Archie capped the pen and stuck it in his pocket. He still couldn't decide if people who asked him for autographs at Cook's shows had eclectic taste in music or were just being polite, but it did make him feel a little less useless and ornamental. The "VIP" area was full of empty cans of soda and people staring yearningly at Cook while he signed posters and made dorky faces at cameras and generally held court. Archie usually got a small flood of people right at the beginning, and then he was left, if not unnoticed, then not talked to, for large portions of the evening. Which he was fine with, because sometimes Cook looked up from making faces at other people and made faces at him.
The person he'd been talking to wandered off back in Cook's direction, and Archie took a minute to check his watch. A half hour at least before Cook was done. At least the hotel was right next door. He bounced on his heels lightly, humming under his breath--
"Is that--is that 'Falling?'"
Archie turned to his left. A boy had drifted in his direction--Archie was, like, 95% sure it was a boy, although he wasn't going to take any chances. He was a little taller than Cook, stick-thin, with flat black hair and olive skin.
"It is," Archie told him, smiling a little. "And you're probably the only person in this building besides Cook who would recognize it."
"I really like the songs you write," the boy said, and Archie said, "Wow, really?" without thinking, because--because, well, Cook was a good songwriter, and Archie had a good voice. That's what everyone said.
"Well, you know, right from your first album, with the JC song--" and the kid was off and running, offering a little mini-dissertation that had Archie ducking his head and blushing.
"--and of course the one you wrote with Cook--"
"That's my favorite one," Archie said. He looked over at Cook, who was already looking over someone's head at him, and beamed when their eyes met. Then he turned back and let the boy keep talking to him.
"--um," the boy said, a few seconds later, interrupting his own monologue, "...David?"
"Your pen--I think, um, your pocket--" He pointed sort of behind Archie.
"What?" Archie put his hand on his back pocket and it came away blue. "Oh my gosh," he said, grabbing his jacket and pulling it up out of the way. "What a mess."
The kid snagged the pen out of his pocket and looked around for a garbage can.
"Are there any napkins anywhere?" Archie asked. "Or I won't be able to sit down for a--hello," he said, startled, as he turned the other direction and bumped into Cook.
"Problem?" Cook asked, looking around him.
"Napkins!" the kid said, scurrying back into view with a handful clutched in his now-blue hands. "Um, hi," he said, eyes wide, as he noticed Cook--and the several dozen other people who now had their full attention on this corner of the room.
"I broke a pen and my whole back pocket is blue now," Archie told Cook, taking the napkins. "Thanks," he told the kid. "Oh, did you get a chance to meet Cook yet?"
"David Cook," Cook said in a sort of gravelly voice that distracted Archie from the first aid he was performing on his jeans. "And you are--?"
"Robin," the kid said, and Archie revisited the girl? guy? probably guy? argument in his head one more time.
"We were talking about songwriting," he told Cook.
"Awesome," Cook said shortly. He collected Archie's napkins and tossed them on the nearest table, then slid an arm around his waist.
Archie took one startled look at Cook, then over at Robin (who looked about ready to run away), then back.
"What?" Cook snapped.
Archie burst into laughter.
"Oh, my God, Archie," he heard Cook say, and at least one "is he okay?" from either Robin or the crowd in general, but he just laughed until his knees went out and he leaned into Cook. Finally, he petered out to giggles that sounded like hiccups, and wiped his eyes.
Cook patted the top of his head with his free hand, which had blue smears on it now too. "Better now?" he asked sardonically, and Archie was off again.
"You'll have to forgive him," Cook said to the people around them, laughter starting to creep into his voice too, "but sometimes we forget to give him his medication, and, well, you know how these things go. Excuse us--" and then all of a sudden Archie was in a fireman's carry heading to the nearest exit, and he concentrated on not shaking so hard when he laughed that he fell off Cook's shoulder.
Cook took him back to an unused dressing room and dropped him, not all that gently, onto a couch. "You all right there?" he asked a still-hiccupping Archie. "Do you need Kleenex? Water? A sedative?"
"Hang on a sec," Archie said, and blew his nose on the one napkin he still had left. He stuffed it in his pocket. "No, I'm good."
Cook just stood there, shaking his head down at him.
"You were jealous!" Archie said, and almost started hiccupping again with remembered glee. "It was awesome."
"Oh, for Pete's sake. I don't get to raise an eyebrow at some inappropriate touching?"
"He was taking a pen out of my pocket. It's not like he had his hands on my butt or anything."
"You say tomato," Cook said, and sighed when Archie blinked up at him. "Never mind. The point is--" He crawled on top of Archie on the couch, sitting squarely on his thighs. "The point is, I would prefer it if nobody laid hands on your butt except me. Okay?"
Archie busted out again. Cook rested his head against the back of the couch and groaned.
"Right, no jealous rages in front of Archuleta. Duly noted."
"Unless, you know, I'm having a bad day and you want to cheer me up. Hey jealousy..." Archie sang, amping up the volume at the look on Cook's face. "Hey jealousy-y..."
"I hate you," Cook said.
"I know," Archie said, tugging on Cook's collar until he leaned down and kissed him.