Word Count: ~7,000
Song: Fame from Young Americans
Warnings: Drug use, angst, language, and vague sexytimes.
Disclaimer: So one day, I was walking along, minding my own business, when some dude from 19 Entertainment waltzes up to me and says he can't handle Adam and Kris and all their wild, sexing ways and BEGS me to take the rascally little fuckers off of his hands... who was I to say no? This is written documentation of what I saw. (If reading this makes you wanna sue me, have at it. The most expensive thing you'll get is a beat down car and a computer full of Kradam porn.)
Everyone makes it sound like the degree of fame you achieve is like a grade on your report card: A list, C list, whatever. But it's not high school, and the stakes are a hell of a lot higher. In school, if you fail, you just take the class over. You ask for extra credit or you study really hard for finals, and you're okay.
Hollywood offers chances at redemption, but only after you've hit a low bad enough to make the hour long special E! is already planning to run on you extra juicy. Nobody cares about your success without some tragedy to balance it out. Nobody wants to worship you all the time. No, it's too much fun seeing people fall from the pedestals they've been placed on to ever let a mistake just slide by unnoticed.
Adam felt pretty sure he had a solid grip on every level of fame and what it entailed. He'd had years of being there, just on the periphery, close enough to watch the big kids playing but never quite close enough to touch. He'd seen friends on Broadway and been the ghostly arm captured next to their bright and smiling faces in the photo that made page six. He'd ridden Val Kilmer's coattails straight into some of the nicest clubs in town. He'd been certain that years of living the life without actually LIVING the life had more than prepared him for what was to come when the time for him to take center stage had finally arrived.
Mostly he'd been right, which was the most disheartening thing. He'd known what to expect. There were days when he looked back on his Rolling Stone interview and cringed. He'd been so well versed, but his own arrogance had come back to bite him on the ass, kick him in the head, and leave him face down in the dirt so many times that it had felt like he'd be better off having "Welcome" tattooed across his back for all the time he spent on the ground.
But, while he may have changed, may have done things he'd sworn he never would, may have involved himself in activities he'd sneered his nose at with an air of superiority that can only be affected by the young, at his core he was still Adam. When he fell, he pulled himself up by his boot straps and kept going, smiling despite the mud on his face.
Because of this, it took a long time before anyone realized just how far in he'd gotten himself. He toured constantly, and when he was home he was able to play off his mood swings and days filled with little more than sleep interspersed with immense bursts of energy as a byproduct of the road.
When he had time, he'd go out with his friends and it was like old times. Drinking, singing, dancing until they were lucky to get their shoes off before collapsing into bed. If any of them noticed that his bathroom breaks lasted far past the amount of time acceptable for the reapplication of glitter, none of them mentioned it.
Leila had her concerns, and there were days when she'd call up Neil or Eber in a panic because Adam wouldn't wake up when she came to check on him. But he'd always stir just enough to stop her from calling 911 and blame it on a wicked hangover or the sleeping pills the doctor had prescribed him. While she was never completely convinced, it was always just enough to hold her off a little longer, to avoid the inevitable interrogations and live to party another day.
It was only a matter of time, though. He wasn't anywhere near far gone enough to think that the lifestyle he'd fallen into didn't have a very clear expiration date on it. Not surprisingly, it was The Enquirer who first got wind of what was really going on. Missed studio appointments, erratic behavior, sudden weight loss. Even seven years after American Idol had ended he was still a media darling, and most people just assumed that it was stress. Every album he'd released had garnered massive success, keeping him in a constant state of motion. The comparisons to Elvis and Madonna and Freddie had only amplified with time. That much pressure would weigh heavy on even the sturdiest of shoulders, and so stress was a reasonable conclusion to come to.
But The Enquirer had never been interested in petty logic. They existed on a diet of heavy hunches and invasive stalking. So when the truth broke and the headline "Adam Lambert's Secret Struggle!" popped up on news stands across the country, it wasn't on the glossy front of Rolling Stone. It was splattered next to shots of Britney's new cellulite.
Most of the people who counted had given it about as much credence as the story they'd ran two years earlier about him giving birth to an alien baby, but that didn't provide him with any comfort. While he'd defied the odds and managed to make his popularity span far more than fifteen minutes, he still knew the sound of a ticking clock when he heard it.
"So I hear you're on the crack." Kris dropped his bags in the doorway, holding up the latest copy of some random gossip rag. Adam, still dressed only in sweatpants and a white t-shirt, stared at Kris with arched brows and a faint smirk that he hoped read as amusement as opposed to chagrin.
When Kris had called to say he'd be back in town for a few weeks, Adam had reacted with a characteristic lack of brain to mouth filter. He hadn't seen Kris for more than a few hours in almost a year, and in his excitement he'd invited him to crash at his place for the weekend. While Kris had his own place in L.A., he was rarely there, leaving it too antiseptic for him to ever really be able to call it home. Most of his time was still spent in Arkansas because, as Adam was fond of saying, "I guess after you win enough Grammys and people start calling you a modern Dylan, you can live in whatever hole in the wall you damn well please as long as you crawl out of it every once in a while to make some new music."
Adam pursed his lips and reached out to grab one of Kris's discarded bags. "Yeah, I heard. Am I on the brink of death in that one, too?" he said, keeping his tone appropriately wry as he led the way to the guest bedroom. Kris gathered the remainder of his bags, guitar case still strapped to his back, and followed Adam, ducking his head as he chuckled. "Nah, just a coke fiend. I guess the people who covered the end of the world three different times wouldn't want to be accused of false dramatics."
After all of his things had been haphazardly tossed aside, the two faced each other, and despite the gnawing anxiety taking up residence in his nervous system, Adam couldn't help but return the giant, goofy grin Kris greeted him with.
"It's really good to see you, man," he said, leaning onto his tiptoes to fling his arms around him in one of those tight hugs that never failed to make Adam feel like he was safe and comfortable and home. "You too, Kris." For the first time in a long time, Adam could feel himself begin to relax.
His friendship with Kris was one of the few aspects of his existence that, no matter what happened to and in his life, self-inflicted or otherwise, never wavered. They had been close on the show, closer still on the tour, but after, while the amount of time they spent together had been cut dramatically, the bond they had only seemed to grow. Out of the bubble that forced them to be together, they were allowed to choose the role the other would play in their lives. Both had been resolute in their desire to stay true to their vow to be friends forever instead of letting the words become nothing more than the hollow promises made by children at summer camp.
Even though Adam was hiding a lot from Kris (something he inexplicably felt more guilt over than the deception of all of his immediate family combined), when he talked to him about anything, let him in on even a drop of what was happening, he felt better. He imagined it was how a lot of Catholics felt after confession. Kris couldn't cleanse him of his sins in the official sense, but it didn't stop him from feeling like his soul was left a little cleaner just from contact with someone so good.
Kris had been through a lot in the past few years. Between a mass of critical success followed in short order by a highly publicized divorce, a falling out with his record company, and an accident that left him with a shattered wrist that he was only now regaining full use of, Adam couldn't help but wonder if subconsciously the reason he kept his mouth shut was because his own problems seemed so trivial by comparison, making his poor coping methods seem ever more abhorrent. It was possible, but when he was honest with himself he knew it was more likely cowardice, pure and simple.
When they sat down in the living room, playing catch up and reminiscing on how far they'd come, Adam left out a lot. When Kris talked about speaking to Katy and how things were better, how she'd finally moved on, he wanted to tell him about Ethan. Not the stuff he already knew about, like how he'd been both manager and boyfriend to Adam before the break-up two months ago, not about the fights, because Kris had heard all about those and had witnessed a few first hand. He wanted to tell Kris about the first time Ethan had shoved the little bag in his hand and told him he'd never make it through the week he had planned for him without some help. He wanted to tell him how he'd managed to hit every one of the insecurities Adam thought he'd left behind when he told him that he'd noticed Adam had gained a lot of weight, fifteen pounds in the last year, and that he needed to do something about it. He wanted to tell him how many years of work on his self-esteem, so many years of convincing himself he was strong and in charge of his life, had been undone with a slip or two that had led to slipping up on a nightly basis.
But lately, what he wanted hadn't been a big concern of his. And the thought of the disappointment he knew he'd see in those warm, brown eyes, it was more than he thought he could handle at the moment. So he smiled a version of his practiced smile that was just a little more genuine around the edges and kept to touring stories, to label concerns, to the line of men that had been prancing through his life in the past month or so. It wasn't what he wanted, wasn't what Kris deserved from his friend, but it was all he could do.
It was deep into the evening when the knock at the door came. Adam had convinced Kris that such a special occasion required something stronger than beer and they were floating on a cloud of scotch and easy banter when the sound brought them both up short.
"Jeez, I know you're all famous and stuff, Lambert, but isn't one o' clock in the morning still a little late for social calls at your age?" Adam pursed his lips in an attempt to look stern while also hiding his grin. "Shush, Spring Chicken, I've got this."
He pushed himself out of his overstuffed armchair with a little effort and a great, audible groan and lumbered slowly for the door. His hand was on the latch when something made him pause. He'd had more than his share of stalkers since making it big, and his uninhibited tendency to ignore his peephole in favor of just flinging open the door had gotten him in trouble a few times. He leaned in, his eye an inch from the tiny glass portal, and couldn't stop a tiny gasp from escaping his lips.
A strong feeling of deja vu washed over him as he saw Ethan staring back at him, holding up a random gossip magazine. Normally, two small, dark haired Southern men with trashy reading material appearing at his door in one day would have sounded like good times, but the glare Ethan was leveling at him through the peephole washed any humor he found in the situation out to sea.
He looked over his shoulder at Kris, who had sat up on the couch and twisted to look at him, his brows deeply furrowed and lips parted. Adam's mouth moved a few times, but his voice betrayed him. Another knock came, this time followed by "Adam, open the god damned door. We need to talk." Ethan's voice was rough and had a quarrelsome edge to it that Adam knew like the back of his hand. There was no use in putting it off. The bastard was nothing if not persistent.
The minute the door opened even a crack, Ethan was in like a shot. "Have you seen this shit? What the fuck were you thinking?! Look, I don't care if you want to fuck up your career, but you damned well better keep my name out of it or-" Kris was standing next to Adam before either man seemed to realize what was happening, arms crossed and face disapproving. Ethan stared at him with a look of utter distaste that made it obvious he'd been holding back a lot when he and Adam had been together.
"Can we talk by ourselves for a minute?" The question was meant for Adam, but his eyes never left Kris's face. Adam shot an apologetic look at Kris, his face a pleading expression asking for him to give him just a moment to fix this before he grabbed Ethan by the upper arm and hauled him to the bedroom.
Adam tried to keep it quiet, but Ethan didn't give a shit about his good standing with Kris, or anyone else. All he cared about was that when he'd gone for his midnight cup of coffee, a photo of he and Adam at a table covered in white powder had been staring back at him. Why whoever had taken it had waited so long to release it was anybody's guess, but Ethan felt pretty sure about what was going to happen next. Adam's new management would want to play it off as being Ethan's idea, Ethan's party, Ethan's shit. The break-up hadn't exactly been on good terms, and he felt certain Adam would go along with it.
But Adam couldn't even begin to think of a game plan. Instead he just sat on the foot of his bed, staring down at the magazine Ethan had shoved into his chest the moment they were alone. He noticed the date and realized that the issue had probably just been released that night. The shit storm would come in the morning. He reached over on his bedside table and looked at his cellphone. Fifty-two missed calls.
He dropped it and started to try to assure Ethan that he had no plans of casting the blame on anyone. If at all possible, he'd deny, though looking at the cover again it seemed pretty unlikely, and if not, he had no plans of throwing him under the bus. Ethan wasn't convinced, and soon the shock had worn off enough for Adam to start feeling the first tiny tendrils of anger creeping into his stomach.
A mass of accusations and finger-pointing flew and things reached a point of frenzy that Adam remembered clearly but wished wholeheartedly that he could forget before there was a knock at the bedroom door. Adam, jaw clenched tight, eyes wide with warning and unspoken threats, gave Ethan a leveling look before turning to open the bedroom door.
Kris, face relaxed in a way that made Adam's stomach drop to his knees, let his eyes fall on Ethan before speaking. "Ya know, if you want to keep your part in this whole thing a secret, you might want to avoid screaming out 'So I gave you the shit, what's your point?' in the future."
Ethan finally left after that. Adam sat down on the couch slowly, as if the very act of moving caused him physical pain, and let the magazine drop on the polished table with a sound that echoed through the room in a foreboding way that made his stomach swirl with a Pandora's box of negative emotions. He kept his eyes fixed on the photo, the ultimate symbol of how far he'd come in all the wrong directions, not able to bring himself to look up and see if Kris had followed Ethan out the door.
It didn't take long for him to find out. Kris slid into his peripheral vision as he took a seat on the couch across from him, his head resting in his hands as he let out a huge gust of air it sounded like he'd been holding since Ethan first knocked on the front door. "So how long?"
Feigning innocence wouldn't do a damn thing for him except seal the cement boots onto whatever was left of their friendship, and Adam knew it. His back was to the wall, and it was all or nothing now. It was Kris, so there was only one right answer.
"About two years." He couldn't make his voice go any higher than a whisper, but Kris caught it if the small growl that escaped his lips was any indication.
"And were you ever planning on telling me?"
Adam swiped a hand over his face, then thought the better of moving it and left it there. "Yes."
"When?" If there had been any hint of calm left there before, it was all gone when Kris spoke again. "When? When I saw it in one of these piece of shit magazines? Maybe when your publicist called to tell me to keep it on the down low? Or after I heard on the news about you going to rehab or the fucking hospital or the god damned morgue?" Adam let his hand drop, his shock at Kris's language momentarily overpowering his guilt and fear. His eyes were fixed on him, dark and hot and more intense than he'd ever seen them. He felt his pulse pound in his wrists and throat, heard the blood rush in his ears as he said. "No, I-" But Kris wasn't done yet. "Oh, wait, let me guess. You were waiting for me to see the retraction of your first interview printed in Rolling Stone, right?" It was a low blow, but Adam just looked at his hands.
Kris groaned, rubbing his forehead before standing up. Adam winced, eyes still on his hands as he listened to his footsteps, waiting for the sound of the door closing, marking the end of it all. It never came. instead he heard the footsteps approach again and he glanced up to see Kris pacing the floor. It was a long time before he spoke, but eventually he turned to Adam and said "So, what about tonight?"
Adam felt his face pull into an expressions of confusion. He thought maybe he meant the thing with Ethan so he said, "He said he saw it while he wa-" but Kris held up a hand to stop him. "Did you do anything tonight?" It took a second for him to catch on, but when he did, his face flamed red and he pulled his eyes away from Kris's face, the shame suddenly a solid, tangible thing setting up residence in his gut. He heard a loud sound and looked up with startled eyes to find Kris coming at him, eyes blazing.
"What the fuck were you thinking?!" he all but bellowed, raking a hand through his already mussed hair before pulling back and resuming his pacing. Adam had just enough time to notice the new hole in his wall that was around the size and shape of Kris' fist before he was speaking again.
"So what are we doing here?" Kris placed his hands on the back of the couch across from Adam, leaning forward, his arms flexing and tense. Adam stared at him, just as mystified by the inclusion of the word "we" as by the question itself. Kris arched his brows and clarified, "Do you want to stop or am I on a sinking ship?"
There was no delay this time. "I do, I want to, Kris. I just, I can't go to rehab. I don't want to be one of those tragic figures being shuffled off in Jackie O. sunglasses and a head scarf so no one knows it's me. I-" Kris held up a hand and Adam snapped his mouth shut. "Fine." Kris walked over the the door and Adam tensed, watching with worried eyes as his hand found the doorknob. But instead of turning it, walking out and sending some nameless assistant to pick up his bags later, he turned the lock, bolted the door, and turned back to him, his face set. "I hope your cabinets are stocked. It's gonna be a long weekend."
For the first couple of hours, things were fine. They played cards and Kris accused Adam of letting him win out of guilt. It gets smiles, albeit weak ones, out of both of them. They started to watch a movie but Adam starts feeling a little anxious half way through. Kris asked if he was okay and Adam gets a little snippy, which Kris ignores.
But when he noticed Adam rubbing his hands on his thighs, his leg jerking minutely, he got up saying he needed to use the restroom. He was gone a long time and when Adam heard the toilet flush several times, his eyes screwed shut tight, his nails biting into his palms. It was what he wanted, and he had to remind himself of that when Kris walked back in and sat down like nothing had changed.
Ten hours in, Kris showed no sign of slowing even though Adam was so tired he could barely stand it and still couldn't fall asleep. His agitation was immense and he said things that even then he knew he'd regret. He brought up Katy, pointed out that Kris wasn't Mr. Perfect, said he was judging him unfairly, threw out a Bible verse or two (quoted incorrectly, but spoken with enough vehemence to make up for it), things about those without sin throwing the first stone, and through it all, Kris just shrugged and nodded and payed him about as much attention as he would a sulking child.
At fifteen hours, however, Adam received his full attention when he tried to leave. Neither men had ever been much for fighting, but Kris threw him away from the door with a strength that sent the much taller man staggering, looking at his friend with shocked eyes before trying again. No punches were thrown, but they both end up bruised. But Adam also ended up locked in the bedroom with Kris, so he figured Kris won that round.
Soon after, the guilt came back, and Adam was in too much pain from the withdrawals and remorse to even care that he was crying like he's three and someone just told him both of his parents were dead. Kris didn't say anything, just wrapped his arms around him and held him tight, ignored the heat and sweat radiating from every inch of him, squeezed him hard enough to leave more marks, anything to let him know he had an anchor waiting for him when he came back down.
When Adam finally slept, it was hard and deep, and if it weren't for the incremental rise and fall of his chest Kris would have called a doctor. While restful would be a stretch, his sleep was a deep one, complete and dreamless.
Adam almost fell on his ass when he tried to go to the bathroom, but Kris was there, right beside him, grabbing his arm to steady him and walking beside him as far as the door. When he looked at himself in the mirror, the shock was a little overwhelming. His face was sunken, his skin, never a feature he took much pride in to begin with, was waxy and looked stretched too tight. His hair was a mess, skewed to one side by his unmoving rest and leftover hair products. His muscles shook and his mouth was dry and he felt a hundred years old and newborn all at once, but the biggest shock was in realizing that he felt better than he could remember feeling in a very long time.
When he emerged, he allowed himself a moment of huffiness at the fact that Kris looked perfect as ever. Clean plaid shirt, snug, worn jeans, and hair in a weird state of perfected disarray. He didn't remember Kris ever getting off of the bed from beside him, but then a nuclear war and resulting zombie apocalypse could have come while he was out and he probably never would have budged.
"I made coffee," Kris said, his voice soft, casual and familiar in a way that made Adam's throat constrict and his eyes prickle painfully, made him fear that he was dangerously close to tears. He managed a weak smile and a "Thanks" but couldn't quite get out the teasing "my hero" that was on the tip of tongue. He was sure it would come out too honest and sincere, and then the tears would come for sure and he felt too wasted and used to survive tears just yet.
They sat at the table in comfortable silence, drinking black coffee and slowly chewing bagels that Kris warmed up in the toaster. They didn't talk about what happened, not yet. Instead they just enjoyed the quiet, the warmth of the sun filtering in through the large corner window, catching little dust motes suspended eternally the air and making everything feel comfortable and warm and safe. Adam couldn't explain why, but he didn't feel like there was any rush, like they had plenty of time to talk about what happened. It felt like someone had given him permission to sit still, to just enjoy being for a little while. It was one more thing that he knew he'd never be able to thank Kris properly for. But, as Kris gave him a full smile that showed signs of lingering worry and dark circles beneath his eyes that Adam missed upon first glance, but also radiated pride and love, he knew he'd never stop trying.
The safe little bubble didn't pop as soon as Adam expected, but it did burst. He had to listen to his voicemails, had to talk to people who weren't Kris eventually. When he sat down to listen to them, Kris pulled the phone out of his hand and deleted all of his messages before handing it back to him. He took in Adam's confused expression and placed a sturdy hand on his shoulder. "Fresh start. Just call the people you think are most important first."
Leila was hysterical, to no one's surprise. It wasn't so much the shock of finding out about everything as it was the fear of not being able to reach him for five days after the fact. He explained, after she was done screaming and crying and cursing him, and she calmed down a little.
"So, you're really going to stop? Because honey, you know going through that isn't going to make the desire to keep doing it go away. Maybe you should go to a doctor. They could find a place for you to go, someplace private-"
"Mom, you know as well as I do that there's no such thing as private for me anymore." His voice was strong, and her arguments all seemed to die on her lips. "I'll make it, Mom. I promise. This is what I want. I just needed someone to help me realize that."
Neil and Eber were easier if only because neither of them got emotional. There was some anger and yelling and some scathing comments from Neil, but it went better than he'd expected.
The same couldn't be said for the label and managers and assistants, who all reacted exactly as he'd imagined. He found that Ethan was right, at least to an extent. His press agent really pushed the victim angle, but Adam refused. The statement he gave her was one he worked through with Kris late that first morning. It expressed his remorse, said he hoped people could understand that he's human and fallible and made mistakes. He also stated that the photo had been taken several months prior and that he had since cleaned up his act. He didn't say how recently, but he figured it wasn't a lie, so he could feel okay about it.
Kris stayed for a month. Long enough for the media frenzy to die down, long enough to keep Adam from watching every news clip that came up with his name on it, long enough to keep him from tweeting Perez a message calling him a fucking douche nozzle.
Adam had moments where he wanted to go out and get something to make it all easier, but he didn't. Never even really considered it, just thought about it with a sort of distant longing that seemed to fill most of the corners of his life as of late.
He didn't want to admit, to himself or anyone else, just how big a part of the reason for his sudden bout of strong will was Kris. When he was honest with himself, he knew that since meeting him he'd always been happiest with Kris around. He understood why he chose to live in Arkansas, saw how it helped to keep him grounded, but there were moments he resented it. He knew his reasoning was selfish, and he never voiced it, but it was there. He wanted Kris in his life, all the time, and while he wouldn't trade the time Kris had devoted to him for anything, would never be anything but grateful for what he'd done for him, he thought it was all unintentional cruelty at its core. He was better because of Kris. He was happy again because of Kris. So what happened when Kris went home?
He found himself preparing for the inevitable in small ways. He stopped asking Kris to go everywhere with him, started getting up early and making his own damned coffee even though it wasn't nearly as good. Kris gave him odd looks from time to time, and he just hoped he didn't think he'd fallen off the wagon or something.
Weeks after the initial withdrawals, Adam had a bad night. Kris stayed in the room with him, but he did pretty good for himself, didn't do much more than pace and snap and make himself go to bed. When he woke up, it was to the sound of Kris, humming quietly and playing something melodic and unfamiliar on his guitar. Adam propped himself up on his elbow and watched him, and after a long moment Kris met his eyes, his own going wide when he realized he'd been caught. He put his guitar to the side and muttered a quiet "Hey" by way of greeting.
Adam stretched and sat up, his voice groggy. "Morning. How long have you been awake?" Kris shrugged. "Is something wrong?" Adam said, feeling concern etching a line in his forehead. Kris shook his head. "No. Just... figured I should tell you I'm probably going to head back home tomorrow."
Adam felt like his heart had just flung itself from his chest and was beating arrhythmically in the back of his throat. His palms felt clammy and he'd have taken all the cravings in the world over the feeling settling into his chest. He jerked his head in some attempt at a nod and said in a voice that was false and smooth, "Okay. Do you want breakfast?" He stood and made his way to the kitchen without waiting for an answer.
It wasn't as bad as it could have been. Touring started soon after and he was busy and rarely at home anyway. He filled his days so he couldn't think about how easy it would be to go back to his old ways, so he couldn't think so much about the fact that when it was over he'd be going back to an empty house again. He wrote a lot, but hated everything he created because it was all so sad and angsty and so not what he was about.
The media hadn't left him alone, but it was obvious he was doing better. He looked healthier, had gained a little weight and was going to the gym a lot. No missed meetings, no public outbursts, not a toe out of line. His management team couldn't have been happier.
He still talked to Kris. Kris worried, which made him feel worse instead of better because he couldn't help but wish it meant more than it did. He didn't know when it happened exactly, and he wanted to play it all off as a savior complex, but he knew that would be bullshit. He'd cared about Kris since the first time they met, when he'd looked up at him with wide, lost brown eyes and asked with just a hint of panic in his voice if Adam knew where the bathroom was. The more he'd got to know him, the deeper the feelings pushed themselves, and now the roots went so damned far that he was pretty sure if he tried to dig them loose he'd kill himself in the process.
That's why he could never ignore his calls even when the voice on the other line caused him more pain than happiness most days. It was why he didn't fall back into his old ways for fear of having to hide from Kris again, even though he knew he was still hiding in a lot of important ways. And it was why, when he had a break from tour and Kris wanted to come see him, he couldn't say yes fast enough.
When he opened the door, Kris was holding a copy of People and wearing a huge grin. "So I hear you're kicking ass on tour and look hotter than ever."
Adam eyed the magazine and smiled. "Well, it's better than Enquirer."
They ordered Chinese food and drank scotch and talked. Despite the knot in his chest that didn't seem to be going anywhere, despite the fact it felt like pterodactyls had killed the butterflies in his stomach and taken roost there in their absence, he felt more at peace than he had in months.
They talked about a lot. Adam told Kris how he'd almost relapsed once when he bumped into some old friends and went out partying and some stuff got passed around. He didn't tell him that it had been thinking about the look of disappointment on Kris's face was what made him stop. He told him the record execs were happy with his progress and that they were really excited about his new album. But he didn't tell him about the pages of lyrics he'd written that would never end up on an album because they were too personal, the inspiration too obvious. He told him that he wasn't dating, that he was just focusing on himself for a while. He couldn't tell him that his heart, without consulting with his brain, had already set itself on the one person it wanted the most and didn't feel likely to be swayed be silly reasons like the feelings not being reciprocated. He knew he needed to come clean, but couldn't see what good it would do.
It was almost two in the morning and a half an hour into total silence when Kris spoke up.
"Adam?" He looked up from his seat on the floor to stare at Kris, his expression that of one pulled out of deep thoughts. "Hmm?" Kris sat up on the couch and looked at him from across the table. His eyes narrowed as he fought with words that didn't seem to want to form themselves into proper sentences just yet. "I- you know I- we-" There was that word again, the one that made Adam feel young and stupid and hopeful, in a futile sort of way. "What is it Kris?" he said, his voice soft. He was too old to entertain thoughts of happy endings and too drunk to be mature and reasonable, so he tried to settle for blank.
Kris heaved a sigh, twisting the neck of the almost empty scotch bottle between his hands, "I think I might move to L.A."
That got Adam's attention. He sat up so fast he nearly upended the table, slamming his knee into it with a resounding thud. "What, oh... why?" It was the wrong thing to say and it sounded terrible and the look on Kris's face made him wish for a time machine so he could go back just a few seconds and take it all back. "I didn't mean it like that! I mean... I thought you were happy in Arkansas?"
Kris shrugged. "I think... maybe staying there has been too easy. I've done well for myself, I know that, and I guess I deserve to live where I'm comfortable, but," he swallowed hard and looked like he wished the bottle in his hands wasn't so damned close to empty, "I guess I'm sick of being comfortable. Maybe I'm ready for something else. I feel like I've been running a long time. I think, maybe it'd be nice to sit still for a while."
Adam didn't know if it was Kris or the alcohol that had him confused. All he knew was that his head felt like it was full of mist and nothing seemed terribly clear to him. "Well, that's good then, right? It'll be easier for business and stuff I guess. I mean, it seems logical-" and then he stopped talking because Kris was up and pacing again and everything was just so damned similar to last time that he felt the unerring grip of pure, visceral, sweaty palmed nerves.
"Adam, don't you ever- I mean... don't you want more than what you have? Have you ever-" he made a sound strangled with frustration and raked his hand so hard through his short hair that Adam thought it must hurt before burying his face in his hands. He didn't say anything for a minute and Adam couldn't do anything except listen to his own throbbing heart and try not to go to him and wrap him up in his arms.
And then he realized that that was exactly what he should do. Kris was his best friend, and despite whatever was going inside himself, Kris needed him, was trying to talk to him. Holding back because of his own tangle of emotions was selfish and he berated himself for it. Kris had given up a month of his life and a lifetime's worth of sleep to make sure Adam wouldn't make a mess of his own life, and he couldn't risk a little heartache?
He pushed himself off the floor and walked over to Kris, pulling his hands away from his face before wrapping him in his arms, pulling him to his chest so tightly he felt sure he'd have an impression of Kris's features imprinted in the fabric of his shirt when they stopped. Kris didn't relax into his arms like he'd expected, but instead slid his hands up, fisting Adam's shirt in tightly clenched palms and pulling him into himself. He buried his face in Adam's chest before sliding his cheek up, beginnings of stubble against the soft fabric of his t-shirt, looking at him for only a second, just long enough for Adam to realize his focus wasn't on his eyes where it would usually fall but on his lips, before Kris was capturing them with his own, his mouth hot and fervent and desperate. He could feel the lifetime of want he was putting into it, his whole world was on offer just behind his seeking lips, everything he'd been holding back, holding in all pouring out and Adam couldn't think, couldn't resist if he'd wanted to. He clung onto Kris and let himself fall.
Every moment that followed was a snapshot, encompassing memories of things that should have been but never were and moments they were willing to become reality, to materialize into the future they were both finally trying to make happen.
Every first Adam had had before was nothing now. Kris was all that mattered. When he was old and his memories started to fade, he didn't care if he forgot his first number one album, first tour, all the fans and the adoration and success. As long as he still had the memory of Kris's lips on his, the sound of his own name spoken back to him in a broken chant, that would sustain him, would make every remaining year of his life on earth worth sticking around for.
The first time Kris touched him, more sure of himself than Adam had ever ventured to imagine, Adam had found himself shaking, completely undone by it like he was twenty-one and it was all new again. But it was better, so much better. They shivered like they were freezing despite the sweat pouring from them, were unsure of themselves, fumbled a few times, the adrenaline making them shaky and a little awkward, but it was messy and hot and and so good that it felt like everything around them was vibrating with it.
There may have been more fluid sexual encounters, times where practice and confidence made hands move with more ease, made motions less jerky and transitions more elegant. But neither had ever moved with more need, had never touched with more desperation, had never held onto someone tight enough to leave bruises in the shape of fingerprints. They'd never cried out another person's name with such passion and relief around shattered, broken breaths, elated at the simple act of speaking the person's name in the way it had always been intended, in their presence, all masks and pretense ripped away.
In the moments after, they lay next to each other with only their hands touching as they stared at the ceiling. The room was heavy with everything they still had left to discuss and it didn't take long for Adam to feel the fear bubble up in him. The instinct to disavow everything that had happened for fear of losing Kris completely if he finally let everything he was feeling out became a weight pressing on his chest, making his eyes prickle and trying to force out words he didn't really want to speak. Before the urge could succeed, Kris rolled over and grabbed his face, shaking his head in disagreement with the words Adam hadn't even had a chance to speak, kissing him so hard he tasted blood.
"I'm not going anywhere. So stop." His voice was just a whisper on Adam's lips, but it caused a noise to rip free of Adam's chest, somewhere between a groan and a sob, loosening the knot that felt like it had been there since he'd met him as he pressed up into Kris, kissing him like he finally believed it was real. They sunk into each other, holding on tight and joining again with all the fear and hope and joy that comes with getting the only thing you've ever known you couldn't live without.
The sleep they captured that night was sketchy, taken in the form of small naps between the moments where their words and bodies fought for control of the conversation. But in the morning, both felt rested and content as they made their way to the kitchen.
Adam sat at the island with his chin resting in his palm, watching Kris move around the space with comfortable familiarity as he set a pot of coffee brewing and grabbed two muffins out of the bread box. He placed one in front of Adam and sat down, his eyes settling on Adam's face and a befuddled smile gracing his features making him look so much like he did the first time Adam met him that he could feel his breath catch in his throat.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" he said, his drawl thick with residual sleep and bashfulness as he took a bite of his own muffin.
Adam smiled, shaking his head and looking down at his hands. "It's just-don't you ever- I mean... did you ever want something so much that you couldn't allow yourself to even think about having it, because you knew the pain you'd feel when it didn't happen- you knew it would kill you?"
Kris was quiet, and Adam looked up to break the silence, to apologize for crossing what must have been the last invisible line between them he hadn't seen and had crossed by mistake, and was stopped short by the feel of Kris's mouth on his, just a soft brush that still held the weight of his entire world behind it. He pulled back and looked him in the eyes and Adam finally saw an emotion there that he'd noticed a million time before but never understood until that moment.
"I love you too, Adam. Now eat your muffin."