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(This Is) Not a Statement

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"I really don't know," Kris says somewhere over his head, "what I'm going to do with you."

Adam squints through his sunglasses at Kris standing over him; before he can stop him, the glasses are pulled away. "And sunglasses at night? It's almost too easy."

Adam rolls his eyes, reaching for Kris' ankle and considering a quick pull. The sand is soft enough this far out, but he learned the hard way that Kris has a lifetime of experience meting revenge on people too tall to wrestle to the ground.

Wrapping his hand around Kris' ankle, Adam gives a little tug; Kris sighs melodramatically and lowers himself to the grassy rise, catching his breath at the view of the beach before them, stretching dark and a little restless, breaks of unexpected white that trace the movements of the waves. "Okay, you chose a great place for your sulk, gotta admit it."

Adam thinks about protesting, but it feels like too much effort to expend on an obvious lie.

"It's my birthday," Kris sing-songs, "And I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to…."

"Not." Pushing a foot against Kris' knee, Adam sits up, feeling the alcohol hit in a shocked rush; Kris catches him, easing one arm around his shoulder. There's the faintest shift in his stomach, not quite nausea but a warning all the same. When he can focus his eyes, he starts to straighten, then thinks better of it and sinks back down and lets his head settle in Kris' lap. "They still out there?"

"You can dream," Kris answers easily, fingers rubbing gently into his shoulder. "Alex is entertaining them for the moment, but there's still hope you'll wander in and throw a fit or something. Paparazzi never sleep. They're like vampires." Kris thinks. "Or maybe I'm thinking of Lovecraft?"

Adam doesn't groan, but he wants to. Kris laughs, strong fingers working soothingly into the back of his neck so well he almost forgets he's supposed to be angry. "Fucker," he tries experimentally, but the heat fades before the word finds air. It's been a long time since he had enough energy invested in anything but his music to care about the waste. "I think."

"Slut--no, wait, you like that in a guy." Kris says matter-of-factly, nails scratching at the hairline distractedly. "How you feeling?"

It shouldn't be a question you should have to weigh the answer for, but Adam's a couple of years past giving answers on the fly; even friends aren't exempt from that automatic caution. "Okay," he says finally. "Would kill for a joint, though."

"Surprise, surprise." Kris shifts on the sand, stretching his other leg with a sigh. "It's a great party."

Adam snorts, rolling on his back to see Kris' face; Kris is very not a party person. "Really."

"What's not to love?" Kris grins down at him. "The foam filled swimming pool was inspired. By fraternities, true, but whatever--"

"Fraternities," Adam says mock-dreamy to make Kris giggle. "I totally could have pledged."

"It's really not like the porn. Football night did not metamorphosis into group blowjobs--"


"--except that one time," Kris says reflectively. Adam tilts his head back, feeling the first real smile of the night tugging at the corners of his mouth all unwilling. Kris widens his eyes innocently. "It's not gay if it's during the Superbowl. Guy rules."

"I really need to cultivate an interest in football." Adam thinks about it. "I bet now you're going to tell me that initiation didn't have public spankings either and totally fuck up my fantasy life."

Kris bites his lip, color blooming hot across both cheeks. Adam watches, fascinated, as Kris pretends to watch the ocean. "Wow," he breathes in surprise. "Happy birthday to me."

"Fuck you." Kris covers his face, laughing a little. "It's less kinky than it sounds."

"No, it's really not." Kris flicks his fingers through Adam's hair playfully, then brushes it back into place, fingering the hot-pink streaks thoughtfully. "It fades fast," Adam says, closing his eyes and fighting the urge to purr. "Bitch to redo every two weeks."

"Looks good with the black," he answers, letting go.

"Hey, don't stop." Adam doesn't open his eyes. Kris laughs again, fingers threading slowly through his hair, fingernails making a second pass against his scalp. There's every chance Adam could fall asleep like this, on warm sand with the ocean a background rush, but it's mostly Kris, who he sometimes forget he should have stopped missing years ago. "How long are you in town?"

He feels Kris shrug. "We're not starting work on the album for another few months. It's weird," he says thoughtfully. "I hated touring, but now it's--you know. All nostalgic. Like, I seriously had this craving for Denny's the other day, because during the tour, we'd decided to eat at a Denny's in every state. I actually started to drive to one, but without the band, it's harder to make fun of the food."

Adam tries to imagine that and fails. "That must have been a circus."

"Not everyone is as recognizable as you," Kris answers with a snicker, catching a tangle and patiently working it free. Adam stiffens. "Oh God, are you going to get weird again? Trust me when I say, I never wanted your life."

Maybe not; probably not. It doesn't change the guilt, stupid though it might be. "I won't be weird," Adam answers, opening his eyes. Kris grins, and looking at him, it doesn't feel like five years since they met; it feels like yesterday and like the entirety of his life at once. "What am I saying, I'm always weird. Stay in town for a few days; we'll catch up."

Kris nods easy agreement, like he doesn't remember every time Adam's let a lunch date slide or forgotten a dinner planned for weeks, too many near-misses that should have eroded a friendship much stronger than theirs. Kris just learned to lower his expectations.

"I'm serious," he says, pushing himself up. "I'm not that busy--"

"Planning your upcoming tour, promoting the new album, redefining the sexuality of bicurious boys everywhere," Kris' smile widens wickedly, "making the careers of up and coming paparazzi, fighting with your boyfriend in public when you get bored, and thirteen interviews in the next six weeks. Like I said," Kris says, leaning back on both arms, "I really, really don't want your life."

When he puts it like that, Adam doesn't either. "You make it sound so sordid." And weirdly boring. He's not sure what to do with that part.

"Sordid is a good look for you. Ready to go back?"

Adam glances unwillingly at the lights of the hotel; they seem closer than they were from the safety of Kris' lap. Alex, he reminds himself. Making paparazzi careers. Bicurious boys, fine, that part never gets old. "Sure," he says, but Kris just laughs, so maybe he didn't hide the reluctance as well as he thought. "No?"

"We can hang here for a while." Reaching out, he pushes on Adam's shoulder until he willingly lies back down, relaxing from tension he hadn't even known he'd felt. "It's kind of nice to see you without paparazzi documenting it for posterity."

It's too easy to make Kris happy; it should be harder. In a sane world, five minutes on a quiet beach with a friend shouldn't be treated like such a goddamn gift. "Stay with me for a few days," Adam says seriously, watching Kris' smile fade to bemusement. "I have like, ten security people on retainer," he says sincerely. "I'm pretty sure they'd kidnap you if I asked."

"That's actually kind of sweet," Kris says after a moment of thought. "Does this story end in a basement?"

"This isn't a Cobra Starship song," Adam answers; over the sound of the ocean, he can hear someone's voice calling and has to make himself sit back up. "I'm not that unoriginal." Catching Kris chin, he waits until Kris looks at him. "Stay. You can call Katy from my suite."

"I don't actually need permission for a sleepover," Kris says, rolling his eyes. "Fine, a few days, but seriously. I get you're busy. Don't turn this into a thing."

Adam snorts, leaning forward to brush a kiss against Kris' smiling mouth. It's his birthday, and he has years of teasing to repay. Pulling back, Kris' lips are stained pink and the brown eyes are wide. "Like I said," Adam says, wiping the lipstick away with his thumb before licking it clean. "Happy birthday to me."

Kris stares at him a few seconds longer before he starts to laugh. Getting to his feet, Adam pulls Kris up with him. If he'd turned away a second sooner, he would have missed it, caught at the corner of his eye like a mirage, a flicker of pink as Kris tongue slips out to slide over his lower lip, lingering like he's searching for the taste.

All the pictures are of Adam and Alex that night, their drama acted out against the background of a hotel and some of the most beautiful people in the world. Adam searches through them idly and finds himself stopping at only one, ten pages deep and uncaptioned because even the paparazzi sometimes miss seeing what they're supposed to watch.

There's a small break in the glittering crowd, Alex sidelined by the pool with someone blond and hopefully of age; a space between bodies that shows a tiny rise of grassy beach with a figure sitting and watching the ocean and the impression of someone stretched out on the sand beside him.

He misses Kris leaving for the airport, but that's not even the worst part; five days of brief meetings in the kitchen don't count for much, chatting over coffee and whatever Kris finds to make for breakfast. For days after, Adam runs across napkins and take-out receipts, scraps of notebook paper crumpled and tossed, scribbled with single lyric lines under the couch and beneath the guest bed, lost beneath the counter behind the trash can like an endless game of hide and seek. Adam cancels the cleaning service for two weeks straight to make sure he finds them all and spreads them out on his bed one night long after he should have tried to sleep.

The final part is a short note that's three lines to say good luck and see you soon. Kris is a lot like the music he writes; it's only simple when you don't stop to pay attention. Attention is something that takes energy, reminding him what he'd thought on the beach and now has to revise; it's been a long time since he invested energy in anything when it wasn't required and Kris stopped thinking he was allowed to require anything a long time ago.

Kris' life is spread out before him in unfinished lyrics and half-written chords, ink smeared with mustard and soy sauce, stained brown in grease. A quarter of a pizza box has a chorus that Adam hears for days, and he taps the melody line through a lunch meeting and three parties, not searching for why Kris wrote it, but why he stopped.

It's not quite fair to be pissed Kris won't call him on being a shitty friend; Adam's been training expectations down for years. Sixteen pleasant text messages and a phone call later, Adam spends eight hours in the studio recording a dozen versions of the chorus and looks for Kris in every one.

He Fedexes the results on a single disk with a single line: show me the rest.

It's three days and two interviews later when he gets an email back, subject blank with a body of five words and a single file: this is not a statement.

A guitar picks out the melody line slow and rich, nothing like anything Adam's ever heard him play, inevitable like the tide pulling from the shore and how you can make a choice not to feel regret.

I don't want your life, Kris had said, but Adam had forgotten how to interpret the way Kris wrote a melody; what he'd meant was I miss when you were part of mine.

Well, fuck.

Kris comes to LA for a soul-eating meeting with his publicist, grounds enough to wait outside the back door until Kris emerges blinking into the light of day and still dazed from third-hand image dissection by proxy. "Yeah, it's a kidnapping. I have security waiting and everything."

"So you're going to be weird," Kris says in resignation, surrendering his guitar without a fight. "A pizza box is not a statement--seriously, you went through the trash?"

"That is kind of disturbing, true," Adam agrees, taking off his sunglasses to stare Kris into acceptance, "but just roll with it. It was a statement. I'm a shitty friend."

"Was really not a statement," Kris sighs but follows along to the car since Adam took custody of his guitar. "How long?" he asks, taking out his phone. "You know, so Katy can start collecting ransom."

"Tell her not to worry; I'm easy." Adam shoves the guitar into the trunk as Kris is herded into the car. "I just want that song."

Kris frowns out the smoked windows as the driver starts the car. "That's pretty much all there is," he says a little helplessly. "Four lines and it ends."

"No," Adam answers as he pushes play, the wistful sound of guitar filling the space between them; that can't be all there is. "That's just how it starts."

This time, Adam doesn't take any chances with his schedule and has his PA write in Kris where there's space and even when there's not. It's too easy to fall back into bad habits, and Adam knows better than anyone that there's never enough time for everything; you just have to take it.

("You collected all of this?" Kris says, shocked, when Adam drops the entire paper-clipped mess of paper scraps on the guest bed. "You know what, I'm not even going to ask. This isn't even one song.")

Adam doesn't break up with Alex so much as practice terrible time management skills; a break up would also imply there was something to be broken. Adam's every relationship for the last five years has played out in the media like a cross between a make-or-break for gay rights public service announcement and a reality TV soap opera with a limited episode run per season. It's compelling TV, Adam has to admit; he does serial monogamy performance art like he's expecting an Academy Award. At this point, he kind of thinks he deserves it.

The problem with living your life like episodic television is that it's easy to forget some people are supposed to be regular recurring characters, which is where Adam has to stop the metaphor and nearly drops his drink, because Kris is laughing so hard he falls off the couch.

"You are such a bitch," Adam says, hanging over the edge to stare Kris into silence, which works about as well as expected. "Are you having an asthma attack? What the hell was that about?"

"No," Kris wheezes, sitting up, arm wrapped gingerly over his stomach. "Just. I was worried you were heading toward Survivor as a life plan. Is this last twink standing or something? Will there be a vote?"

"Fuck you." Sitting up, Adam waits as Kris crawls back on the couch, choking off stray giggles as he picks up his guitar. "This is what I get for opening up and shit?"

"Adam," Kris says incredulously. "You're not bad at relationships when you have them with people you actually like. It doesn't count if you only like their sexual skillset and photogenic qualities, either."

Adam curls up in the corner of the couch to try and sulk away the truth.

"I mean, there's a reason you had to stop introducing Brad to your boyfriends--"

Adam stares at Kris. "How would you know--? Tell me you and my ex do not talk about my personal life. I don't even know how to deal with that."

"I would, but it would be a lie." Kris strums a few bars and stops with a frown, glancing down at his scribbled chords and pulling the pencil from behind his ear. "He ran out of people in LA to complain to about you and not see Perez blogging it twenty-four hours later, and he says he likes to jerk off to my twang when I'm tired."

Adam raises an eyebrow, but it's not like he doesn't get the attraction. There was a period of time Adam would pretend to forget time zones to listen to Kris at two in the morning. "Does he?"

"I've been pretty careful not to ask." Making a notation, Kris ghosts his fingers through the chords again and nods to himself. "Anyway, my point stands."

The point does stand. Brad is not one to avoid imparting an opinion at length, usually with the subject right in front of him, and Adam can't lie to him on his best day. "I didn't know you talked to Brad," Adam says, deciding the point needs to be changed.

"It's a professional Lambert groupie thing," Kris says absently, making another notation. "Secret society, vow of silence, that sort of thing. I'm not supposed to talk about it."

"Does the initiation require spanking?"

Kris looks up, eyes dancing. "That," he says, "would be telling. Okay, listen to this and tell me what you think."

Adam pushes his foot against Kris' knee hopefully. "Game on, baby."

Two strangely surreal nights at a variety of LA clubs turn out to be the most mellow Adam's been under the lens in years. Alex has no idea what to do with that; it's hard to start a fight when Adam's still with the musician in his basement studio practicing his craft no matter where he actually goes.

It's a slow week in the Adam Lambert drama; all the pictures show him vanishing long before dawn, barely there at all. He's at home, waking Kris with takeout and shuffling him reluctantly to bed, the remembered beat of Kris' music trembling in his fingertips and playing in his head as he falls asleep.

It takes four days to finish a rough cut of the song (strategically forgotten: three meetings, Alex, a new club opening, and a PA that wont' speak to him except through text message), but somehow, it wasn't until after he'd dropped Kris off at the airport that he realized whose voice it had actually been written for.

"Okay," Adam tells voicemail while Kris is somewhere over Idaho, "that was a fucking statement, Allen."

"It's more a Lambert exes club for those I didn't hate," Brad says later that night, sounding hazy and not quite post-coital; there's the sound of at least one other individual in the background. It's not like Brad is above answering the phone while fucking or anything; it's one of the many things Adam loves about him. "Which in recent years is pretty fucking small, by the way. I had to relax membership requirements."

"To straight boys I never dated? How does that work again?"

"Busy now, bye." Adam listens for a few minutes before hanging up; that had been the point, after all.

Alex shows up at five separate clubs with increasingly hotter (and younger) guys, there are six separate tour-related issues that are explained at a length Tchaikovsky would envy, and Kris shows up in New York for label-related purposes, type unknown. Adam's PA gets a raise when she mentions he should do an interview there; he's on the plane before he remembers he didn't ask with whom, and he's halfway to the hotel before he admits that at no point did he actually care.

"You came to New York for a phone interview less than two weeks before your tour starts." Kris says without pretending it's an actual question that Adam was supposed to answer. "So, you're stuck in weird still?"

"Pretty much, yeah," Adam confirms, trying Kris' coffee warily. Four syrups were involved, because Kris likes his caffeine dangerous. "It's a thing. What did you put in this? I can't even tell what this is."

"It's delicious, that's what it is," Kris says, taking his coffee back and rebuttoning his coat before looking at Adam hesitantly. "You get you don't have to take up a grand gesture lifestyle so I feel secure in your affections, right? I feel pretty secure."

"You know, I might be here so you can tell me how much Alex sucks, did you think of that?" Adam says, opening the door to herd Kris back into the crisp New York fall. "I may need reassurance. It's not always about you."

Kris sips his coffee and stares down the sidewalk in resignation. "Translation: we're going shopping."

"Leather always eases my pain," Adam agrees, sliding an arm around Kris's slumped shoulders before he thinks there's a chance to escape. "And some new jeans," he adds speculatively.

"Why am I needed for this?"

"Oh," Adam says, curling gloved fingers in the wool covering Kris' shoulder, "they're not for me."

Adam is used to his life being a documentary and still life reality TV all at once; there's nothing new in the pictures of that week in New York, shopping and clubbing and living his life in front of an audience that never seems to tire. It's Kris' presence that makes it new, and as it turns out, Adam can still be surprised. Among dozens of high-resolution pictures saturated with everything Adam's learned he's supposed to be, there are three that are something else entirely. Just three, two pages deep, barely noticed, but they're the only ones that matter.

It's not a media-ready rockstar who has never met a stage he didn't own wandering through Central Park; it's a stolen moment that feels too intimate for a camera to capture, and he wouldn't trade for the world, to see a guy who tackles his best friend to steal his coffee and who likes to make Kris Allen laugh.

Kris is back in Arkansas by the time Adam is staring at the next year and a half of his life. It's not that it is not an awesome bus, but the strangely surreal realization that he'll be the only one on it, as if he's never done this before. Taking out his phone, Adam takes a picture, wondering uneasily if this is how it had happened before, because he kind of thinks it is. Tours were crazy and no one could blame him for losing touch, forgetting to call, forgetting that there's a world outside it that wouldn't stop just because he decided not to pay attention.

He can blame himself, though, for knowing he could get away with it. Attaching the picture and a tour schedule to a text, he types in a message that's a promise to them both:

see you soon.

Touring teaches you professional insomnia and the ways to cope with it when you're not willing to turn to heavy pharmaceuticals, and physical exercise is constrained by the limits of a bus. It's surprising the number of things you end up doing after a while, because poker and movies stop cutting it pretty early on. So it's not that he can't think of something to do--or someone, God knows it wouldn't be hard to get laid on his own tour--but most of it would require actually getting up and interacting with other human beings, and what do you know, that's just not happening tonight.

He ends up calling Kris just for the fuck of it; show business also teaches you to turn off your phone if you're serious about sleep, so Kris has no one to blame but himself. Two rings later, Kris answers, voice husky-low and drawl-edged. "Hey, Adam."

Rolling on his back, Adam grins up at the ceiling. "Two am, huh?"

"What?" Sounding bewildered, Kris hesitates, then abruptly starts to laugh. "Fuck you."

"You're going to wake up Katy if you keep that up." Shifting the phone to his other hand, Adam tucks a pillow under his head. "What are you doing up this late?"

"In LA," Kris answers. Now that he's listening, Adam can hear noise in the background that definitely isn't late night TV. "I--hold up, I need to--" Muffled--Kris must have put his hand over the microphone--Adam hears Kris yell, "Gotta take this. Be back!"

After a few seconds, Kris returns, and the room is noticeably quieter. "Sorry about that. They're not actually recording, but apparently being in a studio after hours still requires silence or something."

Adam tries to remember what Kris had scheduled for this month and comes up blank. "Why are you--?"

"Crap, right--sorry." There's soft thump, which Adam assumes means Kris found a comfortable couch. "I was asked to collaborate on a new band's album. They're Austin Indie going mainstream, and they wanted--" Adam can hear Kris' smile, "--well, American Idol is pretty mainstream. They're called Romantic Embargo."

"You're writing for them?" Adam doesn't recognize the name, but if Kris is willing to work with them, he really thinks he should find out. "Let me rephrase: you're cheating on me with a younger, shinier band."

Kris giggles, and Adam can hear the sound of the springs in the couch. "I thought we had an open relationship, Adam."

"I'm nursing my betrayal here. Tell me more about my competition." He's mostly joking. Mostly.

"Their writer is also the lead singer, so let's say it's been an adventure." Kris says, with a sigh that tells Adam exactly how Indie these kids are. "He's kind of artistic."


"Oh yeah. Though it didn't help he didn't get a lot of choice about it, either. He'll get over it."

"So why bother?" Though he thinks the answer to that is the fact that Kris genuinely likes to write; being asked specifically was probably just icing.

"Kind of promised?" Kris blows out an impatient breath. "I met Leah last year at SXSW and we really hit it off. She said her brother was on board with anything she wanted to do--"

Adam makes a sympathetic noise: siblings, yeah.

"--yeah, that. It's not that bad," Kris adds quickly, like he's trying to convince himself. "They usually take the fights outside and pretend it's a smoking break. They don't actually smoke, I don't think, but we pretend they do, so it works."

"How long will you be in LA?"

"This time, just this week. I'll be back again next month and stay until they finish the album. And then--" Kris makes a sound that encompasses "my album" and "promotions" and "oh God, 19E", and "FML" at once. "God. What the fuck was I thinking?"

Adam hums agreement, wondering what Katy had said about that. With Kris, what's not said is a lot more important than what is, and the fact that Kris hasn't said they're moving back to LA is a conversation all by itself. It's not by any means an impossible schedule, but it's not one Kris would enjoy it, either, especially considering his attachment to his family.

"Anyway," Kris says after a few seconds of meditating his pain, "how's tour going?"

Adam wrinkles his nose. The answers are "normal" and "boring" and "amazing" all three; language doesn't really have a way to express the surreal state of being that is living on a bus and performing almost nightly, the deafening scream of crowds chanting his name, the experience of being the opposite of invisible and still finding it impossible. If he was high, Adam would compare it to an uneven speedball of life--hard up, hard crash, and sometimes, sleep and a shower. It's not fun, exactly--nothing like this could be encompassed with a word meant for games and trips to the beach and hanging out with friends--but it still blows his mind he's actually paid to do this. Not always liking it doesn't mean he doesn't love it, too.

"Good," he says finally, knowing Kris will pick up the subtext without elaboration. "Miss you," he adds; experience says Kris will miss the subtext there altogether.

He can feel Kris smile over the phone, settling on that couch again with a whine of springs. "I miss you," he answers. "Be in LA anytime soon?"

Not soon, no, but hmm. Adam thinks over the tour schedule and answers before thinking it through, "You have a day or two before you go back to Conway?"

Oh for the love of God; he's never calling Kris when he's sleep deprived again. To his surprise, though, Kris doesn't answer for a second. "I know your schedule," Kris says slowly. "You don't have--"

"I have two days off. I'll use the miracle of flight to make it all work." And his PA, because that's why God invented people with godlike administration skills who are easily pacified with regularly delivered Godiva and sometimes, begging. "If you don't have time," he starts to add, feeling a faint twinge of guilt. Contemplating the horror of Kris' schedule shouldn't lead to making it worse, but it's true; he does miss Kris, and misses the time he lost before. "I'm sure there's something I have to do while I'm there?"

Kris snickers. "Is there?"

"No, but I'll figure something out."

Kris laughs. "Yeah, I have time. Text me when you get in and I'll pick you up." From the background, a voice intrudes; Adam can't make out the words, but the tone is clearly "get the fuck off the phone already". "Okay, I gotta--"

"Go, yeah. Plan to sleep anytime soon?"

"Probably when you do, actually," Kris sighs, standing up with a squeal of springs. "Get some sleep. I'll see you soon. Night."

"Night," Adam murmurs, ending the call. To his surprise, it's much easier to sleep now.

The flight, as flights tend to do when Adam actually needs to be somewhere, gets into LAX five hours late. Getting his bag, Adam scrolls through his text messages and finds a new one from Kris. at leos. call when you get in.

Dialing with his thumb, Adam ducks into the bathroom, surprised to find it deserted; even this late, LAX isn't exactly what anyone would call calm. "Hey," he breathes, leaning against the cool metal of the stall door. His PA may be in line for a Saks gift card now. "So. Let's say I'm stuck at LAX and trying to surprise someone. A car and a distraction would be nice."

Even for a city that really doesn't sleep, it's late by the time Leo lets him in the backdoor of a West Hollywood nightclub on just the wrong side of shabby-chic, but only just. Adam lets himself take a second to stare at Leo's aggressively shaved head and new piercings and doesn't comment, because Leo would just enjoy it too much. "Mostly cleared out," Leo says, looking mildly disappointed at Adam's lack of reaction, "but the band's hanging around still."

Adam raises an eyebrow, but Leo only smirks, leading him by the manager's office and out behind the bar caddy-corner to the cramped stage. Leo's right; the room's mostly cleared of the usual audience of semi-hipster teens with fake IDs, poetry majors from the local community college, and a speckling of Indie kids who want to pretend they're here to mock the music. Near the stage is a small knot of bodies, skinny jeans competing with ripped denim and at least two latex minis; there's something both hilarious and unsettling about at least three separate schools of youth subculture mixing like that. "Your boys?" Adam asks Leo, who turns from the liquor to frown and cover his mouth with one finger in the universal sign of shut the fuck up.

Rolling his eyes, Adam picks up his drink and braces his elbows on the bar, taking a sip just as a tall, skinny kid cross in front of them, heading toward the group, bleached hair tipped in aggressive robin's egg blue and orange in the definition of a mixed message. Like magic, the little group opens up for him, and Adam sees Kris cross-legged on the edge of the stage, guitar spread across his lap. Skinny takes the quickly vacated spot beside him, extending the beer and taking the guitar before Kris can put up a fight. Fascinated, Adam feels Leo's shoulder settle against his as Leo murmurs, "Yeah, I thought you'd get a kick out of this. Watch."

"...back, please?" Kris is saying, taking an absent drink of the beer.

"I want to hear that song. Wouldn't it be nice if we both got what we wanted?" Bracing a boot on the stage, Skinny settles his chin on his knee and smirks. "Pay or play, pretty."

"Huh," Adam breathes, biting his lip against a giggle, because he may not know it, but Kris has a type. Taking another drink, he watches as Skinny swings one leg in an idle kick when Kris starts to look like he might try the direct approach for guitar retrieval. Scowling, Kris settles back down among the laughter of the tiny group. "Okay, break it down; all I know is what Kris told me over the phone."

"Keyboard is the little blonde chick who looks like she could break in a good wind, Leah," Leo says, gesturing to the table nearest Kris, where a girl in vinyl is seated, legs draped across a tall guy in black jeans. "Her husband David, guitarist. His best friend Dennis, drums," a red-haired proto-punk who seriously doesn't match pretty much anyone there, from the hair all the way down, "and her brother," and that's Skinny, no shock, "singer, songwriter, and changes his name twice a goddamn month, but everyone just calls him Jared, yeah, Bowie reference deliberate. She kept it in the family pretty much; there's a couple missing that are working some other gigs right now, but you've got the core right there."

Adam nods thoughtfully, taking another drink. "She's Julliard, right?"

"She and Jared, yeah, dropped out their second year." Leo shakes his head slowly, looking amused. "Their first album did okay in Austin. Leah went looking for something a little more--mainstream to balance them out and see if they could break out." Leo hides his smirk behind his glass. "Three guesses how long it took Mr. Tortured Artist to feel a little less artistic when he saw who she brought in."

Adam snickers, watching Kris talking to the drummer as Jared strums random chords, tuning the guitar by ear. Not as young as Adam had first thought; he couldn't be more than two or three years younger than Kris himself, painful hair aside; in no sane world is that color combination anyone should embrace. "Refresh my memory; Kris said Indie, but I'm not feeling it from the look."

"They did the Austin circuit," Leo murmurs. "Leah met Kris at SXSW two years ago when their first album was released. Like I said, they did okay, but they were pretty niche and Leah's not stupid. They lost their drummer and their bassist right after, then Jared fucked off for a year; when he got out of rehab, Leah brought in Kris for their music, and as they say, the rest is history."

Adam can do the math on that one. "Which one left him?"

"Both." Adam looks at Leo, eyebrows raised in surprise. "Gotta love those Austin boys. They really do everything bigger down there."

Abruptly, Jared switches, looking at Kris as he strums a familiar chord, mouth widening into a smile when Kris looks up in surprise. It only takes a second for Adam to recognize the song, straightening as Kris starts to flush.

"How the hell did you--"

"You know I only need to hear it once." Jared starts again, fingers sliding expertly over the strings as he picks up the chorus of Postcard Face without missing a note. "Come on, pretty, I want to hear the whole thing."

"Since when do you care about what I write if it's not for you?" Kris answers, making a half-hearted grab for the guitar.

"Since it's the only one you won't let me hear." Switching, Jared repeats the chorus, changing the time to something slower, with the wistful edge that Kris had discarded for something a little more upbeat.

"Jared," Leah says, sounding amused, "what have I said about teasing straight boys?"

"That he likes it?"

"He's still right here," Kris says clearly. "Wanting his guitar back. I gotta leave in a few minutes--"

"Superstar back in town?" Jared switches to a ear-bleeding minor, rolling his eyes. "I think he can entertain himself without you for a night."

"Jealousss," Dennis sing-songs, tapping out a fast beat on the table. Kris shakes his head, mouth curving in a reluctant smile. "What did we say about hitting on the straight boy?"

"Aww, feel left out?" Jared aims a sharp smile toward the table. "Didn't mean to hurt you, baby, it's just the way I roll."

"You," Leah says, swinging her legs to the floor, "need to get laid."

"If you didn't notice, trying here?" Abruptly, he switches into something softer, picking up the piano line flawlessly as he looks at Kris sings, "Maybe you've fallen down, and maybe you just took the long way home, but you could never love you like me…"

Kris bursts out laughing, bent half-over as Leah buries her head in her arms on the table and Dennis giggles into his hands. Throwing up his hands, Jared falls back on the stage dramatically, telling the ceiling, "You're totally fucking the mood here, guys."

"You're such an asshole," Kris says, wiping his eyes and crawling over to retrieve his guitar. "You said One Less Reason were sellouts," he says as Jared sits up.

"Well, so are you, so I thought you'd appreciate it." With a sharp smile, he lets Kris take back his guitar, and abruptly, Adam realizes he's holding his glass way too tight and tries to loosen numb fingers. "I can lower myself for a great piece of ass--"

"So does that like, work for you? Ever?" Kris says, looking amused as Jared slings an arm around his shoulders and jerks him off balance in a rough hug that could be mistaken for a badly executed headlock. "Because I'm getting why you don't get laid."

"Maybe I'm just waiting for the right one," Jared says softly, fingers curling around the back of Kris' neck, and Adam puts down his glass with a thump.

"He's just teasing," Leo says, glancing at Adam curiously. "Kris can handle it."

"He shouldn't have to." Crossing from behind the bar, Adam watches Kris pull away with a laugh, head turning and catching sight of Adam, eyes widening as he flashes an incredulous smile. Jared jerks his head around, and yeah, that's what he'd thought; Jared wasn't teasing, and that's a problem just waiting to happen.

"What are you doing here?" Kris says, sliding toward the edge of the stage, guitar cradled protectively against his chest. As one, the group's attention follows Jared's, falling silent in deeply appreciated shock; Adam is not up to being actively famous tonight. "I thought you were going to call--"

"Flight got in late, so I thought I'd surprise you." Pulling Kris off the stage and into a hug, guitar quickly left behind, Adam ignores Jared's flat stare. "You ready to get out of here?"

"Yeah." Pulling back reluctantly, Kris looks around. "I need my case--"

"Leave it here," Jared says with a quick smile. "I'll bring it the studio tomorrow."

"I'm off tomorrow," Kris answers, frowning a little. "Okay, where--"

"Backstage," Dennis says, setting the chair back down on all four legs. "I can--"

"I'll do it," Adam answers, climbing on the stage; he knows where they keep their equipment. "Where's your jacket?"

"Probably with the guitar," Kris says after a second of thought. "I was running a little late."

Adam turns to flash a grin. "Sorry, baby," he says insincerely. "Did I keep you up past your bedtime?"

Before Kris can answer, he ducks behind the stage, finding Kris' case easily, jacket discarded on top. Coming back out, Jared's sliding off the stage, saying something to Kris about recording this week, and Kris pulling out his phone, flipping through his calendar. "--Tuesday, maybe? I'm leaving Thursday, so we need to wrap this up," Kris is saying as Adam comes back, tossing Kris his jacket before crouching to pick up the guitar. Catching it, Kris smiles up at him. "Thanks."

Leo leaves off trying to talk to Leah when it's fairly clear none of this little group is paying attention, wandering over to Adam and leaning against the stage to murmur, "Is it good to be king, Adam?"

"Simba knew what he was talking about," Adam answers with a smirk, snapping the guitar case closed and jumping down, wrapping an arm around Kris' shoulders and easing him farther from Jared. "Ready, baby?"

"Yeah. I'll see you Tuesday," Kris tells Leah, who nods, eyes wide. With a wave at the group, Kris leans against his shoulder briefly and makes a vague grab for his guitar case. "So chivalry isn't dead after all." Kris glances up at him, eyes dancing as they approach the door, the group behind them still shocked silent. "Have fun?"

"Yeah," Adam says, grinning back. "I really did."

Adam's used to people teasing Kris; it's his own favorite hobby, after all, and he can't blame anyone for trying when they know the odds of success are about on par with ice in hell. It used to surprise him how easily Kris dealt with it from men when women still could throw him; then again, women hit on Kris via underwear and that's pretty disconcerting for anyone when you know your wife is watching. It's not the first time someone's pushed too hard, either, but it's the first time that Kris didn't seem to notice. Kris has flexible lines, though, and God knows, if he thought Adam was supposed to be modeling appropriate ones, there's a fair to good chance he wouldn't pick up actual intent until someone had him up against a wall.

Flexible lines when it comes to friends, Adam caveats, and Jared's a friend, apparently; that makes the difference as far as Kris is concerned. "So."

"Say it." Kris settles into his seat more comfortably, knee pulled up against his chest, eyes dancing. "It's been killing you for the last ten minutes."

"It hasn't--" Adam stops, giving Kris a look. "Do you carry a beacon or something? How do you--"

Kris bursts into laughter.

"Fuck you." Adam half-wishes he'd kept the driver around, but this discussion isn't one he'd want to have in front of someone else anyway. "Okay, you told me he was intense. You didn't tell me he was trying to crawl into your pants."

"He does that with everyone," Kris says, waving a hand. "He's really used to getting his way, you know?"

Adam looks at Kris disbelievingly. Kris frowns, leaning against the door. "Leah told me three things to watch for: Dennis never sleeps, so don't be surprised by three o'clock phone calls, just hang up; David never talks, so don't try, just watch football with him and offer a beer; and Jared never thinks, so when he doesn't take the hint, a punch to the face will remind him he's supposed to. Which, well--" Kris shrugs. "He's trying to prove something to himself, I think. This--LA--is important to them all, but to him, it's like, I don't know, an affirmation of existence or something."

"So he's a musician, then."

"Pretty much, yeah." Kris gives Adam a wary look. "And there's--it hasn't been easy the last few years for him."

"Leo gave me the background; let me add, not reassuring." This topic isn't going to improve with conversation; Kris is pretty much easy on everything right up to the point where he's just not, and Adam learned a long time ago which battles were worth winning. "Okay, so tell me what you've been working on with them."

Kris follows the change in conversation with unconcealed relief. Wrinkling his nose, he leans an elbow on the door and looks at Adam speculatively. "I don't know--should I share with their competition?"

Adam gives Kris a sideways look. "So they're competition?"

"For you?" Kris grins and shakes his head. "Not even close."

"….flew out here and you know. He gives good head." Adam just avoids knocking into the door when he misses the last number on his security code. Frustrated, he enters it again, giving the sky a wary look. It's been acting like rain for two days, and it's not that he doesn't like rain, it's that it does not mix with mascara and he hadn't gone for waterproof. "Wait, was that TMI?"

Kris is still laughing.

"Maybe I should have waited to talk until tomorrow," Adam says thoughtfully. He's not really high; two hits is not high. Two hits is mellow on tour, bringing him down from adrenaline-laced mania and into something in range of normal. Normal with oversharing, even. "But seriously, he's fucking amazing--"

Distantly, he hears Kris dropping the phone, laughing hard enough that Adam's worried about his lungs. "Kris?" he says, as the code finally clicks. Not kicking the door is possibly the greatest test of his self-control ever; going inside, Adam tries to remember what he came for anyway. Boots? Extra lipstick? Wallet? God, he's becoming one of those stars, that need an entourage to keep up with their things. A naked one, maybe. Sighing, he waits for the hiccupping sounds to ease and Kris picks up the phone again. "Done?"

"Yeah." Kris giggles slightly. "Sorry, it's just--I always forget how you are when you're stoned. So Alex is visiting for a few days, is that what I'm supposed to get from this conversation?"

"Oh. Yeah. Somewhere around here." Making out with one of the crew, maybe, or already left, figuring Adam would catch up eventually. Making his way through the bus, Adam finds the couch and decides for the moment, lying down would be so much more fun than looking for anything at all. Bracing a foot on the couch, he lifts the other to check his boot thoughtfully. "Went shopping."

"You took him shopping?"

"Oh God no." Adam shudders. Alex is not a fun shopper. Alex is a man on a fashion mission shopper, and the entire experience could be likened to some kind of strange military operation, grimly forced to march through five billion fucking stores with a detailed list of what is needed right now with no deviation. It's like shopping with his dad, to be honest. Exchange clothing for sporting goods and hardware, and now that Adam thinks about it with a growing sense of horror, it is just like shopping with his dad. "Do boys date their dads, do you think?"

Kris makes a helpless hiccupping sound.

"I don't know, Freudian? Something?" Adam sighs at the sound of Kris laughing again. "Could you restrain yourself? What did I come to the bus for?"

"I'm guessing from this line of conversation, condoms," Kris manages in a credible simulation of a normal voice. "Anyway, sorry to keep you from--from your entertainment tonight, I guess?" Kris strangles another giggle with an effort. "I wanted to give you my address. Really, I should have texted it, huh?"

"Probably," Adam admits, abandoning his boots and sitting up warily. "But I have a pen. Somewhere." Under a cushion, of course; Adam pulls out a Sharpie and looks around for paper, then drags back his sleeve, pulling off the cap with his teeth and spitting it out. "Okay, go--wait, address?"

"I rented a house. A condo, actually." There's something in his voice that Adam really thinks he should recognize, and suddenly, he regrets those two hits. "With Romantic Embargo and the album and everything--" Kris drifts off. "You know."

"Okay, one, thank God, you were spending more time in the air than in any one place, so I was wondering if your voter registration needed to be changed to reflect that, but two--when did this happen?"

"Um, this week? Yesterday," Kris answers, laughter in his voice. "It's only for when I'm in the city. Which is--"

"Pretty much constantly?" The Sharpie top has somehow worked its way under him and digs into his spine. Lifting his hips, Adam pulls it out and drops it on the floor. "So does Katy like the place? Did you already move?"

Even drugs can't compete against a pause like that; Adam sits up, head nearly clear. "Kris?"

"Yeah, here." There's another long pause, nothing but Kris' breathing, artificially slow and steady, like finals week but without the edge of incredulousness and laughter that this had come to mean so much to him, to all of them. Adam runs a hand through his hair, vaguely aware that someone is knocking on the bus door and trying to think who the hell would bother him this late. "It's--it's nothing. Katy's staying in Conway, that's all."

"So you're drunk?" Adam says, leaning against the back of the couch and drawing up one foot, absently playing with his bootlaces. "Because that's the only explanation for the fact you think you can lie to me that badly. Were you even trying?"

Kris snorts half-heartedly. "It's not a--not a big deal. She has a job and she can't just take off for LA whenever she wants."

"Does she want to?" Adam asks softly.

Kris swallows. "No."

Well, fuck. "You never said--" Adam bites off the comment; this actually isn't about him. "Do you want to talk about it?" he says instead, trying to keep his voice even.

"There's nothing--" Kris cuts the lie off with a sigh. "It's just--we're adjusting. I don't think we were ready for this to--that it would take this much time this time around, that's all. I didn't think--it's been busy. I screwed up, basically."

"And that's not what I asked." Before Adam can add anything, the bus door jerks open; for a second, Adam actually visualizes murder by projectile Sharpie. "Kris--"

"Not now, okay?" It's a plea, but it's the exhaustion that checks Adam's tongue. Not just the habitual insomnia of a workaholic with no one to lock him in his room until he gets some sleep and make sure he remembers to eat, no; it's something worse, and Adam wonders if he should have seen this during his last trip in LA. It's been a month; things couldn't go downhill in a month, could they? What the fuck is he missing while he's out here?

"All right," Adam says, watching Alex come to a sulking stop two feet away, glistening with rain and ungodly hot, damp jeans clinging to his legs. Putting his feet on the ground, Adam waves a hand to cut him off when he starts to talk. "You know you can--"

"I know. I do." Kris takes a careful breath, then adds with an attempt at normality, "So my address?"

Adam can give him this. "Go ahead."

Adam hears something heavy hit the ground and blinks at Alex on his knees--Alex does not like when he doesn't have his undivided attention. Long fingered, silver-nailed hands rest lightly on his knees, and Adam watches Alex lick his lips, green-lined eyes meeting his before his hands slide the length of his thighs.

"Not now," Adam mouths, sketching down the street with a not-entirely steady hand. Please God let that be readable. Before he can get any farther in that line of thought, Alex leans forward, mouthing him straight through his jeans. "Holy shit."

"Adam?" Kris breaks off in confusion, pre-zip code, and Adam drops the Sharpie, getting a handful of blond hair and jerking Alex back. Eyes nearly black, pupil blown wide with a ring of electric blue, mouth smeared pink-red, and high as shit. Mad, too: interesting. "Adam, is everything--"

"Fine, baby," Adam answers softly, watching Alex with narrowed eyes. "Give me the street again?"

Kris complies, and Alex frowns, bracing a hand on Adam's knee like he wants to stand up.

"Stay down," Adam mouths, tightening his grip. Alex hesitates, then obeys, breath coming a little faster. "Got it," Adam says, slumping a little into the couch and easing his grip so Alex can move a little in approval. "You sure you're okay?"

"Yeah." He can hear Kris' smile. "I'm fine. I should let you go. I didn't mean to interrupt--"

Adam bites down on a laugh as Alex warily leans forward, watching Adam's face. When Adam nods permission, he reaches for the buttons of Adam's pants. Adam pushes his knee into Alex's side, hard enough to get his attention. "Hands behind your back," Adam breathes, holding a finger over the microphone so that Kris (probably) won't hear it. "Nothing important," Adam says a little giddily into the phone; he's high. That's the only reason he could have thought this was a good idea. "Though I'm keeping you up; go to bed."

"I wasn't--"

"You are. It's--" Adam tilts his head back, sucking in a breath when Alex's teeth free the first button; weirdly, he hadn't known Alex could do that. This is a skillset worth some serious exploration. "It's after eleven and if you tell me you went to bed last night, I'll know you're lying."

Kris makes a vaguely protesting sound.

"Call a driver," Adam says; he remembers Kris like this during finals, too, insomnia and adrenaline and fear and riding the edge of mania in what they were doing. Not that Adam was much better; bringing Kris down was as much about keeping Kris from collapse as it was getting some sleep himself, and the habit is hard to break. "You have thirty minutes. I might call again just to check."

"…you really would, wouldn't you?" Kris says, sounding more normal, and Alex finishes with the final button, wetting his lips as Adam pulls him back, flushed and breath catching in his throat.

"Try me."

"Fine, going now. They're just screwing around now anyway." The sound of the couch springs squealing comes through the phone, then Kris says, more softly, "Night, Adam."

"Night," Adam answers, just as softly, ending the call. Alex isn't moving, eyes wide and swallowing dark. "You're just full of surprises, aren't you?"

"Surprised you didn't keep him on the phone," Alex answers, like he's actually surprised. "Are we leaving now?"

Adam is not that kind of an asshole, but it would be hard to prove it with this shit. "Suck me off," Adam says, uncurling his fingers from the phone with an effort, eyes drifting to Kris' address scrawled the length of his forearm. "Then we'll see how I feel about it. I have to make a call in thirty minutes, so you can take your time."

Alex does take direction well; Adam catches his breath, grabbing for a cushion as Alex's mouth closes around the head of his cock, tight and wet and perfect.

Kris doesn't mention it again, but Adam can tell by the spaces in conversation that whatever is going on, it's not getting better, even if it's not getting any worse. Katy visits twice, helps him pick out furniture, and goes back to Conway; Kris works like a religious vocation. Jared gets in three fights at Leo's, which Adam cares about only so far as it gets Kris four days away from the studio and the beginnings of a truly brilliant plan.

Adam doesn't push as much as he wants to, and not just because a telephone isn't exactly the best way to get Kris to open up. He's known Kris long enough to recognize the difference between when he won't talk and when he can't. The former can be handled, but the latter is where Kris needs to someone to listen to him work it out himself. Which is why this is a goddamn brilliant plan.

"Come to Chicago."

On the other side of the phone, Kris makes a strangled noise and something sounds like it broke on the floor. "What?"

"What? You only have four days and I know you're not going back to Conway--"

"Aren't you like, leaving Chicago tomorrow morning?"

"That's very true. Take the one am flight and you'll be here before we leave." Adam tilts his head back, grinning at the ceiling. "I'm not a pretty Indie boy, true, but I need attention too, you know."

"That flight leaves in four hours--" Kris breaks off and Adam smiles at the alert from his email that pops up. "Who the hell could be here this late?"

Adam hums his innocence and checks Perez as Kris pads toward his door. "Kris?" Adam says as he hears Kris pull the chain and start to unlock the door. "I just want to mention something."

The door opens, and Adam listens contentedly to the resounding silence before Kris says, slowly and carefully and disbelieving, which is hilarious because really, Kris should know better, "Adam, why is Jim here? Holding a plane ticket and smiling like that?"

Adam laughs. "This is a statement. I'm kidnapping you. Pack fast. I'll see you at the airport."

It seems impossible that Kris could manage to be smaller than Adam remembers, but just from the hang of his clothes and the circles burned dark beneath his eyes Adam can tell that he's down ten pounds and about a hundred hours of sleep.

He also collapses into the hug, which Adam will not say he does not appreciate, but this close Adam can feel the faint outline of bones beneath thin skin and muscle, and more than anything on earth, he wants to tuck Kris into bed and make him sleep a week between as many meals as Adam can stuff into him.

"Hey," Kris mumbles against his chest, clinging just a little, like in the Idol mansion and during their tour, when sometimes all of them wound up on one bus after too-long days, needing each other even more than a semi-comfortable bunk. Bad nights, but good ones, too, because they might have been competitors once, but they were also friends, and this was where they could allow themselves to break, just a little, breathe a little. Just enough.

"How bad?" Adam says into Kris' hair, tightening his hold though Kris doesn't show any interest in pulling back.

"Not--" Kris stops himself with a watery laugh. "God, I did not mean to do this." Vaguely, he plucks at Adam's hoodie in a way that implies he might eventually want to let go. "Sorry. It's just been a long fucking month."

Carefully, Adam pulls back, looking into red-edged, bloodshot brown eyes, cupping Kris' face and pressing his thumbs against the fragile skin of his temples. "You've been holding out on me, baby."

Kris starts to answer, then shakes his head. "I--can we go?"

"Right now." Keeping an arm around Kris, Adam sees the driver and Jay waiting. "I'll get someone to grab your bags. What did--"

"Just my guitar and my bag," Kris says, looking up at Adam with a faintly amused look. "For some reason, Jim said it had to be checked."

"Smart man," Adam says as they go outside; there aren't any paparazzi yet, probably because sane rockstars don't go out in the middle of a storm just to pick up a friend when a driver can do it just as well. Taking Kris' laptop bag and handing it to the driver, Adam pushes Kris into the car and climbs in behind him. "You'll get it back when I'm satisfied you've slept."

Kris gives him a thoughtful look, eyes already half-closed now that he's seated and still. "You can be really bossy, you know?"

"That's what you like about me," Adam answers as they pull out. Kris' leans against his shoulder, struggling to keep his eyes open and losing badly. "Get some sleep. I'll wake you up when we get to the bus."

Kris makes a faintly protesting noise that's more like a snore before falling silent. Adam grins, slumping a little in the seat, and feels Kris settle with a sigh.

Kris sleeps fourteen hours straight, waking just long enough to eat and tell Adam, very seriously, "Tell me you changed these sheets since Alex was here."

Adam blinks over the top of his laptop at the sleepy, cranky Kris curled up in his bed, pillow creases on his cheek and eyes red and a little swollen from sleep. "That's the cattiest thing I've ever heard you say," he says admiringly. "I'm impressed. Do some more; it's adorable"

"I hate you," Kris says resentfully, curling up tighter in the blankets without any visible sign he gives a shit about the cleanliness of the sheets, eyes drifting shut on a glare. Kris is never at his personal best when he first wakes up, but even the other Idols never knew that; seeing Kris unfiltered like this is something you had to earn. "Well? Did you?"

"I have a couch," Adam says brightly, pushing the laptop aside and crawling up from the foot of the bed so Kris doesn't have to tilt his neck at that angle to keep glaring. Settling against the headboard, Adam lets himself ruffle Kris' hair, a little longer than he can ever remember Kris letting it grow. It's a good look for him, a little less Arkansas, but not quite LA; something in between the clean-cut Southern boy and the LA songwriter and American Idol.

Jared, now that he thinks about it, and then rolls his eyes at himself and wonders if you ever outgrow being an asshole.

Kris snorts half-heartedly, and it may be the exhaustion that makes him lean into Adam's touch, sighing a little when Adam eases his fingers deeper, rubbing against his scalp. "What time's the next show?" Kris murmurs into the pillow.

"You'll be sleeping through it," Adam says, working toward the back of Kris' neck, muscles tense beneath the soft skin. "Then we'll talk."

Kris nods slightly, like he doesn't want to dislodge Adam's fingers.

"And Kris? I changed the sheets."

Kris opens his eyes long enough to give Adam a smile.

"You know," Adam says near one the next morning, stealing Kris' fries since he's finished his own; Kris' presence is totally reason enough for fast food and God, Adam's missed it. "I've been amazingly patient."

Kris looks at him from over his burger for a second. "Adam."

Adam shrugs, taking another fry and slumping into a corner of the couch. He loves privacy, he loves having his own bus, and God does he love not sleeping in a bunk, but that doesn't mean he doesn't appreciate that the trade meant that without active effort on his part, he was going to spend a lot of time alone.

Kris wasn't the first to make the observation that Adam's turned his personal life into part of his media life (Brad mentions it weekly), but even now, Adam's not sure either of them will ever understand why he had to.

"I can wait you out," Adam answers easily as Kris slows down his chewing in an unsubtle attempt to delay as long as possible. "The bus isn't that big and I have time."

Kris sighs and finishes his burger at normal speed, crumpling the wrapper. Nearly a day and half of sleep have at least taken the edge off of Kris' exhaustion, but the tension hasn't melted away so much as redistributed. Adam can see the moment Kris decides to talk in the way his body shifts, caught between wanting space and needing to be close enough for comfort, as obvious as it is instinctive.

That's another thing about Kris that has to be earned, because while Kris won't ever ask, his body always tells.

"You didn't ask why I didn't go back to Conway," Kris says, staring intently at a hole in the knee of his sweatpants.

"You said Katy was in Vegas for an audition," Adam answers neutrally, watching Kris back tense beneath the thin material of his t-shirt.

"I--yeah." Kris rubs the back of his neck distractedly. "And I'm sort of--we're--we decided to maybe--that she'll come to LA to see me. Instead of me going to Conway."

Adam works out text and subtext in what Kris isn't saying; unhappy on the surface with unsettling implications. "She said you couldn't go home."

Kris' mouth twists into an uneven smile. "Not--exactly. She said that I stopped visiting LA a long time ago. Conway isn't home anymore. And it probably hasn't been since I won, even when I went back. And the thing is, she's right."

Adam doesn't answer, because there's nothing he can do with that but agree. Because Kris is pretty much easy on everything right up to the point where he's just not, and by the time Kris moved back to Conway, Adam hadn't been around enough to know there was a battle he should have fought. It had been a mistake, as much personally as professionally. It wasn't just his career that had suffered; the musician who loved his craft had lost so much more.

"I just--" Kris looks at Adam helplessly. "I didn't really think it mattered. If I--if I was careful and--" Kris bites his lip. "She filed for separation. She said--she said we have to find out if we can live like this. If we even want to."

Letting out a breath, Kris slumps back against the couch. "The papers came two days ago. She's in Vegas until the end of next month, and then she's coming to LA so we can talk about it. If--if I can live in Conway, or she can--if she wants to move to LA for good, or we make this work living in different cities, I don't know." Kris pauses, mouth tight. "And maybe what happens if we can't."

Adam bites back his instinctive response before it gets any further than the tip of his tongue. The silence begins to stretch uncomfortably, and Adam tries to think of something he can say to make up for everything that he can't. God, he should have gotten some fucking alcohol.

"I really wish we were drinking," Kris says a little wistfully, turning his head to look at Adam, the last of the tension leached away, like saying the words finally released something he'd held inside for far too long. Maybe since he adopted an Austin band and realized that giving up again would have more casualties than just himself, or maybe since he stopped being willing to be a casualty himself. "We could start now?"

Adam nods eagerly and gets to his feet. "God yes. Let's do that."

"This could be a good thing," Kris tells him, sounding unnervingly positive, and Adam reluctantly pulls his attention from the ceiling to look up at Kris, who is able to sit upright in a monstrous example of the unfairness of the universe. Adam always forgets Kris isn't nearly as much a lightweight as by all right he should be. Frowning, Kris jerks his hair, because the couch is tiny and Kris lap is the only space available. "Pay attention. This is a good thing."

Adam blinks his undivided attention.

"It's like--we'll figure ourselves out. What we're doing and where we're going, you know? Like--like what road we want to travel."

Adam narrows his eyes. "You sound like my therapist."

"Maybe she does lunch with mine?" Kris thinks about that. "You think they talk about us? I mean, they both work for 19E. Maybe they hang out after work?"

Now there's an unnerving thought. "Please shut up now."

"Yeah." Looking disturbed, Kris sighs, fingers threading through Adam's hair absently. "Anyway, she's probably going to get that--did I tell you it's this reality TV show?"

"No?" Adam thinks about it. "What kind?"

"I don't remember? I went down for the first audition and it was like, this room of women. Hundreds. Of women. Everywhere." Kris looks wistful. "They were pretty. I really wanted her to get that part. I mean, because she wants it."

"Not really my thing." Adam watches as Kris finishes his drink and tries to set it on the floor from two feet above it. Nothing breaks, so Adam considers it a success. "Have fun?"

Kris nods enthusiastically. "She did too. There was this bar we went to after, and she'd made friends with some of them, so we met them there. We were fighting pretty much, like, the entire weekend? So we weren't--we got really drunk at the bar." Kris mouth curves in a smile that Adam's never seen before. "It was--easier to drink than fight, but we managed to do both anyway."

Adam can feel the tension come back abruptly, nothing like it was before, and tries to fight off the alcohol haze.

"She filed for separation when she got back to Conway. And when I got the papers, I bought the condo."

Adam meets Kris' eyes, recognizing the smile for what it is; people look like that when they realize they're forgetting how to hope.

Taking a deep breath, Adam sits up, ignoring the unhappy roll of his stomach to brace himself against the back of the couch. The change in position clears his head enough to try and work out the right questions, because he gets the feeling that this time, he can't afford to be wrong. "Do you know what you're doing?"

Kris' face crumples before he buries his face against Adam's shoulder, thin body starting to shake like he might fall apart. "No," he breathes, voice choked. "Not really. Not anymore."

Adam eases an arm around him; even dead sober he wouldn't know what to say. "It'll be okay," he says. "When you see her, you'll, I don't know, talk it out, figure out how to make it work…"

"Yeah." Kris curls closer. "I don't--I don't know what I'm doing," he says softly. "But I know what I'm not. I can't--I can't go back. I can't give this up again. I can't."

Adam's relationships have been media fodder since American Idol; he'd learned a lot in the first two years. Earlier, he'd thought Kris could never understand the choices he'd made, the trade he'd been willing to make; now, Adam wonders if maybe Kris already does and just doesn't know it.

After a few long minutes, Kris lifts his head, though he doesn't pull away. That's good, because Adam's not sure he remembers how to let him go. "Sorry," he breathes, face flushed, eyes darting away. "You shouldn't have to deal with this."

Adam reaches up and carefully wipes away the faint track of tears and waits for Kris to look at him. "Kris, that's exactly what I'm supposed to do." Smiling encouragingly, Adam continues. "What would you do with your straight friends?"

Kris' mouth twitches. "Well, pretty much this. But you know, less cuddling."

Standing up, Adam gets his balance before pulling Kris to his feet. "Wow. I've never been so happy to be gay."

"Sometimes strippers," Kris continues. "And football reruns."

"Really happy."

"And drunken blowjobs," Kris adds thoughtfully. Adam stumbles, shoulder knocking into the wall hard enough to feel it in his teeth. Turning around, he looks at Kris, who stares at the wall above his head with an innocent expression. For the first time since Kris arrived, Adam thinks he just might be okay.

"You little bitch," Adam breathes, failing to fight back the helpless laughter bubbling up from somewhere inside that may be relief and sheer happiness both. It sets Kris off, too, leaning against him and laughing like he can't stop.

"You know," Kris manages brokenly between breathless gasps, looking up at him with dancing eyes. "I told you. Guy rules."

He doesn't think about it, maybe doesn't want to, and maybe doesn't care; cupping Kris upturned face, he leans in and kisses him, slow and soft but not careful, not this time. Kris is a tease, sure, but the truth is, so is he. Kris stills for a second, barely long enough to notice before the smiling lips part and Kris kisses him back.

He'd thought about this (a little, a lot, sometimes, never, he never stopped, not really), thought about it in the mansion and on tour, like a teenager with a crush and not a grown man who fucked his boyfriend on hotel nights one door away from where Kris slept. He hadn't thought about what that meant then because he'd already known.

Sliding a hand around the back of Kris' neck, Adam tilts his head just a little, tasting Kris sigh as he lets Adam control the kiss, easy, easy, opening up for Adam's tongue and pliant beneath his hands, like they've done this before, like they'll do this again, like a first kiss never is and probably shouldn't be. He licks away the burn of alcohol from Kris' mouth until he can't taste anything but Kris, running his tongue over Kris' lips and biting the lower to hear his soft gasp, one hand grabbing for Adam's hip to steady himself, fingers grasping the bare skin beneath his shirt, letting Adam turn him, push him up against the wall, soft sounds catching in his throat when Adam pins his wrists against the wall leaning into every touch like he'll never get enough.

Pulling back for air, Adam looks down at Kris' mouth, swollen pink and soft and waiting, and makes himself step away. Slowly, too slowly, Kris opens his eyes, wide and dazed but shocked most of all.

The problem with wanting Kris had never been that Adam wanted a straight boy he could never have had; his life would have been so much easier if that were true. It had taken too long for him to figure it out, weeks and weeks before he'd let himself admit the pretty boy he'd pretended was safe to touch was anything but. Adam still couldn't have him but not for the reason he first thought; now he knew that Kris wanted him, too.

Kris didn't know, and he didn't need to; if he did, what they were doing would have to stop, everything would stop. Adam could deal with never having him but not with losing him entirely.

Licking his lips, Kris swallows. "Adam?" Pushing off the wall, he stumbles a little, and it's not from the alcohol.

Adam pretends it is. "And that," he says, voice light, "means it's time for drunk boys to sleep it off." Catching Kris, he keeps him upright, ignoring the way Kris frowns at him, and thank God for alcohol to blunt his instincts and his memory. "If you fall over, you're staying on the floor."

Kris keeps his feet. "I'm not that drunk," he says, voice still unsure. Adam dumps him on the bed--carefully--and smirks when Kris squeezes his eyes shut when he bounces.

"I'll get some water," Adam says as Kris tries not to move, hand resting gingerly on his belly. "Don't fall asleep, okay?"

Kris nods warily, eyes already feathering shut; he'll be out in seconds.

Shutting the door carefully, Adam takes a breath and lets himself slide to the floor, the haze of alcohol wiped away and every memory sharp enough to cut. He lets himself think about it anyway, about another life entirely where he could have met Kris first, where he could have had him and kept him: about another time, when he was younger and wouldn't have cared what promises Kris had made if he could have been the one to make Kris break them; about what he could do now if he tried, with Kris needing him like this; it would be so easy to do and impossible to regret.

He drinks two bottles of water and brings one back to the room, waking Kris up with amused indulgence and makes him drink every drop. He kisses his forehead and shoves him over and watches him fall asleep, boneless and warm and easy against his shoulder and thinks of the man who fell in love with Kris five years ago and never learned how to stop. He hadn't regretted his decision, not then; he'd kept a friendship that would last the length of both their lives, and it was so much more than enough. Letting Kris go had meant he would never have to give him up.

He's not that guy, not anymore, the one who loved Kris enough not to even try when he knew no matter the outcome, Kris was the only one of the three of them who in the end would always have to lose. But he still wants to be, and maybe, maybe that will be enough.

Kris hates promotions, hates them in ways that Adam really doesn't. It's not simply a difference in personality, either; the first time around hadn't been nearly as rough as it could have been, but Kris had taken up a proxy hatred of the media from Adam's experiences over the last five years, took offense even when Adam could easily blow it off.

It's sweet and just a little insane, but then, you don't go into this business if you're sane. "You'll be fine," Adam soothes at soundcheck, ignoring frantic hand signals and demands for his attention to focus on the faintly frantic edge in Kris' voice. "Look, this is new to Leah; you gotta be there for her and the others." Because Adam trusts that Jared's lack of good sense could and will end in disaster, and while Leo swears that Leah and Kris can keep him under control, the guy is not the type to take that kind of shit well. If he's honest, Adam reflects sourly, Jared's behavior isn't exactly unfamiliar or anything. "Think of Leah. And not strangling the paparazzi with their own cameras."

Kris sighs a little mutinously, but it's not like he won't do it. "Yeah, I know. And this isn't--going to be that big, not like Idol, I get that. But--"

"Jared," Adam sighs, frowning at the tour manager making an appearance to stare at him bitterly.

"Jared," Kris agrees hopelessly. "Okay. It's just an album, and all I have to do is nod and why do I have to be there again?"

Technically speaking, he didn't; songwriters weren't usually forced into being a part of the media attention during an album release. "For the same reason 19E nearly shit themselves in joy when you told them what you were doing and why you agreed to do this in the first place. Your album is coming up, and you need the exposure. And because they need the exposure, too. It's a mutual parasitic relationship."

Adam may have been hitting wikipedia a little too much, but three am is three am and sometimes, Kris actually does sleep at night.

"That's--really disgusting," Kris says after a moment. "Thanks for the image. Okay. I can do this."

"You can," Adam agrees. "Leah should be there soon, so be nice and do as she says, okay?"

Kris hums absent agreement that comes to a startled stop. "Leah isn't coming over," Kris says in bewilderment. Adam hears his phone ping a text message and settles back in his chair, flagrantly pretending he's not blowing off pretty much everything, because he's been waiting for this all day. "Adam, my doorbell just rang."

Adam bites his lip against a fit of giggles and obediently gets to his feet when his PA shows up with a look on her face that says "resignation and I have lots of paparazzi friends, fucker".

"Adam," Kris says dangerously as he pads through the condo and starts unlocking the door. "What did you do?"

"I like Leah," Adam says brightly. "Awesome girl. Can we keep her?" just as Kris says, resigned, "Hi, Leah. I see shopping bags. I don't even need to ask, do I?"

Leah makes a soothing sound; she's dealt with Kris enough to know how to handle him.

"You told Leah to pick out my clothes?" Kris hisses into the phone. "Are you serious?"

"Of course not," Adam says, offended. "I did; she just went to pick them up and will make sure you wear them. I want pictures, baby. Have a good night!" Hanging up before Kris can try to argue his way out of the inevitable, Adam gives everyone a bright look. "So. Did I miss anything?"

He didn't need to worry about pictures; apparently, Jared's fucking around Hollywood and getting involved with B-list stars in compromising positions had paid off a lot better than anyone would have suspected. Which Adam has in fact followed, kind of hating himself but fascinated at the same time. Jared's the platonic wet dream of the paparazzi and if the album does as well as Adam thinks it will--and in this, he's never been wrong--it's not just Romantic Embargo that's going to benefit from their raised profile.

Adam reminds himself that he does not have to like them to appreciate what they can do for Kris.

Adam keeps the best of the pictures; Kris, unbelievably hot in the silver grey suit with a fit that makes Adam think of porn and art at the same time, the professional mess of hair that sometimes falls in his eyes in terribly distracting ways, the easy way Leah fits under his arm with her tall husband almost invisible behind them; only one of Jared and Kris, a casual snapshot that proves once again the paparazzi have all the insight of a block of wood.

Kris and his tie have long parted company, jacket open, two buttons undone--fuck, Adam thinks sadly, that's so not playing fair--with Leah standing inches away, distracted, and Jared leaning to murmur something into Kris' ear, one hand curled around Kris' wrist and the other resting with easy familiarity on the back of his neck. Kris is laughing, eyes half-closed, flushed and maybe drunk, maybe pleased, like maybe this time it was actually fun for him.

Adam suspects he knows who is responsible for that because yeah, Adam's totally that kind of asshole.

Kris mailed him a key to the condo a week before Adam was scheduled to return to LA along with a copy of Romantic Embargo's new album and a note, security code scrawled beneath: because they're kind of stalking your house and sleep is good.

Adam grins; Kris is back to eighteen hour days in the studio and still manages to think of that.

To his surprise, Kris is waiting at the airport, sunglasses pulled down and almost hiding the growing circles beneath his eyes that the month since Embargo's album release should have erased. Of course Kris went right back to the studio; not like Adam didn't see that coming.

"Hey, baby," Adam says as Kris smiles, turning into the hug as easily as he ever had, and something in Adam relaxes just a little. Seeing it in person made it true, the way the phone calls and text messages and three am emails should have and still hadn't quite.

"Hey yourself." Pulling back a little, Kris peers up at him through the dark lenses; amused, Adam plucks them off. "Hey!"

"It's ten at night. It's like I don't even need to make fun of you; you do it to yourself." Setting them back on his nose, Adam glances around from habit as Kris sighs and pulls him toward the doors. "What about--"

"Jim will drop them off." Kris looks up mischievously. "When you've eaten and slept and--"

Adam snickers, leaning against Kris' shoulder. "Fine, whatever, it just better be an amazing dinner."

"Well," Kris says, peering at Adam over the edge of the glasses, "that part's up to you."

"Okay, as a guest," Adam says, trying not to breathe through his nose; his mother banged that much into him about cutting onions, "why am I being pressed into manual labor here? Also, done." Sliding the cutting board over, Adam squeezes his eyes shut and turns on the faucet to wash his hands, breathing thanks he'd showered before they started and he didn't have to deal with the effects of tears and eye makeup tonight.

Kris scrapes them cheerfully into the simmering butter and various food-related shapes already cooking in the pan. "People with keys aren't guests. You're lucky I made the guest bed up for you." Leaning over his shoulder, Adam tries to identify what they're eating. There's onions and chicken and some vegetables and a pot of rice on the stove. Adam's thinking stir-fry, or a delicious-smelling facsimile thereof. "Besides, you eat out too much on tour."

That's true, and it was just as true before tour. Between his mom, Brad, and Danielle, he probably averaged one non-takeout meal a week, maybe, and that was when he wasn't recording.

"So do you," Adam says, not even looking at either the trash can or the refrigerator, loaded with leftovers in various stages of potential sentience, though at least Kris had actual food as well in a valiant attempt to pretend he's a normal human being. "I like the place, by the way. Lots of space."

Despite not being all that large, it's still half-empty because unsurprisingly, the only furniture is the stuff Katy had helped him buy, and Kris only bought what he'd notice he lacked. That would be, a living room in hotel-anonymous neutrals, a huge TV and entertainment system, and two beds. Adam had been surprised and pleased there were actual headboards. "Might spring for a dresser one of these days? Maybe, I don't know, a dining room? Some chairs? Plates not of the paper variety? What do you think?"

Kris rolls his eyes. "It's not like I'm here that much," he answers as he stirs, like that isn't pretty obvious. "Besides, it gives the cleaning service less to do."

Kris might be their favorite client at that; obviously, Katy had trained him to pick up after himself. It's an unsettling combination if Adam thinks about it too long; there's no sense of Kris here at all. He'd left a bigger impression in a room on an overnight at a hotel, on the bus with his guitar and notebooks and the random abandoned shirt marking territory as much as the rest of them. This--isn't Kris, but it's not Katy, either, not even in the furniture she'd helped him choose, and Adam doesn't want to interpret what that could mean.

We're working on it, Kris had said, half-relieved and half-surprised, but she's been here several times, stayed at least a week after Kris was done with Romantic Embargo's album, and there's nothing of her, of them. He can't ask, not now, probably not ever, he knows that, but he's fucking up as a friend that he's letting it slide, and he knows that, too.

"Maybe curtains?" he says lightly. "Less the abode of a serial killer, more well-adjusted member of society? For me? Please?"

"Jared said that too," Kris says sourly, and thank God; while they can't talk about Katy, Adam doesn't have any scruples regarding Jared. "He asked if there was a basement he should know about. Hand me the mushrooms?"

Adam picks them up and tries to remember if stir-fry has mushrooms, but it smells amazing, so really, who is he to judge? "How is Jared doing these days?" Adam asks as casually as he can. "Any new arrests?"

Kris levels Adam with a wary look as he takes the mushrooms and dumps them into the pan. "Nah. Got tossed out of a few clubs, but nothing that needed stitches this time around." Stirring the mushrooms in, he shrugs. "He comes by to drop off songs and complain about Leah sometimes, but he's been kind of busy--"

"Busy, yeah, that's a word for it. I know some better ones. Want to hear what they are?"

Kris wrinkles his nose, but the wary look increases, like maybe he suspects this conversation is going somewhere pretty specific. "Busy enjoying himself, but yeah, pretty much. He's a kid--"

"What definition are we using for that?" Adam leans against the counter to keep Kris' face in view, letting his smile fade. "Funny story. I got a call from a friend who told me--"

"Oh," Kris says too quickly, stabbing at the pan with unusual viciousness, "someone told you something? Glad you're keeping up on the gossip--"

"--he's playing a little rough, and not just with people that like it." Before Kris can pull away, Adam takes the spatula away and turns Kris' hand, running a thumb over the fading bruises spread fading purple and yellow-green along his knuckles. "What did Leah tell you? Jared doesn't think, so a punch to the face reminds him? What did he need to be reminded of?"

Kris' eyes narrow.

"You don't want to talk about it, fine, but I know you. This," Adam presses his thumb into the bruised bone, "means he didn't just cross some lines, he fucking jumped them."

Kris huffs a breath, making a half-hearted attempt to pull away. "It was--it wasn't that big a deal--"

"Kris," Adam says incredulously, closing his fingers involuntarily around Kris's thin wrist, intensely aware how much smaller Kris is than he is, but more, how much smaller he is than Jared. "You hit him hard enough to hurt yourself. You're telling me--"

"I overreacted," Kris says shortly, a slow flush creeping up his cheeks that Adam realizes is shame. "He was--he was being Jared and I wasn't, I didn't stop him before he--"

"Stop it," Adam says, tightening his grip on Kris' wrist instinctively. That's a familiar beginning, matched with the sound of Kris' voice, the way Kris looks right now; Adam's heard it before, more times than he can count, heard it said deprecatingly, with a little laugh and a little smile and maybe even a little guilt. Kris has heard it too, probably talked to girls who looked like this, who acted like this, and yet he can still stand there and say that and never notice the dichotomy. Because he's Kris, and because he's a guy, and guys only see what they want to, interpret it into what they can live with.

Adam hadn't liked Jared much before, but now he hates him, hates him, because of what he did to Kris, what he's made him think, and what Adam has to do now.

Licking his lips, Adam tightens his grip until he can feel bone shift and Kris' voice breaks off, startled. "Were you asking for it, baby?" he says gently. "Is that what happened?"

Kris' eyes widen, trying to jerk away. He doesn't get far.

"Or maybe," Adam says, straightening as he pushes Kris hard against the counter, staring down at him, making sure he understands this, gets this, the difference in height and weight and strength, but also in intent, "you teased him too much and he couldn't help himself? I mean, if you didn't want it, you wouldn't put it on offer like that, right?"

Kris blinks up at him in shock as Adam gets both his wrists, pinning them to the counter, putting his weight behind it so it hurts, so he'll remember this. "Adam--"

"Did you play with him a little just because you could?" Adam breathes against his ear, struggling against nausea rising sour on the back of his tongue; he's done this, fuck, he's held someone against a wall or a bar or the fucking floor and loved what he could do to them, but he's never done it like this, never used it like weapon, just because he could. "And Kris--was your skirt too short?"

When Kris' head snaps up, Adam lets him go, wiping sweating palms against his jeans, fighting back disgust, and not just with Jared; if he has to do this, he has to get it right. "Because you can. You can do those things. You can do all of those things, you can strip naked and fucking dance in front of him, in front of anyone, but that doesn't mean they get to touch. Not when you don't want it. And you know that. You know that."

Kris looks away, cheeks hot.

"That rule doesn't just apply to girls; it covers everyone," Adam continues, relentless. "Do you understand me? If Jared--if anyone, ever--crosses those lines, don't ever, ever think it was your fault."

"I'm not--" Kris swallows, fingers closing convulsively over the edge of the counter. "It wasn't--he thought I did. He thought I wanted him to." Kris opens his eyes, bright with guilt and shock both. "How could he know that I didn't--"

"Because you know. And if you don't, you fucking ask." Adam takes a deep breath, wanting to touch him so badly his hands shake with it, and he can't, not now. "And then you listen when they say no. It's not rocket science. It's life."

Kris doesn't answer, staring at the floor, shoulders slumping. "I never--" stopping, Kris shakes his head. "I never really--thought about what I was doing. I mean, you called me a tease before--"

Adam wonders if he ever really thought that shit wouldn't come back to haunt him.

"--but I didn't know it was--that I was like that." Kris looks up, stricken. "He said I drove him crazy. Did I do that to you? When I--when we--"

There are so many ways to answer that question. Yes, of course, Kris is hot and Adam's a guy; yes, because he's Kris and Adam's never wanted anyone like he wants him; yes, and that's okay, because Adam loves him and loves he can touch him and can't give that up. Yes, and I don't care. You can do anything you want. I'd never tell you no. I'll never want to. I don't even think I can. Because you're you. Because the lines Adam drew with Kris were never entirely appropriate and it's way too late to know how to change them even if Adam could learn to want to. They're true, they're all true, but that doesn't make them right, because they won't answer the question Kris is asking him.

"You said I was cute," Kris says too quickly, guiltily, "but I don't think I really--that I got that--"

"I'm going to kill Jared," Adam says; it's not helpful, but wow, just thinking it makes him feel better. "You have his address?"

Kris looks away, flushing. "I'm sorry," he whispers, sounding lost. "I thought--I don't even know what the fuck I thought I was doing, and you didn't say anything… But I didn't ask, either--"

"You don't need to." Kris' head snaps around. "You've never done anything--anything--I didn't want, and I swear to God if this gets weird--" Adam breaks off helplessly. "Give me his address? Where's your phone? You have it on there, right? It won't take long. I'll be back for dessert."

Kris bites his lip, corners lifting reluctantly, and finally, the tight grip on the counter eases by degrees. "He's probably out. Adam." Kris hesitates, then looks at him, eyes dark. "You--did I ever--"

"No. Never." Adam tilts his head, waiting until Kris relaxes, because Kris needs to hear this, and maybe, maybe when he thinks of what happened on the bus, Adam does too. "Did I?"

Kris' eyes widen, appalled. "No. No, Adam, never." Pushing off the counter, Kris wraps his arms around him, almost tentative but not quite, and even that eases away at the first touch; the relief is so strong Adam's surprised he can still stand, dizzy and impossibly grateful. Gently, Adam hugs him back, letting himself breathe for the first time in what feels like years instead of minutes. They're okay. They're going to be okay.

"I can't believe I just had to listen to someone give me the speech about bad touch," Kris says after a while, incredulous, muffled against his t-shirt. Adam pats his back sympathetically; he'd never thought he'd have to give it, so they're even. And so unironically at that. "I think dinner is going to burn. I should take care of that."

Freeing one arm reluctantly, Adam stretches enough to turn off the burner with an unsteady hand. "In a minute," he says, clearing his throat at the rough sound of his voice. "Not yet, okay?"

Kris nods agreement. "Yeah, okay."

It's not burned, but Adam wouldn't have cared if it was. Kris picks out one of the bewildering number of remote controls to flip on the movie, empty plates settled on the coffee table, and leans back against the couch with a sigh. "It's cute you want to defend my honor and everything, but let it go already."

Adam looks up from the tenth try at the password on Kris' phone. "I'll just, you know, rough him up," Adam says hopefully. "I can do that. I can totally do that. In heels, if I feel like it."

Kris tilts his head back, intrigued. "I kind of want to see that. And yet, you really don't need to, promise. Katy took self-defense classes in college, you know. I helped her practice."

"How progressive of you." Adam stares bitterly at the blank screen. "You only use like, three passwords; when did you get unpredictable and shit? What the hell--"

Swiveling around, Kris rests his elbows on the edge of the couch. "I learned a lot from her," he says, mouth curving in a slow smile, edged with something just a little mean. Adam loses interest in the phone as Kris rests his chin in his hands. "I'm not a girl," he adds, "but I still know how to use my knee."

Adam drops the phone in surprise, taking a blissful moment to enjoy the image. "Did you make him cry?"

"Oh yeah." Kris picks up the phone, typing in the password, and then hands it back with a smirk. "I can take care of myself, you know."

Adam glances at the bruises on Kris' knuckles that will eventually fade to nothing and thinks of the ones in his mind that Jared had left that never will, not really. "I know," he says finally, hoping Kris won't hear the bitterness. "That doesn't mean you always have to."

"I'll keep that in mind," Kris answers after a second of thought, then climbs on the couch, curling up comfortably against his side and pointing the remote at the TV. "He hasn't gone clubbing for a while," Kris whispers, soft and maliciously pleased. "Just so you know."

Adam wraps an arm around his shoulder and squeezes happily. "That's my boy."

Adam had set his phone's alarm to go off at the ungodly hour of seven, because music executives are fucking sadists, but it's the pounding on the door that wakes him up just as dawn filters through the blinds and right, curtains. Before he leaves, Kris is getting some goddamn curtains. Sitting up, Adam hisses at the crick in his neck from sleeping half-upright against the arm of the couch, Kris drooling into his lap, looking young and delicious and kind of illegally adorable.

This is my life, Adam thinks fatalistically, easing Kris down with a mumble of vague protest and getting to his feet. Later, he'll blame the life-destroying ache in his back from the couch and two days of insomnia followed by Kris-related stress for the fact he actually makes it all the way to the door and has it open before he realizes he probably shouldn't do that, and for so many reasons.

Jared is better than coffee and a hit of speed, though. Adam almost goes with his first instinct to slam the door shut, but Jared's eye is even more spectacular than description had indicated, skin swollen and a little shiny, the socket deep black and shading pale green down one high cheekbone and edged in sickly yellow. Kris hadn't held back even a little, and Adam knows from experience Kris is a hell of lot stronger than he looks and knows how to use it when he means it. This time, he meant it.

"How's the eye?" Adam asks softly, leaning into the door before Jared can cover his shock. "And in related events, what the fuck are you doing here?"

Jared grits his teeth. "I want to talk to Kris," he says finally, taking a step and stopping uncertainly when Adam doesn't move. "Look, it was--stupid. I need to--I need to tell him I didn't mean to do that. I'm not that kind of guy."

"Except that you pretty much are." Adam had thought he'd known how pissed he was, but he was so fucking wrong. "You know as well as I do the shit you pulled is what homophobic fuckwits use to justify their fucked-up worldview, and don't tell me you don't get that. And you did it to him?"

"I'm not," Jared says urgently, expression melting into desperation. "I'm not, I've never--I've never pushed like that before. I fucked up, okay? Look, I get that, but I need him to know that--that it won't happen again. Leah already kicked my ass when I told her--"

Adam lets his expression reflect how little he cares.

"--and I told the rest of the band. They're pissed--and right, they should be, I'm not making any excuses, Lambert. But they're--he's not just a gimmick for any of us. I fucked up, but they didn't, and they don't deserve to lose him, too. That's--I want him to know that. Just, he can hate me, fine, I fucked it up, but I'll do whatever he wants if he'll be okay with them. Stay away, take out an ad in Variety, whatever it takes." Jared takes a shuddery breath, abruptly exhausted and showing it. "Just--just tell him that, okay? I don't--I don't want him scared of me."

Adam takes a deep breath, struggling to push down the memories of last night in the kitchen and what Kris had said. "He's not afraid of you," Adam says slowly, holding Jared's eyes. "You're not that special. You made him afraid of himself."

Jared flinches, shutting his eyes. "I never--fuck it. Yeah, just--tell him the others, Leah, they'll give him all the time he wants. And tell him I'm sorry." Looking up, Jared meets Adam's eyes, wide and clear and devastated. "I'm not that guy. I won't be. Not to him or anyone else. Tell him that, too."

Adam wants to let him leave, and for a second, he thinks he just might, but there's still Kris, and Adam remembers how Kris looked last night. Kris might believe him, but hearing it from Jared may be the only way to be sure. They still live in a world where a woman can be asked what she wore when she was raped, where a gay man can still be assaulted and never get as far as a trial, if he reports it at all. It's not that Adam thinks he can change the world on the strength of sheer will, but what the fuck, that doesn't mean he can't try.

"He's sleeping," Adam says carefully. "I'm not waking him up for this. But I'll tell him you came by. He can decide what to do about it."

Jared nods jerkily. "Fair enough." Shoulders slumped, Jared turns away, and Adam makes himself watch for a few seconds before shutting the door. Going back to the living room, Adam crouches by the sofa and looks at Kris' sleeping face. He has to get ready for a meeting that impossibly, he cares even less about than he did before, but he needs to do this first.

"Kris," he says, reaching carefully and shaking one thin shoulder. "Hey, wake up a second. I gotta go."

Kris opens his eyes sleepily; unfiltered, because Adam's earned the right to see it, and Kris sometimes forgets how much he shows of everything he'll never tell. "Um." Kris nods drowsily, lashes almost concealing the flare of regret. "Okay. Call me before you leave--?"

"I'll bring lunch back with me," Adam says firmly. "I might even cook."

Kris' mouth curves in a surprised smile, brown eyes warm. "Should I disable the fire alarms now?"

"Step off, bitch. Brad's been teaching me; I can do this." Ruffling his hair, Adam stands up. "Get some sleep. I'll wake you up when I get back."

Kris nods contentedly, relaxing into the couch, already halfway there. "Mmkay. See you soon."

"I could swear," Kris says from the bathroom, "that you have an entire house to decorate. Wait," Kris ducks his head out to level a glare at Adam, hair a wet, hilariously spiky mass sticking out in every direction, "make that two."

Rolling his eyes, Adam picks at the buckle of his boot as Kris comes out of the bathroom pulling on a clean t-shirt. "This is not a house," Adam says carefully. "It's a set from Criminal Minds where everyone wonders how no one knew the guy was a psychopath until they saw how he lived. If you aren't seeing it, you're in serious denial."

Kris scowls at him from the closet. "I don't need--"

"Kris," Adam says, "take a careful look around and ask yourself, when did I become a person whose flatware is plastic and the only place to sit is a sofa that could double as a torture device?"

Kris hesitates, worn sneakers in one hand. "The couch sucks," he concedes. "Though you know, it reminds me of the one you had during your period of greyscale minimalism, now that I think about it--"

Adam winces; he won't say there aren't some decorating choices he regrets in his life. That doesn't mean he's going to admit it. "It was very zen. You only have what you bring with you--"

"Oh God, not the speech," Kris groans. "You didn't meditate in that room; you wrote horrible songs about life having no meaning right after you started that no-fat diet and ate nothing but leaves and like, mineral water. I mean, white carpet, really? Black glitter? Rejection of color and joy as products of commercialism, do you remember this? Did I ask if this could possibly be a result of the sheer lack of food that has actual flavor in your life? What did you tell me? I'd given in to the patriarchy?"

"How," Adam asks a little desperately; to be fair, it had been leaves, mineral water, and near the end, there may have been 'shrooms, as those counted as herbal and Adam was a little desperate for meaning in life after all, "did this become about me? Hello, your bed has no frame--"

"It's right over there!"

"Not attached to the bed! That doesn't count!"

Dropping onto the foot of the mattress, Kris draws up his leg and shoves on one ragged shoe; there is literally nothing in this entire place that Adam is not tempted to set on fire, and he's not entirely sure he's excepting Kris from that, either. "It counts," Kris says sullenly, not looking at the unassembled frame inhabiting a corner of the room. With a sigh, Adam leans tentatively against the headboard, currently upright only because it's stuck between the wall and the mattress, and rethinks his strategy.

"All right," he says as Kris puts on the other shoe, the sole worn almost smooth, and decides not to take Kris' sartorial choices as a personal insult, even though, really, they are. "So. I've been thinking about publicity. Yours, specifically."

Kris' fingers slip briefly on the laces, but to his credit, he doesn't look up, voice steady. "My publicist is taking care of it, but your concern is noted."

"See, I was talking to her," Adam lies, though really, it's almost not a lie, because if this doesn't work, that's the backup plan. "And I had this idea that she seriously loved. Because as it turns out, they're bringing back Queer Eye for the Straight Guy--"

Kris straightens, eyes wide. "What?"

"--but the pilot's still under development," Adam says, casually removing his phone from his pocket; Kris' eyes follow its progress in unconcealed horror. "What could possibly be a better start than inviting them to help out American's most adorable Idol in his time of need? The ratings," he adds maliciously, "would be amazing."

Kris' mouth opens and closes in soundless horror before he finally finds his voice. "You wouldn't. How do you even know--"

"I have friends working on set," Adam says smugly.

Kris' eyes narrow. "Okay, despite your press, there is no way you've slept with every gay guy in LA.--"

"Hey," Adam says, hurt, "it's not like I don't have to stop for sleep--"

"--but there is--are you serious? Adam, you didn't tell her that."

Adam holds up his phone cheerfully. "You will live like a sane human being in a house with a dining room table or I escalate. Your choice."

Kris' eyes are fixed on the phone like he expects his publicist's voice to emerge at any moment and destroy his life.

"One," Adam says. "Two. Three. Oh look, I have her on speed dial four--"

"Okay!" Kris lunges for the phone and misses dramatically as Adam holds it above both their heads; it's good to be tall. Kris pushes himself up on one hand with a helpless glare. "Promise me," he says, looking more than a little like someone who does in fact live in a place like this and likes it, "that you won't--that she won't--"

Adam smiles and holds out his small finger, wiggling it. "Pinkie swear." Kris twists a little, but Adam will give him that much if it makes him feel better. Rubbing his finger, Adam slides off the bed and waits for Kris to get himself together. "Ready?"

Kris gives him a helpless look. "Don't you have music executives who hate you and want all day meetings? And if you don't, why the hell not?"

"I took the day off." With a sigh, Adam gets Kris' arm and pulls him off the bed and toward the bathroom. "It'll be fun!"

"You always say that," Kris says bitterly, turning obediently when Adam pushes him against the sink and reaches for the one sad bottle of product Kris owns. Wrinkling his nose, he frowns at Kris' hair. "Don't say it."

"I'll just think it loudly. Stand still. You aren't leaving the house looking like this." Adam threads his finger through the wet, silky strands, frowning. "Now, let's talk vision. What should this house say about you as a musician?"

Unlike Alex, Kris is a fun shopper once he gets into it (and stops sulking); he's has no set expectations of what he's looking for, he's flexible on detours for shiny things, he has a genuine appreciation for leather that's given Adam some sleepless nights, and other than his distressing attachment to flannel and a lack of understanding of what sizes actually refer to, his taste isn't completely hideous.

They wander through half a dozen different furniture stores, trailed by paparazzi held in check by Adam's beleaguered security (all of whom hate, hate, hate shopping), evaluating hardwood dining tables that seat twenty ("Have you seen my dining room?"), gorgeous art deco sofas ("Go ahead, let me see you sit on that, Adam. I dare you."), before Adam watches in satisfaction as Kris tries not to fondle butter soft leather ideally suited for both watching movies and falling asleep on without waking up wishing you were dead. Tentatively, Kris sits down and is completely unable to hide the blissful expression as it curls up around him in an orgy of comfort.

"That one," Adam says to the man hovering nearby. Kris nods slowly, looking drugged as he sinks even further. "And--" Adam evaluates the other pieces with an careful eye, "yeah, all of it, let's make this easy. That okay, Kris?"

Kris' head turns molasses slow, looking up at Adam in utter contentment. "Do I have to get up?"

"Eventually?" Pacing to face Kris, Adam bites his lip against a smile. "We have a few more rooms to go. And maybe some nice dinnerware? Saving the environment one paper plate at a time, baby. We all have to do our part."

Kris thinks about it for a few seconds, then takes a deep breath and lets Adam pull him to his feet with visible regret. "Can I get this delivered today?" he asks hopefully.

"Yes," Adam answers, reaching for Kris to ease him toward the utopia of kitchenware before handing over his credit card. "Of course they can."

The man nods enthusiastic agreement. "Yes, sir," he answers cheerfully, already imagining his commission. Adam likes it when things that makes him happy make other people happy, too. "We can."

Kris keeps looking longingly back until Adam tells him, "The faster we get this done, the faster you and your sofa can be together."

Things go wonderfully after that.

"You're doing dishes after dinner," Kris says from his seat on the island while Adam carefully unpacks and puts away each piece of casual dinnerware while trying to decide where to put the formal china. Because, he reasons, if you're doing this, you should go all out. "Though with twenty place settings, it will take a while to get enough for the dishwasher. Good call."

"Told you." They managed two rooms and then Kris had manned up and finished putting his bed together and even promised to look for a dresser in the not-so-distant future. The horrible couch was relegated to the nearly empty den, which Adam had carefully closed the doors to so as to more easily forget it, even if his back will never truly forgive. Turning around, he grins at Kris, then down at his feet, heels kicking into the cabinets idly. "Next up? Shoes."

Kris smirks. "Don't even."

"The soles are falling off," Adam says, moving to catch one ankle, indicating the ragged edges and slowly growing hole in one toe. "How long have you had these? Are they taped together?"

Kris looks at the ceiling like he has to actually think about it. "High school?" he offers after a second, then shrugs. "They still fit."

Adam stares at him, appalled, and Kris' face dissolves, bent half over laughing. Dropping his foot, Adam sighs. Of course. "You wore them to irritate me, didn't you?"

Kris lifts his head, cheeks pink. "I used to use them for yardwork and repairs. I really didn't think you'd let me leave wearing them," Kris says between tiny hitches of breath. "Apparently, I underestimated how much you hated the furniture."

"Just for that? You're cooking." Bracing a hand beside Kris' hip, Adam picks up the new wok--why Kris wanted one, Adam has no idea, but apparently, he knows how to make food that requires one--then feels Kris' hand resting tentatively on his shoulder, a point of sudden warmth and more than that, intent.

Slowly, Adam straightens, letting go of the pan, to see Kris watching him, smile fading. "I didn't know if you'd want to use the key," Kris says in a rush. "After--after what happened on the--when I came to see you."

So they're going to talk about it after all: wonderful. That's his life. "That was stupid," Adam says as lightly as he can. "And you're adorable. We could do the freshman seminar questionnaire? Here, I'll start; can I touch you here--" and catches Kris in his side, the silky, sensitive skin that makes Kris giggle hysterically. Kris folds, forehead knocking against his shoulder, "or--"

Kris catches his hand, panting against his shoulder. "Don't," he says, husky, and Adam's abruptly aware he's standing between Kris' legs, Kris' knee against his hip. This is not new--for God's sake, he slept nearly on top of him in a goddamn bunk and woke up to hear Kris laughing when Adam accidentally groped him in his sleep--but this time, this time--

"You've seen my friends--you've seen Brad. A little making out between friends, not a big deal." Adam wonders if he sounds as breathless as he feels. Kris lifts his head, the flush fading for something that's both worried and thoughtful both. "Kris. You know me. And to be fair, I started it."

Kris' smiles a little. "It's just--I've been thinking about it."

"You could stop? Now? You were fine when I talked to you--" Adam trails off. Jared had pulled that stunt the same week that Kris had sent the key; effect, see cause. "Kris, what exactly did Jared do?" In retrospect, he should have asked before, but at the time, it hadn't really mattered. If it got Kris upset enough to punch him, then that's really all there was to say about it. And possibly, knowing specifics would not have ended well for anyone. "Kris?"

"Pretty much what happened in the bus, but there was a table instead of a wall," Kris answers, fingers tightening nervously. "I may have been drunk."

"That's not even an excuse for--"

"No, I get it, my skirt length doesn't matter, embrace the right to say no." Kris' mouth quirks in an uneven smile. "I've never been so drunk I did anything I didn't want to." Kris tilts his head, meeting Adam's eyes. "You know?"

Adam thinks he knows where this conversation is going, but Kris is too relaxed to be anywhere near gay panic. "Neither have I," he answers honestly.

"I didn't want to hit you." Kris frowns slightly, eyes fixed somewhere over Adam's left shoulder. "I've seen you around your friends. You do this, I get that. It's just--you."

There's a very real possibility that Adam and his friends have given Kris some interestingly skewed ideas on interpersonal boundaries in LA, but that's not really what Adam thinks is going on.

"You said--you said I didn't need to ask." Kris takes a deep breath, meeting Adam's eyes, cheeks flaring with bright color. "You don't need to, either. In case you didn't know that. In case you thought--that you thought what happened was--that I wasn't okay with that. I mean, you do that. I didn't want you to think--"

"Hold on. Let me get this straight." This isn't where he thought this was going to end up. Then again, this is Kris; he really should have seen this coming. "Are you--are you trying to assure me you're not homophobic because you thought that was the reason I don't--"

"I don't know! You do that! With everyone! Even girls! Then Jared--and I didn't know how that looked that I…. Just--God, Adam, don't laugh--"

Adam tries to swallow it and fails; so not the time, so very much not the time. "I don't even know how to answer that," Adam manages, gripping the edges of the island with both hands, because seriously, only Kris. Only Kris. Straightening, he cups Kris' face. "I don't think because you won't make out with me you were repressing homophobia."

Kris shuts his eyes, looking pained. "It sounds crazier when you say it than it did in my head. Can we pretend I didn't say anything? Like, let's talk about my shoes. That you hate."

Rolling his eyes, Adam presses their foreheads together, still giggling. "Come on. I want to hear what else you'd do to prove you're okay with my sexuality. I really really need to know."

"I'm never confiding anything in you again, ever."

Pulling back, Adam grins, feeling the heat from Kris' flushed cheeks against his palms, Kris' mouth curving in an embarrassed smile. "You do not have to take up a grand gesture lifestyle," he says; Kris groans at the familiarity of the words, "which for you is making out with me so I feel secure in your affections. I feel secure. You know, when I want you to feel secure, I just follow you around the country. You offer sexual favors. I think you win for most awesome friend in history. Congratulations."

"God, you're such a jerk." Tilting his head up, Kris stares at him for a second, then leans forward, slow, giving Adam every opportunity to move, the hand on Adam's shoulder tightening a little.

This is Kris asking; Adam smothers his grin and meets him halfway, catching Kris' lips in a quick, achingly sweet kiss--yes, Kris, I get it, you're fine with me, that was never in question--and just like that, between one breath and the next, it picks up right where it left off the last time. Because once it's been done, it will happen again; that's how they got into this in the first place. It's pretty much the definition of what they do. One day, Adam's going to remember that.

Shifting his hand to the back of Kris' head, Adam threads his fingers through Kris' hair and tilts his face up, Kris' mouth opening eagerly at the first brush of tongue, and Adam makes himself pull back from the drugging taste of him to ask, "Kris, do you--"

"You don't need to ask," Kris breathes, short nails pressing through Adam's t-shirt. "Just--Adam--"

Adam catches the next words on his tongue, tasting Kris' startled gasp before he relaxes into it, offering up his mouth artlessly, trusting Adam with whatever it is he wants to do, like he has from the very first. When he thought Kris was safe and Adam had every excuse, and after he knew he wasn't, when he didn't have any excuse at all and still couldn't stop. When the first interviews hit the media and Adam's preferred type became a matter of public record, they always, always looked at Brad, at Drake, then at Kris with amused, knowing eyes, but they never hit anything more than the surface. What they made of everyone since has always been a source of amusement and irritation both, but it's not like anyone had ever asked him the right questions once they'd gotten answers to the wrong ones.

Pretty, short, and adorable are easy to find; he'd know. He's fucked enough of them. None of them came close to what Kris could do to him, and what Kris would do for him, and it's always been this easy. Biting Kris' lip, Adam reaches for his wrists, easing them away until he can hold them against the small of Kris' back, and pulling him to the edge of the counter, feeling the hard push of his cock against his hip.

It's nearly chaste for all of that: Brad's done more than this with him as a way to say hello; he's gotten farther on stage, for God's sake. It's sweet, and simple, and even playful when Kris learns he can use his teeth to make Adam catch his breath, but Kris never fights Adam's light hold on his wrists, never pulling away when Adam licks down his throat, settling his teeth against the hard beat of his pulse, leaning in with a broken sound when Adam sucks a kiss into his collar. Like this, it could go on forever, probably would, if Adam was given a choice.

Biting Kris' lip, quick and hard, Adam pulls back, content to watch as Kris takes a deep breath, eyes fluttering open, pupils blown wide, mouth swollen and red and incredibly tempting. It's a good look for him.

"Hey," Adam murmurs, touching his cheek. Kris leans into it with a little nod, then sighs. "That's it, baby. You with me?"

Kris nods slowly. Squeezing his wrists once, Adam lets go, resting his hands on the wide spread thighs, kneading a little just to enjoy the feel of Kris beneath the denim. "I'll cook," Adam says, watching to see if Kris is tracking. "Think you can restrain the instinctive panic? Even Brad lets me now. If he's watching, that is."

"Yeah." Kris licks his lips, adding a little hoarsely, "So, I see why everyone wants to be your friend."

Smirking, Adam kisses his forehead lightly, then steps back. "Stay there," he says as Kris starts to slide off the counter. He thinks about giving a reason, but Kris just nods, sliding back until he's comfortable, hands braced on the counter, eyes fixed on Adam with focused attention. So this will be a good way to set the kitchen on fire in no time at all. "By the way, I feel very, very secure."

Kris ducks his head, but not before Adam sees him grin.

"Tell me again why I have to go on tour?" Adam says a little blearily from the boneless comfort of the sofa, because oh my God, he just didn't know life could be this good. "I'm never moving again."

Kris doesn't even bother lifting his head, but one socked foot kicks lazily toward his knee. "Mmm. Sorry you have to fly out tomorrow."

Rolling his eyes, Adam thinks about kicking back, then decides it's just not worth the effort. "I could take it with me," he says thoughtfully. "I bought it, after all."

"Yeah, you try that." Kris looks at the coffee table with narrowed eyes, in a fairly useless effort to make the chips come to him by will alone. After a few seconds, he shrugs, sinking back down into the soft leather like he might never move again. "Is Brad still flying out to see you next month?"

Adam sits up; even a spiritual experience of a sofa can't compete with that kind of random question. "So he says," Adam says, hooking an arm over one raised knee and watching Kris' face. "His boyfriend's a little insecure--"

Kris turns his head just enough to raise an amused eyebrow.

"--will you stop looking like that? What does that even mean? He's paranoid!"

"Yeah, that's a totally unreasonable reaction to knowing his boyfriend's spending a week with you," Kris answers dryly, the corners of his mouth curving upward.

"How does pretty much any conversation end up being about me?" Adam asks as Kris' grin grows. "Why do you want to know?"

"Do I need a reason?" Kris stretches his arms above his head in an exaggerated yawn, settling again to smirk. "It's driving you crazy I won't tell you what we talk about, isn't it?"

"If you'd stop reminding me, I might stop wondering." Adam wraps his fingers around Kris' ankle, tugging gently. "So--"

"It's nothing important." Kris' eyes flicker to the ceiling. "I just--it's cool, that you and Brad are still friends, that's all. That you wanted to so much."

Adam nods warily, aware of a growing sense of alarm, stomach clenching unpleasantly. "It wasn't easy," he answers carefully. "What did he say?"

"That it only started working when you both wanted it more than you wanted to be angry." Looking at the ceiling, Kris frowns thoughtfully. "It guess that's harder than it sounds."

Adam doesn't even realize his grip on Kris' ankle had tightened until Kris pulls sharply, raising himself on one elbow to look at Adam in surprise. Adam shifts his grip but doesn't let go. "Adam?"

"What did he tell you about us?"

"Nothing," Kris says in confusion, sitting up. "Not--I mean, I didn't ask for details--"

"Why the hell did you ask at all?"

Adam knows it's a mistake the second he says it; Kris eyes widen, shuttering over before he sees more than a flash of hurt. It's a sharp reminder Kris is as much a performer as he is and knows perfectly well how to hide what he doesn't want seen. That Kris almost never bothers with him is the exception, not the rule.

"I didn't," Kris says, voice flat. "I don't hit up your exes for your dirt on you, Adam. God knows you do enough of it in public yourself when you get bored, so I really don't need more--"

"Brad doesn't." This is coming out completely wrong; Adam can actually see the second it went off-track and he still can't stop it. "You're telling me he just told you for the fuck of it on an off-night? That's what you want me to believe?"

Kris stills. "No, you're right," he answers in a voice Adam's never heard him use, "you nailed it. I don't have a life outside when you feel like gracing me with your presence, so yeah, so I fill the hours badgering your exes for all the dirty details of your past relationships."

Adam grits his teeth and ignores Kris attempt to pull away. "That's not what I meant--"

"Yeah, you did." Kris tilts his head, looking at Adam like he's not entirely sure he knows him. "You really think I'd do that. God, you think Brad wouldn't tell me to fuck myself if I even tried?"

Adam takes a deep breath. "I--no, I don't think he would--" And before Adam can catch how that sentence should have started, Kris jerks away hard, uncoiling himself from the couch. "--or that you would. Kris, stop. That's not what I meant."

"It wasn't even about you," Kris says, looking a little lost before starting to clear the coffee table, stacking the plates and piling everything else on top with quick, shaky movements. "He wanted to know why Katy hadn't shown up for the thing in Phoenix because they were supposed to do something, I don't remember what--"

That stops him short. Phoenix. "Three years ago? Phoenix, at that promotion--?"

"Yes, that." Kris loses a fork and ducks under the coffee table to grab it, nearly hitting his head on the edge as he comes back out. "It was just a thing, I think he was trying to make me feel better or something and it was--" Kris stops, fingers closing over the bottom plate to try and hide the fact his hands are shaking. "We were stoned, I probably imagined the entire conversation, would that make you happy?"

It may have been three years, but Adam thinks he'd remember Kris and Brad getting high together; God knows, he's wanted to see Kris like that for years. "I don't remember anything--"

"Obviously. You weren't there." Kris pushes himself up, plates clutched against his chest. "We didn't confess our secrets and braid each other's hair and promise to be bffs forever. He got bored and really didn't take a locked door for an answer." Kris straightens, eyes narrowed at Adam. "A lot like someone else I know."

Before Adam can think of a response to that, Kris goes to the kitchen, and how someone who weighs less than one thirty soaking wet can make his progress across the hardwood floors that clear is kind of disturbing. After a second, Adam follows him, hesitating at the doorway as Kris dumps everything but the plates into the trash, and from the look on his face, it's a struggle not to do that, too.

"That came out completely wrong," Adam says quietly when Kris doesn't move. "I was just--surprised."

Kris snorts, setting the plates on the counter and opening the dishwasher, still pristine since Adam's pretty sure he's never actually used it.

"It's just some things are--private," Adam says. "And I--"

"Katy filed for separation while I was in Phoenix," Kris says without looking up. "She called to tell me and then I spent the weekend trying to figure out what the hell had just happened."

Adam starts to ask why he hadn't known about that, then stops himself. You weren't there. Kris doesn't just mean an epic night of recreational drug use among his two favorite people in the world. "I didn't know that."

Kris picks up the first plate, setting it gingerly in the lower rack. "I didn't tell anyone. Even my parents. I don't know if hers knew." Kris grabs another plate, hesitating. "Well, I didn't tell anyone until your ex got me stoned out of my mind, which really shouldn't count, since he's fucking persistent, you know? I roomed with the great Adam Lambert once upon a time and suddenly he has the right to know everything about me forever and ever. Not like that's an uncommon sentiment in the world. I've gotten used to being one of your footnotes."

Fuck. Adam leans against the doorway, wondering how long this has been coming. Kris doesn't hold grudges, but that doesn't equal selective amnesia, either.

"So your ex thought it was his duty to give me advice, and your goddamn bassist got into it, and I think your drummer at the time?" Kris finishes adding the rest of the plates then pushes the rack in and shuts the door. "And he felt so bad for me he decided to be my personal advice columnist for the rest of my life. Now you know the founding members of the Lambert groupie association. Even moving back to Little Rock wasn't enough to get away from it." Leaning against the counter, Kris laughs, not particularly happy. "It wasn't even about you. It was just--they knew what it was like when your life becomes part of the Lambert Media Experience. What you do when you realize you can't get away from it."

Kris looks up, mouth tight. "So. Sorry that your ex in a fit of pity decided to try and explain that even though my wife was going to leave me because she wanted an actual life and not a daily photoshoot wherever she went, and by the way, wanted an actual husband who would be around for more than a few hours between touring and recording and promotions, I'd get through this because sometimes, it's hard to be friends after, but it's worth it. If you can stop being angry because you can't imagine your life without that person in it. "

Adam swallows, ignoring the sick ache. "I'm sorry for--Kris, I never wanted--"

"For God's sake, it's not about you!" Turning, Kris pushes off the counter, looking at Adam with disbelief. "I don't blame you for that. I don't resent you got exactly what you told me you wanted the first time we met. You can be pissed at a tornado hitting your house, but I mean, it's a tornado, a lot of good that does you. I never regretted anything. I still don't. I wouldn't change anything. That doesn't mean sometimes, I don't get tired of it. Not of you. Just--everything." Kris sighs, the anger draining away so suddenly there's nothing but tiredness left. "It's really not about you. You, I'm okay with. Usually."

Adam doesn't remember Phoenix in specifics; it was a promotion that coincided with the end of his first tour, and he'd been so tired, so close to the end, that everything had blurred those last weeks. It hadn't been just touring, but the constant media presence, because somewhere along the line, he'd been contracted to represent the entirety of the not-straight world, no signature and no controversial opinion needed or desired, and he doesn't remember ever agreeing to that.

He doesn't remember Phoenix except in blurred images, because at that point, he'd been fighting with anyone who would stand still long enough to let him. How he hadn't been stabbed to death violently in the night is a mystery, but he thinks it might have been the fact that his messy death would have just made it worse for everyone. Loving what you do does not and will never mean you can't hate it, and hate everything about it. At the end, he hadn't hated everything, but he thought he'd started to hate himself a little, both the guy who had abruptly become the worst of rockstar stereotypes and the one that was held up as some kind of symbol for either progress or degeneracy, depending on the political affiliation represented.

He'd talked to Kris twice; that he remembers, brief, bright moments in a weekend that was anything but, of coffee in the hotel restaurant, making him promise to meet for dinner; the next day and in front of five thousand cameras, he'd hugged Kris and thought a little cynically that their entire friendship was almost hilariously media-ready and wondered if he'd ever thought of just how perfect the married Arkansas boy was for the part.

It wasn't true, not even close, but even now, it's the fact he thought it at all, even for a second, that tells him exactly why he has two memories of Kris Allen and nothing else. That was three years ago, and it was less than a year ago that Kris told him that he'd never wanted his life. Apparently, that hadn't actually been an option; he'd been dragged into it whether Adam was there or not.

"You left LA," Adam starts, then stops. He could make this worse. It seems impossible, but three words just proved there is nothing on earth that Adam can't escalate. Kris stares at him, and Adam can actually hear Kris telling him to leave, and Adam's on fucking tour. He doesn't have time to fix this-- "Okay, let me start over where I wondered why you'd ask Brad and add instead of me. Which you answered. I am totally fine with that."

Kris raises an eyebrow, unimpressed. Adam gropes after something better--after that, Kris deserves better, but even if he'd had the words, the look on Kris' face tells him he wouldn't hear them anyway. Not after this.

"Kris," he says helplessly. He's six hours from his flight and in the way of things, it might be a good thing to cool off in separate parts of the country. Kris doesn't hold grudges, and it says so much, none of it good, that Adam not only knows that, he's using it. "I never meant--"

"I know," Kris lies, shaking his head, and already, Kris is papering over it; he doesn't know, but he'll pretend he does. Which is so goddamn typical that Adam hates him a little for it, and not just for the fact he can do that when Adam's never been able to. "Look, your flight out's in six hours or something. It's not a big deal. Let's get some sleep, okay? I'm going to bed." After a second, Kris smiles, and God help them both, he actually means it. "I'm just tired. It's really not a statement."


"We're fine," Kris says, sincere. "Seriously. I'll drive you to the airport in the morning." Kris hesitates near the door, waiting, and Adam sees the uncertainty; this doesn't have to stop here, it shouldn't stop here, something's happened, and maybe something's been there for a while now. Kris is on his second separation from the wife he loves more than he loves his music, and Adam hadn't known a fucking thing about it.

"Yeah," he says finally, ashamed of his own relief. Kris makes this so easy. He won't make Adam work for it. He just--stops being angry. Because there are people he can't imagine not having in his life. "Get some sleep."

Kris grins back in utter relief, shoulders slumping like something huge has been lifted away. Adam manages a smile back, watching Kris wander back to his assembled bed, waiting until the door closes to spare some time from relief to wallow in a little self-disgust. He doesn't have time for this, not now, and if Kris is okay, then he'll be okay.

They'll be fine.

Adam doesn't bother with pleasantries; he's two months and thirty-three hours on the road past patience. "It's two, Kris."

From the other side of the phone, Adam can hear Kris sigh, the background hum of the studio so familiar that Adam thinks he could identify it in his sleep. Probably Kris can too, considering his habit of falling asleep on one of the couches when he can't keep on his feet anymore. "Adam," Kris says, the thick Arkansas drawl so evident that Adam wants to throw his phone through the wall. "I know. Since I can tell time. These nifty inventions called watches--"

"Shut the fuck up." Tossing his jacket on the dressing room couch, Adam stares down his PA when she tries to come in, looking grim before the expression dissolves into uncertainty. It's not unfamiliar; his PA during his first tour had started looking like that pretty much all the time at the end. Gritting his teeth, he jerks his head at her and shuts the door, barely able to control the urge to slam it in her face. It's not her fault. "So this is like, a sincere effort to kill yourself with work?"

Kris snorts. "A few hours of missed sleep--"

"For almost two months," Adam answers, performance adrenaline still too sharp to keep the edge of his temper blunted. "Two fucking months, Kris--"

"I can count too," Kris snaps back, but the exhaustion beneath it drains away most of the bite. "Look, I'm on a schedule here, and I don't have your leverage to fuck around if I feel like it. So back the fuck off. I don't need this."

"You need something," Adam answers, kicking a chair out of his way. "You spend all your time in the studio, and that's not even fucking hyperbole at this point--when's the last time you actually went home for longer than to take a shower?"

"Oh," Kris answers, voice rising, "got Leo watching me again? Ever heard stalking is creepy?"

"Ever heard being a bitchy martyr is fucked up? 19E doesn't want you dead or picking up new and exciting addictions, that's not a business model they embrace--"

"So you think I'm doing drugs now?"

"I don't know, are you?" Adam knows in the semi-sane part of his mind that tour slowly but surely wears down that he needs to stop this, stop this now, but it's been two months of this, Kris at the studio like he'll die if he so much as walks out the door, and even Cale and Leah haven't been able to get him out. Burnout starts like this, and Kris can be as offended as he wants, but there aren't a lot of people that end up in rehab who had a life goal to become junkies. It's what the business can do to you if you let it. "Kris, listen to me. What you're doing isn't just stupid, it's dangerous and it's--"

"Adam," Kris says, and Adam stills, the words slipping away. Kris doesn't sound angry anymore. He doesn't sound like anything at all. "You know--because you're the one that kept telling me over and over--how important this album is. I can't fuck around on it, I can't--I can't get this wrong."

"You won't." When Adam's knee hits the small couch, he drops onto it, abruptly exhausted. They've had this fight for weeks, and the only thing that's changing is how fast it turns into a shouting match, each conversation shorter than the last. "Look," he breathes, lowering his voice with a physical effort, "go visit your parents for a few days. Take Cale and get out of town, or go see Leah. Go, I don't know, visit your wife," and that he actually invokes Katy should be a sign of how deadly serious this is, "but whatever it is, get out of that fucking studio. Just for a couple of days."

Kris is quiet for a few seconds, and Adam almost lets himself hope, which is stupid, because this is Kris. "I can't, Adam. You know that."

That's all it takes. "Fine. You know what? Fuck it. Call me when you feel like acting like a reasonable adult." Before Kris can answer, Adam hangs up, turning it off and dropping it on the couch before he throws it at the wall. Taking a deep breath, Adam catches sight of himself in the mirror and flinches. It's been three years, but he can still recognize the guy looking back at him, the one that maybe went a little crazy near the end, the one that even his band had started looking at like a stranger. He'd lost a drummer and a PA and more nameless techs than he thinks he ever wants to know about and gained a tabloid reputation. Somehow, he'd thought it would be different this time around.

Stripping his boots, Adam leaves the rest of his costume on the floor for someone else to deal with and gets dressed, grabbing his bag on the way to the door, hoping that he can get out of here without alienating anyone else tonight. Before he reaches it, however, the door opens and Tommy peers in with a smile that doesn't hide the wariness.

"Not now," Adam says. "Seriously."

"Seriously," Tommy says, coming in and shutting the door behind him before leaning against it in unmistakable message, "now."

Adam takes a deep breath; the problem is that Tommy's probably the safest target here and just because your friends will put up with your shit no matter what doesn't mean you inflict it on them just because they're there. "I need sleep," Adam says carefully. "Let it go."

"Sure," Tommy answers easily, "and that works. Come on. You've been itching for a fight with someone you can actually see flinch, so let's get it over with." Tommy grins. "Bring it, superstar."

"Tommy--" Adam starts, eyes narrowing, "really, really get the fuck out now."

"Is this really working for you?" Tommy makes a gesture that could indicate Adam or the entirety of the last two months. "I'm not saying the diva thing isn't hot; I'm saying there's diva and then there's homicide investigations, and we'll be in Vegas in a week. Why are you trying to fuck up my plans here?"

Adam abruptly remembers he's never successfully won an argument with Tommy. "Why do I like you?"

"I give good head." Tommy tilts his head, eyes flickering to the phone on the couch and then back so quickly Adam could have imagined it. "Speaking of, change of plans." Taking a baggie out of his pocket, Tommy waves it enticingly. "I come bearing gifts. Fight, fuck, or fucking do not care: door three work for you?"

Adam snorts, but he feels the worst of the frustration draining away. With a sigh, Adam drops on the couch, leaning back to stare vaguely at the ceiling. "I thought you wanted me to fight with you."

Joining him on the couch, Tommy grins. "Well, yeah. But it was more fun when you fucked me after," he says. "I'd offer, but I get the feeling that would just make it worse."

Adam looks at him, tempted despite the fact it's probably truer than Tommy knows. "One to ten, how does this compare to the end of the last tour?"

"Seven and a half," Tommy says flatly. "But this isn't the same. This time around's been a hell of a lot easier. You're not being watched like you were, and up until pretty recently, you've been fine. So whatever, you need to not think for a while."

Adam looks at Tommy sharply, but Tommy is playing with his lighter, looking a little too pleased with himself. Despite himself, he smiles.

"Want to get out of here now?" Tommy says hopefully. "Maybe not traumatize any helpless techs or your PA? Her ex works for TMZ, you know."

"She's been reminding me." Standing up, Adam glances at his phone, then shoves it in the bag and zips it up. "We're in Vegas in a week?" Adam tries to remember where they are now and fails spectacularly.

"For a week," Tommy says encouragingly, opening the door and shoving him out. Unsurprisingly, there aren't many people around. "Do some interviews, eat some sushi, get some sleep, get laid. Not necessarily in that order. All at once, if you feel like it."

"I don't like sushi in Vegas," Adam lies a little sullenly; he has no locational sushi preferences.

Tommy looks at Adam from under a fall of black hair; just barely, Adam sees him smirk. "Few days in LA might be fun," he offers blandly. "We can entertain ourselves without you." Before Adam can think of an answer to that, Tommy darts ahead. "Come on."

Their second morning in Vegas, Adam stares at the door of the suite and wishes, not for the first time, that will alone would be enough to kill whoever is knocking at the asscrack of dawn. It's been nearly five minutes and anyone sane would have gone the fuck away.

Slowly, Adam climbs out of bed, and it takes pretty much all his self-control not to pick something up from the desk for the purposes of manslaughter. It's a Vegas hotel. They have people that handle things like that.

Opening the door, Adam tries to remember if he took something last night and just didn't notice. "Kris."

Kris looks at him warily as Adam catalogues the strain around the slowly fading hopeful smile, the circles under his eyes, the wary set of his body, and spares a thought for Tommy, who dumped Adam in his room their first night after the performance and told him if he left it before noon, the entire band was going to quit and good fucking luck finding anyone else after what Tommy would tell anyone who would listen.

"So you said I needed to get out of the city," Kris says after an uncomfortable silence, eyes fixed just beyond his shoulder and trying really hard not to look like he's sure Adam is going to slam the door in his face mid-word. "So I thought, you know. This is out of LA. Thought I might stop by and say hi. If you're not busy--"

"Oh shut up," Adam breathes, pulling him inside and into a desperate hug as he kicks the door shut. "When I say don't call, I mean, please keep calling, okay?"

"Yeah, this really wasn't working for me either," Kris breathes, voice tight. "Grand gesture. You make them look really easy and they're just not."

"It's a gift." Pulling back just enough to see his face, Adam smiles, and for the first time in what seems like years, it feels like something he actually wants to do. "You look like shit, baby."

Kris grins tiredly. "Thanks. Cale says hi, by the way, and he's Fedexing my return ticket to you. I'm not allowed back in LA until I can start using sentences that don't start with 'fuck you'." Kris looks confused. "When did I start doing that? My mamma taught me better than that."

"Your mamma will blame me and there go my regular baked good shipments." Adam bites his lip, reluctantly letting Kris go at the first tug. He doesn't go further than the nearby chair, toeing off his shoes with a deep sigh before standing up a little unsteadily. "I like this undressing thing. It means you want to sleep." Pushing Kris' fumbling hands away, he unbuttons Kris' jeans, slipping them down his hips, crouching a little to work the surprisingly tight denim down Kris' legs, then pauses, feeling nostalgic. "There was a time I would undress people and didn't think of sleep at all. I miss that."

Kris braces a hand on Adam's shoulder, stepping free with a sigh and tossing his jacket toward the chair. "I hate to tell you this, but I'd probably sleep through it anyway." As Adam straightens, Kris leans into him. "So, you were right--a little--about the studio time. I cut my schedule down. But there was a thing for Leah and I had a meeting with my publicist and--" Kris breaks off with a yawn, looking confused. "There may have been a label party last night and Cale made me go. I'm kind of hoping I was slipped acid and it was a bad trip, but I'm pretty sure it actually happened."

Adam's been to those enough to guess. "It's never acid," he answers, pulling Kris into the bedroom. "But it's easier to live with if you imagine it was." Sitting on the edge of the bed, he takes a deep breath, the sick weight of the last few weeks fading away. Looking up at Kris, he starts to ask what on earth he's waiting for when Kris steps between his knees and leans down, mouth warm and soft and sweet despite slightly stale coffee and what Adam's learned is what airplanes taste like.

Kris pulls back after a few long seconds, eyes heavy-lidded and nervous. "Hi," he says uncertainly. "Just in case you felt insecure. I could have called anyway. I didn't."

Adam blinks up at him for a second, realizing his hands are resting on Kris' hips, thumbs rubbing slow circles into the bare skin beneath his t-shirt. "Yeah," he breathes, unable to stop the smile. "You still win."

"I know." Stepping back, Kris crawls onto the bed and beneath the covers with a heartfelt sigh. Eyes closed, he reaches out and grabs the edge of Adam's shirt, tugging. "Sleep now."

Grinning, Adam collapses beside him, brushing gently at the hair covering Kris' eyes. "I really like you," he says softly. Kris snorts, pulling Adam closer before curling an arm around his waist with a sigh, forehead pressing against his shoulder and murmuring, "I kind of like you, too."

It's past dusk when Adam decides to seriously consider getting up. Kris is less sure, but he is willing to be convinced if there's coffee involved.

"So what are your plans anyway?" Adam asks, prudently waiting until Kris has finished his first cup of coffee. His hair is a hilarious mess, and Adam can't get over the difference about an inch of length makes. Very semi-Bohemian, like Kris should be wearing environmentally friendly shoes and smoking clove cigarettes, possibly in an independently owned cafe. Maybe wearing some type of quirky hat. "Katy let me have you for a night? It's Vegas. We're kind of contractually obligated to be photographed doing something stupid in public."

"I saw that in the fine print, yeah." Kris waits for Adam to refill the cup. "Katy's in the middle of filming a spirit quest in the desert or something." Kris waves a tired hand. "She explained it a few weeks ago? There were dreamcatchers involved, I didn't get much more. That's not why I came." Kris grins suddenly. "Interesting story, though. Tommy caught me downstairs when I was trying to call up and booked me a room down the hall. Apparently, I'm not allowed to leave until you're in a better mood. I miss when you were seeing him. I didn't hate him, and he taught me cool guitar riffs." Kris raises his eyebrows. "Anything you want to talk about?"

"That I'm an awful rockstar cliché?"

Kris cracks up, refilling his cup before cutting off a piece of French toast. "You're a fabulous rockstar cliché." After a few bites, he pokes at the tray. "Eat something. If you even try that diet shit, I swear this will be a week of bakeries and room service chocolate. Which you can't resist and you know it."

Adam frowns, but Kris holds out his fork, a triangle of white-dusted toast waiting. Rolling his eyes, Adam leans forward and takes the bite, looking over the tray to see what he'd actually ordered. "Not so much, no. How long are you staying?"

Kris shrugs. "Until you leave, I guess. Cale took my keys when he dropped me off at the airport." Picking up a sliced strawberry, Kris hesitates. "I really did cut my schedule. You weren't the only one who was yelling at me. You're just the only one I couldn't hang up on."

"I was going to call this week," Adam says, staring at the plates. "Ask you to bring me some sushi from that place near your condo?"

Kris cocks his head, fork hesitating mid-air. "I thought you hated it."

Adam grins, glancing up. "Well, yeah. I--" Adam thinks about how to phrase this; sufficient sleep does in fact make it easier to have a conversation. "It's not easy, I get that, and I get why you're doing it like this. And it's a good way to burn out fast."

"I'm not giving up." Kris looks up briefly, then scoops up a forkful of eggs. "I didn't really--I didn't know how much I wanted this until I was working with Leah. The first time I did this, I didn't--I didn't feel that way about it, not even close. But with them--" Kris leans his head on one hand, chewing thoughtfully. "It was so different. It's not, you know, fame and money and everything--"

"Says the boy whose guitar hobby has its own credit card."

Kris rolls his eyes. "Whatever. I'm saying, I get I'm overdoing it, but this time, I know what I'm working for. It's different." Kris frowns. "It's harder to stop. It's harder to even want to."

Adam nods slowly, stealing another piece of Kris' French toast. "That's why you have people who know and will do it for you when you can't." And that's one thing Adam's never lacked, from Brad to Tommy, because if they asked, if they meant it, he could stop. Katy could do it, but Katy's on a vision quest (a what?), and unfortunately, the people around Kris with any kind of influence consist of Cale, who only pretends he doesn't think Kris walks on water, a few other LA friends, who don't even bother pretending, and apparently, Kris' pet Austin band, who Adam suspects from the few times he's seen them interact are under the impression Kris couldn't do anything wrong if he tried. Jared's thing with Kris probably hadn't helped there; they'd still be too sensitive to Kris' feelings to fight him down.

From the look on Kris' face, he's guessing that's probably more true than any of them want to admit. "They shouldn't have to," Kris says, busying himself with the remaining fruit. "I can do this."

"Bullshit." Stealing the last of the French toast, Adam shoves a pillow against the headboard and leans back against it, amused at Kris following the progress of the plate with wistful eyes. "I hid your shoes and your wallet, just in case you want to storm out," Adam adds helpfully. "I'll talk to Cale and make you a schedule. Wait. I also have your keycard. Ready to listen?"


"We can keep having this same fight over and over, or we can have new and interesting fights about totally different things in endless variety." Adam cocks his head. "Your choice. I'm on tour. It's not like I have a lot to do on a bus all day. And the studio manager won't block my calls. He likes me."

Kris makes an unhappy face. "Probably more than he does me. But--"

"I want you to have this," Adam says. "I'd just like you functional during the process and after. Trust me?"

"Yes." Kris pushes the nearly empty tray away; Adam hadn't realized they'd nearly finished it and take a moment to think of his trainer, but whatever. "But--"

"There might be a reward system involved," Adam offers, holding out the fork with the last piece of toast. "It'll be fun!"

"Your ideas of fun end up with me in East LA--"

"You had fun, don't even."

"--with traumatic flashbacks every time I see fishnets. You lied. They itched and heels are never comfortable."

Grinning, Adam shoves the fork into Kris' mouth before he can say anything else. "You didn't say no."

Kris chews rebelliously for a second, then nods, saying dryly, "Do I ever?"

"Exactly. Fun."

Kris likes Vegas like kids like Disneyworld; it's a fairly apt comparison, all things considered. It's oversized and overdone and huge in this way that's as much about presence as it is about space. Adam had loved it from the first time he'd seen it, rising out of the Nevada desert like an oversaturated dream, but Kris' reaction is on the order of a kid seeing Mickey Mouse every damn time.

Kris meets him for lunch the next day looking just a little dazed, which tells Adam exactly how he spent his morning; obviously, he had more fun than Adam did. "I'd be worried about your wallet, but you get bored sitting that long to lose too much money."

Kris smirks, starting to answer before his phone begins to ring. Taking it out, he glances at the screen, then stops with a slight frown. "Just a second," he says, raising it to his ear. "There's this sandwich place I found--"

"Have hoodie, will travel," Adam answers, following him down the sidewalk. Kris nods distractedly as he says, "Hey, Leah. What's up?"

Kris doesn't make much more than vague sounds for almost three minutes, but his expression is a story all in itself; from surprise to shock to incredulity and crashing to something like resignation and amused horror both. "Right," he says finally, sounding a little desperate. "Just call and--yeah, I know, I know, that's--well, okay. I'm not laughing. Just call when you arrive." Tucking his phone in his pocket, Kris stops short, looking at Adam. "So your crazy schedule plan? What do I get if I go along with it?"

Adam crosses his arms. "Oh, this has to be good."

"Adam," Kris says, looking worried. "Just say, I agree, and you and Cale can schedule the rest of my life. Please."

"I like to know what I'm agreeing to first. Otherwise, it's a good way to find yourself holding a flogger and someone in a collar barking like a dog--aww, you're blushing." Catching Kris' arm before he can start to pace, Adam grins down at him. "I can tell you the story, but I'm so much more interested in yours."

Kris makes a half-hearted attempt to pull away, but they're within smelling distance of the sandwiches and Kris is obviously torn. "I hate you."

"Buy me lunch and I'll think about it," Adam says, glancing inside to see enough people to make him wary. The streets aren't exactly deserted, but an enclosed space raises the chances of being recognized. "We'll go to the park. I get the feeling this going to be fascinating."

Kris hesitates, then nods in resignation, looking inside with the same calculating expression. He's traveled enough with Adam to get basic precautions. "There's a park nearby," Kris offers in resignation. "Meet you there"

Kris comes back with three sandwiches, two bags of chips, two bottles of water, and a box of cookies. Adam tries not to feel betrayed, sitting on the top of the picnic table as Kris straddles the bench and says, "So the band is coming to Vegas."

"They have something here?" Adam opens the box, ignoring Kris' smug grin, and picks chocolate chip. "Okay, shock me."

Kris unwraps his sandwich a little despondently. "There's this club opening?" he says, looking at the bread like it personally offended him. "It's a friend of the band. They were invited to come by to see it."

"Anticlimactic." Adam gets another cookie and opens the bottle of water, ignoring Kris' glare. "Keep going."

"By friend, I mean, former band members, plural. Jared's exes." Kris takes a bite to let Adam work out exactly who that means. "Apparently, bygones are bygones and everyone should be friends or something, Leah wasn't clear."

"Everyone likes having friends who have singles in the top forty and climbing," Adam answers. "Just to make sure I get this--Jared's exes invited them for the opening, because it's one thing to hold a grudge when they're going nowhere in Austin, but another when they're working LA, and they want the exposure."

Kris nods, looking grim. "Pretty sure. Leah's kind of--they were friends since they were like, in diapers or something, but it's a lot of history. So she wants to go, and I'm pretty sure she's not thinking publicity, but--"

"You are." Kris gives him a cynical nod. "Context; how bad a breakup?"

"Depends on who you ask, but Leah hooked me up with a few of the regulars on the Austin circuit when I was down there, and I keep in touch. Let's say no one's forgotten the fallout after SXSW, and that's saying something. I'd say bad with a side order of worse. He was twenty when it happened, and it shows."

Adam winces, trying a pecan raisin; how appropriate when talking about Texas. "So--"

"I have to be there," Kris says. "I mean, I don't, but--Jared doesn't do grudges and neither does Leah. They like to help their friends. They kind of--do that. A lot."

"How big is their entourage now anyway?" Adam asks in interest, opening the chips. "They have a lot of friends, I noticed. More than most people not in politics or with a black book and client list."

Kris blows out a breath. "Larger than the crew on my last tour. And everyone's coming along for the ride."

Adam nods sympathetically and reaches for his sandwich. "And you want me there," he says a little fatalistically. "For my media draw. In case Jared does something stupid."

"Well," Kris says, looking up with wide eyes. "You're Adam Lambert."

"I'm Adam Lambert," Adam agrees. "So. I go to be a big distraction for your pet band--"

"I'll be there," Kris offers hopefully. "We haven't been clubbing together in a while. It'll be fun."

"--but what do I get out of this?"

Kris braces an elbow on Adam's knee, tilting his head thoughtfully. "Schedule rights."

"I'll have those anyway; Cale likes me." Adam watches Kris' expression turn calculating. "Now what can you, personally, offer me for my presence at what is likely to be a media disaster?"

"Good question," Kris says, pushing himself up on his knees in a surprisingly sinuous movement, brown eyes dancing, "What have you wanted to do to me since the first time you looked in the closet in our room at the mansion?"

Adam crumples up the paper wrapper in surprise. That's an offer. "Head to toe, you get two--two--vetoes."

"No fishnets and no stilettos."

"Done." Sliding off the table, Adam puts the remaining cookies into the bag and tosses the rest into the trash. "Then I think it's time to go shopping."

"Um." Kris finishes his water and scrambles to his feet. "It's not until tomorrow--"

"You didn't specify it was just for a night out, and yes, I noticed you didn't bring luggage." Looking Kris up and down, taking in the loose jeans and oversized hoodie over a plain t-shirt, Adam starts to smile, reaching to pull at the shoulder of the hoodie Kris had stolen from his closet before they left; what Kris has against things that aren't five sizes too large, Adam doesn't know. "I have a lot of work to do. We'll start with the basics. In some places not Arkansas, we call those correct sizes."

Tommy fights it for all of five minutes, but Kris has this way of looking at people that makes them feel like they might just go to hell if they don't agree. If Adam believed in hell, and hadn't lived up close and personal with that look for so long, it might even work on him. Work more than it does. "Fine, whatever, I'll tell everyone we're on a mission of mercy," he sighs, tilting his chair back on two legs and smirking when Kris grins at him. "Cale's coming?"

"He's coming out tomorrow to talk me out of going," Kris says, head on one hand. "I know this sucks--"

"Hey. Can't be worse than the year of stalker twink and Adam hiding in the closet with a decided lack of irony every time he showed up." Tommy glances at Adam with dancing eyes. "Still an improvement on Alex."

"You should take Adam back," Kris says sincerely. "Your girlfriend wouldn't mind. She's cool."

"God, when you say that in that drawl, it's like watching an angel lose its wings," Tommy answers as Adam blinks between them in alarm. "I met Jared last time I was in LA. That one doesn't know how to not beg for attention. Speaking of--"

"They're rented a house or something for the week, they weren't clear," Kris says with a sigh. "They asked me to stop by tonight--"

"I'd offer to go with you, but I have to wash my hair." Tommy looks at him sympathetically. "But seriously. You'll be okay?"

Kris stares at him in slowly growing suspicion, then looks at Adam with narrowed eyes. "Why would I need someone to go with me, Adam?"

"Because Leo called when Adam was really high in our bus and forgot his indoor voice." Tommy lets his chair down with a thump. "We all learned a very valuable lesson; don't stick your hand down Kris Allen's pants without written permission, and maybe not then unless Adam personally witnessed it. It was great. You have a hell of an arm, Allen."

Kris rolls his eyes and tries not to smile, getting to his feet. "So I owe you. I mean, Adam does, actually. I better go. If this is like the last little gathering they had, I need to stake out a seat early. Maybe take something to read."

Adam ignores Tommy smirking at him. "Mind if I tag along?"

"I'm not a girl who needs an escort so my virtue remains intact," Kris says incredulously. "Don't laugh, Tommy."

"Wouldn't dream of it." Standing up, Tommy grins at them both. "Leaving now so that hair washing can commence early. Have fun, kids."

Adam's betrayed look is wasted on Tommy's back, giving him no reason to avoid looking at Kris. "So you ready to go?" Adam asks the air to the right of Kris' ear. "I like good seats."

Kris doesn't answer, dragging out the silence from uncomfortable to actively unpleasant. "I don't need you to protect me from my friends," Kris says flatly. "I won't even start on the assumptions behind the idea because that's a conversation I'd really never have--"

"That's not why." Adam doesn't move from his comfortable sprawl on the armchair, though it's a lot less comfortable with Kris staring at him like that. Tilting his head back, he keeps his eyes on the ceiling. "And kind of insulting you'd think that, by the way."

"You don't even like them."

"I like Leah." He does. She's small and funny and terrifying in six inch platform boots with a faint east Texas drawl when she's tired. She's also an amazing musician, and while Jared's the one who does most of their writing, hers isn't anything to sneeze at either. "But again, not the point."


"You've been here two days and it's been two months since I last saw you," and not mentioning the uncomfortable morning after their fight when Kris drove him to the airport, "and we've been arguing non-stop for weeks. Forgive me for resenting that you want to wander off to play with your little friends that you see pretty much every day and don't even think to ask me to come along."

Kris doesn't answer; Adam pushes himself up to see Kris frowning. "I thought--" Kris shakes himself, surprised. "I thought maybe you'd want--you don't have a lot of time and I'm making you go to that club, so you might want tonight to, you know," Kris makes an uninterpretable gesture, cheeks starting to redden. "I just thought I'd get out of the way."

Adam tries to work out what on earth Kris thinks Adam does that he couldn't be around for, then wonders why he even needs to ask that question. "Is this a hint I need to get laid?" Adam asks. "Because you know me, if I'm not reminded to have sex, I'll forget--"

Kris covers his face with one hand. "Shut up. I was trying to be discreet, okay?"

"First you try to pimp me out to Tommy--and yes, I know his girlfriend wouldn't mind, she's told me, repeatedly--now, what, do you have a list of suggestions on who I should entertain myself with--"

"Adam," Kris says, muffled, "you want to come to a really lame party with me?"

"Not if I have to make you ask me," Adam says a little sulkily, slumping. "S'okay, high school flashbacks and everything, don't worry about it--"

Kris drops his hand, biting his lip against laughter. "I'd really like you to come."

"I could go pick up that bartender," Adam says thoughtfully. "Or watch cable. Five million channels, there's got to be something to watch…"

Kris kicks his ankle before perching on the arm of the chair and leaning into his shoulder. "Please come to a party with me. All the cool kids will be there. Their parents are away and I heard the punch is going to be spiked."

Adam considers it. "I guess. For the punch."

"Thought so." Kris slides back to the floor, picking up Adam's hoodie and pulling it back on. "I wish Cale had let me pack before he dropped me off," he says, frowning slightly, like they didn't wipe through the strip earlier and Kris nearly had to be blackmailed into buying new jeans. It was worth the effort; Adam's enjoyed the view since Kris came back from his shower. "Ready?"


There's sadly no punch, but there are far too many eighteen-to-twenty-five year olds for one medium-sized house, and at times like this, Adam remembers why he doesn't really miss his early twenties as much as he probably is supposed to. The energy is cool, but the lack of common sense is even less fun than it was back then, when Adam would wonder uncomfortably if he was missing something important in his growth and development in preferring not to have a three day hangover if he could help it. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but when you had a six am rehearsal and your voice was shot, you learned to pace yourself.

Adam hadn't been exaggerating about the number of people who Jared and Leah now had following them around, either. Between the UT dropouts talking nihilism, the twenty-something graduates from hipster emo, the thirty-something Indie music snobs, and a couple of fourth street club kids (ages undetermined, but Adam's learned the hard way to keep a wide berth when ID wasn't available), it's basically a subsection of every subculture that loathes everything both popular and mainstream, and in a weird, surreal, and hilarious turn of events, Adam Lambert has managed to become just that.

So. Fun.

Leah and her husband had finally colonized the bedroom with an exit to the deck and locked the door to those high out of their minds or desperately trying to convince Adam to help them identify their sexuality (read: way too many people). Half of them are either musicians or think they want to be. So that part's pretty familiar; like LA, really, but with a highly distracting drawl.

"Sellouts unite," Leah says from the floor, raising her glass solemnly and spoiling it with a helpless giggle. Kris raises his beer with a nod of solidarity before leaning back into Adam's knee, looking up with pleasantly hazy eyes. "Think we have any music cred left?"

"Last time I checked, they were deconstructing Adam's second album and his 'vision'." Kris gives Adam an earnest smile. "You'd better go out the window if you want to get out of here with your virtue intact. They're really determined."

"That's why I kept you between us," Adam answers, taking the bong with a sigh. "Where did you get this and can you get more?"

Leah smirks. "Anything for you Adam," slow-drawled, husky, and not for the first time, Adam wonders why Jared's the only singer. She does backup vocals, but the album's fingerprints are Jared entirely, with the lightest touch of Kris Allen bringing it together into an interesting whole. "God. When Pen said she wanted to ask a few people over, I really did think she meant a few, not everyone she's ever met."

"You live, you learn," Kris says, smiling when Jared comes back balancing a makeshift tray of bottles and kicking the door shut behind him as Dennis quickly locks it again.

"Leah," Jared says with fragile calm, "I'm not going back out there. Here. Bottles. Have fun."

"The trials of fame," Adam says mockingly, giving the bong to Dennis and vaguely tempted to stretch out on the bed and just feel this. In LA, even with friends, there's still pressure to perform; at least here, the Indie kids try and pretend popular culture is beneath them. Then they offer blowjobs, which just makes it that much more surreal and awesome. "Try going to Whole Foods after midnight and still have to call for a car, then you can complain."

Kris leans his head against Adam's knee and gives him an amused look. "I saved that footage."

"And fuck you, baby."

"The best part was the car chase. The trials of fame." Taking the drink Leah gives him, he passes it up to Adam, taking the next one for himself. "I could so tell you stories--"

"Like that UPS box of thongs from Tampa?" Adam asks. Leah's eyes widen. "Oh, right, that was for Kris."

Kris flushes, ducking his head to hide his face. "It wasn't--"

"All with different phone numbers. Like, a slumberparty group project that went horribly wrong." Unable to help himself, Adam ruffles Kris' hair. "He didn't stop blushing for a week. They put up a website about it."

Leah gasps helplessly into her hands; Dennis and Jared don't bother hiding their laughter. Leah's husband doesn't change expression, but he conveys amusement via eyebrows. That Adam now knows them well enough to recognize that is somehow even funnier.

"Sexbox," Kris says, hand closing around Adam's calf to steady himself. "Two dildos, bright pink, three packages of Wet, and a ball gag--"

"Two marriages on the astral plane complete with certificates printed at Kinko's," Adam retaliates. "Bigamy is so very American Idol--"

"Floggers thrown on stage--"

"Handcuffs with an attached sketch--"

"--of who was supposed to use them on me and how." Kris smirks, taking a sip of his drink. "It was a good likeness of you, but I don't think I'm that bendy."

Leah howls into the pillow Adam throws at her while Dennis buries his head in Jared's lap, shoulders shaking.

"Like I need instruction." Finishing his drink, Adam reaches for another pillow and lets himself tip over, careful not to jostle Kris. "And you could totally be that bendy."

"You get a lot of that?" Jared asks, watching Kris with sharply interested eyes. It hasn't escaped Adam's attention that Jared's kept a careful amount of space between them.

"After a while, our handlers started filtering it," Adam answers, glancing down at Kris, who shrugs, eyes flickering to Adam in shared amusement, because yeah, they'd gotten a lot of that, and just in case they missed it, the internet had even more.

"Your boyfriend didn't mind?" Jared says, looking at Adam now. Vaguely, Adam thinks this might be going somewhere, but Dennis drags himself up long enough to take another hit from the bong and pass it around, effectively distracting Adam to more interesting things.

"Not really." Adam takes it from Dennis and pushes himself up on one elbow. "Not really what I wanted to talk about when I saw him."

Kris smiles, heavy-lidded, taking it from Adam before getting his fingers tangled in Adam's shirt. "Come down here or you're going to fall asleep. You always do when you get comfortable. I'm not calling Jim to wake you up."

"But it's nice up here." Adam climbs down anyway; the floor is so much less comfortable, but he does feel a little more awake, enough to hear Kris say, "And before you ask, Katy didn't either."

"Does she now?" Jared asks, so lightly that it takes a few seconds to penetrate. Adam starts to stiffen; Leah looks up, smile not hiding the sharp worry; Dennis looks like he's fallen asleep in Jared's lap. "Never mind, I forgot; she's on location, right? What's up with Alex, anyway?"

"Jared," Leah starts, but Kris just rolls his eyes and finishes his drink, slumping a little more and looking impossibly relaxed. Adam adjusts his position enough for Kris to make himself comfortable against his shoulder, steadying him with a hand on his hip.

"We're friends," Kris says, passing his glass to Leah. "More of whatever that was, please?" And still so polite, Arkansas-thick. It's probably not the best time to remember what Kris had said about when Brad would call him, but no help for it. "Can we go outside yet or are Adam's new groupies still out there?"

Adam recognizes the very faint edge in Kris' voice and glances at Leah.

"I can get them inside," Leah says, slipping out of her shoes before getting to her feet. "I'm starting to feel claustrophobic, too. Wake Dennis up and bring everything outside, Jared."

Kris smiles at her but doesn't move; Adam waits until everyone's left and the sliding door shuts again before he tilts Kris' head up. "You okay?"

"Just a little--walls?" He makes a vague motion. "I'm fine. Just some air would be nice."

"I've never seen you stoned," Adam observes, getting carefully to his feet. Kris holds out his hands imperiously. "I need to remember this."

"Kind of hungry," Kris says after a moment of thought, swaying a little. "God. I forgot how this feels."

Sliding an arm around his waist, Adam steadies him. "Kind of adorable and weird at the same time," Adam says, catching his chin and checking the blown pupils thoughtfully. "You're never this relaxed."

"I'm totally laid-back," Kris answers defensively, gripping the front of Adam's shirt with one fisted hand. "Really laid back. What's up with Alex?" Before Adam can respond to that--and God knows, that deserves something--Kris pushes himself unsteadily onto his toes, frowning. "You're stupidly tall, you know?"

Adam squints at him. "That's--sorry?"

"No, just--" Kris steps back and pushes him; abruptly, Adam finds himself sitting on the bed and Kris grinning at him, shyly triumphant. "Better."

Adam narrows his eyes as Kris straddles his lap, hands braced on his shoulders. Kris bites his lip, faintly uncertain, which he shouldn't be, not ever, but certainly not with Adam. Cupping his hips, Adam jerks him closer and catches the gasp in a kiss. The tension melts almost instantly, and Kris opens his mouth, short nails sliding up the side of Adam's neck before settling in his hair.

Pulling back, Adam brushes a kiss against the corner of his mouth, mouthing gently along the edge of his jaw. "You jealous, baby?" he murmurs, threading his fingers through Kris' hair and drawing his head back enough to press a soft kiss just below his jaw. Kris presses into it with a little sigh. "Shh," he says, breathing on the newly-wet skin to make Kris shiver, sucking at the smooth skin, giving Kris a brush of teeth. "I'll accept answers of yes or no only, no essays allowed. Are you?"

"Yeah," Kris whispers, sounding surprised. "I think I am."

"You don't have anything to worry about," Adam answers, pleased, pressing his palm against the small of Kris' back, skin soft and a little damp. "You always like this when you're high?" Tilting Kris' head forward, Adam bites his lip hard, and Kris shudders, hips jerking minutely. "Are you?"

"Not--not really? Usually I just--fell asleep." Kris' eyes fall shut when Adam runs his nails up his spine, arching helplessly. Intrigued, Adam pushes them in, letting Kris feel the edges and draws them back down, slow, and Kris catches his breath, hands tightening reflexively, head tipping backward. Adam takes the invitation to lick along his collar, settling at the sensitive join of shoulder and neck to suck another slow kiss, tasting the faint remains of soap and new sweat before catching the soft skin between his teeth.

"God," Kris breathes, cock pressing insistently against Adam's stomach. Faintly, Adam hears something that sounds like metal sliding on metal, but Kris is ducking down, mouth soft and a little frantic, sucking on Adam's tongue desperately before mouthing along his cheek and pressing a sucking kiss just below his jaw. Tightening his hold on Kris' hair, Adam closes his eyes, fighting the urge to push Kris down on the bed, feel all that barely leashed, frantic need beneath him.

"I bet," Adam says against Kris' ear, "that you could be very bendy for me. Couldn't you?" Kris make an inarticulate sound, sucking harder before his tongue licks over the skin, almost in apology.

Opening his eyes, Adam sees Jared standing at the slightly open glass doors. It's not really a surprise; Adam vaguely thinks they may have been in here a little too long for any reasonable explanation to cover. It should be a surprise, though, that Adam wants him to watch. Kris lifts his head at the first sharp pull, and Adam kisses him again, opening his mouth, easy and sweet and addictively good, even just this. "You ready to go, baby?" Adam says between soft kisses, not quite able to keep from drawing it out for a few more seconds; that part's not for Jared's benefit.

Kris nods, resting his forehead against Adam's shoulder with a little sigh. Cupping the back of his neck, Adam looks at Jared. "Tell Leah we'll see her tomorrow night," Adam says, easing Kris to his feet and straightening his shirt and hoodie. Kris glances at Jared briefly, adding, "And call me with the time, okay?" before obediently following Adam's tug on his wrist. "Later."

The party's mostly winding down, and there's appreciably less clothing in some parts of the room. Adam takes out his phone to call Jim; he and the band's security were playing poker last time he checked, and Jim's probably won this year's salary. "You awake?" Adam asks as Kris leans against him, making vaguely settled sounds.

"Sure." Making the effort, Kris straightens, eyes slitting open to watch Jim bring the car. "Mostly. I'm still hungry."

"No surprise." Easing Kris in the car, Adam opens google and starts searching for anything that can be delivered in the next ten minutes. Hotel pizza is hideous. "How do you feel about pizza?" His trainer is never going to forgive him.

Kris' leans over, chin digging into his shoulder as he squints at the screen. "Unsurprisingly positive. Get extra cheese."

"Will you--okay, just brace your hands on the wall."

Kris twists around, unraveling what little progress Adam's managed again. "I told you these were too tight--and laces, really, laces, buttons weren't good enough for you?"

"For fuck's sake." Turning him around, Adam gets his wrists and sets his hands against the wall by the closet. "They're fine, you just keep moving. Hold still." Kneeling, Adam picks up the laces again and pulls them tight, tying them off at the hip. Sitting back, Adam checks the give between leather and skin and nods in satisfaction. "Told you. Perfect."

Kris taps his fingers impatiently against the plaster. "Can I move now?"

Getting up, Adam drops into the armchair to contemplate a view well worth seeing. "Give me a second." Leather may be a cliché, but Adam embraces clichés with these kinds of results. "A few more seconds. Maybe a minute or two."

"Take a picture," Kris mutters. "It'll last longer."

Adam grins back. "Now why would I need to do that? I'll just dress you myself when I want to see it again."

Kris looks down with a pained expression. "You'd kind of have to. No way I could manage this myself," he admits, craning his neck to eye the laces nervously. "Done yet?"

"Not really. But go ahead." Hooking a leg over the arm of the chair, Adam watches Kris frown as he walks over to pick up his water, like getting dressed is just that exhausting. "Okay, relax a little?"

"In these?" Carefully, Kris sits on the edge of the bed, looking uncertain. "Okay, so they're not that bad," he says grudgingly.

"And my work here is done, except not." When Kris twists around to put down his bottle, Adam sees a flash of blue-black just beneath the collar of his shirt, the faint impression of teeth around the edges. With a sigh, Kris drops back on the bed, pulling up one bare foot to brace against the edge. "You can't possibly be tired."

"Someone," Kris tells the ceiling, "made me walk the entire goddamn strip ten times--"

"Exaggeration. Eight, maybe."

"--looking for the perfect boots for--did you actually tell that girl petite?"

"You overheard that?" Adam wrinkles his nose and pushes himself out of the chair. "I promise, I was trying to avoid that."

"Thanks," Kris says with nearly visible irony. "By the way, it's four hours until we have to go. Why am I wearing these now?"

"So I could look at you in them for a while. Clubs are a little dark." Picking up his phone from the bedside table, Adam scrolls through his messages; nothing particularly important. "Besides, it'll take you that long to relax about being seen in them. Strange yet true; the larger the audience, the larger you seem to prefer your clothing to be. There's a pattern. Pretty sure a burqa would be making an appearance if I left you to yourself."

"Not the worst idea ever." Kris rolls on his side, arm tucked beneath his head. "You know, it just hit me--I only have a couple of months left recording. It feels--weird. I mean, sure, promotions and everything after but--I don't know what I'll do with all that free time. I've been working pretty much non-stop for almost a year."

Pushing Kris' knee aside, Adam sits down, tossing his phone onto the pillow and lying back with a little bounce. "Some people might think vacation. Ever heard of it?"

"You'll just whine about sunburn," Kris answers, nose wrinkling. "More than you do already."

"I do not--"

Kris snorts softly, reaching out to touch the tip of Adam's nose when he turns his head. "Right."

"I'll invest in extra sunscreen," Adam answers, equally soft. "Happy?"

"I'll believe it when I see you on the beach," Kris answers. "You have three months of touring left?"

"Nine weeks, not that I'm counting or anything." Rolling on his side, Adam reaches out, threading his fingers through Kris' hair. "I'm seriously liking this look. Very independent musician who reads a lot of post-modern poetry."

"I needed to try something new," Kris says, eyes half-closing under Adam's touch. "Mamma thinks I should cut it. Dad loves it, weirdly enough; I think he's having some nostalgia for the youth he didn't misspend. It's kind of an even split."

"Don't cut it." Tightening his fingers a little, Adam catches Kris' eyes, the slow, sleepy smile. "I like it."

"Okay." Then, "I need a blender."

Adam thinks about that for a second; Kris' mind moves in strange ways. "Because those are rare in LA--"

"No. You said I'd get rewarded for keeping to your frankly insane schedule--"

"How can you say that when I haven't even made it? It's a kickass schedule. You know. When I'm done with it."

"Mmm." Kris tilts his head a little, frowning, and Adam starts stroking again, rubbing his fingertips into the skin. "I need a blender. And maybe a rug? The floor's cold."

"Just a second--you want me to bribe you with household goods so you'll do what you should do anyway? Really?"

"I saw this great rug," Kris muses. "Fire truck red--"

"I take it back. That's a brilliant idea." Rubbing gently behind Kris' ear, Adam thinks about it. "Do you have a dresser yet?"

Kris opens his eyes, widening them insincerely. "I thought I wasn't allowed to buy major furniture unescorted. Far be it from me to argue. Even though I want to remind you, art deco sofa that was never meant to be used for sitting--"

"You really need to get over that." Running his thumb over Kris' cheekbone, Adam studies his face. "I can't wait for you to see yourself when I'm done with you. You never let them do very much even when on tour."

"It felt weird." Kris frowns. "I used to watch you, you know. You were always so comfortable, you know, dressing up. Especially when it wasn't really dressing up for you."

Adam smiles at the distinction; he hadn't known if Kris got that. Not many people did. "I didn't know you paid that much attention."

Kris shrugs, faint color spreading across his cheekbones.

"How much," he breathes, "did you watch?"

Kris looks away, mouth curving in an embarrassed smile. "It's stupid--"

"Oh no you don't. This I have to hear." Turning Kris back to face him, Adam tries to remember Kris ever watching him; to his surprise, there's far more than he would have expected. He just hadn't been paying attention. "Weird? Interesting? Somewhere in between?"

"Weird at first," Kris answers after a moment of thought. "But mostly just--well, you. You made it seem really easy. Like it didn't really matter what anyone thought. I mean, it really didn't matter."

Adam thinks about that, because there's an easy answer and there's a true one. "It mattered," he says slowly. "It just never mattered enough. Not enough to be willing to change anything. You know?"

"Yeah, I do." Kris yawns then looks apologetic. "Sorry. You made me get up at seven for shopping hell after three pizzas at two in the morning--"

"Don't remind me." Three boxes, God. What the fuck was he thinking? "Take a nap. You'll be up late tonight, too."

Kris wrinkles his nose. "Chasing Jared so he doesn't do something stupid? In these pants? Really?"

"That's Leah's job, not yours." Adam strokes Kris' hair until the brown eyes fall closed. "Yours is to entertain me."

"Mm." Kris nods sleepily, going boneless. "Why am I not surprised? You should nap too. I require a lot of attention, you know."

It's not a bad idea. Adam reaches behind him for one of the pillows and shifts a little closer to Kris. "Trust me, I know."

Clearing a central area on the bathroom counter, Adam lifts Kris onto it, amused by Kris' surprised look. "You're tiny," he says, pushing his knees apart and tilting up his face. "Look up--there we go. I'm making a plan."

"There's a plan?" Kris shifts, hands first on the counter, then moving to his thighs and back again, nervous.

"Strategy. A--how do I put this?--a method. Hold still." Even this close, Kris' skin is nearly flawless; some people just have amazing genes. Keeping one hand on Kris' chin, Adam studies what he has available, which is pretty much everything; on tour, he's forgotten socks, underwear, and his keys, but makeup, never. "You want me to narrate or be surprised?"

Kris thinks about it. "I won't know what you're talking about anyway, so either one."

"Narration it is. Moisturizer first, and let me say again, one day you are going to wonder why you aren't doing this daily." Using his thumbs, Adam smoothes it on with long, careful strokes, ignoring Kris' brief shifts; at the best of times, Kris does not enjoy sitting still. "Now this, which with your skin is highly superfluous, is to make sure the rest stays." Hunting up one of the small sponges, Adam taps a small amount from the bottle, then turns back to Kris, tilting his face until the light is right. "Hold still," Adam breathes, touching lightly against the slant of Kris' nose and working his way outward.

"Still," Adam murmurs again, concentrating on the fragile skin beneath his eyes, not quite dark enough now to need concealer. Kris makes an effort, shutting his eyes and wrapping both hands around the edge of the counter as Adam finishes blending at the hairline and tilts his head high enough to smooth the almost invisible lines below his jaw. "Look at me," Adam says as he lowers Kris' chin. "All right. Next is your eyes and this part is important, okay? I'm going to be crazy and try liquid with you, so you can't move at all."

Kris licks his lips then nods quickly. "Got it."

"Close your eyes." Picking up the bottle, he takes out the wand and presses a thumb against the corner of Kris' eye. At the first touch against his eyelid, Kris twitches, which Adam can't even say he didn't expect. This is Kris. "Right. Got it out of your system?"

Kris shrugs minutely. "Sorry?"

"Hmm." Pressing a little harder, Adam draws a thin black line, pulling the wand out of range in anticipation of the next twitch; he's watched Kris at makeup often enough to know what's coming. "Don't touch," he says, slapping blindly at Kris' rising hand. "Keep them in your lap, baby."

Kris manages to stay still when Adam does his other eye, but Adam can almost feel him vibrating. The discomfort he expected, but he's pleasantly surprised how much effort Kris is putting into trying to stay still; even now, this is still better than anyone in makeup could manage with him. "Now open your eyes."

Kris wets his lips, eyes fluttering open curiously.

"Look up," Adam says, smoothing his thumb beneath Kris' eye before leaning forward. Kris shifts a little just before the wand touches his skin. Reaching down, Adam curls his hand around Kris' thigh and squeezes once, hard. "Sit still."

Kris blinks, eyes wide, then nods slowly. Tapping once last time in warning, Adam concentrates on finishing both eyes while Kris is so tractable, leaning back to check his work with a sense of barely averted disaster. "Perfect." Meeting Kris' eyes, Adam cocks his head. "Think you can keep still for me while I finish?"

Kris raises his chin in the faintest impression of a nod, eyes fixed on Adam.

"Good boy. Close your eyes." Adam sorts through the colors on offer thoughtfully. Subtle is not his forte, but he thinks he can manage it. Something warmer, maybe; picking up and unscrewing the top of one of the smaller containers, Adam touches his finger to the color and checks it against Kris' skin, liking the faint hint of gold. "This should work."

It does, unnervingly well; softer than the name espresso implies, and applied with a very light hand, the faint golden sheen is even stronger. Belatedly, Adam thinks that maybe he should have considered all the potential aspects of this clever plan. When Kris opens his eyes, Adam takes a careful breath and tries a smile. "Just a little more," he says huskily, using his thumb to blend the edges of color at the corner of Kris' eye. Wiping his thumb clean on a convenient washcloth, he takes a steadying breath. Mascara, just a little, shading those impossible lashes dark against his skin. A quick hint of pale pink on each cheek, just enough to bring out those amazing cheekbones. His mouth--

"Kris," Adam breathes. Kris opens his eyes, lashes sweeping up, sweetly teasing, brown nearly invisible and swallowed in black, a little dazed and leaning forward before Adam cups the back of his neck and tilts his head up for a kiss. It's rougher than Adam means it to be, but Kris leans into it, lips parting when Adam bites his lower lip, sliding his tongue along the smooth skin before pushing inside, wet and soft and tasting of clean water and Kris alone.

Adam's too practiced to make a mess of all his careful work; pulling back, he catches his breath before automatically checking, but Kris is still flawless, except for his mouth, lips a little swollen and softly pink, flushing bright along his cheeks. Adam runs his thumb along Kris' lower lip and thinks of taking him anywhere looking like this, and how much he wants to.

Picking up the tinted lip gloss, Adam glances down to see Kris' hands are still in his lap. "Almost done. Then I have to get ready." Slicking Kris' slightly parted lips, Adam steps back, cupping Kris' hips and easing him to the floor before turning him to the mirror. Leaning his chin on Kris' shoulder, Adam grins. "Look."

Kris' eyes flutter open, slow, a little dazed. It's an incredibly good look for him. "Oh," Kris breathes, blinking at himself. Reaching up, he almost touches his eyes and stops himself, smiling a little self-consciously, leaning back against Adam. "Wow."

"I do good work. Then again, I had excellent material to work with." Ruffling his hair, Adam straightens. "Now. I need to--"

"Can I watch?" Kris eyes meet his in the mirror. "If you don't mind."

Adam had never noticed before, not really, but now he does, memories of Kris in their shared room or on tour, casual and surprisingly careful. It makes Adam wonder what else he hadn't noticed. He imagines doing this now, with Kris watching him, and wonders just how automatic doing this is for him. He's about to find out. "I really don't."

"Jim is never going to forgive us for this," Adam breathes against Kris' ear, watching the floor from VIP. From their vantage point, they watch Jim fend off another girl at the wide bar who can't possibly be out of high school. "Caught in the bathroom snorting lines off a twink's ass, okay, underage involvement anywhere within fifty feet of me, he gets my publicist stalking him to ask why he let this happen. Then he won't let me go anywhere."

Kris looks at him curiously, eyebrow raised. "Lines off a twink's ass. Really."

"It's an expression," Adam answers impatiently. "Mostly."

"Didn't you just do a PSA on drug use or something--"

Adam glares at him, pulling back onto the quiet couch, relieved to see drinks have appeared, along with Cale, who hadn't necessarily been in any dark corners for any reason with anyone in neon green, and Leah, flushed and sparkling, razor cut blonde hair swinging against her cheekbones as she sits down with a breathless laugh. Adam leans back to verify that she's in fact wearing neon green and smiles. The fact that Cale was helping her with her zipper for purely platonic purposes just makes it that much cuter.

Kris elbows him as Adam reaches for their drinks, handing it to Kris. "You'll like this one," he says as Kris gives the bright pink liquid a dubious look. "Live a little, Allen."

"You keep saying that." Taking a sip, Kris make a vague attempt to frown before admitting, "Fine, yeah. Girly drinks for the win."

"Nice misogyny, Allen," Leah says, sipping from her own. "So not a total disaster. They may actually pull this off."

Kris settles an elbow on the table, looking at Leah curiously.

"Let's say Dean and math never got along. Maybe they hired an accountant." Shrugging, she takes another sip. "They're making these strong," she comments in surprise.

"They'll start watering them when they get a regular crowd." Adam supposes if he'd ever thought about it, this would be the kind of place that ex-Indie kids would find their platonic ideal of a club. The music is completely unfamiliar for the most part, with a few familiar songs thrown in as a sop to the clientele, they pretty much went all-out on sound, and they went minimal on the lights outside the main floor. Adam can't tell for sure, but there's a lot of fluid sexuality going on pretty much everywhere. It could have been so much worse. Adam's standards aren't actually all that high, but he remembers Memphis with not a little trauma.

Jared wanders over as Leah makes Kris try her drink, also girly, sweet-edged with something like mango. "Two of those next, totally," Adam says, giving it back to her. Jared sits down on the other side of Leah, throwing back a shot and looking over at Kris immediately. Adam feels Kris tense and drops a hand to rest on Kris' knee; Jared's focused attention is getting more annoying by the minute, and Jared's not even trying to hide what he's doing anymore.

"You should come down with the plebs for a while, pretty," Jared says, smiling a little when Kris twitches. "You've been hiding up here all night."

"I'm good," Kris says, finishing his drink, eyes dark over the rim of the glass before he sets it down, leaning back, shoulder warm against Adam's. "Crowds," he says, wrinkling his nose adorably. Adam snickers, which gets him a raised eyebrow from Kris. "You want to add something, Adam?"

Adam looks his inclination to say nothing at all, thanks very much.

"Come with me; God knows my husband has two left feet," Leah says coaxingly, eyes flickering to Adam and adding quickly, "Mind if I steal Kris for a few minutes, Adam? Please?"

Kris glances at him, murmuring, "You say yes, all injuries are your responsibility."

"You're not bad, and I wish you'd stop thinking you are," Adam mutters against his ear before giving him a slight push, nodding at Leah as Kris gets to his feet and follows her to the stairs. Jared looks interested in following, but a flat glare from Leah puts him back in his seat. Adam hides his smile, turning to Cale when he mentions checking their setup with the same voice some people talk about religion. It's not that it's not conversation that's relevant to his interests, but half his attention is following Kris down to the floor, because honestly, Leah really has no idea what she just got herself into.

"Speaking of nothing I was talking about just now," Cale says, sounding amused, "you want anything, Adam?"

Adam snaps his attention back to Cale. "Two of whatever Leah was drinking," he says. "And a bottle of water. I'm not going to ask why you're laughing."

"Probably wise," Cale answers with a smirk. "Question--Tommy said I could make out with him if he could take pictures for his girlfriend. True/false?"

"True, just know now you'll get texts for a threesome after she sees the pictures," Adam answers. Cale starts to flush interestingly. "Tell him to CC me."

"Yeah, and Kris would take that well. Thanks, but I have to see him every day."

In retrospect, Adam thinks he should have seriously grabbed Cale and made him stay, because now it's just him and Jared, and for some reason, Adam just does not think this will end well. Jared is still playing with his first drink, condensation creating a wet circle beneath his glass, and not for the first time, Adam thinks how young he really is and how very little that has to do with age. Even with Kris--maybe especially with Kris--it shows, like a teenager with his first crush but in all the wrong ways. Sixteen to eighteen it's understood you're a jerk and eventually you'll grow out of it, or someone will make you, but Jared's twenty-three and he doesn't have any excuses left.

"Kris sent me a demo of what you're working on with him," Adam says carefully. There's a faint, rather embarrassing feeling he might have liked Jared if they'd met pretty much in any way other than how they did. "You were classically trained, weren't you?"

"Age six to age sixteen; my parents were Pavarotti fans and had a dream," Jared says, taking a swallow from his glass. "We've been working on his range. He's a lot more flexible than he thinks he is--no pun intended." With a smirk, Jared puts down his glass with a thump. "He's a lot better than I thought he was from what he had out. I thought Leah fell for the hype."

Adam was surprised too, and he shouldn't have been; when Kris is on, really on, Adam's never heard anyone quite like him, and his music is following along, slowly growing more complex as he leaves AI behind and finding his own sound. Adam's not sure when it started, but he suspects Kris found more at SXSW than a pet Indie band and a voice for his music.

"He's not hype," Adam answers.

"You ever heard him off a major stage?" Jared says, faintly challenging. "A month or two before we started recording, we took him down to Austin and got him to do a set at Black Cat on the drag--a three shot investment, but totally paid off. By the end of the night, people were standing outside to hear him. I didn't let them use his name," Jared says, smile turning reminiscent, "but trust me, six hours later the university servers were working hard with all the file-sharing going on and everyone knew Kris Allen was back. His little AI teenies aren't the only ones waiting for this album to drop."

"He didn't tell me about that." Though if he had, Adam would bet Kris' version would be on the order of "sang at this place, pretty cool." Not informative. That does mean, however, in the age of cameraphones, it's online somewhere. Which tells him how he'll be spending his nights after they leave Vegas.

Jared smirks, tucking green-streaked blond hair behind his ear. "Not that I notice this shit or anything, but I think you were fucking around in Europe. I may have noticed when Kris' started getting hard to get hold of, though."

Timeline established; Adam wonders where the fuck Cale is with those drinks. "I'll ask him about it."

"You should." Jared cocks his head. "I recorded it. The copies online are shit; mine are better. You want?"

Adam would have guessed Jared would give him those over one of their dead bodies. "Stupid question. What do you want for them?"

"Freely given." Jared finishes his drink and pushes it toward the center of the table, slumping back in his chair. "Just thought you might want to see what you missed. There's video and audio-only. I took him there to see him perform, so I was prepared." Taking out his phone, Jared types into it, then slides it across the table with a smirk. "It's on my site; username and password attached. Send it to whatever number you're comfortable me having."

"Not worried about you stalking me," Adam answers dryly, typing in the number and hitting send. Pushing the phone back across the table, Adam nods. "Thanks."

"No problem." Tucking his phone somewhere in skin-tight jeans, Jared traces a finger through the water beneath his empty glass, looking up at Adam like he has something to add, but to Adam's endless relief, Kris and Leah are coming up the stairs, both flushed and giggling, but Leah with a slightly dazed look that Adam's used to seeing from people who actually believe Kris when he says he can't dance.

Because really, that was enough awkward and potentially incendiary conversation for one night. Like a miracle, Cale shows up again, dodging Adam's unsubtle kick with a grin and "Anyone want a drink?"

Kris drops down beside him, taking the bottle of water Adam silently hands him with a, "Fine, but let's remember which of us can drink the other under the table," before finishing half of it.

A little unsteadily, Leah downs half her glass before lifting her hair from her neck and blowing out a surprised breath, looking at Kris to ask "So who taught you to dance again?" and seems unsurprised when Kris answers, "During the AI tour, Adam said it was depressing to watch me, and he and Alli made me learn. There was grading involved. It was embarrassing."

"He really can drink me under the table," Adam admits reluctantly, handing Kris the mango drink after enduring several seconds of intent staring. "Please don't let that get out."

"I'll tell everyone I know," Cale says cheerfully. "Though I will say, he slows down when there are shots involved."

"Lightweight," Kris says smugly. "That a challenge, Cale?"

"Aww, still think you're a teenager?" Cale answers mockingly. "Game on, Allen."

Catching Kris' knee before he comes off the couch, Adam leans over. "How many?"

"He's had four drinks; it won't be many before he actually does try to make out with Tommy in front of a camera," Kris whispers back, grinning. "I overheard them earlier."

"That's cruel," Adam says admiringly. "I like it. What's your drink, baby?"


"So I get to watch you commit sexual acts with drinks while torturing Cale?" Kris nods enthusiastically. "What's your limit?"

Kris pauses, eyeing the table and remaining glasses. "He'll be down before I get close." Kris tilts his head back. "Of course, after that, I may agree to make out with Tommy in front of a camera. I do like his girlfriend."

"No, you really won't." Adam wonders when this night went so very off-track. "And that's not what I meant. How many should you do, not can."

Kris hesitates. Glancing at Cale's smug grin, Adam thinks quickly. "You seriously want a three day hangover? If he beats you, I'll send him straight to Tommy. His girlfriend also finds Cale hot. Deal?"

Kris looks at him thoughtfully, then nods slow agreement. Relieved, Adam faces the table, feeling like he may have just averted a major disaster. "So today the part of Kris and Cale will be played by teenagers--"

"I'm in," Leah says, slamming down her empty glass. "I was in practice rooms until midnight at Julliard when I was a teenager. Couldn't even hold a shot glass after that."

Jared nods agreement. "I had rehearsals at five am. Bring it."

"Seriously?" Adam stares around the table. "Do not tell me I have to be the sober one--"

"Someone has to be sure I get home," Kris answers in satisfaction, pushing Adam's shoulder. "Get us a bottle and four glasses. I have some kids here to school."

It's not like Adam had thought this could go too wrong; technically, they're all adults, even if he's reserving judgment on just how old Kris and Cale are if this is the kind of shit they come up with, and this is a fairly public venue. On the other hand, Kris and Cale have descended to, of all things, trash talking each other. From vague memories of calling Kris during football season, he really should have seen this coming.

Kris looks almost gloatingly at the neat line of shots, smirking at Cale challengingly before picking up the salt. "You're really going to regret this tomorrow."

"It's like supervising a really alcoholic middle school," Adam observes, picking up the first shot glass and watching Kris lick his wrist, sprinkling salt and licking it again, then taking the shot in a single quick movement, throat working briefly. Flipping it over, Kris drops it on the table and takes the slice of lime between his teeth, smirking when Cale coughs, groping after the bowl weakly.

Jared and Leah both manage a little better, but then again, it's a taste you either get used to or give up the joy that is a good margarita. Picking up the salt, Kris looks around the table with a smirk. "Ready?"

The second is a little faster, everyone following gamely along wherever Kris wants to take them; Adam's more than a little fascinated by the way Kris twists his wrist around, pink tongue slicking along the knob of bone, the way his lips part for each shot, then sucking on each slice of lime for a little longer than is strictly necessary.

By the third shot, Adam gets Kris' bowl of lime slices when Kris' hand shows the first faint tremor. "Look at me," Adam murmurs as Jared blinks at his shot glass; it takes years and effort to build up enough tolerance to do a row of shots after everything they've been drinking the last couple of hours. It takes even longer to known how to handle it, and they really don't. From the corner of his eye, Adam sees Leah's husband with a bottle of water, watching thoughtfully.

Kris looks up, tongue wetting his lips. "I'm okay."

"Okay." This is what bottled water was invented for, Adam reminds himself, watching Kris lick his damp wrist once, slow, eyes half-closing. Also, he may need to stop watching that so closely.

The next two go easy, but Cale fumbles his salt entirely, and Adam finds himself taking a relieved breath when he stares at the glass for a long second. "So I really don't want to die tonight," Cale says thoughtfully, Arkansas-slur so thick it makes Adam smile. Kris giggles, bracing a hand on Adam's thigh and leaning over to say, "And this is why I win forever and ever, world without end, amen. Bitch," he adds in an afterthought, then shakes his head. "Yeah, no, leave that last bit out."

Leah grins, taking her last shot with a quick twist of her wrist before pushing back, pulling up one knee. Her husband is by her side almost immediately, giving her the bottle of water. "Thanks," she says, smiling up at him with surprising sweetness, a very intimate look in a very public place. "I'm out."

"I'm still in," Jared announces, slumping in his chair, eyes fixed on Kris. "Still up for it, pretty?"

Kris straightens, picking up the salt. "Let's go." Kris wipes his wrist on his knee, flipping it back over and slicking it slow, eyes on Jared as he takes the next shot and dropping it after to hide the fact Adam's pretty sure he couldn't set it down. Sucking on the slice of lime, Kris waits as Jared finishes, eyebrows raised.

Jared slams his glass down. "Again."

"Kris," Adam says softly.

"I can do it," Kris breathes. "He's seriously pissing me off."

"I think that's the point." Adam counts the glasses, aware they've acquired a small audience. There aren't cameras up here, but everyone and their goddamn dog has a cameraphone. "I'm not cleaning up after you. Just so you know."

"That's why hotels have maid service." Kris picks up the salt, not steady at all. "I'll be fine."

"Two more and you're done."

Kris stills, glancing at Adam. "Okay. I can stop him in two." Taking the bowl from Adam, Kris turns his hand over, exposing his wrist, thumb tracing along the thick lines of the tattoo. "If you don't mind being the object of something really inappropriate."

Adam bites his lip, taking the salt. "Where I come from, this isn't even close." Leaning over, he licks his wrist, sprinkling the salt over the wet skin, watching as Kris bends down, tongue soft and wet; after a few seconds, Adam realizes he's tracing the outline of the tattoo. Belatedly, Adam picks up the shot, watching as Kris lifts his head and takes the edge between his lips, pulling out of Adam's fingers when he tips his head back.

Kris drops the empty glass on the table, eyes flat. "Again?"

Jared's fingers tighten around his glass. "Ready when you are."

"One more," Adam says in Kris' ear. "Make it count."

"Oh, I will." Taking a deep breath, Kris smirks, leaning down to drag his tongue over Adam's skin, watching Adam sprinkle the salt before doing it again, finishing with a brush of his lips and lifting his head. Holding Adam's eyes, he bends to take the shot, one hand dropping to rest against his thigh, fingers pressed against the inseam, then pushes up on his knees, catching Adam off-guard in a kiss, open mouthed and tasting of tequila. Adam catches Kris' jaw in his hand, swallowing quickly; this one is really going to count.

Eventually, Adam thinks they should probably stop; pulling back, Adam brushes a kiss against the corner of Kris' mouth and eases him back down, glancing over to see Jared still has his shot in front of him, eyes narrow and dark.

Kris looks at him, taking the last glass and flipping it over against the surface of the table. "I win."

("Adam," Kris murmurs, still smiling, "where's the restroom? Room's spinning a little. A lot."

"Totally called it. Come on. I'll watch the door.")

"So that was inappropriate," Kris says when Adam pushes him into the alley, thankfully deserted and hopefully free of cameras. Some things really shouldn't show up on film just for the sake of personal dignity. "Oh God, I forgot I really don't drink like that anymore." Finishing the bottle of water, Kris sighs, still grinning. "I can be a little competitive sometimes."

Adam bites his lip against a giggle as Kris leans back against the nearest wall, looking both contrite and still a little proud of himself. "If you ruin those pants, I'll kill you. You're never, ever doing that again. Do the words alcohol poisoning mean anything to you? Not to mention liver function--"

"I'll be careful with my aim," Kris says with a sloppy grin. "Sorry. He just--I don't know what the fuck he thinks he's doing anymore. He wasn't acting like this when we were recording this week."

"And that's a surprise. Hold still." Tilting Kris' head up, Adam checks his eyes first, pressing his thumb against his pulse. "Okay?"

"Just drunk," Kris murmurs, eyes half-closed. "I'll grab another bottle of water when we go inside."

"Yeah, you're cut off for the night," Adam answers. "And hello, if you don't know why he's acting like that, you seriously need to get out more."

"Didn't say I didn't know why," Kris answers, wrapping his fingers around the edge of Adam's jacket, eyes flickering up. "He only does this around you. My math's pretty good."

"You can count shots, but I'm going to doubt you'll be able to do much else tonight," Adam answers, leaning his forehead against Kris'. "Though I do want to see what this does to your rhythm, so--"

"You're making me dance?" Kris pouts; it's one of his most effective weapons, and no amount of time seems to make it less so. "That's how I get rewarded?"

"For getting drunk off your ass? The reward is the hangover, baby. Enjoy it. I plan to."

Kris snickers, pulling at Adam's jacket. Bracing a hand on the wall, Adam frowns as Kris looks up at him, too-pretty, shadowed eyes and soft pink mouth. "I was good. You said two shots. That was one and a half."

Oh. Reaching down, Adam pulls Kris' hands free of his jacket, easing them over his head and pressing them against the warm stone. Kris glances up briefly, mouth curving in a surprised smile before Adam kisses him, not bothering to slow it down. Kris was licking his goddamn wrist and kissed him to piss off Jared; Adam thinks he deserves this one for himself.

Shifting his grip to hold Kris' wrists one-handed, he presses his thumb against the dark bruise at Kris' neck, licking the taste of water and tequila from Kris' mouth. With a little moan, Kris arches, which is an invitation. "Keep your hands there," Adam says against his ear and wraps his hands around Kris' hips, leather slick under his palms and lifting him up against the wall, thighs spread and open around his waist. Kris sucks in a breath, startled, ankles locking behind his back and pulling Adam in.

Running his hand up Kris' thighs and over his ass, Adam tries to catch his breath; one of them has to be thinking, and he's not nearly sober enough to do it. Kris bites his lip, grinning when Adam pushes him into the wall harder, licking down the side of his throat, mouthing the day-old bruise before sucking just a little, just so it'll last until Kris goes back to LA.

Drawing back, Adam waits until Kris opens his eyes. "We're leaving," he says, pressing his thumb against Kris' lower lip, the faint impression of teeth vivid red on the skin below. There's no way Adam's letting anyone see him like this. "You're about thirty minutes from passing out, and that's being generous." Letting Kris slide back to the ground, Adam holds him up until Kris is tracking. "Arms down now."

Slowly, Kris lowers his arms, touching the faintly red finger-shaped marks thoughtfully. Curling his fingers around one narrow wrist, Adam leads him toward the door, taking out his phone. "I'll tell Leah."

Kris is mostly unconscious in a huddle of blankets when a phone starts to ring and doesn't stop. Irritably, Adam tracks it down to the bathroom and finds Kris' phone half-buried in leather and two towels. Belatedly, it occurs to him that he doesn't actually have to answer Kris' phone, but Leah's name appears on the screen, and that can't be good news.

Coming out into the bedroom, Adam checks the clock and sighs as he answers. "He's asleep. This better be to say it was a lovely evening and we should all do this again sometime. Preferably with a lot less tequila so I can have a conversation with Kris that isn't primary making fun of my hair. Hilarious, but not something that improves with repetition."

Leah hesitates. "Adam?"

"If I open my laptop, what are the chances I'll find out why you called faster than you can tell me?"

"Pretty fucking good." Blowing out a breath, Adam hears the unmistakable flick of a lighter. "I don't know what the fuck happened--"

"I'd say Jared." Sitting on the edge of the bed, Adam verifies Kris is dead to the world; Adam had gotten two bottles of water into him before letting him go to sleep. "Baby, I feel for you, but--"

"It really wasn't his fault," Leah says breathlessly. "I don't make excuses for him, okay? Trust me, I learned the hard way not to do shit like that. He's stupid, but he--he and Dean had a fight at closing. I do know Jared was avoiding both of them, Dennis was with him if I couldn't be right until he went to get the car. Jared came because they asked and he knows us being here would help them out, but that was it. Publicity, you know?" There's an edge of bitterness in her voice; it had surprised her. Somehow, even after talking to Kris, he hadn't really thought she'd think it could be anything else.

"Yeah," Adam answers softly. "You think Dean provoked it?"

Leah hesitates. "I don't know. I know this though; every goddamn camera managed to get footage from start to finish. Jared won't say a goddamn word, but Dean doesn't have a mark on him," Fighting in public with the ex, perfect, "and neither does Rich." Both of them. No one can be that stupid. "My brother--" she stops uncomfortably. "He wouldn't do that. Not to them."

"No, this I actually believe." Closing his eyes, Adam tries to think. "What's his bail? This isn't his first offense, even if it's his first in Vegas, and tell me it's his first in Vegas? Just, don't even answer that question, we'll just say it is."

Leah's quiet for a few long seconds. "That's not why I called," she answers, voice painfully even, like she's fighting the urge to hang up on him.

"I know. And I know the standard contract rates. Did you call your publicist yet?"

"No," Leah admits. "I didn't think--"

"Get used to it. That's your first call; trust me, I learned that the really hard way. Tell her everything, do what she says, then call me back so I know what to tell Kris when he wakes up and sees this. If you can't get the money--"

"I can."

"--if you can't, make this easy on everyone and tell me, okay? Now I have to disable everything that has an internet connection in the room just in case Kris wakes up early. Get back to me. Soon." Hanging up, Adam wonders if anything good has ever come from a phone call after three am. That would be a big fat no.

Dropping Kris' phone on the bedside table, Adam hears Kris snort softly, the pile of blankets moving a little, and rolls his eyes at the fact that sure, he'll be up until dawn with this shit, but somehow, it's pretty much worth it.

Adam blinks slowly at the lack of covers and sheet, aware he's losing the fight to keep them and coming abruptly awake to see Kris unsubtly kicking the entire pile to the floor before sitting down, wet hair flattened on one side of his head and committing grand theft closet with a pair of Adam's sweatpants and a Grateful Dead t-shirt older than he is. "Hi," Adam says blearily, checking the clock. It's noon. There is no fucking way he needs to be up this early. "I don't know if I like you more than sleep; I want that on the record."

Kris holds up his phone. "I found this in a purple sequin jacket you haven't used since Toronto, still packed. Also, Leah hung up on me when I called to ask why my log shows six calls to her last night--"

"Jared got in a fight. It wasn't his fault. They're back in LA, please God. Long version is the same, but involves me staying awake for longer than two minutes. I want to sleep." Adam makes a vague grab for the phone and succeeds in missing entirely. Suppressing a yawn, he sighs. "Can I have my blankets back now?"

Kris frowns. "That was--disturbingly easy."

"Like I'm going to lie to you? TMZ has pictures, I think? I don't remember; it was nearly six and Leah was loading the entire crew on a plane without killing any of them. Sleep now, please?"

"They don't have enough to post bail," Kris says, dropping his phone. "I know they don't. I reviewed their contact before they signed."

Of course he did. It's Kris. "I can still buy food and shoes. I really don't need blankets; just be quiet, that'll work."

After a second, Kris crawls down, tossing the entire mass on the bed before untangling it, looking pensive. "Adam," Kris starts, careful, "you really didn't have to do that."

"I kind of wanted to leave him there for the night," Adam admits, getting a pillow. "But Leah sounded so stressed--"

"You really didn't--" Kris stops, shaking his head and finally, warmth, blankets all back in place. "You didn't do it for Leah."

Adam thinks about his answer; like everything in his life now, it's complicated. "I did it for Leah, because you told me--they worked for this. They fought for this. They don't deserve to lose it, not because Jared's an idiot and his exes are psychopaths or whatever."

Kris nods warily.

"Because you would have," Adam says finally. "They're important to you, whatever. He's working on your album. By definition, it's important to me."

Kris looks at him for a few seconds, biting his lip, before crawling across the bed, bending down to kiss him slow and sweet and like it could go on forever. They're getting very, very good at this, Adam thinks hazily, and some amount of time later, Kris pulls away, murmuring, "Okay, go to sleep. You're amazing. Probably knew that, but repeating it never hurt anyone."

"I may like you a little more than sleep sometimes," Adam answers as Kris settles down beside him, curling up with comfortable familiarity under his arm.

"I'm getting that impression, yeah," Kris murmurs back. "Feeling pretty secure."

"Okay, it's been twenty minutes and you're a five minute bathroom person," Adam tells the half-closed door, picking up his jacket from the sofa. "Are you shooting up? Because I'd, you know, understand. And wonder why you're not sharing."

Kris makes a faint protesting sound, but the door doesn't open, despite the fact they're running fifteen minutes late for the casinos and for once, it's not actually Adam's fault. He'll get the blame anyway, which is just. Typical.

It's only good manners to tap on the door when it's half-closed; it's not Adam's fault the hinges are so sensitive. To Adam's surprise, Kris is standing in front of the mirror, one hand braced on the counter and staring critically at his reflection. Kris turns toward him, flushing a little, like he was in fact caught shooting up, when really, he was just caught being totally hung up on himself. Leaning against the doorway, Adam crosses his arms, biting down on a grin. "How very Narcissus of you."

Giving Adam a frown, Kris looks back at the mirror for a second, eyes narrowed in dissatisfaction, though of what, Adam has no idea. Kris really has no bad angles. Even in bad light. "Okay. Show me how to do it."

Adam blinks slowly. "Repeat that?"

"The--" Kris makes a sweeping motion. "With the eyeliner."

"How long was I asleep?" Adam asks curiously, coming in the bathroom. "Can't be a mirror universe, no goatee--"

"How much Trek have you been watching lately?"

"Cute," Adam answers, "like I don't know you were worried you'd pass out when you met Leonard Nimoy--now let's rewind and start the show again. You want me to--"

Kris shrugs, turning from the mirror reluctantly. "What? It might be interesting. You know, to try it sometimes, whatever."

Adam cocks his head, trying to wrap his mind around what Kris is saying, text and subtext both. "You really did like it."

"It was okay," Kris answers warily at Adam's helpless smile. "Just different. I'm not opposed to knowing how to do that."

"I may not get a toaster," Adam answers seriously, "but this deserves like, measuring cups or something--"

Kris squeezes his eyes shut briefly, hot color sweeping over his cheeks. "Should have asked Leah," he mutters, turning back to the counter to pick up his wallet and shove it into the back of his jeans, shirt pulling up for a glimpse of pale golden skin and the dark oval smear at the hollow of his hip to match the tiny row of purpling smudges trailing down into the low rise of his jeans. Stepping up behind him, Adam watches as the collar of Kris' shirt slides enough to reveal a hint of near-black at the join of shoulder and neck before Kris turns around.

"I'll show you," Adam says, dragging his gaze away before Kris notices but not quite able to stop himself from reaching to fit his fingers over each tiny bruise from body memory. Kris looks up at him curiously. "What time is your flight tomorrow?"

"Noon, I think?" Kris grins, leaning into the counter. "Somehow, I doubt you'll be awake."

"For this? Not a problem. Now hurry up. We have gambling to do. And maybe eating. And some drinking. But mostly gambling."

Stepping back, Adam waits for Kris to precede him, watching as he picks up his shoes and sits down, giving Adam a suspicious look. "Okay, what?"

"Nothing," Adam says, leaning against the wall to watch. "You just look really good tonight."

Like all good intentions, they don't get back to the room until nearly three, because they're in Vegas and it's a goddamn universe of casinos. Kris had stuck to water the entire night, making him de facto responsible for seeing everyone to their rooms--or at least, someone's room, Adam's not judging anyone or anything--murmuring to Adam, "So you know, my turn to see you home safely."

Adam's about a third of the way to sober when Kris returns from dropping off the last of Adam's band, grinning as he shuts the door. "That took a while," Adam observes, trying to motivate himself to move.

"Tommy's girlfriend knows I'm here. She apparently wants a complete collection and isn't putting out until he's made out with everyone here. He showed me the pictures to try and convince me."

Adam snaps his gaze from the laces of his boots to Kris. "Did you?"

Locking the door, Kris grins. "He kind of passed out half-way through the recruitment speech. I forwarded you all the pictures on his phone, by the way."

"This is one of the many, many reasons I like you best." Reluctantly, Adam reaches for his boots again. They were not this hard to get on. Why the fuck did he think he wanted to deal with laces anyway? "I need scissors," he says, poking a finger at one hopeless tangle. "Or a knife?"

"Yeah, maybe not?" Toeing off his ridiculously easy to remove footwear, Kris crosses the room, batting Adam's fingers from the laces. "Just stop, you're making it worse." Before Adam can reply, Kris kneels between his feet, picking at the first knot carefully. "Wow, that's an impressive knot considering they were fine when we got here."

"They fought me," Adam answers absently, attention focused on Kris' bent head and wondering when the room had gotten so warm. "Is it just me or are they fucking with the air conditioner again?"

"Not just you," Kris says, looking up with a quick smile. "Tommy's room was like a furnace." Like the power of suggestion is very much in effect, Kris reaches one handed, opening two more buttons on his shirt with a sigh. "I called from his room to report it, so eventually it'll get fixed, I guess. And there." Pulling the laces loose nearly to his ankle, Kris eases the boot off and turns to the other one, finishing that one faster since Adam hadn't had time to make a snarl of it as well. "And we're done."

"Three cheers for sobriety," Adam murmurs distractedly as Kris braces a hand on his knee in preparation to stand up. "Though I admit your shot technique is impressive when you're not. As is your aim when faced with a toilet."

Kris rests his chin on his hand, looking rueful. "Fine, not my finest moment. But now I know my idea of bodyshots is really lame. So we all learned something new."

"I'm sure it's racy for straight boys from Arkansas," Adam tells him sincerely. "I was impressed! Really!"

Rolling his eyes, Kris gets to his feet, grabbing his shoes on the way to the bedroom. Adam toes off his socks before he follows, not willing to expend more effort than he has to, still a little lightheaded. "I was expressing my appreciation for your state not conforming to stereotypes."

"I so am not listening," Kris answers with a yawn. Catching him by the belt loops, Adam pulls him toward the bed. "Stereotypes, whatever," Kris mutters, settling on the balls of his feet, like Adam makes life way too difficult to deal with rationally.

"I said I was impressed." Sitting on the edge of the bed, Adam frowns at Kris' belt buckle, picking it open with careful, deliberate movements and sliding it out before reaching for the few tiny buttons still buttoned, which are gratifyingly few. Easing the collar down off Kris' shoulders, Adam watches his shirt puddle on the floor and gives it a vague kick toward the other side of the bedside table in a nod to neatness. The jeans are slightly more complicated, being ones Adam picked out and therefore fit distractingly well. Entertaining himself with each button, Adam grins at Kris' sigh. "Be still," he says when Kris shifts, tightening his hold on Kris' hip warningly. Kris stills. "Don't spoil my fun."

"Wouldn't dream of it." Adam glances up at the unfamiliar edge in Kris' voice; Kris is watching him, eyes dark, fingertips twitching against the denim over this thighs. Bemused, Adam flicks the next button open and Kris leans almost incrementally into it, like he doesn't even know he's doing it.

Alcohol makes pretty much anything a good idea; that was Adam eighteen to, well, now apparently. "Though," he murmurs, stroking the sharp jut of Kris' hip with his thumb, "I'll show you sometime how I do it."

Kris nods a little hazily, edging closer. "Yeah," he murmurs, "you should." Almost as if he can't quite help it, Kris touches his face, skidding along his cheek before coming to a tentative rest against his temple. It's so easy to lean forward, barely even that, press a soft kiss against Kris' skin, drag slowly up until he can brush his tongue against the soft skin below the sternum, easing to his feet when Kris thumb strokes against his cheek, encouraging. Almost dreamily, Adam pauses, mouthing up from the hollow of his throat and then straightening, stretching Kris up on his toes to lick into his mouth, make him work for it just a little.

Reaching up, Adam guides Kris' hand down, turning to tongue the center of his palm before easing his arm behind his back; Kris sways, balance now entirely resting on Adam's hand on his hip. Without being told, Kris moves his other arm so Adam can catch both wrists; squeezing once in approval, Adam steps back to look at the long stretch of Kris body, balanced on his toes and head tipped back, flush extending down his throat. He's incredible.

Letting go of his hip, Adam watches him sway briefly, shifting his balance back and using Adam's hold on his wrists to center himself. "Good boy," Adam breathes, pleased. "Hold that."

Kris eyes flicker half open, slits of swallowing black. Kris nods incrementally, adding, "Okay," husky-dark, when he realizes Adam wants a verbal answer. Adam leans down to kiss him, drawing back as Kris leans into it.

"Hold. Still."

Squeezing his eyes shut, Kris balances himself again. Sliding a hand into Kris' hair, he tilts his head back, kissing him again, biting at his lips, enjoying the tension he can feel the length of Kris' body, fighting not to move until Adam lets him. "Perfect," Adam says in his ear, touching his shoulder. "Down now."

Slowly, Kris lowers himself onto his heels, breath coming in quick starts. Adam reaches down, opening the two remaining buttons and lets go of Kris' wrists to ease his jeans slowly down and off before kicking them away.

Kris opens his eyes slowly, pupils blown wide. Tongue wetting his lips, he takes a breath, then bites his lip. "Go ahead," Adam asks, curious; the part of his mind wondering what the fuck he's doing has been quiet for way too long and Kris may provide substitute commentary.

"Oh." Blinking, Kris looks up, then back down, fixing on Adam's belt intently. "You could--you can't sleep like that."

"I could." Not comfortably, though. This particular belt is barely meant to be worn at all, much less slept in. Reaching behind Kris, he slides his fingers along the back of Kris' right hand, then draws it around, pressing a kiss against the palm. "Go ahead."

With another flickering glance up, Kris touches the buckle with unsteady fingers before he seems to remember how they work. Slowly, Kris gets the buckle open, pulling the belt free, tipping his head back for Adam to kiss him when it hits the floor. Shirt next, fumbling along the hem as he pulls it up, watching the reveal of skin intently until Adam finishes pulling it over his head, Kris kissing him almost as soon as he clears the soft material, mouth wet and hungry.

Kris works open the jeans with both hands, impatient, fingers working beneath the waist and peeling them down by increments, brushing the bare skin to the edge of his boxers before murmuring breathlessly, "Wouldn't have guessed you could fit underwear under those," making Adam giggle into his shoulder for a few long seconds, tonguing the still-dark bruise before straightening, watching a little dazedly as Kris drops to his knees to pull them the rest of the way off.

Getting to his feet, Kris stretches up again for Adam to kiss him; it's so much easier to reach down and pick him up, taste Kris' startled moan, legs closing instantly around Adam's hips and leaning into it, wrapping his arms around Adam's neck and sucking on his tongue, cock hard and hot against the bare skin of Adam's stomach through the soft, thin cotton of his boxer-briefs.

"Adam," Kris breathes, pulling back, mouth swollen red, sleepy-eyed, making Adam remember what he'd thought once about Kris and understanding intent, the fine line that separates when you're playing and when you mean it and mean to have it. He might just be getting there. It's probably luck that Adam's too tired to do anything with that, since his judgment doesn't give a flying fuck, but that doesn't mean he has to like it.

"Shh, baby," Adam says, kissing him quiet and kneeling on the bed to ease Kris down, warm and clinging. "That's it, shh, there we go," managing to get the blankets back somehow and under them, shoving a knee between Kris' legs and relaxing into the comfort of the mattress, both of them falling asleep between slow, sleepy kisses, Kris' hands tangled in his hair and ankle locked behind his knee, holding on.

Somewhere in there, Kris whispers, soft and bruised and bruising in turn, I don't want to go, breathed helplessly against his throat, and Adam tells him Neither do I, with his hands sliding up his back, with his tongue in his mouth, with his teeth against his skin. It's okay to say that, to want that; it won't change the fact that Kris will leave anyway.

He can still feel the ghosts of those sleepy touches when he wakes up, strangely vivid even through the vague beginnings of a headache as Kris says, "Hey, Cale just called from the lobby, I gotta go."

"Um." Reaching out blindly, Adam finds flannel and almost sighs, squinting up at Kris in Arkansas drag, hair still wet. Kris smiles uncertainly, twitchy in a way that crosses between sleep deprivation and something else entirely. "What time is it?"

"Nine thirty." Kris nods at Adam's wince. "Yeah, going straight to bed when I get home. I have a flight to Arkansas tomorrow, so not a lot of time to sleep. Kind of guessing I won't be showing up at the studio for a few days. Those days don't count on the schedule."

Sitting up, Adam tries to think, frowning at the clock, then reluctantly forcing himself to shove back the blankets. "Yeah, okay, just--" Getting to his feet, Adam shakes himself and then sees room service and coffee, because Kris is just that fucking awesome. "Coffee, give me two minutes. And wait--Arkansas?"

"Yeah." Kris shrugs without looking up, playing with his phone. "See my parents, pick up some boxes from the house, a couple of things to clear up. At least a week of meals to bring home with me if I'm very lucky and look very, very hungry."

Conway. Fuck. Adam blinks away the remainder of his exhaustion and ignores the headache with flagrant do not have time for this. "Tell Cale you'll meet him at the airport," Adam says as he pours. "I'll call a taxi when we're done." With half his attention, he listens to Kris call Cale as he goes to the bathroom, sorting automatically through his entire collection until Kris comes to the bathroom door. "Come here."

"Don't think we have time now for makeup tips," Kris says, gamely tucking away his phone and looking in curiosity at Adam's favorite MAC concealer. "What--"

"Quick lesson," Adam says, stepping back and gesturing pointedly. "Face the mirror and watch what I'm doing. You'll need to--tomorrow? How long?"

"Um, a couple of days…" Kris breaks off as Adam strips off the flannel, tilting Kris' head until he sees exactly why he's about to get a crash course in the art of concealer. "Oh."

"Five days for that to fade, give or take," Adam says, pushing down the collar of the t-shirt so Kris gets the entire effect. He hadn't been at all careful last night, and abruptly, Adam remembers hours in the casino and the open collar of Kris' shirt, wondering what exactly Tommy and Cale might have seen. He's never had to do this before, had to think like this; coverage because it's kind of tacky to wander around with hickeys feels entirely different. Maybe because it is. Reaching down, Adam waits until Kris lifts his arms, then pulls off the t-shirt.

Kris' eyes are fixed on it, watching as Adam dabs with one finger. "Luckily, you haven't been in the sun much," Adam says as lightly as he can, tilting Kris' head. Touching the center of the bruise, Adam sees a tiny line appear in the center of Kris' forehead. "Does it hurt?"

"Not--exactly." Kris wets his lips self-consciously, flushing. "Just feel it whenever I move."

Adam hesitates as that penetrates, then makes himself continue. "Watch. You don't need much." Carefully, Adam smears it over the darkest bruising. It's still a little too light, but not enough that anyone would notice unless Kris was under direct sunlight and someone was really looking for it. Blending the edges, Adam watches Kris in the mirror. The slight frown hasn't gone away. "Can you do this? It's this or really careful wardrobe choices for the next few days. Choose your poison, baby."

After a moment, Kris nods. "I can do it."

Closing the container, Adam puts it in his hand, trying to smile normally. "It's a great responsibility. Use it wisely."

"Thanks." Kris smiles back, equally unconvincing, and Adam gets his shirt, easing it back on so the collar won't smear it, then the flannel shirt over that. "Adam--"

"I'll have to replace that, you know," Adam says, pushing him toward the door and turning off the light, both uneasy and suddenly angry in a way he can't quite make himself think about too much, not while Kris is standing there, looking a little lost. "Hey, hey, it's Vegas. I can find more."

Kris nods, smile fading. Adam goes back to the cart for a second cup of coffee so he doesn't have to look at Kris' face. "So tell your parents--"

"You didn't have to do that."

"Because your mother wouldn't notice? Or ask?" And that came out not at all calm or rational. Taking a breath, Adam turns around. "Don't worry about it. Want me to call you a cab?"

Kris hesitates, fingers absently picking at his belt. "Nah, there's always some around." Back straightening, he smiles quickly and without even the pretense of believability. "See you soon, okay?"

It sounds so much more like a question than it should be. Putting down his cup, Adam catches his hand and pulls him into a hug, feeling the tension running through him like a guitar string drawn far too tight. "A month," he murmurs into Kris' ear. "I want you to make me dinner and I want a movie and I want an announcement that Jared's joined the Peace Corps."

"Two out of three?" Kris answers, just a little wavery.

"I could live without the movie," Adam answers, pulling back so he can see Kris' face. Adam brushes a quick kiss against his forehead, like he actually thinks he can limit himself to that, which he doesn't, because this is something they do now. Pulling back an unknown amount of time later, Adam makes himself look away from Kris' reddened mouth and hazy eyes, because there's a plane that won't wait no matter how much Adam tries to will it to. "Tell your parents hi for me. And tell your mom I'm losing weight and you're terribly worried."

Kris smiles hopefully, the tight grip of his fingers easing a hair from frantic. "Chocolate chip, right?"

Adam nods seriously. "Of course."

In four weeks and fourteen of twenty working days (excluding weekends that Leah swears the studio is padlocked or something) that Kris keeps to his schedule, Adam sends Kris: one (1) set of measuring cups; one (1) set of measuring spoons; one (1) blender; a package of eight (8) postcards from Papua New Guinea that Adam thought were incredibly profound at three in the morning and bought from a street vendor after two clubs and a bar; one (1) beginner's origami kit that he has no excuse for other than the hilarity factor of imagining Kris' face when he opens the package; one (1) lamp made entirely of sea shells from San Diego; five (5) separate quirky hats, one of which is a beret made entirely of hemp; three (3) hermit crabs with hand painted shells (one escaped in the bus; Adam sees it every so often in flashes of red-gold under his bed); eight (8) linen napkins and one (1) tablecloth for a dining room table that does not yet exist, which he blames entirely on acid and the too-convenient location of Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and because Tommy didn't say no when he thought it was a great idea to go, possibly also due to acid.

(Also acquired: a paraffin foot wax kit for Tommy; a set of silver candlesticks from the clearance aisle, because no one passes up a clearance aisle; one set of red plaid flannel sheets, which even while high Adam has to admit is a little questionable but ungodly warm; a Wii organizer that can hold up to four controllers, a Wii, sixteen games and a Wii guitar; twenty-two scented candles; and a suede blanket backed with fleece that comes with a fleece-lined suede teddy bear. Adam admits nothing.)

In four weeks, Kris sends him: a picture of every origami shape he masters, culminating in a Fed-Ex delivery of a box containing three (3) boats, four (4) swans, two (2) bears, six (6) boxes, nine (9) esoteric but recognizable hats (one that could be a very bad beret), ten (10) cranes (out of a thousand to gain a wish, which would be that Adam reconsider his idea to put the sea shell lamp in a place where anyone, ever, would see it), and an impromptu and carefully folded shape which Adam realizes after baffled consideration and consultation with no less than five (5) random strangers at 7-Eleven could be a single finger sticking up from something not unlike a badly misshapen fist; the prerelease of the OPI Christmas collection in limited edition holiday colors; three dozen (36) chocolate chip cookies, one (1) rum cake, and a dozen (12) cupcakes from Kim, along with a worried two (2) page letter from her regarding nutrition, stress, and eating healthy while on tour; a picture of the seashell lamp hidden beneath what appears to be Kris' bed; a tiny cactus that can survive five days in a box; an a capella recording of Leah and Kris singing Good Girls Gone Bad as made famous by Cobra Starship featuring Leighton Meester, with Kris singing the part of Leighton; twenty links to RedTube with no warnings and associated trauma after viewing (he could just not click, but well. He clicks); and Mario Kart II, which leads to a twenty-four hour tournament that Adam wins on the strength of excellent reflexes and sabotaging everyone else's wiimotes when they were stupid enough to leave them unattended.

(Also: twenty-two phone calls, one hundred and sixty-five text messages, seventy-four email, one long-running argument over Beatles versus Elvis (optional addition versus Michael Jackson), because like Superman versus Batman, it's something you have to do; and five playlists, the mix tape of the digital age.)

Adam hasn't been a teenager in a long time, but giggling insanely through Kris' tres inspiring "Songs To Die in the Street in the Rain To" before each show, he's really beginning to see a resemblance these days. He's a decade too old to be in love like this, crazy and manic and shocked, effervescent like a headrush from too much champagne drank far too fast, as glittering bright as any stage he's ever owned, ridiculously cute, awed and amused at himself by turn. He doesn't think he can (doesn't want to) forget how this feels. Not ever again.

Early Saturday mornings are Kris' kryptonite; Adam's learned from experience that Kris is not only unfiltered but pretty unwary when he's in that nebulous state post-sleep but pre-coffee, since he always, always forgets to program the coffee maker the night before.

It's not like Adam's any better, but it's for a good cause, that being Adam's entertainment; hitting the alarm at eight, grateful for the time zone difference, he forces down two cups and tries to remember why he ever thought this was a good idea.

Picking up the phone and clutching his third cup (from Starbucks, because if he has to be up, he sees no reason not to torture someone who can also go get him a latte), Adam waits as it rings and rings and finally, Kris coming on, sounding very, very Arkansas.

Abruptly, Adam feels much more awake. "Morning, baby. Sleep well?"

"Um." From the other side of the phone, he hears Kris yawning, the sound of the sheets being moved this way and that. "Adam?"

"Kris, are you entertaining other gentleman callers at dawn?" Settling back, Adam sips his latte.

"What?" There's a heavy noise that sounds a great deal like Kris just hit his head on his still-unattached headboard and a muffled sentence that sounds pretty profane. Biting his lip against a giggle, Adam waits. "No?"

"You're not sure?"

"Um, wait. Adam? It's--" Kris pauses. "It's seven. What did I do to you recently?"

"I should tell Brad about your morning voice," Adam says thoughtfully, taking another sip.

This early, even blatant sexual innuendo would take a while to penetrate, and that was pretty subtle, for Adam, anyway. "Okay? Adam, it's seven--"

"So it is." Adam glances out the window at the quickly-moving landscape, biting his lip against a giggle at the pained sound of Kris' voice. "So, you never told me you were the kind of boy who got drunk and performed in random Austin clubs."

There's a much less muffled sound this time; Adam winces, making a note to mention padding that headboard or something. It's a few long seconds before Kris comes back on the line, sounding marginally more awake. "How did you--"

"Jared and I bonded," Adam answers seriously. "Or he just wanted to show off he knew something I didn't. Now I know, so that wasn't a clever plan, no. Tell me about it."

"Um." Kris hesitates. "I went to Austin. Jared and Leah plied me with margaritas and made me sing." Adam can almost see Kris' little frown of concentration. "Jared was just out of rehab and kind of--not enthusiastic. I think that was what he considered an audition for the privilege of having him tell me I'm a creative sellout for months on end."

"Charming boy. I see why you like him so much."

The other side of the phone remains silent; Adam had expected embarrassment, but not this level of thought from Kris, especially at fucking seven in the morning. "Kris?"

"Um." Kris hesitates. "It was interesting?"

"It was a good performance," Adam says, relenting enough to be generous. It's early.

"I guess?" Kris sounds slightly more certain; from the sound of things, he's shifting toward the edge of the bed, maybe with the goal of getting up to pursue caffeine. "No one threw anything and--"

"And Jared became less artistic after that."

"Not really." Kris' voice reflects rueful amusement. "But by the time I agreed, he was getting pretty frustrated with how the album was going, so he restrained himself."

Adam starts to answer, then pauses, sidetracked from early-morning mockery; this is new and weirdly contradictory information. "Huh. I thought you said you met Leah at SXSW?"

"Yeah, I did." Kris yawns as he pads toward the kitchen. "But it was--" Kris yawns again, almost covering the sound of the tap being turned on. "God, I didn't have time. Couldn't be in LA that much."

Adam watches the passing landscape, a city growing slowly larger in the distance, wondering how he'd missed this. "By the time they started recording, you were in LA a lot more, though," Adam says lightly. "That was convenient."

In the background, Adam hears the coffeemaker start to brew and knows he can mark the time he has left in minutes. "Really wasn't a reason not to then, yeah," Kris murmurs sleepily. Adam can picture him, slumped against the island, watching the coffee as if that would somehow speed it up.

"I suppose I can't complain about them too much, then," Adam adds carefully. "It was pretty convenient for me, too." From the other side of the phone, Adam can almost feel Kris straightening, mind coming online as the smell of coffee permeates the haze of sleep. "Whatever, so do you and Leah takes requests? I would so kill for that Aaron Neville/Linda Rhonstadt duet. You'd do a very pretty Linda."

"…how do you even know who they are?"

"Like my mother doesn't have all her albums," Adam answers absently, leaning his head against the window and shutting his eyes. "I Don't Know Much. Come on, for me?"

He lets Kris go back to sleep after another twenty minutes; even coffee can't compete with a late dinner meeting the night before. Hanging up, Adam stares at the phone for a while, sipping his now-cold latte and trying to convince himself this isn't a decision, just an acknowledgement of something that's already true.

Dialing, Adam curls up more comfortably on the couch and waits for Alex to answer.

Adam won't say he's counting the hours until he's free to take a flight to LA exactly; he loves touring, and he loves performing, and God does he love fans, manic and frenzied and brilliant, the explosive energy that builds from the moment he steps on stage and the adrenaline-crashing wind-down after. There's nothing, nothing like it. But it's nice to have something to look forward to after that, too.

Barely bothering to do more than change into jeans and a t-shirt, Adam's still a little strung out on the dressing room floor, ipod playing Kris' aptly named "The Tour Post-Coital Mix".

Tommy materializes above him, looking indulgent. Reaching up, Adam lazily slips an earbud free, smiling hazily. "Hey, baby."

"Hey yourself." Sitting cross-legged by his shoulder, Tommy bends down and picks up the earbud, listening for a second, then shakes his head, reaching to ruffle Adam's hair. "I don't even need to ask how you're doing, hmm?"

Adam wrinkles his nose and sighs happily.

"Jim's outside," Tommy says, apropos of nothing. "He asked me to check with you on a visitor. You up for it?"

Adam hums his complete and utter peace with the universe. The only thing that could be better would be making out with someone now, feel this hum against someone else's skin; grinning at Tommy, he cocks his head. Tommy blinks slowly, leaning down, then stops himself abruptly. "Christ, baby," Tommy breathes, biting his lip. "Trust me when I say, I'm tempted. But I'm betting in five seconds you won't even remember that I'm here."

"I don't mind watching," someone says from the door, amused. Blinking, Adam turns his head and sees Kris leaning against the doorway, eyebrows raised. Holding up his phone, Kris cocks his head. "Shea and I would appreciate the new material."

"Kris," Adam breathes, pushing up on one arm, ignoring Tommy giggling semi-hysterically against his shoulder. "What are you--?"

"I'm not allowed in the studio after seven," Kris says, mouth curving in a grin as he comes inside. "With all that free time you've scheduled me, I had some time to kill. Thought I'd fly back with you tomorrow morning. Cale and the guys are laying some new tracks until noon and don't need me." Kris thinks about it. "Not sure I'd care if they did, really."

Adam nods, unable to stop smiling, watching Kris unzipping the hoodie he'd stolen from Adam in Vegas and still hasn't bothered to return. He looks rumpled and a little tired, fair enough after a few hours on a plane, hair sticking up a little and damp from the intermittent rain that's been standard for the last two days, but mostly something else, lit up inside in a way that Adam doesn't think he's ever seen in Kris off a stage, and maybe not even then. It's impossible to look away even if he wanted to; he doesn't.

"I think," Tommy says, bringing himself under control with a visible effort, "that I'm going to go find something to do that's not here." Getting up, he pulls Kris into a one-armed hug before he shuts the door with exaggerated care behind him.

Kris flips the lock, brown eyes dancing as he crosses the room, planting a foot on either side of Adam's hips, nearly bouncing on the balls of his feet. "Hey," he murmurs, softer. "Someone had very a good time on stage tonight."

"I did." Adam offers the free earbud, stretching back out on the floor. "I like this one."

"Hmm." Dropping to his knees, Kris braces a hand over his shoulder and takes it, head tilting a little, then pulls it out, mouth against Adam's ear. "Bet I can help you relax." Tucking the bud back into place, he lifts his head, pressing a soft kiss against Adam's mouth.

Groping a little, Adam flips off the ipod and pulls out the earbuds, then curls a hand around Kris' neck, opening his mouth lazily at the first gentle press of Kris' tongue, sweet and slow and impossibly good. Kris brushes his knuckles along his cheek, trailing down his neck, and for a second, Adam's thinks there's something different, but Kris is pressing soft, quick kisses against his mouth, the tip of his nose, just below his ear, coming back for another deep, drugging kiss whenever Adam catches his breath.

Adam doesn't even realize he's pushing up the back of Kris' t-shirt beneath the hoodie until Kris says, "Yeah, hold on," and sits up, pulling the hoodie off before bending down again, warm and pliant when Adam touches him, sucking kisses down the side of his throat and pulling down the collar of his shirt to lick at the hollow of his throat. Sliding his fingers through Kris' hair, Adam feels his breath catch when Kris scrapes his teeth along his collarbone.

"I watched tonight from the audience," Kris says, elbows resting on either side of Adam's head. "Somehow, I always forget how amazing you are on stage."

Adam thinks of the crowd with a faint stir of alarm, stroking up the length of Kris' spine, skin soft and a little damp from sweat. "Hmm. You're not doing that again--"

"Jim already told me I'm not allowed to do that anymore," Kris whispers, pressing his forehead against Adam's. "Totally worth it to see you like that, though. I thought I'd take you to dinner and maybe we could go out for a few hours if you want." Reaching down, Kris catches Adam's hand, bringing it to his lips, mouthing over the knuckles. "Whatever you want."

Adam hesitates, watching Kris' tongue slip almost accidentally against his rings, and abruptly recognizes what he's looking at. Sitting up, Adam turns Kris' hand, running his thumb over the bare finger, the ring of too-pale skin, then looks at Kris.

"This is a statement," Kris says slowly, eyes fixed on Adam's thumb stroking over the bare skin. "Just so you know.

Adam takes a deep breath, dizzy, wondering. "Just so you know," he answers unsteadily, "so is this."

Wrapping an arm around Kris' waist, Adam eases him back against the floor, pushing a knee between Kris' legs and swallowing Kris' startled gasp, working his mouth open and pliant. Kris' hands settle against his back, hot through the thin t-shirt, closing impatiently over the cotton before pulling it up, fingertips skidding across bare skin.

Shoving Kris' shirt up, Adam ducks his head, mouthing down the center of his chest, warm skin, faintly salty, the smooth, flat belly and light trail of hair he follows with his tongue. Kris fingers brush against his face uncertainly, threading through his hair, hips arching a little helplessly, hard beneath the soft denim.

"I--had a plan," Kris says breathlessly, one sneaker pressing against the back of Adam's thigh impatiently. Adam buries a giggle against Kris's stomach, nipping the soft skin. "God, Adam, the answer is yes, please. Want me to beg?" Kris voice drops, husky-soft. "I will, you know."

Fuck. Pushing up, Adam shoves Kris' thigh over, kneeling between his legs, catching Kris' mouth in a kiss before he can say anything else, or this will be over so much faster than it already is going to be. "A plan," he says when he finally has to breathe. "This, I have to hear."

Kris smirks, reaching down, nails skidding against Adam's stomach before his fingertips slide under the waist of his jeans, thumb pressing against the button. Biting back a groan, Adam nods shakily, and Kris works it open, murmuring, "Could these be any tighter?"

Adam starts to answer, but Kris wins his fight with the zipper, both hands pushing the denim down and holy fuck, fingers trailing the length of his cock.

"Now these jeans couldn't fit underwear underneath them," Kris says breathlessly, cheeks pink. Not tentatively at all, Kris wraps his hand around him, guitar-callused fingers catching on the sensitive skin. "Tell me if I'm doing it wrong," he says almost seriously, but the effect's ruined by the quick breathes that break the sentence three times, the way Kris' hips push up helplessly. Adam bites his lip, licking the captured skin greedily and then flicks open Kris' jeans and pushes them down, dragging his fingers up the length of his cock once as Kris' hand tightens convulsively. "God," Kris breathes. "Adam, please--"

"I want to hear," Adam stops, squeezing his eyes shut as Kris gets more comfortable, thumb brushing curiously over the head, obviously adapting what he does to himself to a new angle and that's beyond hot. "About. The plan." Stroking gently over Kris' forehead, he slips his fingers into Kris hair and pulls, bending to suck a kiss into the arch of his throat. "Now."

"Ohh." Kris shivers, relaxing beneath Adam. "Adam. This. Dinner, maybe go out for a while, but this. In your bed on the bus. Or the couch. Or--"

"I like your plans," Adam murmurs in his ear, lifting Kris' knee until he gets the idea and the long thighs wrap around his waist. Brushing Kris' hand off his cock with an effort, he shifts his hips, pressing them together, and Kris arches, making a sound Adam's never heard anyone make before. "When did you decide this?" he says; he's about five seconds from losing words altogether and he wants these to count.

"Before I left Vegas."

God. "Kris," Adam breathes, cupping his face, feeling Kris start to shake. Kissing him softly, Adam reaches for his hip and twists, groaning at the drag against his cock, the way Kris goes still, thighs tightening before he comes; Adam swallows every sound Kris makes, kissing him through the aftershocks before pulling away and burying his mouth against Kris shoulder, mouthing helplessly along the skin and nosing the collar of his shirt aside, shuddering as the first hot shock crawls down his spine, biting the thick muscle, almost there, fuck….

Kris presses his lips against his ear. "I won't hide that one," drawled thick like poured honey, and Adam's done, coming against Kris' slick belly and wrung-out completely. Kris drapes a lazy arm around his shoulders, still panting, locking his ankles behind Adam's back with the clear message not to move, like maybe ever.

After a while, Adam pushes himself up, brushing the sweaty hair from Kris' face, poking his nose lightly so he'll open his eyes. Which he does, glazed over and utterly content. "Don't let go."

Adam kisses his soft mouth a little helplessly. "I'm not."

Adam finally finds a shirt that won't look ludicrously large in what he brought over with him, having to settle with "definitely borrowed from Adam" a soft hand-painted cotton he'd picked up in India. His objection to Kris' inability to judge appropriate clothing size is, in this case, not so much a problem. "I told Tommy we'd meet them in thirty minutes," Kris says, pulling it over his head, words muffled. "That was over an hour ago."

"Pretty sure he ignored you," Adam says, waiting for Kris to hold out a resigned hand and pulling him off the couch; it's habit and so ingrained that Adam hadn't thought anything of it, really, except now he does. There's a lot, he suspects, that he does and Kris lets him that he hasn't noticed.

After Kris picks up the hoodie of late-night anonymity, Adam turns him to check the collar, the reddened edge just visible if you know where to look. Kris tilts his head back, rolling his eyes like Adam is just that annoying.

They're down to minimal staff who pretend not to look at them, and Jim, who gives Kris a narrow-eyed look of warning about going out alone in overly excited, large concert crowds alone, which Adam supports entirely. "So I'm feeling take out eventually," he says thoughtfully, draping an arm around Kris' shoulders. "Later. Objections?"

Kris thinks about it. "Not really, no."

Adam's not sure there's any point in significant amounts of sleep when they're only a few hours away from an eternity at airport security; it's not like he's anywhere near being able to sleep anyway. Brushing a kiss against the back of Kris' neck, he eases the sheet down enough to mouth the curve of his spine, stroking over the skin of his bare hip. Adam very much approves of clothing-optional sleeping.

"Mmmph." Kris turns his head on the pillow, eyes half-closed. "So you insist I work on your schedule for the sake of my sleep, and yet--"

"That's different," Adam breathes, pleased when Kris shivers. Dragging his teeth between Kris' shoulder blades up to his shoulders, he presses his lips against Kris' ear. "It wasn't me keeping you awake."

"That's--" Kris smiles, arching into Adam's hands at every touch, "--yeah. Okay."

Adam thinks distantly of the questions he probably needs to ask--that Kris doubtless expects him to ask at some point, for clarification if not reassurance--but right now, it's so much less important than this. It's surprising to realize how much he's been holding back, even with Kris, who never drew a line for Adam to cross, indulging himself with the freedom to touch Kris however he wants, as long as he wants, aware of how badly Kris wants that too, skin hunger like an unslakable craving Adam can feel every time Kris shifts into his hands, against his mouth, his body, still for it the way he isn't anywhere else.

Easing Kris back against his chest, warm, naked skin, Adam hooks his chin over his shoulder, sliding his fingers along Kris' thigh in a slow tease, skipping the half-hard cock to skim up his chest, flick a pink nipple hard between his nails. Kris starts, arching back against him, ass pressing back against Adam's cock. Picking up Kris' hand, Adam kisses the palm before licking, slow and careful, feeling Kris watching him with wide eyes, getting it wet.

"I want to watch," he murmurs against Kris' ear, guiding his hand down until Kris wraps it around his own cock, breath catching in a whine in the back of his throat. Watching Kris' hand start to move, a little awkward and uncertain at first, Adam tries to remember where the lube is and why he hadn't found that first. "Keep going," he murmurs, watching the flushed head push out between Kris' fingers, dark red against the golden skin, sucking an approving kiss into Kris' shoulder before groping beneath the pillow as subtly as he can, fingers closing over the tiny bottle and pulling it out.

"Adam," Kris breathes, tilting his head back, throat stretched long and perfect. Slicking his fingers, he eases a knee between Kris', opening him up. It's a fucking amazing view. "Oh," Kris breathes, free hand closing around the edge of the pillow when Adam urges his thighs farther apart, trailing wet fingers down his side and leaving shiny streaks against his inner thigh, stroking gently just behind his balls to get the startled shiver.

"Keep going," Adam breathes against his ear when Kris' hand falters, stroking back toward the tiny hole incrementally, getting him comfortable with being touched. Hesitantly, Kris starts again, eyes squeezed shut in concentration, and Adam smiles, kissing the corner of his mouth in approval before his fingertips trace a slow circle around the supersensitive skin around his hole.

"God," Kris breathes, jerking a little as Adam eases his legs open more, tracing tiny, distracting circles as Kris' breath comes quicker, almost shocked. "Adam--"

"You're doing fine," Adam murmurs, pressing just a little, feeling Kris' reaction all along every inch of his body. "Don't come yet. I want to suck you off."

Kris cock jerks in his fingers, head slicking more with every slide of Kris' hand. There's a little give, enough for Adam to slide his fingertip in, slick and smooth and impossibly tight.

"I'm going to watch you," Adam says softly, pleased Kris shivers at the sound of his voice, pushes down against his finger almost by accident, "and when you can take two fingers, I'll let you come in my mouth."

Kris stills all over, hand tightening around his cock for a second like he can't remember what he was doing. Adam nuzzles his neck before easing in to the first knuckle, nipping Kris' neck when he doesn't move. "Don't stop until I tell you to," Adam says against his skin. "Do it."

Kris starts again, jerky and nervous; Adam mouths along his jaw for a few seconds until the rhythm picks back up, licking between the parted lips in reward; Kris jerks a little when Adam slides his finger in the rest of the way, unmoving, letting him get used to the feeling of having something in his ass when he's this turned on. "How does that feel?"

Kris hesitates, biting his lip. "Weird," he manages after a second, voice high and a little uncertain. Easing it halfway out before sliding it back in, Adam eases his other arm under Kris' head and watches Kris face start to flush, skin breaking out in a light sweat. "Not bad," he adds, eyes clouding over a little, hips jerking up into his fist now with every thrust.

"Good boy." Pulling out, Adam pulls his hand away from his cock to lick it slow and slick and wet before wrapping it back around him. "That's it," he says, chin pressing into Kris' shoulder as he slicks his fingers and pushes one back in without waiting. Kris arches, startled, but Adam doesn't stop, matching the rhythm of Kris' fist for a few seconds, concentrating on letting Kris get used to it, the impossible tightness easing around him before starting to work in a second finger. Kris' breath catches hard in his throat, but his hand doesn't stop this time. "Shh, baby, you're doing fine."

Kris nods, shuddering every time Adam moves his fingers. Grinning, Adam kisses the side of his face and waits until Kris moves easily with him, matching the rhythm Adam set with his fingers, then twists, a tiny stretch before brushing his fingertip against the sensitive spot that make Kris gasp helplessly, cock jerking between his fingers and shaking all over. "Adam," he chokes out, eyes screwed closed, hand tight around the head of his dick. "Adam, please, please--"

"Almost there, baby." Adam twists his fingers again, stretching him even more and keeping pressure on that spot until Kris is twisting against him, attention split between his hand on his cock and Adam's fingers in his ass, desperate, leaking over his own fingers and about to fall apart. Adam won't push him that hard the first time; kissing his slack mouth, Adam rolls him onto his back and mouths down his chest, pushing his hand away and taking him into his mouth, curling his fingers one more time and holding Kris down when he arches off the bed, coming shocked silent and shaking, clenching almost painfully tight around his fingers.

Easing them out, Adam wraps his slick fingers around his cock, kissing Kris' soft mouth and rutting against his belly, letting Kris taste himself. It doesn't take too much; just remembering Kris around his fingers, Kris moving under his direction, is more than enough.

Shifting back to the bed beside him, Adam wipes his fingers through the come slicking Kris' belly, drawing wet circles around each hard nipple before licking them clean, tilting Kris head up, eyes glazed over and wiping two fingers through what remains before feeding them between Kris' swollen pink lips, watching him suck, tongue slipping between his fingers. Pulling them out, Adam bends for another kiss, licking the taste of both of them from Kris' tongue before drawing back. "Good for you, baby?" he says, grinning at Kris' incredulous look and pulling him into his arms, skin sticking to skin. "I'll take that as a yes."

They get back to LA just after noon the next day; Kris calls Cale from Adam's bed to tell him he won't be in, sounding husky and strung out and ridiculously hot, watching Adam dress, pack, and do a bare minimum of clean-up so intently that Adam loses track of what he's doing to crawl back on the bed and push him down into the mess of flannel sheets and pillows. They make it to the airport and through security just as boarding begins, which may be lucky, because Adam can't imagine sitting with him in the first class lounge without touching him no matter who is watching.

Kris falls asleep an hour into the flight, seat tilted back and head resting on Adam's shoulder; beneath the blanket, his hand covers Adam's on his thigh, fingers threaded between his, as Adam strokes a soothing path from hip to knee. It's probably weird and not a little creepy to watch someone sleeping, but Adam does it anyway, memorizing the warmth of Kris body against his, face softened in sleep, trying to make this feel as real as it has to be.

Adam calls for a driver as they get off the plane, finding Kris' sunglasses and straightening his hoodie when Kris shows a disinclination to pay any attention to his surroundings. It's not even residual sleepiness; Adam's been front and center of what sometimes felt like every camera in the known world, performed on stages for live audiences that numbered in the ten thousands and television audiences in the millions, but it's nothing like being the entire focus of Kris Allen's attention to the exclusion of everyone and everything else.

Adam had never had any partners who had ever expressed any kind of sexual identity crisis (with or near him, in any case), which in retrospect was something of an advantage, since by the time it occurred to him he should worry, Kris was trying to unbutton his jeans after pushing him onto the couch and kneeling between his feet, looking some startlingly hot cross between really turned on and a little clinical, like he's looking at a score with notation he's not sure works with the melody line.

"…so you'll have to tell me," Kris says seriously, tugging at the waist of his jeans until Adam belatedly lifts his hips and lets him pull down denim and boxer-briefs at once, callused fingers sliding over his belly before wrapping around the base of his cock. Adam opens his mouth to answer--with what, he has no idea--before Kris fits his mouth over the head of his cock and all bets are off.

A few white-hot moments later, Kris pulls off, thumb wiping along his lower lip. "That okay so far?"

Adam opens his mouth to answer, torn between staring at Kris' wet, wet mouth and the hand sliding casually up and down his cock; the question takes a few long seconds to penetrate and even longer before Adam realizes Kris is waiting for an answer. "Um." Licking his lips, he tries again. "Yes?"

"You're not sure?" Kris widens his eyes. "You entertain a lot of blowjobs recently--?" Kris twists his wrist, reminding Adam of the way Kris plays a guitar, then smiles, all teeth and a little mean, like he's remembering when someone woke him up with a phone call at seven in the morning. Torn between a laugh and a groan, Adam watches Kris go back down, a little clumsy but not at all unsure, which argues he's either thought about this pretty carefully--an impossibly hot thought that Adam has to push away before this ends like, now--or that he's been paying close attention to the people who do this for him.

"Not…really--" Adam catches his breath when Kris' lips slide lower, taking another inch in his mouth, tongue working around the head with a kind of slow thoroughness that just might kill him. "--fuck, Kris…."

Kris tightens his grip around the base and then pulls off with a wet, sucking sound. "Tell me if I'm doing anything wrong," he says, still smiling, but he means it, too. Vaguely, Adam gropes for words.

"Kris," he manages as Kris twists his wrist again, realizing his fingers are digging painfully into the leather of the couch, "short of requiring a visit to the ER for stitches," God, a handjob shouldn't be this good, "there's no possible way you can do this wrong."

Kris raises his eyebrows in polite disbelief instead of putting his mouth back where it obviously needs to be like, now. "Is that supposed to be reassuring?"

"It's supposed to be embarrassing," Adam breathes, squeezing his eyes shut when Kris bends his head to lick up the length curiously, "for me. Kris--"

Without another word, Kris takes the head back in his mouth, wet and messy and with the occasional uncomfortable scrape of teeth, which should be so much more irritating than it is, but when Adam manages to make himself look, it just doesn't matter. Kris, head bent, mouth stretched wet-shiny around his cock is visual enough; reaching down, Adam tries to get him to move, silky hair sliding between his fingers, but Kris just pushes his head up against his hand and Adam assumes permission and shudders his way through orgasm.

After a few long seconds, Adam manages to pry his eyes open, still tingling with tiny aftershocks, to see Kris wiping his face on his discarded shirt, looking up with pleased eyes and a glossy-lipped smile. With a little pet to Adam's cock that makes him shiver, Kris crawls onto the couch, smile widening when Adam pulls him into a kiss, tasting himself in Kris' mouth and reaching down to unbutton Kris' jeans and slide his hand inside. Kris catches his breath, wrapping an arm around Adam's shoulders and leaning into it. "Next time," Kris says, breath hitching when Adam works the jeans down around his hips, "you should tell me what you like when I do that."

Adam nods a little blindly, shoving Kris back on the couch to get a good angle and finish undressing him before the tone penetrates along with the words. Drawing back, Adam watches as Kris arches into his hand, eyes half-closed and lip caught between his teeth; he's gorgeous.

"You like that," Adam breathes. Reaching for Kris' hand, he eases it to the soft leather over his head, watching as Kris raises his other arm, lacing his fingers together, both wrists sliding willingly beneath Adam's hand.

Kris lets his eyes open enough for him to see the hot flare of arousal when Adam tightens his grip, just enough so Kris can feel it. "Yeah," he whispers, head tilting back into the cushions, exposing the length of his bare throat. "I really do."

"Okay, yeah," Adam says, throwing his boots into the closet with a sense of finality as Kris half looks up from his sprawl across the mattress, staring at Adam drowsily as the headboard sags against the wall, "we're getting a new bed."

Adam reluctantly drops an equally reluctant (and slightly dazed) Kris off at the studio well after noon with a reminder that no number of hilarious covers of any emo or post-emo bands will save his ass if he's still working when Adam picks him up at four (this is not, he thinks, going to be a problem today), then goes to meet Brad for lunch, enjoying the luxury of driving himself for once. He's kind of missed his car.

Armed with mimosas, Adam prepares himself for gossip infodump, and better, all true gossip, because Brad has some kind of amazing superpower for it.

"And now I have a question," Brad says so smoothly that Adam's caught completely unprepared. "True or false; what's up with Kris and Leah?"

Adam looks up from his drink with a sense that despite knowing every word in that sentence, he's just missed something. "That's not a true/false question. Also, repeat that?"

Raising an eyebrow, Brad picks up his phone and types into it before pushing it across the table. This is a very valuable lesson in assumptions, Adam thinks, and also, not fucking checking the entertainment blogs for four weeks. Apparently they're all burned out on Jared being Jared; staring at him is a picture of Leah and Kris dancing in the club, and to the uncultured and unprepared eye, yeah, maybe that could be considered a little questionable.

"No," Adam answers, clicking his way to the next page: lesson fucking learned. "They're friends."

"Really?" Brad rests his chin on his hands like a shark scenting blood: gossip superpower, activate. "Looks pretty cozy to me."

"She's married," Adam says absently, clicking again. Leah and Kris, dancing from every goddamn angle possible; Kris, getting Leah a bottle of water; Kris and Leah in LA over the last few months, documented in the obsessive detail only the paparazzi can achieve, going into the studio, leaving the studio, three separate meals in restaurants untyped, shopping in a dozen semi-anonymous stores, one apparently devoted to high end, art deco furniture, and Kris poking warily through a MAC counter with Leah holding up two separate eyeliner pencils with a calculating look. Adam makes a note to check Kris' bathroom, though if Leah gave input, he's probably okay.

"So's he, and Katy's been MIA for a while. Take into account the fact they're separated," yes, Adam remembers when that hit the wires, fun for everyone, "and Leah pretty much constantly credits Kris' work with them as the secret of their success--you're telling me this isn't just a little--" Brad draws it out, "--significant?" Reaching across the table, Brad tilts the screen and taps it. "He took off his wedding ring."

Adam looks at the date for a second, breath catching in surprise; after Vegas, but the morning before he left for Conway, wandering through Trader Joe's looking like he hasn't slept in weeks.

"Yeah, no." Handing Brad his phone, Adam tries to remember what he'd ordered or if they've ordered at all. "They're not."

"When's the last time you even talked to him?" Brad asks, a tiny line growing between his eyebrows. "God knows it's been a while since he answered my calls," and if Adam didn't know Brad up, down, sideways, and in ways sometimes associated with religion, there's no way he would have caught the faint trace of hurt beneath each light word, along with the worry, which are two things Brad would probably commit seppuku via nail file before he'd ever admit.

Adam starts to answer, when I dropped him off an hour ago, then stops himself, startled by the realization that he talks to Brad three times a week, every week, they've met every time he's come back to LA, and Brad spent a week with him on tour and at no point did Adam ever mention Kris in more than passing.

He's never hidden anything from Brad; he's never even tried, never really wanted to, even when he probably should have, but privacy is different and that's always been respected between them. He tried to explain this to Kris once and failed so spectacularly he still tries not to remember that argument, but apparently, that's one he's going to have to get back to sometime really soon. Picking up his drink, Adam finishes it and looks hopefully for a waiter.

Brad's unblinking stare starts to change as a waiter materializes with another glass. "Adam?" Brad says slowly, with a kind of uncomfortable glee that Adam's not sure he wants to interpret. "So tell me, why was Kris in Vegas?"

Adam hesitates. "Well, he did agree to go to that club--"

The thing is, Brad's never wrong, never; Adam knows this. He's placed bets on the strength of Brad's ability to get this shit right. It's like being around a fucking oracle, but without any associations with virginity on random Greek islands.

With a sinking feeling, Adam watches Brad flips his phone around; it's just Kris, guitar case firmly in hand, Leah leaning over to show him something on her phone, with Jared and Dennis trailing behind him; he's wearing ridiculously cute sunglasses and an oversized hoodie and heading into Leo's; the focus is, of course, on Leah and Kris, and sure, the media may not know what they're looking at, but Brad does.

Brad smiles, ignoring the lack of a wedding ring to tap on the familiar hoodie, abducted from Adam's closet in Vegas quite willingly; Adam's had it for years and it's kind of a sure thing that a google search will find a perfect match. Covering his face, Adam tries to pretend this isn't happening. "So," Brad says, ruthlessly gloating, "are you going to introduce me to your new boyfriend anytime soon? And maybe tell his ass to answer my calls? When you're done with it, of course."

Kris hands over his guitar without even the pretense of a fight when Adam backs him up against the wall just inside the studio door, surprising himself with how much he wants to touch him, slip his hands under the t-shirt Kris had borrowed from him this morning and press a palm against the back of his neck. "You're going to hide it for the weekend, aren't you?"

"Pretty much." Tucking it safely in the trunk (it's not that he thinks Kris would actually leap to his death from a car just holding his guitar if he thinks of something he really needs to finish; it's more the fact Adam can't prove he wouldn't), Adam waits patiently as Kris gets in; across the street are at least three representatives of entertainment media looking life-endingly bored. After American Idol, and for almost a year after, if they were together anywhere, pictures oversaturated the blogosphere. It took six years, but they're officially mundane news, so unchangingly wholesome that appearing together is background noise. There's much more interesting gossip now about Kris Allen with his long-absent wife, a near year of separation, and involvement in a band with a pretty petite blonde that could be a rock-chic version of Katy if you squinted.

It's not that Adam wasn't aware the media was incredibly wrong pretty much half the time, but there's a breathtaking quality in this, the wide abyss between reality and those rumors, like he's participating in a very alternate universe.

"…and I don't know what happened to the sound there, but it was wrong, okay?"

"No, baby, it's just you're crazy," Adam answers automatically. "Crazy," he says soothingly, starting the car before Kris can open his mouth. "It's cute and everything, but still. Crazy."

Kris rolls his eyes, sinking back in his seat with a faint frown. "I need to--"

"I think we'll start with food. Possibly get the lamp from under your bed and display it as it deserves--"

Kris looks pained. "How high were you when you got that? Did you look at it? Like, at all?"

"--and you didn't tell me that you're having an affair with Leah."

Kris half-turns in the seat, blinking at Adam before he cracks up. "Dude, you missed that?"

"Do I look like I spend all my extremely limited free time trolling the blogosphere?"

"Um, yes, when you're not trying to bring sea shells back as a legitimate trend in home décor." Kris grins, sitting back in his seat. "David's been giving me threatening eyebrows when he picks up Leah. It's, you know, scary. And hilarious."

Adam nods as Kris starts to talk about Jared and Leah's work on the album. He finds the lamp (under the bed, of course), puts it on the left end table, makes Kris give him control of the kitchen with the solemn promise he won't set anything on fire, and is well into mint-chocolate chip ice cream before he realizes three things: Kris has been watching him uneasily for a while; the lamp is gone, again; and the den door is open and filled with a lot of boxes.

Kris follows his gaze. "Oh. I brought some stuff from Conway."

"The entire house?" Getting to his feet, Adam wonders where the torture device of a couch went. "Several houses, maybe?"

Kris follows him, leaning against the doorway, arms crossed. "Not everything." He hesitates. "Just my stuff."

Adam looks up from one neatly packed, taped box; across the top in Kim's neat block letters, CLOSET - SHIRTS 2, resting on top of what he assumes is CLOSET - SHIRTS 1 and beside MISC - TROPHIES.

"Kind of missed some of it," Kris adds casually, eyes fixed on the floor. "Though I could have lived without all my yearbooks."

"We all could," Adam answers automatically. "Plan to unpack anytime soon?"

"I have been," Kris answers a little weakly, indicating the only four boxes not in neat stacks, opened and partially gutted. "You know, when it's something I need."

Adam looks his thoughts on that.

"Dad and some friends helped me do the packing," Kris says, pushing off the door to examine a stack of boxes against the wall like he'd never seen a box before. "It took a little longer than I thought, but we got most of the house done. I put the furniture and stuff into storage and shipped what Katy said she wanted for her place in Las Vegas. She said she'll get the rest when she goes to see her parents."

Adam looks at the straight line of Kris' back. "She's staying in Las Vegas?"

"She bought a condo," Kris says, turning around to smile a little ruefully. "When I bought the one in LA. She was feeling competitive."

Adam nods blindly, looking down into the open box, mouth dry. Stacked on top are ten troll dolls, wrapped carefully in tissue paper. Kris collects nineties-era troll dolls; something else he didn't know. He recognizes some of them; he'd spent valuable time in his early teens wondering if he could ever achieve that particular shade of fuchsia hair color. "Are these yours?"

Kris winces when Adam holds one up. "You could pretend you didn't see them?"

"They need a display shelf somewhere public. Like, by the front door," Adam answers, rewrapping them and putting them back before pulling out part of a twisted mass of Mardi Gras beads that take up half the box, then flips the lid to check the label: MISC - KRIS WHY? "I really want to know what you did to get this many."

"So do I," Kris says, faintly pink as he joins Adam at the box. "Freshman year. Woke up with a hangover, covered in beads and wearing lipstick."

Adam's mouth twitches. "Really?"

"Really." Kris looks up, eyes dancing. "And none of it on my mouth."

Putting the beads back, Adam surveys Kris' entire life contained in upwards of thirty-two boxes. "You're really staying in LA this time," he says, surprised to realize he hadn't quite believed it, even though really, at this point, there's no reason why he shouldn't. Blinking, Adam clenches his hands together against the floor and wonders how likely it is he can pass off an inexplicable and ridiculous fit of tears for amazement in Kris' breathtaking dorkitude in owning fucking troll dolls.

"Yeah, of course." Kris half turns, pulling up one leg and resting his chin on his knee, "I bought real estate. Moved significant possessions. And a lot of non-significant ones," he adds, with a faintly appalled glance at the boxes. "And you're here. That's pretty significant."

"Point," Adam concedes, clearing his throat before staring hopefully into the depths of the box to find something else both hilarious and embarrassing and conversation-changing. "So what else--"

"You said this time." Adam doesn't have to look at Kris to know he's watching him. "You mean, last time I left LA--"

"It was surprise that time, too," Adam says, moving the troll dolls so they won't get crushed the beads. Faintly, he thinks there's a reason he shouldn't continue this line of conversation, but at this second, he can't remember why. "So not without precedent to wonder."

"You said it before," Kris says slowly. "You said I left LA."

"With a text message." Adam shuts the box. "The ice cream is melting."

"You have no idea how much I don't care. You're mad about that," he says, surprised. "You're still mad about that."

"No," Adam answers after a moment of thought, because he's not; getting over something is not the same as forgetting it. "I was though. For a while."

Kris doesn't answer, scratching at the knee of his jeans.

"I'm not now." Getting to his feet, he pulls Kris up and toward the probably liquid ice cream which is hopefully not melting into the floor. Hardwood does not take that well at all. "Don't worry about it--"

"Last time I managed a month before--" Kris stops, padding toward the bowls like it's clean-up time, and abruptly, it's three months ago again and this is going to go wrong again, just in new ways. "Just a month before--"

"Kris, I'm not--"

"--before I promised her anything to come back. I left LA and knew I was giving up my career, but what else was I supposed to do? There're a lot of things you can put on the backburner, but you should always have time for your marriage."

Adam drops on the couch; last time, he'd thought he didn't have time for this. He should have made time; the show could have fucking been rescheduled. "What happened in Phoenix?" Adam asks with a sinking feeling, watching Kris stack the bowls with eerie déjà vu. "Because I get the feeling, call me crazy, there's been some serious editing involved."

"I told you, she called, and--"

"Told you over the phone?"

"Voicemail." Kris pushes the bowls away, sitting back on his heels, the word falling between them like a stone. "It went to voicemail."

Adam thinks a text message is starting to look a lot better by comparison.

"I was at breakfast," Kris says, eyes fixed on something only he can see. "I was busy, and I checked my phone when she called, and I thought, "I don't have time for this" and let it go to voicemail. We'd been arguing. A lot."

There's no way he can remember this three years later, but Adam thinks that he does. They both were used to sending things to voicemail, a sideways, half-attentive glance before tucking their phones away again.

"And it was a busy day, and then you wanted like, fajitas or something--"

"Salsa bar." It's a hazy memory, but he was just so tired, and he honestly hadn't cared where they went, as long as it was quiet and he got five minutes with Kris without a goddamn camera in his face. "Those were not fajitas."

"Yeah, no idea what that was," Kris says with a wince. "I was sick for hours. So I--forgot to check. Until weirdly enough, that last night in Phoenix. You went to bed early and suddenly, I had time. Brad came to find me about an hour later since you weren't around to entertain him and--" Kris shrugs. "'No' was not a word in his vocabulary."

Kris stares at the coffee table. "I went home and we talked and we separated for a month. And then--I was working on something and trying to, I don't even remember, convince Katy that I could have a sane schedule and trying to conference with my publicist and you called me from Philadelphia." Kris pushes the coffee table with one foot. "You didn't go to voicemail. I mean, you were touring and you couldn't call much, but--I took the call. I always took your calls."

For a few seconds, Kris doesn't say anything. "Katy didn't want me to give up my career, though she would have liked me to be in LA a little less, but that was fine, we could deal. She just thought maybe I could stop cheating on her with my best friend. It's not like she wasn't right. I didn't have to be having sex with you to be unfaithful to her."

"You didn't tell me--" Adam stops, wondering how the hell that conversation could have happened. He can't imagine how Kris could have started it, but he has a pretty good idea how it would have ended.

"I had two weeks," Kris says softly, "to make a decision. That's when you'd be back in LA full time. I thought, I'd talk to you about it, because you're my best friend and who else would I talk to? And three days before you finished tour, I left LA, because I was waiting for you to come back so you could tell me not to go. And I wouldn't have." Kris rubs his eyes, looking impossibly young. "People aren't supposed to prioritize their best friend over their marriage. I sent you a text and moved back to Conway and talked my wife into coming home. I finally got what she was trying to tell me, though; I felt like I was cheating on someone. Just, not on her."

The first time he'd seen Kris after he left LA--at a fundraiser, of all things--Adam remembers still being pissed about that without being able to articulate why. Just that start of startled anger, and Kris looking at anything but him (guilt, he realizes now) while they talked about completely forgettable things like the goddamn weather. Two years of conversation on weather and work and life and touring and nothing that reminded him that he'd come back to LA and Kris had left, and that no matter how often Adam saw him, he never really came back.

"This time…." Kris stops, staring at his hands, the missing ring. "We fought in Vegas--I told you about that. I didn't tell you why. She thought a year should be enough, that our mistake last time wasn't waiting longer to be sure about what we were doing. She--she said this way, we wouldn't have to give each other up when we could finally let go. I didn't get that they weren't the same thing, not then. When I called her from Conway, I told her that I understood what she meant. She came to LA so I could sign the papers and--" Kris shrugs. "She took the sofa and the guest bed back with her. She really likes that sofa. No idea why."

Because in the end, the choice is so much easier when you can't stay angry because they're too important to lose; when you can let them go knowing that means you never have to give them up. Adam nods slowly, chest tight.

"I couldn't tell you I was sorry," Kris says softly, looking up with fragile calm a bare glaze over fear. "I couldn't even tell you why. You forgave me anyway. I couldn't thank you for that either. Not then. You have no idea how I--how much I wanted to explain. It wasn't your fault, any of it, and anything I said couldn't--you couldn't think it was because of you when it was me." Taking a deep breath, Kris rubs a hand across his face. "I'm sorry, for doing that to you. And thanks, for--"

"Do not thank me because I stopped being a dick to you," Adam manages to say before Kris can finish the whole horrifying sentence. "Come here."

Hesitating, Kris pushes up off the floor, looking more exhausted than a three day studio bender, and Adam pulls him into his arms before Kris can start to worry, brushing a kiss against his temple before saying, very quietly, "I was pissed at you. And I was mad at myself, because you don't tell your best friend that you're angry that he left you for his wife. I was okay with not fucking you if I could have everything else."

Kris turns to look at him, eyes wide.

"And I don't think," Adam says carefully, because it's a confession, and maybe it's an explanation, too, "that I'm sorry for that at all."

"I don't understand," Adam says, eating a bagel while staring at the empty dining room, "what you have against furniture."

"I don't get your obsession with furnishing rooms I never use, so there you go." Kris leans against the doorway, surveying the painfully empty room, like he can't feel the angry glare of the bare white walls. "There are three guest bedrooms upstairs, and a game room or something. Two bathrooms, too." Adam winces. "Oh, and the den. When it's cleared out."

"And your bedroom with a depressing mattress and a frame, yes, shut up, I'm looking."

"But I do have a very nice tablecloth," Kris answers with utter sincerity. "It's almost like having a table. I was thinking of spreading it out in the dining room and say I'm taking up minimalism--"

"You're seriously not going to get over that, are you?"

"You made me sit in that room and listen to you play guitar, badly, while singing about anarchy. If you think that didn't leave scars, you haven't been paying attention."

Adam sighs, taking another bite. "It's just--it's wrong. We need a dining room table, just for the not-looking-like-serial-killers factor."

"You have," Kris says carefully, "a house. Two of them. One here in LA, in fact."

"And yet I haven't actually seen it since--God, I had to pick up that turquoise shirt, the one--"

"That's where that came from," Kris says in surprise. "With the silver inlay, yeah, I had it dry-cleaned. It's in the closet."

Adam looks at Kris thoughtfully and takes another bite. "Who exactly did you think it belonged to?"

"I knew it was yours," Kris answers, resigned. "I just didn't see it when you unpacked last time, and then there was the horrifying realization that you had me doing your laundry. We'll talk about that later, in detail. You were saying--"

"That we need a table, and chairs, and maybe a picture, would it kill you to have something on the walls? Really?"

Crossing his arms, Kris stares at the room for a second. "You're not letting this go."

"Not really, but it's cute that you think that I would." Finishing the bagel, Adam presses a kiss to the top of Kris' head and wanders back to the kitchen. "Since you mentioned shopping--"

"Um, I didn't?" Kris trails him into the kitchen, picking up his nearly-empty coffee cup and holding it against his chest like a shield.

"Right, that was me. Since it was mentioned, I know how we'll be spending a lot of time post-tour." Wandering back into the living room, Adam stares at the open den doors for a while; with the boxes, he can't get the right perspective. There's a gameroom upstairs. He hadn't even known that was there. "Also, call Brad."

There's a faint noise from the kitchen; interested, Adam goes back to see Kris wiping down the counter, empty cup upright in a small puddle of spilled coffee. Tossing the mass of paper towels in the trash, he gets another handful before turning to look at Adam with poorly acted confusion. "What?"

"It's been, what, five weeks? I didn't ask or anything, because he already blames me for it, so why confirm the obvious? The counter is clean, baby. Let it go now."

Reluctantly, Kris drops the remaining paper towels in the trash can. Curious, Adam checks under the sink for cleaning supplies. Kris is very much a guy; there's Windex. God, how does he live like this?

"I don't know why you think that I--"

"Haven't called him? I know why; I'm an idiot and let you carry on like a wounded princess, flouncing off to bed instead of--"

"Did you," Kris says dangerously, "just call me a princess?"

"If the tiara fits, honey, wear it with pride."

"I don't believe you!" Kris says, starting around the island clutching a half-empty roll of paper towels like he knows how to use them for non-cleaning purposes. Abruptly remembering Jared's eye--and also, Kris' knee--Adam drifts casually toward the other side, keeping several feet of granite between them. "I didn't--flounce or whatever, I just didn't want to drag it out--"

"Maybe it needed be dragged out," Adam answers, leaning on his elbows. "Or at least maybe, I don't know, not assuming that I--"

"Didn't trust me?" Abruptly, Kris seems to deflate, tossing the roll safely onto the island. For good measure, Adam subtly moves it out of range of a quick lunge. "Look, I get what you were trying to say--"

"You really don't. Let me try again." Taking a breath, Adam thinks carefully; he has to get it right. "I wasn't--it wasn't about you talking to Brad. I have no problem with that."

Kris nods stiffly.

"It's--complicated." Kris' expression doesn't change. "Okay, say there's someone that knows everything about you--and I mean every fucking thing about you. Like, good and bad and blackouts included. There's nothing you've ever been able to hide even if you wanted to. They know your history because they helped write it."

Kris traces a finger along a vein in the granite. "Yeah, I get that."

"They know--" Adam thinks carefully. "They know when you were a shitty friend, and when you were a shitty boyfriend, and everything you did to earn being called both. Everything. And every goddamn time they meet someone you're--involved with--you wonder, just a little. Not because--Brad wouldn't do that to me. Not with anyone I was involved with. Not anyone he knew I was involved with. Neither of us would, not if we knew."

Adam can see the moment it clicks; Kris looks up, startled.

"Some things are private," Adam says, very carefully, because God knows, he got this spectacularly wrong the first time. "You can ask anything you want, about anything you want to know about me. I just want to be the one you ask first."

Kris doesn't answer for a long time; Adam can't read his expression at all. After a second, Kris circles around to push between Adam and the island, looking a little grim. "Right. I get that. So." Taking a deep breath, Kris seems to brace himself, and Adam wonders nervously exactly what Kris wants to know. "You picked out a dining room table already, didn't you?"

Adam blinks, staring down at him for a second, then takes out his phone and flips it on, turning it so Kris can see the screen. "Couple of weeks ago. Online shopping is a miracle of our time. Don't worry; it fits the tablecloth perfectly." Putting the phone down, Adam catches Kris by the hips and lifts him up onto the granite, smirking at Kris' surprise before cupping his face and kissing him, soft and sweet and maybe a little smug.

When he pulls back, Kris blinks at him hazily. "I told you," Adam murmurs against his cheek. "You're tiny."

Kris slides his knee up his side, head tilting back for Adam to press a quick kiss against his jaw before working his way lower. "You really like doing that."

"Yeah," Adam says, smiling against Kris' neck. "I really do."

The last two and a half hours of Adam's second tour go by in an intense rush of light and endless, crashing sound that seems to last forever and still manages to shock him when it ends, stripped bare and exhausted and so high he's not even sure his feet are touching the ground when he walks off the stage the final time, still feeling the thrum of the crowd in his fingertips and the balls of his feet, stretching up his back and filling his head with light.

The adrenaline crash is going to be a bitch, he thinks vaguely, manic grin widening when he sees Kris, camped out under the protective eye of Jim to avoid any wandering into the crowd since Jim's immune to Kris' pout and is about twice his weight. Adam just manages to avoid picking him up and spinning him around, mostly because there's a pretty good chance they'd both land on their asses and that's so not what he's going for today.

"You were amazing," Kris says, sounding a little breathless, grinning up at Adam just as hard, fingers twisted in his shirt beneath his jacket. After a few long minutes, Adam makes himself let go, keeping hold of his wrist as he turns to the band.

"Hey," Kris says, tugging a little. "Meet you in your dressing room? Need a minute."

"Hold up," Adam says to Tommy, pulling Kris close enough to kiss, leaving a smear of red lipstick across his lips. It's too dark to appreciate the contrast, but Kris just smiles, touching his mouth before Adam lets him go, eyes soft. Tommy jumps him in a bid for attention before Adam can watch him walk away, and as expected, they go down hard in a giggling pile on the concrete floor.

It's a fantastic night.

Twenty minutes later, Adam half-staggers into the dressing room, starting to feel the effects of the let-down, getting himself to the small couch and collapsing in a still-giggling heap, shutting his eyes to feel the slide down along every nerve. Relaxing, he opens his eyes, startled to see Kris bent over in front of the mirror, staring at his reflection thoughtfully.

"You," Kris says, straightening with a finger drawn below his lower lip, "almost fucked up several hours of careful work. I finally had to webcam Leah for advice."

Blinking, Adam straightens, bracing a hand on the sofa as Kris paces across the small room, head tilted thoughtfully. The light in here is unforgiving, but then, Kris has never needed light to make him look good.

"Why did you--holy fuck." How the hell he could have missed this? Smudged kohl-lined eyes glittering with bronze and a hint of silver regard Adam in with poorly concealed excitement, thick black lashes sweeping down over flawless skin, mouth drawn in a dark pink only a shade's difference from the color of his lips, and apparently, Kris figured out side lacings. "How…" Adam swallows and tries again, motioning toward the laces. "How did you…" It's possibly the least important question he's ever asked.

Kris runs a hand over the bare skin of his hip above the waist--what the fuck, Adam thinks blankly--sliding a finger between the laces and his skin. "Oh. Cale came with me and helped out." Kris grins, all teeth. "Haven't seen him since."

Adam opens his mouth to ask why the fuck Cale would come along, then realizes he just doesn't care. "Come here," Adam breathes. Kris stills for a second, then loosens his shoulders, crossing the short distance between them to stand between his knees. This close, he's impossibly pretty, shadowed eyes watching Adam in interest. Taking a deep breath, Adam straightens, lightheaded from a second rush of adrenaline and wanting to touch Kris so badly he's almost shaking with it. "You have something in mind, baby?"

Kris' mouth curves up in a grin. "Thought I'd fuck a rockstar tonight. Kind of dressed for it. Too groupie?" Kris twists around, shirt riding up to reveal an inch of pale gold stomach, a flash of more golden skin between the black laces almost to his knee. Very carefully, Adam traces a finger down the crisscrossed leather; he might have tightened those too much last time.

"If--" Adam stops, trying again. "If I had groupies like you, I'd never stop touring."

"I'm kind of a groupie," Kris says. "So what do you do with your groupies after you perform, Adam? Do you bring them here?"

Adam leans against the back of the sofa, trying to catch his breath, keep his voice even. "Haven't had one in a while," he says softly.

Kris hesitates, eyes narrowing thoughtfully.

"My boyfriend would get pissed," Adam says, watching Kris shift his weight to his other foot, stretching the laces along his hip distractingly. "I like it when he's happy."

"You haven't had this boyfriend that long."

Adam shuts his eyes; that's what he gets for being honest. "It was hard to make that distinction for a while," he manages, hoping Kris will blow it off, which has never happened yet. Kris is silent, and for a second, Adam hopes….

"You're kidding."

Adam tips his head back against the sofa with a thump. "Please don't ask--"

"How long are we talking about here?"

Adam covers his face. "Could we go back to that twink seduction thing you had going on? Because seriously, I had no idea you had that in you."

"How. Long?"

Adam looks at him incredulously. "I don't know? Around the time I was touring and my best friend got drunk on my couch and--"

"Oh my God."

"There were clubs," Adam says defensively, because he's never been opposed to a bathroom quickie when drunk, high, or just really turned on. "Just not--that. Could we--"

"No," Kris says, looking at him strangely. "So I actually did need to remind you to get laid in Vegas--"

"Fuck yourself, baby."

"So you just want to watch then?" Kris reaches for the laces on his left hip, fingers curling around the knot. "Well, if you--"

"Hands down."

Kris looks up, dropping his hands instantly. Leaning forward, Adam cups his hips, laces rough beneath his palms, looking at the shimmering black shirt tight against Kris' skin, noticing silver nails flash against the leather--had to be professional, he's seen Kris' relationship with nail polish and it never ends well--stroking his thumbs along the smooth skin just above the low rise of the pants. Nudging up the soft material, Adam presses a kiss against the warm skin of Kris' belly, breathing him in, clean soap and a faint trace of cologne, but it's mostly Kris, familiar, silly though it is to think that.

"You didn't have to--" Adam takes a deep breath, pressing his forehead against Kris for a second. "You don't have to do--have to dress up like this for me. I don't hate flannel nearly as much as I used to." Somehow, one worked its way into his closet, a blue plaid that he found after he left LA, tucked between a feather boa and a white linen scarf, about two sizes too large and incredibly warm, smelling of Kris' detergent and soft with repeated washings; Adam wondered when Kris had gotten it, imagining him on a rare laundry day tucking it in with his clothes until it was as comfortable as one of his own.

Tommy took a lot of pictures.

"I'm in love with you," Kris says, cupping his face with unsteady hands. "I wrote a song about you. You asked me once how it ended. That's how it began."

Biting his lip, Adam wraps his arms around Kris's waist and burrows closer, trying to catch his breath.

"I moved to LA for you and wrote an album for you and changed my life for you. If you think there's anything I wouldn't do for you, you just haven't been paying attention." Kris shrugs. "This took a lot less time, all things considered."

"I think," Adam breathes, "that you still win."

"Feeling pretty secure myself, yeah." Kris answers shakily. Sliding his hands down Kris' thighs, he eases him into his lap, kissing that distractingly pretty mouth, tasting Kris' lipstick and the faint bitter flavor of makeup, cupping his tight ass, leather slick beneath his palms, sliding up his back beneath his shirt, licking into Kris' mouth slow and deep and endless until he pulls back only long enough to breathe.

Reluctantly, he pushes Kris back to his feet, easing his shirt over his head before dropping on his knees to lick between the black laces crossing over the skin of his hip, unfastening the knot and pulling out each lace, tracing the faint impression left on Kris' skin with his tongue before turning him to unknot the other side, listening to Kris' breath catch unevenly, tensing with every touch. Stripping them down to Kris' knees, he sucks in a breath at the reveal of bare skin and nothing else beneath.


Sliding the boots off, Adam skins the leather down Kris' legs, easing them apart and pressing a kiss against the soft skin of his inner thigh, mouthing down to his balls and briefly sucking each one into his mouth. Kris' fingers close around the edge of the couch, moaning as Adam pulls back, tracing a finger along the soft skin behind his balls and easing his hips toward the edge of the couch, shoving one of the pillows behind his back. "Don't move," he says, sinking his teeth into Kris' thigh to remind him. When he looks up, Kris is nodding dazedly.

Getting up, Adam sorts through the mess on his dressing table by dint of tossing things out of the way until he finds lube and condoms stuffed in a drawer. Looking back, the view of Kris almost takes his breath away, stretched long along the sofa, fingers closed tight around the cushioned edge, head tilted back, eyes shut and mouth open enough for quick, soft breaths.

Bracing a hand on the wall, Adam shoves off his boots and then his jacket, padding back to Kris as the brown eyes flicker open, glazed and heavy, watching Adam intently as he kneels between Kris spread legs, pressing a kiss against the inside of his knee before spreading his hand beneath and lifting Kris leg over his shoulder, tilting his pelvis up. "Take a deep breath," Adam says, using his thumbs to spread Kris open before leaning forward and licking the tiny hole flat-tongued and slow and wet.

Kris arches, moaning, heel scraping against Adam's back; doing it again, even slower, pressing his tongue against him and pushing, just a little, feeling the slight give and reaching down to snap the lube open and ready. Reaching for Kris' other leg, he folds it up, heel wedged against the edge of the seat and spread wide, licking again along the sensitive skin as Kris shivers, freeing one hand to touch Adam's face before he gasps when Adam pushes the tip of his tongue inside, wet and obscene, humming as he holds him open with one hand and slicks two fingers, drawing back to lick again, feeling Kris loosening against his lips.

"Good," Adam breathes, pleased, looking up to see Kris has one hand closed white-knuckled on the back of the couch, mouth open and panting. Drowsy-slow, Kris tilts his head forward, eyes half-opened and unfocused. "Open up, baby." Licking again, Adam slides his tongue inside, tight, tiny space relaxing around him, then pulls back enough to replace it with his finger in one long, aching slide, pressing up and Kris hips leave the couch, a half-articulated sound muffled abruptly. Grinning, Adam licks around his finger, sliding it back out and then in, working his tongue in beside it as Kris shakes, the long muscles of his thighs trembling.

When he adds the second finger, smooth and easy, Kris is boneless, panting helplessly as Adam licks around his fingers, adding more lube to get him thoroughly wet, mouthing Kris' balls when he starts to work a third finger in, going back to suck around the stretching skin, listening to Kris' broken sounds as he opens up, easy. Leaning back, Adam watches the tiny hole stretched open and perfect around his fingers, twisting his knuckles against tight, satiny heat, Kris jerking every time Adam changes the angle. "I could do this to you all day," Adam breathes, leaning his head against Kris' thigh. "Bet I could make you come just with this, too."

"Adam," Kris breathes, thready, and Adam leans forward to lick around his fingers, pushing his tongue between them and humming, listening Kris lose his voice all over again. Adam's years past getting hung up on what turns him on, and it's beyond hot to feel Kris falling apart like this, how perfectly he takes it, trying to push down against Adam's fingers and work himself open even more.

"Beautiful." Kissing Kris' thigh, he reaches for a condom, tearing it open between his teeth, twisting hard and bringing Kris panting off the couch, hips hovering an inch from the cushions and holding him there before easing him back down, opening his pants, cock aching abruptly.

Sucking in a breath, he leans against Kris' thigh, surprised to realize how close he is already. With a final thrust of his fingers, he pulls out, Kris whimpering as Adam eases his leg back to the floor, bracing Kris' heel against his knee to keep him from sliding off the sofa. Impatient, Adam pulls off his shirt and gets his pants down enough, material slick and unforgiving, easing the condom on with a hiss at the cool latex sliding over the oversensitive skin.

"Okay, here we go," Adam says, running his hands up Kris' thigh and easing his other foot to the floor before pulling him into his lap, hissing again when Kris cock, red and slick, slides against his. Curling a hand in Kris hair, Adam kisses him, licking inside his mouth roughly, bending him back against the sofa again, reaching down to push his fingers back inside for a few white-hot seconds and taste Kris' helpless gasps.

Making himself let go, Adam noses along his throat, trying to bring himself down enough that this won't over before they even start. "God, Kris," he says helplessly, licking along his collarbone, Kris fingers tight on his shoulders, nails scratching ever time Adam slips his finger out and back in, keeping him open and ready. "Turn around and lean against the couch." Kissing him again, Adam eases off his heels and curls both hands around his waist, shoving the cushions aside until Kris is bent over, panting against the cloth, eyes squeezed shut. Spreading Kris' legs, Adam licks up long line of his spine, pressing a kiss against the back of his neck, letting Kris feel his cock settling against the curve of his ass.

Reaching for Kris' hand, he kisses his wrist, lacing his fingers between Kris' and resting it on the cushions, then reaches down, pressing the head of his cock against Kris and pushing, feeling Kris start to tense at the blunt size that's not all that much like fingers at all. "Shh, baby, relax," Adam says against his ear, sucking a kiss beneath before resting his forehead against Kris' shoulder. "Open up for me just like you did before. It was perfect, you were perfect, you took it so well…" Kris back tenses, but he can feel Kris making the effort, pushing back against him and trying to make himself open up. "That's it, you know how good you felt around my fingers? So good I didn't want to stop."

Kris nods against the cushions, licking his lips. "You can--a little more--"

Nuzzling the back of his neck, Adam pushes, feeling himself slide inside another eternal inch--fuck, Kris, pushing back against him, a tiny line appearing in the center of his forehead as he reaches back with his free hand, sliding up Adam's thigh before landing on his bare hip and pulling, whimpering every time Adam slips in a little further, flushed and burying his groans in the material. Adam slicks his fingers, slipping them down between them to circle his stretched hole, getting it even slicker as Kris gasps and tries to take more, whimpering when Adam touches his cock, half-hard but still obviously interested at the first slick jerk of Adam's hand.

Panting against his shoulder, Adam squeezes once and then wraps a tight hand around Kris' hip and pushes the rest of the way inside.

"Oh God," Kris breathes, shocked, nails digging into Adam's hip, stinging. "Adam, please--"

"Hold on," Adam manages, spots dancing in front of his eyes, Kris stretched tight and perfect around him, begging, God, burying his mouth against Kris shoulder and trying to think of anything, anything, to slow this down. "Okay, baby?"

Kris nods jerkily, still too tense but relaxing. Adam kisses his shoulder and when Kris lifts his head, his mouth, the angle painful but not close to impossible, slipping his tongue between the slack lips, stroking Kris' hip until he can feel Kris start to relax. Getting the lube one handed, Adam makes a slick mess of it in his hand, curling a hand around Kris' cock and jerking him off, fast and hard, like Kris loves it, thumb sliding over the head and around the ridge and beneath until Kris is moving into it, sliding a little off his cock to thrust, sliding back on easier every time. It's hardly more than an inch, but it's enough, and Adam finally pulls away so Kris can breathe, kissing the side of his throat before pulling out when he rocks forward and easing back in when he slides back, matching the rhythm he set on Kris' cock.

"Oh," Kris says suddenly as Adam tilts his hips forward, lifting his head, eyes wide. "That, do that--"

Grinning, Adam grinds into him, using his knees to spread Kris wider and letting gravity do its thing, easing Kris back onto him entirely before pulling back, thrusting back in a little faster, wrapping slick fingers around the head of Kris' cock for him to push into, tight, and Kris gasps, nails skidding up Adam's side before grabbing for his ass desperately. "Keep doing that, Christ, Adam," he says, getting into it, moaning every time Adam gets him just right. "Adam, that, please," pulling their joined hands until he could rest his forehead against it and grinding back, picking up the rhythm Adam sets instantly.

"Fuck." Biting the side of his throat, Adam tightens his fingers around Kris' and stops holding back; every time he slows, Kris whimpers like Adam's killing him, fingernails digging into his ass imperiously, demanding. It feels amazing, and he can hear Kris panting desperately, trying to get more, more, more now, thank you; giggling a little hysterically, Adam gives it to him.

Anything this good shouldn't last nearly as long as it does, but somehow, it stretches out impossibly, Kris slick with sweat, back slippery against his chest, making a series of impossibly hot sounds as he starts to tense, cock swelling up against his palm. Squeezing his eyes shut, Adam tightens his hand and feels Kris go tight around him, stilling before he starts to shake and coming in Adam's fist, teeth closing over Adam's wrist to strangle something not unlike a shout that sounds a lot like Adam's name.

"Oh my God," Adam whimpers, working Kris through the aftershocks and feeling the long build start to fray apart. Shoving Kris onto the couch, he manages a few more strokes, Kris shaking through them all, oversensitized, whimpering, pleading, teeth sinking into Kris' shoulder when everything falls to pieces, a white-shock of heat down his spine and trembling heat on the surface of his skin and Kris breathing hoarsely, laughing, "Come on, Adam, I want to feel it", the fucker.

After a while, Adam makes himself sit back on his heels, keeping just enough coordination to ease Kris down with him, bracing them both against the edge of the sofa, not quite ready to slide out of Kris' warm, boneless body. Distantly, he can feel the throb of his wrist, and lifts his head enough to check Kris' shoulder and make sure this doesn't end with stitches. His back aches and he can feel hot stinging trails down his hip and ass, and while there's a certain amount of satisfaction that Kris won't be sitting comfortably for a couple of days, he's pretty sure he'll be feeling this just as long.

"God," Kris says, sounding drugged. "So that's why guys like this."

Adam buries his laughter between Kris' shoulder blades, sliding an arm around his waist. Kris winces, making him laugh even harder. Easing Kris up on shaky knees, Adam makes himself pull out, kissing an apology against the back of his neck when he winces again and pulling off the condom, throwing it somewhere that's not anywhere near them and with any luck near a trash can. Everything aches and Adam just lets them both slide down on the floor grabbing one of the cushions for his head and cuddling Kris close.

"Porn made it look a lot less fun," Kris says after a few seconds, sounding surprised that life doesn't resemble the internet's red light district. Adam tries to stop himself, but he can't help it, stomach muscles aching with every hysterical giggle, but come the fuck on. "What? I wanted to know what I was getting into."

"RedTube is not life," Adam says with a shudder. "That's not a reference point for like, anyone sane--"

"No, no," Kris says dismissively, curling closer. "I bought some legit, too."

Adam lifts his head, blinking slowly. "Like, on the internet? Or--"

"Like, at a sex shop," Kris answers easily. "I got some recommendations from Tommy--"

"I owe Tommy and his girlfriend a threesome," Adam says blankly. "Okay, not that I will--fuck, that hurts--"

Kris lifts his head, smiling with the teeth that just sank into Adam's shoulder. "And you know." Kris shrugs. "I wanted to see if--what it was like."

Adam thinks of the range of experience as illustrated by gay porn and wonders how surprising it is that Kris was still willing to go through it. Even good porn--really good porn--also shows a level of athleticism and flexibility that Adam needs a few weeks of yoga to achieve, and looking at it from Kris' point of view…. "I'm really glad you didn't run away screaming," Adam answers honestly. He really, really is.

"Had to be something to it," Kris answers comfortably, yawning a little, fingers sliding idly over Adam's skin, just feeling him. Adam doesn't think he'll ever get used to how much Kris seems to like it, to want it, casual and comfortable and-- "Oh." Kris sits up, eyes widening as he shifts onto one hip with a pained expression. "So I was going to apologize, but not so much now." Easing himself back down, Kris stretches along Adam's side nearly on his belly, and Adam frowns, looking down where Kris' fingers had been and sees the angry, blood-flecked lines crisscrossing his hip and down to his ass. Taking Kris' hand, he blinks at the darkening black-red flecks staining the silver and almost sighs, because he's never been into that kind of thing before, but apparently, he just didn't know.

"I have a first aid kit somewhere," Adam says, looking at the mess of Kris' hair and the utterly satisfied look on his face, then eases him up to kiss him. "Don't move," he says softly, easing from under Kris and tucking the cushion beneath his head. "I need to check--"

"Don't say it," Kris says, muffled. "Afterglow."

"I think that ended with RedTube, baby." Easing his thighs open, Adam gropes for what's left of the lube and slicks his fingers, gently easing him open. The delicate flesh is flushed dark red and swollen, but Kris shivers at the touch, making a soft sound between uncertain and interested. Very gently, Adam licks over the swollen skin and Kris chokes, hips shifting back into the wet touch.

It's way too early to get hard again. Taking a deep breath, Adam draws back, looking at the perfect outline of teeth in his wrist, running a thumb over it to feel the echo of pain before crawling back down and kissing Kris, licking into his mouth. "Come on," Adam breathes, pulling back. "I want you in my bed on your stomach, and you're going to come just from my mouth on you."

Kris blinks, looking up at him hazily. Crouching, Adam eases him half-upright, then gets them both to their feet, sliding his hands down Kris' back to his ass, kissing him until he's nearly boneless.

"When we get home," Adam breathes against his ear, licking every mark he left on Kris' skin, "you'll come just from my cock in your ass while I watch you. Then I'll do it all over again. Now be a good boy and stay still while I get you dressed."

Kris nods, eyes blurred and smoky from smeared kohl, wrecked and beautiful and smiling a little, leaning against Adam before straightening with a little wince. "Okay." Then. "Can we get something to eat first?"

Adam picks up the leather pants. "God yes." Kris hand braces on his shoulder as he steps into the leather, letting Adam smooth them up his legs and arrange them carefully at his hips, then starts to lace them. "Anywhere specific?"

"Denny's," Kris answers promptly, watching Adam finish lacing the right side, fingers carding through Adam's hair. "I want to take you out for pancakes."

Adam hesitates, knotting the left side before standing up, cupping Kris' face. "I love you," he says, surprised to realize he hasn't ever said it, surprised to realize this is something Kris may not know. Kris smiles hazily, leaning into the touch. "That's a statement."

"Was kind of hoping so." Kris pushes himself up on his toes, pressing a quick kiss against Adam's mouth. "You were wrong. You're kind of amazing at relationships."

Adam leans his forehead against Kris, shutting his eyes. "Really love you."

"So you said." He can hear the smile in Kris' voice, arms sliding tight around his waist. "I feel very secure."

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