hmmm. Yes, Cowell can be like that."

"Just give me one night. Please."

Kris smiled then, and his whole face changed. David tried hard to maintain his solemn face. Anyone who knew him, really knew him, would say that he was a soft touch. Underneath the scowls and barking orders, David Cook was a pool of goo. David knew it too. So he really wanted to give the kid a chance. Well, kid was relative, but the idea remained the same.

"Fine. One night. You can bus tables for now. Glasses in the black tubs, plates in the brown. Don't piss off Carly; she's the best bartender we have."

Kris smiled again, and if anything it was brighter and warmer and David shook his head. He didn't usually make impulse decisions, but somehow this one felt right. Plus after that smile, how could he feel bad?

David watched him out of the corner of his eye the rest of the night. He was efficient, that was for sure. And he was really polite. Even Carly softened when he asked for a small glass of water, please and smiled at her. David was beginning to think the smile was a weapon, but Kris just didn't know it. Of course, watching Kris move around, David couldn't help but think to himself that if Kris dressed just right, his whole body could be used for good or evil, coordination be damned. David pretended to be observing the restaurant as an excuse for him to shamelessly check Kris out, despite his strict 'no dating employees' policy.

Then the bar got busy and Kris automatically started taking orders as well as bussing tables. He flirted easily with both the men and women. David raised an eyebrow and watched as Kris managed to serve one table, wink at another, then say something to a third that had the whole section laughing at him. David reassessed Kris then, because he didn't seem quite as shy as David took him for.

At the end of the night David told Carly to start the count while Megan, Alli and Kelly did the sweeping. In the back Michael and Matt were closing down the kitchen. David crooked his finger at Kris, and walked to the back, assuming Kris would know to follow him.

"You did a good job tonight. You work hard and don't annoy me. So I'll keep you. At least this week. At the end of the week I'm going to ask you what you've learned, and if I like your answer, I'll keep you on. Sound good?"

Kris nodded. "Um. Do you do this with everyone?"

David laughed. "Ask Adam sometime about week five. Then again, maybe not a good idea. Tomorrow is open mike night, if you're interested. Or you can listen to our lovely staff's vocal stylings along with some of our regular's. We get a pretty mixed crowd so expect bruises on your ass from the pinching."

"Oh," Kris said.

"Do you have a problem with that? Because sometimes customers like to touch. Especially since the wait staff is good looking."

"So I'm going to be objectified?"

"I'm going to take my boss hat off and say not only did that word choice turn me on, but yes. You are hot. Get used to it. Boss hat back on. Go home, get some sleep, I'll see you at three tomorrow. Don't be late."

David paused. "A word of advice?"

"Yeah?"

"Wear tighter clothes. People tip better."

Kris didn't say anything else but nodded. David watched him walk out the door. The kid seemed really nice, but was hard to read. Watching him with customers, Kris seemed fairly self-assured and confident. But when he was alone with David, he turned inward, almost like the kid at prom too shy to ask anyone to dance. It was endearing and frustrating all at once.

"New guy's hot. Please tell me he is straight."

David looked up at Kelly. "Not sure. If he is it definitely isn't 100%."

"Ooooh you like him."

"Not going there again. It's a miracle we all survived the last time."

Kelly laughed. "Yeah, but this kid seems less dramatic than Adam. We'll see how he does tomorrow."

"Yeah."

TUESDAY

Rule Number Two: Flirting is allowed, as long as it is understood it will lead nowhere. Every workplace is greased by its various flirtations, friendships and relations. But work comes first.

It didn't have an official name, although most everyone just called it Tuesday. David hadn't meant for it to happen, except one week early on there had been a group event, and then they had just kept coming every Tuesday. So David changed the normal seating to an open floor for mingling, booths for snuggling, and tables for those who didn't know which they wanted. It was actually a fairly quiet night, so David tended to stay in the office and do paperwork. Neal was bar tending tonight, and he could handle most problems.

"Hey, boss, the new guy, can you tell him to stop flirting and start working?"

David looked up. Kris had done really well on Monday, even accompanying some of the musicians on piano when Matt called in sick. He had flirted with some of the wait staff in the way anyone flirted with coworkers: jokingly and lovingly. They all loved him. David had a feeling Kris got that a lot, because he took it very well when Alli and Megan began to grill him about his personal life.

David had walked away then. It was better he didn't know too much, or else he might begin to care too much, or the warm feeling he got when Kris walked by would begin to grow into something unhealthy. David kept reminding himself of what had happened the last time he had gotten involved with an employee.

Anyway, Kris wasn't his type at all. He didn't go for polite Southern boys who flirted with both sexes and had hands that stretched across the piano and—

He sighed. "Okay Neal, I'm coming."

David stopped in the archway between the back of the house and the bar. He blinked, making sure he was seeing things right. Kris was sitting in someone's lap, chatting animatedly with them about something. The someone was in leather, and accompanied by several others in glittery dresses.

"Cassidy," David said, walking to the table. "Kris."

"Oh hi, David! Sorry, Cassidy was talking to me about this guitar, and then we got onto this jacket I really liked, and I didn't realize he actually designed it! Um," Kris blushed a little. "We used to work together. For a little bit at least. Anyway, I'm going to get back to work now."

"Please do."

David watched Cassidy watch Kris away. Cassidy then looked back at David. "It's been awhile since I've seen you, David."

David grinned. "We said never again unless we were desperate, Cass. You that desperate?"

"No. But I liked you. Thought maybe for old time's sake…"

"Like you couldn't get it with just one crook of your finger."

Cassidy laughed. "True. I like the new guy. I don't remember why we broke up now."

"As does everyone. Wait. You and him? Really?"

"Really. Trust me, worth every minute."

"I don't need to know about that." David wanted to know every detail all of a sudden, and that was a dangerous path.

If he knew about Kris in a bedroom, that could lead to fantasies. Then David would be stuck, because he didn't date employees, and fantasies would only lead to frustration. Yet he wanted to know every detail. Like did Kris close his eyes in that sleepy way when he was being kissed? Did he—

"You like him."

David shook his head. "He's attractive. But no employees."

"When does Adam get back anyway?" Cassidy leaned back in his chair.

"Next week. Gives Kris time to adjust before the crazy train rolls in."

"You know it wouldn't be the same without it."

"No. But less complicated."

"I'm not the one who let my bartender give me a hand job his fifth week here."

"Does everyone know about that?"

"You should've let him break up with you."

"You know, while digging up memories are fun, I should probably go back to crunching numbers. Don't distract my wait staff too much, okay?"

"Yes, sir. As you wish."

David shook his head, watching the scene for a moment, spying Kris dancing to get across the floor, and showing more ability than his aw shucks charm indicated. David looked away. He wondered if sitting in Cassidy's lap would make it into Kris's report for the week. Or if he would mention it at all.

THURSDAY

Rule Number Three: Tell the truth to Neal. He has been there since you started drinking leftover beer in bottles at the tender age of thirteen. He will always understand.

"What do you mean you gave the new guy a day off?"

David sighed. "Everyone has to have one; today might as well be Kris's. Anyway I thought you wanted to work because you missed Monday."

"I do. I heard he played piano. That piano is mine, David," Matt said.

"Matt, I needed an accompanist and you were sick. I'm sorry if your feelings are hurt, but get over it."

"You're just saying that because he's cute."

"Matt."

Matt grinned and winked. "What?"

"Can everyone just leave me alone?"

Matt shrugged and walked out onto the floor.

"You know why everyone is annoying you?"

David turned and looked at Neal. "Please, not you too."

Neal shook his head. "No. I don't give a fuck who you date. Though the new kid seems like a nice guy. But let everyone gush for awhile. I mean you haven't shown genuine interest in anyone in a long time."

"Adam."

"Adam." Neal put his hand on David's shoulder. "Look, Dave, I'm not saying you should do anything you don't want to, but everyone just wants you to be happy. Plus seeing you trip over someone is kind of adorable."

"He's not my type at all."

"No. He's not. That's why I like him. Fucker digs his way into your heart. You are so in trouble if he decides he's interested back."

"Thanks."

"No problem, Dave."

David worked the bar for awhile, thinking on many things. He had been alone for too long. But he hadn't been ready for a relationship. But he could try to let everyone have their fun and not let it bother him. Maybe.

SATURDAY

Rule Number Four: When in doubt remember why you made rule number one.

Before David knew it, the week was over, which meant dancing and debauchery, and one cop car constantly sitting outside. It usually didn't resort to that, but Carly's brother was a cop, and David gave them free drinks off duty, so they usually sat outside as a favor. It kept things down to a dull roar most days.

"Um, Kelly said to get your approval before clocking on."

David looked up at the familiar voice, and his mouth went dry. Gone were the loose jeans and plain white t-shirt. Instead, Kris wore tight dark jeans and a black shirt that seemed to shimmer in the low light. He had done something to his hair, and possibly his eyes. Yet underneath it, he still looked like a sweet, lost boy.

David cleared his throat. "Yeah, that's good. If anyone gets too handsy—"

"What if I like handsy?"

"That's your business. But if anyone looks like they need help, you stop what you are doing and help. Except Danny, because he probably deserves it."

"He seems nice."

"That's his problem."

Kris giggled then, and David sighed. Tonight was going to be interesting. He locked the office, and walked onto the floor, so used to feeling the music rather than hearing it he didn't even pause.

Carly and Carrie were at the bar tonight, Carly bitching everyone out and Carrie smiling sweetly to smooth things over. Danny was working the few tables in the back, Kris, Kelly and Megan were on the floor, disappearing between the bodies, sometimes stopping when they waved forward, caught in the beat and the music.

It looked to be a typical Saturday, mixed with familiar faces and new. The noise of the crowd and music drowned out any chance of conversation. But if people wanted that, they could come another night.

David stood back for the most part, the crowd was fairly calm. Megan gave him a look once, but Kris was the first one there, not even yelling at the guy, but somehow convincing him that it was better to drink elsewhere. Megan hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. Kris blushed, or so David thought, it was hard to tell in the light, but Kris's facial expression confirmed the embarrassment.

David had been tempted to let Kris go after this week because of the attraction he felt, but Kris really fit in, and tonight was really proving just how much. David sighed and watched as Kris crossed the floor again, sucking in a breath as he was pulled into the crowd. Then Kris grinned, sweat down his face, leaned his head back and held tight to the person behind him, effortlessly picking up the rhythm. David couldn't tear his eyes away, because surely this wasn't the same man, the unassuming, plaid-wearing…

Then the crowd moved again and Kris was laughing with Alli, and David blinked, wondering if he had imagined it all. Then Kris looked at him steadily, and winked.

David laughed. It had been an interesting night and it had only just begun.

*
David sat in his office chair, his feet reminding him that he should seriously consider wearing better shoes to work. The last of the customers had been packed in cabs, and Carly and Carrie were doing the final check. David rubbed his eyes and looked up.

"All right, Allen, what have you learned this week?"

Kris reached into a pocket and pulled out a notebook.

"You took notes?" David said.

"Yeah. I always have a notebook for lyrics and stuff."

David shook his head. "I think I need a drink to handle you. Would you like anything?"

"Water's fine. I don't drink alcohol."

David turned. "You're a bartender who doesn't drink?"

Kris shrugged. "Well, I do occasionally, but I can't much. Had a rare form of hepatitis that pretty much stopped that. Caught it in Morocco."

"You were in Morocco?"

"Mission trip."

David blinked. A guitar playing, drink slinging, dirty dancing missionary?

"Well, then."

Kris laughed. "It's okay. It wasn't what you think. Most people don't get mission trips anyway."

"No. I'm just trying to figure you out."

"Me too."

David sat back down and nodded. Maybe that was it. Kris Allen was a man in transition, and that was why he confused David. He hoped.

"All right, what did you learn this week?"

Kris cleared his throat.

"One. If I want to get my drinks more efficiently, flirt with Carrie, don't piss off Carly, and look like I'm working hard for Neal. Two: Tuesdays are a very dangerous day to flirt, considering one never knows exactly what sex one is flirting with. Although either is okay, I just like to be sure that if I'm making a booty call I know which way I'm going to be giving and or taking it." \

David almost spit his drink, but Kris calmly continued.

"Three: there is an insane amount of talent here. So singing next Monday is going to be the scariest part of my week. Four: I heard next Saturday is the once a month shirtless Saturday, and that also scares me. Because I am easily embarrassed. Even if it doesn't seem so, I am totally a blusher."

"No. I noticed. It's kind of endearing actually. Don't change that."

Kris cleared his throat, a slight tinge of pink on his cheeks. "Five: If I want gossip, Allison is my go to. Honesty: Kelly. Megan is great for make-up tips, because I don't wear it normally. Danny is actually pretty good on drink knowledge; he would be a great fill-in if any of the others got sick if he would learn how to shut up. Anoop is scary with knowledge about pretty much anything. He is also kind of hot. But not my type. Or orientation. He's dating Megan, you know."

"I know," David said. "Alli told me."

Kris nodded and looked back at his notebook. "Oh. Six. You don't date employees because of a disastrous one with the vacationing bartender, one infamous "Adam". No one will tell me anything yet, but I have a feeling it's going to be a lot less interesting than everyone makes it out to be."

"Trust me. It was every bit as interesting. I broke his heart. He broke mine. I fired him. I rehired him. He found a boyfriend. End of story. What else?"

Kris didn't say anything for a full minute, and then began to read again.

"Seven. I know the days of the week are themed but flexible. Monday is always music, but sometimes its karaoke, sometimes open mike, sometimes local bands. Tuesday is Tuesday, though no one elaborates on what exactly it is. Wednesday is alternate date night, where couples get discounts, and sometimes you have singles nights to encourage them to come back on regular Wednesdays. Thursdays is an open day, but sometimes you let people vote on a theme, which once ended up in everyone dressed up as characters from Lord of the Rings. I bet you were Aragorn."

"You're damned right I was."

Kris stared for a minute, as if picturing David dressed up, and then continued with his list. "Friday is divided between high school football in the fall, wine tastings/special drink features in the winter and spring and family nights in the summer. Saturdays are dance nights, and I earned more money that night than I did in three months at my previous job. And more phone numbers than I care to think about. Sundays are sports days or days you close, depending on how you feel. I was lucky that you decided to be open."

"That's a lot of information for one thing you learned. Anything else?"

Kris nodded. "One more, but it's not work related."

"Really?"

David watched Kris tuck the notebook carefully into his pocket, then walk over to the desk. Kris leaned forward, his cheeks still slightly colored, but his eyes directly on David's.

"You think I'm attractive." Kris's face was too close. Not that David minded, because it was a gorgeous face, but the way Kris's bottom lip hung out just so… David gripped underneath the desk to stop himself from moving forward and just tasting.

"Yes."

"But you don't date employees."

"No."

Kris leaned forward and whispered in David's ear. "But what about sex?"

"What?"

"Sex is definitely not dating, and no one has to know. Think about it."

Then he walked out the door without turning, and David laid a hand in his lap, trying to adjust the uncomfortable tightness in his jeans. He hadn't been expecting that at all.

He shook his head. In one week, Kris Allen had already changed so much. With Adam returning from vacation, this was probably going to be the week from hell. But then that reminded David of why he had made rule number one, and he felt even more determined to get himself under control.

WEEK TWO

SUNDAY

Step One to new Kris Allen: Do things that seem completely out of character as often as possible

Kris leaned into his door, still marveling he had been able to even say something like that without blushing. The last week had been as scary as hell, but a definite step forward in the 'new Kris Allen' plan.

After his break up with both his last girlfriend and a bad choice to tell his best friend he had a crush on him, Kris had moved out to LA to both pursue music and some sort of peace with himself. This job seemed to make him bolder than he ever thought he'd be. The six months at Indulgence had probably helped. And Cassidy. Kris grinned a little, because he still wasn't sure how he was supposed to define that relationship, because they hadn't necessarily been boyfriends. But he had learned many things that still caught him off guard sometimes.

Last night, for instance, actually dancing like that and the look David had been giving him. Kris felt himself blush again, wishing he could permanently be that Kris sometimes, the one who was fully in charge of himself and confident, but he also liked self-conscious Kris, so it was a struggle trying to decide which one to be. Kris mostly went with instinct and it seemed to be working.

He knew flirting with his boss would only lead to trouble, but David was hot, even if not the normal type of guy Kris went for, and he liked Kris. It wasn't a situation Kris had been in before, and it was an opportunity for him to take control of his own destiny for once. Instead of letting things happen to him, he was going to make things happen.

MONDAY


Step Two to new Kris Allen: Be aggressive. Get what you want.

Kris stood on the stage, holding his guitar close. "Well, hello everyone. My name is Kris, and in a few minutes I'll probably be bringing you your beers. But I'm going to sing you something a little different, okay?"

Kris looked straight at David and sang "Hit Me Baby One More Time", David's eyes crinkling as he laughed, the patrons at first silent, then clapping and singing along with the chorus. Kris grinned at the applause, and then stashed his guitar.

"So very subtle, Allen."

Kris turned and looked at David. "If I really wanted to get the point across I think I'll sing "I Wanna Sex You Up" next week."

"I think I would like to see that. Get to work. And watch out, Adam is here tonight. He'll introduce himself."

The way David said "introduce himself" sounded ominous.

"Oh, you must be Kris."

Kris turned again, and a figure—blonde, leather and feathers—suddenly engulfed him and kissed him, a brush of lips that promised more and expected nothing.

"My aren't you cute? Hmmm, you remind me of my boyfriend, except a little more muscular. And a much better singer, but don't tell him that."

"I won't unless I need to blackmail you for something."

The blonde laughed and held out his hand. "Adam. Or if Allison hasn't already told you, resident slut/drama queen and shit stirrer."

Kris shook the offered hand. "Kris. Or if Allison hasn't told you yet, resident bisexual/nice guy and gay catnip. Or so she says."

"Oh definitely. I can definitely see it. Come on, it's my turn to sing, and you don't want to miss that."

Kris nodded and followed him into the main room, grabbing a tray and ignoring Adam's opening remarks, except a loud cheer went up after he named his song. Kris thought he said something like "Crawl Thru Fire" and all the patrons at the actual bar drew back with drinks in hand and Kris was curious. Then frozen. And turned on.

It was like watching a jungle cat prowl, Adam was on stage, striding across the bar, shimmying and his hips, Kris blinked, because his hips, and then his voice, were up and down and inside out and Kris couldn't breathe. Adam winked at him then, and Kris realized he was supposed to be mesmerized, it was all a part of the show. He had known Adam for all of six minutes, and Kris could already see that knowing Adam was probably an adventure.

He looked away, and noticed David watching from the doorway to the back of the house. His eyes were on Adam, and Kris wanted to reach out, because David looked angry or hurt. Kris couldn't place it, but he wanted to fix it. But Kris wasn't in a position to help, so he couldn't.

Adam took an exaggerated bow, hugging Alli before putting on an apron. Kris ignored the stage for awhile, talking with customers, laughing as Adam flirted with him and he flirted back. Adam looked disappointed that Kris wasn't shocked. Kris had spent his first two months in LA living in an apartment above a dance club. Nothing much shocked him anymore.

A familiar voice came on the microphone and Kris looked up. It was David, and he was singing low and insistent, his voice and the guitar was driving forward. The bar shouted as they recognized the song, but Kris stayed still and silent. He had never really liked this type of music, but somehow found himself completely enthralled by it. Maybe it was the way David leaned in, focusing all of his attention on the room. Maybe it was the amount of effort it seemed to take to make it look all so easy.

"Well, well," Adam said in his ear.

"What?" Kris turned.

"You like him."

"David? He's not my type."

Adam made a non committal sound and put a glass on the bar. "Piece of advice for you."

"Yeah?"

"Don't let him fool you with that dating employees crap."

Kris grinned. "Don't worry. I already propositioned him."

Adam stared a moment, then laughed. "I like you. Maybe now I won't be the most interesting thing to happen in the office."

"And what is that?"

"You haven't heard the story about week five?"

Kris shook his head, and Adam smiled. "Well, then, Kristopher, let me tell you…"

WEDNESDAY

Step Three to new Kris Allen Don't be afraid of confrontation. Confrontation brought you this far, so embrace your inner asshole.

Kris was beginning to fear it was going to be the end of him. It was a boost to his self-confidence, but he hadn't been prepared for the amount of attention he was getting. There was a group of girls in one corner that he had begged Megan to take care of, because he thought if he went over one more time he would find himself married in the hour.

"Huh. He does kind of look like me."

Kris turned and saw Adam and a shorter man, who he had to admit, shared certain features. He was scrawnier than Kris. Balder too. But they had very similar structures.

"You must be Brad."

"You must be Kris."

"Actually I've decided to change my name. I've always liked Bradley. What do you think?"

Brad laughed. "I like him. You have my permission."

Brad sidled up to the bar, where Carrie cheerfully greeted him.

"Permission?"

Adam looked at Kris. "Well, we have an open relationship. You are now officially on the list of people I'm allowed to cheat with."

"Oh. That's, um, sudden." Kris felt himself blushing.

"You are impossible. How can you be so cute and hot at the same time?"

"well, I mean, I don't, I—I can't get my bearings."

"Don't worry. Brad likes to make snap decisions. Me, not so much. So your virtue is safe."

Kris felt his mouth working. He had no idea what to say to that.

"Allen!"

"Uh-oh, big boss doesn't like it when I harass employees. Think about it Kris, you, me, the bathroom. Trust me. Best experience you'll ever have."

Kris nodded slowly and walked over to David. He had no idea what was going on, either with Adam—Kris couldn't even process what had just happened there—or with David, so he settled for calmly walking across the room and not tripping over anything.

"Is there a reason you are just standing and shooting the shit with Adam?"

Kris shook his head.

"Then get back to work."

Kris bit his tongue, a retort on his lips. David had been riding him hard the last couple of days, and it wasn't fair. Everyone else was really casual around here, and he had to work his butt off. He was tired of it.

He worked the rest of the night without getting a phone number. It was probably because he had a scowl on his face. But he had been working here a week and a half, and he had been doing really well. So he was allowed an off day. Especially when his boss decided to play bad cop. But Kris wasn't going to take it anymore.

"Is there something you wanted?" David said as he entered the office.

"Yeah. I know I've only worked here a week, but I do pretty well, and I don't understand why you've been such an ass the last couple of days."

David looked up. "My bar. I can be an ass any time I want."

"Sure, but you're only an ass to me these days. I want to know what I did."

"Nothing. Yet. But you seem to be spending a lot of your work shift not working. For instance, today you spent ten minutes talking to Adam, another five with Alli, and you seem to have lost the spring in your step. Basically, you've decided to loosen up and play around."

"You mean like the rest of your staff?" Kris paused, and took a chance. "Look, you have three choices: continue like this and I quit and never come back, treat me normally and I work here a long time, or kiss me and just get it the hell out of your system." Kris leaned across the desk, practically in David's face.

"Who says I want to kiss you?" David stared at Kris for what seemed forever. "You aren't my type. Plus you are terribly indecisive, so let's not go there, okay?"

"Well you aren't my type either. You're bossy, hateful and your hair is terrible."

Then David's mouth was on his, and Kris grunted as the corner of the desk dug into his hip, David's hands fisted in his shirt. Kris braced himself, staggering as David let go.

Then there was nothing but breathing for a moment, David's eyes closed tight, his hands uncurling from Kris's shirt. Kris waited for a cue, some sort of sign. Then David let go completely, and his face turned away.

"That wasn't supposed to happen."

Kris sighed. "Maybe it was. I have to get back to work."

He stood carefully and walked out of the room. He had never been one to pursue, but his thoughts kept going back to David. Even when a better opportunity presented itself, David seemed to be the one in his head. It had been a shot in the dark, walking in the bar to apply for a job, but from the moment he had looked into David's eyes, he had felt like he was doing something right for once.

It scared him a little, because he was mostly making it up as he went along. What little he knew about David was written in his little pocket notebook, but Kris figured that leaping like this was a part of the new him. Even if he fell down, it would be fun to fly for a little bit.

SATURDAY

Step Four to new Kris Allen: Flirt. You know you can do it.

Kris couldn't believe that Shirtless Saturday was actually real.

He was off for the day, but he had to see for himself that they weren't lying to him. The other employees at the bar weren't above a good practical joke, and Shirtless Saturday seemed like a great joke to him.

But it was real. When he entered the front of the bar, Anoop was collecting shirts from the guys, and Megan was collecting skirts from the girls (they wore just barely there shorts underneath.) They both grinned as Kris peeled off his shirt, and Megan gave him a once over.

"You want my advice, honey, or are you going to keep winging it?"

Kris shrugged. "I think I'll keep winging it. I don't know. Should I keep winging it?"

Megan smiled. "Definitely. But just be careful, okay? David may seem like a hard ass but he's a big pile of goo, really."

Kris nodded and sidled up to the bar, ignoring the appraising looks from both staff and customers.

"What can I—Kristopher Allen," Adam said with a smile, "look at what you've been hiding."

Kris stared back for a moment, mesmerized by freckles. "Well, you know, I do work out."

"I bet. I am going to regret the decision to be monogamous for once in my life, aren't I?"

Kris felt himself redden, glad that the bar was dark and everyone was too busy dancing to pay attention to him. Then he caught sight of David out of the corner of his eye. David was busy talking with a customer.

"He's not my type."

"He's everyone's type," Adam said, and Kris realized he had spoken aloud. "He's funny, smart, has gorgeous eyes, and I won't talk about sex because it will weird me out when you convince him to sleep with you."

"You think I'm going to succeed."

Adam laughed, "You really don't know, do you? I have a break coming up. Hold on."

Kris watched as Adam spoke to David for a minute, and David came to man the bar.

"Allen. Had I known you were going to waste a free night here, I would have scheduled you."

Kris shrugged. "But I'm not an employee today, so—"

"Don't even start."

Kris shrugged, and watched David work for a minute, then caught a wave directed his way. It was Adam, out on the dance floor. Kris raised an eyebrow, and Adam gave him a look that combined impatience, indifference and irritation all at once. Kris reminded himself to try and learn it.

"Adam," Kris said as he walked over.

"Shh." Adam ran a finger down Kris's bare torso. "It's just a dance. Plus, you'll thank me later, I promise."

Kris shivered a moment, and told himself this was a mistake. He stepped forward anyway. "Okay."

Then Adam's hand was on his hip, pulling him closer, and Kris felt someone behind him, the crowd surrounding them, and a familiar voice in his ear.

"I hope you don't mind if I join in," Cassidy purred and Kris shook his head.

He was trying to concentrate on not looking completely stupid, but it wasn't that hard, moving up and down, so he began to focus on the friction, Adam's leg rubbing up against the front of his jeans, Cassidy grinding up behind him, both of them with their hands on him, Cassidy's on his hips, thumbs hooked in between his jeans and Adam's behind his neck, threading into his hair. Kris let go then and just felt for a moment, the beat of the music, the bodies against his own, moving with instinct rather than thought.

It felt good.

Then Adam moved away as the song changed, and nodded. "Yes, definitely going to regret the monogamy. My break is over. If ever you and I are available at the same time, I am taking shameless advantage of you. Let the poor guy go, Cass, I think the boss man might want to speak to him."

It was then Kris realized he had been leaning back into Cassidy, and his back became cold with the sudden onrush of air.

"If Adam doesn't get to you first, count me back in line. I think we gave up on each other too easily." Cassidy grinned and gave Kris a pat on the cheek before going back to the dance floor.

Kris stood there a moment more before he heard his name.

It was David, who motioned for him to come to the back.

"I'm off the clock."

"Doesn't matter. You're still employed here."

Kris rolled his eyes and followed David.

"So any early thoughts on what you've learned this week?" David said as they headed to the office.

"Well, I could recite something really long, but only two of them are important."

"Shoot."

"I found out what happened in week five."

David stopped at his doorway. "Ah."

"Which led me to another important discovery."

"And what is that?"

Kris closed the door behind him. "We both have a thing for blondes."

David looked up. "So now you know the story of Adam."

"Not fully. He told me pretty much the same thing you told me. I don't really want to know. What I want to know is what the hell I'm doing back here."

"You were distracting my staff members."

"You mean I was distracting you."

David turned then, his eyes dark, and pushed Kris into the door, his hands circling Kris's wrists.

"Yes. You were distracting me. Are you happy now?"

"No."

"Damn it, Allen—"

"Why don't you ever call me by my name?" Kris looked straight at David.

He tried to control his breathing, but David was right there his face inches from Kris's and it took all of Kris's self control not to lean forward and just kiss him already.

"Kris," David whispered.

Kris closed his eyes. Sighed. "I didn't come to do this. I promise. And then, you know Adam was being Adam and it’s part of my 'change Kris Allen' campaign to do things I normally wouldn't, and then, well I—"

David kissed him then, catching Kris's words in his mouth and silencing them. Kris opened his eyes in surprise when David pulled away and asked.

"Why would you want to change?"

"Because underneath it all I'm still the stupidly awkward kid from Arkansas who left his girlfriend and ruined the only friendship he had by hitting on his best friend. Because I never got anywhere by being old me. Because I've been an adult for six years and I'm just now figured out what I want. Because I never go for what I want, so I never get it."

"I thought I wasn't your type."

"You aren't."

David nodded. He leaned forward again, his cheek grazing against Kris's, his lips against Kris's ears as he whispered, low and insistent.

"Tell me what you want."

Kris shivered slightly as David's body pressed flush against his own. He had always been a relationship guy, always about love and commitment, but he's been half hard since he walked on to the dance floor, and he hasn't had sex in more time than he would like to remember, and 'new Kris' was more adventurous than him, so he answered by rolling his hips forward and managing to choke out a word.

"You."

David tightened with Kris's movement. "You know what time we close. If you wait about an hour I'll open the door for you. Don't come earlier or I will change my mind."

His hands released Kris's wrists. "Now if I see you dancing with my ex-boyfriends again—"

"You dated Cassidy? He didn't tell me that."

"Well, dating is a relative term with him."

Kris grinned. "Yeah, I know."

"Yeah. He told me. I'd like to hear about that someday."

"Maybe I'll just show you what I got out of it."

Kris took pleasure in David's surprise and walked out the door before David decided that he had made a bad decision. He made sure to roll his eyes at Matt as he left the office, and slammed the door between the bar and the back, hoping his face looked mad or bored or anything but the anticipation he felt showing on his face.

*

Kris stood outside the bar and shivered. It had been exactly one hour, five minutes and a handful of seconds since it closed.

I shouldn't be here. You really like this job and you could be fucking it up.

He was making a booty call. He didn't know how to handle this, whatever it was. He lifted his hand to knock four or five times when the door opened as he felt himself turning.


"You chickening out now?"

David leaned against the door, wearing jeans and a loose flannel shirt. His feet were bare. That's when Kris gave in, because no matter what David wore, it was all a part of a uniform. But the whole stance of David's body, the way his face seemed completely open and relaxed, this was him. This was the real David.

"No," Kris said, and stepped forward to prove his point.

David didn't move until the last moment, letting Kris brush by without a word.

It was weird how empty and quiet it was. Kris walked over and ran his hand along the bar, shining in the muted light.

"Kris."

He turned and David was right there, his eyes so focused, and Kris felt the bar dig into his back as David kissed him. David leaned his forehead against Kris's.

"Cassidy tells me that—"

Kris freed a hand and laid it across David's mouth. "I don't want to talk."

"We can do that too," David said after removing Kris's hand.

Then David put both his hands on the bar behind Kris and kissed him again. Kris grabbed David's hips and pulled him closer, automatically widening his stance to let David step forward. He bit his lip as David began kissing his neck, teeth grazing against Kris's collarbone.

"Wanted to do that since I saw you," David said, and Kris's fingers dug deeper as he tried to move, tried to relieve the tightness in his jeans.

"David," he said, his voice raw.

David looked up and seemed almost bemused. "Not the foreplay type, are we?"

Kris shook his head as David's hand palmed Kris’s cock through his jeans. He jerked involuntarily, letting out a sound that he wasn't too terribly embarrassed about.

"Please. The last two weeks haven't been enough foreplay?" Kris breathed.

David laughed, low and dangerous. "Tell me what you want. You have me; now what are you going to do about it?"

Kris suppressed the urge to scream when David stepped away. Kris pulled him back, searching for the words to say. He went for bold.

"What I want for you to do is lead me to your bedroom and then fuck me. All right?"

David blinked. "Direct. I like that."

David led Kris to the back and up a flight of stairs, pausing only to kiss Kris several times and several places, Kris barely having time to react before they were moving again, and then they were in a bedroom, David's, Kris assumed, and he was against the doorway again, David's mouth against his ear.

"We can do this one of two ways: my way—" David nipped Kris's earlobe, then kissed behind it, his hands unbuttoning Kris's shirt.

Kris sighed as David slid the shirt off. "Or?"

David's hands paused at the button on Kris's jeans. "My way."

Kris laughed. "I guess I'll take your way."

"Good choice."

Then David's mouth was on his again, and his hands, oh, his hands were faster than Kris would have thought, because David was still clothed and he was sitting on the bed naked, David kneeling in front of him.

“Christ, you’re beautiful.”

Kris felt himself blush, and he was finding himself reverting to old Kris, because he didn't know how to react, except to gasp when David lightly stroked him, and then teasingly licked around the head of his cock.

"Oh god, don't stop," he breathed, his hand in David's hair and pulling his head forward.

"Is this what you want?"

"Yes. No. Jesus."

David laughed and pushed Kris to the bed, and stripped off his shirt. His eyes narrowed, and his fingers traced a spot just below Kris's ribs.

"What's this?"

"Surgery. Had a rib removed when I was thirteen."

"That's a bitch."

David was kissing it now, tracing the edges of the scar with his tongue.

Kris couldn’t handle the teasing anymore. He snapped, "What's a bitch is that you keep talking. You’re killing me."

"Patience is a virtue."

"I’m not a saint."

David leaned on one arm and took a long look up and down Kris's body. "Thank God."

Then he sat up and reached into his bureau.

"Finally."

"You sure are mouthy, Allen."

"Isn't that why you like me?"

"I'd like it better if that mouth was put to better use."

Kris raised an eyebrow. "Hard to use it when you are sitting so far—oh."

David leaned forward. "What was that?"

Kris bit David's bottom lip, and then kissed it. "Courtesy says you should warn someone before—"

He arched as David's hand moved again. "Courtesy," he gasped as David's other hand brushed lightly under his balls. "Says you warn someone before sticking a finger in their ass."

David laughed again, his head dropping down. "You know, most guys don't whine as much as you."

"I'm not most guys," Kris managed to let out as David moved his fingers in and out, slowly putting pressure with each stroke.

"I want to watch you come undone," David said, and Kris nodded.

"Just, please, soon."

Kris clenched his hand as David took his time, the whole night in slow motion. Kris tried to move his hips forward, to hurry David along, and was rewarded with a bite to his shoulder.

"My way, remember?"

Kris nodded, biting his lip in frustration, because it was already so much and there was so much more to come. Then David was pressed up against him, face buried in his neck. Kris heard a whine that might have been his own voice as David's hand finally reached his cock again, but it disappeared in a kiss, words and sounds lost for a moment, and then Kris threw his head back as he came between them, David moving a moment longer, crying out into Kris's shoulder.

Kris let out a breath then, trying to stop himself from feeling too much. Sex. This was just sex.

"Your way is too much talking."

David lifted his head. "Are you complaining already?"

"No. Providing constructive criticism." Kris grinned.

"You are impossible."

Then David stood and Kris tilted his head. "Now what?"

David sighed. "I don't know about you, but my way involves showers and cleaning up. Then we nap and start all over again."

"Okay. Maybe I do like your way."

Kris laughed as David pulled him up and into the bathroom.


WEEK THREE

SUNDAY

Rule Five: If you do break rule one, extricate yourself immediately. Either find a way to fire said employee, or make it a one night stand. Do not, do NOT start an affair/relationship/whatever.

David wasn't sure why he had let Kris stay. Except after the shower, much later, he had put his arm around Kris and they had slept. And then in the morning, Kris had begun to walk out and David had stopped him. They had spent the day talking about completely nothing, Kris eyeing David's guitar reverently, and laughing as he attempted to play left handed. It was the most fun David had had in a long time.

But Kris had left in the late afternoon with a lingering kiss and not a word about ever coming back. David didn't say anything because it wasn't supposed to be anything. So he had leaned against the door for a while and breathed. Breaking rule number one wasn't a terrible thing. He had dated employees after Adam. But only after they had quit, or were on the verge of quitting. Here, and now, Kris wasn't leaving anytime soon.

More importantly, David was beginning to think he was breaking rule number five. Rule number five was in effect for one reason: Adam. They had been really good together, but David knew that Adam was leaving, could feel him pulling away. So he had let Adam go. Which had been messy, and painful, and had interrupted his life more than he would have liked to. Kris was a different kind of guy, but his 'new Kris Allen' plan made him transitory, made the burgeoning feelings very, very dangerous. So David tried to tuck them away, and began to prepare for another week. He didn't know exactly how he was going to deal with everything, but he had survived Adam, so he could handle anything. David sighed, and wondered if he could.

*

MONDAY

Rule Number Six: When all else fails, go to Michael.

Michael was only three years older than David, but besides Neal, he had been there the longest. He had been happily married since he was eighteen, and was possibly the most straight-laced guy David had ever known. When Michael had first found out about David being gay, David had expected him to be, well, not too nice about it. Instead Michael had calmly asked a few questions and nodded.

"As long as you’re happy."

So when David needed any relationship advice, Michael was his rock. He was everyone's rock, because he stood back and watched, almost disappearing into the background. But when you needed him, he was there, solid as ever.

"You look conflicted. Happy, but worried. Let me guess: new guy."

David sat in the kitchen as Michael began the preparations for the day. "Am I that obvious?"

"Only when they worry you."

David laughed. "Thanks."

"Tell me about it."

David looked around, even though he knew no one would be there for at least another hour. "It isn't supposed to be a relationship."

"Ah."

"But somehow he's wormed his way in, and I really like him. Like scary like him. But I can't say anything because it isn't supposed to be anything. And even if it did go into that territory, what if he decided he wanted to walk away? I can't do that again, Michael."

Michael put down whatever he was working on and sat across from David.

"Dave, I know I've been married for a long time, but part of love is getting your heart broken. You'll never find it if you don't let it happen."

"I don't love him. It's not that bad."

"Yet."

David swallowed. "Yet?"

Michael smiled. "You totally have the 'I could fall in love' look on your face."

Shit  David thought.

"Why is that bad?" Michael said.

"I shouldn't fall for this guy." David looked down at the counter. "It breaks all of my rules."

Michael was silent for a long time. "Damn. I owe Adam ten dollars."

David's head snapped back up. "You guys have a pool?"

"I had it down for another week before he succeeded."

David couldn't speak. Had it been that transparent?

"Look, normally, I would totally give you the benefit of the doubt, and say that no one could break your rules. Especially rule number five. But there's something about him. I don't know what it is, but he's special. He'd be good for you. He's a case where the rules shouldn't count."

"I-"

"Look, I won't tell anyone, and if anyone asks, I'll lie if you want. But he seems like a relationship guy to me."

David sighed. "Yeah, except he's in his 'new Kris Allen' phase, and casual is a part of that."

"I see. Well, there is one way to solve that."

"How?"

"You know we all love you, Dave, right?"

"Okay…"

"For once in your life, don't have any rules. Don't follow any plan. Just go with it. See what happens then."

"But-"

"No buts. Just go with it."

David sighed. Maybe he was too organized with his life. Maybe he should live a little. He thought about it: he had set himself into this box because his heart had been broken. But now it was breaking because he had set himself into this box. Either he chose to continue following his rules, continue to be someone he had created out of a moment of panic, or he could—

"I can't believe I'm letting myself do this."

Michael patted him on the back. "Just think of how much fun it will be to hide it from everyone."

David groaned and put his head in his hands. It was going to be a long Monday.

WEDNESDAY

New Rule One: There are no rules.

Kris never acted any different on Monday, had continued the constant badgering and flirting. So David had reciprocated, somehow (hopefully) managing to do the same. The others didn’t seem to notice any change, so David began to relax, and think that maybe it was going to be okay. That he could pull it all off, this casual relationship limbo thing. Except he kind of expected Kris to be there after closing and he wasn't. David had to remind himself that it was just sex, and that it wasn't important. Feelings had gotten him into trouble with Adam, so it was best if he just went with everything and took it day by day. But then he remembered what Michael had said, and let himself feel, even if it did hurt a little.

Then it was Wednesday, which offered a couples’ discount, so the mood was romantic, and David wasn’t feeling it at all. But then he heard a familiar voice. "David! David!"

David turned and grinned as a bundle of blonde energy leaped into his arms.

"Ryder! I didn't realize your mom was here!"

"She's not. Kris brought me here because he totally promised to take me out to dinner while Mom went out with Anoop again. So I asked to come here. Then Kris said it was date night, and I said that was gross, but he said it could be a play date, so we brought some of my toys. You wanna see my dinosaur?"

"Sure." David looked up and Kris waved from a booth.

David walked over, Ryder's hand in his, and listened as he chatted about how his dinosaur was in a fight with his teddy bear, so Kris was making them talk it out. Just listening to Ryder talk about it made his smile soften, and he felt his heart opening despite himself. It was hard not to, when Ryder was concerned.

"Babysitting? Is there anything that you don't do?"

Kris ducked his head. "Um, well, I think you know the answer to that."

David leaned against the booth and laughed. "Yes, yes I do. Don't believe anything this kid says about me. I hate kids and would never do anything for them."

David walked away then, but his eyes kept going back to the booth, as Ryder kept laughing and appeared to be having the time of his life. David rubbed at his heart, but surely he wasn't jealous of a child, was he?

"Gosh they are so adorable," Alli said, sighing.

"Please don't tell me you want children. You are barely legal enough to sell those drinks let alone have children."

"No. Not yet, anyway. But I bet you would make a great dad."

"Don't you start."

"Aww, but he's like perfect! I mean he babysits for free, and he totally volunteers and look at him, he'd be a really cool dad too."

"Allison." Allison had a way of railroading over people sometimes. She didn't pull her aggressive side out often, but when she did, there was no stopping her.

So David decided to nip it in the bud early.

"Fine. But it's a stupid rule."

David wondered how bad it would be if she knew he had broken it.

*

Kris came up to him around eight, Ryder asleep in his arms.

David sighed."What's up?"

“Megan called. There was a car accident in front of them and they’re stuck in traffic. She said you had a room?"

"Yeah. Come on back."

David led them through the office to a small supply room that he had set up with a small bed and various things for children. Kris laid Ryder on the bed, murmuring softly as Ryder made a noise, brushing the hair out of Ryder’s face before standing. David closed the door without a word. Then he pushed Kris into the wall and kissed him, Kris saying David's name between their lips. It was warm and slow, David lingering for longer than he should, Kris braced against the wall, as if waiting for it to escalate. Instead, David stepped away.

"I should hire a kid to follow me around if that is your response," Kris said.

"Not funny. But terribly true." Kris laughed.

"So you have a room for him? You really are a pile of goo, aren't you?"

"When it comes to him, yeah. First time I met him, it was love. Unconditional. And he gives it back too."

"Yeah. It's pretty amazing."

"I need to get back to the bar. If you need anything—"

Kris nodded. "Okay."

Michael was leaving, and David was escorting the last of the customers into a taxi when Megan and Anoop pulled up. Megan waved at Mike, but her attention was completely on David.

"Is he okay?" David shrugged. "He was the last time I checked. Kris is with him."

Of course David had checked each half hour. Not that he didn't trust Kris, but it was fascinating to watch him and Ryder together: playing with the dinosaur and teddy bear, chasing around the room and pretending to fly, reading quietly, and all sorts of other little moments punctuated with Kris looking up at David and smiling, David's heart beating just a little faster each time. The last time David had checked had been less than five minutes ago, and Kris had been sitting on the bed with Ryder, the two of them softly singing in order to keep Ryder distracted.

So David followed Megan and Anoop with a smile on his face. Megan opened the door carefully, her whole body visibly relaxing as she peeked in. David followed as she walked into the room, stopping just inside the doorway. Kris looked up from the bed, and smiled, mouthing a hello at Megan and Anoop. David leaned against the wall, pretending to be slightly disinterested, all the while his heart tripping slowly as Kris stood with Ryder in his arms and handed him to Anoop.

"Oh, hi Mommy. Hi 'noop. Is it home time now?"

"Yeah, that's right," Megan said.

"We can have another play date, right, Kris?"

Kris smiled, "You name the time and I'll be there. Maybe next time David can make the dinosaur and teddy bear get along. He's really good at managing things like that."

Right then, when Kris looked at him, his face completely serious, it happened. David felt it happen, the deep dark chasm of love swallowing him up. It wasn't so much that moment, it was that whole evening, that Kris was completely aware of David's relationship with Ryder in the space of a few hours. The thought of being able to spend a day with Kris and Ryder overwhelmed him. David breathed, because he began to realize how serious this was. A week and a half ago he hadn’t even known Kris. Now he was having trouble imagining life without him? David blinked and told himself to calm down. Just because he told himself to bend his rules…

David looked down at the floor. He remembered a favorite saying of Adam's.

"Sometimes fate has a way of sneaking up on us. She likes surprises."

David had never much believed in fate, but it was the only way he could explain it all, how fast it had come. He realized everyone was looking at him, and cleared his throat.

"Yeah," he said. "I'll take the teddy bear and dinosaur and you can deal with the easy stuff."

Ryder smiled and burrowed into Anoop, eyes closing again. "Anoop, can you take him out to the car. I want to have a word with these two."

Anoop nodded, and gave Megan a long look. But he walked out without a word. Megan turned to Kris and kissed him, whispering a few words into his ear as his blush began to fade. Then she walked over to David, and kissed him, too.

"You really are the best ever. You know that, right?"

"I'm only using you for your son and his fabulous hugs."

Megan threw her head back and laughed. "Goof."

David shrugged.

"You should give him a shot. He's not a bad kisser."

She walked out then and David grinned, holding back the 'I know' that wanted to roll off of his tongue. He and Kris stood there watching the door. David felt Kris's focus shift, but David didn’t look that way. He looked at the door still, trying to sort everything out.

"You love her."

"What?" David looked at Kris.

"Not like that. But she's really important to you, isn't she?"

David nodded. He had to get out of this room. It felt small, as if all of his feelings were going to smother him. So he headed into his office. "She worked here almost a year before I found out about Ryder. She thought that if I knew she was a mom, it would stop me from hiring her. She didn't know my mom raised me practically on her own. She actually lived here for awhile when Ryder's dad bailed on her. So yes. She's practically my sister."

David turned and Kris was right behind him, head slightly tilted. "Have you locked the doors yet?"

"No."

What kind of question— Kris was kissing him then, his hands at David's belt, undoing the buttons. David felt himself pushed backwards, stepping out of his pants, grunting as he sat in his office chair. Kris knelt in front of him, his eyes never leaving David's.

"Kris—" David said.

But Kris stopped any more words when he traced a finger lightly down David's cock, then sucked on it, his eyes gleaming as David stiffened, watching Kris's mouth around his finger, then groaning as Kris teased his tongue around the rim of his cock, little flicks, as if testing the taste, each time making David tense.

"Hey David, have you seen Kris?"

David looked up then, all of a sudden remembering that he hadn't locked the doors, but Kris was blocked by the desk, and he could only hope his startled look was because Matt had surprised him, not the fear that he would see something more. "Uh," David bit back a noise as Kris grinned and continued to tease.

"I think he went to the bathroom."

"Oh. Can you tell him I have that music he was looking for?"

"Yeah," David sighed as Kris began to lightly stroke with his fingers, and tried to breathe slowly to prevent himself from coming right in front of Matt.

"Are you okay? You don't look good."

"Just tired. I'll see you tomorrow, okay? And can you lock the doors on the way out?"

Matt nodded and walked out. David relaxed, until Kris started again, fingers and tongue barely touching him, until he couldn't take it anymore, grasping Kris's hair in his hand and pushing down, arching his hips forward to make his point. Kris obliged, his eyes still sparkling with amusement as he swallowed, David collapsing into the chair.

"That was completely unfair," David said, trying to find words for what had just happened.

"Maybe. Fun though. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Excuse me?" David almost tripped as he followed Kris out to the bar, hastily pulling on his pants.

"I have to get my beauty sleep, you know," Kris said, turning and flashing a smile.

"You little fuck." David caught Kris's wrist, his forward motion propelling both of them into the bar. Kris looked at him, his mouth slightly open, eyes heavy, and David almost kissed him again. But payback was more important, so he merely laid his hand against the front of Kris's pants, smiling as Kris twitched and let out a small whine. He leaned forward.

"Didn't you know payback is a bitch?"

"David—"

David shook his head, and nipped Kris's bottom lip, hands slowly unbuttoning.

"Not fair."

"You want to talk about playing fair?" Kris stayed silent, gripping the bar as David pulled down his underwear.

"You were going to leave like this? What a waste," David whispered as he stroked Kris's cock, which was already hard and leaking pre-come.

"Was hoping," Kris breathed as David traced his finger around the tip, then stroked up and down, just his fingernail touching, "you might return the favor."

"And what if I don't?"

"David, please."

"Please what?"

"I want your mouth. Around me, on me, oh fuck stop touching and start sucking for fuck's sake."

David laughed then, throwing his head back as Kris squirmed. "My, what a dirty little mouth you have. I may have to fix that."

Kris sagged a little then, an incoherent moan coming from his mouth. David mentally filed the reaction for later, and then barely began before Kris was spilling down his throat. He carefully pulled up Kris's pants, smiling as Kris leaned limply against the bar.

"Now you can go home." There was an "or" implied there, something David would have never left open before, but he didn't want Kris to leave yet, wanted so much it physically hurt, even though he knew that it meant more for him than Kris, that the implications of the space after David's words were merely an invitation for more sex to Kris, and a chance for just a little more time for David. A little more time before things fell apart, because they always fell apart.

"Or?" Kris finally said, and David stopped himself from visibly sighing in relief.

"Or," he whispered in Kris's ears, "we can talk about how I can fix that dirty mouth of yours."

Kris licked his lips and swallowed. "Really? I'd like to see you try."

Kris's voice was steady, if not a little higher than normal. David stepped away, pulling Kris along to the stairs.

"I won't have to try." Kris laughed then, and pinched David's butt as they climbed the stairs. David turned and gave him a look, but they both ended up laughing, stumbling into the room as they shed clothing, both of them fighting for dominance, hurling out false bravado and insults combined with suggestive sneers and looks. Finally, David pinned Kris to the bed.

"I win."

"Maybe I let you win."

"Maybe I let you think that you let me win," David countered.

"Maybe I think you should shut up and fuck me already."

"Maybe I think I told you that you were in trouble for that dirty mouth of yours."

"Maybe you should do something about that."

"Maybe I just want to fuck you."

Kris laughed. "Maybe I should punish you for your dirty mouth.

"Later,” David said, reaching into his drawer.

*

"I probably shouldn't spend the night tonight," Kris mumbled, stretching.

"Probably shouldn't."

But when Kris shifted, so did David and he stayed anyway.

FRIDAY

It was nearing the end of the shift, and David couldn't help but be nervous. He had played it cool, and was fairly sure that Kris had no idea how he felt, that everything was still going smoothly. But there had been a nervous feeling in David's stomach all day, and he couldn't place it. He kept telling himself just because Kris hadn't come Thursday it didn't mean anything. He kept telling himself that the distance Kris was keeping was a part of their game, a new aspect to their relationship. He wanted to pull Kris aside and ask, but casual had been promised and that sort of questioning implied that David expected more than what they had. Except that it felt like more than sex, with everything else between them. It was then David realized all he knew of Kris could barely be contained on one page of the notebook Kris carried around, but even that little knowledge was enough for him.

"Excuse me, but I'm looking for Kris Allen."

David looked at the man in front of him, tale, brunette, hot.

"Yes. He's right over there."

"Thank you."

David tried to watch impassively as Kris gave the man a bear hug, face animated, then slowly looking shocked as the man talked. Then David's hand made a fist as the man leaned down and kissed Kris, slowly and with more finesse than David would have given him credit for. Kris stared at the door as the man left. The whole bar, which David hadn't even noticed going quiet, resumed conversation again.

David walked over to Kris, dropping his voice, "What the hell was that?"

Kris shook his head. "I don't even. That was Cale. My best friend from Arkansas."

David nodded. Kris had told him the story, his face completely frozen, his eyes pained. Cale had been the one Kris had been in love with. Who had rejected him and sent him here. To David. David wanted to ask what Kris was going to do, but it was obvious. David was just a passing affair. Cale—Kris had known Cale forever.

"You should go after him."

Kris looked at him, face unreadable. "What?"

"Look, I'm not gonna say I'm gonna be happy about it, but you should go after him. You loved him, right?"

Kris's brows furrowed. "Well, yeah."

David set his mouth, trying to ignore the scream he wanted to let out. "Go after him. You don't work again until Monday. Consider it a parting gift and thank you for teaching me that my rules should and can be flexible."

Kris stood for a moment. "But—"

"Go. Idiot." David pushed him and Kris walked out the door his face confused.

David turned and several of the staff were looking at him. "That was Cale. Former best friend and love of his life. What? I can't be nice?" David caught the shake of Michael's head then, and he shrugged. What was he supposed to do? Bare his unrequited love in front of everyone? It was much better this way. David gave a nod to Neal to take care of the bar and went back to his office. He sat in his chair and put his head in his hands.

"You are never publicly nice."

David peeked through his fingers.

"Alli, go away."

"Plus Cale was totally an infatuation thing. So I'm not sure what you accomplished by pushing them together."

"Alli. Go. Away." David heard the door lock.

"Shit. How in the hell did you keep it a secret?"

David sighed. "Please, Alli. I can't discuss this."

She sat across from him and reached across the desk. "How long?"

"How long have I been sleeping with him, or when did I fall stupid in love with him?"

Alli nodded slowly, squeezing the hand that David finally put out. "Both."

"Sunday. Wednesday. It's better this way Alli. He wasn't interested in a relationship."

"Bullshit."

"Excuse me?"

Allison sighed. "You never saw him looking at you did you? Shit, David, we thought you were such a tough fucking nut for resisting that look. He's totally into you, and you are a moron for pushing him away."

"He looked at me?"

"He did nothing else but."

David blinked. "Shit. I fucked up again, didn't I?"

Allison shook her head. "No. Adam was totally going to end in disaster. Or at least that's the way I hear it. This one, you fucked up."

"What do I do?"

"I don't know. But we'll come up with something. If he doesn't decide to dump you for Arkansas Stud Muffin."

"Allison, please," David groaned.

"Okay. But we totally have to call a team meeting on this one."

"Great. Now I get to embarrass myself in front of everyone."

"Nah. The hand job story is still going to be the best one. Adam won't let that ever be overshadowed."

"Not if I tell you everything."

"Really? Now I'm interested." David laughed as Alli leaned forward.

"Still not going to tell you. But we can have a team meeting on Sunday. I didn't want to open anyway."

SUNDAY

"If we're having a team meeting, where's Kris?" Adam said, arms crossed.

"Duh, this is about Kris," Alli stuck her tongue out.

"Why would we have a meeting about—holy shit. You slept with him."

David said nothing and the whole room exploded, everyone turning to Alli and bombarding her with questions.

"Wait a second when did this happen?"

"How do you know?"

"Did he tell you? David never tells anything!"

"EXCUSE ME." Everyone turned to him.

"Now—" "Wait a minute, how is it Allison knew before me?" Adam interrupted.

"Actually, I knew," Michael said.

"Me too," Megan raised her hand.

"Wait, what?" Adam gaped.

Michael shrugged. "I just guessed right. Didn't seem right to say anything because I owed money in the pool."

"And what about you?" Adam looked at Megan.

She laughed. "I totally caught Kris doing the walk of shame on Thursday morning. He winked at me and laughed. I didn't say anything because Dave's been really happy this week. So I let it go."

"I, uh, suspected something," Matt said, and a chorus of 'yeahs' floated around the room.

"Are you saying I'm the only one who thought that Dave had acquired super human resistance and hadn't even kissed him?" Adam said.

David laughed. "I guess so. Looks like your observation skills need honing."

"Bite me."

"Been there, done that." Adam laughed. "Well at least I still get lewdest thing to happen in the office, right?"

Matt coughed, "Um."


"You tell them what you think happened and I swear to God you will never find a job again," David said.
 
Everyone's eyes were on Matt, who sat thoughtfully. "I actually didn't see anything. So I can only guess. But dude, if it were true, Adam, week five would be nothing."
 
"So you are saying that not only do I no longer rank as the crazy ex-boyfriend, or the love of Dave's life, but I also don't get coolest thing to happen in the office?" Adam sighed. "I quit."
 
"No you don't," David said. "We'll always have week five."
 
"I hate you."
 
"Stop being such a drama queen. No one cares except Brad, and I'm not even sure he does."
 
"You did not just go there."
 
"What are you going to do about it?"

"Ass."
 
"And?"
 
Adam laughed again. "You are impossible."
 
David shrugged. "Too bad. You could have had me."
 
"Nah." Adam said, "You loved me, but you weren't in love with me. Plus I'm totally out of your league."
 
"Um, as fun as it is to watch you two banter, this isn't solving Dave's problem," Allison said.
 
"Fine. I'll shut up. I still can't believe I didn't know. Damn I'm getting slow."
 
"Well, you are getting old," Kelly said.
 
"Kelly. Don't rile him up now."
 
"But it's so much fun."
 
David looked at her. "Okay, so I guess I should start. So Friday, I, uh—"
 
"Fucked things up?"
 
"Thanks, Alli. Anyway, apparently I completely misread him and thought that he, um, was totally casual about our—" David sighed. "I feel like I'm on Dr. Phil or something."
 
"Do you want me to sum it up for you?"
 
"Yes. Please. I feel stupid."
 
"That's because you are, Dave," Alli smiled. "Okay, so David totally didn't realize that Kris was completely googly for him, and so when Cale came in yesterday he thought he was being gallant by stepping aside when in fact he was being a complete moron and possibly pushing the best thing that ever happened to him away. That about cover it?"
 
"Yeah. So what do I do now?"
 
"Grovel. Groveling always works," Anoop said.
 
"You should do something completely romantic and schmoopy," Megan added.
 
"Schmoopy?" David said.
 
"Yeah, like pour your heart out to him and shit. In front of everyone. Like sing a song you think he would totally get," Adam said.
 
"That… that actually is a great idea. I mean he works tomorrow, right?" Megan said.
 
"Yeah. Okay. So I need a song," David said, and the room exploded again.
 
He could only hope it would work.
 
WEEK FOUR
 
SUNDAY
 
It had been a strange, strange weekend.
 
Kris had spent Saturday with Cale, mostly talking about life, driving around LA, and slowly realizing that even though Kris made Cale realize that he was bisexual, they made way better friends than lovers.
 
(It had completely surprised Kris when Cale had kissed him and he had felt nothing but a pleasant warmth. Cale was a good kisser, but there was nothing more than that.)
 
It was Sunday that had gotten weird, because Cale had broached the relationship question and Kris had answered honestly.
 
"Well, I thought I was in one. Now I'm not so sure."
 
"It was the guy with the unfortunate haircut, wasn't it?"
 
"Yeah."
 
"You're totally in love with him, aren't you?"
 
"Yeah."
 
"When did it happen?"
 
Kris blinked. He tried to pinpoint it, and he remembered the way David had looked at Megan and Anoop and Ryder, the complete change in his demeanor, the naked want of something like that. That was it.
 
"Wednesday. Definitely Wednesday. But he's been hurt. So I think he really thought I wasn't like, searching for a relationship. And yet there we were. He makes me laugh. A lot."
 
"So how do you convince him otherwise?"
 
Kris shrugged, and then remembered the notebook in his pocket. "I have an idea."
 
MONDAY
 
Kris walked into the bar and sat Cale at a booth. "Now, none of the staff is available. Well, maybe Alli, but flirt with her and I will kill you. Behave, okay?"
 
"Yes sir!"
 
Kris shook his head and clocked in. There was no sign of David, so he tucked the notebook in his right front pocket.
 
"Hey, Alli!"
 
"Hi Kris! How was your weekend?"
 
Kris shrugged. "Uneventful. Turns out Cale and I make great friends, and while he is an excellent kisser, totally not for me."
 
"Oh." Allison said. "Does he still like girls? ‘Cause he is kind of hot."
 
Kris sighed. "Yes, he still likes girls, but I told him if he flirted with you I'd have to kill him. So play nicely."
 
"No one ever wants me to have a boyfriend!"
 
"Nope. Have you seen David? I, uh, missed my weekly report."
 
Allison shook her head. "No. But I think he's singing first tonight."
 
"Oh. That's cool."
 
"It's gonna be awesome. He's totally going acoustic."
 
Kris nodded, ignoring the nervous twitch in his chest. How was he supposed to convince David of anything if he wasn't around?
 
He just hoped David wouldn't brush him off. Or fire him. Or worst of all, tell him that he didn't feel that way. Maybe that's why he had brushed Kris off.
 
"Hello everyone, welcome to A Dose of Ambiance. I'm David, the owner, and this is Monday, which means open mike nights."
 
Kris turned and looked at the stage. He didn't care if it showed, but just seeing David again, and like that—
 
He had done something to his hair, either cut it or styled it or both, and he was wearing a black shirt and a pink tie, which would normally seem ridiculous but looked completely hot. Kris's jaw dropped a little, and he felt frozen.
 
"So normally, I don't start things out, but I have an embarrassing confession to make. See, there's a guy. And I think he's pretty terrific. His name is Kris. Wave to everyone, Kris."
 
Kris felt his face flame as he raised his hand automatically. What was this?
 
"See, I've only known Kris for a month, but somehow I fell completely head over heels in love with him. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe it was the fact that he didn't take no for an answer. Maybe it was his kindness. Maybe it was the fact that he made me laugh at the most inappropriate times. Anyway, the one thing I do know is that I love him. Like in the most terrible way possible, and I fucked it up. And this is my way of groveling and saying I'm sorry, and I hope that you feel the same way."
 
David sat down then, and Kris stood still, still processing everything, aware that the whole bar was dividing its attention between him and David and not really caring. Then David strummed the opening to "Falling Slowly" and Kris started walking forward, completely ignoring any semblance of working. It was straight out of some shitty romantic comedy and he didn't care.
 
David looked at Kris on the words <i> and I can't go back</i> and gave him a half smile. Kris felt his heart in his chest, trying to struggle with words, but the music kept saying everything for him.

David's hands slipped on a chord and he looked back down, his smile becoming a little sheepish, the words still echoing around the room. How had he known that Kris loved this song? Kris sneaked a glance at Alli, who winked. Kris laughed then, and simply watched David sing, basking in the words he knew were for him and him alone.

David finished and the room was silent. He looked down at Kris. "Hi."
 
"Hi. You gonna talk to me down here, or you too afraid to face me?"
 
David put the guitar down and hopped off the stage. "So. How was your weekend?"
 
Kris stared, and reached into his pocket. "You completely ruined my ‘convince David he's completely in love with me’ speech. You bastard."
 
David blinked and took the notebook from Kris's hand. The room was still silent, but it seemed as if it were just the two of them.
 
Kris bit his lip as David read it, then sighed as David smiled, and stepped closer.
 
"What did I tell you about that dirty mouth of yours?"
 
"Guess you're gonna have to spend some time fixing it then, huh?"
 
"Damn right."
 
Then David was kissing him, not even chastely, ignoring everyone possibly watching, and Kris didn't even care anymore, clenching his hands in David's shirt and pulling him closer.
 
"Get back to work! What do you think this is, a party?" David yelled as they broke apart. "You. We will talk later."

"Hmmm. I don't know about talking, but I'm all for the later," Kris said as he walked away and yelled a drink order to Adam.
 
"So you going to tell me what happened in the office that is steamier than week five?" Adam said.
 
Kris raised an eyebrow. "No. I think I'll keep that one to myself."
 
"This is terrible."
 
"Get used to disappointment."
 
"Oh my Ra, both of you are so insufferable! I give up."
 
Kris grinned as Adam walked away. It was going to be a good week.
 
*
 
The things I have learned about David Cook.
 
1.    Underneath the gruff exterior lies the biggest softie I have ever met
2.    He cares. Really cares about people
3.    His eyes are amazing
4.    He would love a family but doesn't know how to express it
5.    He makes me laugh at the most inappropriate times
6.    I'm terribly in love with him
7.    Every time I look at him I want to fuck him. For him to fuck me. It's like a sickness.
8.    I'm terribly in love with him. (I said that already but, fuck, it's like nothing I have ever experienced.)