take what we want and give the rest away
kris/adam; pg-13; 6100 words
fandom cliche #82: in which the heroes get older, grow up and fall in love.
notes: beta'd by wutendeskind, to whom i am very very grateful. title from the kinks' song "strangers." also: obligatory j2 shout out included.
Three years after Idol, Kris and Katy divorce. It’s a relatively painless process, all things considered; Katy wants to move back to Arkansas, wants to go back to an easier life, and Kris… doesn’t. They had grown apart anyway: Kris had felt her sliding away from him, or maybe it was him doing the sliding—or maybe it was both of them, neither of them taking any steps forward or back, just letting the distance come between them.
He sells the house. He sells most of the furniture too, keeps only his guitars and his clothes and some of the nicer studio equipment they’d acquired over the years.
Two days later he is standing on Adam’s doorstep with a guitar case in one hand and a duffel over his shoulder.
“Hi, sweetheart,” Adam says, when he opens the door.
“Hi,” Kris says. The LA summer sun beats down on the back of his neck. He feels sweaty and a little sad. They haven’t spoken in at least a month.
He puts the guitar case down, and holds out his arms, and Adam hugs him briefly, crushing him against his chest. Adam smells comfortingly of lemony hair product and sweat.
“I’m sorry,” Adam says into his ear.
“Yeah,” Kris says, into Adam’s neck, and is surprised to find that his eyes are stinging.
Adam throws him a party, because parties are what Adam does when he’s at a loss. He tries to spin it so it doesn’t sound so much like a “you just got divorced!” party, but somehow when all of Adam’s friends arrive bearing armfuls of liquors and probably enough drugs to kill a horse, that’s exactly what everyone has decided the party’s about.
Kris mostly sits on the couch and accepts beers from Adam once in awhile, just to have something in his hands. In Arkansas everyone knows him and he knows everyone, and everything is safe and familiar, and everyone looks at him with the same sad squashed faces that say, we had such high hopes for you.
Adam’s friends don’t know or care about him. If they do acknowledge him, it’s only to congratulate him on his freedom and kiss him sloppily on the cheek, and Kris laughs and thanks them and thinks, idly, about punching them all in the face.
One woman, wearing some truly insane combination of feathers and sequins, sits down next to him and takes his face in her hands. This sort of triggers traumatic flashbacks of the Idol tour, so Kris tries to squirm away, but she tightens her grip. Over her shoulder, Adam hovers, smiling a little.
Sadistic, Kris thinks, furiously.
The woman strokes his face with her nails. “You’re very unhappy,” she says.
“Um,” Kris says.
“But that’s okay,” she says, earnestly. Her voice is deep and soothing, but her eyes are wide and crazy. “You’re supposed to be unhappy. This is the first time you’ve ever made a decision for yourself. All the pain you feel, all the guilt and the sadness. This is what it feels like to be a real person.” She leans in closer. “This is what it means to be a person in this world.”
“Ah… okay,” Kris says, helplessly.
She strokes his face again and lets him go.
When she is gone, Adam, laughing, sits down next to him. “Sorry,” Adam says, insincerely, “I probably should have rescued you, but that was kind of awesome.”
Kris puts a hand to his cheek, which is stinging a little from where the woman dug her nails in. He asks, “Do you think I’m a real person who makes decisions for himself?”
Adam’s face gentles, and he slings an arm around Kris and pulls him close. “I don’t know,” he says. “Do you?”
Across the room, Drake is laughing, loud enough that they hear him. Kris looks at him. After three years he is still slim and charming, and Kris can feel that beside him, Adam is looking too. Kris has seen them together, has seen the way Adam still looks at him, fond and content and a little in awe, as if their still being together after three years is still a surprise. He thinks he remembers feeling that way about Katy, but he isn’t sure.
“I guess I don’t know,” he says, finally.
Adam, who has kind of forgotten the conversation, just looks at him mistily and smiles.
He moves in. He has nowhere to go, and no plans, and when he tries to go get a hotel room Adam literally blocks the doorway with his body.
“But—” he says.
“Shut up,” Adam says firmly, and puts his hands on Kris’s shoulders and guides him to the guest bedroom.
Later, Drake sticks his head in and says hello. Kris is folding his shirts and putting them in the dresser, slowly, with infinite care.
“Hey,” Drake says. “Sorry about your—”
“Yeah.” Kris smiles at Drake over the sea of plaid that is Kris’s wardrobe. “I’m glad you and Adam are—”
“Yeah,” Drake says quickly, and leaves again.
A month later, though, Adam wakes Kris up at three in the morning by crawling into his bed with him.
“Drake and I broke up,” Adam mumbles into the pillows. “Again.”
Kris rubs at his eyes. “Is this what we’re doing now?” he asks, irritable because it’s three in the morning and he hasn’t been sleeping well. “Are we break up buddies or something?”
“Yes,” Adam says. “This is what we’re doing now, asshole.”
This silences Kris. He rolls over onto his side to face Adam, who turns his head to meet his eye. Adam’s eyeliner is absurdly smudged over basically one half of his face.
“Oh,” Kris says, and lays a hand, gently, on Adam’s neck.
Kris finds an apartment he likes in Westside Village. Adam drives with him to his storage unit and helps him move into the relatively modest space.
But not without bitching about it. “You know what wouldn’t take two days and most of my arm muscles?” he asks, as he and Kris try and finagle a way to get Kris’s new couch through the doorway. “Staying with me.”
“Adam, I can’t just live with you for the rest of my life,” Kris says, turning around to lean his back against the couch and push. “As attractive as that option is.”
“Why not?” Adam asks, and Kris has his back to him now but Adam sounds slightly breathless with exertion. “Those two guys from Supernatural live together.”
“A, you should never use people on the CW as a model for anything, and B,”—Kris bends his knees and shoves, using all the strength in his quads, and the couch squeaks, reluctantly, through the door—“Those guys are definitely dating.”
Adam’s face appears triumphantly over the armrest. His hair, ungelled, is sticking up in sweaty spikes. Kris likes Adam this way, no makeup on but the smear of leftover eyeliner from the night before, freckles light but still visible. Kris likes this for the same reason he liked Katy’s tan lines in the summer: because it’s secret, because you have to earn the right to see it. “Really?” Adam asks, wiping a hand across his forehead. “How do you know?”
“They own a house together,” Kris says, patiently, and pushes the couch halfheartedly. “Come on. Be a man.”
“I love it when you get bossy,” Adam says, and pulls.
Kris has never lived alone. After Adam leaves, Kris orders pizza, and lies down on the living room floor.
By himself, the room seems cavernous, the ceiling too far away. He picked the apartment because it was small and every room but the kitchen was carpeted. He has maudlin ideas about the sad echoing of shuffling footsteps, or something stupid. When he was younger he would have written a song about it.
Still lying on the floor, he calls his parents to tell them he’s all moved into his new apartment, and Adam even made him unpack some so he won’t be living out of boxes for the next six months as they had feared.
“I hate thinking of you there all alone,” his mother says, when his father has hung up his extension to give them time to talk.
“I know you do,” Kris says.
She hangs up soon after, and Kris leaves the phone by his ear. He has nothing to do and a lot of time to do it in, so he lies there with his hands on his stomach, watching the ceiling and feeling small.
Learning to be alone is part of it, he thinks to himself, but he isn’t sure what, exactly, it is part of.
Kris dates. Occasionally. It’s hard, at first; he’s never actually “dated” before. And even if he doesn’t regret divorcing Katy, he sometimes misses being with her. He finds himself drawn to women who remind him of her, and being turned off when they do something Katy would never do.
“She wore perfume to the gym,” he says to Adam, on the phone, after he has broken up with his third girlfriend in a year. “Who does that?”
“I do,” Adam says. After a moment, he adds, “Well, not perfume. You know what I mean.”
Kris pokes half-heartedly at the omelet he’s trying to make. He’s never been that good at cooking—Katy had always loved cooking, so he generally just tried to stay out of her way and make appreciative faces over the dinner table. Kris is really good at making appreciative faces.
“Yeah,” Adam agrees, laughing, “and your standards are too fucking high.” Adam is somewhere in Europe, touring to promote his new CD, and they haven’t talked often in the months since he’s been gone. This doesn’t bother Kris, really—he’s used to it, by this point—but it’s good to hear Adam’s voice, gone slightly rough and growly with overuse.
“Maybe,” Kris says. “It’s just that—you know. No one is Katy, you know?”
“You divorced Katy,” Adam points out, then has to hang up to deal with some sort of crisis.
Kris burns the omelet. He eats it anyway, in the quiet of his empty kitchen, the morning light filtering in and slowly creeping across his table.
Adam stumbles in one night from some premiere or other. Kris is cat-sitting for him, but Adam’s new kitten has long since passed out from exhaustion, so Kris is just watching TV and waiting for Adam.
“I am too fucking old for this,” Adam moans, collapsing on the couch, his head settling heavily onto Kris’s thigh.
Kris pats Adam’s forehead consolingly. Adam’s hair is still jet black, the color intense enough that it must just have been re-dyed. “You’re 32, dude,” he says. “That’s not old.”
Adam toes off his boots, and, sighing, nuzzles his head deeper into Kris’s thigh. “32 is like, ancient, for queers. 32 may as well be dead.”
“Shut up,” Kris says, and obligingly skritches his fingers through Adam’s hair as Adam hums with contentment.
Kris focuses back on the TV, but the images wash past him. Adam’s head is heavy on his lap; he has turned his face towards Kris’s belly, and his breath is hot through the thin cotton of Kris’s shirt. Kris tries to think about how nice this is, how grateful he is for Adam’s unreserved cuddliness, which can always be counted on, but instead he just thinks about how his shirt is getting a little damp from the closeness of Adam’s mouth and just how thin, exactly, the barrier between Adam’s lips and Kris’s skin is.
“Is this the part where I ask when you’re going to go back to the studio and start participating in normal society again?” Adam asks, yawning. He reaches up and pets, clumsily, at Kris’s neck and shoulder and whatever else is in reach.
Kris nudges his head into Adam’s palm. “Please don’t,” he says. “I like it best when you pretend I’m functional.”
“Okay,” Adam says easily. His palm cradles Kris’s skull. They scratch each other’s heads in idle, easy time together, their movements synchronized, until Adam’s hand drops away, and they drift into sleep, slumped together on the couch.
Kris weasels the name of Adam’s exclusive, incredibly expensive gym out of Adam. He is tired of going to gyms and being stared at by college-age girls who remember him as their first pubescent celebrity crush. After a girl he has been trying to flirt with confesses that she threw her bra at him at one of the Idol concerts, he calls Adam on his way home.
“Kris, it’s an exclusive, expensive, gay gym,” Adam says.
“Good,” Kris snaps, slamming on his brakes for a red light. “At least everyone there will be too rich and sophisticated to admit they watched American Idol.”
Adam laughs. “That’s not how it works, dumpling.”
But he gives him the number and Kris goes and it is better, way better, than the gyms Kris has been going to before, because the ogling is at least pretty discreet, although the steam room is pretty much straight out of Queer as Folk (which Adam and Allison had made him watch on the tour bus sometime—he had secretly hoped that Michael and Brian somehow figured things out and got together at the end, even though Adam assured him that that’s not what happened).
There’s a guy there, too, who always works out when Kris does somehow, who is—well, actually, kind of attractive. He has almost-black hair and kind of big eyebrows and broad shoulders, and his name is Sam. They eye each other for a month across the small space. Kris tells himself for a while that he’s just admiring Sam’s weight-lifting technique, but after the third time he finds his eyes following beads of sweat down Sam’s collar, or tracking the fine golden hair on Sam’s legs that disappears into his shorts, Kris has to admit that there’s really no such thing as weight-lifting technique, and if there is it’s not what’s interesting him.
When Sam asks him out for a drink, Kris asks, immediately, “How old are you, and did you watch American Idol?”
Sam raises an eyebrow—the same way Adam does, arching one rather than both. “I’m 27,” he says, “and I know who you are, but I have to admit I never got into Idol.”
He is holding out a business card. This is what it means to be a real person, Kris thinks, and takes it.
Katy gets married that August. Kris debates asking Sam to come with him, but in the end just goes with Adam, who, Kris is kind of surprised to find out, was invited on his own.
“Your wife always liked me more than you,” Adam teases him, on the plane, but Kris just hmms in agreement and keeps watching the clouds.
The ceremony is beautiful, simpler than Kris and Katy’s own, under a tent in Katy’s new husband’s backyard. Kris and Adam sit somewhere in the middle of the crowd, even though Katy’s parents tried—weirdly—to get them to sit in the front row with them.
As they watch Katy come down the aisle, Adam puts his hand on Kris’s knee and squeezes. Kris knows this should be hard for him, and it is in a way: Katy walked down an aisle only six years ago, and it had been him standing up by the priest, his palms sweaty and his heart pounding so loud he felt sure the whole church could hear it.
At the time, Kris thought that would be the scariest and happiest moment of his life, but then Idol happened, and then winning Idol happened, and then the tour, and so many scaryhappy moments came and went that that moment—Katy coming down the aisle, looking more beautiful than she ever had—got lost, somehow.
Really, in the end, the fact of their divorce isn’t the surprise, it’s how long they took to get there.
Later, Kris gives Katy a hug and a kiss on the cheek, because they are still friends, because he will always love her in the same teenage way, and he and Adam get pleasantly drunk at the reception.
On the way back to Kris’s parents house, where they are staying, Kris confides, “I think I should feel more sad than I do.”
Adam, who is a terrible driver even when not drunk and so never trusted behind the wheel of Kris’s car, looks over and smiles briefly. He squeezes Kris’s knee again. “I think you should feel however you want to feel,” he says.
Kris covers Adam’s hand with his own and squeezes back.
Adam falls asleep in the passenger seat, his head against the window. Out of the corner of his eye, Kris watches Adam’s face slide in and out of shadow, the streetlights illuminating his face then fading, over and over, until they are home.
Adam is early for Kris’s thirtieth birthday party. He lets himself into the apartment with his key. Kris is in the kitchen, trying to scrape together something suitable for a small party to eat.
“I brought party platters,” Adam says, depositing the food on the table.
“Thank God,” Kris says with relief. He puts down the knife.
A muffled sound from the bathroom makes Adam cock his head. “Who else is here?”
“No one,” Kris says, quickly, “Just—”
“New girlfriend? Mr. Allen, how dare you keep her from me?” Adam puts a hand on his hip and wags a finger in Kris’s face. “What’s her name?”
“Sam,” Kris mumbles, as the bathroom door opens and Sam comes into the kitchen with just a towel wrapped around his waist.
“Ah,” Adam says.
Adam is barely civil to Sam all night, and does his best not to speak to Kris at all. Kris wants to say something, wants to apologize, but he can’t even think of anything to say. He doesn’t know if that means there’s nothing to apologize for, or if it means there’s too much.
Sam makes an excuse and leaves early. “Sorry about Adam,” Kris says, at the doorway, scratching the back of his neck and shifting awkwardly from foot to foot.
“It’s okay,” Sam says, and kisses him a brief goodbye.
Kris doesn’t even need to turn around to know that Adam is watching.
Adam stays after everyone is gone to help Kris clean up. They do the dishes side by side, Kris washing and Adam drying.
“Okay, so—” Kris finally begins, over the sound of the running water.
“I’m sorry,” Adam interrupts. “That was shitty of me. This whole night was shitty of me.”
Kris turns off the water. “Yeah,” he says. “But I think I kinda ambushed you.”
Adam sighs and pushes some hair off his face, leaving a small streak of soap on his forehead. “I guess I always—I don’t know. It’s stupid, but I guess I always thought, you know, if you ever—I thought it would be me.”
Kris opens his mouth to say he has never thought about it, but he closes his mouth almost immediately. He’s never thought about it consciously, at least; he’s never allowed it into words, the same way he didn’t allow men and want to form into words until he was twenty two and on his way to being married so what did it matter anyway.
He looks at Adam. Adam hasn’t changed much, just gotten older, everything about his face softening almost imperceptibly, his hair grown longer and shaggier and no longer so conceptually styled. He looks the same to Kris, really: he just looks like Adam.
“That’s stupid,” Adam repeats, “I’m sorry.”
Kris reaches up and wipes the soap off Adam’s forehead with his thumb. “It’s not stupid,” he says, finally.
Adam smiles and kisses his cheek, slinging an arm around Kris’s waist. Kris leans into him, because he knows Adam will hold him up.
“Happy thirtieth, Polly Pocket,” Adam says.
Kris does, eventually, go back to the studio. The resulting album is low-key, mostly acoustic, mostly just him and his guitar, but it does pretty well. He goes on a small tour to promote it, and then another, when the first makes more money than anyone anticipated. Katy flies out to L.A. to see his first show, and she and Adam stand backstage, holding hands and beaming like proud parents.
Katy is pregnant. She is just beginning to show, her belly just slightly rounding underneath her dress.
“Wow,” Kris says, and puts his hand on her stomach.
“He’s not kicking yet,” she says, laughing, but she covers his hand with her own.
“That’s—wow,” Kris says again, helplessly. Adam is hanging back, and Kris catches his eye over Katy’s shoulder.
Kris rubs his thumb over the depression of Katy’s bellybutton. It could have been us, he thinks, but Katy and Adam are both looking at him like they know what he’s thinking, with the same closed look in their eyes: It could have, but it wasn’t.
Things with Sam don’t work out.
One night, Kris rolls over onto his side. He looks down at Sam, with his soft brown hair and his ridiculously chiseled jaw. Sam isn’t wearing anything, which Kris appreciates, because Sam is California-tan and his stomach muscles are the kind that would be intimidating, if Kris was intimidated by that sort of thing.
Sam yawns and stretches. He blinks and looks up sleepily at Kris.
This is the moment, Kris knows. It has been over a year. A normal person would have said I love you by now, but Kris is damaged goods, really, and Sam has been giving him time. Kris knows this; Adam has explained it many times.
“You’re great,” Kris says instead.
“Thanks,” Sam says, smiling, and he doesn’t look disappointed, but Kris feels disappointing. Maybe he isn’t trying hard enough; maybe there is more he could be doing, but he doesn’t know what it is. With Katy it had been easy, just like going to school every morning, something he knew how to do instinctively, until he didn’t.
College drop-out, failed husband, shitty boyfriend: disappointing.
He texts Adam: Can’t sleep. Wallowing.
Adam doesn’t text back though, so Kris lies back down and waits for the morning to come.
Adam calls him a few days later. “I met someone,” Adam says.
Kris is at the beach. It’s crowded, but Paris Hilton is half a mile down the beach from him, so no one is paying him attention. Kris tans and burns unevenly, in weird, unpredictable splotches, but it’s better than nothing.
“You meet people every day,” he says, digging his toes into the sand.
“No, I met someone,” Adam says. His excitement is palpable through the phone; it’s in the distinctive hitch in his voice.
Kris squints down the beach. “I think Paris Hilton might be drowning,” he says, “or maybe she just swims that way for fun.”
Adam huffs impatiently. Kris isn’t really sure why he’s trying to annoy Adam, but he is sure that he doesn’t want to talk about Adam’s new boyfriend. Adam’s had a lot of them over the years, and since Drake none of them have stuck for too long, and today Kris is tired.
“Well I can tell this isn’t going anywhere,” Adam says. “Call me when you feel like being a human.” And he hangs up.
Kris realizes that he didn’t even tell Adam that he and Sam broke up. He calls Adam a week later and apologizes, and listens to Adam describe the new guy at great length, and says all the right things and makes all the right faces, even if Adam isn’t there to see them.
“How’s Sam?” Adam asks, finally, when he’s run out of steam.
“Oh,” Kris says, and rubs the back of his neck. “We broke up. There was someone else.”
It is a lie, mostly, except for the fact that Sam didn’t handle being dumped very graciously and had said something bitchy about Kris and Adam and unrequited love, but it is easier than explaining that being with Sam made Kris feel like he had failed, or like he had missed something huge and important in his life and now was just sort of biding his time, drifting in the shallows, hoping it would come back.
“Oh,” Adam says, taken aback, and then, as it sinks in, “Oh. I’m sorry, baby. You should have told me earlier. I would have forgiven you for being such a bitch about me getting my new sex happiness all over you.”
“You could never stay mad at me,” Kris says, and feels oddly, absurdly grateful when Adam laughs and agrees.
So Kris is alone again. Adam brings his new boy—whose name is, sort of awkwardly, Chris—home from New York with him, and Kris tries to like him a few times before giving up. Chris is Adam’s type, down to the bone, trendy and clever and creative, like some freakish combination of Brad and Drake and every other boy Adam has ever dated. But he rubs Kris the wrong way: he’s too much, like he’s trying too hard to be something he just isn’t.
Kris tries to like Chris: he goes to the parties Adam throws for Chris, and invites him to dinner when he and Adam get together. One night, though, Kris gets too drunk and ends up accusing Chris of only liking Adam because he’s famous and beautiful, and after that the pretense of friendliness between them is pretty much over.
“You’re not even trying,” Adam says angrily after one particularly tense dinner.
Kris opens his mouth to deny this, but he looks at Chris over Adam’s shoulder—smiling vaguely, predatorily, as if he knows he has won—and all Kris can say is, “You’re right.”
He goes to leave, but Adam Lambert does not get upstaged, so Adam chases him down and grabs his arm so hard Kris bruises the next day.
“What the fuck,” Adam says, and it’s not really a question at all. He looks pissed, the real kind of pissed Kris has never seen directed at himself before, but beneath that he looks freaked out and sad.
Kris almost knee-jerks an apology, but he stops himself in time and says instead: “It’s not right. This isn’t—something isn’t right. I don’t know what is, but it’s not this, and I’m not just saying this because—look, I’m a person, okay?”
“What?” Adam asks. “Was that even English? Are you having a stroke?”
“I’m not having a stroke,” Kris says, shaking his arm out of Adam’s grasp and trying to marshal his dignity. “I’m having a hard time.”
He walks away again, and this time Adam lets him.
Adam and Kris don’t speak for three months after that. In the meantime, Kris goes home to Arkansas.
His mother fusses over him, tells him he’s too skinny like always, and force-feeds him so much at every meal that he spends most of his days sitting on the couch, trying not to puke. He doesn’t want to go out, not really, because most of his friends are married now, with children, and going out means an early meal and one glass of wine before home to pay the babysitter and kiss the kids goodnight.
So Kris eats and sleeps and sits around in his childhood room, doodling on his guitar. He’s been writing some but not much, nothing too great, and certainly nothing to put on an album. Adam is recording his sixth, he heard, or maybe his seventh by now.
He tries not to think about Adam.
Katy shows up one day, enters his room without knocking. Kris has been napping, curled into himself, the way he used to sleep when he was young and had never had to share a bed. She sits down on the bed and sweeps the hair out of his eyes.
“You look young,” she says, “like you haven’t changed at all since the first time we’ve met.”
“I have,” Kris says. “A lot.”
“I know,” Katy sighs, and stretches out beside him on the bed. “But it’s nice to pretend.”
He scoots over to make room for her. They are both small people but they still barely fit, something Kris remembers intimately from high school and visits home from college. They used to come back to his room after school, his senior year, and fall asleep together, her leg hooked over his hip, his face pressed into her neck. They napped until Kris’s parents came home sometimes, then hurriedly woke up and straightened their clothes and pretended to be studying.
She turns on her side now, to face him. Her body has changed a little, her pregnancy having rounded out her edges and softened the sharp of her knees and elbows.
“You should have come over,” she says, “I want you to meet Jenny.”
“Sorry,” he mumbles, kind of unable to meet her eyes. Then, after a moment, he admits, “It’s weird.”
She takes his hand. “Yeah. But you have to face it anyway.”
Kris closes his eyes. He thinks about how he had loved her, how when he looked at her he always felt his chest cave in a little, how he had always felt like devouring her, and like he was being devoured.
“I think you’re the only person I’ve ever loved,” he says. He feels melodramatic and childish saying it, but he says it anyway.
She doesn’t respond, so he opens his eyes again.
Katy’s face is serious and sad, and there are lines around her mouth Kris doesn’t remember.
“You and I both know that’s not true,” she says, finally.
Kris holds her hand tighter, and thinks about Adam, who doesn’t make him feel like his chest is collapsing. Adam makes him feel something else: something warm and safe, something close enough to friendship that Kris has always willfully mistaken it as such, because it was easier.
Kris opens his mouth to tell Katy how much he misses her, how much everything has changed, how he is so tired, but she shushes him, tells him it’s okay, she knows. They hold hands in the small bed, just big enough for them and their memories, and Kris thinks about all the things he can’t have, and all the things he can, and tries to face it.
Adam and Chris break up, and three weeks later Adam is on Kris’s couch, half-heartedly eating the barbecue potato chips that Kris has managed to rustle up.
“If you say I told you so, I really will never speak to you again,” Adam threatens. His hair is shaggy and chestnut brown, and he’s toned down his foundation, but his nails are still black.
“I won’t,” Kris says, sitting down next to him on the couch. He is bouncy with energy, ridiculously happy that Adam has come back to him, that Adam is here on his couch, eating his shitty food, and looking just the same as always in all the ways that count. “I’m not that much of an asshole,” he adds.
Adam just hmms noncommittally at this and wipes the barbecue powder left over on his hands on Kris’s thighs. “Don’t complain, bitch,” he says, and Kris doesn’t.
They order pizza and watch shitty movies long into the night. Kris invades Adam’s space as often as he can, eating dinner with his legs sprawled over Adam’s lap, watching Men in Black 2 with his arm over Adam’s shoulder, hugging him close. He is happier than he has been in months.
They fall asleep on the couch, halfway through Runaway Bride, Kris’s arms still wrapped around Adam’s neck. When they wake they have somehow slid sideways, so Adam is half on top of Kris, his face mashed against Kris’s ribs.
“Good morning,” Kris says, when Adam begins to stir.
“Augh,” Adam says, “I pick this as least advisable sleeping position of the year.”
Kris gives Adam’s shoulder a squeeze. He is surprised to find he is still the same kind of happy, a bubble of joy lodged between his stomach and his ribcage. Adam begins to wriggle, trying to roll off Kris, but Kris tightens his grip.
“I like you here,” Kris says.
“I’m clearly crushing you,” Adam points out, “You’re breathing really fast. You’re obviously two minutes away from total asphyxiation.”
“I like you here,” Kris repeats, inanely.
Adam just mumbles something and faceplants back into Kris’s chest.
“So, I think a lot of people think I’m this really good guy,” Kris says, and he gives Adam a little shake to make sure he’s awake.
“Categorically untrue,” Adam says into Kris’s shirt. “I have it on good authority that you, Kris Allen, are a little shit sometimes.”’
“Shut up and listen, I’m trying to talk about feelings here. Listen. I think a good guy, a good person, is someone who is really loving and, you know, kind, and makes the people around them happy. But I don’t think I’m any of that, because all I’ve been doing for the past, uh, forever, is make the people around me unhappy. And I’ve only really loved two people who aren’t in my family.”
When Adam is silent, Kris adds, awkwardly, “You and Katy. Um, are the two people I love. If that wasn’t… clear.”
Adam rubs his nose against the notch between Kris’s collarbones. “You know I love you back,” he says, but his voice sounds a little unsteady.
Kris sucks a breath in through his teeth. There’s a lot more he has to say, but he already feels off-balance and unsteady, and Adam isn’t looking at him, keeping his head down.
Kris chokes a little trying to speak, clears his throat loudly, and then finally forces it out: “Look, a long time ago, I mean, a couple years ago, you said… you said you thought it would be you and me. Together, I mean. And I didn’t… I didn’t hear that, or I didn’t let myself hear that, and I think it’s because, you know, I love you. I love you, but I loved Katy too, and Katy loved me, and it just wasn’t even about us loving each other in the end. So I guess back then, I didn’t really put it together, that loving you meant wanting to be with you.”
“Wanting to be with me and wanting not to be lonely anymore are two different things,” Adam says, and his voice is freakishly even, but Kris can feel how tense he is, every line in his body taut against Kris’s own.
“I know that,” Kris says, and puts his hand on Adam’s neck, pushing his fingers through Adam’s hair. “And I know I should have done this, or said this, a long time ago. Before Sam even. But I’m glad Sam happened, you know, because I think if I had divorced Katy and gotten together with you, it would have been like you were the default. But you aren’t the default. I’ve thought about it for a long time, and you’re not the default. You’re, you know, what I want. Honestly.”
After an interminable silence, in which Kris tries hard to stare Adam down but fails and ends up looking at Adam’s nose instead, and then Adam says, “Okay,” and puts his head back down.
“Okay?” Kris echoes, disbelievingly. “That’s all you have to say?”
“Okay, whatever, I’m fucking sleeping, we can talk about this later,” Adam says.
It takes Kris about ten, heart-stopping seconds to realize Adam is fucking with him.
“I’m going to kill you,” he says, slowly, and Adam, unbelievably, giggles.
“Seriously,” Kris says, and then tries to flip them both over, his fingers going straight to Adam’s ribcage, but even while being tickled and shrieking like a girl Adam is a lot bigger than Kris, so the flipping thing doesn’t really work out, and then Adam catches Kris’s wrists in his hands and pins them above Kris’s head.
“The first rule of fight club,” Adam intones, smiling, “Is that I’m always on top. Unless you’re being really—”
But Kris doesn’t hear the rest of it, because he leans up and kisses Adam into silence.
Adam’s mouth is bigger than his own, and his lips are soft. They both have morning breath, but Kris can’t really bring himself to care.
Kris doesn’t feel like his chest is caving in, though it probably in actual fact is. He doesn’t feel anything metaphorical, really: he just feels Adam on top of him, Adam’s tongue licking carefully along Kris’s lips, Adam’s ribs sweeping open with breath and the resulting change of pressure; just Adam’s body, and his own, physical and textured and real, finally real.