They've done this more times than he can count; stood on a stage before a show, doing sound check. Normally it's pretty chill. Tommy loves playing with these people; they are some of his best friends; like Brian and Isaac.....and Adam.
Only for the first time ever Adam is losing his cool during a sound check and not at the crew or the techs; but at the band, at Tommy. And the more Adam gets mad at him, the more Tommy finds himself messing up. It sucks, playing is the one thing he is truly confident about. At least he normally feels confident, today he feels useless. He's upset to the point where it's starting to make him feel ill.
So when they start again he focuses on his guitar as much as he—blocking out the others, but still listening to them play. He can do this, he knows he can. His fingers on the guitar strings is the most familiar feeling in the world.
So he plays and he's starting to think he's got it—the music is flowing out of him, but it's a scorching hot day and his sweaty fingers feel clumsy, he screws up a note big time and right away he hears Adam's voice cut off. The sinking feeling in his stomach as he stops playing is not something he's used to feeling around Adam.
Adam is a lot of things to him; more than his boss right from the start, they are friends and he has the biggest, stupidest crush on Adam. A crush he's never done anything about because he likes the way things are between them, so comfortable. The way Adam is looking at him right now does not make him feel comfortable at all. His skin feels like ants are crawling over it and he almost shudders.
"For god's sake Tommy." Adam's frustration is clear in his voice.
The prickling feeling that crawls up his spine is all too familiar and he has to fight against it, thinking of calmer things, relaxing alone in his room, playing a good show. Here is not the time or place for this, not when so many people don't know what he is, it could be disastrous. Shifters might have gone public years before he was born, but Tommy is not out like that.
"Sorry," Tommy mumbles. He would try and explain himself, but all of his energy is going towards keeping himself on two feet.
"Sorry? That's all you have to say?" Adam asks, and he sounds pissed.
"I..." Tommy's face flushes when his tongue becomes as clumsy as his fingers. He's been working himself up all through the sound check; every mistake, every missed note and fumbled finger, every time Adam has looked at him like he's disappointed or mad, all of it is building and building. Tommy has never been good at handling the people he cares about being mad at him.
"I what? I what, Tommy?" Adam barks.
The tingling spreads; his vision changes and before he knows it he's trapped in the tangle of his own clothing, he can't help the unhappy meow that he lets out.
"Tommy?" Adam's voice is hesitant, like he's not sure it's really Tommy and shocked like he can't believe what he's seeing.
Seconds later someone is helping him out of his clothes and Tommy finds himself looking up at a kneeling Adam. He can see himself reflected in Adam's eyes. A small, smoky grey cat, still half in a pair of ratty old jeans.
"Tommy?" Adam says again, and Tommy can definitely hear the question in his voice this time.
Tommy meows, hoping Adam will get that it's a yes. Yes it is him, even though he doesn't want to talk to anyone right now and he's a little mad at Adam, a little hurt.
It has been years since Tommy turned into his cat form out of stress; it used to happen all the time when he was younger, like during his 4th grade assembly when he was playing a shepherd, but he had thought it was a thing of the past, But then he had thought it was a thing of the past crushing on men, too—Adam changes things for him at every turn.
"Did—did anyone know about this?" Adam asks and he sounds a little hurt. He doesn't like that he's hurt Adam, it makes him feel guilty, even though it wasn't just Adam he kept this from.
"Umm," Isaac raises his hand guiltily, and Tommy meows his apology.
"You and Sophie could tell, I'm guessing?" Brian asks. Brian, like Adam and Ashley, is completely human. But Isaac and Sophie are not.
"Well, Sophie's a dog and I'm a rat. Sophie told Tommy if he ever tried to chase me, even just for fun, she would chase him," Isaac explains.
Tommy would not have chased Isaac, he wouldn't, even if the little piebald rat is totally tempting. And he just knows Sophie would chase him even if he didn't chase Isaac—sure, she's nice, but dogs just can't seem to resist and she'd have teaching him a lesson as a reason. He's never met a Labrador that could control its instinct to chase cats. Isaac and Sophie know what he is and have respected his choice not to share it with the world like they have.
"Why did he turn?" Adam asks; he reaches out hesitantly but when Tommy only meows at him he helps Tommy get the rest of the way out of his clothes.
It's strange as hell being on stage on four paws instead of two feet.
"Umm, well, just guessing, don't yell at me, but—stress. Stress can trigger a change like this," Isaac explains and Tommy can see Adam's face crumple.
"I upset you that much?" Adam asks quietly. Tommy meets Adam's guilty stare.
Tommy meows, hoping Adam knows Tommy doesn't want him to feel bad. It's not like this is all Adam's fault. The record label has been putting a lot of pressure on them all, Adam more than anyone. Things haven't been easy of late. But Tommy can't help being a little mad, maybe it's made worse by being embarrassed, all he knows is he isn't feeling happy right now and Adam is a big part of it.
He's mad, but he understands why Adam got pissy, but he can't explain that with a meow or a nuzzle.
"Will you bite me if I pick you up?" Adam asks.
Tommy meows and stretches; he's not going to bite Adam or scratch him, but Adam doesn't have to know that.
"Okay, lets try this." Adam is very careful as he reaches out and scoops up Tommy. He ends up held against Adam's chest, in Adam's strong arms, Adam's heartbeat steady and strong against him.
"What are you doing?" Brian asks.
"Taking Tommy backstage. He's not going to be wearing any clothes when he turns back. I think he'd rather not be on stage for that," Adam says, reasonably, and Tommy rubs against Adam a little, trying to show his thanks.
He hadn't thought about turning back, he tends not to think ahead when he turns accidentally, but he really doesn't want to end up on stage naked.
"Someone grab his clothes?" Adam says as he carries Tommy off stage.
Adam takes him to the dressing room and sits down on the couch with Tommy on his lap. Brian brings Tommy's clothes in, but then he heads straight for the door, Tommy doesn't know why.
"You're not staying?" Adam asks.
"No. I have a feeling that you two need to talk once he can do more than meow at you. So you are staying here and fixing things." Tommy meows his agreement before Brian shuts the door behind him.
"I screwed up big time, huh? I must have been being a real asshole to stress you out this much. I'm sorry." As Adam speaks, he starts petting the fur between Tommy's ears and down his back, kind of like he's not really thinking about it. It feels good so Tommy isn't going to stop him, it has been forever since anybody petted him.
"I wish you had told me. I've been calling you my pretty kitty for years; I didn't know it was true. I can't even ask you why you didn't want people to know right now." Adam sighs.
"Meow." Tommy looks up at Adam with big eyes.
"All right, all right, you're adorable. I won't question you. How about we just cuddle until you feel like talking? It's been a while since we just cuddled." Adam's voice is
soothing and Tommy makes himself comfortable in Adam's lap, kneading the firm thighs beneath his paws. He'd smirk if he could at Adam's wince.
It has been a while since they just cuddled, mainly because Tommy was afraid that one of these days he would give away his monster crush on Adam, just from the way he acts, he's different when he's with Adam, reacts differently to his touch. He's nowhere near as cuddly with his other friends, he doesn't melt under anyone else's attention but Adam's.
It's like Adam has magic fingers; he seems to find every last place Tommy likes to be petted and he does it just right, firm enough without being rough, and Tommy finds his eyes getting heavy before he can really fight it. But he doesn't really want to fight it, a cat nap seems kind of perfect.
He wakes up to a startled yelp and finds himself half falling on the floor with hands reaching out to grab him, one getting his waist, the other palming his cock. Which is when he realises he is very much human and very much naked....on Adam's lap.
"Sorry, sorry," Adam yells, letting go in horror, and Tommy almost falls again.
Somehow, using the least graceful series of movements ever, Tommy manages to get to his feet. He uses both hands to cover his dick as he feels his cheeks turning red. He really wishes he was still in his cat form. Cats don't blush.
"I fell asleep too. You were purring in your sleep and it was really relaxing; then I, like, moved in my sleep or something and I had a lap full of my naked best friend. And I panicked, I didn't want you to think I was copping a feel," Adam explains in a rush.
Spotting his jeans Tommy takes one hand off his cock and grabs them, trying to pull them on without exposing himself to much. The whole random nudity thing is one of the bigger down sides of shifting.
"I know you wouldn't feel someone up in their sleep, Adam," Tommy says as he carefully zips up his jeans, seeing as he can't seem to find his boxers in the tangled mess of his clothes.
"Good, good. So, um, sorry for being a douche earlier. I didn't mean to turn into an asshole dictator. So yeah, I'm sorry." Adam looks so earnest that Tommy has to hug him.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about being a cat. I just don't normally tell people and the longer it went the harder it got to just blurt it out. Every time you called me a kitty I wanted to show you the truth." Tommy lets himself cling a little, he figures with them both apologising he can get away with it.
"It's okay. I know it isn't easy, people ask all kinds of questions, treat you like a freak. Just—no more secrets,
okay?" Adam asks, stroking Tommy's hair off his face.
Tommy feels guilt roil in his stomach; because this is not his only secret. He feels the same prickle as before, but he uses every bit of strength he has not to turn. He's not completely successful. He's still on two feet, but he can feel his pointy cat ears poking up out of his hair and his tail trapped in his jeans. His tail and ears are proportional when he partially shifts like this, so his tail is long enough to be uncomfortable in his jeans.
"Oh my god, that is awesome! You look amazing. But why did it happen?" Adam asks, taking a step back so he can get a good look at Tommy.
"Partial shift. My emotions are out of whack today. Not enough sleep; some stress, you know what tour can be like," Tommy says, which isn't a lie, he's just leaving out the part where he would really like to have sex with Adam.
"The secret thing upset you?" Adam guesses.
"Um." Tommy doesn't want to lie, but he's not keen on telling the truth about this, either.
"Tommy? Please. I've noticed you being really distant this tour. Did I do something wrong? Tell me if I did and I'll try to fix it." Adam sounds like he's hurting and it's so like him to blame himself for any problem.
Tommy doesn't want Adam hurting, so on instinct, maybe left over from being more animal than man, he lunges forward and kisses Adam. The cat in him isn't good at self control. It's not anything like the perfect movie kiss; it isn't even like any of the kisses they have shared on stage. It's desperate and a little clumsy and Tommy feels like he hardly knows what he's doing.
But then Adam cups his jaw softly, changes the angle, slows things down and suddenly it's kind of perfect. Tommy melts against Adam; chest to chest, his hands on Adam's waist, moaning softly when Adam nips his lip.
The kiss breaks after a few sweet moments and Adam doesn't let go, his hands staying on Tommy's waist. It feels right, like Adam's hands belong on him.
"So, uh. No more secrets," Tommy says softly.
"You want me?" Adam asks.
"Yes, fuck yes," Tommy admits.
"I want you, too. I think I always have. Can we try to do this? To make this work?" Adam strokes Tommy's back and Tommy arches like the cat he is inside.
"I think we should give it a shot," Tommy says softly. His
emotions have been crazy because he's been holding this in, it seems right to give things a chance between them. His body feels calm now, like he's back in control. All the buzzing is gone, he's a man again, more centred and happy.
He could destroy an important friendship, but he could also end up with something wonderful here.
"Gonna let me date you, Tommy Joe?" Adam asks with a soft smile.
"Yeah." Tommy nods and leans up for another kiss. Wanting to touch now that he is allowed to.
That night Tommy goes on stage with grey ears and a fluffy tail and the crowd go wild; but not as wild as when Adam stalks up to Tommy, sinks to his knees and wraps Tommy's tail around his neck, before standing to claim a kiss.
It's a hell of a show and Tommy has a feeling, now that the cat is out of the bag, that one hell of a first date is in their future.