London was awesome; sure it would have been nice if he'd had a few more sales here, if he'd gotten more radio play, but the lack of publicity meant that he could walk around, take the subway - the tube - and barely anyone bothered him.
The city was beautiful and dirty and alive like nowhere else on earth and he had the freedom to explore it. He'd been to older cities, but London had stories everywhere he looked; huge, world-changing tales of corrupt kings and murdered queens and tiny anecdotes written in street names and half-forgotten billboards painted on crumbling brick.
It inspired him, just being here; words pouring out of him into the crappy notebook he'd gotten from a tiny store that was barely bigger than his closet at home, on a street that he was sure he'd never be able to find again.
Adam walked the streets, breathing in the smells, drinking in the sights and sounds, and retreated to the tube to explore the second city under the ground when the rain became heavy enough that it threatened to wash the dye from his hair.
He never wanted to leave.
It was late, not late enough to be early, but last-tube late; the end of a long day rather than the quick cab-ride home of a night out.
Adam had met a couple of Australians - had actually, physically, banged into one of them in the British Museum whilst he was gaping at a gorgeous Egyptian necklace and wondering if he could get a copy somehow - and they hadn't known who he was (and when they found out they either didn't care or did a damn good job of pretending they didn't). Cooper was nineteen, cute as a button and definitely not as straight as Zoë thought he was and Zoë was a little older and awesomely foul mouthed.
They'd gone for dinner at a cheap Italian restaurant with fantastic, fattening pizza and the roughest red wine Adam had ever drunk, and when they exchanged contact details at the tube station Adam had given them his real facebook and his personal email address.
Lane would have told him he was an idiot and then set about changing everything on the internet (again) but he knew that Zoë and Cooper wouldn't be trouble and he wanted them to be able to look him up when they hit the states later in the year. It had been too fucking long since the last time he'd made a friend he hadn't worked with first, and it felt awesome.
He only just made it onto his tube before the doors closed, and he swung himself onto a seat, laughing. He could easily afford the cab fare back to the apartment he was renting, but he'd beaten the system and gotten on the last train home.
There were only a few other people in his carriage and they emptied out at the first stop, leaving Adam alone with the scent of dust and air that had to recycle itself over and over before it got a chance to make it outside. One day he'd get over the fact that Transport for London thought that opening the windows of a train miles under the ground was as good as air conditioning, but not today and probably not on this trip.
The lights flashed off and back on, split-second quick, but long enough that Adam was pretty sure that he wasn't just blinking, and he felt his heart speed up a little.
"Fucking Tommy...." Tommy had insisted on showing Adam a whole bunch of London-related horror movies as preparation for the trip and this was beginning to feel a lot like the start of one that ended in sewer dwelling mutants and a whole lot of blood. Adam laughed, so stupid to be freaked, Tommy would fucking die if he found out.
Adam looked up at the map on the wall and counted out the stops, five more and then he was home. No time at all.
Then the lights went out again.
"Fuck, shit, fuck!" Adam scrabbled in his pocket and pulled out his cell. No fucking signal, of course, but power and light... The tube was still moving and Adam was fucking getting off at the next stop and getting a fucking cab.
Adam's train started to pass another tube going the other way, its lights still on, illuminating the people traveling home.
A couple of kids making out by the door, an old guy who looked pretty much like he'd pissed himself, a group of girls with their hair up, short skirts and heels...Adam let out a slow breath. Not a horror movie, just an old, old train.
The lights came back on just as the tube pulled into the station, but Adam still got off and made his way up to the street to find a cab. Never. Again.
"You utter fucker."
"Hi Adam, good to speak to you, too. I'm fi..."
"You and your fucking horror movies."
Tommy started laughing. "Awh, baby, did London scare you? They're not really all mutants you know."
"I hate you. I'm never going to be able to get the tube again."
"Tu...Oh, like the subway? Why the fuck not? I'm pretty sure that camera phones and paps aren't my fault."
"Are not my fault either?" Tommy didn't sound totally convinced.
"They are. You fucking made me watch that movie and now I can't go on the tube without freaking the fuck out."
"How much weed have you had?"
"Uh-huh." Tommy hummed. "What have you had?"
"A little wine is all."
"Huh. Okay. No more over-PG13 movies for you."
"You're the one who's afraid of the subway."
"The Exorcist did not freak me out, Friday the 13th did not freak me out - unless we're talking the remake which I'm only willing to forgive because of Clay's ass in those jeans, Nosferatu made me fucking laugh..."
"Okay, okay." Adam could practically hear Tommy put his hands up in surrender. "No more British-made horror movies for you. I was going to bring over The Descent when you got back, I figured you'd get a kick out of the accents, but I don't want to put you off, like, vacations in the country or shit."
Adam growled but it only made Tommy laugh.
"One of these days, Ratliff, I am going to get your ass over here and I'm going to make you go on the tube late at night by yourself and you're going to be eaten by mutants."
Tommy could barely speak for laughing. "I'm pretty sure there are, like, closer mutants. It sounds kind of a waste to travel all that way."
"You fucking love me. It's why you called me with such a flimsy excuse; you just wanted to hear my voice."
"Uh-huh." Adam rolled his eyes. He did kind of miss Tommy, he kind of missed everyone, you know? But he specifically called to kick Tommy's ass, no other reason at all.
Tommy made kissy noises down the phone.
"You're a freak, Tommy."
"Yep." Tommy sounded kind of pleased. "When're you coming home?"
"Uhh." Adam thought for a moment. "A week from Tuesday, like twelve days."
"Cool. You gonna bring me anything?"
"Fucking only love me for my money."
"Pretty much. So, presents?"
Adam looked over at the bag he'd picked up in the British museum, with the little statue of Sekhmet inside. He'd had to buy it when he'd seen that one of her names was the Mistress of Dread. "Nah, might pick something up at the airport or something, candy maybe."
Tommy snorted. "You are so full of shit."
"You'll never know."
"Already do, baby. So, think you're going to be able to sleep tonight?"
Adam cracked his neck and felt the tension drain out of his shoulder. "Yeah, I think so. There are, like, three locked doors and a concierge between me and the mutants."
"Cool, that should work. The concierge can be, like, a noble sacrifice or some shit."
"I like this plan."
"Me too. Don't get eaten."
"I'll try very hard not to."
"Good. Sweet dreams baby."
"I'll see you soon, Tommy."