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Physics Makes Us All Its Bitches

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Kris wakes up in an apartment that is almost entirely unlike the Hilton in Dallas where he went to sleep, and even if the lack of blackout curtains hadn't given it away the moment the light started to pierce his eyelids he thinks he would have somehow known it. Hotel rooms don't feel lived in like this place does, and the pillow smells like unfamiliar cologne instead of industrial detergent.

"Okay," he says aloud, swallowing a few times and feeling distinctly uncomfortable. Almost ill uncomfortable. "Did I get sick last night?"

The room doesn't have any answer for him.

His head is a little fuzzy but he's pretty sure he didn't, though his body sure thinks he did and his voice sounds a little weird too, which is definitely not something he wants to be dealing with a couple of days before a big show. He's pretty sure he remembers going to bed at a decent hour, in his own hotel room, in his own bed. Alone.

There are a few completely rational explanations for ending up somewhere other than there, but most of them involve him being drugged and kidnapped and he'd just as soon that wasn't the case. But the irrational explanations don't make him feel much better either.

He forces himself out of the bed, shuffles along the polished wood floors, and doesn't see a single other person as he hunts down the bathroom, so that probably shoots down the kidnapping theory unless they're extremely charitable kidnappers. That leaves sudden mysterious illness and sleepwalking, neither of which seem any more likely.

When he finally gets a glass of cool water in him he braces his hands on either side of the bathroom sink and looks up at the mirror and suddenly he's wide awake because that is not his face.

*

Brad is used to not waking up where he expected to, sometimes wearing someone else's underwear with strange things scrawled on his body in eyeliner. So waking up in a hotel room means nothing more than the fact he had a very good time the night before.

Waking up in a hotel room halfway across the country is more problematic.

He doesn't realize this, though, until he rummages for hotel stationery to write his host a quick and friendly good-bye note and reads the letterhead.

"Oh, it would be fucking Texas," he says.

He throws the stationery back in the drawer and decides there are two things he needs to know immediately. First, what day it is; and second, who the hell brought him here. There are also about five hundred other things he needs to know, but those are the two that have the highest priority, and Brad's always had the ability to prioritize.

They're harder than he expects them to be, but he finds someone else's phone by the bed--though just where his erstwhile paramour is has yet to be determined--and it tells him that it's exactly when he thought it would be, which is not nearly enough time to be where he is.

"How about we just hope that the Hiltons put Paris in charge and the Lincoln Centre office supplies got sent to, oh, Beverly Hills?" Beverly Hills would be doable, and make much, much more sense.

But when he pushes the curtains open, that's definitely not LA he's looking at, and the reflection in the glass in front of him is not his.

*

Kris lets himself freak out for exactly five minutes: three minutes sitting down on the edge of the bathtub taking deep slow breaths and two minutes praying. Then he stands up, runs his fingers through his hair, and starts learning his way around this apartment.

At least he knows who he is, and where he presumably is, in a vague sort of way. He's only ever met Brad twice, once when Brad came to a show on the Idol tour and once when they were at the same party in WeHo before Christmas, but he knows this face. He's seen dozens of pictures of it, both deliberately and accidentally, alone and with Adam.

The apartment is clearly occupied by two, but he's the only one in it right now. The door to the other bedroom is wide open so he doesn't feel bad about peeking inside just to make sure, but it's made up and definitely unoccupied at the moment. There are clothes all over the back of the couch and a bunch of empty glasses by the sink, and a note posted up on the fridge with a tacky pineapple magnet.

It could be weeks old but the sharpie used to write it is still on top of the notepad on the kitchen counter, so Kris is just going to run with the idea that it's new-ish, that Brad's roommate is working out of town for a few days, and that he somehow needs to check Brad's messages and "answer his goddamn phone once in a while" to get any more information than that.

Once he feels like he can actually begin to cope with whatever this is, he tracks down a clean pair of shorts (in the top drawer of the dresser, alongside a few things Kris didn't look at too closely and definitely didn't touch) and Brad's phone (on top of a pair of leather pants on the window seat), and then sits in his underwear and stares at the phone for a little while because he has no idea who to call.

Finally, after pulling himself back from the brink of another freak-out, he dials his own number.

*

Kristopher Allen has no sense of style. Brad already suspected as much, but a minute and a half with Kris's wardrobe confirms it for him. At least his jeans fit well, and Brad manages to find a t-shirt that seems to be a couple of sizes smaller than the others. It probably doesn't even belong to Kris, which means that it's marginally more stylish than the rest and the fit is definitely more to Brad's taste.

He still looks like the American Idol, but there are worse things.

The knock on the door comes about three minutes after he finishes getting ready, which just goes to show how good he already is at this being-another-person thing. He doesn't recognize the woman on the other side of it, but he pretends he does because she has a badge and a phone and looks like she's exactly where she's supposed to be.

"That's...a new look on you," she says, looking him up and down, and Brad resists the urge to pose for her. He suspects the American Idol does not pose. "Are you ready?"

"I was born ready," he says, and grabs a messenger bag from on top of the desk that appears to contain everything he's going to need for the day. Really, the guy just makes it too easy. Like he was ready for this, which makes Brad a little suspicious because he sure as hell knows he didn't do it. He definitely had plans for his day--and his life--that didn't include waking up in someone else's body in Dallas.

'Ready' apparently meant 'ready for rehearsal', which Brad is definitely not ready for. Especially since said rehearsal is actually in the hotel, down in a vast and probably acoustically unsound meeting room, which barely gives him an elevator ride to prepare himself. The woman is apparently his manager or handler or possibly publicist, it's hard to tell, but whoever she is she knows exactly where he needs to be and when so he gives her the most ingratiating smile he can muster.

And rehearsal, because Brad doesn't exactly keep up with the American Idol's schedule, is apparently for his big to-do with his old Idolmates, the one Brad actually voted to have in LA to save Adam from Little Rock, a fact that's revealed when he arrives in the rehearsal room suddenly there Adam is, hovering by an industrial coffee machine and sipping on his tea.

He tries to think about how the American Idol would act around Adam (he has his suspicions, but he doesn't know) but Adam doesn't give him a chance to come to any decisions on his own. One minute he's across the room and the next he's wrapping his arms around him, and Brad honestly almost forgot what this felt like.

"Not very often I arrive before you do," says Adam, still hanging on to him even a few moments later so Brad figures this has to be their reunion and not just a random morning greeting. Probably.

"I had shower issues," he says as Adam finally lets go and takes a good look at him.

"Wow," he says. "You look...interesting."

"I believe the word you're looking for is 'good'."

Adam just laughs and wraps an arm firmly around his shoulders, and from this close Brad can see clearly just how much make-up he's put on to cover up the circles under his eyes. Something Brad hadn't had to do this morning because apparently the American Idol wakes up fresh as a daisy. Brad hates him just a little bit.

"Of course, of course," he says. "It's good. Unexpected."

"You're not the only one who gets to be unexpected sometimes," says Brad, looking around the room and wondering just who else he's supposed to know, and how to get Adam to point them out to him without making him suspicious. Because if one thing is clear right now, it's that Adam has no idea what's happened.

Brad could try to tell him, and a part of him really wants to do that, but in his head he's already formed a list of reasons why at best that would make Adam think he's joking, and at worst make him think Kris is certifiable. And frankly, Brad's still in the information-gathering stage of this transformation anyway; for all he knows, somehow Adam still has something to do with this. In fact, given just whose body he woke up in, it seems a little more likely than any other possibilities.

Besides which, it's been a long time since he's been able to see Adam quite like this, without all their history between them.

"Looks like they aren't ready to go just yet," he says, fishing a little bit, he hopes not too obviously.

"Ally's up first anyway," says Adam. "There's something weird with the sound so I was just kicking back while I had the chance. Did you say hi to her last night when you got in?"

"I...yeah," says Brad, because it sounds like something the American Idol would have done. In fact, it sounds like something he would've done with Adam, too, but he obviously hadn't and that in itself is a little curious. "Where did you get off to, anyway?"

Adam just gives him a chagrined look. "Lisa said there was this club we just had to check out, and I lost track of time," he says. "I think we all lost track of time. You were long since asleep when we got back, and I didn't figure you'd thank me for waking you up again."

"Sounds like she was right about the club. You didn't invite me along?"

"I don't think it would really have been your thing," says Adam. He waves at someone over Brad's head, and when he looks he recognizes Allison Iraheta waving back. He may not know her personally, but he'd know that head of hair anywhere. "Looks like she wants you."

"My work is never done," says Brad with a dramatic sigh, and gives Adam an air kiss before he goes.

He thinks afterwards that's something the American Idol probably wouldn't have done.

*

Adam is watching Kris try to fix Allison's hair when his phone rings, and when he looks at the number he's a little surprised to see who it is. Okay, more than a little surprised, in a day that's already been a little surprising.

"Hello?" he says, sitting down in a nearby chair and stretching his legs out, crossing them at the ankle.

"Adam! Thank God. I'm kind of freaking out a little."

"Brad?" says Adam. "What's wrong? What happened?"

"I'm not Brad," he says. "I'm Kris. And no, this isn't a joke and I’m not a crazy person, I swear. This is Kris."

It's the most ridiculous thing Adam's ever heard and it suddenly makes everything make so much sense. Maybe Brad would try to pull something like this on him, maybe, but Kris is the one who's been acting strange all morning, and Kris wouldn't.

"Kris?" he says. "Okay, hang on a second."

He holds the phone to his chest and searches out Kris again and when he sees him wandering tentatively over towards a member of his band, he calls out, "You little shit!"

Everyone else looks kind of stunned that he just did that, but Kris looks over at him and that look is so Brad that it makes Adam wonder why he didn't figure it out before Kris called him. Except that, of course, it's still completely crazy. Completely fucking insane.

"Talking to the ex?" Kris-Brad calls back at him, arching his eyebrows, and Adam knows they understand one another perfectly. "You need me for this?"

"Yeah, I need you for this," he says, then raises the phone again. "Sorry, had to sort something out on this end. First thing you need to do is stop freaking out."

"You believe me?"

"Yeah," says Adam. "Yeah, I believe you. Have you called anyone else?"

"Oh, thank God," says Kris. "Thank you, God. I wanted to call someone else but I couldn't figure out who I could even call, so I tried calling my own phone but it went to voicemail which freaked me out even more. I have no idea what's going on or how to fix this. You're the only person who knows both of us, Adam, and I have no idea if that means something, but...I didn't know who else to call."

Brad arrives, and he's not even really doing anything wrong but Adam is just irrationally bothered by the fact that he's not visibly freaking out, considering the complete mess this all is, so he lowers the phone for a moment again. "Your body's married," he says to Brad. "To a woman. Good luck faking that."

As Brad takes a moment to express his outrage through exaggerated facial expressions, Adam raises the phone.

"Are you talking to me?" says Kris. "I mean, my body? What's going on?"

"Well, as far as I've figured it out so far," says Adam, "you're in Brad's body and Brad's here in yours. And it's possible I'm dreaming right now, but this is pretty detailed for a dream, and nobody's flying. There are usually people flying in my dreams."

Kris groans, a very unhappy sound. "Wow," he says. "I guess I need to talk to him. I don't even know what else to do. Who do I even talk to about this?"

"I'm pretty sure there's no standard procedure," says Adam. "There are some things that management can't fix, and I'm not sure I'd want them to try. Wow. This is probably the craziest thing that's ever happened to me, and that's saying a lot."

"Craziest thing that's ever happened to you?" says Brad. "You're not the one in someone else's skin."

"Yeah, what he...I...he said," says Kris. "Are you guys alone?"

"No," says Adam, looking around at the too-many people setting up the temporary rehearsal space. "But we will be in a minute." He grabs Brad's arm and waits for no protests, pulling him out of the space and into a room to the side, not only unoccupied but filled only with stacks of banquet room chairs. "Okay, you want me to put you on speakerphone?"

"Yeah," says Kris, then as soon as Adam does he says, "Why'd you turn my phone off?"

Brad pulls it out with a frown, then makes an apologetic noise.

"I think I put it on silent by accident," he says. "It's not like mine. I'll figure it out after."

"Get Adam to show you," says Kris. "He knows how to work it." Adam is still having to make the mental shift to 'Brad's voice equals Kris' and 'Kris's body is actually Brad', and he wonders what it's like for them. "Where are your keys?"

"That depends," says Brad. "Are you in my apartment?"

"I'm pretty sure, yeah," says Kris. "Everything in here looks like it belongs to you. Your roommate isn't home, though."

"He booked a job," says Brad. "He's probably on set. And my keys should be on the dresser."

"They aren't," says Kris. "You're a little hungover, if that makes a difference. Thanks for that, by the way."

"Had I known my body would be taken over by a stranger, I would've laid off the margaritas by midnight," says Brad, rolling Kris's eyes. "They'll be somewhere. Try the basket by the fridge. I probably had a bottle of water before bed."

"Okay," says Kris. "Okay. So...okay. How did this happen? And how do we fix it?"

"I didn't do this," says Brad immediately. "Not that I haven't thought about spending a day as someone else, but first of all I would've made sure I knew how to end it, and second, it wouldn't have been you. No offense."

"Well, I didn't do it either," says Kris. "And not to be a jerk about it, but I'm not the one who was drunk last night."

"I'm...pretty sure I didn't do this," says Adam, rubbing his forehead with two fingers. "I mean, as long as we're all declining blame here. I know I'm the missing link here, but I wouldn't have. I was out at a club with friends all last night."

He can't help feeling, though, that it has to have something to do with him. How could it not? If it weren't for him, Kris and Brad wouldn't even know the other existed. But it's not like he can just make things like this happen, and even if he could, he wouldn't.

He can hear Kris taking a deep breath, and coming from Brad's mouth Adam still knows the sound of that at a bone-deep level. "Okay," he says finally. "There's some...stuff, that we should talk about in the meantime. While we try to fix this."

"Like how I'm supposed to perform a concert in your place?" says Brad. "Cause I might've gotten a little kick out of walking a mile in someone else's shoes this morning, but that's just a disaster waiting to happen. I think I pissed off your guitarist already."

"Oh boy, let's hope it doesn't come to that," says Kris. "So let's start with the fact that I woke up alone this morning. Does that mean there's no one...I mean, are you single?"

"Free as a bird," says Brad. "You need to tell me how to handle your wife. And by 'handle', I do not mean in bed. There are limits."

"You probably won't have to," says Kris, and his voice definitely sounds a little pained now. Adam recognizes the sound of that too. "We're separated."

Well, that certainly isn't what he was expecting to hear. He hadn't missed that Katy wasn't here in Dallas, but Katy often hadn't joined them on tour over the summer and neither of them had seemed particularly bothered by that other than missing one another. In fact, Kris always seemed pretty happy that Katy still wanted to pursue her own career and her own life, and not give up that part of herself just because of his Idol win.

Adam just stares at the phone for a few moments, like somehow it lets him stare right at Kris. It's a little less weird than staring at Kris's face when there's someone else inside.

"I didn't know that," he says when he's finished just staring. "You never said."

"No one really knows," says Kris. "It happened after New Year's. We figured, let's see what happens while I'm on tour, see if things change, you know? I'm sorry I didn't say anything--"

"No, no," says Adam. "I get it. I mean, when have you even had a chance? We both just got in last night."

"I was going to last night," says Kris, "or whenever we managed to catch up. But yeah, she's not going to show up or anything. She probably won't even call unless there's some kind of emergency, so you don't have to worry about that. And my family can't make it either, so that buys us a little more time there anyway."

"Well, that's a relief, at least," says Brad, pragmatic where Kris and Adam really couldn't be, about that. "Of course, there's still the issue of your concert. We don't exactly have the same aesthetic, Allen, unless you're interested in going a little techno glam for just one night."

There's a sound on the other end of the line that sounds a little bit like a head hitting a kitchen counter. "I have no idea what we're going to do," he says, "but we can't mess up this show. It's a big deal."

"It don't know," says Adam, trying whatever he can to make the best of the situation, "it's not a terrible idea. People are used to your live shows mixing it up and trying out some new stuff. And if there was ever a time to take it a little further, it's at a show where people are expecting us to have some fun and not stick to a blueprint."

"Okay," says Kris after another pause. "Okay, yeah, okay, but you still need to learn my songs if you're going to do this. You can get away with not playing guitar or piano, but you're going to have to sing. You have my voice right now so you should be able to do it."

"I'm also using your credit card to buy you a new wardrobe," Brad supplies, uninvited. "Just so you know."

"Aw, come on," says Kris. "That's really what you're worried about right now?"

"I'm stuck in someone else's body," says Brad. "Allow me my comfort food. You can dress me in plaid if you must. I'm pretty sure we'll both survive the experience. Oh, and you'd better cancel my lunch date unless you're planning on going on it."

"Do I need to go to work for you?" says Kris, then, "What do you do, exactly?"

"If we don't get this fixed before you need to go to work for me, we'll have much bigger problems to be dealing with," says Brad. "Let's just look at what we need to accomplish in the next, say, two hours, and take it from there. One mouthful at a time--not just about learning to give blowjobs anymore."

It's clear now that Brad was actually trying to act like Kris earlier, and probably not doing as good a job as he thought he was, because if Adam had seen Kris like this there would have been no doubt in Adam's mind that something was very wrong, instead of just a vague suspicion.

"I need to accomplish coffee and a shower," says Kris, "and getting back in my own body." For a second he sounds like he wants to ask something else, but whatever it is it's not coming out just yet. "Just tell me what I need to know."

*

"Don't be mad," says Brad when Adam ends the call. "How often do you get a chance to see how the other half lives? I like to take advantage of my moments." Adam just twitches an eyebrow at him. "Look, what would I have told you anyway? I thought I could pass until I figured out what the hell is going on with us. With a little more luck it would've been your Kris in here again before you even noticed the difference."

Adam sighs and drops his head to the table for a moment. "Are you sure we're not just really, really high right now?"

"Yeah, I wish," says Brad. "This would make so much more sense if I was tripping in the desert right now."

"So much of my life does," says Adam, and yeah, Brad can buy that these days. "All right, fuck, you need to feign a migraine, go back up to Kris's room, and watch him on youtube for a few hours."

"Does the American Idol get migraines?"

"He does now," says Adam. "And stop calling him that."

"It's his title, he should wear it proudly," says Brad. "It's like being Miss America. You only get it for one year so you might as well make the most of it."

"And I'll get the set list from Cale," says Adam, like Brad hadn't even opened his mouth, "because they might be doing a couple of covers. Kris likes to throw some mashups into his live shows."

"You're shitting me, right?"

"You need to pay more attention."

Brad is discovering he kind of doesn't like this Adam all that much, this tense, unhappy Adam. He remembers him getting intense, but not all pinched and curt, except for during that one show he did up at Lake Tahoe but the less said about that the better. And it's not Brad's fault this happened, even if he tried to play along at first, so he doesn't deserve having this taken out on him.

"At least you're not freaking out."

"Not freaking out?" Brad says, making a one-eighty from concerned to incredulous. "Of course I'm freaking out. I'm seriously freaking out. On the inside. On the outside I'm trying very hard to preserve the reputation of the American Idol and yes, I will call him that, thank you very much."

"Sorry," says Adam. "I'm not mad. Go, take the back way upstairs, I'll cover for you."

Brad checks Kris's messenger bag for the key card, relieved to find he remembered to tuck it in there. "And I'm in room...?"

"You're on your own there," says Adam. "I didn't see Kris last night, remember?"

"Oh, that's right," says Brad. "You went out with your band instead. Interesting." Adam's expression tightens up again, and Brad lets it go. "That's all right. We can pick this up again later."

"Just tell me you're taking this seriously."

"Look, you're not the one who's actually dealing with this," snaps Brad, "so just let me deal with it the way I have to deal with it, all right? You still look in the mirror and see your own face, so don't act like this is your problem and I’m a trial."

And suddenly it feels like the start of a hundred fights they've already had, a fight Brad doesn't want to have again. He looks at his hands--Kris's hands--then back up at Adam.

"I'll learn the songs," he says. "Hey, when else am I going to get to have an audience like this, right? I'll make him look good."

"I know you will," says Adam, and Brad nods and finally leaves to go look for that woman who brought him down here in the first place. He's an expert at faking it, after all.

*

More than anything else, Kris really wants to call Katy. But there are at least a half dozen reasons why he can't and another half dozen why he shouldn't, and the fact that he'd sound like a crazy person if he called her isn't even first on the list. But Katy's always been the person he goes to when his life's a little crazy, and his life's definitely a little crazy right now.

The fact is, he's already talked to the only people he can talk to about this and everyone else is just wishful thinking.

There's no way this can last forever. That's what he keeps telling himself. He's not going to try to convince himself it's not real, because down that road lies madness, but he tells himself it won't last forever. What's done can be undone, and what's changed can be changed back. He just needs to figure out how.

He finds the coffee in the freezer where Brad said it would be and makes some of the good stuff, because if there was ever a day he needed it, this is it. Then he sends text messages to Das, who he was supposed to have lunch with apparently, and Rachel, to reschedule some photo shoot tomorrow. Then he moves some clothes out of the way and sits down on the couch and starts retracing his steps for the past twenty-four hours or so.

It's the most useful thing he can think of to do.

Rehearsal in LA, nothing strange about that. Nothing out of the ordinary there. An ordinary flight to Dallas, an ordinary ride to the hotel. He didn't meet anyone new. He didn't have anything strange happen. His luggage wasn't delayed, didn't go missing. He didn't eat or drink anything strange.

He hung out with Allison and nothing strange happened, or at least nothing stranger than what usually happened around Allison, which is to say there was an incident with some balloons and shaving cream but he's pretty sure that didn't do this. He didn't have any strange conversations. He didn't hear any strange noises. He had what constituted a completely ordinary twenty-four hours in the life of Kris Allen.

He went to bed and fell asleep like any other day, and when he woke up it was a whole new world.

Maybe this is just something that's supposed to happen. Though when people say that God works in mysterious ways, Kris doesn't think about body swapping as being one of them. He always figured it meant things like delayed flights that cause you to accidentally run into long-lost friends, and spilled drinks that keep you from being hit by a car.

But he has to believe there's a reason, and clinging to that makes him feel marginally better about the whole thing.

*

Brad is becoming increasingly sure this is all somehow Adam's fault, even if Adam doesn't seem to know it, because he definitely didn't go to bed last night thinking about the American Idol. But he thinks back to the previous day or two anyway as he watches "Alright With Me" on repeat, wondering idly how he's going to sing that straight never mind look like the American Idol on stage.

The truth is, the previous night is a little bit fuzzy in places, but he's absolutely positive he had nothing to do with this. This is hardcore. This doesn't just happen accidentally. Brad's always believed in magic, in an abstract sort of way, but he also believes that you can only make things happen that you want, and this isn't something he wanted, ergo he didn't do it.

He refuses to believe it's a punishment for something, because he refuses to believe life works that way.

The song ends and he plays it again because it's definitely in their set and somehow Brad has to pull this off. Even if he didn't want to do it for Adam, and for Kris for that matter, it would be terrible karma if he didn't try to make this right, and above all else, Brad believes in karma.

*

Adam just doesn't have a lot of free time, even when he reshuffles everything that he can reshuffle. This concert is an event, and there are so many details of his own tour that are still being worked out, and so many people he needs to see and talk to about press and wardrobe and rehearsal and recording and a dozen other things.

But he's not going to leave Brad and Kris in the wind. Let it never be said that he doesn't have his priorities straight. So whenever he can squeeze in another moment with Brad, he does.

"No, he doesn't stand like that," says Adam, adjusting his hips. "You should put his sneakers on, that'll probably help."

"I don't think shoes are going to help," says Brad, wiggling his toes. "Do you think anyone would notice if I painted these?"

"Would you feel better if you painted them?" says Adam, and figures it's an innocent enough change in the grand scheme of things. And if anyone did see, well, Adam would just make something up to cover for him. Some kind of good luck charm between them; there's precedent for that now.

"Not really," admits Brad. "They're not my toes. I like my toes. These toes are kind of gross."

"I like your toes too," says Adam with a laugh. And weird as they are, he kind of likes Kris's toes too, but Brad is making a face at them so he doesn't mention that part. "The thing you need to get is that it's not that Kris isn't sexual, he's just...differently sexual. He's unconsciously sexual."

"Differently sexual, hm, I think I've heard that kind of thing before," says Brad, sitting down on the edge of the bed and groping around the side of it. "All right, tell me more of what I need to know while I try out this shoe idea. That Iraheta girl is going to get suspicious soon."

"You call her Ally, and all you need to do is just let her be a teenager around you," says Adam. "Sometimes she asks you for advice on things. Just remember that you've been in the same serious relationship since you were sixteen years old and do your best. And if Kris hadn't told me about his separation, he has definitely not told her yet. Don't lie, just avoid."

"Oh, I have a lot of practice at that," says Brad. "She likes to play the 'remember that time on tour' game, though. That's a little trickier."

"True," says Adam, "but if you find yourself trapped in a corner just mention silly string and she'll tell the stories herself. There are more silly string stories than you'd think. The most important thing is just that you adore her and she adores you."

"If you're to be believed, everyone adores me," says Brad, finding one sneaker and holding it up a bit dubiously. "I don't like wearing someone else's shoes."

"You're wearing someone else's feet," says Adam. "I don't know, maybe they're magic shoes and when you put them on you'll suddenly be all bouncy and kicky."

"Magic. Shoes," says Brad.

"Is it stranger than anything else right now?" says Adam. "Kris likes to touch things, so if you haven't got a guitar in your hands you'll want to grab stuff, your mic stand or your pants or whatever's in reach. Occasionally whoever."

"So not only does everyone adore Kris but he also likes to touch them, and apparently they just let him."

"Because they adore him."

"I could get used to this," says Brad, lacing on the shoe and then leaning over to search for the other. "He's probably miserable in LA."

"Kris is pretty good at adapting," says Adam. "I'm just worried that he's alone out there. Last time I talked to him he'd just finished sorting out your appointments as was going to start writing out anything that came to mind that could do this, which all things considered probably means pulling possibilities from every novel he's ever read. At least he knows the city, though. At least he's someplace a little familiar. More or less."

"Let me tell you, from a position of experience," says Brad, pulling the second shoe out from under the bed. "That's not going to help. It's not where you are, but who you're with."

"Well," says Adam. "Stand up and try the song again, and we'll figure out what to do about that."

*

"So we've figured some shit out," says Brad as soon as Kris picks up the phone and gets out half of 'hello'. 'Hell' is probably just as appropriate a way to respond to this right now anyway.

"Seriously?" says Kris. "You know what's going on?"

"No," says Brad. "Sorry, I didn't mean about that." Kris sighs and kind of wishes he hadn't led with that, then, and gotten his hopes up. "I meant about what you need to do in LA, since I'm pretty sure you're going to go stir crazy in my apartment before long."

Actually, at this point Kris is pretty sure he could settle in comfortably for a few days, maybe catch up on his sleep, but that can only last him so long before Brad has things to do in his life that can't be put off. Before Parker comes home and expects him to be Brad, which is certainly not an unreasonable expectation even if it's one Kris is nowhere near prepared to meet.

"You need to talk to Cassidy," says Brad. "You've met him, right?"

"Once or twice," says Kris. "About as often as I've met you."

"Look him up in my contacts. He's listed under Princess Cassandra."

Adam laughs in the background and Kris kind of wonders what inside joke he's missing there, but if he really needs to know he can ask another time. It's just one of many things he still doesn't know about Adam's life.

"And what am I supposed to tell him exactly? It's easy for you to be me, but I don't exactly know how to be you."

"Easy?" says Brad. "You think this is easy, American Idol."

"I told you to stop calling him that," he hears Adam mutter in the background, and Kris has to smile, just a little.

"At least you know something about me. All I know about you is...."

"Ah," says Brad. "All you know about me is what Adam's told you, and some scandalous pictures. Well let me tell you something, all I know about you is what Adam's told me and some wholesome pictures, and you were able to cancel everything I needed to do so you don't have to give everyone the Cheeks experience. I can't exactly cancel your big concert."

"Sorry," says Kris, genuinely chagrined. He's not the only one just barely treading water here, even if it feels like it right now. "So, Cassidy."

"We're going to try to bring him into the loop," says Brad, "so that you have someone to rely on out there while we sort this out. Unless there's someone else...."

"There isn't," says Kris. "Not here in LA. Not who'll both believe me and be able to do anything to help." If there was someone else, he'd already have tried.

"Okay," says Brad, and it may be Kris's imagination but he sounds a little gentler this time. "We're going to call him. You look up his address and just show up at his place. Trust me, it's the best way."

*

Brad's actually doing a passable job of "Before We Come Undone" with the whole band now that he's back into rehearsal, and Adam thinks maybe he's finding something there to emotionally connect with. Actually, there's probably a lot in Kris's songs that Brad emotionally connects with, now that he thinks about it. He definitely hasn't got Kris's body language down yet, but pleading the remnants of a migraine gets him a lot of leeway in that department. And maybe he and Adam can work on it later, in the privacy of his hotel room.

Adam's still a little overwhelmed when he lets himself think about the whole thing. He knows he's not the one this happened to, and he doesn't mean to make this all about him, but he looks at Kris now and he can see Brad inside him and it's completely disorienting. His visual brain keeps trying to tell him that it's Kris, but his gut just tells him it isn't.

And they're no closer to figuring out what's happening to all of them.

Of course, how would they even do that? You can't go to the doctor for existential displacement, you can't call your assistant to ask if she wouldn't mind tracking that body you lost somewhere, and you can't just look this up on the Interne--well, actually you can, but Adam already tried that and it really wasn't helpful.

And the real world isn't Alice in Wonderland, where you eat the tainted cake or drink the whiskey and end up in someone else's body halfway across the country. It just doesn't happen.

Except, apparently, when it does.

Even if it did, it wouldn’t have been him who did the eating if Kris and Brad are the ones who are affected. He doesn't remember all of last night, but he's pretty sure he didn't accidentally meet a witch either and ask her to cast a spell like this. If he was going to do that, and he's not saying he wouldn't, necessarily, if the opportunity presented itself, there are a lot of other things he'd ask for first.

He knows you don't apply ordinary Earth logic to occurrences like this, but even when you're superhigh there's a kind of order to things. It's a different kind of order, but when you look at it sideways you can see the flow of it. They just have to figure out the logic behind this, to find the order.

It's the only proactive thing he can think to do.

*

Brad is obviously a familiar sight at Cassidy's building because the guy he passes at the doorway not only doesn't hesitate to let him in but gives him a friendly smile as they pass...or more likely that's someone Brad is supposed to know, but thankfully he doesn't linger to make conversation. Kris heads straight up to Cassidy's door without letting himself think too hard about how he's supposed to handle this or second guess anything. He hopes Brad's car is okay where he left it, and he knows that should be the least of his worries but it nags at him, his brain fixating on that instead of a dozen more important things.

"Well look at you," says Cassidy, posing against the doorway after opening it for him. "Going for country chic?"

"I'm not Brad," Kris says right away. "I know I look like him, but...."

"Sure you're not," says Cassidy. "But you don't exactly look like Cheeks right now either. In fact, I’m not quite sure what you're going for. Anyway, come in already."

"Seriously," says Kris as he steps inside. "I'm Kris Allen."

"Right," says Cassidy. "The plaid's a nice touch, but you're going to have to work a little harder to get the rest of it down. I gave you that shirt, didn't I?"

"I...don't know," says Kris, pulling at it self-consciously. "I found it in the closet. You don't think Brad would've bought this?"

"You're really working this thing, aren't you?" says Cassidy. "That's pretty good, actually. Just like on TV, only I really doubt he'd ever wear that belt."

That would actually be true under other circumstances, but at the moment Kris really is attempting to be Brad.

"I don't know how to prove to you I'm someone you don't really know," says Kris helplessly. "It's not like you can ask me something only I would know. You don't know anything I would know."

"You'll slip up sooner or later," insists Cassidy. "Everyone always does. Adam actually called to tell me you were coming, which shows a real commitment to this whole thing, at least since I'm pretty sure he has better things to do."

"Adam does have better things to do," says Kris, "but you still don't believe me?"

"I think you're both full of shit," says Cassidy. "And you're not nearly as funny as you think you are."

"Exactly," says Kris. "It's not funny at all. Because it's actually happening and we're all a little freaked out."

Cassidy just gives him a skeptical, if at least a little amused, smirk. "Wine's in the fridge," he says. "I promised Adam I'd call him back to tell him you showed up. Though he's probably in rehearsal right now."

"He'll answer when he sees it's you," insists Kris.

As Cassidy moves out of earshot while he makes his call, Kris doesn't help himself to the wine but instead wanders the length of the loft, peering into doorways and finding Cassidy's piano up against the wall near his bed. After a quick look over his shoulder to see Cassidy still way on the other side of the loft from him, Kris overcomes his moral hesitation to invade his private space and lifts the lid to play a few notes. And then play a few more.

He doesn't mean to go any further than that, but it's the first time he's felt comfortable since he woke up this morning. This isn't his body and these aren't his hands, but the ability to play piano isn't just in his muscles but in his mind, in his memory. After a couple of false starts he gets into it, and doesn't stop until he realizes he's being watched.

He lifts his hands from the keys, waiting to be uninvited, but instead Cassidy comes up behind him and plays a couple of low notes at the end of the keyboard.

"I see you've met Gladys."

Kris runs his hand over her lovingly worn body. "She's beautiful," he says. "She's got such a rich sound. You can hear the years."

"Yeah, you can," says Cassidy. "And you're not Brad."

"No," says Kris, turning to face him. "No, I’m really not."

"Well fuck," says Cassidy. "What do we do now?"

*

There's a certain kind of body language Brad has that Adam has always read as an open invitation. He's seen it many times, many times, but he's never seen it wearing Kris's body before, and that look combined with that body equals instant hard-on. And that's in spite of an active effort not to respond to either of them right now.

"You are not picking someone up wearing that body," says Adam. "In case you were considering it."

"I was not," says Brad. "What kind of person do you think I am, anyway? This body's not mine to give. Not to you, not to anyone."

"I didn't say anything about me," says Adam.

"Oh please," says Brad. "There's still nobody who knows you as well as I do, Adam, whether you like it or not. If you thought you were hiding it, you were sorely mistaken."

"I wasn't trying to hide anything from you," says Adam, "and just remember that goes both ways."

"Hm," says Brad. "Maybe not from me particularly, but you are most certainly trying to hide it. Probably from yourself as much as anyone, which you know never works. You and I have had that conversation a dozen times."

"It's more complicated than that," says Adam, sipping his drink. "And I'm not talking about this with you. I'm especially not talking about this with you looking like that."

"That doesn't really help your case," says Brad. "You should look. Looking's not the same as touching. Go ahead and look the way you've always wanted to look, but were afraid of him noticing."

Adam wants to take him up on that, because he's not wrong, but not here and now. Not in this little hotel bar where even this early in the evening Kris's opinion of him isn't the only thing he needs to worry about. Brad's aware of that stuff too, but he's not as aware as Adam's had to become.

"Maybe later," he says vaguely.

"Alone, in your room, where you can get a better view?"

"Not what I meant," says Adam, laughing when he realizes Brad's actually kidding about that this time. "Why are you making that face?"

"I don't know," says Brad, setting his drink down. "This tastes different with Kris's tastebuds. It's a little weird. What does he usually drink?"

"Wine," says Adam with a shrug. "Beer. Nothing really fancy, that I've noticed."

Brad makes another face and sets the drink aside. "He's also a lightweight. I trust you won't let anyone take advantage of the fact."

"Never have before," says Adam. And there have been many occasions when he could have, technically speaking. This time, despite his body's insta-reaction, he's not even actually tempted.

Which would be kind of interesting, if he was letting himself think about that, but he's not.

"I don't even know what you've been up to lately," he says, watching Brad grimace at his drink again after taking another sip, like he was hoping it wouldn't be a repeat of the last. "You did that short film, right?"

"I did a couple of short films," says Brad tartly, and Adam knew that, he did, he was just referring to the one Brad was filming last month. "Which you haven't seen."

"Send me tickets and I will," says Adam.

"I thought you only did shows with red carpets anymore," says Brad. "I could probably get them to put out a bathmat for you."

"I'd come," says Adam. As long as it didn't conflict with something he had to be doing, he'd come. "But that bathmat better be red, bitch."

Brad just laughs, and as he pushes his drink aside, Adam signals for a beer for him to try then leans on his elbow and watches him contentedly, this strange Brad-Kris hybrid.

"We were perfect for each other once."

He doesn't even mean to say it, and he's not entirely sure what he means, it just comes into his head and then it's out of his mouth before he thinks about it.

"No, we weren't," says Brad, with the haste of someone who's given the subject some thought. "We were very good for one another once. If we were perfect, it wouldn't have ended. And I don't know about you, but I'm in a very different place now than I was then."

"What if I said I wanted to get back together?"

"I would tell you no," says Brad. "Thank you, but no. I've taken my turn on that ride."

"Yeah," agrees Adam. It was a hypothetical question anyway, but the answer is more of a relief that he realized it would be, like the possibility has been dangling over his head for a long time and he's finally addressed it head on. If at a completely inappropriate time. "It was good, though, right?"

"Unforgettably good," says Brad, "when it was good. And unforgettably bad when it wasn't. We both deserve something that's more of the first and less of the second, and when we were together we couldn't have one without the other."

"Yeah," Adam says again, and that sums it up pretty well. He needs passion in his life, but it's got to exist out there without the lows too. Or at least he hopes it does.

Brad's beer goes down a lot easier than his other drink had, and he's not kidding when he says Kris is a lightweight but Brad's being careful with it, not going too far. Adam appreciates it, on Kris's behalf.

Brad's laughing but still walking in a fairly straight line when they head back up to their respective rooms not long after that, not making a night of it because they still have a hundred things to do, and a hundred more in the morning.

At Adam's door, for a moment Brad leans up and is about to kiss him on the lips, like they always would, but then he kisses him on the cheek instead. "I'll let you save that," he says, and leaves it at that.

*

"I got your text," says Adam when Kris picks up on the first ring. In his head he now pictures Kris walking around with the phone in his hand, desperate for contact with those things that still make sense to him. "How are you holding up?"

"Better now," admits Kris. "Cassidy's cool. Is it too much to hope that you're calling with answers? Because I don't have any on this end."

"And I don't think you're going to," says Adam. "I don't think there's anything you can do in LA, and I don't think there's anything Brad needs you to do in LA. You cancelled everything, right?"

"Cancelled or rescheduled," says Kris. "Hopefully by the time we have to worry about them, Brad'll be back in here, or at least I'll be better at pretending he is."

Adam doesn't want to think about the second option, and he's pretty sure Kris doesn't either.

"How would you feel about coming to Dallas?"

"Again," says Kris, and Adam thinks he can almost hear a smile in his voice. "I'm pretty sure I just did that."

"It's like chutes and ladders," says Adam. "You slipped all the way down to LA, and now you have to take the long way to get back to Dallas." Okay, it's not a brilliant metaphor, and it implies that Dallas is something to strive for, but it still works.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" says Kris. "I mean, what if I--or Brad--needs to be here for us to switch back."

"Or what if you need to be together to switch back," counters Adam. "We just don't know, and...I think Brad needs you to be here. I think you need you to be here, to pull off this show. And...."

"And?" says Kris.

"I want to see you," says Adam. "I mean, I am seeing you, but it's not you. I haven't seen you in weeks. I know that sounds selfish, but I can't think of any good reason for you to stay in LA if Brad doesn't need you to be doing anything. Unless you want to be there."

"Want to be here? Are you kidding me?" says Kris. "It would beat sitting around Cassidy's loft obsessing about everything. At least I'd be doing something useful."

"And fewer people will know you here. It'll be easier not to have to try to be someone else."

"Except the master himself will be evaluating my performance," says Kris wryly. "I'm going to see if Cassidy can come out there too, then."

"It would probably look less suspicious," says Adam, but aside from that, he thinks that it'll just be easier for Kris to still have someone with him. No sense bringing Cassidy into the loop just to leave him behind again when Kris could use him the most and frankly, though he hasn't said so, Brad could probably use someone other than him too.

"Just your friends coming out to support you," says Kris, and then falls silent for a few moments. Adam can feel the tension of unsaid words, and just waits. "I'm scared."

"I know," says Adam. "I don't know how this is going to work out, but I'm sure it will. We'll figure it out."

"In the meantime, I'll just keep telling myself it's for a greater purpose," says Kris. "All right, I can hear someone calling your name in the background. I'll go talk to Cassidy and email you the details."

Someone is calling him in the background, but then someone usually is. "I'll see you soon, Kris. Have a safe trip."

"And just...hug Brad and my body for me."

"I will definitely do that," says Adam. Hell, he'll do it twice, once for each of them.

*

"Our flight doesn't leave for about five hours," says Cassidy. "That's the earliest we can get out of LA, sorry. We can sleep on the flight, at least; you're probably used to that."

Kris runs his hands through hair that, he's reminded every time he touches it, just does not feel like his own. "I guess that's not going to make much of a difference now," he says. "It hasn't so far. We'll still be there by morning."

"We should go out," says Cassidy. "Have some fun before we head for LAX."

"Go out?" says Kris. "Are you kidding me?"

"I go out with Brad all the time," says Cassidy. "He's a good time. As long as you're stuck in there, you might as well enjoy the perks. You can go out with me and no one'll give you a second glance. Unless they want to get into your pants, which I can't promise they won't."

Kris thinks about it, rubbing his hands on his thighs nervously. "Just for a couple of hours," he says finally. "But if we run into anyone he knows, I don't know if I can fake it."

"Just act drunk," says Cassidy, "and no one'll pay attention to what you say. You don't have to do anything you're uncomfortable with. I've got your back."

Kris still thinks there's some kind of ineffable Brad quality that he'll be missing, but it's pretty good advice, actually, and to be honest a couple hours out at one of Cassidy's favorite clubs has got to be better than hanging around the loft or, worse, the airport stewing about his predicament.

"Sure, okay," he says, "but you'll have to find me something to wear. I'm pretty sure Brad wouldn't be caught dead in this."

"Oh, Brad has no shame," says Cassidy, "he'll happily go out in anything. But I can definitely find you something more appropriate for where we're going. Give me five minutes."

It doesn't even take that and Cassidy is returning from his closet with some things that Kris suspects he's supposed to wear, though he's not entirely sure how.

"Are you sure these are pants?" he says, holding them up dubiously.

"I'll lace you into them," Cassidy promises him, which isn't exactly what Kris is worried about. "Trust me, they look amazing on you, and Brad likes to look amazing."

"I guess I'll definitely get a different kind of attention in them," Kris admits, and that's not such a bad idea really. The less he actually has to act, the better.

"Don't worry," says Cassidy, "you can just redirect any of your male attention in my direction. I will happily take it."

"I'm not worried about that," says Kris after just a moment of hesitation, fingering the laces up the sides of the pants. If there's such a thing as a good time to come out, and a good person he can come out to, it's probably Cassidy, and right now. "I'm pretty much single now. I wouldn't do anything about it someone else's body, though."

"I didn't know you were into men," says Cassidy casually as he takes the pants back from him, presumably to get Kris into them. "That's a very well kept secret."

Kris just shrugs a little, self-conscious. "Never mattered much before," he says, "and these days it's pretty much just one anyway."

"Oh," says Cassidy, and Kris doesn't have to elaborate for him to get it. It's probably not a mark of cleverness so much as that Kris hasn't exactly been subtle, if you know to look at it from the right angle. "Well, still, this'll probably be the good time that you haven't been allowed to have before."

And that's that, it's out there. It's not that Kris had himself all up in knots about how this would go, or how to do it--he's pretty chill about it really--but that was still a little easier than he was expecting. Not that he's complaining.

It takes Kris at least an hour to get comfortable in what he's wearing once they finish dressing and pack up and go, but once he does, once he realizes that it doesn't matter how people are looking at him, he starts to actually have fun. For just a little while he can stop worrying about everything because it is out of his hands, there is nothing he can do.

There really is absolutely nothing he can do, and if there was ever a time for Kris to be rock solid in his faith, this is it.

"Hi," says a tall, dark-haired guy in the leather pants, and Kris instinctively smiles up at him. It's probably a pretty good instinct. "Can I buy you a drink?"

"Vodka martini," says Kris, lifting one knee to hook the heel of his boot on the edge of his chair, and the guy smiles back and disappears into the crowd. He doesn't actually have any idea how to do this--it's not even so much the picking up guys thing as the fact that he's been with the same girl since he was sixteen--but he's been around. He's watched people.

Apparently it's enough.

"Nice," says Cassidy. "He's just your type. Brad's type."

"I made a guess our type isn't so different," admits Kris, and Cassidy laughs. "Nothing's going to happen."

"Oh, I don't know," says Cassidy. "You might get a number out of him. And Brad probably wouldn't mind if you wanted to make out a little."

Kris's libido and Brad's body are kind of into the idea, but it's definitely a non-starter. "I think that's probably over the line," he says. "For me, if not for him. I'll go for the number, though. We've still got a little time before we go."

"Just enough, I would say," says Cassidy, "and needing to catch a flight gives you a convenient excuse to get out of it if he gets any other ideas."

"My thoughts exactly," says Kris as he spots the guy returning with his drink in hand, just as promised. "I'll let you know how it goes."

"No need," says Cassidy, "I've got my eye on you. Even if you don't need it right now, I've still got your back."

And Kris appreciates that, more than he can say.

*

It really hasn't been very long at all since Kris was last doing exactly this, deboarding in Dallas, only this time there's no luggage to claim and no one herding him and no one staring at him as they make their way through the airport. Even a year ago barely anyone would've been giving him a second glance, just like this, and Kris realizes just how quickly he got used to all that attention.

He did get Adam to send a car for them, something unobtrusive, and if anyone thought that was weird, well, Adam had earned some perks for his friends these days.

The weirdest moment Kris has ever had in his life is being escorted in the rehearsal area after they arrive at the hotel and seeing his own self standing there with his band. He imagines that Brad is thinking the exact same thing as he looks back, and he's suddenly a little self-conscious of how he's dressed, wondering if it's okay. Wondering if he's been doing him justice.

It's so unsettling when Cale looks up at him without a single glimmer of recognition, and Kris has to resist the urge to even smile at him with too much familiarity no matter how much he desperately wants to talk to him. As far as Cale is concerned, Kris Allen is already standing there beside him and Brad is a stranger.

He watches Brad say something to them, watches them nod in return and just barely glance in his direction, then Brad's finally coming over so they can meet face to face.

Neither one of them seems to know what to say.

"Cassidy must have dressed you," Brad says finally, "or your wardrobe that I pawed through is more a reflection of what someone else wants you to look like."

"No, I'm a pretty simple guy," says Kris with a sheepish little smile. "I did dress myself, though. Some of your stuff was all right. I mean, you obviously don't go clubbing every night. You must do other stuff too."

"Shh, you'll ruin my reputation," says Brad. "So. Never expected I'd get to know the American Idol quite this intimately."

Kris smiles again, then laughs, because what else can you do? "I never expected anyone to get to know me quite that intimately," he says. "I'm pretty sure, given the choice, nobody would want to."

"Oh, I'm sure there are worse things," says Brad. "This couldn't have happened when you didn't have anything important to do, though? At least I had the courtesy of a malleable life."

"Yeah, I'm not sure any other time would've been much better for me, actually," says Kris. "You doing okay? The guys aren't giving you a hard time?"

"Nah, they're being all gentle with me since the migraine."

"Since the what?"

"Right, probably should've mentioned that," says Brad. "We needed a quick and dirty excuse for me to take a few hours off and speed-learn your album. I'm just glad you don't have choreography. There's only so much a boy can do in one morning."

Kris looks up and sees the rest of the band hanging around waiting while a couple of people he doesn't know, maybe from the venue, watch him--well, Brad--expectantly. "They look like they need you back."

"Yeah, we were just going through staging," says Brad, looking back over his shoulder at them. "We should be able to wrap it up in--"

"I know how it goes," Kris interrupts him. "Cassidy and I are going to get a room, just call me when you're free. Can you do something for me first, though?"

"That depends entirely on what it is. You don't have any secret habits to do with this body that I need to know about, right? I'm not about to go into withdrawal?"

"No, nothing like that," says Kris. "I was just wondering if you could introduce me to the band. I just want to be able to say hi."

"Oh," says Brad. "Oh. Yeah, of course."

It aches a little when Cale introduces himself to him, even more than any of the others, but Kris puts on the acting performance of his life and pretends that they're strangers. He doesn't feel the need to particularly act like Brad, at least, because these people don't know Brad from, well, the proverbial Adam.

It's probably better that Katy isn't here, because as much as they're not together right now, she's still Katy and Kris doesn't think he could bear to have her look at him like she didn't know him.

The band really is that busy so Kris keeps it quick, but it's still hard to turn his back on them and walk away, excluded from the things that have become his whole life.

*

Adam never really realized how much he relied on facial expression and tone of voice to identify someone until faced with this impossible dilemma of Kris and Brad. Because now that he's looking at both of them, it's surprisingly easy to remember who is who and it doesn't have a lot to do with what they actually look like, or at least not nearly as much as he thought it did.

They've set out a table for lunch, not a bad spread, mostly sandwiches and salads and a couple of hot items, things that will keep on the line for a while without wilting or congealing, which means that everyone can take a break and Adam can ignore his phone for half an hour and spend some time with his friends.

It's not just Brad and Kris and Cassidy, though, Allison and Tommy and Cale and Monte and a couple of people from Allison's band that Adam doesn't really know at the folding table with them, so they can't actually talk about anything but it's as good a test of staying in character as Adam can think of.

He can still tell.

"I voted for LA with ten different email addresses, bitches, and I still had to fly to Texas to see this show," says Kris, and the only three people at the table who know it's Kris all have to hide their expressions, Adam more than anyone.

Allison cracks up and Brad grins at him and Adam breathes a little easier, not even realizing before that just how uptight he'd been.

"Would it have been better or worse if my mother had won her bid to hold it in Little Rock?" says Brad, and Adam catches Kris's quick smirk even if no one else does.

"Marginally," says Kris, which Adam actually thinks is the right answer, all things considered. "They just had to outvote New York City."

"New York has snow right now," Adam reminds both of them. In that, at least, Dallas is a preferable choice. Adam lost his taste for snow some time around the middle of December, though at least he has an entire closet of new, stylish coats to work his way through.

"I like snow," says Brad, and Kris looks at his sandwich, probably trying not to agree. Kris does like snow, but definitely not in the amounts that New York gets. Kris likes Arkansas-type snow, just a little seasonal sprinkle. "I have new mittens."

"Oh come on," says Kris, and Cassidy laughs into his coffee. That's definitely Kris talking, but it sounds just like Brad anyway.

"They're cute and warm," says Brad, and gives Kris his most innocent smile. Kris takes a fierce bite of his sandwich and chews hard. "They match my beanie."

"You'll get a chance to show them off soon enough," says Adam. "Your tour kicks off in the northeast, right?"

Brad nods and smiles and says, "That's the plan."

"Is your wife coming along?" says Tommy as he rips a piece of lettuce in half with his fingertips, a perfectly innocent question that's so, so fraught.

Kris can't answer but he looks at Brad and Adam can see the pleading in his eyes, even if no one else can read it.

"She's pretty busy trying to launch her career," Brad says smoothly, "but she's hoping to make it to a few of the stops, maybe later on in the tour, depending on how things go." Not a word of that's a lie, to the best of Adam's knowledge, but it implies that there's no trouble between them and it's probably smoother than Kris himself could've done it.

Though to be fair, Kris is obviously a lot better at it than people give him credit for.

"So I guess you're going to have a pretty busy afternoon, huh?" says Kris, veering them away from dangerous territory and back on a safer and ultimately more useful track, because they do have a busy afternoon ahead and they might as well talk about it as much as they can to prepare Brad before he's faced with the media while wearing Kris's face.

*

The beauty of having stylists work on him--other than the mere fact that stylists are working on him--is that he doesn't have to put any effort into looking like Kris Allen. Someone else is telling him how to look, and in this particular instance he's completely fine with that. He absolves all responsibility for Kris Allen's wardrobe, hair and make-up.

It's obviously a little strange to some people that Brad's body, aka Kris, is hanging around for their press afternoon, so they get Cassidy in there too, and Cale's girlfriend and Ryland's wife, and make a thing of it so he's not singled out. They stay out of the way, and Kris is careful to stay in Brad's eye line so that he can signal him the answers if necessary.

But Brad's ready for this. Brad's been ready for this his whole life.

"It's great to be back together," he says, and, "I can't wait to see what Ally and Adam do," and, "The tour is coming together really well" and "I can't wait to hit the road again." After the first couple, it even comes almost naturally.

The whole press room is a fairly efficient setup, really; he could probably navigate it on his own if he had to, which he doesn't because right now he's the type of person who has an actual entourage, and not just a few friends who he occasionally calls that. There's going to be more of this tomorrow at the venue, especially after Seacrest arrives, just lots and lots of media in designated backstage areas, but here and now is where it's not just about the show but about what he's doing with his career from here forward.

What Kris is doing with his career from here forward.

There are really only a handful of media personalities who know Kris well enough to know when he's just giving canned answers; unfortunately, one of them turns out to be here, which makes the whole experience a little trickier. Brad can see Kris's expression when he spots him, and maybe Brad should've found some way for Kris to see the list of media beforehand because he obviously wasn't expecting this face.

His phone buzzes a moment later, and since he's between interviews he's able to check it out.

'Jim Cantiello mtv', it says, which Brad knows, he's not culturally illiterate. 'Try to relax with him. We're sort of friends so he knows me pretty well.'

Because it can't be easy, no, they have to go off-book right in the middle of the interview cycle. Well, Brad will just have to wing it.

"So I used up every brownie point I ever earned at the station ever to get sent here to this show," says Jim as he takes his place at what Brad thinks of as his station, that the media are making a pilgrimage to. "And a few I haven't even earned yet. They made me do an Idol quiz--which I aced of course--and I think I might've promised drag karaoke at some point, but it all gets a little fuzzy after the third hour of pleading or so."

"Wow, you really wanted to see Adam, huh?"

"Oh yeah, I'm here for Adam," says Jim, "though my alter ego might have something to say about that. So tell me, any surprises in the set list for tomorrow?"

"I don't know, is anything really a surprise anymore?" says Brad.

"Oh, I've heard that before," says Jim, "then you pull something out of your as-- behind that blows everyone away."

"Well, then I guess I'd better not tell you," says Brad coyly, "or it won't be a surprise anymore."

"Awwww," says Jim. "You can give me a yes or a no, right? You don't have to tell me what you're doing."

"I think it's safe to say that this show'll be a little different, for all of us," says Brad, falling back on the safe and rehearsed answer. "We're mixing it up a little. I think you'll see something new."

"Okay," says Jim, "I lied. Just a teensy hint?"

"How teensy?" says Brad. "What if I give you one letter of one of the songs we'll be doing? Would that be enough?"

Kris smiles in the background and Brad figures he nailed that one. That was totally a Kris Allen thing to say.

"Maybe if it's a Q," says Jim. "That would narrow it down. Is it a Q?"

Brad has to think about that for a second. "No," he says finally, "I don't think we're doing anything with a Q in it. There's your teensy hint."

"So no Dancing Queen or Drinking Tequila, then," says Jim. "Or Aqualung. Hey, I bet that's more than Slezak got."

"Though I'm going to keep those in mind for the tour now," says Brad.

With anyone else it would have been a perfectly fine interview, but Brad can tell that something's just not quite right between them and he can't figure out what he's doing wrong. It's not a bad interview by any means, but there's something in Jim's expression that's off, and there's something in Kris's expression that is too when Brad manages to look again.

Jim Cantiello is either confused or suspicious--it's kind of hard to tell those two expressions apart--but Brad is going to go with confused because there's nothing for a sane person to be suspicious of.

Except that Kris is on drugs. Maybe they should set the record straight on that count, just as soon as they come up with an explanation that doesn't make him sound like he is.

*

They just don't have time for awkward moments, where Kris touches his hair and Brad touches his abs and they marvel at looking at their own bodies. Which isn't to say that Kris doesn't want to, but the only time they get together is stolen time when Brad says he wants to lie down to ward off the recurrence of his migraine and Kris sneaks into his room.

"Adam told me if I want to look like you when I'm singing, I need to act like I want to give the microphone a blowjob," says Brad. When he demonstrates Kris has to crack up because he's got it just about right. "Huh."

"What?"

"You look kind of adorable when you laugh."

"You mean you look kind of adorable when I laugh," says Kris. "Don't open your mouth so much, though. It's more like I want to tongue kiss the mic, not blow it."

He can't quite believe he said that, but he knows it's true. He just tries not to be self-conscious about it when people point it out, because that's just how he sings. He's comfortable with it.

"Like this?" says Brad, and sings a little bit this time as he demonstrates, and yeah, he's got it just right. He really is going to get up on that stage tomorrow and perform in Kris's place, and none of them has any choice in the matter.

"You look good."

"Narcissist," says Brad, putting the mike down on the bed again. "Thanks for coming."

"You just wanted to make sure I was treating your body right," protests Kris.

"I'm still not sure you're putting enough liquor into it," says Brad, "but you know that's not what I'm talking about."

"Yeah, I know," says Kris. "It must've been lousy trying to be me in front of a bunch of people who know me that well."

"Okay yeah, that sucked, but that's not what I'm talking about either," says Brad. "Adam needed you here."

"Adam needed me here?" says Kris. "Look, it's obviously easier for both of us to be in the same place right now, we don't need to make excuses."

"Shut the fuck up or I'll take back every compliment I've given you in the past fifteen minutes," says Brad. "Yeah, that's is a hell of a lot easier with you showing me how to do it instead of relying on youtube and Adam, but Adam needed you to be here for this. Which probably means that you needed to be here for this too."

"We don't get to see one another much," admits Kris. "But then, neither do you. Nobody gets to see Adam that much anymore."

"Forget it," says Brad, pawing through the clothes in Kris's suitcase, and Kris wants to say "Forget what?" but Brad's already moving on. "I can't believe you wear some of this stuff."

"Just try it, you might like it," says Kris.

"Oh, I've heard that before," says Brad. "You sound like you're trouble, Kristopher Allen." He pulls out a wrinkled shirt, something Kris should've sent to have pressed when he got here, except he hadn't been here to send it out. It's not like Brad's going to wear it anyway.

"Katy always liked that one," he says as Brad puts it back in the bag, unfolded.

"Huh," says Brad. "You think you two kids are going to get back together? And don't tell me it's none of my business, because at the moment it kind of is."

"No," says Kris. "No, I don't think we're getting back together." And it doesn't break his heart as much as he thought it would to say that, because it's not a new idea to him anymore. "It won't be official for a while, though. That's just how these things go. There'd be no way to spin it that makes either of us look good."

"Yes, it's awfully quick, isn't it."

"Not as quick as you'd think," says Kris, then sighs and sits down. "I guess you're going to need to know about that, though."

"Probably," says Brad, "but not right this second. Shall we just go through the entire set list while we can? We might not get another chance."

It's both a better and a more comfortable idea, and as much as it's so weird to watch this, Kris is grateful for the opportunity anyway.

*

Adam is supposed to go out with the band again but he begs off this time pleading too many other commitments and wanting a chance to catch up with Kris, and after a few minutes' token effort trying to get him to bring Kris with them, they head out without him.

Adam does have commitments, but when he finally finishes with them it's Brad he sees, not Kris, not that anybody other than the men in question would even know the difference right now.

"I think I might've done this," he blurts out right after pouring them both a drink, scotch on the rocks.

"No shit, Sherlock," said Brad. "My body thief and I both came to that conclusion about five minutes into this little adventure. You ready to tell us how and why?"

"Not on purpose," said Adam. "You think I'd do this on purpose?"

"Then what are you talking about?"

Adam looked away, because he couldn't do this looking into his face. "I think I might be in love with Kris."

"Again, why don't you try telling me something I don't already know?"

That's not what Adam wants to hear, because that's not what he means. He's not talking about the superficial, yeah, Kris is cute, Kris is snarky and fun, Kris is my type sort of stuff. He's talking about the he-really-gets-me stuff, only Brad is probably the last person he needs to be or should be pouring his heart out to.

"And I made a wish," he says, because that's the real confession here.

"What, on a star?" says Brad. "On a birthday cake? Did you throw a quarter in a wishing well?"

"A fountain, actually," he says. "Just like I and thousands of other people do all the time, so I don't know what made it different. I didn't even remember doing it at first."

"And you wished for what, exactly?"

"I wished it was easier to figure out my feelings," says Adam. "Everything's just gotten so complicated."

"Feelings are always complicated," says Brad. "You're not that special. And I completely fail to see how all of this is easier for anyone involved, including you. You're reaching, Adam. A coin in a fountain wouldn't have done this."

"Do you have any better ideas? Because that's all I've got. It has to have been me."

"Probably, yes," says Brad. "Either that or the universe has an inappropriate sense of humor. Which, okay, makes as much sense as anything else right now."

"I don't know what to tell you," says Adam. "It's the only thing that makes even a little bit of sense in all of this. I made a wish in a fountain, and the next day you wake up in Kris Allen's body."

"Jesus Fucking Christ, Adam."

"Can you at least try not to take God's name in vain in Kris's body?"

"Are you serious right now?"

"I know you don't care, but he does. And it's his mouth. Just try, all right?"

"God," says Brad, rolling his eyes. "I mean...fuck. Fuck you, I'm out of practice. So assuming this isn't just a weird coincidence, we still don't have any kind of game plan here, which I know is a sports metaphor but it seems all too apropos."

"I don't have a game plan, I just have the truth. Even if I didn't spell it out, I feel like I put it out into the universe that I have a relationship with Kris Allen that needs sorting out."

"You think that stuff was a secret?" says Brad. "Adam, everyone knew you were into Kris. Complete strangers knew you were into Kris."

"No, complete strangers knew I thought he was cute," says Adam. "This wasn't the same thing. It wasn't the same thing at all. I always wondered, a little, if a part of it was that he just reminded me of you."

"Your American Idol and I are nothing alike."

"No, you're really, really not," says Adam, "but looking at you sometimes, especially at first...it was kind of eerie."

"You just have a type, Adam. This doesn't even have anything to do with me."

"Okay, you're pissed--"

"Yeah, I am pissed," he says. "I'm pissed because there I am living my fairly happy life and suddenly I get pulled into your drama. Again. Literally. Can I not have a life that doesn't revolve around you for a little while?"

"Brad, I didn't do this on purpose!"

"But you did do it," he says. "Maybe you didn't mean to, but you did. But then, that's how it always happens, isn't it? Thanks for the drink, but I need to get out of here."

"I'm sorry."

"Yeah, I know," says Brad. "Of course you are. How about you don't just be sorry and go make another God damn wish in that fountain. And believe me, I think Kris would forgive me for using his mouth for that one."

Brad slams the door on his way out, and Adam can't even blame him.

*

"Fuck," says Brad, and Cassidy looks at him funny but he'll get used to looking into the wrong face before long, even if Brad hasn't. Though the first morning during his alleged migraine Brad did spend a good ten minutes swearing into the mirror just to see it. In retrospect he should've filmed it, but then these things had a way of getting out and out of control, and he might be pissed at Adam but this isn't Kris's fault.

"You need a drink," says Cassidy after a moment. "We won't be corrupting this body if we polish off a bottle of Merlot, right?"

"Oh please," says Brad. "The boy drinks. He certainly recognized a hangover when he had one, anyway." And maybe he's being conscientious not to use this body for anything other than what Kris intended, but he's not averse to putting some wine into it, to chase down that whiskey. Even if the guy is a lightweight.

"Good," says Cassidy, "because I’m tired of handling this sober."

"You're tired," says Brad, straddling a chair and letting his body collapse over it. "You're not the one who's been living it. Kris's guitarist tried to have a heart to heart with me about Kris's wife. Whom he's separated from, did he tell you? You can't imagine how much fun that was."

"He didn't really share his feelings with me," says Cassidy.

"Well, apparently he doesn't share them with a lot of people," says Brad, "because Cale didn't seem all that surprised when I mostly shrugged and nodded and didn't say much."

"You seem to have him down, then," says Cassidy. "With any luck you won't have to keep it up much longer."

"Fucking Adam," says Brad. "Why am I suddenly responsible for sorting out his romantic problems? I couldn't even do that when I was his romantic problem, and I'm just not that interested in being some pawn in his existential attempt to hook up. He's lucky I love him."

"I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose."

"No, be on my side right now," says Brad. "I'm not his yenta, and I don't like being used."

"Deep breath," says Cassidy. "Expel the negative emotion. It's not going to get you anywhere."

Brad kind of wants to tell him where to shove his cleansing breathing but he does it anyway, deep breath, slow exhale, and it does make him feel a little bit better.

"Good," says Cassidy, then comes around behind him and puts his hands on Brad's shoulders, pulling him up into better posture and then beginning to rub his neck. "You're tense as hell."

Brad takes another deep breath, lets it out slowly. "I'm pissed," he says. "I deserve better than to be some kind of before photo." Another deep breath, even breathing, letting the tension out of his body one part at a time. "And I don't even think he knows that's what he's doing yet."

Cassidy's thumbs dig in to the base of his neck and it feels so fucking good. Kris carries a lot of tension, and idly Brad wonders if he even realizes that, and if it would be appropriate to point it out. He also needs to wax more.

"You're nobody's before picture."

"And nobody puts Baby in a corner."

Cassidy laughs as his hands begin to move over his shoulderblades. "He'll sort his shit out," he says, "and hopefully things will be back to normal before much longer, and maybe in a couple of weeks we can all pass this off as some crazy acid trip."

"I'm just going to do what I need to do," says Brad finally, "and what I need to do is make the best of this." For a certain value of 'best' anyway, because he'd developed an entire list of limitations on uses of this body. "I need to be the best Kris Allen I can be, because he didn't ask for this either."

"He's being the best you he can be, too," Cassidy adds, just resting his hands on Brad's shoulders for a moment and then going to get that promised wine. "I think he got you someone's phone number last night, actually."

"Kris Allen got some guy's phone number?" says Brad. "Was he cute?"

Instead of the wine Cassidy grabs his phone first and finds the photo to show him. "Survey says yes," he says, and Brad is actually kind of impressed. He wonders if it would be weird to ask for the number, and actually call when he gets back to LA. And his body. If that ever happens.

"So at least Adam's issues aren't completely hopeless," says Brad as he hands the phone back. "Especially if this guy is his type."

"Oh, there's definitely a mutual something there," says Cassidy. "I'm not sure what, but that's theirs to figure out now, and I wouldn't dream of depriving them of the experience."

"Right," says Brad. "Now let's drink ourselves stupid."

*

Brad isn't answering his calls, which Adam can't blame him for either. But that leaves him with nothing to do but stew about it all, and that's something Adam doesn't want to have to do right now, as messed up and guilty as he's feeling. Especially after a couple more glasses of whiskey.

All of that makes giving Kris a call a terrible, terrible idea, but Adam does it anyway. He calls and he asks Kris to meet him in the bar downstairs and hopes everyone will give them their space, since it isn't exactly a happening place to be spending a Friday night, and even if it's pretty common knowledge where they're staying, he's pretty sure no one's waiting for them there.

Adam already knows he isn't going to be able to keep his mouth shut, but maybe it's time. Maybe it's time to get some of this out in the open, so he can begin to sort through it without wishes and fountains and fucking up their lives even more.

"Everyone jokes about me having a type," he says as Kris rolls his mostly-full glass between his hands.

"Adam," says Kris solemnly, "you do have a type."

In that moment, with just that intonation, he can almost believe he's talking to Brad. But he looks at him and he can just tell that it's not.

"I know I do," he says. "I know that, physically, I have a type. I mean, everyone knows that's why I had a crush on you, right?"

"Smaller and younger," says Kris. "You've even spelled it out for all the world to see. You know I don't think it's a big deal. I've never been threatened by it or anything. I know you weren't serious."

"But it wasn't about that."

Kris toys with the drink in his hands. "Are you trying to tell me you want to get back together with your ex?" he says. "Because that's kind of complicated right now."

"No, I’m trying to tell you that I don't want to get back together with my ex," he says, "and I don't just want somebody who fits some kind of checklist in my head. I though it was about that, about aesthetics, but I was wrong. I've spent the last couple days with someone else in your body, and I didn't want him, not like that, not anymore. I only want you."

Everything seems really quiet for a moment, and not just because Kris hasn't answered. It feels like the whole world has stilled around him, waiting for Kris to respond in some way. In any way.

Kris finally looks like he's about to say something, but Adam never finds out what that is. He pushes the drink away and opens his mouth, and then his eyes roll back in his head and he faceplants onto the table.

"Kris?" says Adam, reaching over and shaking his shoulder. It doesn't rouse him. "Kris?" They're definitely getting attention from the few people nearby now, but Adam doesn't care. "Kris!"

As suddenly as he'd faceplanted, Kris lifts his head again, looks at his hands, looks at his face in the mirror behind the bar, and says, "I have no idea what the fuck you just did but yes, bitch, I'm back."

*

As soon as Kris finds himself back in his own body, a tiny bit drunk and alone in his room, he drains a glass of water, makes sure he's dressed, and dashes right back out again. Because that is not a conversation he wants to have bailed on. He doesn't even take the time to celebrate or even really acknowledge that the whole ordeal is suddenly all over, because it doesn't feel like it quite is, not yet.

Adam meets him halfway, abruptly finding themselves standing on opposite sides of the elevator doors as they open in the lobby, just staring at one other.

"I think I'll take the next one," says Brad, and holds back someone else who's looking to head upstairs as Adam finally steps onto the elevator and the doors close behind him.

They stare at each another some more, then Kris finally punches the button for his floor. "Hey," he says, and looks down at his body, at his hands that are his hands, look at his reflection in the mirrored sides of the elevator that are his reflection.

"It's good to see you again," says Adam, and reaches for him and Kris lets Adam pull him into a tight hug, because whatever else is going on in between them right now, this is the one thing they both need right now more than anything. "I'm sorry."

"If you're talking about putting me in your ex-boyfriend's body, then I accept your apology," says Kris. "If you're talking about anything else...there's nothing to apologize for."

"I didn't exactly make things any less complicated, though," says Adam, but Kris isn't going to let him do this, not after everything they've been through.

"No, stop," he says. "You have nothing to apologize for. Your interest is...not unwelcome. You get that?"

"I don't know," says Adam, his hands still on Kris's arms, neither one of them willing to entirely let go of one another right now. "I'm not sure."

"Tell me again," says Kris. "To my face this time. Tell me how you want me."

Adam looks a little confused, a little awkward, but he doesn't argue. "I only want you," he says, "and it has nothing to do with what you look like. Okay, it has a little bit to do with what you look like, but it's you I want. And not anybody else, not anymore. I have no idea when that happened, but I guess it did."

Kris doesn't think he's actually stopped, just paused for breath, but he takes the moment when it's offered to him and leans up and kisses Adam before he can say anything else.

"I want you too," he says. "And I think you should come to my room with me now so we can figure that out, because I pretty much don't want anything else right now."

Adam's hands lift to cup Kris's face, and the elevator slows to a stop at their floor before he can do anything else. They both take a step back before the doors open, but there's no one there, just open hallway leading to some blessed privacy.

*

Adam wakes up with his arms wrapped around someone, and it only takes him a second to remember who it is, and how and why and how many times, which is exactly how he likes to start his mornings, actually. Less welcome is the hammering at the door that woke him up.

"I turned my phone off for a reason," he calls at the door, but he still slips out of bed and pulls his shorts on to answer it before the hammering can wake Kris up too. "What?"

"Breakfast," says Tommy, pushing right past him into the room, "which you are late for, and... whoa."

At least Kris is covered by the blankets, but he's also starting to stir and likely won't be covered much longer.

"Remember that part I just said about turning my phone off for a reason?"

"You amazing motherfucker," says Tommy. "I want details. Get your ass to breakfast." He glances at Kris one more time. "But not too soon."

"I am going to take my sweet time getting to breakfast," agrees Adam. "Save me something, would you?"

"Planning on working up an appetite?" says Tommy, smirking at him even as Adam practically shoves him out the door again. "Will do."

Kris is definitely waking up as Adam climbs back onto the bed, and he finishes the job by kissing him breathless.

"Morning," says Kris, as much a statement of fact as a greeting. "Wow."

"My thoughts exactly," says Adam, and while they still have the time and the privacy he starts kissing his way along Kris's jaw and down his neck.

Adam might've had the foresight to turn his phone off but Kris's rings before they get too far into it.

"Shit," says Adam, and Kris gives him an apologetic smile as he reaches for it and checks the number. Instead of turning it off, though, he answers.

"Mom, hi!" he says, and Adam's eyes open wider. "Where are-- you're here? But I thought you couldn't... No, no, it's a great surprise. It's great! I'll be...yeah, no, just let me shower and I'll be...of course, I'll send someone down. Trust me, you don't want to see me till I've showered. Yes, I know you changed my diapers." Adam stifles a laugh and Kris smacks him on the shoulder. "Give me fifteen minutes. You've got a room, right? Yes...yes...okay, I'll see you then."

He hangs up the phone and tosses it on his pants and Adam finally cracks up.

"Wow," says Kris, shaking his head. He doesn't say it but he knows what they're both thinking.

Dodged a bullet there.

"Brad got pretty good, but not much gets past your mom," says Adam. "So I guess I should ask...does she know about Katy?"

"Oh yeah," says Kris. "Yeah, they know all about that."

"Does she know about me?"

"Not yet," says Kris, "but she will. Now that there's something to tell. I don't know about everyone else yet, but--"

Adam shuts him up with a kiss. "Believe it or not, I'm pretty good at not shouting things from the rooftops till the time is right," he says. "As long as I know there'll be a right time."

"There'll definitely be a right time," Kris promises him, "but right now I need to take the fastest shower of my life and somehow find something to wear because my whole family decided to show up to surprise me. Did you know they were planning this?"

"Did you really think they were going to miss it?" says Adam, shaking his head at him. "Go, go. I'll meet you, and them, later. I have breakfast to get to, and then--"

"We have a long day ahead of us," finishes Kris, then hops into his clothes--literally hops in the case of his pants--and dashes back to his own room.

*

Brad wakes up on Cassidy's floor with a vicious, vicious hangover. And also a glass of water and couple of Advil near his head but out of flailing arm's reach, because Cassidy's just that kind of friend. He remembers something about a bottle of vodka and he thinks there were strawberries and possibly tights involved, but everything after he found himself back in his own body is a little fuzzy right now.

"It's for you," says Cassidy, and Brad's eyes are hardly open yet so he doesn't really know what the fuck he's talking about.

"What?"

"The phone," he clarifies. "Your phone. It's for you, predictably."

"You answered?"

"Just say hello," says Cassidy. "It's Adam."

Adam. Fuck, Adam. "It's too fucking early for this," he says, but he's not sure what time it is, and it's probably not actually that early at all.

"I know," says Adam, "but I needed to call."

"You're damn right you did," says Brad. "So last night ended a little abruptly. You want to tell me what the hell actually happened?"

Adam laughs and wow, he sounds happy. Brad knows that sound. "Well, I didn't go back and throw another coin in that fountain," he says, "though that was on the agenda for today, just in case. I just--"

"What?" says Brad. "Seriously, Adam, I've got a headache that's ready to devour the whole hotel. Out with it."

"I told Kris." It's on the tip of Brad's tongue to ask 'told him what' when he gets it. "We still have a lot to talk about, but--"

"Oh, for fuck's sake, this really was all about your love life?" he says. "I'm in Dallas over this, Adam. Dallas."

"Believe me, I wouldn't have done that on purpose. But while you're here do you think you might--" says Adam, but Brad knows where this is going and cuts it off before it can start.

"No," he says, simply and firmly.

"Okay," says Adam, and knows enough not to make more than that token effort. "You're going to stay for the show, though?"

"It would look a little weird now if we didn't," says Brad. "Well. Happy fucking Valentine's Day."

"That's not till tomorrow," says Adam, but it's pretty clear he's going to have a very fucking happy one this year. "You know, I've got some people I know--"

"Oh, do not," says Brad. "I get that you're all happy and lovey right now because you've sorted your shit out, but if you try to fix me up with someone, I'm going to have to kill you."

"But--"

"You don't get to do this," says Brad. "I get to make my own choices here. And there might be this guy back in LA I'd like to give a call, if I wasn't in Dallas."

Okay, he knows nothing about said guy back in LA, up to and including his name, but isn't that how things always begin? No one knows where they might go next, which is half the fun of it.

"Oh, hey, I didn't know," says Adam. Not that that's the relevant part of what Brad was trying to say, but it's a start. "I'm sorry. Again. I don't know what to do to make it up to you."

"Oh, I'll think of something," says Brad. "Now fuck off and let me nurse my hangover in peace. I'll see you at the show. Send a car for us. A nice one."

"Done and done," says Adam. "It's good to have you back where you belong."

"Fuck yes it is," says Brad, and hangs up the phone.

*

Kris wraps his arms around Cale as soon as he sees him, hard enough to send him stumbling backwards.

"Whoa," says Cale, laughing as he practically has to hold them up. "Do I even want to know what this is about?"

"Nope," says Kris, and squeezes him one last time and lets go. "I'm just feeling better this morning. All better."

"Thank God," says Chris. "Do you want to do a quick runthrough before soundcheck."

"Yes," says Kris. "Yes, yes, yes. I'm going to play after all, so we're going to need to change a few things up. Try not to hate me too much?"

"Aw, we could never hate you," says Ryland dryly.

"I could hate you a little," admits Cale, "but I'll get over it."

"We're going to have to do it at the venue," says Andrew, glancing at his watch.

"Don't worry, we'll make it work," says Kris. "I have complete and absolute faith in you guys, no matter what curveballs might get thrown our way."

"I like your faith," says Chris, "but I like rehearsal better. Are we ready to head out?"

"I am," says Ryland, and Cale nods his head. Andrew just looks at his watch again.

"I'm going to ride over with Adam," say Kris. "We might be doing a thing. But I'll meet you guys over there, all right?"

"No surprises," insists Cale. "At least, not for us."

"No surprises," says Kris fervently, and gives him another impromptu hug before tracking down Adam, in the midst of a whole crew of people that Kris refuses to call an entourage.

Adam ditches them all as soon as Kris arrives.

"They'll just call me a diva," he says with a wave of his hand, even though the people who know him best are the least likely call him that. "I can get away with this stuff."

"How is everything back to normal again and all brand new at the same time?" says Kris, touching Adam's freckled lips for a moment just because he can.

"I guess we're just that lucky," says Adam. "I promise never to make any stupid wishes again."

"Next time, just pick up a phone," says Kris. "I was there. I'll always be there."

"Sometimes it takes a while to figure that stuff out," says Adam, and kisses Kris's fingers as he pulls them back.

It's new and kind of amazing and suddenly Kris can't wait to jump back into his life again. There are so many amazing, amazing things in store for him.

"We're going to have a great show," says Kris.

"We're going to have a great lot of things," says Adam. "Now come on, the car's waiting."