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Dusk to Dawn

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Kris can make a pretty good case for the chickens, and the merry-go-round, and the whole thing with his mom constantly showing up. Because he really likes chicken, right, plus it turns out they’re on a farm, so yes, fine, chickens walking around actually make sense on some level; and the merry-go-round is probably a hint that he’s stuck in a rut, like subtlety is what that message needs. Not that his subconscious is actually interested in sending him messages. He’s pretty sure it just is

Anyway, or, maybe the merry-go-round is just sort of—erotic background? On account of how weirdly hot he’s found the sight of them ever since he saw The Sting in seventh grade. That hardcore crush on Paul Newman maybe could have been a hint to some things back in the day, but there’s no point in beating himself up over it now. It’s Paul Newman, so maybe not.

That leaves his mom, who is, well, exactly as obvious and Freudian as you'd expect, which is fine as long as he doesn't think about it too hard, ever, up to and especially once he wakes up.

The farm still needs some explanation.

The snakes are kind of weird, too.

"Temptation." Adam is pleased. "I am your temptation of biblical proportions. I think that’s beautiful. Don’t you think that’s beautiful?"

He’s holding Kris’ wrists against the grass with one hand. Kris concentrates on that, and then on Adam’s other hand coming up to cup his jaw.

The snakes can’t represent Adam. Adam is already here. Kris doesn’t need some symbolic representation of Adam when he has Adam himself stretched out over him, hazy and warm. He arches up into the feeling, bathes himself in it.

Adam isn’t temptation. That’s stupid.

“This is good,” Adam says, but only to a tiny corner of Kris’ brain. The rest of him breathes over Kris’ neck. “Now you know not to look around. This is—yeah. You’re getting better at this.”

That is a lie. Kris was better at this the first time, when it wasn’t even on purpose; he’s only gotten worse since. The first time, Kris had been having that dream where he tries to sell his apartment, except that everyone keeps telling him that he doesn’t even own it, he’s only renting, and instead of letting it get to the usual ending where he goes to rake the leaves, he’d found himself thinking, right in the middle of the dream, that he wouldn’t have to sell the apartment if he could just sleep with Adam.

So he did.

He’d had to rewind the dream to the part with the orange juice for it to make sense, but he’d worked it out okay; and then he’d said some stupid line to Adam and killed the mood, like, embarrassingly, like a gory horror-movie guts and entrails death of the mood, like he can’t even picture his dream-self being smooth for five minutes, but he’d rewound that too. Do-over. No talking this time. Just the good parts.

In a way he is learning. He can rewind and fast-forward and cut off some strains of dream completely before they get too far, like, for example, dreams where he can tell he’s going to actually try to talk to Adam. 

Dreams like that never, ever go well. 

He wishes he could make them go well, but he doesn’t really, like, control anything. He nudges little pieces, maybe. Offers a general idea, sometimes without meaning to, and watches the dream run with it unless something happens that he has to rewind and fix.

But then there’s the weird stuff, like making out with Adam in the air, or actually in the middle of an infinite blob of nothingness, but being hyper-aware that it’s a dream to the point that he just has to look around and see what else is there. Make something if there’s nothing there. Upon which his subconscious had presented him with the farm, and the chickens, and the merry-go-round off to the side, and—

His mom waves.

His concentration is completely shot now, drifting, and Adam is gone. It’s a struggle keeping him around sometimes. 

The dream sighs deeply, whole; gusts and wavers.

He wakes up with his face smushed against the seat of Adam’s couch.

“May I remind you once again,” Adam says, “that if you drool on the leather, I will be forced to end you. Painfully.”

Kris brings a hand up to his mouth, checking. His lips feel tender—almost bruised. Adam looks away. He picks his phone up off the table and looks back, smiling at Kris.

“Go to bed. I’ll be back late, okay?”

His hair is swept up and to the side, gleaming in the electric shine of the lights. His eyes are dramatic—yellow and blue blended at the corners, neat sweeps of black—but his lips are simple. Glossy, soft, freckles showing.

Kris closes his eyes. For a minute he has a vague sense that Adam is going to make him get up and go upstairs, but he doesn’t feel like moving and Adam obviously knows it because he turns and leaves instead.


Kris hasn’t even rented an apartment in over three years, but he doubts he’d have any control over his dreams at all if he got hung up on details like that. 

It’s not a problem. It’s not something that should be earning him worried looks when his friends introduce him to theirfriends.

“Oh, you’re—oh, you’re Kris.” Then the look. Like they’re just doing a quick check to make sure he hasn’t died recently. “Nice to meet you!”

He wishes he could believe that the look is actually something fame-based, oh, it’s that guy who won American Idol, oh my god, but while he can compartmentalize and ignore like nobody’s business, straight-up self-deception has never been his thing.

But again, it isn’t a problem. He hadn’t been sure where exactly he should land after his wife turned into his ex-wife and told him that he sucked at pretending to play house, so he just—never did. He tours a lot anyway. And then he goes on month-long vacations. To his parents’ house. 

(Mostly. He went to Spain twice when he was dating Desi. That had felt like playing house, because cliché vacations were things he mainly knew about from other people.) 

Hotels are nice. When he needs to be in L.A. for a while, he stays with Adam, or sometimes Allison.

He sleeps a lot.


He doesn’t dream a lot though, or at least not anything that he remembers. When he does dream, he knows it’s happening, but it’s always been like that. It’s not—spectacularly vivid or anything. It doesn’t feel real. But it feels more real than daydreaming, and knowing that it isn’t doesn’t even matter, not while it’s happening.

“You like being held down,” Adam observes, holding him down. Again. They’re in bed, in Adam’s bed even though it doesn’t look anything like Adam’s waking bed.

Held down, yeah, he knows that even when he’s conscious, held down but not tied upand then he is tied up—for the length of a thought—before he pauses and rewinds and makes it un-happen, turns the dream into Adam pressing him down into the mattress and tonguing high up on his neck and Kris arching up, turning his head and brushing his lips against Adam’s and licking the gloss clean and feeling it slick and hot between his tongue and Adam’s—

And then Adam is fucking him, hard and overwhelming, hands lifting Kris’ hips, thick cock not just filling him but already making him full, hitting something deep, Adam sinking into him and the feel of it burning through him as Adam moves—the feel of it, spreading across his skin. He grips Adam so hard his fingers dream-ache, more, more,now dammit, but at the same time he isn’t moving at all, can’t move a muscle, can only throw his head back and groan because Adam

—leans back against a gray wall and smokes a star. It glitters between his fingers, flickering, and he laughs and takes a drag. He seems very far away, cut off from Kris by a circle of people—all of them with stars, some of them with more than one. Two kids bat their star between them, watching excitedly as it curls up into a tight ball of light, and a little girl pokes hers with a stick.

We were having sex, Kris remembers, and is as fed up as it’s possible to be while dreaming. He’d wish them back into bed but it doesn’t seem—no. Adam. He needs to get to Adam. He sees Adam’s star, that delicate glimmer, and draws himself closer to it. Adam meets his eyes and Kris comes closer, and closer, and wakes up to the deeply shadowed ceiling of Adam’s guest room.

Fucking hell, Kris thinks wearily, and rolls over and goes back to sleep.


It’s kind of like that time he almost died. 

No. It’s kind of like that time right after he almost died, when he got off the IV and was offered people food for the first time in forever and stared at it until the nurse came in and ordered him to get eating immediately.

Adam has been off-limits since the first time Kris thought to want anything else. The timing has always, always been wrong, a jumble of dating, falling in and out of touch, and falling in and out of love with other people.

Even counting all those moments when at least one of them was in a relationship—even counting too-long silences and looks that neither of them has ever made a pretense of misunderstanding—Adam has been a what-if and an oh, well for so long that hands-off is a habit Kris isn’t sure he knows how to break. 

“Because you’re being an idiot. It’s not like I’m seeing anyone. I’m not your forbidden fruit anymore,” Adam says. There’s an apple in his hand, of course, and he takes a thoughtful bite. His tongue comes out to catch the juice on his lips, and then he’s chasing a trail of it down his wrist, a quick flick of pink and then a slow obscene drag, his eyes locked on Kris. Fuck-me eyes. And then he cracks up, because nothing is more fun than playing at sex, and Kris, helpless, feels his own smile tug at his mouth and wakes up again with Adam’s hand on his cheek.

“Are you feeling okay?”

He blinks himself into the waking world and Adam’s concern, a force that’s much less famous than his dick but often seems just as palpable. Protectiveness and affection and a warm touch that slides slowly away with a blunt scrape of nails when Kris coughs and nods.

“You’ve been sleeping a lot.” Adam waits for a response; Kris yawns and catches Adam’s wrist before it goes too far, stroking the soft skin on the inside with his thumb. Adam lets him, and smooths Kris’ hair back with his free hand.

“We’re ready to go,” Adam says finally. “Everyone’s in the car.”

He uses his grip on Adam to sit up and swing his feet to the floor.


There’s a guitar the next time he dreams.

It’s a rare event, surprisingly, even counting those concert dreams where he plays kickass new music that he can never remember in the morning. This isn’t a concert dream, just a jamming-in-the-basement dream, but he plays hard, drifting ruthlessly past his mom’s Kristopher, gently, I’m not buying the new strings when you break something. He’s trying to impress himself with hereness, trying to stay in the moment before he gets distracted and ends up getting his nails done or fighting a dragon from the back of a scooter again. 

Guitar dreams are hard to hold onto. Much like Adam dreams.

“I know,” Adam says. “I’m like, easy come, easy go. What’s up with that?” He raises his eyebrows at Kris over the top of the guitar while a terrarium materializes in the background and then flickers out.

Which, okay, it’s not like Kris hasn’t asked himself that same question—actually, he’s sort of the one asking it now, right? More than sort of. But it’s a stupid question. Dreams don’t do the plot thing, in general. The difference here is that Kris doesn’t really care when there’s no follow-through for the Economics class he starts to relive and then skips out of to carve his name into the desk and then it’s—whatever, the beach or something.

Adam and his guitar are both gone now. But Kris brings Adam back, a quick hard thought like flipping a light switch. He has Adam’s face in his hands just through wanting it there, and he breathes out against Adam’s lips and tries to imagine not letting go.


“Hey, move over,” Adam says softly in his ear.

Kris surfaces from deep, quiet sleep, dreamless and thick, but not heavy. He sits up. “I was watching—” He’s not sure why it feels so important to explain this. “Your TV is better,” he says blankly, foggy. He should move over. Make room. The cool touch of the sheets shakes him a bit more awake, and he remembers crawling into Adam’s bed to watch late night TV after a full day in the studio, remembers thinking that he should go to his own bed before Adam got home and then closing his eyes just for a minute, Adam’s pillow soft on his cheek.

He turns his head and sees Adam in sweatpants and a white t-shirt and— 

a look of intense, unselfconscious focus that Kris knows he definitely isn’t supposed to see.

He’s suddenly wide awake.

It’s very dark in Adam’s bedroom, and chilly. Kris’ knees are cold under a layer of blanket, the air cool; goose bumps prickle along his shoulders and arms and he wonders why the hell he always sees this going so wrong.

One, he thinks. Two.

Three, and he says, “I want to get old with you.”

Adam stares at him. Oh. Right. Terror and humiliation. Those were very solid reasons to at least think through what to say before opening his mouth, except that the really sad thing is that he did think it through—many times—and this is definitely one version of what he came up with, because he didn’t want Adam to get the impression that it was just about sex, which was a possibility only because Adam can be unfortunately dense.

So, yeah, instead he probably sounds like he’s come unhinged or is talking in his sleep or has some sort of aging fetish. Or Tourette’s.

“Also, I want to have sex with you,” he says, for clarifying purposes. “And not a one time thing. And I’m not babbling, I just felt like someone should finally say it out loud, and you were looking at me. So,” he adds, for emphasis. “I’m going to go back to sleep now.”

“Kris,” Adam says.

“Yes?” Kris says politely.

Adam reaches down and cups his hand around the back of Kris’ neck, fingers sliding into Kris’ hair. His palm is clammy and his fingers are cold. Kris shivers.

Adam asks, “Are you sure?”

Kris blinks at him in the dark. “Um,” he says. “Yeah.”

“Hmm,” Adam says. A stray beam of light passes through the room and over the slow smile curving his mouth, and then he pushes Kris down onto the bed.

Which. Well. Nice.

Adam kisses softly behind his ear, and Kris slips his hands under Adam’s shirt and lower, smooth skin and flesh under his fingers until Adam starts twisting out of his pants, groping blindly to help Kris do the same.

“I’ve heard good things,” Adam says, straddling Kris against the bed, “about naked making out.”

“Ah.” Kris throws his head back into the pillows at the brush of their dicks together. “I’ll allow it,” he says to the ceiling.

“Fuck.” Adam sounds a little funny; he’s pressing his palm to Kris’ hip, looking him over and over but not moving otherwise. “I would have said something earlier,” he says. “You just seemed like you had a lot going on, and I—” He cuts off when Kris gets a grip on his cock.

Adam needs to touch up his roots, Kris notices, and then he stacks all his Adam-dreams together, throws a tarp over them, and kicks them over to a corner.

Adam lifts Kris’ head in his hands and kisses him hard. Kris kisses back.