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Five Things That Never Happened to Adam Clayton the First Time (The Closet Quintet)

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1. The first time Adam ever took a cock into his mouth, he knew beyond a doubt he was queer. The thought startled him, made him look up into unfamiliar dark eyes, his heart rattling like a snare. At that moment he had never felt so entirely himself, nor so deathly afraid. This might seem a strange realisation for a young man who had long since fallen in love with an unattainable hazel eyed boy, but it was, nonetheless, true. It was one thing to sleep with dreams hot, vivid and troubling; quite another to feel authentic for the first time.

2. The first time Adam ever signed his name to a contract, he knew he'd never had so much to gain. The semi-legible signature he'd worked so hard to perfect looked oddly right next to Bono's boldness, Larry's reserve, Edge's earnest scrawl. He never hesitated for a moment. It wasn't until he laid the pen down that he thought to wonder at the price. But then Bono's hand was on his shoulder, Edge was grinning with artless relief in his eyes and Larry was bubbling with coiled excitement behind him, and Adam knew it was a small thing to leave behind.

3. The first time Adam ever played the pronoun game, the relief he saw in Paul's eyes caught on his skin like a passing thorn. Almost nothing really. He shrugged it off and waited for it to pass, smiling at the interviewer with all his teeth hidden away. Later, it never occurred to him not to pour booze on the exquisite little sting until he felt like himself again. In all his cynical innocence, he never dreamed there'd come a day when admitting the lie would be worse than telling the truth, but that time was a long way off yet.

4. The first time Adam realised that he was never going to have the life he wanted, Edge was sitting on the side of the bed, tying his shoelaces. The curve of his pale, bare back wanted only Adam's hand on it to make it perfect, but Edge ducked away too soon, snagging his crumpled shirt from the floor and his hat from the upturned chair. Edge's eyes never met Adam's as he kissed him goodbye on his way out of the room. Adam watched the door's reflection in the mirror until his eyes watered and stung, but it stayed closed.

5. The first time Adam saw the light at the end of the tunnel, his skin was rank with red wine sweat and two distinct kinds of shame. He lay in his bed alone for a long time and contemplated the play of reflected harbour light on the hotel room ceiling. His stomach rolled with a glimmer of optimism. Perhaps it was out of his hands now. Retreating to quiet obscurity seemed a reasonable conclusion, a blessed relief, a bottom to the long fall. He never dreamt they would want him to stay.

He thought he'd pushed them further than that.