Rating: T (PG-13)
Disclaimer: Not mine, clearly.
Notes: Multi-part Adam/Kris story covering their time in the idol mansion, and leading up to the Top 3 results show.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
The Night Before the Last Time
The night of the Top 3 performances, Adam’s brother takes him out for a celebratory ‘no-way-you-are-going-home-tomorrow’ drink. It’s a hollow victory, really not one at all, because Adam can’t enjoy the ride like this.
“Bro, seriously, you are safe, I promise you.”
Neil is supposed to say that, Adam knows it, but he smiles anyway.
“Probably,” he agrees, lifting his vodka tonic to his lips.
“And it doesn’t matter anyway?” Neil guesses.
Adam shakes his head, twirling his glass on the table top. It leaves perfect wet rings wherever it stops, interlocking together like an unbreakable chain.
“I should get back,” he says suddenly, pushing his chair away from the table.
His brother follows, mutely, like he’s also supposed to. Adam is grateful for the silence during the car ride back to the mansion. He’s grateful to have Neil here at all, most of the others had a few family and friends, but Adam had his whole life at the base of the mansion’s mountain—he supposed that made him lucky.
As he slides out of the car, Neil reaches across and brushes his arm.
“Hey,” he says quietly.
Adam turns, staring at Neil’s face illuminated in the red lights from the dash. He gets it, he always has. He knows what Adam’s thinking even before he knows himself sometimes, and it’s freaky, but Adam appreciates the reassurance.
“This is not your last night here.”
Adam closes his eyes. “Yeah, it kinda is,” he replies.
“Still?” Neil asks.
Adam can only nod, silent.
Neil pulls back into the car and shifts into first. “Well, I’ve never seen you back down from a challenge.” His grin is wicked in the red light, and Adam uses it as fuel.
He’s going to go in there and get what he wants—even if it might be for the very last time.
Nine weeks before the last time
Adam hasn’t shared a bedroom with a man in a long time…well, a man that he wasn’t actually sleeping with that is. He’s not sure if he can do the platonic roommate thing for ten more weeks. And if he had been given his choice of roommates, Kris Allen definitely wouldn’t be it. The guy seems nice enough, but he’s so…vanilla. Adam generally takes his life a little on the spicy side.
“So I guess we’re stuck with each other?” he says, trying to push forth his brightest smile.
“Adam, right?” Kris says, like he doesn’t already know Adam’s name. But he reaches out his hand and his smile is 100 watts of pure brilliance.
Adam takes his hand, grinning, and…zing! He can never be entirely certain about these things, but gaydar is not something you can develop. You either have it or you don’t, and Adam definitely has it.
And alarm bells are definitely going off.
He’s not usually a betting man, but right now he’d be willing to put money on the fact that Kris Allen is gay…and doesn’t even know it.
Eight weeks before the last time
Kris is married. Kris has a wife. Kris is not gay.
This is Adam’s mantra, one he repeats as he sips black coffee for breakfast and watches Kris talk to Lil about his wife, Katy. He loves her, he must. Or at least he misses her enough to call her every night; the last thing he does before he falls asleep.
Kris is married. Kris has a wife. Kris doesn’t know he is gay.
There, that makes it a bit easier to exist in the same space, because Adam finds it a bit hard to breathe with all the oppressive closet-hiding going on. He knows he’s not being fair. Maybe Kris is perfectly happy with his life as it is, and one thing Adam never wants to do is try and tell someone else how to find his own happiness. Thank you very much high school—been there, done that.
Yet, still, when Kris takes his plate of food and chooses the seat right next to Adam, even though there are twelve other empty ones at the table, Adam’s heart rings out in a staccato beat.
“So what about you?” Kris asks around a mouthful of egg.
Lil has gone back upstairs and they are alone in the cavernous dining room, yet suddenly there doesn’t seem to be enough air for them to share.
“Me?” Adam asks, playing dumb.
“Yeah, man, you married, what?”
Adam smiles around his cup, swallowing the coffee slowly. “Well getting married is not exactly legal, you know?”
Kris looks up, confused.
Adam hates this part. Hates having to explain it to people who just assume everything is black and white and if you don’t fit in the box then you just don’t fit.
“I mean, not that there’s anyone,” he hurries to add. “But I guess you’d say I’m living an…” He tries to choose a word that is clear and ambiguous at the same time. He doesn’t really think Kris is going to run and tell some reporter that Adam is gay, but this is still a competition, and as far as he is concerned, his sexuality has no part to play in it.
“It’s an unconventional lifestyle,” he finally finishes, watching Kris with a measured gaze to see if he gets it.
He doesn’t, not at first. Then realization dawns slow and easy over his face and a smile breaks across those heartbreakingly manipulative lips.
“Gotcha,” Kris says, and goes back to his eggs like Adam just told him it’s going to be in the high 80s today.
Adam thinks about that reaction later, while they are practicing their group number, and thinks that maybe his first mantra was correct. Kris is married. Kris has a wife. Kris is not gay. It’s not ideal, but it’s not a problem either, and Adam thinks having a good friend as a roommate might not be a bad second prize.
Seven weeks before the last time
The third time Adam wakes up to find Kris’s bed not slept in, he finally lets himself believe that something is wrong. After he came out to Kris at breakfast, everything had seemed fine. In the history of coming out to people, Adam would definitely write this one up in the positive column. But the next morning, Kris’s bed was untouched, and the excuse was that he’d fallen asleep practicing for next week’s performance. The morning after that, the excuse was that he’d fallen asleep watching a movie.
Now this is three nights in a row, and Adam doesn’t want to call anyone a liar, but he’s pretty sure Kris didn’t suddenly develop narcolepsy. There has to be another reason why Adam doesn’t have a roommate anymore, and he finds it sleeping peacefully in the gold room. The couches are comfortable, sure. But Kris looks like he’s set up camp with his own pillow (how did Adam not notice that missing from the bed?) and his clothes strewn about the room.
Adam is silent in the doorway of the room, watching the morning sun light Kris’s face in golden hues to match the room’s theme. It sparks a longing in Adam’s chest for the thing that he covets but cannot have. It also sparks a resolve to erase the awkwardness between them before it grows into something indestructible. There’s not much he can do to change Kris’s homophobia, if that’s what this is, but he doesn’t have to stand by and just let it happen silently. He wants a straight answer why.
That day, Adam makes it his business to be in whatever room Kris is in. It Kris gets a drink from the kitchen, Adam is suddenly thirsty. If Kris goes for a dip in the pool, Adam finds the air stifling and has to cool off in the water. By dinner time it seems to be working, or at least Kris doesn’t leave the room five minutes after Adam enters it.
Still though, that night when everyone else has gone upstairs to turn in, Kris is still in the gold room, ‘practicing’, and Adam is about to sleep alone, again. He pauses at the bottom of the staircase, then sets his mouth determinedly and heads for Kris’s ‘room’.
“You still working on it?” Adam asks, leaning into the room casually.
Kris smiles as he looks up, ever-friendly, and nods. “Ain’t No Sunshine…what was I thinking?”
Adam laughs and takes Kris’s smile as an invitation, sidling into the room to sit on the matching couch directly across from Kris.
“Well I’m doing Play That Funky Music…white booooy.” Adam squeals out the last word and Kris grins even wider.
“You are going to kill that song, what are you even worried about?”
“Oh, I didn’t say I was worried,” Adam replies nonchalantly. “I just didn’t want to make you feel bad.”
Kris is silent for a moment, and then Adam bursts out laughing.
“Are you kidding me? I’m always terrified!” Adam admits. And it’s true. The stage feels like a natural place to him, but being judged is something completely separate.
Kris shakes his head, smiling. “I honestly thought you weren’t nervous. Crazy, I know.”
Adam sits up, leaning forward on his knees. “Nah, I just hate the whole voting thing, and the tension of Wednesdays…” His voice fades. “Guess I don’t handle rejection very well.” He catches Kris’s eye and for a moment, the silence between them feels like a bond.
Then Kris looks away and Adam wonders if it was enough.
He stands, yawning. “Anyway, almost a week before we have to do that again, right?”
Kris nods, his face impassive.
“Yeah, well…” Adam turns for the door, pausing to look back at Kris still sitting on the golden couch. “See you in the morning I guess.”
There is no answer, so Adam turns to leave. Then Kris’s guitar makes a ringing sound as he lays it in the case and there’s a shuffle of pillows and blankets on the couch behind him.
“Wait up,” Kris calls, and it’s all Adam needs to hear.
Six weeks before the last time
When Ryan divides them into groups during the results show, Adam prays he’ll be with Kris. He’s watched the show over the years; this is the surprise bottom three gimmick, right? He knows it’s ultimately up to America, but he also knows the judges love him, and if he’s in the safe group, that means Kris will be safe too. Adam can’t bear any other possibility.
But Kris ends up in the group with Megan, and Adam has a bad, bad feeling. He tries to breathe through being called to the stage himself, focus through being grouped with Lil and Allison, but all he can think about is what if this is Kris’s week? What if maybe, by some miracle, Megan managed to pull it out, again, and Kris, instead of Megan or Matt, is the one to leave? Irrational thoughts are Adam’s forte, and he’s pulling them out of thin air now.
And then Ryan, God bless him, announces that Kris is the first person to be safe and Adam seeks out his gaze as Kris walks back to the couches. It’s not much more than a passing glance but Adam thinks he sees something hiding there. Relief? Certainly. But hope? Can Adam dare to hope so?
The rest of the night is a blur, with Adam barely registering his own call to safety. Megan is gone and there’s a send-off meal where everyone is more relieved that it’s not them than actually upset that she’s leaving. And then they are back at the house.
The mood downstairs is celebratory. The stereo is blaring, the limited alcohol they are permitted is pouring, and Adam takes two beers and goes in search of his roommate. Kris is not anywhere to be found in the party zone, so quietly, and hopefully without anyone noticing, Adam slips up the stairs to the bedrooms. The door to their room is closed, the only one, and he pauses before knocking lightly.
“Yeah?” comes the quiet voice from inside.
Adam opens the door and finds Kris sitting alone in the room…on the edge of Adam’s bed. It takes a moment to register this fact and by then Adam is halfway across the room with the beer outstretched so he just continues on anyway.
Kris accepts it, his fingers brushing against Adam’s on the neck of the bottle. Then Adam is left clumsily standing by his own bed while Kris sits before him.
“So, good show,” Adam says awkwardly, and Kris takes a long swig from his bottle.
“I thought I was gone.”
“Over Megan? No way.” Adam’s voice is steady. He doesn’t want to admit that he feared the same thing.
“I thought it was the bottom three thing,” Kris starts.
“Me too,” Adam jumps in, and he sits down beside Kris before he can stop himself. “And I knew Megan had to get a low vote, but I couldn’t believe that you…”
Kris’s leg, which Adam didn’t touch when he sat down, he’s sure of it, is now resting against Adam’s thigh. Adam looks down, swallows thickly, and takes a long drink from his bottle.
“Well,” he finally says when he can find his voice. “You were the first one they saved, you’re golden.” And the image of Kris sleeping on the couch rushes his brain like a summer thunderstorm and he’s blinded. Maybe he should wait, maybe he should never do it at all, but he’s leaning in and Kris isn’t backing away and the kiss is soft and sweet and exactly like every kiss Adam has ever wished for in his life.
Then it’s over and the truth rains down on them, a fine mist of deceit, and Adam knows it’s all up to Kris now.
The younger man stands, takes Adam’s beer from his hand and walks across the room to lay both bottles on the bureau. Then he returns to stand at Adam’s feet. He shrugs, awkward and shy, and his words leave his lips in barely a whisper.
“I don’t know what we’re supposed to do now.”
Adam stands, reaching out slowly to take Kris’s hands in his. “It’s okay. I do.”
Author's Note: Huge thanks to lexalicious70 for the fast beta!