Adam woke up in the hospital feeling awful. He opened his eyes slowly and turned to his left, following the sound of a light snore--his mom. Adam was relieved; whatever had put him in the hospital was probably under control if his mom was here. He went back to sleep.
The next time Adam woke, a nurse was in the middle of taking his blood. "Oh, look who's awake," she said cheerily, and motioned to Adam's mom. "We're been waiting for you."
Adam's mom looked very happy to see him when he looked over at her, still in the same chair as before. "Hi, Mom," he managed, though his throat was so dry and scratchy that the nurse immediately poured him a glass of water and put a bendy straw in it for him. He took a sip before speaking again. "What happened?"
"There was an accident on stage," she said. "One of the set pieces fell on you. They said you might not remember it. You might have some brain damage."
Adam considered this: it would explain the searing headache and the horrible pain in his neck when he had tried to turn it. "What set piece? How long am I gonna be in here? I need to get back to the show, it's almost the end of the month."
Adam's mom and the nurse looked at him blankly. "...What?" his mom, Leila, finally managed. "It's February 5th, sweetheart. What are you talking about?"
"February? What are you talking about, it's nearly summer. The rent's due, Mom. To pay the rent I have to get paid," Adam said, "and to get paid I have to be in the show, and I can't do that from the hospital. When can I go?" Adam was really confused; his mom wasn't making any sense, and the hospital room he was in was really fancy. It even had a flat-screen television hung across from the bed. Surely his crappy insurance wouldn't pay for this?
As Adam considered this, Leila was having a silent conversation with the nurse. They were off to one side and it hurt Adam to turn his head so he wasn't following it very well, but it seemed to result in the nurse leaving Adam's hospital room at top speed. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"Um, sweetheart, the doctor is going to come talk to us. We thought you might have some memory loss..."
"But I'm fine, except for the headache. I know who you are, I know where I am--"
"What year is it, sweetheart?" Leila asked.
Adam had to concentrate to think about it. "It's 2008. And George W. Bush is the president," he added, because they always asked that next in the movies.
Leila bit her lip. She looked pretty worried, and Adam didn't really need to hear what she had to say next. "No, honey. It isn't."
Three different neurologists had come to see Adam and they all asked him the same questions. Adam knew who his family was, he knew how to do regular life-things like write a check or floss his teeth, he knew where the best record store was and he knew who he'd had for ninth-grade English. He didn't, however, remember the last four and a half years.
Apparently he was a rock star now, with a five bedroom house in the Hollywood Hills. He paid his mother to do random things for him like manage his fanmail. When he gave concerts cougars--older women interested in younger men--threw dildos at him. Adam hadn't believed this, but Leila had a tiny laptop with her at the hospital--she called it a "netbook" (it was kind of also her purse because it had a compartment on the side that she'd fished lip balm out of for Adam because his lips were dry) and she had shown him a video on YouTube. He had spent a happy half-hour marveling at his mother's netbook. Although things looked different he was still able to figure out how to work everything on it, which was comforting, but his mother had freaked out a little bit when he'd watched the same video twice without realizing it.
The doctors had warned him that he might have some short-term memory problems: probably temporarily, but they made be permanent. That was pretty scary, and it was even scarier that they weren't sure he'd get the memories from the years he was missing back. The three neurologists had said almost the same thing--"You may regain your memories or you may not, or only some of them. The longer it takes, the less likely they are to come back."
Also Adam's head was still killing him, which was apparently normal when a set piece fell on you--a set piece from his concert tour, not from Wicked. The doctors said he might have brain damage, but his MRI and CT scans didn't look too bad and sometimes brain stuff worked itself out. Or at least that was Adam's translation of the doctor-speak he'd sat through.
His concentration wasn't very good because of the pain, but Adam knew his mother would fill in the blanks after. She'd have to, anyway, since he couldn't be trusted to remember anything. Adam was trying not to be too scared about it because it sounded like there wasn't much point. Anyway, if he was a rock star he probably didn't have to do a whole lot of calculus or other shit like that. Maybe it would be okay if his brain was a little bit broken.
Being a rock star did seem to mean that Adam had a lot of flowers and visitors, and a lot of industry-management type people calling Leila who were freaked out about his impending concert tour (the accident had happened during rehearsals, Leila said). Every now and then she went out in the hall to talk to business-related people while Adam's visitors filtered in and out. Neil had come--from New York, where he was a journalist, awesome--and Brad and Danielle and Cassidy.
They weren't allowed to stay long, except for Neil, but it was nice to see them. They all looked a little different than Adam remembered. Brad had multicolored hair, which suited him; he reminded Adam of Rainbow Brite. They were overly careful and quiet with him, like he was suddenly fragile--but then Adam guessed that was true, since he was seriously injured. He had a bit of a nap after they left since his headache had come back with a vengeance, and when he woke up Neil had gone and his mom and a cute guy were sitting next to him, talking quietly.
"Adam," his mom began when she noticed he was awake, "This is Kris Allen. Kris was on American Idol with you." Kris smiled and nodded and reached out to hold Adam's hand, but Adam cocked an eyebrow at him and Kris took his hand back.
"Are you the guy who won it?" Adam asked. Leila had said that coming in second on American Idol had launched his career, and Adam had wondered what the winner was like. Clean-cut and Southern made sense.
"Yeah," Leila answered for Kris. "You wanna see the YouTube video?"
So Adam, Kris, and Leila watched a sort of random highlight reel of American Idol Season Eight for a few minutes. Kris pointed out who everyone was and told Adam a little bit about what kind of relationship he'd had with each of them, and he told a few stories about their tour.
Leila went out in the hall to take a call, and Kris kept talking. He said that he and Adam were good friends, and that they had stayed in touch after the tour, and Adam had helped him through his divorce. He said it was weird talking to his best friend who couldn't remember him, and he looked sad.
Adam's ears were ringing and he was having trouble paying attention through the headache and the dizziness. Adam kind of understood how it would be weird to be talking to someone you cared about who didn't remember you anymore, like when Danielle's grandmother got Alzheimer's.
Kris sat down in one of the chairs--he had been leaning over one side of Adam's hospital bed as they'd watched clips on the netbook--and put his hand to his own forehead. Adam suddenly felt guilty about having not wanted Kris to hold his hand earlier, but not that guilty, because he still didn't know the guy even if he could understand how Kris might be feeling.
Some of the things about the videos had seemed familiar--Adam realized he felt a little happy every time the girl with fiery red hair, Allison, was onscreen. Kris said she was Adam's favorite, like a little sister. Kris also said that most of the Top 10 had liked one another and were still in touch, if only occasionally by text or Twitter. Then Kris spent fifteen minutes explaining Twitter, with occasional help from Leila when she came back from the hallway in the middle of Kris's description.
"I can't believe anyone cares about anything that fits in 140 characters," Adam said, and Kris burst out laughing.
"That's how you felt about it before, too," he said. "You hate it, you even call the messages twats instead of tweets."
Adam shrugged with as small a movement as possible, but it still hurt. Leila looked at him with concern, and Adam figured that this was the moment when she would tell Kris that Adam needed his rest and he could come back later. Instead she patted Adam's hand and said something about talking to his doctors and making a couple more phone calls. Adam felt a little weird about being left alone with a stranger, but Kris obviously didn't think he was a stranger; he'd even pulled the chair up closer to Adam's bedside.
"You really don't--"
"Nope," Adam said. "I remember being in the musical, and I remember singing at The Zodiac Club. I don't even remember deciding to try out for the show, let alone anything about the show. I can't believe it worked, anyway--most of the people on that show are famous for ten minutes and then do a couple of state fairs, right? But it sounds like it worked for me--did it work for you?"
"Yeah," Kris said. "I'm not as successful as you are, but I can also go out in public without getting mobbed so I think I got the better deal." He smiled teasingly at Adam, and Adam realized that Kris was saying that Adam got mobbed in public now! Adam was definitely going to have to follow up on that. "And it worked for Allison, and Matt, and for the winner and runner-up from the season before us, and kind of for Gokey. But you're right, Anoop mostly does state fairs. Oh, and Megan models now." Kris pursed his lips in a sort of facial shrug. It was pretty adorable. "Anyway, yeah, funny story about how you decided to try out. You told everyone in your Rolling Stone interview--"
"Holy shit, I had a Rolling Stone interview!" Adam said in disbelief.
"Yeah, what, like three or four of them now, usually with covers," Kris said. "Seriously, man, you're pretty damn famous." Adam looked for any hint that he was kidding or exaggerating, but there were none, and Kris didn't seem like the type of person who would lie. Besides, Adam's mother trusted him.
Kris waited to let Adam marvel for a minute before he continued. "The story is that you and Brad went to Burning Man and the idea to audition for Idol came to you during a drug trip!" Kris grinned and raised his eyebrows.
"I told Rolling Stone that?"
Kris grinned for real. "Your mom was kind of pissed." Adam laughed--she would have been--and Kris smiled at him fondly. It was weird: Adam was oddly sure that he had made Kris smile like that before, but he didn't remember seeing it.
The whole conversation had made Adam pretty tired, so Kris sat back and let Adam close his eyes.
When he woke again the room was dark. A sliver of light from the partially open doorway showed Kris still in the chair next to the bed and Adam's mom nowhere. Adam tried to sit up a little and then groaned when the movement hurt him, which woke Kris. "Hey," Adam said to him. "Where's my mom?"
"She went to pick your dad and Amy up from the airport and go get some clothes and stuff," he said, blinking a bit and shifting in the chair. "You okay, do you need anything?"
"No," Adam said, and then thought about it. "So we're really friends? She wouldn't have left me with just anybody."
"Yes, seriously, we're friends. Is it so hard to believe?" Kris sounded amused and maybe a little hurt. Adam felt bad, sort of, but Kris didn't seem like anyone he'd be friends with. He seemed more like someone's square brother or somebody Adam might stand in line with at the grocery store without ever talking to. "I know I'm not very... L.A. But I think you used to like me pretty well."
"I'm sorry," Adam told him. "My head's killing me and I'm kind of drugged up. I remember you told me about the Idol stuff, but how did I meet you there?"
Kris explained about how they were roommates and how they stayed up talking some nights until Kris abruptly fell asleep and how it drove Adam crazy when he realized he'd been talking to an unconscious Kris for five or ten minutes.
"Yeah, that does sound irritating," Adam said. "But really, we got along? You don't seem like--"
"What," Kris said, standing up, "I'm not cool enough for you?" His voice was level but Adam knew he was upset. "My being here is making you uncomfortable. I'm sorry. I'll call Neil or Danielle for you--" He rifled through the pockets of his jacket where it hung over the chair, clearly looking for his cell phone.
"Kris, wait, I'm sorry," Adam told him, and he was. Kris wasn't like any of his other friends--well, the ones Adam remembered. Maybe he had lots of friends like Kris now, although it seemed pretty unlikely. Kris did seem like a nice guy and he'd been by Adam's bedside for hours, so he must care. "I didn't mean to be a jerk," he said. "I'm just out of it and cranky. Don't listen to me, okay? Sit down, let's sleep some more and hope I'm in a better mood in the morning."
Kris was standing in the slice of light from the door, so Adam watched as his face relaxed a little and he sat back down in the darkness. "All right," he said. "Sleep is good."
But Kris didn't sleep; Adam could still hear his regular breathing as Adam started to drift. Vaguely he thought that he should recognize the change in breathing that would be Kris-asleep, because they'd roomed together and he'd heard it every night for months. Kris was a little familiar after all, and it was familiar too when Kris spoke to him in a low voice from his chair a few feet away. "I'd never had a friend like you before, either. I don't think there's anyone in Arkansas remotely like you."
Adam woke up in what looked like late-morning light, with his mother in the chair next to his bed and his dad, Amy, and Neil around the other side of the bed. It felt good to be cooed over and comforted for awhile, and they talked about what they'd heard from Adam's doctors that morning.
The doctors thought Adam would get better in a few days, but those few days were important because Adam might still have a small stroke or a seizure, or develop internal bleeding, or quite a lot of other frightening possibilities. They wanted Adam to stay in the hospital for at least three more days so he could be watched around the clock. The doctors thought that some of his memory loss might be permanent, and that his short-term memory problems would probably improve, but either one could go the other way.
Amy and Leila both talked about staying positive and about how he'd have all the help he needed. Eber was a little more realistic and said Adam needed to be careful and listen to the doctors. Neil teased Adam about being 'drain bamaged.' It was a lot like being ten again, when Adam had had tonsillitis and was worried about how having his tonsils out might affect his singing voice. Adam drifted back to sleep with his family talking softly around him.
When he woke a few hours later Eber and Amy had left, and Kris was back while Leila made more calls from the waiting room with Neil for company. That's what Kris said, anyway--Adam found it easier to trust him in daylight, when Kris looked a lot like some sort of helpless woodland creature, or maybe a big-eyed anime character. Kris told him more about their careers, what albums had done well and where they'd each gone on tour--Adam had been to Europe and Japan!--and he played a couple of songs from his mp3 player in case they triggered anything. They didn't, but they were both good songs and Adam was excited that he had gotten to record them.
"I'd tell you who wrote them, but you won't remember them so you won't be impressed," Kris said, smiling a little wryly. "You called me when you found out Lady Gaga was going to give you a song for your first album. You were so excited I could hardly understand what you were saying."
"Lady Gaga? What kind of name is that? Is she a drag queen?"
Kris chuckled. "Can someone be female and a drag queen at the same time? If you can, then yes, she's a drag queen. Last year at the VMAs she wore this thing made out of tubes filled with water and hydroponic plants on the sides. She was on some sort of earth-mother kick. No one was able to explain it to me, although you did try. You're totally into her and her craziness, you think she's an artiste." He made a motion with one hand that implied "pretentious freakshow" awfully clearly.
"You don't?" Adam asked, although the answer was clear. He was enjoying this side of Kris. It was fun hearing someone so nice try to be catty.
"Whatever, I don't know. It seems like window dressing to me but her music is pretty good. Very catchy." The cattiness was gone as quickly as it had come. Kris propped his feet up on the rail of Adam's hospital bed.
Adam had been amused by Kris's attitude, but he also felt a surge of protectiveness: he loved performance art and crazy costumes. He figured that as a rock star he probably did some of both, although both the tracks Kris had played for him that were Adam's had been ballads. Adam doubted he was putting out albums chock-full of ballads. "How about me? Is my music just pretty catchy?"
His voice had been pretty mild, Adam thought, but Kris clued into the fact that he'd ticked Adam off a little. "Adam, I wasn't talking about you. Look, I'm not in music to--I don't know, make art, exactly. I just love music and people so far are willing to buy my albums and come to my concerts. Some people--including you--are doing something more with it. It's awesome, I just don't entirely get it. Anyway, you and Lady Gaga are not terribly similar. She had glass cages full of robots and rode around the stage doing a handstand on a Segway the last time she was on Letterman. You mainly like humping your microphone stand, wearing fire headdresses and sending down rains of glitter. Trust me, it's a different thing. It's like Elton John's four thousand costumes versus David Bowie."
"Now that you put it that way it sounds like a compliment," Adam said. "Elton John looked stupid in most of his costumes."
Kris laughed. "That is the part you'd catch."
Adam lay with his eyes closed while they listened to a couple of Lady Gaga songs--it was telling that Kris did have some on his player although he prefaced them by telling Adam that she wrote her own songs--and Kris held his cup of juice so Adam didn't have to reach for it: his head and shoulder were still painful.
By the time Leila came back Adam was feeling almost pleased. Sure, he didn't remember his rise to fame and fortune, but now he didn't remember the work and the worry, either. It felt like he was suddenly rich and successful overnight. Making rent wasn't a problem anymore; he'd never have to ask his dad for money or put out roach traps. And while he'd been away--or that's what it felt like, now, like someone else had lived his life for four years and then handed him the keys when they'd taken off--he'd not only achieved all the career success he'd ever dreamed about, but apparently he had made a lot of good friends, too.
Kris had mentioned earlier when they'd talked about Idol that every single one of the Top 10 had called when they'd heard the news that Adam had been injured. Allison was in Europe but would be back as soon as she had a break; Matt and Anoop were coming to visit as soon as Adam was back at home.
And Kris; Kris was clearly something more than a good friend. Adam's mom had looked at him fondly, trusted him with near-equal time at Adam's side. Adam had seen at least three times more of Kris than he had of his father, for crying out loud, and ten times as much as he'd seen Brad or Danielle. Kris must be his closest friend now, or something more like family.
Adam carefully turned his head to look over at Kris, where he was talking to Leila about something music-business related that Adam had tuned out on. He looked tired and Adam realized that Kris must not have gone home since he had arrived at the hospital. His plaid shirt and jeans looked pretty rumpled, but not more rumpled than the night before, and his hair was flat on one side. All together, he was awfully cute and just Adam's type. But surely Adam would have gotten the drift by now if Kris was his boyfriend, right? Kris had tried to hold his hand, but that was what you did with friends in the hospital; it didn't mean they were romantically involved. And hadn't Kris said--oh yes! That Adam had helped Kris through his divorce. So he was straight. Too bad so many hot guys were straight. Just one of the great injustices of the world.
When Adam woke again Kris was gone and Adam's mother was in his chair. Leila got him some juice and asked if he needed more pain meds--he did--and then she updated him on the arrangements she'd made with his management. Adam's tour, per the advice of his doctors, was on hold indefinitely while he was still unwell. He couldn't perform a bunch of songs he didn't remember off albums he didn't recall recording. Apparently it had taken at least two neurologists to convince 19 and RCA of this, but Leila was pretty sure they had gotten the point now. They'd wait for Adam to heal, and if he got his memory back it would be great, and if he didn't he'd just learn it all again.
"So I'm not, like, losing my contract or anything?" Adam asked.
Leila burst out laughing. "Honey, I don't think there's anything you could possibly do to make that happen. Your last album outsold nearly everything last year. You're big time, kiddo." She smiled and held out the plastic cup again so Adam could reach it. "Must be a shock for a boy singing in the chorus, huh?"
"It seems like a dream," Adam agreed, "except that my head really hurts and I'm confused all the time. But if I wake up and I have to go do a matinee and an evening show at least it was a pretty good dream." He grinned and motioned that he wanted her to put the cup back on his tray. His shoulder was feeling better but extending his arm still hurt. "Mom, I have to ask you something, about Kris. Is he around?"
"No," she said, looking curious. "I sent him home to shower and sleep for awhile, but he'll be back in a few hours. Are you remembering anything?"
"Not really. I don't really know if that's water or juice in the cup except that I still taste oranges, and I've been told three times what day today is and I can't remember what you said. But--Kris is my friend, right?" He put a strong emphasis on friend, knowing that his mother would understand what he was asking.
Leila nodded. "Yes. And that's all, as far as I know. Sometimes I think you both have crushes on each other, but you always tell me that I'm imagining things, Kris is straight and that I should mind my own business."
It sounds to Adam like his relationship with his mother is a little colder than it was before Idol. "But I tell you nearly everything. Don't I?"
"You did, I thought," she said. "Except about the drugs, but you did call and warn me before Rolling Stone came out." She gave him one of those wry, you're-in-trouble-but-we've-tabled-it-forever Mom-looks. "For the last few years you haven't really been talking to me about your relationships. I think it's because we spend so much time together working on your career. Really, it's okay."
Adam searched her face, but she really didn't seem sad. Maybe it was just something that happened as he got older. Well, she was going to have to talk to him about his relationships now, because he still didn't feel like he understood his dynamic with Kris--the dynamic his future self has with Kris, that is. "You think we have crushes on each other?"
"We only watched a few clips of the show, Adam, but seriously, your 'bromance' was all the media talked about for months, and it was even a little more obvious off-camera."
"What the hell is 'bromance'?" Adam said, and Leila cracked up.
"You missed that, didn't you? It was everyone's favorite buzzword for a year or so. For a romance between bros, guy-best-friends. Buddy movies. I don't know who started it but I'm thinking they'll pay for it in the next life." She mock-winced. "Anyway, they called you and Kris 'the bromance of the century,' or whatever, and honey, it did look that way, what with the hugging all the time and the saying nice things about each other in interviews. Anyway, that's the hype. The reality is that Kris has been a great friend to you and we all love him. His mom and I keep in touch, and you went to Arkansas to visit his family a couple times. Kris comes to our family gatherings sometimes, too, when he's in L.A. Even Neil likes him. I couldn't really tell you for certain, but I'm reasonably sure that you talk to Kris more than Danielle, or Brad or Alisan now."
That was a lot to think about. More than Danielle? They must be pretty tight. Adam didn't remember anything specific, obviously, but he still felt like his question was unanswered. Kris would know more than Adam's mother would, but you couldn't really just ask your apparent best friend, "I don't know if we ever discussed this, but you're freaking hot and I would totally do you. Are you sure you're straight and not interested in fucking me?" It wasn't really the kind of thing you could just blurt out. Still, Adam figured if he was going to he'd better do it soon while he had head trauma and hospitalization as an excuse. Better scout it out more first.
"Mom, what were my feelings? Do you know? I don't want to wreck any friendships I made in the last four years even if I don't remember them, but I feel pretty awkward around Kris. He seems familiar, and we definitely get along really well and I'd have tried to make friends with him if I'd met him years ago, but... " He squinted one eye, feeling a little embarrassed. "I'm thinking you've noticed that he's just my type?"
Leila reached over and patted his forearm. "The whole world noticed, sweetheart. I'm not always sure he's noticed, though. Honestly, Adam, as far as I know he's your very close straight friend who, awkwardly, looks like two of your last four boyfriends."
"Boyfriends!" Adam jerked his head up to look at her in his surprise and then regretted it when it really hurt, but this was urgently important information that everyone had been holding back. "What boyfriends!" Gossiping about himself was even more fun than regular gossip.
So his mother explained his last four years of his relationship history. There were high points but it was mostly depressing; it sounded like being a rock star got in the way of romance more often than not. Leila was wrapping it up when Kris returned. She'd been telling a story about how Adam had taken Boyfriend 4, a dancer named Bryan, to the Grammys, but at Kris's entrance she sort of trailed off and looked a little uncomfortable. Kris didn't seem to notice and the discussion turned to something else. After a few minutes Leila announced that she was going to go home to feed her cat.
"When did you get a cat?" Adam asked.
"Oh, I forgot to mention it. Last year. She's white and her name is Snowball."
"That's really lame, Mom," Adam told her in a disappointed tone.
She giggled. "That's what you said last year, too."
Kris snickered, and when he looked over at Adam his face was pleased. "He's still his old self," Kris said to Leila. "Things are just a little disconnected in there," he said, waving vaguely at his own head. He reached over and put his hand on Adam's, and this time Adam didn't stop him.
Adam finally felt well enough to be bored, so he and Kris flipped the channels on the flat screen TV for awhile. It was weird how all the commercials were new to him yet somehow they were all the same as the old commercials. They watched a little Home Shopping Network--someone's new collection was truly hideous and Adam mocked it a little--and then an old episode of one of those crime shows. Or maybe it was a new one; Adam wouldn't know since he'd never watched that sort of thing. Why dwell on all the bad things in the world when you could watch something fun or transcendent or period? Adam had watched mainly Bravo and the Independent Film Channel, but Kris said the hospital's cable didn't have the latter and the former didn't exist anymore. TV was nearly as boring as nothing, so Adam told Kris he thought he'd have another nap and maybe Kris could find him something to do when he woke up. At first Kris seemed a little mystified, but when he turned around from adjusting the drapes to darken the room he looked like a man with a plan. Adam closed his eyes.
When Adam woke up it was evening; Kris had told him the time but it hadn't stuck with him. Something in the 7-9 area, Adam thought, by the light outside and the activity in the hall. It turned out that Kris's idea of an activity was showing Adam some more clips from Idol and from their careers. The doctors had said that his memories might be triggered by being reminded of his past, and hey, not everyone had easy access to their past by way of the internet. Kris showed Adam some of his confessionals from Idol, a boring one and then a funny one about the bidet in their room. He also showed Adam some of his performances. (Adam almost couldn't believe they'd let him do Ring of Fire like that on a family show!) They watched two of Kris's performances, and Allison's goodbye number, and then some clips from the finale. Kris smiled and passed Adam a tissue when a tear ran down his face as they watched Adam sing with KISS, and Kris seemed a little teary when they watched themselves do "We Are the Champions" with Queen.
"Brian May has a huge crush on you," Kris said. "He's been telling anyone who asks how awesome you are ever since the finale, and probably people who don't ask. Even years later!" Adam laughed but then went quiet with wonder.
"I hope I get that memory back," he told Kris. "That's a dream come true, right there. On stage with Queen in my platform party boots. Man."
For the first time Adam minded being without those four years of memory. At first it had seemed like a joke, like everyone was crazy and he wasn't missing anything. And when he got the message that they were serious, that it was real, it still didn't seem like a big deal. His family was still around, and all the sudden he was wealthy and famous and had achieved all his dreams--except that he hadn't, because he didn't remember doing it. He wouldn't have all the knowledge he'd gained from Idol, the tours, recording and everything anymore. What if he couldn't stay famous after having to start from scratch? There had probably been times when he had sucked, and now he'd have to suck all over again.
That was a pretty scary thought, so Adam did his best to push it aside. He was a quick study, and he could watch videos of all his own concerts until he could impersonate himself if that was what he had to do. His parents could help, Kris could help. It would be okay.
When Adam tuned back in, Kris was waiting for him patiently with the next video cued up. "You okay?" he asked. "What was the last video we watched? Do I need to replay it?"
"No, it was Queen. I'm just--" Adam sighed. "Starting to realize how important those memories are. I hope they come back."
"I think they will," Kris said, and he put his hand over Adam's where it lay on the coverlet. "Have faith. Let's watch a little more. Who knows, maybe seeing them announce my name as the winner will bring it all crashing back, huh?"
It didn't. But it was illuminating to see them hug each other onscreen, and to hear Kris say "Adam deserved this" as his first reaction when he realized he'd won. They were clearly close back then, and Adam in the video, three-and-a-half-years-ago-Adam, didn't look upset the way Adam thought he himself would have. He looked totally fine with it and pleased for Kris. Kris-now made Adam watch the truly horrible coronation song, so Adam-now understood that maybe Adam-then had dodged a bit of a bullet there--but not enough to explain his total lack of disappointment at not winning the title. Adam had to ask.
"Kris?" Adam turned to him a little, since he had worked out a way to do it where it barely hurt. "Did I really not mind that you won? Not just a little bit?"
"Honestly, Adam, I think you were kind of glad. My contract is a little more limiting than yours is, and you hated Kara's song--"
Adam broke in. "A judge wrote that crap? Well, that explains it," he said.
"Yeah," Kris said, smiling, and continued. "And seriously, no, you were the best sport ever about it and I never felt like you harbored even a sliver of a grudge. I kind of wished you had, because..."
"Because?" Adam prompted.
Kris looked like he was considering his words carefully. "You're a really good person, Adam. You're really sweet all the way through. If you'd been a little jealous I wouldn't have minded, but you weren't. You're perfect like that."
Adam snorted. "I am definitely not perfect, and I've been jealous. I must have genuinely not minded that you won, I guess."
"It's not a guess, it's the truth. I...admired you so much for it. I would have been jealous of you if you'd won. You've got, like, a clearer spirit than I have."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Adam said. "Mom gave me the skinny on you while you were gone. You did missionary work, my whole family loves you. Mom kind of made it sound like you hung the moon."
"Trust me," Kris said. "I really, really didn't. But I've made my peace with Idol; it got both of us where we wanted to be, making music and supporting ourselves. It's okay, it's done now."
Adam felt like maybe it wasn't--he felt like there was something Kris was saying that wasn't coming through, and of course Idol was hardly done for him when he couldn't even remember it, but a nurse came by to give him some painkillers so they took a break from videos.
The next morning one of the doctors came in to announce that Adam would be starting psychotherapy. They said that guided talk therapy might help him remember, which seemed to be the magic phrase to make Adam's family firmly in favor of anything. It wasn't at the point yet of "eat your vegetables, it might help you get your memory back," but it was headed there, so Adam didn't put up much of a fight beyond reminding everyone in the room that he was brain damaged, not crazy. Adam got to pick whether he wanted a male or a female therapist--he chose female--and his mother called around a little to check out the name they were given. Leila said she had a great reputation, and she reminded Adam that the hospital was used to celebrities so it would be relatively simple to come back for appointments after he was released.
The therapist was an older woman, maybe sixtyish. She asked him to give her a rundown on what had happened since he had woken up, and where his memories stopped. He started to tell her about touring with the show, and when he paused for breath she said, "How would you describe this period in your life? Were you happy?"
Adam had to think about it. "Yeah? I was making money, and I really liked traveling and of course I loved performing. But it was boring doing exactly the same thing every night, and of course I had no creative control over anything other than my own performance. I had some great friends, my parents and I were getting along really well since I was all, you know, responsible, good job, living the dream. But it was a little frustrating. I can see why I would have decided to go out for Idol."
"Your family told you about that? The experience, and how you made the decision?"
"Yeah," Adam said. "Kris told me, and we watched a lot of videos of the show. It seems in retrospect like it was the right choice. Wait--I can't really say that, can I? In retrospect. I'm not retro-specting: I don't remember it." Adam paused to see if she was going to say something. She didn't, so he continued. "Anyway. I can still spect--speculate, I mean--that it was the right choice. I guess I have a lot more control now, over the songs, the costumes, and the stage design and everything. Guess I should have rethought the piece that fell on me, though." He smiled at her, and she smiled back. Her name was Yolanda, which Adam thought was awesome, and she was pretty stylish for her age. Maybe this will help.
They went a little over his 50 minutes, then Kris showed up to wheel Adam back to his room. Adam could hobble around okay, to the bathroom and back, but the doctors still didn't really want him overexerting himself. Plus, his therapist is two floors up and a wing over from his own room. It would have taken him fifty minutes just to get there.
The doctors said he would probably be able to go home in another day or two since he hadn't had any complications. Home sounded pretty good before Adam realized that when he got there it would all be new to him. It wouldn't be familiar or comforting, just a constant reminder of the memories he was missing. Adam's mother had told him that they'd all moved, so he couldn't even go to her house or his dad and Amy's house.
Of course it turned out that they had all been discussing what would happen when Adam was released. He would still need to come in for doctors' appointments, and now therapy, and he would have to be watched constantly in case of all those bad things that might still happen--stroke, nervous breakdown, forgetting the oven was on.
Kris informed Adam that he would be staying with him at Adam's house in L.A. (Adam had heard them before but the words "your house in L.A." still sent a thrill through him), for as long as Adam needed him. Adam felt pretty comfortable around Kris, his earlier fear almost forgotten, but it still seemed weird that Adam's actual family would let Kris be the one to take care of him. It solidified the idea that they really did trust him and that he really was Adam's closest friend. Leila hadn't mentioned Brad or Danielle offering to take care of him for an unknown period of time.
That afternoon Adam found himself alone with Kris. Adam was dozing a little while Kris played solitaire on his netbook, which was smaller than Leila's and navy blue. Eventually Adam sat up to reach his water glass, pleased to find that reaching didn't hurt anymore. Even though more sleep sounded appealing he figured he'd better take this opportunity to talk to Kris about all these decisions everyone was making for him.
It was nice to be taken care of, and Adam could admit that it was necessary right now. A certain amount of pain revealed his independent nature to be a luxury, only to be maintained when he was capable of it.
Adam felt a lot stronger than he had a few days ago, but he knew he wasn't ready to be on his own. Still, he didn't understand why it wouldn't be his mother caring for him. After all, having kids kind of obligated you, even if Adam was--he mentally recalculated his own age--31. Had Kris just offered to be nice and Leila hadn't protested quite enough? Sometimes Southerners felt they had to offer things or apologize at least three times when anyone else wouldn't offer or apologize at all.
"Kris," Adam said, and Kris looked up from his game. "About you taking care of me. Is that, do you really…" He couldn't find the right words to say what he wanted to say without being a little insulting, like implying that Kris was weak-willed and had been roped into something he didn't want to do. "Mom says I have the money to hire someone, if she's too busy," he offered, weakly, because Kris was glaring at him.
"You are not going to hire someone. It will be fine. We might even have fun. You do like me, you know." Kris was looking steely now, and Adam felt guilty for thinking he hadn't been absolutely willing to do the sickbed thing.
"I do like you, I know," Adam broke in.
Kris was talking over him. "We'll hang out, I'll take you to your appointments, and we'll do whatever we can think of to jog your memory. We'll call Matt and Anoop and they can come entertain us. We'll drink a lot of beer--well, you're on medication so I'll drink a lot of beer--"
"I don't seriously like beer now, do I? Because I hate beer," Adam said, alarmed.
Kris acknowledged this with a nod. "No, you're right, you hate beer, I'd have gotten you whatever mixed drink you're onto this month." This made Adam smile, because he never stuck with a mixed drink for very long. Kris noticed him smiling and relaxed a bit, his speech slowing from the frantic pace he'd reached a minute ago. "But it's a nonissue for awhile, and I was on a roll." Kris was silent a moment, waiting to see if Adam was going to let him continue. Adam gave a tiny shrug—it was the largest he could do without any pain so he'd perfected it--and Kris started in again. "We'll watch all your favorite annoying TV shows, we'll order Thai..."
Adam smiled as the realization hit him that Kris really, really wanted to take care of him. Leila might even have tried to talk him out of it. It was cute and sweet and Adam felt a rush of affection for him. It was like he could see that slice of Kris that caused him to do missionary work. Right now Kris's mission seemed to be a healthy Adam.
"Hang on," Adam said as another thought occurred to him. "Don't you have, like, rock star stuff to do? Touring, recording?" Adam was still kind of confused about where Kris was at, career-wise.
"It's not a problem," Kris assured him. "I'm writing my third album, but I'm not working with other writers this time. The whole thing will be mine. In a few months I'll start working with producers and recording, but I won't have to travel or anything."
That brought up another question for Adam—would he really need Kris to spend months with him?—that Kris saw in his eyes before Adam could get a word out. "I'm not saying I'll be, you know, in your hair for that long. I just meant, no, I have plenty of time, it's not an imposition or whatever else you were going to say." He seemed pretty determined, so Adam decided it was all right. Maybe it would be fun, and maybe it would help him get his memory back. There was a lot of maybe in Adam's life right now. Maybe that was okay.
Adam spent a total of six days in the hospital, about half with his mother and half with Kris. Adam's mother ran a lot of his business interests and his charitable foundation--Adam still can't believe he has a charitable foundation--and the foundation was running a contest that took up a lot of administrative time.
Towards the end of the week it was mostly Kris keeping Adam company; Adam figured it would be good practice for his recovery. Kris was easy to get along with--smart and funny but not terribly talkative, so hanging out with him in silence was comfortable. Adam's therapist and the rest of Adam's doctors all tried to get him to talk about how he was feeling and what he remembered--still nothing much--so it was nice to be with someone who didn't seem to need that.
Kris was patient when Adam's short term memory wasn't so hot and he asked the same things over and over. When Adam got frustrated Kris could tell and would make him laugh or distract him. Adam thought maybe having Kris take care of him would work out okay. Adam was still Starving Artist Adam, and even his mother seemed to be talking to Successful Recording Artist Adam most of the time. With Kris he was just Adam, gestalt-Adam. Adam figured that it was because Kris had met him only a few months after Adam's memories stopped, when he was still essentially a starving artist, and apparently all the things that had changed him after that just hadn't registered much with Kris.
When they got to Adam's house, which was huge and fancy and a little over dramatic--Kris said Adam let Drake decorate it, which explains that--Adam wasn't even surprised that one of the three guest bedrooms belongs to Kris. He had clothes in the closet and a toothbrush in the bathroom, and Adam must have bought him the plaid bedspread as a joke because Kris just smiled fondly at him when Adam raised an eyebrow at it.
Adam's bedroom was down the hall, and it was practically big enough to fit the house he had grown up in inside it. The bathtub alone would fit ten people. That part was pretty awesome, and the second he set eyes on it Adam immediately had a daydream about soaking in hot bubbly water until his fingers and toes were pruney. He was still not allowed to be alone for very long, though, so the daydream faded a bit when Adam realized he'd have to leave the door open so Kris would be able to hear him. Or Kris might have to sit in the bathroom with him--there was a fancy chaise that would work for that, although Adam guessed that seating sickbed caretakers was not its intended purpose.
It felt weird to snoop around his own house with Kris trailing him around every corner, but it was kind of fun. After only a few rooms Adam was certain that it really was his house and that this wasn't an elaborate practical joke. They had begun upstairs in the bedrooms so they could drop off their bags, and Adam had gotten a good look inside his own closet. It was like paradise; there were parts that revolved, a brightly-lit shoe and boot section, even a wall full of belts. There were five drawers of gloves and an enormous vanity table stuffed with jewelry. He loved everything and wanted to put it all on, but after twenty minutes or so Kris prodded him out the door and down the hall. The top floor was just bedrooms, and after they'd seen Kris's the other two seemed pretty generic. Fancy, the whole house was fancy, but generic. There was also an office, but it didn't look like Adam used it much. Adam hated that kind of thing; he had been relieved to hear that he'd put his mother in charge of so much of it.
Signs of his success were all over the house: gold records were hung in the stairwell, Grammys on the mantelpiece, photos of Adam with celebrities in the den. There was one of him and Kris with Brian May--"That was taken after the Idol finale," Kris said, but Adam had already recognized their clothes from the videos they'd watched. There was one of him with David Bowie and Iman on a red carpet somewhere, Madonna in full stage costume, the members of Muse, some young blonde woman wearing an outfit entirely made of silver spikes.
"That's Lady Gaga," Kris explained, and he pointed out a few more that he knew wouldn't register for Adam. "This is Simon Fuller, he's in charge of 19, that's RedOne, he's a producer..."
Looking at his own past was dizzying. The concert videos and snippets from Idol had been confusing and weird, but the still photos were even worse. Adam remembered looking through family picture albums and having that rush of recognition with each picture--that was the time we went to Grandma's the summer it was really hot, that was that shirt I hated that Mom made me wear, that was the Fourth of July that Neil nearly set himself on fire along with the fireworks. That rush of background information simply didn't happen now—it was like Adam was looking at someone else's album only there were photos of him in it. It was hard to believe that they were real photos. He was wearing unfamiliar (but awesome!) clothes, and sometimes his hair and makeup were even more out there than usual. But it was definitely him.
"This whole amnesia thing is a real mindfuck," Adam told Kris as he sunk into a sinfully comfortable black couch on the same wall as the pictures. He cradled his head in his hands. "I'd think, of all the things that I might have done, I'd remember meeting Madonna. Christ."
Kris chuckled sympathetically. "You tell people that it's the only time you've really been star struck."
"Oh my god. Did I embarrass myself in front of Madonna? Please tell me I didn't throw up on her." Adam knew his expression was one of horror. He remembered when his friend Danielle had met her favorite singer after a concert once and had thrown up directly afterwards from nerves. Adam himself had become pretty queasy before performances sometimes.
Kris grinned. "You did not throw up on Madonna, or at least if you did you didn't tell me about it. You said it was good. I don't think you've thrown up on anyone, actually, but you did tell me once that you met Lance Bass and he grabbed your ass."
Adam laughed. "Being famous is weird as hell, isn't it? Have any fans thrown up on you?"
"No," Kris said, "I've been lucky so far, but several have grabbed my ass, and I have received a frightening number of poorly-drawn portraits of me--or of you and me."
"I kind of want to see those," Adam answered, and then reconsidered. "They're not--we're not naked, are we?"
"Yeah, sometimes," Kris said with a smirk, "but I don't keep those. I have some of the good ones in a closet somewhere."
"Ironic," Adam said, and then turned his attention to the comfy couch. "You mind if I have a nap? My head's bothering me a little." Sleeping often prevented the headache from developing further, and Kris knew it well. Napping was a good fix for Adam's headaches, confusion spells, and even just when he was getting frustrated with being unwell.
"Sure," Kris said, but he made Adam take some more meds before he went upstairs to get a book to read while Adam slept.
When Adam woke up was about two hours later and his head felt pretty decent. Kris wasn't in the room anymore but he left the door open, and Adam found him next door in the kitchen making something that smelled great--tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, if Adam's nose was right.
"My mom used to make this on rainy days," Adam said as he approached Kris at the stove--he looked into the pot and it turned out he was right, tomato soup, and Kris was working on the grilled cheese. The smells were familiar and comforting, and Adam kind of wanted to hug Kris for it. Kris had been so kind to him, far above and beyond what would be expected for a close friendship. He'd practically lived at the hospital for the past week, had all of Adam's medical info--medication and appointment schedules--memorized, and had never been anything less than patient and kind. Adam decided to go with his instinct and folded Kris into a loose hug.
Adam was going for a brief thank-you hug but Kris moved flush against Adam's front, his nose on Adam's collarbone, and it felt natural--like they'd hugged a zillion times. Adam knew that they had--he saw it on YouTube--but feeling it was different. It was extremely weird and totally not-weird at the same time. It was a pretty unfathomable combination, so Adam pulled back and concentrated on the food. "Don't burn the grilled cheese, please," Adam said. "Tomato soup isn't as good without them, you know."
"I can make more if I burn these," Kris said, but he flipped the two sandwiches and stirred the soup. He smiled a little, and Adam felt good about having followed his impulse. "If you want to get us some bowls and plates I think lunch is almost ready."
Adam looked around the kitchen and then took his best guess at which cabinet might hold the dishes. He guessed the one above and to the left of the dishwasher, and when he opened it he was pleased to find both plates and bowls within. It was logical that he'd know where he would have stored the dishes, but Adam still felt satisfied. The dishes were a nice pattern, too. His house, his kitchen, his dishes. It was all so weird.
They ate lunch mostly in silence. Kris glanced up now and then from his plate to watch Adam carefully tear off sections of his grilled cheese in order to dunk in his soup. Adam was thinking of his family, of rainy days and how Leila taught him to butter both sides of the bread. Adam was glad that he still had years of memories. Having the whole set would be better but at least he had a lot of great ones left.
After lunch Kris asked Adam if he wanted to watch a movie. It sounded like a good choice—it was grey and cold outside, and the doctors had told Adam emphatically that he was not to do anything physically or emotionally taxing for at least another few weeks. Kris told Adam where the DVDs were and asked Adam to choose one while Kris loaded their dishes into the dishwasher.
Reading all the titles of his own DVD collection was another comforting moment--the house still didn't really feel like his even though he knew it was, but the DVDs were definitely his. All his favorites were there, from Velvet Goldmine to all his favorite musicals. There were a lot of movies he had never heard of as well, but it sounded stressful to watch something he'd seen but forgotten for a second first time. He picked Velvet Goldmine, but Kris groaned a little when he had come in from the kitchen and Adam showed him the case.
"I've already watched that with you at least three times. Second choice?"
They ended up going with It's a Wonderful Life. Adam used to watch it with his mother around Christmas, but Kris had never seen it. Adam loved the irony. "Finally, I know something you don't," he said in what he knew was an annoyingly self-satisfied tone, but Kris laughed and put his feet up on the coffee table. Adam hesitated a little, because the coffee table looked like it had probably cost about four thousand dollars and all he could hear was his mother's voice telling him not to put his feet on the furniture, but then in a rush he remembered--this was his house, and this was his coffee table! So he put his feet on it and they watched the movie.
Kris loved it, which reinforced Adam's opinion that Kris was good people. Only an awful person wouldn't love Bedford Falls. It was one of Adam's old favorites and he would have been disappointed if Kris had been lukewarm on it. Adam had spent a fair amount of time during the movie looking at Kris on the other end of the couch and trying to gauge his reactions. Fortunately it wasn't hard: Adam had already known from their time watching TV in the hospital that Kris wore his reactions plainly on his face. During the movie he had smiled and laughed a fair amount and cried at least twice--at both the points where Adam cried.
Thinking of Kris's reactions as the credits roll made Adam smile, but Kris interpreted it as Adam's reaction to the movie as a whole. "Great movie, man, thanks," Kris said as he got up off the couch to retrieve the DVD and replace it in its case and then on the shelf. "What do you want to do with our afternoon? Another movie?"
As much as he loved it, It's a Wonderful Life had drained Adam's available supply of emotions and the last thing he wanted to do was watch anything else. Yesterday his therapist had advised him to try to jog his memory by watching things or listening to things from his past, and since watching was now out he figured he may as well do some 'homework' and try listening. He and Kris searched for and found his iPod on his dresser upstairs--it was a fancy new one and it was incredibly thin--and then they settled back into the den, Adam to listen to music on his headphones and Kris to write.
Adam had an awesome pair of huge Bose headphones that they'd discovered attached to the tiny iPod, and it was one of the few moments where Adam had immediately thought, "there we go, something worth spending the money on." His delighted reaction to seeing them on the dresser had made Kris laugh out loud, but Adam was right--the sound is fantastic.
Adam started with some familiar music to ease himself into it. A little Muse, some Thievery Corporation. The iPod was a little hard to work at first, and he found his own playlists unfathomable, filled with song titles he'd never heard of. It wasn't like listening to a stranger's iPod, exactly, but more like a friend's who was into some music you loved and some you were utterly unfamiliar with. Apparently Future-Adam was into some Latin music and some pretty far-out ambient stuff. He tried a couple tracks by Lady Gaga, to see what the fuss was about, and they were good: he liked "Bad Romance" in particular. It made him think of Brad, a little bit, but in a pleasant memory-lane way. Not that he had all his memory lanes open for traffic, he thought, and smiled at his own silly pun.
"Like what you hear?"
It took Adam a moment to register that Kris had spoken, since Adam could only just hear Kris over the music. He turned the volume down but didn't take off the huge headphones. "Lady Gaga is actually pretty good," he answered, and Kris laughed and went back to his notebook.
Adam spent a happy hour listening to his friends' music. His iPod had quite a lot of Kris's, and Allison's, and some songs by Cassidy and Brad and Matt Giraud. There were even a few tracks by Sarver that were pretty decent. He had scrolled down to his own name on the artist list first, but it had seemed too weird to listen to himself. Listening to Kris didn't seem too strange, and then he had branched out from there. Then he had listened to new-to-him stuff from his old favorites, and then his ears were starting to hurt from the headphones.
When Adam sat up to take off the headphones and wrap up their cord he had found Kris's armchair empty. Adam wandered out to look for him. He found Kris easily in the large open living room but he was on his cell phone, so Adam wandered away to give him privacy. He ended up on the far side of the lower level where he and Kris hadn't gone that morning--another guest bathroom, a second laundry room, and the door to the garage. Adam opened an unmarked door and found a stairway down, which must be the small recording studio his mother had mentioned.
He sure did have an awesome house, although maybe he'd have it redecorated to be a little less over the top. But maybe if he got his memories back he'd want it back the old way? Did memories change a person's tastes, change their personality? Adam figured that he wouldn't be the person he was without the experiences he'd had, so it followed that with four more years of experiences he'd be someone else. Someone who liked eggplant-colored leather couches and extremely dramatic window treatments, Adam supposed, and felt a rush of short-lived hatred for his future self. So Future Adam had let Drake have too free a hand with the draperies; that wasn't a crime. By all accounts he seemed to have handled it all well. His parents and Neil still loved Future Adam, and he had tons of friends--the house was filled with all the flowers and cards they'd sent while he was in the hospital.
Adam couldn't remember the last four years, but apparently he had lived them well. Future Adam had Kris, and Four-Years-Ago Adam was pretty jealous of him just for that. He supposed he'd have to do whatever they called it with multiple personality patients--merge himself, the memories he's still got and the information about the ones he's missing. He can't go around for the rest of his life thinking of himself as an impostor in "Future Adam's" life. For one thing, he was supposed to see his therapist twice a week and Adam could already tell that she was only going to put up with him calling himself Future Adam for so long before he got a lecture about Jungian wholeness, or whatever.
Adam was still forbidden to use stairs unattended in case he should have an aneurysm at just that moment, so he had been having this conversation with himself from a nice upholstered bench in the back hallway near the studio. Kris found him there after his phone call. Kris sat down and waited for Adam to speak; it must have been pretty obvious how pensive Adam was feeling. Kris had frequently done the same thing in the hospital--let Adam wait until he felt like talking. It was very calming, especially when Adam's thoughts were tangled and confused and his head was killing him. Sometimes Adam's mother had expected him to be his old motormouth self, and he didn't always feel like it even when he didn't have a raging headache.
"Who were you talking to?" Adam didn't really care so much as he wanted to make conversation to put off having to try to explain what he was thinking about how he's now Future Adam and will remain so whether he gets Future Adam's memories back or not. It was too much like a science fiction movie and thinking about it was kind of mentally exhausting.
"It was Katy," Kris answered, and Adam hadn't been expecting that at all. He knew Kris had been divorced for over a year and separated for longer, and he knew that Katy is Kris's ex because he had mentioned her in passing a few times. He had seen her in a couple of the video clips. But they've never discussed her, never spoken about Kris's divorce. It seemed like maybe now was the time, because Kris pulled Adam by the hand off the bench and led the way back to the kitchen, where he put on the electric kettle and got out mugs and teabags--Throat Coat, which Adam guessed was still his favorite.
Adam sat down at the kitchen table while Kris poured. He brought both mugs and set Adam's in front of him.
"We're on pretty good terms now. We talk every couple of weeks, usually, but a lot since your accident. I know you don't remember, but you and Katy are friendly. She likes shopping nearly as much as you do," Kris said, and smiled wryly at Adam. Adam had his hands cupped around the warm mug while he waited for it to steep; Kris tugged on the edge of the teabag, dunking it repeatedly in the water. "We didn't talk much for the first six months or so, after. It was too hard. But it's okay now. She's still my family, even though we didn't work out as a couple. She knows me better than almost anyone else."
Adam wondered who would know Kris better than his ex-wife, the ex he'd been with for nine years, but he didn't feel like he could ask. Future Adam wouldn't have needed to ask, Future Adam would already know. Maybe it was Future Adam who knew Kris best. How awful would it be, for the person who knew you best in the world to forget you! Adam hoped fervently that someone else knows Kris best, someone Kris just hadn't mentioned to him yet. Then he pushed the thought aside because it was too upsetting. The person who knew Adam best was probably his mom, or Danielle, or Brad. But maybe it was someone else for Future Adam. Maybe it was Drake; Adam knows they dated, although he hadn't gotten the idea from his mother that it was that serious. So it probably wasn't Drake. It probably still wasn't Kris.
Kris was staring at his teabag, but when Adam brought his own mug up to his lips to try a sip Kris seemed to snap out of his reverie. "I'm still, you know, disappointed that it didn't work out. I never wanted to be one of those people who 'married too young.'" He made air quotes with his fingers and looked somewhat disgusted with himself. "But it's true. She knew I always wanted to make it in music, but neither of us had a clue about what that meant. It was just too hard, and we cracked up under the pressure." Kris was quiet for a moment and squeezed out his teabag and placed it on a napkin like it was a terribly complicated procedure that required his full attention.
"I'm really sorry," Adam said. He didn't know what else to say, and they were sitting too far apart from each other for him to touch Kris's arm to comfort him--although he did feel that impulse. Adam really liked Kris. Kris was great. But Adam doesn't remember Katy, doesn't remember Kris-and-Katy, and doesn't know how to comfort someone he has probably already comforted countless times.
"You know," Kris said slowly, "we've never really talked about this before."
Adam looked up from his tea in surprise. They hadn't talked about it? "What, seriously? You're my best friend and we never talked about your divorce? How did we skip that?"
Kris smiled a little. "I didn't want to talk about it for a long time," he said. "I didn't want to make you feel guilty, or like you had to choose sides. Or like you had to make me feel better about anything. It wasn't about you."
"Of course it wasn't about me," Adam said, "but I'm your friend! Friends are supposed to help with things like that. Take you out to bars, stay up late talking, shoulder to cry on kind of stuff, right? I would have done that for you, I'm sure. Wouldn't I?" He didn't actually know, and that was annoying. But surely Future Adam wasn't an asshole, right? And even an asshole would want to help Kris.
"You would have," Kris said in a reassuring tone. "Of course you would have. But you did what I wanted you to do, which was leave me alone for awhile. Thanks. But you're... different now, and I knew I could tell you about it. You need to know this kind of stuff, anyway. Until your memory comes back, I mean."
"Which it probably will, or some of it, but who knows when," Adam said in a singsong, paraphrasing the many times he'd heard it from his doctors and his therapist. "Thanks, Kris, and sorry you have to relive the last four years for me. It can't be very fun for you." Messy divorce, stressful rise to fame, and now they both get to experience it all over again--though in pretty different ways.
"I don't mind, Adam," Kris said, and went to refill the kettle and turn it back on. Adam can't believe he finished his tea that fast: Adam still had two-thirds of his left. "I'm going to switch to peppermint, you want?"
"I'm good," Adam answered, and then went on with their earlier conversation. "Can I--can I ask? How was it for you? Did you have a black depression, or did you bury yourself in your work? Did I help?" He wanted to remember helping Kris, helping Kris like Kris helps him now. The care-taking comes so naturally to Kris, and he knew where all the tea things were. He had his own bedroom upstairs. Surely they hung out a lot, and Adam had helped Kris through things. Maybe not his divorce, although Adam didn't really see where not talking about the divorce would have been helpful even if that's the way Kris had wanted it, but maybe he helped with other things.
"I took a long vacation in Mexico, supposedly to write. I wanted to go somewhere I'd never been before, and it helped a lot. I came back and finished recording my second album, and things were okay again. You called me every Tuesday." He smiled a little and Adam could see the fondness in his expression. "It meant a lot to me. We just shot the breeze, talked about music or Hollywood or whatever. It took me out of my own head, and I really needed that."
The kettle clicked and Kris poured himself a new cup and came back to the table with it. "That's kind of what you are for me. I'm, you know, mostly quiet and introspective and you're all lively and gregarious and everything. My life is better for having you in it." Kris gestured vaguely with both hands, and Adam's eyes were drawn to them and to his face: Kris's expression was normal but his eyes were a little bright. Kris was tearing up! Future Adam really had helped, then, and Adam was relieved and grateful to know it, even if Kris's actual words were a little shallow. Kris was not like any other friend Adam has had before--the ones he remembered, obviously--but that was okay, because this worked. Adam got it now. This worked.
They sat in silence for a little while, drinking their tea, while Adam went back over what Kris had said. He was a little slow at conversation sometimes, now, and not just when people had to repeat things because his short-term memory was on the fritz. Everything was a little harder to understand than it should have been. The doctors said it was normal and to be expected, and while it usually did annoy Adam he wasn't upset about it at the moment. He knew Kris would give him all the time he needed. When Adam was down to half a cup of tea he zeroed in on something that needed follow-up. "Kris. You said I'm different now? How am I different?"
Kris smiled wryly. "Yeah, I was kind of hoping you hadn't heard that part. I'm going to have trouble explaining. Let's see...You're more relaxed now. Less bossy, less self-confident. You're mostly the same. Almost exactly the same. You're just a little less rock star now. I like it. But then, I liked you when we first met, and that's only, what, three months from where your memories stop."
Adam nodded. That made sense, and it jived with what he has gathered from Kris. But it didn't answer his question. "That's not really what I was asking, though," he said.
"I know. You want to know why I didn't tell you before. I don't know. You would have listened and been helpful and done all that stuff you said, bars, talking, sleepovers, braiding my hair, whatever. Maybe I wasn't in a place to talk about it. Listen, it's going to be time for dinner soon and there's barely any food here. Do you want to order something? There's a good Thai place that delivers."
Adam knew Kris still wasn't being quite straight with him; it was hard to comprehend but he was starting to grasp that some of his instincts about Kris were not instincts—they were based in some way on the memories he was missing. It was like the memories, or some of them, were still there in his head, but his access to them had been cut off. Or not entirely cut off, but the factual and sensory information was gone and just some impressions were left. But Adam thought he'd always know when Kris wasn't telling him everything.
Still, people were entitled to their privacy, and Adam wasn't going to pry. Also he liked Thai food, and he liked the idea of it showing up under its own power. "Sounds good. Is it safe to assume that you know what I like?" He grinned and Kris grinned back.
"Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles," Kris answered; the Drunken Noodles must have been for him, although Adam might steal some. "What do you want to do until it gets here?"
"Meet me in the den when you're off the phone and I'll tell you," Adam said. He was feeling braver about confronting his past all of the sudden. It was like realizing that the memories were still there had emboldened him to poke at them a bit.
When Kris came in a few minutes later, Adam was putting his first CD into the stereo. It had taken him a few minutes to find it since his own CDs weren't with the small stack of others he had found near the stereo; they were on a shelf across the room. Most of Adam's music collection had already been on his laptop in 2008, so he assumed that the CDs in the stack were mostly gifts or giveaways--the titles seemed to confirm that.
He had paged through the booklet that came with his first album before taking the disc out. The photos were gorgeous and it was all so slick, so professional. Adam could hardly
believe it was real. He wondered if he had felt this way the first time he'd seen the CD. He set it aside--there were no lyrics in the booklet, he'd have to look them up if he needed to. But then, he shouldn't have any trouble understanding the lyrics since it was him singing them. When Adam heard Kris enter the room, he turned around.
"Hey. I'm going to listen to my first CD. Maybe I'll remember something. Do you mind telling me what you remember, walking me through it?" Adam motioned to the stereo.
"I'd like that," Kris answers. He seemed pleased that this was what Adam wanted to do. "Are you ready to start?"
They went through the CD track by track. Sometimes Adam wanted to listen to the same song more than once; sometimes he mocked them. Their food arrived in the middle of Soaked, but they picked it back up and just multitasked. Often he and Kris stopped the playback to discuss something--how Adam had liked working with this producer or that writer, where this track was recorded, why this song was selected for the CD. Adam liked some of them more than others, and when he told Kris which ones he liked and why Kris laughed. "See?" he says.
"All the same things you told me at the time. You're a consistent guy even with missing memories." He made it sound like it was a positive trait.
When they had gotten to Fever, Adam had asked Kris to play it for a third time and then a fourth. It wasn't just familiar; it was familiar with an edge of reality on it. He didn't remember it exactly, but he knew it. He knew the words and he knew where the background instrumentation would come into the foreground. It had associations with it: Adam was happy and excited just listening to it. While it was playing for a fourth time Kris opened his mouth to talk about it the way that he had with the others, but Adam held up a hand to stop him. They listened to it two more times, and then Adam motioned to Kris to press pause.
He had remembered the day he recorded it. It was Lady Gaga's song, and she had come into the studio to help him lay it down. They'd had a great time and he had been both bewildered and charmed by her. His memory of it felt as real as sitting here with Kris. It was solid and definite, and when Adam turned to look at Kris he must have been wearing his joy on his face because Kris knew immediately what must have happened.
"You remember it! You do, don't you!" Kris rushed to sit next to Adam on the couch, smiling from ear to ear. "Just that day, the one memory? Or more? Not all of it?"
"Just that," Adam confirmed, but he wasn't disappointed. The doctors had all said that the longer it took the less likely he was to get his memories back--but now it had finally begun. Surely if he had gotten one memory back he'd get more. And this one--what a gift. A look into the early days of that first album helped him put some other things into perspective, and it was such a clear picture of how he had felt while recording the album: grateful, delighted, and anxious to get it right. Adam sat back to enjoy the feeling of a having a puzzle piece slot into place in his head. The relief was so enormous that he was tempted to call every member of his family right that second.
Kris read that look, too. "Do you want your cell so you can call Leila and Neil? Or I can call, or we could listen to the rest of the album. What do you want to do?"
They listened to the rest of the album so Adam wouldn't miss the chance to gain back a streak of recovered memories, but he didn't get any others back. Kris made listening to the rest fun and didn't let Adam pressure himself about remembering more. Once they were finished ("Did a judge write this crap too?" Adam asked, after Time for Miracles), they called Leila and Neil using speakerphone on both ends to tell them what Adam had remembered.
Leila and Adam both cried from relief and joy, and Kris seemed to be on the verge; Neil was just a lot less sarcastic than usual. After they hung up Kris had suggested that they just power through the other two albums, in case it jogged anything and to take advantage of Adam's newfound bravery. It turned out that his second album was kind of weird, like he'd pushed the genre selections even further than on the first album and just generally gone in some strange directions. Some of it worked and some didn't.
Adam loved a dance-pop song called Me to You; Kris said his favorite was Out Here On the Ocean, a slow ballad. The third album was great, and Kris told Adam that Adam himself wrote seven of the eleven tracks. It was a huge improvement over the three tracks Adam had written on each of his first two albums, and as a bonus one of the seven songs is his alone and another is just his and Pink's. Kris had to tell him the last part twice, and not because of Adam's short-term memory.
It was a happy evening. Adam's headache had faded to a low roar, and his recovered memories must have come with endorphins because he felt half drunk with glee. He and Kris went up to their rooms around ten, with Kris behind Adam on the stairs as always just in case he should keel over on the way up. Ordinarily it would have been way too early for Adam to think about sleeping, but he was still on hospital time and he knew he needed the rest. He was still able to drop off for naps a few times a day and then sleep without a problem all night. That didn't make it any easier to let go of such a good day.
Kris sat on the end of Adam's bed to wait for Adam to get changed and brush his teeth before going to bed himself, but when he stood up to go Adam asked him to stay. "You're planning on waking up at intervals to check on me anyway, aren't you? It'll be easier if you can just roll over and look at me, and it's a king bed. We'll be roomies again."
Kris hesitated for a moment, but then he smiled and did as Adam had suggested.
Adam woke slowly, drifting from a dream into the gloriously comfortable bed. There was soft light behind his eyelids and a smooth pillow beneath his cheek, and the weight of the warm sheets and the blankets over him felt perfect. Gradually he started stretching a little, still being careful of his neck and shoulders even while half-asleep.
Eventually his brain moved toward waking and Adam realized that he had dreamed a lot the night before. That was new: Adam hadn't remembered a dream or even felt that he'd had any since the accident. Maybe all that REM sleep accounted for how relaxed and comfortable he was now. Everything was just the right texture and temperature, and Adam wanted to stay right where he was forever.
He had been dreaming of Allison, and how he had taken her to Paris late last fall to celebrate before her world tour began. They had shopped and walked and gone to the Louvre and generally had had a fabulous time. It was a dream in that Adam had dreamed about it, but it was also a memory. It had come with some specifics--laughing themselves sick over crepes near Sacre Coeur, walking along the Seine in the rain, and buying tacky pink models of the Eiffel Tower to take home--but mainly it was impressions and feelings. Still, these feelings were fact. They were not more true than the vague slivers that Adam had located about Kris, but they were a whole lot more solid.
Adam burrowed a little further into his pillow and turned onto his other side. What a wonderful dream to have, and it had really happened! He let himself drift, and his thoughts of the first dream led to another before it, farther back in the night. This one was of Drake at the beach. They had known that they were going to break up soon but they had decided to put it off. They were friends first and foremost, and their arrangement had been negotiated with very few words. It had been sad, but not crushingly so. They had always made better friends than lovers, and after six months of low contact they would be back to the former.
It was nearing the point where Adam would have to either fall back asleep or wake up for real, but just as he was drifting off into a doze he realized that there was a third dream, his first of the night, that also woke up its corresponding memory. The realization jolted Adam awake, but the memory didn't vanish like a dream might have. It was a rehearsal for the Idol tour, the very first rehearsal. He had spent hours getting dance lessons and now it was time to try them out in front of the staff and crew and all the other Idols. He was confident, but he knew the stuff with the mike stand will get him a lot of ribbing from everyone (mostly Matt). That was all there was, though, not the actual reaction--just Adam preparing for rehearsal and running through his numbers.
It was piecemeal, sure, but that was four whole memories that Adam has today that he didn't have yesterday, and recovering them has given him a feeling of peace and satisfaction. It was going to be okay. He was going to get through this, just like his mother had said. It was going to come back. And now it was time to wake up.
When Adam opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was Kris. They were both on their sides facing one another, separated by about three feet of mattress. At first Adam thought Kris was still asleep--his eyes were closed and his hair looked hilarious, plus half his face was covered in sheet--but after a few seconds Kris opened one eye. "How do you feel?" he asked Adam.
Adam was in a pretty intense state of delight despite the fact that The Headache was already up and (stomping) about too. He was warmed by the fact that Kris immediately thought of Adam's well-being on waking, especially since it seemed pretty clear that Kris would rather just go back to sleep. Both of Kris's eyes were closed again when Adam grinned and answered, "I remembered some things while I was asleep."
Kris opened both eyes at that and looked excited, although the sheet was still covering most of the lower part of his face so Adam had to extrapolate from the top half. "That's awesome. How does that work?"
"Dreamed about stuff, woke up and knew it was true," Adam said, summing it up. "Allison and I went to Paris. Drake and I broke up but it was okay. I think Matt made fun of my dance moves after the first Idol tour rehearsal but I only remember the actual rehearsal."
Kris looked impressed--he shifted a little and the sheet settled under his chin so that Adam could see his expression in total. "That's a pretty neat trick. I don't know about the breakup part, although you and Drake are still friends, but you and Allison did go to Paris last November. And Matt made fun of pretty much everybody nonstop for the whole tour. Also, Allison is going to be stoked that you remembered her so fast. Let's not tell her that you remembered Lady Gaga first, okay?"
They were due at the hospital in an hour for Adam's psychotherapy and his doctor's appointment, but they woke up with more than enough time to shower, dress, and have breakfast. Adam had orange juice and an egg-white omelet. Kris allowed Adam to make the omelet though he does double-check to make sure Adam turns off the stove.
"It's my job," he said solemnly, which was kind of hard to take from a grown man eating Count Chocula cereal for breakfast. Unless Adam had developed a taste for sugar cereal in the last four and a half years, Kris stocked it here for his own consumption. The thought gave Adam pause, although it isn't actually new information. Kris already had his own bedspread and he knew where everything was. Adam didn't know where everything was in his tiny apartment in WeHo, although that was partially because he lived out of his suitcase a lot of the time.
Adam had therapy with Yolanda first, and he was thrilled to tell her about what he had remembered. Talking about it with her had brought up some more details and had made the memories clearer and more solid in Adam's mind. Now they had become anchors that he could use to navigate the places that were still blank. He could sort out details about the things he didn't remember based on what he did. How wonderful that his unconscious mind could throw out these recollections for him. He hadn't even had to work for them like he had for the recording session memory the night before.
He suggested to Yolanda, jokingly, that he should just sleep all day long and wait for his memories to swim back to him in dreams, but she thought that he should be grateful for the easy ones and prepare to work for the hard ones. Adam pushed this out of his mind almost as soon as she said it. He isn't ready for anyone to harsh his buzz. He'd rather let his own mind guide him, and today he has a lot of trust in that method. It had worked last night and it would keep working. Yolanda didn't know everything, Adam thought.
Adam's doctors were excited to hear about his recall. They asked him tons of questions, not so much about the memories themselves but about how it felt when they came back and how detailed they were. They told him to stay relaxed and not to do anything stressful or physically taxing, but his reflexes and pain were nearing normal levels and they wanted to start him on occupational therapy. It wouldn't have anything to do with his occupation as a rock star, but rather with his ability to deal with his reduced short-term memory. It was improving, slowly, but Adam still had problems remembering the answers to questions he'd asked others, and sometimes he tried to do things a few times in a row because he didn't remember having already done them, like turning down the volume on his iPod or pulling off his socks. The doctors said that they could help him minimize those problems and that the therapy itself might help him resolve them.
Kris had waited outside in the hallway for Adam during his therapy appointment, but he accompanied Adam into the exam room to write down anything Adam would need later. Adam was thankful for Kris's presence and amused at how all the doctors were aware that the guy with the short term memory problems was unlikely to show up on time for appointments without outside help. Overall the doctors were encouraging about Adam's progress, and Adam and Kris were both feeling jovial as they head out of the hospital.
The next thing on Kris's plan for the day was lunch with Leila and Neil. Leila's house wasn't far from Adam's, which Adam knew not only because he had been told but also because Kris just reversed the route they had taken to the hospital with a few new turns near the end. Leila met them in the driveway as they pulled up and they went in through the side door off the carport. It was a beige ranch house with no notable characteristics, but Adam found it familiar that they were using the side entrance. In the house that he and Neil had grown up in, the front door had been strictly for infrequent visitors and trick-or-treaters. Adam was usually annoyed by consistency—it was the hobgoblin of little minds, someone said, and Adam wouldn't have remembered who it was even before his accident--but lately he was finding consistent people immensely comforting.
They entered through the kitchen, where Adam immediately smelled his mother's chicken and apple soup. It was one of her specialties--Adam's grandmother's recipe--and Leila believed that it would fix most illnesses. Adam figured she was probably excited about trying it out on his head trauma. Goodness knew she'd applied it to colds, flus, broken bones, and just about everything else already. It might not help his head, but Adam was looking forward to eating it: it was one of his favorites. His mother was great at spoiling him—most of his memories of being sick as a child were way more positive than negative.
Adam was anxious to tell his family what he had remembered during the night and Neil was going back to New York and his job in another day, so lunch went on until well past five. All the frenzied talking escalated Adam's headache, and as he had quieted down he knew that Kris had noticed by the worried looks he shot Adam. Eventually Kris thanked Leila for lunch and brought Adam his coat.
They took turns hugging, even Kris and Neil, and while Adam was saying goodbye to Neil he overheard Kris say to Leila, "Thanks for letting us settle in yesterday. I think it helped a lot," but Adam didn't catch his mother's response.
Kris bustled him outside and into his car, a black SUV hybrid, and they were back at Adam's inside three minutes. Kris suggested that Adam take his pain medication and have a nap in the den while he started dinner. It sounded like a brilliant plan to Adam. So far his convalescence had greatly resembled vacation, if you didn't include the doctor visits and the fact that he still felt kind of awful. Kris fed him, and they talked, and then they listened to music and watched movies and ate more. It had been a pleasant couple of days even including the headaches and the brain fog. If Adam had been at his mother's house they probably would have watched soap operas all afternoon while arguing over the remote control. Adam drifted off to sleep on the couch in the den while musing contentedly about what Kris might make for dinner.
"Adam," Kris said as gently touched Adam's shoulder. "You interested in supper?" Adam mumbled something and then pried himself off the couch to follow Kris into the kitchen. There was a pot of spaghetti on the stove as well as a saucepan of meatballs and sauce. It smelled amazing, and there was even grated parmesan in a deli container and a big green salad in a wooden bowl to go with it.
Kris led Adam to the table and asked him what he wanted to drink. "Water, please?" Adam was perfectly capable of getting his own water and his own plate, but Kris was already walking through the kitchen towards the cabinet where the glasses were. He got two out and filled them from the filtered water tap in the fridge door. Once he had brought them both back to the table, he went and filled two plates and delivered them to Adam. Kris sat down and started twirling his spaghetti around his fork, so Adam followed suit. It was lovely to be taken care of. Kris even knew that Adam liked a minimum of parmesan—there was three times as much on Kris's spaghetti as there was on Adam's. And Kris put just enough bleu cheese dressing on his salad greens. Adam loved bleu cheese.
"Do you cook for me a lot?" Adam asked. He wanted to add a compliment about dinner, but he'd better actually have a bite of it before telling Kris how much he appreciated it. Adam was already sure it would be good: it smells good. He cut a meatball in half with the side of his fork and ate it. It was delicious.
"No," Kris said. "You'd rather we went out, mostly. But we do hang out when we're both in town. You're gone more than I am."
"Why do I want to go out? Especially when you're such a great cook?"
Kris ducked his head and smiled. "Thanks. I don't know. I like to cook." Adam heard an extra layer of meaning in the words--Kris liked to cook, and Kris liked to cook for Adam. Then there was the complication: Adam—meaning Future Adam; this Adam was totally on board with Kris cooking whenever he wanted to--preferred to go out. Adam always liked to go over to friends' places for dinner. Adam had even liked it when Brad cooked, although Brad was a pretty lousy cook.
Adam felt more than ever that there was something he wasn't understanding properly, but he wanted Kris to know how he was feeling now. "I like it when you cook. What are we having tomorrow?"
"I'll let you know when I figure that out," Kris said, and chuckled. "In fact, your dad and Amy are going to come over in a bit and keep you company while I go get some more clothes from my place. I'll pick up some groceries while I'm out. Your mom stocked the fridge for us, but I forgot to put a couple of things on the list. Is there anything you want?"
Adam couldn't think of anything, and Kris had picked well for him so far. "Whatever you decide will be fine, I'm sure. Thanks, Kris. I really appreciate everything you've--"
Kris cut him off. "You don't need to thank me. You'd do it for me." But Adam wondered if that was true. For one thing, he was almost positive that if their situations were reversed he wouldn't be cooking for Kris—he would be ordering from anywhere that would deliver. But he might do the rest, like wake up to check on him in the night and drive him to appointments and things. It was hard to say. That one memory of Allison had cleared up so much of Adam's confusion about what his friendship with her was like. Without being able to remember it himself, Adam had to take whatever anyone said and infer as much as he could from it. It was one thing for Adam's mother to tell him that Adam thought of Allison as a sister. It was another thing to have remembered a whole weekend of them goofing off and teasing each other and having a fantastic time. He now had four memories from the past four years, but none of them included anything of substance about his relationship with Kris. His entire past with Kris, excepting the last week, was a blank slate. He had everything he had been told, including by Kris himself, but somehow Adam felt that it didn't add up to very much.
Adam shook off his pensive mood and changed the subject. They ended up talking about the other Idols: Matt and Anoop were arriving in two days to stay for the weekend, and Allison would call as soon as she had a free hour during a time of day that Adam would be awake--the huge time difference made it tough. Both arrangements had been made by Kris over email, as Kris had investigated Adam's neglected, overflowing inbox and had pronounced that they would have to tackle it later because it was terrifying.
The memories that had come to Adam last night made Allison and Matt, at least, seem real, but answering piles of email from people Adam may or may not remember seemed impossible, and Kris must have understood. It was hard to feel like being social with anyone, let alone people Adam knew but can't remember. At least the feeling of knowing people, of familiarity, had gotten a little stronger. Over the course of the last two says Kris had made a few references to people and Adam had found it less jarring than when he had been in the hospital and had tried to picture Kris's mother or his manager.
Adam was looking forward to meeting Matt and Anoop in person. He wasn't nervous or scared the way he had been with Kris, just a little stressed and excited. But at the same time he was almost loathe to have visitors: he had been enjoying spending the last two days mostly with Kris. He had liked having Kris to himself.
Ah well, Adam thought. All good things. Plus, they had two more days before the whirlwind of Matt and Anoop descended. Anoop had been only a footnote in his memory of the Idol rehearsal, but Adam still got the clear sense that he and Matt worked as a team, and that they created mayhem and discord wherever they roamed.
Adam spent a happy couple of hours talking with his father and Amy while Kris did his errands. Adam and Kris had gone to the den after they put the dinner dishes in the washer, and only a few minutes later they had heard Amy shout hello from the front door. Adam had always given both his parents his house key just in case, so he just called back to tell them that he and Kris were in the den.
Kris said hello and hugged Amy and shook Eber's hand. He told Adam that he would be back in a couple of hours, and reminded Adam that he could take another pill if he needed it, and then Kris was off.
Adam updated his dad and Amy on what he had remembered, and that led to a discussion of his albums. Adam was a classic rock fan and he had gotten it all from his dad: Eber was quite the music geek. They talked about Adam's influences and how he had decided what kind of music he wanted to make. Adam asked questions about some of the songs, ones that he had thought were a little different or didn't quite fit in with their albums, and Eber knew all about each one. He explained that he and Adam had talked about this sort of thing pretty regularly. Leila was more like a manager or assistant, she handled administrative things. When Adam had wanted to talk about music and he wasn't getting what he wanted from his industry people, he would call Eber. It made sense; after all, Eber was where Adam had gotten a lot of his musical tastes (at least pre-1990 or so). His father wasn't into recent stuff as much, although he would listen to CDs that Adam sent and they would talk about them later. Amy was into music also, although her tastes were pretty different, and her perspective had been helpful.
It wasn't a solid recollection, but Adam felt that they had had similar conversations over the past four years, sitting around on someone's couch shooting the shit about some band or another. In his own recent memories, the ones from nearly five years ago, he had mainly talked about money with his father and about how he needed to borrow some. He had often asked Amy's advice about when the best time would be to sound his father out about loans. If he was understanding their current relationship correctly it would be a vast improvement over the one they'd had in 2008.
Kris had come home dragging a beat-up rolling suitcase and two huge bags of groceries, which Adam's dad had helped him bring in from the SUV. Eber and Amy had left soon after that, and Kris and Adam put the groceries away. Adam had needed a lot of help with where things went: not everything in his kitchen was as easy to find as the plates and bowls had been.
Sometime during his talk with his father and Amy, Adam had realized that he hadn't recovered a single memory all day and his mood had taken a downward turn. Kris let him alone while they were putting up the groceries, but once they were upstairs Kris called Adam on it.
"You seem a little upset," he said. "It's okay if you don't want to talk about it." Kris sat down on the low couch at the foot of Adam's bed and waited.
Until Kris said that, Adam had not wanted to talk about it. Rather emphatically, in fact. He was in a bit of a mood, it was true, but all the doctors and his therapist had all said that it wouldn't be easy and that he wouldn't get knocked out with a baseball in the stands at a game and then come to with all his missing memories back in place. But Adam had been hoping that they were all wrong and that would happen. Well, not the part with the baseball because baseball games were unbelievably boring, but something along those lines, like when Miss Piggy hit Kermit over the head with her purse in The Muppets Take Manhattan and then he was Kermit again instead of Gil or Phil or whatever name he'd taken with the advertising frogs.
After his progress yesterday and last night, Adam had felt like he was on track to recover by, say, the end of the week or so. But now it seemed like he's still recover, just slowly, a bit here and a bit there, and maybe he wouldn't get new pieces every day. It seemed like a further insult that Adam knew that if he'd had more than one nap today his outlook would probably be a lot more positive. A thirty-one year old man should not need three hours' worth of naps--and thirty-one still seemed impossibly old.
Adam gave Kris a condensed version of his thoughts: "I'm pissed that I haven't remembered anything today, and cranky because I didn't rest enough." He knew he was sulking like a kid, but it was how he felt. He sat down next to Kris on the couch, and Kris put his arm around Adam's shoulders and drew him in for a hug. They were a little too far apart and Adam was so tall that he ended up not really hugging Kris but more planting the side of his face Kris's henley. Kris smelled good and he was very warm.
"I'm sorry about not letting you get enough rest," he said. Adam started to protest that it wasn't Kris's fault, but Kris tugged him in tighter, trapping Adam's mouth against Kris's shirt. Adam wanted to draw back to voice that incredibly ancient thirty-one year olds should be able to be responsible for arranging their own naptimes, but he knew Kris would just hush him again, and he was enjoying having Kris's arm around him. "Tomorrow I'll make sure you do," Kris continued, and Adam sighed. "Your memory will come back, we just have to be patient. I'm here for you, we're all here for you, and we're going to get through this."
Adam tried not to sniffle, but when Kris released him a few minutes later there was a wet spot on his shirt. Adam wasn't as embarrassed about it as he felt like he ought to be, and Kris didn't even seem to notice. "Okay," Kris said, and stood up. "Time for bed. You go change and I'll get your pills."
That night as they were falling asleep, Adam reached across the huge mattress for Kris's hand, and Kris didn't say anything. He just held Adam's hand as Adam fell asleep.
The next few days passed quickly, although Kris always made sure that Adam got at least three hours of napping in. They spent the afternoons of one day with Leila and another with Eber and Amy, and Kris made lunch both days. They watched a few movies and listened to records, and Kris wrote songs in his notebook while Adam read unfamiliar books off of his own bookshelves. It was harder going than it had been the first day, but Adam did recover more memories, mainly smaller ones: sitting at his mother's dining room table eating chocolate macaroons from a tin, shopping with Brad at Cassidy's store, talking to Danielle on the phone from his bunk on his tour bus.
The bigger ones tended to come back while he was asleep--performing at the Grammys last year, his first date with Bryan (the dancer ex-boyfriend), some stuff concerning a mild kerfluffle early in his career where he had been "too shocking" in one of his TV performances. As time goes on Adam realized that a person's memories were numerous but rather less detailed than he had expected. He talked about it with Yolanda, who said that people didn't remember every moment of their lives ("Well," she said, "some people do, but it's an actual medical disorder. There's a term for it and everything."). She said that most people only really remember the important stuff and vague outlines of everything else. Adam was getting moments here and there of the outlines, and the important stuff waltzed in when it felt like it.
By the weekend he had gotten more memories back from the Idol tour, which was handy because some of it concerned Matt and Anoop, who were arriving later in the day. None of it had really involved Kris, although he had been present in some of the memories. There was one about some silly Twitter prank they'd played on him while he has been asleep, some bits about Danny's dirty socks, and Scott's brother's intensive grooming habits. None of it was terribly interesting, but Adam supposed that it was nice to have the memories back.
When Anoop and Matt knocked on his front door, Adam had remembered just enough about each of them to be genuinely happy to see them. It was true what Adam had thought about Matt and Anoop sowing mayhem, although both it and the discord were pretty mild. They had clearly dialed it down to allow for Adam's current activity level, and Kris had obviously warned them about the importance of naptime. It was kind of like having two Stooges around the house: they cavorted and poked each other and sometimes drew Kris or Adam into their skits, although they were careful not to get too crazy. They were respectful of Adam and his condition without making him feel like an invalid, and he appreciated it enormously.
The four of them sat around in the den and ate delivery pizza and talked about old times--or at least three of them talked about old times while Adam tried to make sense of whatever he could and filed the rest. Some of it did spark his memory, since the next morning Adam seemed to have received a Matrix-like brain dump of Idol tour memories during the night. He was almost giddy with excitement upon waking, but there was no one to share it with: Kris wasn't in the bed with him. He had been there when Adam went to sleep.
Adam got dressed and went downstairs to the kitchen, where Kris, Matt, and Anoop were arranged around the kitchen table eating cereal. He grabbed a bowl and the Cheerios--his favorite--and told them about all of his new memories: one time they had gone out to a club after the show and gotten wasted. Another time they had drunk most of the contents of Danny's minibar and then blamed it on him when their handlers had gotten the hotel bill. Adam had also remembered a meet-and-greet and a couple of fan lines, and they spent the rest of breakfast reminiscing about the nicest fans and the craziest ones. Matt told some great stories about his favorites, and Adam laughed while Kris and Anoop suffered through stories they'd heard Matt tell before. They were both teasing and joking with him, though, so Adam knew they didn't really mind. Anoop and Matt were leaving later that day, and Adam knew he'd miss them both. It was crystal clear to him now that Idol would have been a success for him regardless of the recording contract, since it led to these friendships.
Allison finally called midmorning the day after Matt and Anoop took off. "Bro, whazzup?" she said loudly, drawing out the word for a few extra syllables.
Adam answered her on autopilot: "Little sis!" He knew he'd said it a million times. They talked about his prognosis and her tour, and time flew as their words flowed. Adam's ear was getting sore from the headphone insert that Kris had handed him to use; Adam's mother had used a similar one when she had answered calls while he was in the hospital. It had something to do with minimizing exposure to waves of something; Adam hadn't retained their explanations. By this point it was just another future-thing that was easier if he just accepted it at face value, like the super clear flat TV sets and the tiny netbooks.
Adam looked up to ask Kris if it was possible to switch the headphone thing to his other ear, but Kris wasn't in the living room; he must have gotten bored and wandered off. Adam and Allison had been on the phone for a pretty long time--Adam looked at the display on the screen and saw that it had been well over an hour. No wonder Kris had found something else to do.
He interrupted a story Allison was telling about her keyboardist when he realized that now was the perfect time to ask her about Kris. He had managed to get a little information out of Anoop one morning while Matt was in the shower and Kris had been doing laundry, and of course he had some of his own memories about Kris back now. But most of it was trivial stuff: a few conversations they'd had on the Idol tour, events they'd both attended. Nothing helpful.
"Allison," Adam said softly. "I want to ask you about Kris."
"Okay," she said. "Is he in the room?" She spoke quietly too, as if she had automatically followed Adam into gossip-mode.
"No. I didn't notice him leave, he might come back any minute. Listen--I remember a lot now. But I still don't remember much about Kris. I know we're close, and that I'm crazy about him. He's been so sweet and so patient, you wouldn't even believe it--"
"Oh, I would," she interrupted. "No doubt. He loves you, Adam."
"I know," Adam said, because he did: Kris took care of him as well as Leila would have. But wait--what does Alli mean? "Hang on. What do you mean when you say that?" Adam was staring at the doorway in case Kris came in, but he still wanted to be a little vague in case Kris could hear their conversation before Adam saw him turn the corner into the room.
"I mean he cares about you a whole lot, at least, and I've always thought that he wanted more. He won't talk to me about it, and believe me, I have tried." She laughed and Adam smiled, imagining Allison at her most persuasive.
"Nope," she said. "I love him like a brother too, but we aren't as close as you and me. It's always been that way. I'm sure he was faithful to Katy even when things got bad, but ever since then…More and more I get the feeling that he wants to start something and you don't, or maybe you just don't know that he does." She sounded like she'd thought about it more than a little. Adam knew that she just cared about his happiness, and about Kris's. Adam had tried to match make his friends a few times, although it had never gone well. Cassidy probably wasn't even mad about it anymore, Adam hoped.
"You think I wasn't interested? Why on earth wouldn't I be interested?" Adam can't figure this out. While Kris was married, Adam knew he would have avoided developing feelings for him. Adam had dated a guy when he was in his early twenties who turned out to be married, and Adam had felt horribly guilty about it even though there was nothing about it that was his fault. So that part made sense, but afterwards? The only thing that had stopped Adam from making a move now was that his future self clearly hadn't so there must have been a good reason not to. He was definitely attracted to Kris (as his mother had said in the hospital, the whole world knew that Kris was his type), and he was relatively sure that Kris was attracted to him. He wasn't stingy with physical contact, and he always seemed a little pleased when Adam initiated it. There must be a reason that they're not already together, and maybe Allison knew what it was.
"I don't know," she said. Damn it. "I know about Ethan," she said, referring to Adam's married guy, "so there's that. But Kris has been divorced for like a year and a half, so I don't know."
It was nearly time for lunch, so Adam knew that Kris was eventually going to come back into the den to collect him. But he needed to clear up one thing for sure before he hung up with Allison. "He's never mentioned dating anyone to me, but I'm not wrong about him being bi, am I? Do you know?"
"No, he is," she said, and Adam felt a slight surge of relief. He had always been pretty certain of his gaydar, but even he's wrong every once in awhile. "He dated a little bit after the divorce," Allison told him. "I'm sure he talked to you about it at the time and it just hasn't come back to you yet. He was with a girl named Molly for a couple of months last year before my tour started, and I know he went on a few dates with some guy from his studio after that but it didn't go that well."
Adam was surprised to hear that this is the sum total of Kris's post-divorce dating experience. "What, two in a year? Does he not know that he's hot?" Unfortunately, Kris chose that moment to reappear in the living room doorway. The sunshine was bright today, so Adam hadn't seen a shadow as he had come around the corner: the huge windows in the room made the light spread everywhere. Adam searched for a way to cover up what he'd said in case Kris had been lurking in the hallway for a moment too long.
Allison answered Adam's question, unaware of his panic. "Well, he's definitely been told, but I don't think he really knows, if you know what I mean. It's part of his charm." When Adam didn't answer, Allison instantly realized that it was because he couldn't. "Oh! Oh boy, he's back, isn't he? Did he hear anything? What did you just say?"
But Kris looked normal. He came in and sat on the other end of the couch from Adam and raised his eyebrows. "You want lunch?" he said, quietly, to avoid interrupting Adam's call.
"Kris made lunch, I gotta go," Adam told Allison, and they said goodbye.
"Call me back if he heard you," Allison said, and Adam hung up.
Kris was just sitting on the couch; he looked totally normal. "How's Alli? Do you want some salad?"
"Good," Adam answered, "and sure." They got up and went into the kitchen. "She was telling me a story about her new keyboardist." Adam was searching for a way to explain his last two sentences in case Kris had heard him. "Women keep dumping him. It's sad."
"Huh. But Allison is good?"
"Yeah," Adam said, and they sat down at the already-set table. It was salad, sure, but there were tons of toppings in bowls on the table: diced chicken, homemade bacon crumbles, boiled eggs. It was exactly what Adam was in the mood for. He kept looking at Kris for signs that Kris had overheard enough of his conversation with Allison to know that they were talking about him and not about Allison's keyboardist, but there was nothing. Kris was just spooning cheese over his salad.
"You gonna eat?" Kris asked.
Adam straightened, shocked out of studying Kris further. "Definitely. This looks great." Adam helped himself to greens and started in covering them with tomatoes and carrots and various proteins. "You sure do have an elaborate idea of salad. I like it."
"This is what salad should be, if it's lunch. Sometimes you eat your salad plain, no dressing or anything. It's disgusting." Kris's nose wrinkled adorably.
Adam grinned at him. "Dressing is fattening," he said. "Man, if I'm ever going to be a rock star again I'll have to quit letting you spoil me like this."
"You've never let me before, much," Kris said. "I like this better." He looked up from where he was trying to balance a piece of lettuce over a piece of bacon on his fork and gave Adam a sweet smile.
Adam was seriously thinking about jumping him, after that. Kris was so cute, and he cooked and sometimes he played his guitar while Adam napped--after he asked Adam if it would bother him, of course. It didn't, at all: Adam loved to drift off to sleep while Kris played, and he loved listening while pretending to be asleep, too. If Kris has been interested in him before the accident, and Adam had known about it, why on earth wouldn't Adam have leapt at the chance to be with him? Trying to figure out this puzzle is going to drive Adam nuts.
After that it was something of a tense day. Adam didn't have any appointments, so they were just rattling around the house. Adam had reached a point where he would like to be able to leave the house and do something, like see a movie or go to a club. But being famous makes that kind of thing complicated, and Adam knew he wasn't prepared to handle paparazzi or fans or really any more stress than he already has.
For a few hours after lunch Adam was worried that Kris had overheard some incriminating portion of his phone call with Allison, but Kris never showed any signs of it and seemed to be in a perfectly affable mood. They ended up watching a DVD of the latest Pixar movie, which Kris told him he had loved, but Adam didn't remember a thing about it. It was charming and fun and they both laughed all the way through it.
After the movie and a nap, Adam was feeling more human. These days his head only bothered him sometimes, not constantly, and Kris didn't have to wake up to check on him in the night or walk behind him on the stairs. (Kris does still sleep in Adam's bed, 'just in case.') Adam has been getting better, and stronger, and Yolanda thought that he had probably over half of his memories back. She said he was recovering faster than anyone had expected, and that he should be very proud of how hard he has worked.
The occupational therapy had really helped, too, although none of the things they'd had him do made much sense. Still, in the last few days Kris had rarely needed to answer questions more than twice, and Adam hadn't tried to turn off anything that was already turned off. But he felt like there was a big hole in his memories and it was Kris-shaped. Kris was there around the edges, but there was very little that was personal. Adam hadn't remembered any long conversations they had, or vacations they took together, although Kris had referred to both. Adam had remembered watching Kris perform on the Idol tour, and tuning in for some of his TV appearances, and catching a show on each of Kris's tours. But Adam didn't even remember if they had hung out afterwards, and he doesn't remember how he felt about it.
Most frustrating of all, Adam doesn't remember if Kris ever tried to let Adam know that he was interested in something besides friendship. And just like meeting Madonna, Adam felt like that would have been pretty damn memorable.
Leila came over to make them dinner that evening, and before she arrived Adam decided to return some phone calls. All of his friends had been calling, and sometimes he had texted them back or left them a voicemail but he hadn't really wanted to talk to anyone: his head is confused enough. But he was in the mood to say hello to Megan, so they talked for a half an hour or so, and then Adam returned calls from Sarver and Danielle with brief updates on how things are going for him and Kris. Kris had left the room only a few minutes into his call with Megan, so once Adam has had enough of the phone for one day he left the den to look for Kris. Kris wasn't in the kitchen or the dining room--they've never used it--and the downstairs bathroom door was open and the light was off.
There was no Kris in the hallway, but the farther down it Adam goes the clearer the sound of Kris's soft voice. But he wasn't singing--Adam had found him singing and playing his guitar as he worked on a song a few times before--he was on the phone. Adam's first impulse was to go back to the den and find something else to do, because he didn't want to invade Kris's privacy, but at the same time something about Kris's voice gave him the strong feeling that Kris was talking about him. Adam was pretty desperate to know how Kris felt about him, so he stopped in the hallway just before he would become visible to Kris.
"I know," Kris said, so quietly that Adam had to strain to hear him. "I know he does. But I don't think it's like that, Katy." Kris paused to listen to Katy's response, and when he answered her his tone was annoyed. "Oh, you know better, do you? Look, I've tried! I've done everything but ask him straight out--" He was quiet for about ten seconds as he listened.
"Well, no. Not since the accident. That's true…Yes, fine, you're often right, I know. But things are going so well and I don't want to screw it up. It's different now, he's different now. Well, he's much more relaxed around me. And he's not, you know, distant. I don't want things to go back to the way they were. He hasn't gotten back that much that's about me, and maybe that's for the best. Or if he has, he hasn't told me about it."
Kris was silent for a long time after that as Katy replied, although he did hmm and sigh here and there. Katy apparently had a whole lot to say. Adam was nearly vibrating with a mix of excitement, confusion, and guilt--because of the eavesdropping--but now he was absolutely certain that they were talking about him. It could have been something else until the last bit. They were talking about Adam, and something Kris had wanted to ask him, and something Kris doesn't want Adam to remember that is about Kris. And Future Adam was tense and distant. Why would he ever have been tense and distant with Kris? Kris was his favorite person in the world.
"I see what you're saying," Kris finally answered. "But anything I say could trigger whatever it is that changed things before. It just seems like playing with fire."
Katy talked some more, and then Kris said, "I know. I'll tell him you say hi. Yes. You too." Uh-oh--that was definitely Adam's cue to get back to the den and look busy. No, maybe he will get a glass of water and then come into the living room with it. But Adam wasn't ready to face Kris yet. Adam had always thought of himself as a pretty good actor, and he'd had some practice with subterfuge, but he wasn't used to hiding anything from Kris. For weeks now he has told Kris just about every thought that has gone through his head. He shared most of his new-old memories and his frustrations and his hopes, and he's not sure anymore that he'd be able to keep his thoughts off his face if he went to talk to Kris right now. So Adam went back into the den, put his headphones on, and pretended to have a nap.
Adam's pretend nap turned into a real one, and Kris woke Adam when Leila arrived for dinner. She brought brisket (another of Adam's favorites) to reheat in the oven but she made the sides to go with it in Adam's kitchen. She has cooked at Adam's before when Adam had parties. Adam had a sudden flash of a family gathering around his formal dining table as he followed Kris into the kitchen, and earlier in the week he had remembered a Halloween costume party from the year before. Leila knew where everything was kept, but Adam and Kris kept her company while she bustled around the kitchen. They sat on the stools at the rarely-used breakfast bar and chatted a little while Leila sliced apples and steamed broccoli. It was comfortable, although Adam's head was still busy trying to sort out what he had overheard earlier and how he felt about it. Leila and Kris didn't seem to notice; they were discussing Adam's most recent doctor's appointment.
"Adam," his mother said, and Adam was forced to leave his speculating for later. "Do you think you might be ready to get back to work? No hurry, but your management asked me to check in with you about it. Anytime you want to, and not until you want to. Kris was just telling me that you're pretty close to a clean bill of health." She knew Adam had zoned out, then. He did it a fair amount lately, but then, he always had. Leila was very good at spotting it. She had teased him about it, but it seems that the head injury has given him a temporary pass.
Adam remembered performing while sick with colds or the flu, and he was close to that level of illness lately. He'd gotten back a lot of memories of his own performances, so he thinks he'll probably be able to do justice to himself soon. He'd need to work on re-memorizing his song lyrics, but that was pretty normal when you hadn't sung a song in awhile.
"Maybe," he said, and thought about it. "How about I take three more weeks off? That's when I go down to every other week with Yolanda. It'll be kind of like a vacation. Then we can start rehearsals, and I can do all the press I'm sure they're anxious to unleash on me."
It wasn't long until dinner was ready and they took their plates to the kitchen table to eat. The conversation flowed along steadily, but Adam noticed that he and Kris seem to have swapped moods--Kris was being quiet and Adam was feeling talkative. He really did feel like he was nearly ready to get back to his life, although he thought that he'd pace himself more slowly than before. His management would hate it, but his newest contract was more flexible than the previous ones and Adam felt like his focus had changed.
Adam was aware that he was a little different from pre-accident Adam (he no longer thinks of himself as Future Adam. It's not the future anymore: it's just now. He isn't quite sure when he stopped thinking of his missing-memory self as an almost-separate person, but it seems like it was a long time ago). His priorities have changed. Before the accident he had been mainly intent on his music and his career. Adam has gathered that he hadn't been in close contact with many of his friends for the six months or so prior to the accident, and he assumed that it was because of the breakneck pace of his business. He had been doing a lot of press for his third album and he had let it distract him from the people in his life. Adam doesn't want to let that happen again, not with his parents or his brother or any of his friends. Adam loves performing and singing and being famous, but he loves his family and friends more.
Leila left after dinner, and Kris lobbied for another movie but Adam sidetracked him into a discussion about Idol and the tour. Adam felt like he'd gotten most of his memories back from that time period. For some reason it was the months of his own second tour that were really the fuzziest. Maybe none of it had been that interesting and that was why Adam hadn't remembered much. Yolanda kept telling him that he couldn't expect to remember every minute with perfect clarity, and that even if he did most of the particulars would be boring.
Kris seemed a little reluctant to reminisce with him, but Adam was undaunted. He had decided during dinner that whatever this obstacle was between him and Kris, he would either solve it or climb over it. It had sounded--from what Adam had overheard during Kris's phone call with Katy--like Kris wanted to be with Adam, and that Adam hadn't wanted Kris. But Adam sure as hell wanted Kris now, and he had no idea why he wouldn't have wanted Kris before the accident. It sounded as though Kris didn't know what Adam's problem had been was any more than Adam knew what it was now. Maybe Adam could get something out of him this way.
Adam asked Kris a few guided questions--what was the tour like for you (fun, crazed), would you rather have kept Matt as your roommate (an emphatic no), which show was your favorite (Little Rock)--but Kris answered them as if he were in an interview, not the way he normally talked to Adam. It wasn't getting them anywhere. But Kris could tell that Adam was feeling frustrated, so he told Adam about some things that Adam wouldn't have remembered because he wasn't really involved. Sometimes that was the hardest information for Adam to recall because he hadn't been there. Often he found that he actually does remember it and that whatever it is was just sort of at the back of the line behind a lot of other memories and he had just needed a reminder.
It was pretty familiar when Kris told Adam the story of how Kris and Anoop had kept a fan's present, a tiny clay skunk, for a pet during the tour. They had named it something insane and posted photos of it to Twitter. It was silly and entertaining, and it had somehow made the tour and their relationship with their fans fun again for awhile. Adam had been spending every spare moment during that part of the tour flying off to meet with producers and record things while Kris had been on a bit of a break, so his only memories concerning it was the vague feeling that fans had Tweeted him about it.
Adam's memories and Kris's stories both strongly implied that a lot of the Idol tour had been a drag. They'd worked long hours at weird times of day, so it had been hard for them to keep in touch with people not on the tour--and it was a little too easy to get overexposed to the other Idols and the crew. There had been so many of them on the bus that even five minutes of alone time had been rare. While that kind of togetherness had built a lot of strong friendships, it had also taken its toll on everyone's patience and sanity. Adam remembered his solo tours as a lot more laid back: still crazy but with room to breathe.
Kris talked more, about his own solo tours and bus pranks and how he loved performing but didn't love all the travel. He told Adam that he'd rather be at home writing songs, or visiting his family in Arkansas. Adam thought that he needed a hug, so he slid across the leather couch and put his arm around Kris's shoulders.
"I'm sorry," he said, and tugged Kris in so that he could put his nose in Kris's spiky hair. It tickled.
Kris allowed himself to be hugged and then pulled back a little with a sigh. Adam's arm remained around his shoulder, but Kris moved his head. Adam sighed too.
"It'll be okay after my next contract negotiation," Kris said. "For the next album I already talked them down from forty concert dates to thirty-two. And they're going to be smaller venues, which I like better."
Adam nodded and squeezed Kris's shoulder gently. "I'll come visit you this time," he said. "When you have a day off after a show, I'll come spend it with you."
Kris looked surprised. "You will? Well, you'll try. You never have before, you know. You haven't seen either of my solo tours."
"I didn't remember going, but I hoped I had," Adam said. "I'll do better this time, Kris, I swear. I want to support you." He reluctantly took his arm from around Kris's shoulder; it seemed like maybe he had left it there too long, and he didn't want to make Kris uncomfortable. Adam considered what he wanted Kris to get from this conversation. "I don't think I was a very good friend to you before my accident."
"You were really busy," Kris started, and Adam cut him off.
"It's no excuse," he said. "You were here for me when I needed you. Right now, this is you being here for me. But I didn't do that for you."
"You mean for my divorce? But you were, you--"
"I called you once a week. But I wasn't there, not really. I remember some of those calls. I didn't know what to say, didn't know what to do that would help you. I might have helped you inadvertently, but trust me, it was just dumb luck." Adam looked down at his clasped hands; his legs are stretched out in front of him, feet propped on the coffee table. "I should have been there for you for real, in person, doing whatever you needed. And that was over a year ago. I've got almost no memories of you from the last six months--did we even talk at all?"
Adam had never asked Kris anything so specific about his missing memories before. Up until this minute, that's just hadn't been the kind of thing they had talked about. It had been about being careful, not stepping too close to anything that might be a land mine. Adam was done with that crap. If it was going to blow up, it might as well blow up it now. And Adam hoped that after the past few weeks maybe they'd found a new path for their friendship--their relationship, should they manage to form one--that would survive whatever it was in their past that still held them back now.
"Well," Kris said, and when Adam looked into his eyes he saw that Kris was surprised that Adam asked. Adam had changed the boundaries on him. "We didn't talk much. I don't really know what was going on with you. Like I said, you called me every week for a while--maybe eight months or so. Then you called less, and then not at all. I called and texted when I was here in L.A., but our schedules didn't match up very often then." He seemed embarrassed, although Adam knew deep in his gut that it had definitely been all his own fault and that Kris had nothing to be embarrassed about. "When your mom called me about your accident I hadn't heard from you in almost a month."
"It's not going to happen again," Adam said, and he knew his voice must be intense. "Look, I don't know what was going on with me. I don't remember why I let us lose touch. But I don't want that now. You're my best friend. Okay?" He reached over and put his hand over Kris's where it was resting on Kris's knee.
Kris gave him a tiny smile and nodded. "Thanks. That's--that's what I want, too."
Adam took his hand back, but he wanted to ask Kris more. He wanted to ask why they weren't together, because Adam thought that they both wanted to be. But Kris's phone rang, breaking the moment. It was his mother, and Adam already knew that when Kim called Kris answered. Kim was very sweet and Adam had talked to her several times at the tail ends of her phone calls to Kris, but she was not to be denied or disobeyed. Kris spoke to her for a few minutes while Adam unloaded the dishwasher.
When it sounded like they were wrapping it up, Adam went back into the den. Kris was in the same spot but his phone was closed in his hand. "It's pretty late," Adam said. "Are you ready for bed?"
Adam didn't mean to talk about any more Important Things that night. He knew Kris was confused and he didn't want to push anything. But when they were lying in his bed three feet apart in the dark, he couldn't stop himself from asking. "Kris… Is there a reason why we aren't dating?"
As soon as the words were out of his mouth Adam wanted to take them back. He had sworn he wasn't going to just ask that kind of thing. It was tactless and insane and he'd probably ruined everything. And now Kris would be hurt, or get mad and leave, and Adam wouldn't ever know what the hell was going on between them…unless he were to finally remember it, and Adam was pretty sure he wouldn't ever remember it. Adam had been at it from every angle a million times and he was pretty sure that there was no reason why Kris Allen was not absolutely perfect for him.
Kris was silent and still, but Adam could hear him breathe. The silence was excruciating. "Kris, please. I'm crazy about you, and I think you feel--I think you might. But if you don't, you can forget I ever said anything. It doesn't have to change things. I still--"
"Shut up," Kris whispered, cutting him off, and Adam was terrified and relieved in equal measures to hear his voice. Then Kris continued: "I thought you weren't interested. Before, I mean. I thought maybe you were now, but you can't hit on your best friend who has amnesia, that's not cool."
Adam's heart was going a mile a minute. "I don't know what my problem was but I don't give a shit anymore. I love you, and I want you in my life. Permanently." He turned onto his side and groped for Kris's hand. He found it clutched in the bed sheet, and when Adam closed his hand over Kris's, Kris threaded his fingers through Adam's.
Adam decided it was time to lay his remaining cards on the table. "I want you to move in, and not because you're my 24-hour care nurse. I know there's something, some reason I never tried to convince you that we'd be good together, but I can't remember it, I can't figure it out and I just don't care anymore."
"Okay," Kris said. "Okay, Adam." He sat up, dragging Adam with him where their hands were clasped together.
Adam slid across the expanse of mattress between them and threw his arms around Kris's shoulders; he pressed his forehead against Kris's. "You mean it?" he said softly. There was no light to speak of in the room, but Kris's fingers were tight around his. Kris tilted his face up and kissed Adam, but the angle wasn't quite right and their cheeks connected. Kris's was wet, and Adam instantly understood that it was a tear.
"Oh, Kris," Adam said, and curled his hand around Kris's neck. They kissed for a long time, slow and soft, mouths closed. Adam pushed his fingers up into Kris's hair while his other hand stroked up and down Kris's side.
When they stopped to breathe Kris crawled into Adam's lap, one knee on either side of Adam's hips. "Oh, I mean it, Adam," he finally answered. "Last year I asked you on a date and you pretended to misunderstand me. I told you how much you meant to me a hundred times and every time you pushed me further away. You're everything I want and I never thought you would want me."
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," Adam whispered into Kris's neck. "I don't know what was wrong with me." He tightened his arms around Kris's lower back. "I was stupid, crazy. I've always been attracted to you. Maybe I thought you couldn't really want me. It doesn't matter anymore, right?" Having Kris in his arms felt perfect; Kris was solid and real and quite hairy where Adam was using one hand to stroke the side of Kris's leg. He'd snuck his other hand up the back of Kris's t-shirt, and the skin there was soft and smooth.
Kris found Adam's lips again; his elbows were on Adam's shoulders and his hands were in Adam's hair. Once they were breathless from kissing again, Kris laughed. "I wasn't going to say anything to you, ever. Man, I never thought I'd be kinda happy that somebody suffered a head trauma!" He leaned in for another kiss, and Adam licked his lower lip. French kissing Kris was even better than regular-kissing Kris. Kris pressed himself so tightly along Adam's front that Adam could feel Kris's hard cock against his stomach through both layers of their clothes.
Kris rearranged his arms so that they were underneath Adam's, around his waist, and Adam didn't catch on to the fact that Kris was taking off his t-shirt until it was already over his head. He retaliated by yanking Kris's off and throwing it across the room, and Kris cooperated as Adam guided him down onto his back so that Adam could slide off his boxers. Kris tugged at the waistband of Adam's boxer-briefs, but Adam's legs were folded Indian-style so the boxers weren't going anywhere without some complicated negotiations. Adam turned to one side, being careful in the dark so that he could unfold his legs without kicking Kris, and slid them off. He was planning to pin Kris to the bed with his own body, but Kris was faster, already back in Adam's lap. Only this time instead of pajamas there was skin, miles of skin over warm muscle. Kris was seriously built and Adam couldn't stop putting his hands everywhere. He was thinking of all the places he has wanted to touch Kris, and of all the things he wants them to do together.
Kris kissed his jaw and then down his neck. "Mmm, Adam," he said. "Always wanted to do this. And this." He ran his hands down Adam's sides and his mouth followed behind until his position on Adam's lap made it too hard for him to kiss lower than Adam's sternum. He skipped back up to Adam's ear while stroking his thumbs over Adam's nipples. Adam groaned.
"Always wanted you to," Adam said, although if he were being honest his occasional snatches of fantasy in the past couple of weeks have more often concerned what he wanted to do to Kris. But this is fantastic. Adam moved his hands along Kris's body: over his shoulders, on his sides, down his hips, across his thighs. He wished the lights were on so he could see Kris under his hands, but it wasn't worth the seconds he'd have to be not-touching Kris to reach over and turn on the lamp.
He'd be interrupting Kris's plan, anyway. Kris had shifted his weight onto his knees, and he held one palm flat on Adam's chest, directing him to lay back down. The pillow was in Adam's way, behind his back, but he sorted it out with one hand and let Kris arrange himself over Adam's chest, both of them lying down. Kris straddled Adam's hips, lining up their bodies so that Kris's cock was alongside Adam's. He latched on to a spot on Adam's neck and sucked as he moved gently back and forth so that their cocks slid together. They were sweaty enough that the catch and drag of their moist skin was both incredibly hot and irritating as hell. One of Adam's hands was on the small of Kris's back, but he had a spare so he moved it down to grasp their cocks. Even in the dark Kris anticipated him; he pinned Adam's wrist near his shoulder before Adam could do anything about it.
"Ungh, Kris," Adam moaned. "Please?"
Kris didn't answer, but he kissed the underside of Adam's jaw and moved off Adam's body. Adam was hoping he hadn't done something to change Kris's mind when he felt Kris's body sidle up against his leg. He was still here. And he was breathing heavily over the head of Adam's cock.
Adam's eyes rolled back in his head. Oh, this was excellent. He should have mustered up the courage to talk to Kris a week ago. Damn.
Kris wasn't fucking around, and he wasn't starting out slow. It wasn't that he was in a hurry exactly, more that he had a destination in mind and wasn't particularly interested in the scenic route. He tongued Adam all over, firmly, and then settled his mouth over the head of Adam's cock. He moved slowly, up and down, every once in awhile taking a break to lick a line here or kissing Adam's inner thighs or his balls. Then he went back to driving Adam insane with steady, methodical suction and pressure.
Adam wanted it to continue forever, or he wanted to come this second--or maybe both. He sunk his hands into Kris's hair, and then moved one to join Kris's hand on Adam's stomach where it held Adam down. Adam grasped Kris's hand tightly, peeling it up off his own stomach to get a better grip on Kris's fingers. Adam intended to send Kris the message that he would really, really like to come now, so it was frustrating when Kris pulled away and sat up.
But Adam didn't have even enough time to worry about why Kris had pulled away before Kris was lying against his chest, lining their cocks up again. Adam heard Kris spit into his hand, and then Kris was holding their cocks together to stroke them. There was just enough moisture to eliminate the earlier uncomfortable drag of damp skin and it was perfect. Adam couldn't help but claw at Kris's back, trying to signal Kris to move his hand faster.
Kris had one leg straight on the outside of Adam's and the other over Adam's thigh. His position had pushed one side of his ass up into Adam's reach, so Adam held on, loving the feeling of smooth skin under his fingers. Kris groaned as Adam dug his fingertips into the muscle of Kris's ass and finally Kris's hand sped up. Adam used his other hand to tug Kris by the nape of his neck so that they could kiss. They got in half of one--their lips weren't aligned quite right--before Kris gasped and came, hot fluid trickling onto Adam's cock and stomach. Kris's hand stuttered but didn't entirely stop, and two more jerks were all Adam needed to come. He angled his head down against the hollow of Kris's neck and shoulder, breathed hard, and tightened his hold on Kris's neck.
Adam woke up what he thought was a couple of hours later, when he was cold everywhere that Kris wasn't covering. He figured that Kris's entire back must be freezing, so he untangled himself from Kris's limbs just enough to reach the blankets they had kicked to the foot of the bed earlier. His movement woke Kris, who rolled off Adam to help him spread out the blankets. Then he wound himself over Adam again.
"You okay?" Kris asked.
Adam put his arm around Kris's shoulders. "Great," he answered, and he meant it. He was fantastic. If he never remembered another memory, if he never went back to work, and if he turned the lamp next to his side of the couch in the den off ten times a day he wouldn't mind a bit as long as he was with Kris. "I'm exactly where I want to be."
Kris's shoulders relaxed a little. "What if you remember? What if you remember why you didn't want to be with me before?"
Adam kissed Kris's temple. "Then I'll just be grateful that I had the opportunity to forget."