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Candy Striped Hell

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~*Nothing Else to Tell*~


The meeting is finished, Lane’s finished bitching about keeping the tour buses clean, and remembering to wear underwear because of low riding pants (“One time!” Isaac shouts amid snickers about seeing the real Carp of Carpenter), and not fucking losing passports (Tommy looks around the room innocently until he realises every fucking eye in the room is fixed upon him), and generally keeping everything running smoothly, which is her job… Now they’re all heading down to the little room where Tommy had his little meltdown this morning, where they can be as noisy as they fucking please because they have two hours to kill and nothing to do before Adam’s big thing that he’s been planning for days.

Tommy scuffs down the corridor, keeping quiet in the shadow of his gigantic bodyguard and hoping against hope that Adam’s too busy talking with the others to actually have a word with him because he’s too fucking tired and Adam’s just going to throw another shit fit over it, and really, it’s not that big of a deal is it? Just a couple of pictures and a creep-tastic woman who’s working with the stalker, but Adam hardly needs to know that, does he? Tommy Joe doesn’t think so but he doesn’t think Adam will see it quite the same way –

“Tommy.” Fuuuck, Tommy hears Adam’s quiet command all bound up in his name, softly spoken but like a nail through his heart because he knows that Adam’s waiting, waiting for him to spill his stupid little secret, and Tommy feels sick. He slowly turns to face Adam and out of the corner of his eye, he spots the lift arriving – he wonders if he could make it into the box before… – “Inside, now.”

Everybody in the troupe stops, and stares at them, Lane raising an eyebrow, Monte side eyeing them like he’s thinking about pulling a dad act out and demanding to know what the fuck is going on, and Sutan standing there all smug because the fucker knows that Tommy didn’t want to fucking talk about it now, and then there’s everybody else just standing there looking vaguely confused.

When he finally looks at Adam, his belly lurches because Adam’s holding the door open to a random office, pointing inside like he just expects Tommy to just o-fucking-bey, and wouldn’t you know it, Tommy does o-fucking-bey because he’s already shuffling towards Adam like a naughty schoolboy, his flat converse making him feel smaller than ever next to Adam’s towering height. Everything about him is divided between wanting to run away, and wanting to tell everything.

He doesn’t know which is worse, honestly.

“What’s going on?” He hears Taylor ask, but Adam slams the door shut before Tommy hears the response beyond Sutan telling everyone to head down to the side room and not to bother waiting. Through the little glass window in the door, Tommy sees his bodyguard settle against the wall, obviously expecting to be in for the long haul. Fuck. No help there then. He sees the last of the group disappear into the lift and he knows he’s on his own now; alone with Adam and this secret. He turns around slowly.

“So.” Adam’s sat on the edge of the desk, legs crossed at the ankles in a deceptively relaxed pose. Tommy ain’t fooled for a second; inside Adam is probably jumping up and down, fighting to restrain himself from shaking it out of Tommy by force. “I hear you have something to tell me.”

“Ah.” Tommy is going to kill Sutan when he gets out of here. This was not how he envisioned telling Adam; he rather hoped he would wait until later, much later. Like in the car, via text message later. But obviously he’s not going to get that today, and isn’t that fucking great?

“Tommy,” Adam sighs, “don’t hide it. If it’s important enough for you to go to Sutan like he said, then it’s more than important enough for you to tell me.” He sounds a tiny bit disappointed in Tommy for not coming to him first, but Tommy couldn’t, not when he hasn’t sorted himself out first – he needed Sutan’s own brand of calm this morning, not Adam’s HBIC routine.

“I… Yeah… Can I have a minute?” he says weakly, trying to marshal his thoughts into some sort of order.

“You can have as long as you like, Tommy. We’re not leaving here until you tell me what’s got you freaked the fuck out.” Adam uncrosses his arms, hooks his thumbs in the pockets of his jeans. “I can wait all day, Tommy Joe.”

Tommy knows Adam’s not lying. The man can be as patient as fuck when he wants to be, content to wait for days to get revenge on a prank or to pay back one of Neil’s little brother tricks. If he doesn’t come up with the goods, Adam’ll just wait him out. So he’d better get thinking….

He sighs, props himself by the door for support but… “Ah, no, Tommy.” Adam shakes his head, points him to the chair in front of him, where he’ll be right under Adam’s shadow. No way to hide then.

“Here.” Adam clicks his fingers, points, sounding all the more pissed off and Tommy Joe’s really not with it this morning, because instead of protesting or shoving a middle finger up at Adam at the very least, he just shuffles over, slides into the uncomfortable seat, wraps one leg around the leg of the chair and rubs a hand over his face. God, where to begin? Tommy ain’t got a clue. “Baby, what’s wrong?” Adam’s sounding less stroppy, more concerned now and that’s helping a little. Tommy really can’t take Adam being mad at him right now.

“I… This is a bit difficult….” Tommy drags his phone out of his pocket, needing to have something in his hands even if he’s not using it at the moment, and Adam slides a little closer, so he’s nearly touching Tommy with his outstretched legs, offering some much needed physical comfort. “You know the st-stal-…”

“Freak. Call him the freak.” Adam suggests. Tommy can’t say stalker out loud but in his head, that’s all he can think of the guy as.

“Alright, the freak. You know he took photos of me?”

“Yes, Tommy.” Adam refrains from any sarcastic comments even though Tommy left himself wide open for them given that Adam was there when he kind of had a mental breakdown over said photos.

“You remember the one outside the club, when I was – when I was with that girl?” He doesn’t know what else to call her – bitch seems too weak; stalker woman seems too… real. He settles on girl if only because right now, he can’t process anything else. “In the alley?”

“Uh-huh.” An eyebrow goes up. Adam doesn’t say anything else. He really doesn’t need to.

“I remembered something… something about her.”

“A name? Or something else?” Adam reaches for his pocket, probably reaching for his phone. “This is good news, Tommy! Maybe they can start hunting her down now - we can call the detectives, let them know-“

“No. Not a name. More… more about what she did.” Tommy turns his phone around and around, his fingernails clicking on the plastic case. He looks down – he needs another manicure. Maybe Sutan’ll give him one when they go down to the side room - Adam cuts off his little side track into his mind, pulling him back into reality and the conversation with a gentle kick against the leg of his chair. “When we were in the alley… She was really…” He stops, can’t carry on. When he told it to Sutan, he barely managed to hold on - saying it twice just makes it all the more real. He can’t do that.

“She was what, honey?” And now it’s bad when Adam pulls out the ‘honey’ nickname… it means Tommy Joe’s making him worried, making him more concerned that he thought. Adam’s phone glints in the sunlight, makes pretty slashes of colour across Tommy’s vision. He talks to the light that dances across his sight, instead of Adam’s face.

“I thought she was just nervous, worried about being caught. I thought she maybe she had a fucking bruiser ex or something.” Tommy’s been with a couple of girls like that, ones with violent partners that they’ve separated from, and they were always so nervous, worried about being in public with another man until they got more confident, settled back into themselves – he hadn’t thought twice about her being so on edge, always looking over her shoulder while he kissed down her neck, and his hands tried to go up her shirt, into her bra… “But… I keep thinking about it. And she wasn’t nervous at all. She was smiling.”

Adam’s hand drops his phone; the noise is like a gunshot in the quiet office. “Wh-what?” He obviously wasn’t expecting that.

“She was fucking smiling, kept looking around, kept trying to turn us – turn me and now… now that I’ve seen the pictures…” Tommy’s never had an eye for angles and lines and directions, but his photographer friends have taught him a few tricks of the trade over the years, and when he thought about those photos last night, he recognised what she was trying to do. “She was trying to put me in the view of the camera, get us further under the streetlight so we’d be better lit…” When he’d finally clocked it, he’d nearly puked. He still feels kind of like that now. “That’s the reason you can see so much of my face, my body in the shots – not just her.”

Fuck.” Adam says, before he can think Tommy finds himself engulfed in a hug, Adam’s arms tight around him. “Oh my God, Tommy.”

He winds his own arms around Adam, buries his face into the side of Adam’s neck, trying to block out the world with the smell and feel of Adam, wanting to just forget everything about that fucking bitch of a woman because if she knew, if she was doing that on purpose it opens up a whole new can of worms that Tommy doesn’t know if he can deal with on top of everything else. Adam squeezes tighter, and Tommy lets him, needing the close contact right now.

Inside Adam’s embrace, Tommy feels a bit safer, a bit more able to deal with the world, and he breathes in the smell of Adam; it’s something he’s never been able to figure out, some cologne, a fancy detergent, but most of all it’s something Adam; spicy, musky, deeper than deep and so Adam Lambert that if Tommy could get it into note form inside his head, he’d never stop fucking playing it. It’s a few minutes before Adam draws back, kneeling down properly on the floor in front of Tommy but somehow he still manages to seem so damn tall, and Tommy doesn’t want (read: can’t) to let go, so Adam slides his hands down, wrapping those long, carefully manicured fingers around his own chewed and abused hands. “Is there anything else?” He asks, softly, and Tommy is so, so, so glad there is nothing else to tell because he doesn’t think Adam or he could manage that. This revelation alone was enough for them.

He shakes his head. “Other than Sutan threatening me for doing this to my hair,” he points, “nothing else.” Adam pulls a half smirk out of somewhere, but he still looks so serious that Tommy has to do something else to stop that frown from making itself any deeper. “Pinky swear,” he says, holding out his little finger to add yet more truth on top of his words.

Adam hooks his own little finger around Tommy’s. “Pinky swear?” he says, and it’s so serious that Tommy can’t help the little quirk of his lips, but he nods. He promises that there’s nothing else to tell. “God, Tommy… Never change…” He grins, and leans forward to rest his forehead on Tommy’s for a moment, and Tommy grins wider; Adam believes him, and that means things are looking up. “Alright then,” the man says, getting to his feet, reaching around into his pocket. “We’ll need to call the detectives-“

“Hey, how come you have their number, and I don’t?” Tommy doesn’t remember being told about contact details….

“Because some of us were paying attention yesterday.” Ouch, Tommy feels the subtle bitch slap in that. but he doesn’t object. Adam’s kinda right – he was very out of it yesterday. “And gimme your phone later. I’ll programme it in for you.” Fair enough.

He waits quietly while Adam talks to the detective’s voicemail, just asking whoever the fuck it is to call him back, and he doesn’t really give a shit that Adam leaves both his own number and Tommy’s in the message because that’s just so Adam that he’s kind of gotten used to over the last few years. He’s a bit of a Head Bitch in Charge sort of guy, and this has no doubt stirred up that side his personality again, so the best thing to do is just stay calm and wait him out until he comes back down again and is nice, pleasant, softie Adam.

Or something.

He’s too tired to do anything like objecting to what’s going on – and even if he did, he suspects that Adam would just give him a look and he’d shut up anyway so…. he just watches in silence until Adam’s done.

Adam hangs up the phone, throws it carelessly onto the desk before he reaches over, slides a hand through Tommy’s hair, pulling gently at the roots. He doesn’t even ask – just straight in there, and Tommy lets him do it. It’s such an Adam move – one the man has perfected after weeks of tour and just being together, and Tommy leans into the caress, craving the touch to give him something to focus on. There’s no need for talking, only this wordless interaction, and he keeps massaging at Tommy’s head, soothing the beginnings of a pounding headache away before they can really get started, until he’s a puddle of Tommy Joe Ratliff flavoured goo in the chair.

“Such a touch-slut,” Adam says, and Tommy grumbles, but it’s so fucking true. He could go to sleep right now, just like he does when Adam does it on the tour bus, or when they’re watching a film, or when he’s in Sutan’s make-up chair, or like last month, curled up with his head on Adam’s lap while they watched shitty eighties films until they could barely see straight enough to climb the stairs to go to sleep in beds instead of on Adam’s amazingly comfortable new eight seater couch with deep cushions and fucking gorgeous throw blankets to wrap yourself in.

He is such a cuddle slut, a touch slut, an all-around affection whore; it’s kind of not fair really because he never used to be. When he was in his metal bands or working in the call centre, he really didn’t need all this hugging and touching and kisses behind the ear and always having an arm wrapped around his shoulders, and Adam constantly in his shadow – or him in Adam’s shadow, he’s never worked out which way around it goes – but he doesn’t care. This, right here, right now, feels so damn good.

He likes the affection, even if it does get him called kitty cat by the rest of the troupe. He loves the hugs, the touches, the need to constantly be in physical contact with other people, with the troupe and his parents and Adam. He needs it now, needs it like sunlight and water, and music in his blood because without it, his world would be colder, darker, lonelier and he’s been there and done that, spent years isolating himself away from the world to protect himself from it. It wasn’t fun.

The old Tommy? Can go screw himself because he’s better than he was before - he’s warmer, more open, more social than he ever was when he was chained to a desk or hiding behind Manson and tattoos because of his height, bulking up to appear hard and tough like he still isn’t.

But now, he looks up at Adam, stares into those grey blue eyes, and right away he knows that Adam’s worried about him, worried about what that girl was doing, but just as soon as he spots it, Adam raises his eyebrow, and pulls up a shield, blanking out his thoughts and that means that Tommy Joe don’t get to see no more because only when Adam is ready will he tell what’s going on inside that glittery whirlwind of a mind and nothing Tommy will do can change that.

And he thinks that’s really unfair because Tommy Joe doesn’t get the same privileges - Adam don’t let him have secrets, not big ones anyway but he figures that’s just what it means to be in the man’s presence – there’s no way to keep secrets from Adam, not really.

The head massage starts to wind down – they really can’t hide out inside someone’s office all day, even if that’s kind of what Tommy would sell his right foot for now. That’s just not professional, a little voice in the back of his head that sounds a hell of a lot like Lane is saying, and he purses his lips as he tells the voice to shut the fuck up before he realises he’s talking to a voice inside his head aaaaand now he’s officially going crazy. Peachy. Just what he needs on top of everything else.

“…to Tommy?” Oh, shit. Adam’s talking. “Earth to Tommy? You in there?” Adam waves a hand in front of his face, and Tommy goes to bite it before he really catches on to what’s happening. “Ooh, feisty kitty this morning.” Adam cackles, pulling his fingers back out of range even as he speaks.

“Oh, fuck you.” Tommy flaps a hand at him, dismissing the joke. He doesn’t really mind the kitty jokes – not unless it’s in front of other people, because Adam delights in embarrassing him like that - but he’s not in the mood for it at the moment.

“Alright then, Tommy,” Adam slides off the desk, stuffing his phone back into his pocket. “Let’s go fuck around with the rest of the gang.” He offers a hand to Tommy, wiggling his fingers.

“Do we have to?”

“…You wanna go home?” Adam asks, and he’s not being cruel, or joking around, Tommy knows that Adam’s never like that around him, but he’s worried for Tommy because there are days when he can’t take the social interaction, can’t stand being around people anymore, and he just needs to retreat to his room and to his DVDs and the peace of being in an environment that he can control.  Tommy Joe hates this, hates this world of people and socialisation and being normal sometimes – he doesn’t want it, wants it to all back off and let him be and Adam’s known him long enough to understand that. Can you cope? is what Adam is asking, and Tommy seriously considers the question because he knows the reality of trying to force himself out into the wide world of people and conversations and communicating on more complex basis than “Do you need a bag with that?” If he pushes himself too far, makes himself try too hard, it just comes back to bite him in the ass later on.

He’s not ever going down that route again.

He shakes his head. “Not at the moment. I’m okay for now.” There – he’s left himself an out, knows that Adam’s caught the little exit he’s given in that statement but won’t pick him up on it. He’ll just have to deal with the guy paying him really close attention every time he starts to pull back a bit, or starts but that’s nothing new. Not really, these days. “I’m alright,” he says, offering a tiny smile, and Adam grins back, full and open, and his whole face just lights up.

“Alright then,” he says, offering his hand to Tommy again. “Let’s go fuck with my brother’s head again.”

Tommy grins. Now that he can do.