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To Feel Your Heart Next To Mine

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Love is. If you add anything after that you will limit it to that which you understand; love surpasses all comprehension.
- unknown

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ADAM
What's in a Bromance?

They were really misinterpreting their friendship.

Yes, Kris is his 'type'. He's cute and nice and funny, and on occasion, a distraction for sure. Kris didn't really seem to notice when he did distracting things, and Adam didn't let himself think or even react to them, because it didn't matter. Sometimes the distractions were a relief; a way for Adam to forget the crazy world the ten of them had stepped into, and was usually just something ridiculous, like the way Kris might laugh at one of Matt's jokes, his face scrunching up in mirth, his head thrown back, grounding Adam in the here and now.

The tour was physically and emotionally draining on all of them, and it was starting to get to the point where the days would blur together; each concert more of an adrenaline rush than the last. The only thing keeping them standing was the excitement from the fans and the fact that they were all living their dream. It was that very same thing that kept Adam from really thinking on the subject much, until he was signing autographs and saw a "Kradam" poster, or some reporter mentioned the "thing" between him and Kris like it was the only thing that mattered, and fucking hell, when would it start being about the music?

Maybe when people stopped focusing on his sexuality, he thinks ruefully, replying to a text. He lives and breathes in texts, it seems. No time for lengthy phone calls. You got a text reply when he had the time, like now, on the bus.

He wishes they had flown. Then they could have spent more time in Glendale at that resort Matt kept talking about. Even if he had stayed inside away from the million-degree heat and the freckle-causing sun and had been passed out from exhaustion most of the time they had been there. Still, more time, more time, more time.

But fuck if he didn't love every insane minute of it.

The bus is rumbling beneath them; Matt is sitting at the kitchenette booth, reading a book as Scott plays around with a melody on a keyboard he brought along. Todd, Scott's brother, is sitting across from Adam on one of the long benches, reading a magazine.

Adam writes out a few more texts to his friend Scarlett, to his mom, to Neil, his brother. He scribbles a few random words down on the notebook on his knee, frowning as the words make even less sense than before. He never had any trouble finding how to make something his, but when it actually is his, all the things he wants to say are jumbled and don't flow, and he wonders if Scott can play him a melody he can write something to.

"Oh, hey look, another blurb about you and Kris," says Todd, and Adam looks up to catch his eye roll. Adam knows it's in good nature. Even he's getting tired of all the attention there is on him and Kris together, specifically. He knows what it's about - their friendship. And about this phantom romance that doesn't really exist.

Kris made nothing of Adam's candidness in his Rolling Stone article, even laughing at his embarrassment, and while Adam had felt rather silly for saying anything at the time, in hindsight, he appreciated Kris's reaction. He loved being Kris's friend. He had been almost embarrassed at himself for his reaction to finding out he and Kris were roommates. Then he figured attraction was just attraction, and seeing as Kris was firmly off the market, there wasn't anything left for even a pipedream. Adam hadn't thought about Kris in any way other than as a friend since.

Except, ever since that interview where he declared that having a crush was nothing threatening, and Kris followed that up with a "Yeah. I've got a crush on Adam! Can I say that?" this crush business seemed to be the only thing Adam could really focus on when Kris was around. When they were rehearsing for the tour, Adam was all there - in the moment - focused on work; but then there were the moments when he and Kris were chatting idly in the car on their way to yet another interview, or now, stuck on the tour bus with five other guys, when Adam can't do anything but focus on Kris.

He and Kris are comfortably close, always around each other, referring to each other on everything without really thinking about it....they are the closest, out of everyone. It's amazing, because there were so many things that could have gone wrong - being roommates for that long, being set up by the press as pawns in some sort of culture war, but instead of driving them apart, the whole thing only drew them closer together. It's as if they had been long lost friends - their time spent together only renewed a bond that was always there - even though they had only known each other for a few months.

Adam isn't blind to the fact that their friendship means something to a lot of people. The dazzling L.A. theatre queen and the down-to-earth Christian guy from the South shouldn't be so close. Some wonder how others wonder why, and still others just wish it would stop. It's throwing everyone for a loop. Not that Adam minds. He's happy he can open some eyes. But he wishes it wasn't all the press can talk about.

So it doesn't even occur to Adam to think it might be weird when Kris comes out from the back of the bus after finishing a call to his wife, flops down on the bench next to Adam, leans his head on Adam's shoulder and says, "I miss Katy."

Adam's phone buzzes and chimes, startling him, and upsetting Kris's perch on his shoulder. He digs his phone out of his pocket seeing "1 New message: Drake LaBry" on the screen, and decides to ignore it for the moment. Putting the phone back in his pocket, he shifts his position so he can put an arm around Kris, rubbing his short hair softly. "I know."

Kris sighs and shifts against him, burrowing into Adam's side. The bus is rumbling along the desert road, and Adam is grateful for the mild air conditioning. The heat outside looks staggering.

"Whatcha workin' on? A new song?" Kris asks.

Adam shrugs. "Could be. I dunno. Just some words that have been running through my head. No beat to go with them yet."

Danny suddenly bursts into the common area, falling into the booth next to Matt, leans heavily on him and says in a mocking falsetto, "Matty, I miss you."

Scott jumps a little. Matt smiles and leans his head on Danny's. "Aw... I missed you too," he says in a cooing voice. "What's up, man?"

Danny just grins goofily at his own joke as he sits up. "Nothin'. Just havin' some fun."

Matt looks confused. "Okay, man," he says with a chuckle, going back to his book. Scott starts playing his keyboard again.

Adam turns his head to glance down to his shoulder at Kris, who looks as confused as Adam feels. Shrugging, he and Kris both go back to looking at Adam's notebook, which has more doodles on it than words.

"Sounds good, Scotty," Kris says absently.

"Thanks," Scott replies, humming under his breath, his unseeing-eyes closing as he gets lost in what he's doing. His brother watches from behind, a small smile playing on his lips.

Adam picks up Scott's tune and tries to fit his words to it, and then Kris suggests a line to come next in the jumble of lyrics gracing the page.

"Oooh, that's a good one. Thanks!" Adam says, smiling down at Kris.

Michael comes out from taking a nap in his bunk to join the boys in the common area of the bus. "Hey, guys."

"Hey, Mike," they all chorus.

"Anoop still sleeping?" Kris asks.

"Yeah, yeah, I think so. Man...what time is it?"

"Two," Kris responds.

"Two? Aw, man, I'm goin' back to bed," Mike says as he falls into place on the bench next to Kris. They all laugh.

"Yeah, feels pretty early. How late were we up last night?" Danny asks from across the table.

"I think I passed out around one," Scott says.

"Lame," Danny jokes, and Mike snickers. "I think I fell asleep at three."

"Two, for me," Mike said.

"You've been asleep for twelve hours?" Danny asks. "Wow, man."

Michael shrugged. "Must have needed it. Last night's show was killer."

"Actually," Matt chimes in, "I think it was the fans that killed me. Awesome but crazy. Way crazy." He gives up on trying to read and leans back, throwing an arm along the back of the booth.

"Well, we'll be rolling into Dallas soon," Adam says. "We've been driving all night."

Michael lifts his fists up in triumph. "Texas, baby! Good to be home." His grin is bright, despite still being groggy.

"What number city is this?" Matt asks. "I think I've lost count."

"Twelve," says Scott. "Thirty-eight to go."

There is a brief silence that holds the tension of a small groan before Kris says with a grin, "We're not sick of each other yet, are we?"

"Naw, naw, of course not!" Danny exclaims way too quickly, and they all laugh. Adam's arm tightens around Kris, and Kris leans into him, fitting there in a too-familiar way.

"What are we all laughing about?" they hear someone ask from the hallway bridging the main area and the bunks. They all turn around to see Anoop standing there.

"'Bout time you woke up, sunshine," Matt says.

Anoop rubs at his eyes. "Man, shouting is so not cool, it's like, ass o'clock right now. Wait...what time is it?"

"Two," Scott replies.

Adam pulls out his phone as it chimes again. He frowns at the message, ignores it, and slides the phone back into his pocket.

"In the afternoon?" Anoop asks as he roots in the cupboards for breakfast, and the guys snicker. Michael gets up to go to the TV to see if there's anything on.

"It could be," Scott says, before anyone else can say the obvious. "I'm not sure, it's pretty dark for me most days."

Adam smiles while the rest of guys laugh with Scott. Nobody does better blind jokes than the blind guy himself. Anoop fixes himself a bowl of Cap'n Crunch Crunchberries and sits down next to Scott, asking to share the small table-space. Scott scoots over while Matt and Danny help move the small keyboard out of the way.

"Just put it on my coffin, near my pillow, up against the wall," Scott tells Danny, who takes it to the back of the bus. Michael is still fiddling with the TV.

"Find anything good, yet?" Adam asks, rolling his eyes as his phone chimes yet again. He taps out a quick reply and hits 'send'. The phone chimes again before he can even blink, but he lets out a small huff of relief as he realizes it's Scarlett.

"You okay?" Kris asks him quietly.

"Yeah," Adam mumbles, replying to Scarlett's text.

Danny returns with his new guitar in hand. "Kris, do you mind teaching me some stuff today?" Danny asks, settling down on the bench seat opposite, guitar in his lap.

"Yeah, sure," Kris says.

"Oh, hey, look! I found something," Michael says and turns up the volume.

Adam looks up to the small monitor and starts to laugh. It's The Insider - playing some sidewalk footage of him and Kris, just something quick from a few days ago, with an accompanying segment of speculation on their 'bromance', complete with clips of them both talking about their 'crushes'.

He and Kris look at each other and roll their eyes, groaning. "They really don't get it, do they?"

"I guess not," Kris sighs.

"Get what?" asks Michael, as he sits back down next to Kris. The segment ends and the show moves onto the next 'scandalous' topic.

"This whole 'crush' ridiculousness," says Adam, waving the arm resting behind Kris in an articulate way. "The press is just trying to make it something it's not."

"Well, what is it?" Danny asks, trying out the few chords he's managed to memorize in what little free time they've had.

"We're not in love, for one thing," Adam explains.

"Come on," says Kris. "You guys know us. It's not like that."

"You guys do seem closer than any of the rest of us, though," says Michael. "You know, physically."

"There isn't anything wrong with that," Scott says, his hands splayed on the table top, as if itching to play a tune.

"We're all bros, here," Matt says.

"The point is, I said I thought Kris was attractive, that he was my 'type', and they've transformed it into this insane romance that doesn't exist."

"And so what if I have a crush on Adam?" Kris says, shrugging. "He's an awesome guy."

"And I am honored to be crushed on by you," Adam says to Kris, smiling.

"Aw, well thanks, man," Kris replies, smiling back up at him.

"So...you're attracted to each other, but you're not going to do anything about it?" Mike asks, a puzzled frown on his face. "I mean, Kris...let's say you weren't married...would you?"

"Er..." Kris hesitates. "Well, I'm not really into guys, so..."

"Beauty is beauty, Mike. And it's not just about looks. Attraction to beauty doesn't have to be a sexual thing," Adam says with a note of finality, seeing Kris's grateful glance and finally answers the text chime on his phone after it rings for the third or fourth time; he's lost count. Drake must be wondering what happened to him.

Mike makes a grunt of thoughtful acquiescence and turns back to the TV. Matt picks his book back up, and Anoop nods to him. "Whatcha readin', man?"

"A Prayer for Own Meany," Matt murmurs, immersing himself in his book. Kris gets up from the bench and sits next to Danny, coaching him in an A7 progression.

The text chime starts ringing again, and Adam frowns at the small string of messages from the non-exclusive boyfriend he's been mostly ignoring. His thumb taps the screen to bring up his speed dial, and he holds the phone to his ear.

"Hey, Drake? What's going on?" Kris shifts to look over at Adam when Adam stands and moves towards the back of the bus. "Well, this really isn't the best time to be talking-" he starts before being cut off by Drake. He really doesn't want to deal with this right now. "Yeah, I know this is hard, but I'm kinda on the bus right now.... No, I can't just get off. We're moving, and there really isn't any privacy..." Adam ducks into the bathroom cubicle and shuts the door. His voice echoes in the small stall, and he hopes his words aren't carrying outside. He had felt Kris's worried look on the back of his head as he left, and that's something he doesn't want to deal with either.

"I'm not ignoring you..." Adam says, bracing a hand on the edge of the sink. "I mean, I'm not trying to. I've just been hanging out with the guys." He listens to Drake for a few moments. "Baby, I know this isn't an ideal situation, but we'll see each other soon. We're almost to Dallas." Pause. "What do you mean you won't be coming? I've already got your tickets holding for you and a backstage pass.... Aren't you already in Texas? Well, then you're coming. Why wouldn't you want to?"

I'm not sure it's a good idea. "Well why not?"

Because it would only complicate things. "Drake, you're making absolutely no sense at all. We're already non-exclusive...how would seeing each other complicate things? I miss you."

I miss you too. But seeing each other might make things worse.

"Drake, I won't get to see you at all until New York, and that's weeks away."

He listens to Drake for a few moments. "When did you get so insecure about me? About us?" Adam interrupts, feeling hurt at Drake's accusations and a little pissed off. "We're not exclusive...that's what we've always said." Adam sighs, wondering if Drake is right and being non-exclusive is really more confusing than it's worth.

Wouldn't you expect me to be there when you get back from touring? "Uh, not necessarily?"

Don't you want me to be waiting? "Well, it'd be nice...jerking off in a tour bus with seven other guys around isn't ideal," Adam jokes, trying to lighten the mood.

Maybe it's just better if we break it off permanently, then. If we're still into each other when you're done touring, then we can talk. "No offense, Drake, but all this really sounds like is that you've found someone else you really like, and don't have the balls to tell me. If you want to be exclusive with him, then fucking tell me and let's just break it off," Adam says, his voice rising a little in irritation. He hates being jerked around.

But Drake insists there isn't anyone else. "Then what's the problem?" Adam finally asks. After a long pause of silence, Adam says quietly, "You're being paranoid, aren't you? What, you think I actually have time to fuck any guy I come across?" No, of course not. "What is it, then?"

Kris. "Kris," Adam repeats. "Kris Allen. What? Drake, what is wrong with you?" Well, you said you have a crush on him, and the press won't leave that alone, and I just... "You're jealous of a married man, Drake. It's ridiculous. I wish I'd never fucking said I thought Kris Allen was cute. This whole thing has gotten skewed way out of proportion." He's sick of hearing about it, of repeating the same sound bite every time to people who would never believe it anyway. It's like screaming inside a glass chamber.

There's a tense silence before Adam finally says, "You're right. Maybe we should just call it off. If you really feel like I can't be trusted around a guy who's married and straight-" I didn't say that. "Drake, you might as well have. I really like you, but I can't deal with someone who can't handle that the press are a bunch of lying bitches that will take any story and run with it, regardless of how true it is, and twist it into something it's not. Goodbye."

Adam hangs up the phone by jabbing his thumb against the screen. Drake LaBry, yet another casualty of media fuckery.

Adam looks into the mirror at his scowling face. Biting on his lower lip, he sighs, trying to release some tension. He isn't sure why he's so surprised. He hardly gets to see Drake anymore, what with all the interviews and getting ready to tour and all the stuff he had to do during the actual show every week...it was a wonder they had lasted this long.

What upsets Adam is that through all of that - through twelve weeks of the show - Drake had been there, supporting him. He was even around while rumors went flying about Adam's orientation, his relationship with Kris, hell, even his non-existent hatred with Danny. The media circus was insane - the way they'd been prying into his life for the last few months - and instead of waiting for the tour to be over, for their lives to slip back into a little bit more normalcy, now Drake's just decided it isn't worth it anymore. That Adam isn't worth it anymore, and as pissed as Adam is about that, he is hurt.

Or maybe he's just over-reacting, and needs to call Drake and apologize.

He blinks rapidly to stave off the coming tears of frustration, and takes a deep breath, sliding open the bathroom door. He stops just inside the threshold as he sees Kris standing in the hall, leaning against the narrow refrigerator door opposite. His hands are in his pockets and he looks up from his scuffed, white Chucks as Adam emerges from the bathroom. His soft brown eyes are somber, and he doesn't say anything, he just looks at Adam as if he knows exactly what Adam is feeling, and just wants to make sure Adam is all right.

"We broke up," Adam says, his voice breaking a little on the last word, and Kris nods and pulls his hand out of his pocket, holding it out for Adam to take.

"C'mon," Kris murmurs, and leads them back past the bunks to the large L-shaped lounge in the back. They sit out of view of the other guys, Adam staring at his hands, his fingers twitching, starting to pick at his nail polish. They sit there, shoulders touching, not saying a word. Adam's breath hitches as his eyes prickle, and he finds his face buried in Kris's shoulder, Kris's arms around him, and Kris's voice whispering "Shh, shh..." in his ear.

"It's all right," Kris says. "Everything's going to be all right."

***


DRAKE
Mismatched Life

When Drake Bell opens his cupboard, he realizes how empty his house is. He's got a full set and then some of mismatched plates and bowls, cups and silverware, but now that it's just him, he realizes he'll never use it all. He almost wishes Melissa would have taken more when they broke up.

He grabs a cup and mixes himself a rum and coke. Adding an extra 'rum' as an afterthought. Going to the fridge, he grabs a beer, ignoring the empty photo spots underneath the crab-shaped magnet he got from Baltimore, and the other random magnet-poetry words. His contact list seems short and lonely on the shiny steel.

Shuffling out of the kitchen, Drake walks downstairs and flops down on his second-hand, wonderfully worn-in couch next to his best friend, Josh, leans into him and says, "I miss Melissa." He hands Josh his beer.

"Aww..." says Josh, throwing an arm around Drake. "I know you do, man. But you guys are still friends, right?"

Drake shrugs. "Yeah, but the house just feels so empty without her. She's gone, her stuff is gone, her friends are gone..."

"Well, isn't that last one a good thing?" Josh jokes, chuckling to himself.

Drake sighs. "Yeah, no, you're right. I mean, they're my friends too, but it was nice to just have the house just to ourselves, and now, it's just me."

"You could sell your house for a smaller one," Josh suggests, popping a chip into his mouth. They're watching the Lakers play the Spurs. The Spurs are having their asses handed to them, and Drake's barely paying attention. It's all just background noise to his thoughts.

"In this market? Who the hell is going to buy a four bedroom mansion with a pool in L.A.?"

"The rich and famous."

Drake pushes at Josh. "Oh, shut up, man. You know what I mean. I can afford to have it...it's been a good investment. I just need to not be the only one here."

"What you need, bro, is a woman who will marry you and give you babies to fill this house up with. Or a party. A party might be fun."

Drake laughs. "I'm not ready to marry anyone and have kids just yet. I'm in the middle of finishing my album, and I'm so busy with so many other projects, and the touring... I don't really have time to find anyone to date at all, actually."

"Well, you've always got me, brotha," and Josh leans over and plants a big, sloppy kiss to the side of Drake's face.

"Ugh!" Drake exclaims, wiping his face with his palm. "Gross, man!"

Josh laughs. "You know you like it."

"Yeah, well watch out for when I've got a beard going on again. I'll plant one on you, and remember how much you hated that, last time it happened?"

Josh smiles. "At least I know getting you that book signed by Paul McCartney was a good choice!"

"The best, man, the best."

"So...what should we do about your big, empty house...?" Josh muses.

Drake and Josh share devilish grins. "Party?" Josh suggests again.

"Party," Drake replies.

***


KRIS
Intimacy Isn't Always About Sex

"Hi, darlin', how are you tonight?" Kris asks Katy over the phone. "Oh, yeah? Yeah...I miss you too. We just got into Dallas. The hotel is nice. Not too bad. I think we're all on the same floor this time, which is cool." Kris laughs. "Yeah, no more elevator shenanigans for a while. I heard we got a complaint from some of the other guests in Glendale. Working on our rock-star reps already, I guess. How's home?"

Kris stops pulling out his toiletries from his suitcase and lies down on the bed. "That's good, babe. Is Mama surviving all right without me? I need to call her. I've only had time to text. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Oh, no, really? Wow. Well, tell Anne I'm so sorry to hear that and she's in my prayers, okay? Do you have her number? I might call her tomorrow, if I get a chance." Kris sits up and scrambles for the courtesy stationary on the bedside table. "Uh-huh. Yeah, I got it. Thanks, hun." Lying back down, he closes his eyes, getting lost in the sound of his wife's voice.

After a pause in the banter he asks, "Are you alone?" He chuckles at her answer. "Okay, yeah, so you're usually at home by yourself. Are you comfortable? Yeah? Okay, good." He leaves her hanging for a minute before a smile plays on his lips and he runs a hand down the front of his plaid button-up. "What are you wearing?" he asks, intentionally dropping his voice into its lower register. He licks his lip at her answer, and starts to unbutton his shirt some more, as she goes into a surprising amount of detail. He knows she's probably not really wearing the lacy lingerie she's describing, because she's a simple kind of sexy, and Kris loves that about her, but he also loves that she's willing to fabricate a fantasy just to turn him on a little more.

His shirt is unbuttoned now, and he runs lazy fingers over his stomach, which twitches at the ticklish sensation. His hand skates over the waist of his jeans and he rubs a bit at the bulge appearing just below. Deftly, he unbuttons his jeans and pulls down on the zip, saying to Katy the things he'd like to do if she were there, getting a little more graphic with his descriptions. "Now I'm touching your - oh, crap." Kris takes his hand out of his pants and huffs in annoyance. "Just a minute!" he calls. "No...sorry, someone's at the door. Just a sec."

Kris stands, holding the phone up with his shoulder and buttoning his pants and shirt back up as he walks over to the door. He gets one hand back on the phone and the other on the door handle before pulling it open.

"Um, sweetie...I think I need to call you back. It's Adam."

"I'm sorry - I didn't mean to interrupt-" says Adam.

Kris shakes his head and jerks it back to signal Adam to enter. "Don't be dumb. Get in here."

"No, really, it can wait-"

Kris holds out his phone to Adam, and they can hear Katy's sweet southern lilt through the tiny speaker. "Adam, just get in the darn room."

Adam ducks his head and enters, sliding past Kris, who smiles at his wife's lack of cursing and closes the door after Adam.

"I'm really sorry," Adam starts.

Kris rolls his eyes and waves a dismissing hand as he listens to Katy. "Yeah, okay, here he is." He holds out the phone. "Take it."

Adam holds the phone up to his ear. "Hey, Katy-bear. I'm really sorry. It looks like I totally interrupted - well, okay, if you're sure. Mm-hm. Yeah. It's nothing, really...just. Drake and I broke up. Yeah. No, thank you, that really means a lot." Adam laughs suddenly, though not as bright as Kris has heard before. "Okay, yeah, I'll tell him. Thank you, Katy. Love you too. Here's Kris."

Kris takes the phone as Adam starts towards the table near the wide windows looking out over Dallas. "You are the sweetest wife in the world. Yeah. Don't worry. I got this. Yep. Love you, too." Kris slides the phone closed and turns to Adam, who has turned one of the two chairs towards the windows, so he can gaze out at the city. He takes the chair opposite, turning it to mirror Adam's.

"So be real with me," says Adam. "I just totally interrupted something, didn't I?"

Kris shrugs. "It's okay. Really. I can call her later, or there's always tomorrow. We hadn't gotten far."

"Sorry, Kris. I understand the need for some release." Kris grunts in response. After a long silence of looking out over the glittering lights of their twelfth stop on this insane rollercoaster, Adam suddenly bursts out with, "Fuck. We're so damn busy we can't even get five minutes to rub one out before it's time to do the next interview, or the next show. We'd better start scheduling time to fucking sleep before there's no time for that!" Kris frowns and looks at his friend in worry. Adam sighs. "I'm sorry. Shit. I should have just stayed in my room, put on my headphones, and made myself pass out."

"Aw, c'mon, man. That's no way to deal with things."

"Yeah, maybe, but that's how I always deal with things. Gotta have my alone time."

"I know you do. But you obviously feel the need to talk about something, or else you wouldn't have gotten as far as knocking at my door at nearly midnight." Kris reaches across the small table and bumps Adam's arm with the backs of his fingers. "Doing all that press today just after that conversation with Drake must have been hard. Draining. It's okay if you need to get upset."

Adam leans forward and puts his face in his hands, scrubbing at it in frustration. His skin is clean of any make-up, and his hair is kind of spiky like he got out of the shower not too long ago, and it's still a little wet. Kris likes that he's allowed to see Adam like this - though it's not as if the rest of them haven't seen Adam without make-up at some point. The intimacy of the situation is what makes this different, Kris thinks.

"I just... Drake and I weren't exclusive, right? That was fine. I mean, things happen, and while we were dating pretty frequently before, my life's sort of changed a lot since then, and he's been supportive of that. And now he's all..." Adam's leaning his elbows on his knees, and glaring at some middle distance. He almost growls in his throat. "I thought he might be seeing someone else, but no, he's fucking jealous! Of you!" Adam looks to Kris and Kris can feel his eyebrows rise towards his hairline.

"Really?" says Kris, and immediately kicks himself. What a dumb thing to say.

Adam shakes his head. "I guess so. I dunno. I don't get it, Kris. Why does the whole world think we've got the hots for each other? The fact that I'm gay doesn't mean I'm going to jump every man I come across. Even the ones I find attractive."

"I guess people just can't see that we're close because we wanna be. Because it feels natural to us." Kris shrugs.

Adam sighs. "I don't know why I'm letting this bother me. I think I'm more angry at myself for giving a shit than at all the rumors."

"I'm sorry Drake got caught up in that B.S." Adam nods, but Kris is sure he's not satisfied with that answer. "Hey, look at me." Adam looks up and Kris says, "I don't care what anyone says. Let them believe what they want. We are Kradam. That's cool with me. It's cool with Katy." He shrugs. "I like our friendship the way it is. You know I don't know how to deal with the press all that well, and I admire you for handling it like a god, Adam. So let's be the last people to let it influence us, 'kay? If someone is jealous of us, then they're probably not meant to be in our lives. We are who we are, and nothing's going to change that."

"When'd you get so smart?" Adam jibes playfully.

Kris smiles. "Don't you know? I get it from you, old man."

Adam smiles genuinely. His eyes look less troubled to Kris as he reaches across the table to put his hand on Kris's arm. It is warm.

"You know, you're really the only person besides my mom that I feel like I'm closest to right now. And you're the only one I feel like I can really share this whole thing with. Even moms can't understand what this is like."

Kris smiles softly and puts his hand over Adam's. "You're welcome, man. And ditto." They sit in silence for a moment before Kris stands up. He waits for Adam to look up and him and then silently holds his arms slightly away from his body. Smiling, Adam follows and they envelop each other in a hug, Kris's arms automatically going under and over Adam's, and his face burrowing into Adam's solid shoulder. He smells like shampoo and body wash; clean and comforting, and Kris can't help but breathe it in for the long moment they're squeezing each other in reassurance.

They pull away and smile at each other, and Kris feels a kind of calm excitement he only feels around Adam, most especially in moments like this.

"Well," Adam says, "I'd better get back to my room. Thank you, Kris. I think I was starting to lose it, there."

Kris shrugs. "You'd do it for me. And if we all didn't lose it at least a little bit by the end, I'd be surprised."

"Good point. Okay, I'm gonna go and let you get back to your rendezvous with Katy," Adam jokes, wiggling his fingers as he backs towards the door. "Oh, and Katy told me to tell you she's changed her mind. She's wearing red, not black."

Kris laughs and follows him. "Oh god, she told you that?"

***


JOSH
The Night in Which Josh Grabs More Ass Than He Intends To

How many people are here? How many drinks has he had? Josh can't remember. He also can't remember how this girl found her way onto his lap.

...Or her name. Shit.

She's soft and curvy under his roaming hands, though, and he must have started sobering up from kissing for so long, because he's having a hard time remembering anything, and that's a bad thing. In fact, hadn't he just been thinking that he can't remember anything? Man, this thinking thing is hard.

"Josh! Josh! Joshie, look, look!"

Josh pulls his swollen lips away from this girl's neck long enough to swivel his head around, looking for the source of the voice. A guy's voice. His best friend. Drake.

He finds him on the other side of Drake's backyard, about to...do somethinginvolving the pool, Josh thinks, and moves the girl on his lap so she's kissing the other side of his neck. Whatever Drake is doing, it ends with him falling into the pool, fully clothed, which makes Josh burst into laughter, upsetting the leech hickey-ing up his neck.

"Sorry," he mumbles, and she lifts her head. "Oh, hi, Samantha."

"'Oh, hi'? Did you forget I was here, or something?" she asks, though she doesn't seem much more sober than him.

"No, no, naw, girl. I gotcha. I just... It's kinda cold in L.A. tonight, isn't it?" he asks quickly, pulling her closer. Her blonde hair falls forward, obscuring his view from the rest of the party, which is okay, because her lips are sweet and taste like watermelon, but Josh can't tell if that's from the wine coolers she's been drinking or her lip gloss. She smells like some kind of citrus fruit, and it must be true that 75% of taste is smell, because now her kisses taste funny and he pulls away.

"Hey," he chuckles, "Sam...I...need to go piss, so if you could just..." and he's nudging her up by jiggling his thighs.

"Hmmm...don't you wanna stay here?" She asks in a way that was saccharine and a little grating. "With me?" She pouts her stained lips and leans forward.

"Aww...babe, you know I want to. But you know, you gotta go, you gotta go."

"'Kay." She pushes herself up, using his shoulders as a crutch. He smiles at her as he stands and sees her fall into his spot on the poolside lounge chair they've been sharing.

He makes his way, slowly but pretty steady, he thinks, up the garden stairs and into the house. It's only a little bit darker in here, but there are even more people, and less walking room. Josh knows he bumps too roughly into people, and tries to apologize, but turning around to do so makes him stumble more, so he just mumbles, "Sorry, sorry" as he goes. He thinks he even said sorry to a table he bumped into. He finally makes it to the staircase, and wavers up the stairs, holding onto the wrought iron railing and leaning against the wall as he ascends.

There are less people up here, and Josh is grateful that he won't have to wait for the bathroom, like he would have if he'd stayed on the first floor. He stumbles into Drake's room, not bothering with the light, even though it's pitch inside, a faint glow from the party outside below coming in through the blinds.

He wishes he had turned on the light, however, once he runs smack into Drake coming out of the bathroom, dripping wet and naked.

Not that he hasn't seen Drake less-than-fully clothed before. They've known each other for too many years. All through adolescence and growing pains; and Drake had been topless more than enough times while on "Drake & Josh" for Josh to really care.

Except a drunk Josh is an amorous Josh, and really more grabby-hands than he has any right to be. In his defense, Drake would have fallen on his ass on the tile of the bathroom if Josh's arms hadn't gone around him, though sliding down the wet skin of Drake's back to the swell of his ass wasn't what Josh would have had in mind, had he been sober.

"Whoa, wha...?" says Drake, grabbing onto Josh's shoulders and blinking up at his friend. His auburn hair is still a bit plastered to his forehead, and the towel he had had in his hand is now underfoot. This close, in the twilight of the room, his freckles stand out in great contrast to his pale skin. Drake could never really tan, not like Josh, but Josh likes Drake's freckles, and looking down, they do seem to be everywhere.

"Uh..." says Josh so eloquently, quickly realizing his hands are entering dangerous ass-grabbing territory, and stumbles back, almost falling.

"Uh...sorry, dude. Sorry. Just needed to use the...just needed to go to the bathroom," Josh says, feeling a strange heat on his face, and smiles wide.

Drake blinks, picking up his discarded towel and tying it around his waist. "It's cool, man. Go ahead." He flicks his hair out of his eyes, and wanders over to the closet as Josh walks into the bathroom, squinting at the brightness of the overhead light when he flicks it on. He nearly trips over Drake's sopping wet, discarded clothing.

"So, uh..." Josh starts as he unzips his fly and pulls himself out, taking an extra second to aim properly. "Party thing was a good idea, yeah?"

He can hear Drake rustling around in his closet. "Yeah, man. I'm glad we decided to do this. Wish I hadn't fallen in the pool though."

Josh laughs and finishes peeing, jiggling himself a little before tucking himself back in. He flushes the toilet, and while he fumbles with the soap and faucet, he leans back and glances at Drake in his dark room, the light from the bathroom shining off his damp back.

"You know...I didn't realize you had so many freckles," Josh says, and then makes a face at himself in the mirror.

"We've known each other since we were fourteen, Josh, how could you not know I had freckles?"

Josh dries his hands and leans heavily into the bathroom doorframe. "I didn't say I hadn't noticed. I just mean that I didn't realize you had so many. There's...a lot."

Drake chuckles as he slips on a t-shirt, already in a new pair of pants. "Well, that's what happens when you've got Irish blood."

"Hm." Josh realizes that his eyes are lingering a little too long on how Drake's t-shirt clings to the skin of his back and quickly looks away, out through the blinds to the soft glow of the party below. The music is still blaring, people are still chatting, and there's a splash or two from the pool.

"We should get back downstairs," says Josh. "We're being terrible hosts."

"Can't wait to get into Samantha's skirt, can ya?" Drake teases, ruffling his hair dry with his towel.

Josh shakes his head before realizing that Drake can't see him. "Nah. To be honest, I'm not even sure how we started kissin'."

Drake stands up straight, the towel hanging around his neck. "You mean, you don't remember?"

Josh thinks he should maybe be worried, but only shakes his head. Drake smiles, chuckling, and Josh watches Drake's toes flex into the carpet. "Dude, you grabbed her ass."

"No I didn't," Josh protests, thinking Drake must be confusing him with someone else. Someone like Jake. Now Jake would do something like that.

Drake shakes his head. "Oh my god, you are so plastered. Are you baked too? There was weed at my own party and no one told me? What is this lame shit?"

"I'm not baked, man," Josh says. "Just...buzzed. I'm good. Really."

"Ha. You're not going home like that. Stay over. Party's kinda winding down anyway," says Drake, peering over his shoulder, down to the pool, where clearly, the party is still going strong.

"Yeah, well...you fell in your own pool!" retorts Josh, feeling the need to make a point. "So who's wasted now, huh?"

Drake rolls his eyes. "Whatever, dude. Just lie down, alright? I'll be back up later." Josh stumbles forward, having pushed himself away from the doorjamb too forcefully. Drake leaves the room, and Josh sits down on his bed, flopping back onto it.

He scratches at his stomach and stares idly up at the strange shadows on the ceiling. He closes his eyes, waiting for Drake to return. He's not sure how much time passes before his eyes open again, but Drake is hovering over him.

"Joshie, take off your damn shoes. It's time for bed."

"Wha...?"

"Shoes. Off. Whatever. You can lie like that, if you want." Drake leaves his visual range and Josh feels him climb into the bed on the other side.

He struggles to sit up, but eventually Josh pulls off his shoes, and turning, crawls up to flop heavily onto the covers beside Drake.

"Love ya, man," he mumbles into the pillow. "Always takin' care of me."

"You do it for me, brotha."

"Hug me, brotha," Josh jokes under his breath, smiling lazily. He feels Drake shift, and then a hand is ruffling his hair.

"'Night, Joshie."

Josh snores a bit in response.

***

ADAM
Stay With Me Until the End

"Dallas is one awesome crowd!" Adam will say to someone asking for his autograph, but they're all awesome, so he's not sure how saying that means anything anymore. And there are still so many more crowds to come.

Next is Tulsa, and then Little Rock, and he can tell how excited Kris is at the prospect of being back home, even if it's just for a few days. Kris has been dying to see Katy again since Oakland, but Adam's feeling a little jittery, like he's not sure he wants Katy to be there, which is ridiculous, since Katy is the sweetest, coolest woman alive. But this uncomfortable feeling under his skin is still there, and he's not sure what to do about it. It's got to be about the break-up with Drake, he thinks, and tells himself that he can deal with it without Kris being there 24/7 and the world will not end if he can't go to Kris's room in the middle of the night to talk or for a brotherly hug.

And then Adam walks into the after-party meet and greet room, and stops as he sees Drake standing in the corner. Why hadn't anyone told him Drake was here? What is he doing here?

Adam smiles through the shock, and immediately starts greeting people, saying a sincere 'thank you' more times than he can count, signing autographs and taking pictures. He chats with a woman and her daughter for a few minutes, telling them how awesome Dallas was while startlingly aware of Drake's presence on the other side of the room. Eventually the crowd dissipates a little, and he turns to find Drake shuffling up to him, his head ducked a little low, and his hands shoved in the pockets of his tight jeans. He looks so adorable that Adam feels his heart clench, and he doesn't know why he's so upset anymore.

He's aware that people are staring, that the people who know who Drake is (and who shouldn't, by now?) are waiting for something to happen, and even the other Idols are keeping a bit of berth, though not because they're waiting for some display of affection. There are no secrets between any of them, and they've all known for the last day what's happened, even if they don't have the details as to why.

For the sake of public image (and boy, does Adam wish he isn't as famous as he is in this moment), Adam pulls Drake into a hug, tucking his head into Drake's shoulder. He feels Drake's hands clutch at the fabric at Adam's waist, and holds his breath for a moment before pulling away.

"Hey," he says.

"Hey," Drake replies.

"I thought...I thought you weren't coming," Adam says in a low voice, hoping it's not heard over the murmur in the room.

"I changed my mind. I... I feel really bad about our conversation," Drake says, and Adam can hear his Cajun twang, like being back in the South is enough to bring it out in full force.

"Me too." Adam looks around. "Look, I've got to leave here shortly for the people waiting outside. Stay here, please? We'll talk when I get back."

Drake nods. "Okay," he says, smiling softly.

His time with the fans cannot go by quick enough. He finishes up in the after party, allowing Drake and his family a few pictures. Looking at the view finder, he can see that they all can plaster on a fake smile with the best of them - even Adam is fooled that everyone is happy and not aware of the tension between he and Drake. He rushes through the line outside, and finds himself back in the green room before he can really process that he's about to have a serious talk with his boyfriend. Or ex-boyfriend? Are they really broken up? Adam's brain says yes, but his heart is unsettled with hurt and longing. Either way, they don't have much time.

"We don't have much time," Adam says to Drake as a preface, taking long strides to meet up with him in the center of the room.

"Well, I want to say I'm sorry," Drake says, "Because I guess what I said was...really dumb. I know you and Kris aren't like that."

"We're not," Adam reinforces. "I'm just really hurt that you would think that he and I... I mean, for real, Drake. I don't get how you could let all that paparazzi bullshit get to you. I know we're not exclusive, but let's be realistic here. People will always be talking about me and who I may or may not be involved with. You've gotta be prepared for anything, but you can't believe anything you don't hear from me."

"I know, I know. I'm sorry I was so dumb. You shouldn't have to try and pacify me."

"Well, I'm not saying that having fears about our relationship and how I feel about you is dumb. I mean...you've been really great, throughout this whole thing, and I really, really like you. But we're not exclusive for a reason. But I do want you around on the other end of this crazy thing."

"I want to be around in the end, too," Drake says, stepping closer.

Adam closes the distance between them, pulling Drake to him by his shoulders, dipping down to press a kiss against his lips.

"Hey, Adam, we're almost ready to... Oh! Sorry, guys."

Adam looks up to see Kris and a few handlers standing in the doorway. "It's okay. What's going on?"

"We're, ah...almost ready to pull out. Just wanted to let you know," says Kris.

"Yep! Thanks. Be right there." Kris nods and moves back down the hallway, and Adam turns to Drake, who's staring at the spot where Kris had been standing.

"You okay?" Adam asks.

"You guys are like, really close, though, aren't you?" Drake looks up at Adam. "I mean, he knows that we fought, doesn't he?"

Adam nods. "Well, to be honest, the whole bus knows. All the idols. I didn't announce it or anything, but I was on the bus when we talked."

Drake nods. "Okay, then."

"I don't air out my dirty laundry, Drake," Adam says, trying to reassure him. "We're kinda like a big family. They knew something was wrong."

"It's okay, I understand. I'm still just getting used to this whole 'everyone knows my business' thing. Don't worry, I'll be fine." Drake smiles up at Adam.

"I miss you already," Adam says, pulling Drake into a kiss again. "I'm also loving this accent thing you've got going on."

"What accent thing?" Drake asks.

Adam chuckles. "It's more pronounced. I like it." He smiles and hugs and kisses Drake one more time, slipping his tongue into Drake's mouth in a smooth exploration that only lasts a few seconds. "I've got to go. I'm sorry." He hugs Drake tightly, loving the way he fits underneath his chin.

"It's okay. New York can't come soon enough."

"No, it really can't. Miss you, baby," Adam says as he walks to the door.

"Miss you more."

Adam allows one of his handlers to escort him towards the buses, asking her to make sure Drake is taken care of.

"Someone will show him out, don't worry," she says, and Adam frowns slightly, thinking that wording sounds rather like a dismissal, but then he's rushed up onto the bus, and the doors close behind him in a whoosh, and it's off to Oklahoma.

***


DRAKE
Too Soon, Too Late

His mouth tastes horrible. That's his first real thought when he wakes up, his closed eyelids twitching against the light streaming in through the slats in the blinds. His next thought is that Josh's arm is a dead weight pressing on his bladder and that thought is what makes his eyes flutter open and a quiet groan move past his lips.

He sits up and watches as Josh mumbles in his sleep and shuffles, his mouth open and a bit of drool pooling in the corner. Smiling and rolling his eyes, Drake pushes Josh's arm off his lap and pads over to the bathroom, kicking the door mostly shut with his heel. He rubs the sleep from his eyes as he takes care of his most pressing morning need before wetting his hands and drying them on a towel. He looks really tired when he looks in the mirror. His hair's an absolute mess. But that's what he gets for going to bed with semi-wet hair, he thinks. At least he doesn't have much of a hangover; just a slight headache that can be taken care of with the Excedrin he pops into his mouth from the medicine cabinet.

Running his fingers through his hair he walks past Josh and wanders through the dining room, looking down at the mess that is his house. At least it's not empty, he thinks, smirking at his friend Jake, who's passed out on the couch. He quietly walks to the kitchen and starts some coffee, then grabs an empty garbage bag and gingerly goes around, dumping in the bulk of the trash he can find, the coffee brewer a pleasant bubbling gurgle in the background.

It's only about 10 A.M. he notes on his microwave as he wanders downstairs into the living room and starts cleaning in there. He can hear some birds singing outside, and frowns as he realizes his patio door's been open the whole time. Not the best idea, even in the neighborhood he's in. This isn't the Hills, it's L.A., and there is hardly a huge gate at either end of loop that makes up his street.

"Dude, what are you doing?" he hears Josh say behind him, and turns around, the garbage bag rustling against his legs.

"Just cleaning up."

"That can wait, can't it? At least until I get some aspirin. Oh god, my head."

Drake laughs. "Medicine cabinet. My room."

"Thanks. I should know this by now, shouldn't I?"

Drake shrugs. "Coffee's on. And dude. Dried drool on your chin."

"Wha...? Oh, ew," Josh says as he touches his face, grimacing as he stumbles back upstairs.

While Drake waits for Josh, he goes back into the kitchen to clear some more counter space. He jumps as the doorbell rings loudly in the quiet of the morning. Who the hell would be visiting him this early?

Josh is coming down the stairs as Drake is going up them towards the door. He looks down at his boxers and t-shirt, shrugging as he figures anyone ringing his doorbell at this time of day better be prepared for sleepwear as the proper greeting attire.

"Who is it?" Josh asks from behind him and Drake shoots him a 'how the hell should I know?' look, opening the door.

"Oh. Melissa. Hi."

Melissa blinks, her eyebrows rising up as she takes in Drake's appearance, and flicks her eyes over his shoulder at Josh. "Drake. Hi." She says it like she doesn't expect him to answer the door.

"What's up?" Drake says, a strange unease in his stomach.

"Well, I...I found an extra key to the house and...and I think I left something in one of the guest rooms..."

"Oh. Well, um, there are probably people sleeping in the guests rooms right now," Drake says, knowing some of his friends stayed over in lieu of driving home last night. "But come on in." He steps aside to let her in, closing the door behind her and following her into the dining room.

"You had a party, I take it?"

Drake opens his mouth to reply when a loud crashing of aluminum cans and glass bottles comes from behind him. He looks over the railing, seeing Jake alert and wide-eyed on his stomach on the couch, and Samantha standing near the patio door looking sheepish, having knocked over some trash that was still lying around.

"Oops! Sorry," Samantha says. She wavers on her feet. "Ooh...I don't feel so good." Josh rushes downstairs quickly to help her to the nearest bathroom, and Drake turns back to Melissa.

"Um...yeah," Drake says, half just to fill the uncomfortable silence, and half to answer her question. "What did you leave here? I can go try to look for it," he says.

"Oh, well... It was that necklace you gave me...the one from Cabo? I couldn't find it in my things."

"Oh. Okay. Well...you can go up and look if you want," he said, gesturing to the rest of the house.

"Thanks," Melissa says, and leaves the room.

Drake watches her disappear and slumps into the kitchen, sitting down on a bar stool and resting his head on his arms.

"You okay, Drake?"

Drake shrugs his shoulders, listening as Josh enters the room and pours a cup of coffee. The mug clacks quietly on the marble when Josh sets in near his elbow.

"Thanks."

"Too soon?"

"Yeah."

"I'm sorry."

Drake shrugs, sipping his coffee. There's nothing really to say. He wants to be over her, he really does. Sometimes he can't even remember why she's not here anymore. He just knows that it hurts.

"I found it. It was in a box in the suite kitchen."

Drake turns to Melissa and nods. "Yeah...I'm kinda using the space for storage."

"You should think about renting it out. Make some extra cash," she suggests.

"Good idea." Drake sets his cup down. "I'll walk you to the door."

He follows her to the door and darts forward to open the door for her. "It was nice seeing you, Drake," she says, turning to him after she crosses the threshold.

He swallows. His heart clenches a bit as the morning sunlight hits her long brown hair, giving her a reddish halo. She's so pretty, he thinks.

"Um, yeah. You too."

"Goodbye." She smiles pretty too.

"Bye."

He closes the door and stares at the long grain wood and iron brackets. He's not sure how long he stands there before he hears Josh come into the foyer. He actually hears Josh open his mouth to speak, but shakes his head. Josh steps up next to him and puts his arm around Drake's shoulder.

Too soon. It was too soon.

***


KRIS
On the Other Hand, Intimacy Can Be All About Sex

He has her pressed against the wall before the hotel room door clicks shut. He presses hot, open-mouthed kisses into Katy's lips, holding her arms up beside her head after she drops her purse to the floor. He can tell she's surprised at his bold approach, but he's been wanting this, needing this, and even if he talks to her every day, they hadn't had phone sex in days, and that's never enough anyway.

She takes her arms from his grip and drops them to lie around his neck, and he pulls her to him, his fingers already scrabbling to lift up her dress so he can feel more of her skin. He's riding off the insane high from his home state show - the crowd giving him a standing ovation with over a minute of screaming before he had even to utter a word or strum a chord. He's electrified, and his wife is there, and she's gorgeous, and his dick is hard, and he's working on both pushing her panties down and trying to unbuckle his belt when she pulls away and mumbles something dumb about the bed.

He shakes his head and pushes up against her, trapping her with his body. His hands have pushed her dress up and her panties down, and he can feel her kicking them off at their feet while he works his belt and fly. He's pushing his briefs and jeans far enough down his thighs when she says, "Shoot. Condoms. My purse."

He's honestly about to forego a condom because he frankly just really needs to fuck his wife, but she's already pushing him away gently to lean down and retrieve one from her bag, so he's standing there for a minute with his pants trapped around his knees, feeling a little foolish. Then he hears some people walking down the hall, talking - maybe Anoop and Matt, he thinks - and so when Katy stands, Kris pushes her wordlessly from the wall towards the bed, and she smiles a little sheepishly, and his heart thumps a little bit harder and thinks he's the luckiest man alive, and he's kicking off his shoes, not caring where they land, so he can push his pants down the rest of the way.

Katy's sitting on the bed, and giving him a coy smile, she unbuckles the strap of her shoe, showing off more of her thighs as her skirt rides up, and a hint of what lies between, as Kris steps towards her and unbuttons his shirt, hoping his want is visible. He has two more buttons as he reaches her, and she looks up from dropping her second shoe on the floor as the last of the buttons comes undone, and she immediately grabs his shirt tails and drags him down on top of her.

He's hard and leaking onto her dress, so he pushes it up her torso before fitting between her legs. Her small hands are all over his chest and back and ass, grabbing at him and pulling him closer. His hand scrabbles on the bedspread, trying to find the condom packet as he kisses her deeply, drawing a moan from both of them.

His fingertips brush past the foil, and he takes the packet in his hand and rises up on his knees, using his teeth to tear it open and thinks he's probably never put a condom on so fast in all his life. Then he's in her, pushing, pushing, pushing - sliding right into her and he lets out a sigh of relief against her neck.

Kris and Katy have never been a particularly adventurous couple in bed, but not simple either, and that's always been fine with them. But there's something in the way of tonight, the visceral need thrumming through every chord in his body that makes him a little rougher, traps her hands over her head, and is less attentive of her needs, and more worried about his own. She doesn't seem to complain, however, and he's not sure he could stop roughly slamming into her if he tried. He's not usually like this, he knows, but something inside him is clawing to get out, and he thinks it manages to find its way as his entire body shakes in overwhelming release, and he empties himself inside of her, a somewhat scream forcing itself out of his throat.

He collapses on top of her, panting stale air behind her ear, shivering as his sweat-soaked shirt sticks and cools on his back. Katy takes her hands from his grip and wraps herself around him, her legs hooking behind his knees. He finally has the strength and wits about him to rise up on one elbow.

"Oh, baby, I'm sorry - you didn't, did you? I'm sorry, I'll-" he starts to offer before she shushes him with a kiss.

"Tonight's all about you, sweetie," she says, flushed and gorgeous, and he smiles.

"I still wanna..."

"Shush. Let's just lie here, okay? Let's finish getting undressed and just crawl under the covers and just let me hold you, all right? I've missed you, but I've missed you next to me the most."

Kris wets his lip and smiles crookedly. "I love you, Katy O'Connell."

"I love you too, Kris Allen."

It was an exchange left over from their college years. They'd go long months, sometimes whole semesters before seeing each other again, and while the sex was always present, they just wanted to be wrapped around each other for hours on end, enjoying each other's company.

As Kris rolls off of Katy, taking care to throw the condom away before shrugging out of his dirty shirt, he remembers the fond times when they'd curl up on the narrow bed of his bedroom during Christmas break and sometimes nap - only waking when his mama would come get them for lunch or dinner. He wonders if there are going to be more moments like this than the ones they briefly had once they'd moved in together and they could spend entire lazy Sundays curled next to each other on the bed. He knows the tour isn't the end of the intense schedules...he just doesn't like to think about after other than in regards to getting his album finished and writing music forever and ever.

Looking over at Katy's bare back as she pulls off her dress and unhooks her bra, he thinks about what all of that might mean for her, because she still has a job in Conway, and yeah, she wants to be an actress, but didn't they want kids some day? There was plenty of time for that, he supposes, but it feels like the whole past year has gone by so quickly, and he doesn't want to regret any of it.

They slip under the covers and Katy curls up next to his side, tucking her head under his chin and wrapping an arm and a leg over his body. He holds her close and kisses her hair and falls asleep dreaming of the future.

***


ADAM
Exposure

"Let's do it."

"Really?"

"Yeah? Why not? You know you want to."

They share a somewhat evil grin. "Alright."

They both turn to the laptop, and Adam presses 'record'.

"Hi!" Kris says towards the built-in camera, and Adam bursts out laughing.

"What?" Kris says from his elbow, as he's kneeling on the floor next to Adam's seat.

Adam is still chortling. He shakes his head and stops the recording. "Nothing. You just...I don't know. Let's start over."

He clicks on 'record' again, and it takes a few tries, but they manage to start off the bubbletweet without too many problems. Being the only idols on the bus helps; otherwise, Matt and Danny probably would have interjected by now. Adam is happy for the small break in company of the other idols while he and Kris are on their way to make an appearance on Good Morning America with David Cook, though the 5 o'clock wake-up call tomorrow he's not looking forward to.

"I'm actually kind of tired," Adam says to the camera.

"Let's go to bed, Adam," Kris says immediately and Adam goes with it, because yeah, bed sounds really nice. It's about 1 A.M.

"Who's on top?" Kris then replies, and Adam is quite literally in shock at the quip, looking at the camera nervously.

"Yeah...you just said that," Adam says.

"Beep, beep, beep," Kris says in retraction, moving out of the camera frame, and Adam can't help but laugh. Okay, embarrassing or not, he's posting this bubbletweet. Besides, the Kradam fangirls will eat it up. And if it feeds fuel to that rather amusing little fire, then that's okay by him.

But his stomach still feels a tad off as they finally retire to their bunks. Kris wasn't out of line, exactly - he was just playing off an old joke from another interview. US Weekly had wanted to know who would take the top bunk on the buses, and Adam blithely replied, "I like the top." Kris had laughed, and it was a running joke between everyone, even the fans.

So why it bothered him now, he couldn't understand. He knew better than anyone that Kris had a smart sense of humor that seemed a little surprising to those who didn't know him well, or thought that they did. Good little Christian boy Kristopher wasn't quite as good as everyone wanted to think, but he was still the most genuine, 'what you see is what you get' kind of guy. So he couldn't have been messing with Adam's head. Because that just wasn't Kris.

"Hey, Kris?" Adam calls quietly, but loud enough to be heard over the bus engines. He shifts in his bunk, waiting for a reply.

"Yeah?"

"How are you and Katy doing?" Adam asks, realizing that asking Kris if he was intentionally trying to mess with Adam's head was a really stupid idea, so he asked about the first thing that popped into his head: Kris's wife. Yes, brilliant plan, Adam.

"Oh, we're fine. Why do you ask?"

"Oh, no reason. You just haven't talked about her in a while." Adam presses his palm to his forehead. He is an idiot.

"Well, she mentioned she wasn't feeling well a few days ago, but she seems to be over it now. She's still meeting us in New York."

"That's good."

"Yeah, it feels like forever, but it's only been a few weeks since I saw her last." Adam can practically see the way Kris's jaw opens wide and his face scrunches up as he yawns. "Well, we should get as much sleep as possible. The next handful of days are going to be insane."

Adam yawns. "You're right. GMA, back down to Jersey, back up to New York, photo shoots... Kris, I love that my dream - our dream - to record music is coming true, but this schedule might kill me before I get to enjoy any of it."

Kris chuckles. "Take each day as it comes, good or bad, and worry about tomorrow later."

Adam smiles, turning over in his bunk and pressing his face to his pillow. "You're a wise, wise man, Mr. Allen."

"I believe you're the one who told me that, Mr. Lambert."

"Maybe I did."

"Goodnight, Adam."

"Goodnight, Kris."

Adam smiles into his pillow, thinking that whatever happens, he is glad Kris is there, experiencing it with him.

***

Concert in Central Park. Interviews. Two concerts in New Jersey. Interviews. Photo shoot. Interviews. Two concerts in New York. Interviews, interviews, interviews. Recording. Writing. Drake.

Drake.

Adam would never deny the comfort and affability that spending time with Kris could bring, but he couldn't hold Kris close and breathe him in. He couldn't touch Kris intimately, or put his arm possessively around him. He couldn't kiss Kris.

But he could kiss Drake.

Seeing Drake again in New York is like a sigh of relief. Finally, someone who demands nothing of him, someone he doesn't see every single day, and someone whom he cares deeply enough about that he can pull them forward and kiss them like it's only moments before he will die, and it's the only thing that can save him.

Drake kisses him back, looks happy to see him, even, but something is off. Adam isn't one to ignore his intuition, and the way Drake is mingling and clinging to his side as they enter the meet and greet room and posing for cameras seems entirely too false to Adam. It's like someone replaced his boyfriend with a replica - someone who retains all the memories, but not the emotions of the person they are modeled after.

In all honesty, it freaks Adam out a bit, but he goes along with the after party festivities, posing for pictures and talking to fans, and watching Drake fake his way through their relationship in front of everyone. He feels exposed, raw, like his friends and family and all these strangers are watching and can see right through everything - Adam's entire relationship is a farce, and he's just using Drake as a front so no one can see how he really feels.

Adam stops that train of thought. It's dangerous even entertaining what would be probably the worst idea in the history of fucked up situations.

When he gets a chance - another stolen moment before he's whisked away to another state, another city, another venue - he pulls Drake aside and asks him point blank, "What the fuck is going on?"

Adam thinks Drake might try to brush it off - play dumb - and part of him wants Drake to do just that, so he can maybe get a little nasty, because he's never felt so bared open for the world to see, not even after the Rolling Stone article.

But to his surprise, Drake takes the high road and says, "I didn't want to embarrass you."

"Embarrass me? How? Because I'm sure I'm not the only person who noticed something was wrong, Drake. I feel embarrassed anyhow, because I had to stand there and act like nothing's wrong, when clearly something is, only I missed the memo."

"I'm sorry," Drake says.

"I'm sure you are, but about what is what I'm confused on. Is it something I did or didn't do?" Adam asks quietly, stepping closer to Drake to take his hands in his. "If it's something I did, please tell me, because I want to correct it."

Drake looks down to their hands. He presses his lips together and says quietly, "I'm sorry, Adam, I just think I need to break up with you."

Adam blinks. What?

"What?" he says after a moment, because no other thought is forming in his head right now, and he needs to stay something.

"I didn't want to embarrass you in front of everyone, and I still really care about you, but..."

"Did you meet someone?"

"I did, but that's not-"

"Well, we're not exclusive," Adam cuts in, "so it's okay. You don't have to...break up with me or whatever. There's nothing to break up. Thanks for telling me." Adam drops Drake's hands and turns to walk away.

"Adam!"

Adam stops and turns to look at Drake, whose blue eyes looked liquid and pained. Well, Adam doesn't really care. He's in pain too, and he doesn't even know what to think, other than he has to go, and he doesn't have time to listen to Drake's excuses.

"I'm sorry."

Adam nods once. "I have to go. We'll talk later," he says, obviously a masochist. "Bye."

On the bus, Adam is quiet and tired, but he isn't really tired at all, so he sits on the bench seat with his iPod and turns Robyn's "Eclipse" on repeat, wondering if bursting into tears in front of all the guys is the best way of sorting out his emotions at this time.

His eyes are tightly closed, but he knows the instant Kris comes out of the back of the bus and sits down next to him. Kris doesn't touch him, not even his knee against Adam's, but there's a change; a calm in the air that permeates when Kris enters a room, and it's almost as if Adam's attuned it more than the others, because it immediately takes the edge off the raw well of emotions behind his closed eyelids.

He can hear the others talking through the quiet of the song, and he thinks Anoop and Matt and Michael are arguing about which movie to watch, and Danny's falling asleep at the table, and Scott's already back in his bunk. Adam uncrosses his arms, letting them fall to his sides. Just to feel the warmth of Kris's leg against his skin.

He feels Kris shift in the seat next to him, and then Kris's hand touches his, pressing something into his palm. Adam opens his eyes and holds his hand up, a headphone splitter between his fingers. He smirks and looks over to Kris, who holds up his iPod earbuds with a smile.

Adam pauses the music and sets up the splitter, holding his iPod out for Kris. Kris's hand covers Adam's as he hooks up his own headphones, and the heat radiates through Adam's hand and up his arm. He can feel his face flush, and wishes simultaneously that Kris understood how much his silent gesture meant, and also that it didn't mean so much. Adam is proud that from the beginning he's been to separate his attraction to Kris from their relationship. Being on tour with him in such close quarters has been more trying than Adam has wanted to admit. It's draining in an entirely different way.

But now is not the time, now is not the place; so again, he pushes it away, turning Robyn back on and starting from the beginning. From the beginning of something not quite new, but no less exciting in its familiarity. Something beautiful, he thinks, as he looks into Kris's eyes.

***

Though it's not very far, Adam is glad that their next city is in a different country. Not that Canada is all that different from the U.S., besides everything being metric and half in French. He realizes that Niagara Falls isn't too far away either, and that he's never been. He wishes he had the time. He wishes he had someone to go with him; someone he cared about, and more importantly, cared about him in return.

When his phone rings and his caller ID announces that its Drake, he decides that fate is a cruel, cruel bitch.

"Hi," he says quietly.Hi. Adam just breathes. I wish this wasn't over the phone.

"Well this is all we have. And I haven't much time on top of that," Adam says shortly, reminding Drake that life is short. And so is his patience.

I wish things were different.

"You seem to be wishing for a lot of things." Adam's getting more and more pissed with every second that passes. He realizes he doesn't care what Drake has to say. He has given so much to him, yet now it seems like everything fell apart while Adam has been off living his dream. "I can't fathom that you wish that my dreams weren't coming true, because to me, that's the only thing that's changed in our lives. That right now, I can't see you all the time, or talk to you either, and somehow, to you, that equates to too much of a difference to deal with. That instead of just missing me, you think I'm a burden."

That isn't it at all.

"Then...what, Drake? Fuck, I'm not even sure I care, because if you've lost faith that I'll still be all about you when I get back, then I'm not sure there's any reason for me to be all about you anymore. It means you don't know me at all. And I can't give my heart to someone who thinks so little of me."

I think your heart's already been given away, that's why I'm breaking it off.

"What are you talking about?"

You know, Adam. And I know you'll only get mad at me for saying who, but you know already, you really do.

The hair on the back of Adam's neck rises and he feels a stone weight drop in his stomach. He grits his teeth. "Drake that's bullshit. We had this talk weeks ago. Kris is straight. And married. And I can't... You know what? There's no point in talking about it again. You met someone, and you obviously feel insecure enough about how I feel about you that you think that Kris could come between us. Drake...you came between us. You and your paranoia. Kris respects you, and our relationship. But clearly you don't. And I don't want to be with someone who doesn't respect me. Goodbye."

Adam hangs up and stares out at the view from his balcony. Only three things can make him feel better at the moment, but only one of them he has any real access to: fashion magazines. He goes downstairs to the hotel gift store and picks up as many magazines as he can, needing the simple mundanity of any day life to keep him from losing his shit. Right as he's ringing up, he grabs one of the other two things on his 'feel better' list: Hello, Mr. Goodbar.

***


DRAKE
Will You...?

Drake's boots scuff the sidewalk as he shifts his stance on the pavement. The hot southern California sun beats down on him, and he can almost see how it's bleaching the dye of his shirt and jeans; the grass fading to sage, and the ocean fading to sky. A bead of sweat pearls up on the nape of his neck and slides down below his collar. He rubs his hand against his skin to keep it from tickling as he reaches out with his other hand and presses the number for Josh's apartment.

"Yo!" Josh's voice says, covered in static.

"Hey, man...buzz me in?"

"Hey! Drake, yeah, sure man. Here. Door's open." The buzzer sounds and the lock on the gate clicks. Drake pulls the gate open and saunters through, taking long strides to the door marked '2' in the cul-de-sac of doors, though the courtyard is small and unassuming.

He knocks once on Josh's door and opens it, stepping inside the Studio City condo. It's not a bad place, but Josh could do better. He deserves better.

"Hey, Josh?"

"In the bedroom!" Josh calls.

Drake turns the corner into Josh's room and sees his best friend flinging clothes out of his closet. "Hey."

"Hey," Josh says absently. "What's up, man?"

"Well, I was coming over to ask you something. A favor. A big favor."

"Yeah, sure. Anything, you know that," Josh says, holding up a vest and a button up shirt, his expression calculated.

"Josh...what are you doing?"

"I'm trying to find something to wear." He turns to Drake and flashes his dopey grin. "I've got a date."

"Oh, yeah? Rock on, buddy." Drake grins back, but when Josh turns back to his closet, his face falls, feeling a little awkward.

"So what's this favor?" Josh asks, finally deciding on a navy blue dress shirt and white vest with a white tie. He pulls his t-shirt over his head and starts getting ready.

Drake doesn't even need to see it on him to know he'll look amazing. Josh usually looks amazing, no matter what style of clothing he decides to wear. But with that distracting thought, now he's not sure how to ask what he needs to ask.

"Drake?"

"Move in with me."

Josh's fingers pause, his shirt half buttoned. "What?"

Drake swallows. He's not sure why he thought this was a good idea. "I...asked if you'd move in with me."

Josh blinks and licks his lips, his fingers fiddling with his buttons once more. "Are you sure?"

This was really weird. Which is annoying, because nothing with Josh is ever weird. Maybe except that one time Josh tried to give him tongue in front of the entire crew of Drake & Josh. But that had mostly been just an unexpected joke, and the bastard had been trying to get a rise out of him.

"Yeah," Drake says. Josh's head is bowed and his eyes are concentrated on his hands. "You can have the guest rooms," Drake continues. "There's a kitchen up there and everything. I just...I need-"

"Okay," Josh says abruptly, looking up.

"What?"

"I said, 'yes'. You don't need to explain it to me, bro. Of course I'll move in. I'll have to sublet my place or something...my lease isn't up for three more months."

"I'll pay your rent or something. Or you don't have to pay rent until you're out of your lease, if you can't sublet it."

Josh must have noticed his rush of words, how nervous he seems, because he comes over to Drake and places his hands solidly on Drake's thin shoulders.

"Drake. It's okay. I'd do anything for you, you know that, right? Give me the basement, I don't care. You need me, I'm there for you, okay?"

Drake nods, and takes in a deep breath, letting it out. "Thanks, Josh. Really. It's been a few months, but..."

Josh pulls Drake to him, and Drake's head fells right into Josh's shoulder. He smells like soap and aftershave, and it's strangely comforting, like cocoa on a cold day, or the feel of a guitar in his hands, the smooth wood and rough strings against his calloused fingers.

Drake lets go reluctantly, but steps away and smiles, showing Josh that he's reigned in his emotions, and gives Josh a friendly punch in the arm. "So, a date, huh?"

Josh grins. "Yep. Her name is Sarah. I met her at the gym the other week." He grabs his vest and slips it on, then grabs his tie, fumbling with it for a moment.

Drake steps over and takes the tie from Josh, draping it over his own neck and tying it before slipping it back over Josh's neck and under his collar, adjusting the knot. "So I guess your horrible jokes didn't scare her off, then."

"Fuck you," Josh says playfully. He turns to his full-length mirror and smoothes his outfit against his skin. Spinning around to Drake he says, "How do I look?"

Drake smiles. "Like a movie star."

***


KRIS
Expecting the Unexpected

"I...What?" Kris blinks a few times, looking at his wife who looks so tiny and small and unsure sitting in the chair next to him. He can't be sure if he really heard her correctly, except...

"I'm pregnant," Katy says again, biting her lip, and Kris's eyes immediately drop to her belly. She's not touching it, but her hands are fidgeting in her lap, like she's not exactly sure how to feel, or how Kris will react.

He slides off his chair to kneel in front of her, and he rests his hands on her knees, his eyes transfixed on her belly. He can't believe it. How did they...? When?

"After Little Rock," Katy says, and Kris meets her eyes, realizing he spoke out loud. "Once we got into Memphis that night. You remember that time when we... The morning after when we didn't have any protection...?"

Kris thinks back to the last time he was in his wife's arms. He remembered every fevered moment. He had woken up in the wee hours of the morning shortly after falling asleep, wrapped around Katy, half-hard and aroused from some dream that his sleep-muddled brain couldn't quite remember the details of. He was spooned up against her back, and placed lazy kisses on her shoulder and the back of her neck as he slipped into her from behind. She had moaned so prettily, and he had moved instinctively, touching her to bring her off just before he climaxed inside of her.

Oh.

He probably looks a little shell-shocked, because Katy has to say his name a few times to get his attention.

He blinks again and looks back down to her belly and places a hand over it thinking, I'm going to be a father.

His head falls forward, and he leans his forehead against her breastbone, his breathing as sporadic as his thoughts. Is he elated? Upset? What the hell are they going to do? Is Katy happy? For once he can't tell.

Katy's fingers thread through the short hair on the back of his head. "Kris? Are you...are you okay?"

"I'm... I'm going to be a father," he replies, his mind trying to wrap around the concept.

"Yeah...you are," Katy says fondly, kissing his ear and putting her other arm around his shoulders.

He looks up at her, and trying to see if she's just as nervous and confused as he is. "We're going to have a baby," he says, breathless.

Katy smiles wide, and he's never seen her so excited. "We are."

"But...well, how? I mean...aren't you on the pill?" he has to ask, honestly a little confused.

Katy nods. "But that tiny little percentage, I guess..."

"Wow."

Katy laughs. "You're a man of small words, Mr. Allen."

Kris ducks his head to kiss her clavicle. Then in one movement, he's standing and pulling her up with him, wrapping his arms around her and spinning her around as she giggles.

He sets her down and kisses her on the mouth. "We're going to have a baby. I'm going to be a dad."

"And I'm going to be a mom!"

"I've got to tell Adam!" Kris says excitedly, then notices Katy's face fall a little. "Oh...do you not want me to tell him?"

"Well..." Katy starts. "It's not that, but...I don't want it to be on the news. At least...not yet."

"Who all knows?"

"Our parents. Daniel and Tim and the twins. I've told them not to tell anyone, though your mama is beside herself. I think both our mamas are already picking out nursery wallpaper," she chuckles.

"Well, I know Adam can keep a secret, if you're worried about that..."

"I just want you to focus on the tour and recording Kris. I don't want the media attention about a baby keeping the focus away from you and the other idols. Let me worry about the baby. I don't want you to be worrying about whether I'm all right. But I couldn't not tell you, you know?"

Kris nods. "How long have you known?"

"A few days. I found out just before I flew out here. Remember when I said I was sick? I was also a little late, so...I took a test then went to the doctor to confirm."

Kris nods. "Right. Well, I'd still like to tell Adam. I can't keep something like this from him. Or anything, really. He's one of the few people I can talk to completely honestly about anything. He's one of my best friends."

"I know he is."

"How am I not supposed to worry about you when you're away?" Kris asks, pressing his forehead against hers. "Especially now that we've got a baby comin'?"

Katy puts her arms around his neck. "I know you'll worry anyway, but try not to. I've got both our mamas lookin' after me. We'll worry about what we're gonna do when the tour's over. It's only another month."

"What're we gonna do?" Kris asks, and realizes that though he'd never consider them, there are 'options' out there. This wasn't planned, after all... He's only twenty-four, and his music career has barely started yet and he and Katy had only talked about someday and -

"You know, where we're going to live and what's going to happen when you need to go on your solo tour next year..."

"Oh. Yeah, right," Kris says, feeling foolish. "Man, I can't even tell Charles, can I?"

Katy laughs. "You know I want you to..."

"...but he couldn't keep a secret to save his life," Kris jokes. "You know he'll expect to be the godfather, right?"

Katy smiles. "He might have to fight Tim on that one. And possibly Daniel."

"Maybe even Adam," Kris quips, musing to himself.

Then Katy bites her lip and looks up at him through her eyelashes. "So I'm thinking if we have a boy, we could name him Adam..."

Kris tilts his head back as he laughs. "I love you," he says in reply, kissing the giggles from her mouth.

***

He isn't able to get any complete alone time with Adam until they've arrived in Ontario two days later, and he sneaks away for a few minutes to knock on Adam's hotel room door early in the afternoon.

Adam opens the door after a minute. "Kris! Hey, come in. What's up?" he asks as Kris enters the room, hands stuffed in his pockets.

"I..." Kris pauses, not sure why he can't say why he's there. "Oh, um, nothing. Just wondered if you wanted to hang out for a bit."

"Sure. Do you mind if we stay in, though? I'm kinda just wanting to relax and not do anything."

"That's cool. We could just watch TV or something."

Adam nods and they settle on the large bed and Adam turns on the television before picking up an open magazine he'd been reading and flipping through it. There's an empty chocolate bar wrapper on the nightstand. Kris takes the remote and starts flipping idly through channels.

"So...you wanna tell me why you're really here?" he asks Kris, not looking up from his magazine.

"I...what?"

Kris doesn't have to look to know Adam rolls his eyes. "Kris, you have almost no poker face. At least, not around me. Now what's up? You and Katy have a fight?"

"What? No, no. Nothing like that. Actually...it's good news. I think."

Kris sees Adam still out of the corner of his eye. Adam closes his magazine and curls his legs under him, sitting up straight. "You think?"

"Katy's pregnant," Kris blurts out, still not looking at Adam. And not really sure if he wants to.

"What? Really?" Adam claps Kris on the shoulder. "Congratulations, man!"

Kris swallows. "Thanks, Adam." He looks down to his hands rolling the remote between them and smiles slightly.

"Kris?" Adam starts. "Are you... Are you not happy about this?"

Kris looks up. "No, I am. I mean. Sorta. Katy and I weren't planning for kids for a while, you know? And hell, it's not even the end of the tour, and by the time our albums come out and my solo tour starts... Well, the baby will be here, won't it? And where will I be? Traveling all over the place."

"So you're worried about Katy being alone with the baby."

Kris nods. "Yeah, I guess. I mean, Mama will be there to help, and so will hers, but we're supposed to be moving out to L.A. for a while while I finish up the album, you know? I'm not sure how this is going to factor into everything. And I -" Kris wasn't sure how to say what he was really worried about.

Adam's hand on Kris's shoulder moves across his shoulder blades and cups around the opposite arm, pulling him close. Adam dips his head down close to Kris's. "You're gonna be the best dad on the planet, Kris Allen. Don't you dare be worried about that."

Kris isn't sure how Adam manages it, but he feels a weight lift off his shoulders slightly hearing that. He leans slightly into Adam's embrace. "Thanks, Adam. You know, Katy wants to name him after you. If it's a boy, anyhow."

Adam pulls away laughing. "Really? Well, tell her I'm honored."

Kris grins. "I think it's more for me, than her. I told her you were my best friend in all this. That you were the only one I really wanted to tell, since we're trying to keep it quiet until after the tour. I honestly can't even tell Charles."

Kris swears Adam blushes a little. "I am sincerely flattered, Kristopher. Though 'Adam Allen' kinda has a funny ring to it."

"Maybe your name could be his middle name," Kris suggests.

Adam giggles as he starts flipping through his magazine again. "I totally love that we can talk baby names together."

"Only you and me, dude."

Adam smiles, and Kris settles back against the headboard next to him, feeling a thousand times better than he had when he came in, not even knowing how just being around Adam could never cease to make him smile. He flips the TV to ESPN and Adam snatches the remote out of his hand.

"Absolutely not! If you want to watch sports, you go into your own room, Mister. If you're in here, you're gonna watch MTV or Fashion TV or something educational."

Kris just smiles and takes the remote back, pressing the 'up' channel button until he lands on the Discovery Channel, where there's an exposé on the mating of insects.

"Oh, ew," they both say at the same time, and Kris presses the button again and it lands on Nickelodeon.

Adam puts his hand out. "Wait. Stay here. I actually kinda like Spongebob Squarepants."

Kris nearly falls over his side of the bed laughing.

***

ADAM
Honestly, It's Over.

The end of the tour nearly breaks Adam in two. He is almost overburdened with relief that it is finally over. No more singing the same damn songs every night. No more cramped buses. Finally, a chance to catch up on sleep. But it all meant that there was no more Idol family. They would all go their own directions, scattered across the country, and it felt so final that Adam didn't know how to deal - he was so caught up in the fun and hilarity of the final concert, throwing out his jewelry and gloves, hugging everyone, getting silly string out of his hair - it took until the party afterwards with the cast and crew of the tour for it to really hit him - it was over.

He stopped mid-sentence as he looked across the room to Kris, who was playing Guitar Hero with Matt.

"Darn it!" Kris was cursing, as clearly, being able to play the guitar did not make it easier for you to play Guitar Hero.

"Adam?"

Adam blinks and looks down to Alli, who has this really perplexed look on her face. "Yeah? Oh, sorry. What was I saying?"

"You were telling me about the place your mom found for you back in L.A."

"Oh, yeah. It's got three bedrooms, and from the pictures, it's gorgeous. My mom's brilliant."

"Three bedrooms? What are you going to do with three?"

Adam shrugs, his gaze wandering back to Kris.

"What's going on, Adam?"

"What do you mean?" he says, taking a sip of his martini.

"I know you got something on your mind, man. Or someone, actually."

"What?"

"You're horribly transparent," Alli says.

"She's right, you are," Danny says from behind him, grabbing some food from the craft services table.

"What? About what? What are you guys talking about?"

Danny claps a hand on his shoulder. "I know you said it's not a big deal, that everyone was just blowing it out of proportion, but do you think maybe you were the one playing it down?"

Adam looks off to the side, biting his lip. "You guys are talking about Kris, aren't you?"

"Yes, we are," Alli says.

"We are what?" Michael says, appearing behind Allison and grabbing some Chex mix in his big, meaty palm.

"Talking about Kris. And Adam," Danny says, and Michael raises his eyebrows and nods knowingly.

Adam shakes his head. "You guys, it's really not like that. I can admit I find Kris attractive, but that's it. I'm not - we're not - there's nothing going on. Really."

"We never said there was," Danny says. "Look, I think we all know how I feel about the subject; fire and brimstone and all that; but I know what you guys mean to each other. Your friendship. Anyone with working eyeballs can see that. You gotta hang on to that, man. No matter what."

"I wasn't planning on letting it go anywhere, Danny," Adam says, a little annoyed.

Danny holds up in hands in concession. "Okay, Adam. I just think-"

"I think what Danny's trying to say, is that you should be honest." Michael cuts in.

"And be honest with yourself, too," Alli says.

"When'd you get so wise, chica?" Adam asks the fire-engine redhead, putting an arm around her slight frame.

"Hey, we get wise young, now," she says. "Will you just consider our advice, Adam?"

Adam looks down into her big dark eyes. He runs playful fingers through her multi-colored hair. "Yeah, Allison, I will." Kissing her on the forehead he says, "Thanks."

"No problem man. Now, I gotta get my hands on one of those guitars!" she says, bouncing away towards the boys playing Guitar Hero with the energy that only a seventeen year old could have. Adam wishes he had that kind of energy for life again. Though he wouldn't trade his life experiences for his seventeen-year-old self even if someone paid him to.

Kris turns around as Allison approaches, grinning and giving up his guitar. He sees Adam and smiles before taking a drink from Katy and pulling her in for a one-armed hug. They have a baby on the way. Even if she was wearing a tighter dress, you wouldn't have been able to tell that she's pregnant. No one here knew except the three of them.

"He loves you, too, you know," Michael says quietly in his ear.

"I know he does," Adam says, turning to Mike. "Can I tell you something in confidence?"

"Of course, Adam. Anything you need, man."

Adam gestures to a darker corner of the room, where the dancing party lights and strobes barely reach. "Kris and Katy...they're expecting," he says, watching for Michael's reaction.

Mike's eyes grow wide, and his eyes track Kris and Katy on the other side of the room. "Really? Why hasn't he said anything? That's amazing!"

Adam nods. "Yeah, it is. But they want to keep it quiet for now. You know, because of the tour. But now that that's over..."

Mike chuckles. "Do you think you're going to be replaced by a baby?"

Adam grins. "No, that's just silly. No, I just... Well, to be perfectly honest, I know Kris will be a great father - the best - but I don't think... It's not that he's not ready. I..." Adam flounders for a second. "I don't think he wants the baby."

Mike's eyebrows shoot up to hide behind his baseball cap. "Whoa. How do you know that? Did he say something to you?"

Shaking his head Adam says, "No. Not directly. But when he told me about it, something seemed off. Like he's not comfortable with what bringing a baby into his life right now means. But he doesn't want to upset Katy, and he's a good Christian... I'm just worried about him."

Michael nods. "Well, I ain't no expert," he says in his Louisiana drawl, tinged with several years spent living in Texas. "But I was about his age when I started my family, and I wouldn't give McKenna or Grayson up for anything. They changed my life. My advice? Just be there for him, man. You guys do have a good, solid friendship. Be honest about that, and if he needs you, you'll know it."

Adam lets out a breath. "Thank, Mike."

"No problem, man."

"Adam! Get your skinny gay ass over here and play me!" Alli calls over to them.

Adam chuckles and downs the rest of his drink. "Little Sister calls. Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it."

Mike claps him on the shoulder as Adam walks away. "Good luck, Lambert."

***


JOSH
Kids Aren't the Only Ones That Need Superheroes

Three weeks later, Josh finds himself still unpacking. Man, he has a lot of shit. Where'd he get so much stuff?

"You're such a pack-rat," Drake says fondly from the doorway.

"Yeah, well at least I don't keep a shrine to my guitars," Josh retorts, arranging some books on a shelf.

"Hey, leave my guitars alone."

"You know, as much as you love those things, they cannot give you children."

Drake makes a face. "Why are you all over me to have kids? You just moved in, and already you're trying to get rid of me."

"I'm not trying to get rid of you. I'm trying to become 'Uncle Joshie'. That requires you to have kids, because I'm an only child."

Drake laughs, and sits on Josh's bed, playing with a stuffed dog. "You're going to spoil them rotten, aren't you?"

"Nah. I'm gonna teach them magic tricks!" Josh says excitedly.

Drake mock-groans and flops onto his back. "I don't want to have nerds for kids, Josh."

"I know you don't really mean that," Josh says, finishing up his current box and breaking it down and tossing it on top of his friend. "Geeks and nerds will rule the world, you know."

"Or they'll be made fun of and hate life and me and will become psychopathic murders."

Josh blinks and looks up to Drake, still under the cardboard. "Wow, you really have no faith in your ability to raise productive human beings, do you?" Drake shrugs in response. Josh turns back to opening the next box of books. "Or...maybe they'll wind up on their own self-titled television show, and become successful musicians and actors, like their old...men."

"Old men?"

"Yeah. You and me. Their pops."

Drake laughs and sits up, pushing the cardboard off to the side. "I knew there was a reason I voted no on Prop. 8. My future is bound to contain an alternative family dynamic, isn't it?"

Josh shrugs. "Why not? I didn't even have a dad, so having two can only mean good things. Besides, we'd be the best dads ever."

"As long as it's clear all future wifely duties are for my benefit only."

"Of course."

"What about you? I know you want kids."

Josh pauses. "Yeah, I do. But we'll see. Haven't found someone I want kids with yet. Other than you."

Drake snorts. "Being 'Uncle Josh' isn't the same thing, Josh."

"I know."

"Things aren't going well with Sarah?"

"No, she's great. I just...I don't know. I don't know yet if I could fall in love with her."

"Well, when you fall in love, you'll know it. I did."

Josh nods, unsure. "Yeah..."

"Besides, what makes you think I'm going to have kids before you? Maybe I'll be 'Uncle Drake'. It's not like I've got a girlfriend or anything."

Josh shrugs. "Just a feeling..."

"Yeah, well, you're ahead of the game on this one, pal. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with myself."

"Well, you have some more tour dates this summer, don't you?"

"Yeah. I'm going to Baltimore in a few days. You won't burn my house down, will you?"

"I don't know...how much is your insurance claim for?" Josh jokes.

"Not funny. Anyhow, I'll only be gone a week. Which reminds me, I need to go make sure my clothes are clean so I have something to pack."

"Have fun," Josh calls as Drake walks out the door.

He turns back to his one bookshelf and stares at the spines. Paradise Lost by John Milton, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier, numerous titles by Tolstoy, Shakespeare, and Hunter S. Thompson, nestled beside some good old fashioned Marvel.

He picks up an issue of The Adventures of Spiderman, thumbing the corner. He remembers wishing that one day he could be a superhero; that one day, he could make a difference in someone's life. He looks back through his open door, realizing for the first time since he started sleeping in his new place, here, in Drake's multi-million dollar mansion, that that's exactly what he wound up doing. Drake needed him, and he came to the rescue. He was Drake's superhero.

Josh smiles. He likes the sound of that.

***

DRAKE
Nightlights Aren't Superheroes

Drake rolls over in his hotel room bed, blinking at the glaring red light of the alarm clock. He can't sleep. He's hardly slept all week, truth be told, though he has no idea why.

Well, maybe that's not entirely true. He knows what's been on his mind, he just doesn't understand why.

It has been a few months since he and Melissa have broken up, and about a month since Josh had moved in with him. Josh and Sarah have been dating about the same amount of time, and Drake knows Josh doesn't mean to do it, but seeing him and Sarah together just makes his heart ache.

He misses that. The familiarity, the touching, the kissing, even the after-sex cuddling. Which, he has to admit, he never disliked. But he doesn't have that anymore, and watching Josh and Sarah sends jealousy plummeting to the bottom of his stomach, sitting there like a lead weight.

It's not like Josh and Sarah were particularly all over each other when Drake was in the room, but Drake saw that look that passed though Josh's eyes every once and a while. A silent apology, which Drake didn't really want.

What he wants is his sense of purpose back. The idea that he is actually moving towards a goal. He's still working on his third album, still doing concerts, still making appearances, still making music, which is the most important thing in the world, but breaking up with Melissa seemed to put that on hold. It made the world stop for a moment - his world, at least - and now it was struggling to start again, and his energies in all aspects of his life felt strained and useless.

He watches the clock turn two and sits up, rubbing his face. Sighing, he grabs his phone from the nightstand, and calls Josh. It's not too late in L.A., right?

"Hello?"

"Josh! Hey, man...I didn't wake you, did I?"

"Nope. I'm just sittin' here, chillin', just making sure I have everything."

"Everything? For what?"

"Boot camp. And filming. I'm going to be in Michigan for a few months, remember?"

"So soon? I thought that was next week. Am I going to miss you before you leave?"

"Nah, it is next week. I'm just starting a list before I start forgetting things."

"Wow, you are a dork."

"Hey!"

"Just sayin'."

"Yeah, well. Remember what I told you about us dorks and nerds..."

"You'll rule the world, yes, I remember."

"Good. So - what's up? Isn't it like, two or something there?"

"Yeah...I couldn't sleep."

"Aw...so you called me? So sweet." Josh pitches his voice low. "What are you wearing?"

"Um...just some boxers and a t-shir... Hey!" Drake exclaims as he realizes Josh is holding back laughter.

"Wow," Josh laughs, "I didn't realize you'd be so easy!"

"I'm not easy...you just caught me off guard!"

"Hmm...yes, of course I did."

"I hate you."

"I think you're swell."

Drake groans. "I'm hanging up now. Dork."

"Slut."

Drake smiles. "I'll see you in a few days."

"I might be here."

"Good. Goodnight, Josh."

"Goodnight, Drake."

Drake hangs up. Talking with Josh always felt good, even when they didn't talk about anything at all. He lies back down and realizes what's been bothering him. Josh just moved in, and he's leaving again. Something about that feels off to Drake - he asked Josh to move in so his best friend would be there - would fill up his empty house, and now it was going to be empty again. Temporarily, sure, but the house would still be empty.

Maybe this dependency on Josh isn't the best thing. Maybe Drake shouldn't have asked Josh to move in. Maybe it just made it worse, that he couldn't deal with Melissa being gone without Josh being there at all times, like a nightlight to a kid afraid of the dark. Eventually you had to realize that there was nothing in the shadows, and unplug the nightlight from the wall.

Maybe that's what he needs to do. Unplug Josh from his wall. Drake's nose wrinkles at the metaphor. That didn't even sound right. It's a good thing he didn't say it out loud.

He sighs, rolling over. Maybe Josh going to Michigan will be a good exercise in sleeping without his night light.

***


KRIS
Abbey Hasn't Learned to Teleport Yet

London is one of those places he has always wanted to go to, but never had the chance. He just wishes Katy could be here, but she's back in L.A., staying with a friend and trying to find them a more permanent place to live. All in all, it was looking more and more like he and Katy were going to have to stay in L.A. much longer than he'd anticipated. Not that he didn't like L.A...it just isn't Arkansas.

They need a nursery now, which makes things more difficult. Katy is already picking out cribs and strollers and receiving gifts and gift certificates from family and friends. The media had taken the news of a baby with an explosion. It's almost comical how they both condemned him and Katy for getting pregnant too soon - before they had even planned on, to be honest - and congratulated them on their first child together. They'd even received offers for first picture rights. Kris rolls his eyes just thinking about it. And that isn't even mentioning the whispers about how he'd gotten Katy pregnant just to stop the rumors that he's been having an illicit affair with Adam. Whom he would rarely have a chance to see in the next few weeks. Other than that one appearance in Detroit a few weeks prior, he hadn't even talked to Adam. They did their concert, and then it had been a long hug before they'd gone their separate ways.

He'd just had a great writing session with Eg White, and done the most touristy thing he could think of, besides taking a picture with a guard at Buckingham Palace or riding a double-decker...and that is to take a picture of himself walking across Abbey Road - in the same place the Beatles had forty years earlier. He wouldn't be a Beatles fan if he'd come to London and hadn't taken the picture. It wasn't the best, but he tweeted it anyway, smiling.

It is too early in the morning for anyone in the U.S. to be up, so the response rate is low, thankfully, but a few minutes later, he gets a text:

U r such a nerd.

He laughs and types a response back.

What, my nerd doesn't turn you on, Lambert? I'm gonna have to up my game...

Fuck you. :P

Chuckling, he slips his phone into his pocket. He's walking down Abby Road with his assistant, Jackie, when his phone rings. He looks at his caller ID and grins.

"Hey, baby, what are you doing up at this hour?" he says to his wife, despite the fact that the sun is beating down on the back of his neck in London.

Kris? I...I'm in the hospital. It's the baby.

Kris stops so suddenly that someone behind him runs straight into his back, calling out 'wanker' as they move past.

"Kris?" Jackie says beside him, but he barely hears her.

"I need to get back to L.A. Now."

***

Kris hates having to cancel things, especially with the weight of his album pressing down on his shoulders. But his producers are wonderfully sympathetic, and he gets the first flight out of London Heathrow he can find, cursing that he has to have a short layover in New York before another six-hour flight to L.A. Why can't they just build teleporters already, dammit, he thinks.

He can't sleep. Not on the plane, not in the car, not anywhere. And he can't call anyone, because he can't use his cell phone on the plane. He's jittery. He refuses food and drink - his knee keeps bouncing, and he has a feeling that if he can't stop the nervous tick soon, the woman next to him is going to dig her claw-like nails into his knees until she draws blood.

He wants to talk to Adam. He wants to ask if he'll pick him up at the airport, will come with him to the hospital, even if Jackie has already arranged a car. He grabs his iPhone, turning it on because he really needs the music, prohibited cell phone use be damned.

He skips immediately to his secret 'Adam' playlist, and relaxes slightly as the opening piano chords to "Mad World" come over his headphones...then Adam's soothing voice whispers in his ear, and he feel like he might be able to breathe again. It sounds cheesy - he can just imagine the laugh he and Adam will share over it once he knows Katy is okay - but talking to Adam always calms him down. Even when he has butterflies fluttering around in his stomach, watching as Adam's wide smile almost literally saves dying children in Somalia and his voice smoothes wrinkles out of taffeta. Or some type of wrinkly fabric.

He still doesn't sleep, but maybe slips into a hazy semi-coma of Adam's voice and music swimming in his brain, and is immediately jittery, adrenaline high in his veins as he realizes they're descending into LAX. He wishes for a teleportation device again as he waits the long wait to get off the plane, up the ramp, through the airport, and to his waiting car. He silently thanks Jackie for offering to bring the rest of his luggage with her on her less-urgent trip back into the States.

He's so worried out of his mind, he wants to murder someone as he gets to the hospital. The traffic in L.A. is always bad, but it seems extra bad just for him today. He's called and texted Adam with no response, which doesn't help his nerves any. Though talking to his mama briefly helps. He learns that Katy's mom is currently on her way to L.A., which is some relief, except that that means that Katy's been alone this whole time.

He runs up to pre-natal ICU and questions the desk nurse for his wife's room. When he dashes in, he's brought up short by the sight of his beautiful Katy lying in a hospital bed, in a horrible hospital gown, hooked up to machines and IV lines and all kinds of things he's never seen her surrounded by. Their friend, Abel, is holding Katy's hand, slouched over the bed in sleep. Katy's breathing is steady; sleeping. She wasn't completely alone. Thank you, God.

He steps forward quietly, reaching out to take his wife's other hand, and brushing his fingers across her cheek. She looks so pale.

Her eyes flutter at his touch, but she doesn't wake. He hears a shuffling of feet behind him and turns to see a woman in a white lab coat. The doctor.

"Mr. Allen?"

It takes a second of clearing his throat to get it to work properly. "Yes? How is she? What happened?"

The doctor steps forward. "My name is Dr. Lassiter, Mr. Allen. Your wife is doing well, however..."

"What? What happened?"

"Mr. Allen, I'm sorry, but your wife miscarried. You've lost the baby."

Kris turns back to Katy and sees the bruises under her eyes and the dried tear tracks on her cheeks. "How?" he asks quietly, not looking away from his wife.

"We haven't yet determined what caused the miscarriage, but seeing as your wife is a very healthy young woman, the likelihood that the body recognized some large genetic anomaly is prevalent. When the body sees this kind of serious genetic abnormality, it sometimes miscarries to rid the body of the abnormality."

The doctor's formal words make some kind of sense, but at the moment, on no sleep, and almost no energy, he can't bring himself to sort them out, so he just nods.

"You look exhausted, Mr. Allen. How about you sit?" The doctor brings forward a chair for him to sit in, so he collapses into it.

"Will she be okay?"

He thinks he sees Dr. Lassiter nod her head. "Yes. We'll be monitoring her for the next day, but all she really needs right now is rest. She lost a lot of blood."

Kris nods absently. "Thank you, doctor."

"If you need anything, press the call button, and a nurse will be in here promptly."

"Thank you." He pulls out his cell phone to call his mama.

"You won't be able to use your cell phone in here, Mr. Allen. If it's a local number, you can use the room phone, otherwise, you'll have to go out into the atrium on the third floor. Sorry."

Kris nods. He leans forward and kisses his wife's hand. "I'll be right back, baby. I love you."

He leaves the room and goes down to the third floor, finding the atrium with little problem. He calls his mother immediately, updating her and trying to calm his trembling. He doesn't feel like crying, though this has been the most worried he's ever been in his life, but he can't stop shaking. He almost feels nauseous as the fine tremors take his body, and he sits down on a bench.

"No, mama, I'm not okay." I didn't think you were, sweetie. "I'm just... God, I was so scared. I wish you were here." We'll try to get out as soon as possible. Don't worry, Peggy will be there soon.

Kris says his goodbyes and stares at his phone for a moment, not wanting to go back into the stark hallways and stale, medicinal smell of the hospital proper.

Adam. He should call Adam. Adam should know.

He doesn't get through again - he can't fathom what Adam is doing that he can't answer his cell phone at least once, so he leaves a hurried message: I'm at Cedars-Sinai. Pre-natal ICU. Room 518. I need you. Please come.

He goes back to Katy's room and holds her hand, stroking her paler-than-pale skin with his fingertips, trying to breathe in through his nose and out through his mouth to calm his trembling, waiting for hope to arrive.

***

Abel wakes up an hour later, hair plastered strangely on one side of her head and her eyes crusty with sleep.

"Kris? Oh, thank God," Abel says. "When did you get here?"

"A few hours ago. You should go home, Abel. I'll stay. Katy's mom is on her way."

"Are you sure? You look horrible." She rubs her eyes and runs fingers through her short hair.

Kris nods. "I'm sure. I'll be fine. You've been here all day. Go."

Abel stands and walks around to Kris, leaning down to give him a hug. "Everything will be okay, Kris."

"Yeah."

She leans over to give her and Kris's entwined hands one last squeeze, kisses Katy on the cheek and Kris on the head, and leaves.

Kris doesn't know how long he sits there, but he starts to drift off when he hears a scuffling on the floor and a quiet call.

"Kris?"

Kris jerks awake and turns. "Adam," he says, sighing in relief.

As he stands and walks towards Adam's open arms, Adam says, "They almost wouldn't let me in here."

He doesn't care. Adam's here now. Kris grabs on to him and clings. He buries his face in Adam's jacket and just breathes him in, all leather and musk and comfort.

"I'm so glad you're here. I don't...I don't know what I would have done if something happened to Katy..."

"Shh, shh...it's okay. I'm here, now. It's all going to be okay." Adam's arms are wrapped around his shoulders, his fingers massaging lightly at the base of Kris's neck.

Kris still isn't crying - the tears just won't come. But the shaking has returned. God, he doesn't even know why, he just can't stop.

He clings to Adam for a few more moments - he's pretty sure he's wrinkling the soft leather of Adam's jacket - but Adam doesn't seem to mind. Adam's hands are large and warm on his back and neck; his breath as he whispers calming words and wordless sounds tickles the hair behind his ear. Kris's trembling is just starting to abate when Adam breathes, just over his shoulder, "Katy."

Kris disengages and turns, to see his wife's wide blue eyes fluttering open. "Kris?" she says with a dry throat, and Kris is at her side with a few fumbling steps.

"Katy? I'm here, baby, I'm here."

Katy's eyes well up with tears, and Kris can see her start to panic. "Kris, the baby...the baby's gone, Kris! The baby..."

"Shh, shh, shh... I know. I know, darlin', I know. It's okay."

"How can it be okay? Our baby, Kristopher..." Katy's hands come up to cover her face, and Kris looks behind him to see Adam slowly backing out of the room.

"I'll just...wait outside," Adam says, and he looks so hopeless, so powerless to help Kris in this situation, that Kris wants to call him back - wants to hold him close and tell him it's all going to be okay, too. But instead, he nods in thanks before turning back to his grieving wife.

"Wait...is Adam here?" Katy says, trying to see past Kris.

Kris nods. "I called him. He's going to wait out in the hall."

Katy looks down, not meeting Kris's eyes. "Does he know?"

"He does."

The tears well up again, and God, does Kris wish he could stop them. He never wants to see Katy cry.

"I don't know what we're going to do, Kris. The baby...our baby," she says, as she places her hands on her belly, "is gone. And we've got all these gifts we need to give back now. And I had found a place, Kris. A place for the three of us..."

"I'm so sorry, Katy." He doesn't know what to do. He feels so hopeless, like Adam. He's barely seen his wife since the pregnancy - barely had time to think about it except when Katy mentioned it in phone calls - and now there just isn't a pregnancy, and he feels the loss, but he's more worried about his wife.

"I thought of a name for her too."

Kris looks up. "Her?"

Katy nods with a sad smile on her wan lips. "It was a girl. I was going to tell you. And I thought of a name."

Kris is rubbing circles in the back of her hand. "What was her name?"

"Kaylee. Kaylee Ann."

"Kaylee... Kaylee Ann Allen," Kris whispers. But his words make Katy's body wrack with sobs, and he bends down close as she curls up on herself.

"I'm so sorry, baby. I'm so sorry."

"I was so excited about this baby, Kris."

Kris swallows. He hadn't had time to be excited. "Me too," he fibs, because anything else will only hurt Katy more.

"I had picked out some wallpaper...I was going to ask your opinion when you got home..."

Kris pets her hair. "I wish...I wish I had been here. I wish I could bring the baby back. I know how much you wanted this."

Katy's eyebrows furrow in confusion. "I wanted it. Didn't you?"

Oops. Wrong thing to say. "Yes, of course." Oh, he was going to hell. He was lying to his wife for the first time. Really lying to her. This was bad. So very, very bad. But he couldn't hurt her more. Not now. Especially not now.

"The doctor said there was nothing either of us could have done."

"She told me that too. Can I get you anything? Water? Food?" he asks after a moment.

"Something to eat might be nice. Maybe some pudding?"

Kris kisses her forehead. "I'll go see what I can get for you. Don't worry about a thing. Your mama will be here soon. I'll be right back. I love you."

"I love you."

They share a brief kiss and Kris walks out the door. Adam pulls away from the wall he's leaning against.

"Is she okay?" he says, then curses under his breath. "Of course she's not okay. Dumb question."

"She's not okay," Kris says. "She wants pudding."

Adam smiles wanly. "I think we can arrange that." He starts walking towards the nurse's station. Kris follows.

"How are you holding up?" Adam asks.

"Me? I don't know...I'm still in shock, I guess."

Adam puts an arm around Kris's shoulders. "I can't imagine what it feels like."

"It feels..." Empty. Painful. Confusing. "Horrible," he settles on.

"Do you want me to stay with you guys?"

They approach the nurse's station. "Could we get some pudding or something to room 518? Thank you," Kris asks the nurse politely while the nurse makes a phone call. He turns to Adam. "I...don't know. It feels silly to have called you all the way here."

"Hey," Adam says, putting his hands on Kris's shoulders, making him look up. "I'd have come the second I'd heard, whether you called me or not. You can't get rid of me just because our Idol-days are over. We're practically family now. Besides, who else in L.A. knows you as well as I do?"

Kris's chuckle is a bit forced. "You're right. Sorry."

"Don't be sorry." Adam pulls him forward into a solid hug. "Now go see your wife. If you need me, call. I promise to answer this time."

"Thanks, Adam. I've missed you, man."

Adam smiles, and another child in Somalia is saved. "I've missed you too, Kristopher."

Kris watches Adam's lean frame saunter down the hall until he turns the corner to the elevator. His feeling of calm floats in the air for a moment before sinking down below his harsh reality. He shuffles back to his wife's room to find her nibbling on a cup of butterscotch pudding.

He has no idea what to do.

***


JOSH
Jealousy Drives the Wicked

On his first day back from filming, Josh wanders into the den to find Drake lying on the couch in nothing but his boxers and a t-shirt, sipping on a beer and watching a basketball game on ESPN.

"Drake, where are your pants?"

"Hey, man, this is officially a Bachelor Pad now. Pants aren't mandatory. Wait, no - I declare pants forbidden!"

Josh rolls his eyes, and sits in an arm chair, suddenly wishing he had a beer or something to distract himself with. Drake's pale, knobby-kneed legs were a strange distraction from the game. And Josh didn't really know why the way Drake's floppy socks were endearing to him, or why he was contemplating the way his boxers lay or the shadows in the folds of the fabric in certain...places.

"You wanna beer, man?" Drake asks, and Josh sighs a little.

"Yeah."

"There's some in the little fridge, at the bar."

"Thanks."

Josh gets up and pads across the shiny hardwood to the makeshift bar. He takes a beer out of the fridge and uses the bottle opener to pop off the cap, letting it clink onto the counter. Then he watches.

Leaning against the bar, he sips, contemplating again, what he can see of Drake. Basically just his auburn mop of hair, the tips of his floppy socks, and the freckly arm Drake has thrown over his head.

"Who's playing?" he asks.

"The 76ers and Magic."

"Who's winning?"

"Philly's kicking Orlando's ass."

"How's the playoffs looking?"

"I think it's too early to tell." Drake sits up suddenly and turns to look at Josh. "Hey, are you okay? Why are you asking me questions you can see the answers to on the screen?"

Josh shrugs. "I'm fine. Just curious."

Drake frowns for a moment before whirling around and standing up in one smooth movement, setting his beer on the coffee table. "You wanna do something, man?"

Josh straightens. "Like what?"

Drake shrugs. "I dunno. Go shopping. Go outside. Play in the pool. Just...something."

"Don't you want to finish your game?"

Drake shrugs and walks up to Josh. "It's pretty obvious Magic isn't going to win this one. I can catch any awesome plays online. C'mon. Let's go do something together. Just you and me."

"Is this your way of telling me you wanna go pick up girls?"

Drake smiles. "Would you come shopping with me if I said that I just wanted to spend time with my best friend?"

"Would it matter if I said that I know you're lying?"

"Probably not."

"Then...fine. Whatever. But just remember...I'm taken."

"Oh, Josh. I'll get you some day," Drake jokes as he saunters away to go get dressed.

"That's what I'm afraid of!" Josh yells after him, hearing an answering cackle echo off the rafters.

***

The mall is crowded, which doesn't surprise Josh at all. What surprises him is why they're at the mall. Drake knows where to go to get the kinds of clothes he likes wearing, and the mall isn't it. At least not this mall.

"What are we doing on this side of town?" Josh asks. "This place is crawling with college students."

"College co-eds. Exactly the point."

Josh rolls his eyes. "This is your weird way of finally getting over Melissa, isn't it?"

"Hey - we're college aged...we're just not in college."

"You scare me sometimes."

"Too much like Drake Parker for you?"

Josh laughs. "At least I know you're not that dumb."

"At least I know you're not as much of a dork as Josh Nichols."

"Touché."

Josh would say they wander into a Pac Sun to look at the fine wares, but Josh knows for a fact Drake wouldn't buy anything from Pac Sun to save his life, so he looks around and spots the reasoning for being in the store: two brunettes rummaging through the mid-drift tops. Lovely.

"Drake...why don't you hit on a girl who's here alone?"

Drake fakes sifting through a rack of t-shirts. "Because no girl comes alone to the mall."

"Drake..."

Drake stops what he's doing and turns to Josh, hands on his hips. "If I told you it's because you deserve a girl better than Sarah, would you believe me?"

Josh jerks back at Drake's serious tone. "I...what? What's wrong with Sarah?"

Drake bites his lip and shifts his eyes away. "She came over one day, while you were gone."

"Okay..."

"And she hit on me, Josh. Look, man, I don't want to upset you, but she clearly doesn't care about you-"

Josh backs away quickly. "What the fuck are you talking about, Drake? You can't stand for me to be happy since you're not, so you come up with this elaborate lie just to get me to cheat on my girlfriend?"

Drake frowns. "No, Josh, that isn't it at all. I just-"

"I don't care what you just, Drake. Fuck off."

Fuming, Josh storms away from Drake and out into the mall proper. How dare Drake! How dare he! Josh couldn't believe, he just couldn't, that Drake would say something like that. Selfish prick.

He takes two escalators down to get to the front entrance. He's standing on the curb, breathing heavily for a moment before he realizes Drake drove.

"Fuck."

"Just realized you don't have a car, didn't you?"

Josh's nostrils flare and he glances over his shoulder. "I'll call a cab."

"All the way back to Los Feliz? I don't think so."

"Drake, just go away."

"No. Josh, listen. Why would I tell you something like that if it weren't true? Do you think I want to hurt you? You're my best friend! I love you! Why would I want you to be unhappy? Just because I don't have a girlfriend and I really don't want one? That's not enough Josh. I would never say something like this as a joke. You know me."

Josh's shoulders drop in defeat. He turns to Drake, who's standing there, in the California sun looking freckly and warm and horribly upset.

"Did she really?"

Drake nods. "Yeah. It was...uncomfortable. I'm sorry."

"It wasn't your fault. I know you wouldn't...ask for it. I'm sorry I yelled."

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you in a place that wasn't the mall."

Josh shrugs. "I'm just glad you said something."

"I was going to wait, but I thought it'd be kind of a jerk thing to do to let you spend all day thinking you had a girlfriend. I didn't want to tell you over the phone."

Nodding, Josh says, "Can we go get some smoothies or something and go home?"

Drake smiles. "Anything you need, man."

***


DRAKE
When Jealousy Paves the Way for Sacrifice

Josh fell asleep on the couch with tears on his cheeks, and fuck if Drake doesn't hate to see Josh cry. Josh is always so happy, so goofy; always playing a card trick or trying to make someone smile with a silly joke. Drake had never met anyone like him.

Drake throws away the empty pint of Ben and Jerry's Josh downed, despite his vow to never eat unhealthily again. Though a little splurge now and then couldn't hurt, Drake thinks.

Coming back to the couch, he sits down on the floor next to Josh, laying a hand on his friend's head, lightly stroking the hair there.

Josh was such a beautiful person. Drake couldn't understand why someone would want to hurt Josh. He was the most loveable guy on the planet, and all the girls did was break his heart. He deserved better. He was better. Than all of them. Than Drake, even.

Drake winces a little at the memory of the words spoken earlier. Josh hadn't been on the mark, but he hadn't been off it completely either. Drake is a little jealous of Josh's happiness. He'd never begrudge Josh it, of course, but Drake still wants that kind of happy back. He still remembers how relieved he felt when Josh came home the night before.

It had been like there was finally oxygen back in the house. Like Drake could breathe. For the few months Josh was gone, Drake felt more alone than he had in a while. Even with a few concert dates and appearances here and there. Somehow, it wasn't enough. Josh lit up the room when he was around. He made really good food and partied just the right way, and never let Drake forget how much he loved him.

Love...

Drake looks at Josh's slack face. He loves Josh. Always has. Maybe not...like that, exactly, but they'd been together forever. They were Drake and Josh. They just were. Even now that Drake is focusing on music and Josh's acting career is taking off. It's hard to think about Josh not being there, even when their lives have been so far apart since their show together. He's glad he asked Josh to move in.

However, he worries that he might have other reasons for inviting Josh to live with him.

Rising up on his knees, Drake hovers over Josh, studying his face. Leaning down, he whispers, "I don't care how it happens, or with who, I just want you to be happy."

Kissing Josh's wet cheek briefly, Drake pulls a blanket over his friend and pads quietly upstairs to his room.

***


KRIS
Someday Isn't Enough

"Kris, where have you been? You said you'd be home hours ago! Dinner is cold."

Kris stops dead in the front hallway, his guitar dangling in his hand. And his bag strap is halfway over his head when Katy storms into the hall.

"I'm...sorry?" he says, and winces when it comes out more like a question than an apology. He hadn't meant to stay out so late. He just...needed time.

He tries telling her as much, but the look of hurt anger didn't leave her face. It might have gotten more severe.

"Katy, I'm sorry. I should have called."

"Yes, Kris, you should have."

Kris sets down his bag and guitar and steps forward to put his arms around his wife. "I must have lost track of time."

"Where were you?"

"I went to the park."

"The park."

"Yeah. I know, it sounds weird. I just...wasn't ready to come home yet," he says honestly.

"You didn't want to see me?"

Huh? "What? No, that wasn't it at all..."

Katy pulls away from him and crosses her arms. "What's wrong with home, Kris?"

"Nothing." What is going on? What did I do?

"If there's nothing wrong with home, is there something wrong with me? Do you not want to be around me?"

"I didn't say that," Kris says, starting to feel a bit offended at his wife's insinuations. "Look, Katy, there's nothing wrong with you, there's nothing wrong with the apartment, I just went to the park to sit and play my guitar. That's all."

"That's all?"

"Yes."

Katy looks down at the floor. "I'm sorry I snapped at you. I'm just...feeling a little vulnerable, I guess."

Kris steps forward, putting his hands on her shoulders. "I understand. I'm sorry I wasn't here."

"It's okay."

"Is dinner a total bust? Or is it reheatable?"

Katy smiles. "I can fix up something."

***

"Adam, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Almost every day, Katy's snapping at me for something. You know, I normally wouldn't talk about things between us, but I'm at a loss. I don't get what keeps setting her off."

"Well, what does she say when you get home?"

"'Where the hell have you been?' Which is really messed up, because Katy doesn't usually swear. Heck, I don't swear."

"Are you coming home late a lot?"

"With my schedule? All the time. And then there are those times I have to go to Kentucky or Chicago, or somewhere else for a little concert... Man, I'm sound like I'm whining. I'm sorry."

"Don't be. You have a right to be a bit whiny. But Katy also has the right to be upset if you're never home, even when you're in L.A."

"But I'm this close to finishing my album. And it comes out in a few weeks. I don't have any extra time to spare."

"And then you've gotta go on tour..."

"Well, not until early next year."

"Same here."

"So, what do I do?"

"I don't know, Kris. I mean...I'm not married, obviously. But I do know a thing or two about compromise. When I was with Drake, he didn't seem to understand that concept. Or the concept of trust."

"I thought Katy and I had that in spades. But right now...I don't know. I trust her implicitly, but it feels like she doesn't trust me at all. Like she thinks I'm cheating on her or something. Which I'm not."

"Hey, you don't need to convince me. I know you'd never do anything like that." Adam sighs. "I think honesty is your best policy here. That, and finding out exactly why she's reacting to you this way."

"Maybe I should ask Mama. She's a girl."

Adam rolled his eyes. "You have no idea how dumb that sounded, do you?"

"What?"

"You've just proven my point."

"Oh, no, that's not what I meant. I just...Mama's older, and wiser, and she's never steered me wrong before, you know?"

"Yeah."

"Thanks, Adam."

"I'm not sure I did much, but you're welcome."

***

"No, you don't get it, Kris! It's not about the damn laundry being left in the dryer! It's about you not helping out around here!"

Kris is taken aback by his wife's swearing. But it's becoming more common place these days. "I help when I can, Katy! I'm just not here. I'm sorry I forgot to fold the laundry. I got a call about the album release party, and I just forgot, okay?"

"No! It's not okay! Why can't you just...why don't you just understand?"

"I'm trying. But understand what? I don't know what I keep doing wrong in your eyes!" He doesn't like to raise his voice, especially to Katy, but he's so tired of being yelled at for no reason.

"Nothing! Everything! Just...why don't you seem to care that our baby is gone!"

Kris blinks. The baby? "I...I do care," he says lamely.

"Then why haven't you been here, when I've needed you?"

"I...I've tried. I don't know, Katy. I don't know how to make it better. But we can try again. We have time and-"

"Time? You mean all that time you're spending on the album? All that time you'll be on tour?"

"Which will end, someday."

"Yeah, someday! Someday isn't today! I don't want to try again! I want my baby back!" Katy falls to her knees, crying.

Kris knees before her, reaching out. She shirks away. "I'm sorry, Katy," he says softly.

"Sorry doesn't bring Kaylee back," she says harshly, before standing up and storming off into their room.

Kris sighs. Shaking his head, he stands and grabs his jacket and his keys. Slamming the door on the way out, he makes his way angrily to his car, trying to figure out where to go. What to do. His mama's advice wasn't helping. He just needs to think.

After a moment of thought in the driver's seat, he turns the ignition in his Ford Fusion and pulls out onto the street, navigating quickly towards Beverly Hills. When Adam sees him, he doesn't say much - he doesn't need to. Adam offers him some tea and quiet company, and Kris spends the night in one of the guest rooms, but he can't sleep. He never can anymore.

***


ADAM
Band-Aids and Kisses Won't Fix This

"Hey, we finally both have a day off in L.A. tomorrow. Are you and Katy busy? I thought maybe we could grab some lunch. I know this cute, quiet place over here in the hills."

"Um...yeah, that sounds great, Adam."

"What time? One?"

"One sounds great."

"Great. I'll pick you up."

"Hey, Adam? I won't be at my apartment. Can you pick me up somewhere else?"

"Yeah, sure. What's the address? I'll GPS it."

Adam jots down the address on a notepad. "Awesome. I'll see you tomorrow!"

"Sounds good. See ya."

The next day, Adam gets settled into his Mustang and engages his GPS, inputting the address Kris gave him. As he drives through L.A. and takes the exit down onto the street Kris is on, he realizes where he's headed.

Frowning, he pulls up in front of the large building, waving off the valet. Kris steps out into the sunlight a moment later, hands stuffed into his jeans and his sunglasses tight over his face. Adam unlocks the doors and Kris slides in against the leather, saying a too-bright "Hey!" as a greeting.

"Hi." He watches quietly as Kris pulls on his seatbelt, the latch clicking loudly into place. Kris sits back, but when Adam doesn't move to put the car in motion, Kris turns to him, his brow crinkling in puzzlement. But he can't be nearly as puzzled as Adam.

"What?" Kris asks.

"You wanna tell me why I'm picking you up from a hotel?"

Kris immediately looks away, rubbing his palms on the faded denim of his knees. "I would like to tell you, yes."

"But you aren't going to."

"No, I didn't say that. I just... I was hoping we could pretend like you aren't picking me up from a hotel."

"It's a little hard to ignore, Kris."

"I think you're smart enough to figure out why, Adam."

"That might be so, but that doesn't mean we can't talk about it."

"Later. Can we go, please? Before the paparazzi decides we're staying here together?"

Adam pulls out onto the street. "I didn't think you would have a problem staying in a hotel with me, considering our history together," Adam says with a smile.

He sees Kris turn to him and smile. "You're right. I don't."

***

Their lunch together was too brief. They have just settled into the car in the small, private parking lot nestled between the buildings, but Adam hasn't put the key in the ignition, and neither of them have put on their seatbelts.

Adam opens his mouth to take a breath and speak, but Kris beats him to it.

"We're separated. That's why I'm staying at the hotel."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. It's not your fault."

"I know. But I'm still sorry."

"I wanted to help her, you know? I love her. I've always loved her. But after she lost the baby...I tried being there for her, Adam. I really did."

Adam reaches an arm over and lays it behind Kris's head. "I know you did, Kris."

"She stopped caring about us. About our future. About what my career was going to do for us. For our future family."

"Kris, I'm sure that's not true."

Kris shrugs and looks out the window, watching the breeze shift the ivy growing on the back of the restaurant.

"She couldn't get past what happened. I couldn't understand."

"You're talking like you've given up."

"Maybe I am."

"This doesn't sound like you, Kris. You wouldn't give up on this great relationship you've had with Katy so quickly."

Kris rubs his face vigorously before running his hands through his hair. He sniffs, but Adam doesn't see tears; only his eyes are red. "I know, Adam," he says, and his voice breaks a little. "I know."

Adam touches the back of Kris's neck with a firm palm. Kris tips his head back against it. He turns his face to Adam, and the pain on Kris's face sends a similar pain into Adam. "But I just don't know what to do."

"Have you guys sought...help? Counseling?"

"We talked to our pastor. We've talked to our parents. Katy just...doesn't want me around anymore." Kris's face crumples and a few tears fall down his cheeks. He wipes his face with his arm and sniffs again, looking at Adam. "I've heard she's hired a lawyer."

Adam's eyebrows shoot up. "Oh my god. Kris...how long has this been...how did it get like this?"

"I wish I knew. I've been trying to figure out where I went wrong."

"I can't imagine this is all you," Adam says.

"Maybe I didn't try hard enough? I don't know. I still love her, but she barely looks at me anymore. She's always so...angry. And I want to believe we can get through this. That's all I've been believing in. I just can't believe that this could be in God's plan for me."

"Maybe it's hard to see that now. I mean, not that I wish this upon you, but if you really believe that God has a plan for you, then this is part of it. Maybe you and Katy will pull through, maybe you won't. But either way, it's God's plan. You do what you have to do to still be Kris - he'll take care of the rest."

"I'm lucky I have you," Kris says.

"Hey, if you need to stay somewhere-"

Kris holds up a hand. "I know where you're going, and no, it's okay. But thanks."

"I have two extra bedrooms," Adam insists.

"I know. But really. You don't want me moping around your house right now."

"Kris Allen mopes? Color me surprised!"

Kris smiles, nudging Adam's arm with his shoulder. "Shut up."

"I'm serious though. Call me if you need anything. Ever. Anytime."

Kris's smile shows his teeth. "I told you I was lucky."

***

Adam's pocket vibrates two weeks later. He steps out of a meeting with his producers and managers and pulls his iPhone out, opening the text message.

I need a drink. Come pick me up?

Adam bites his lip before tapping out a quick reply.

Let me finish up this meeting. Be there soon.

Kris's text says: Thanks. I'm at my hotel. Room 413.

Adam steps back into the meeting room. "Hey guys. Family emergency. Can we finish this up tomorrow? Maybe a conference call?"

His assistant, Jackson, looks at him for a moment before turning to the others in the room. "I think we were almost done here, right, guys?"

There's a murmur of assent around the table. "We can finalize the details over the phone, I think," Sol Stratton says, gathering his papers.

Jackson smiles, standing. "Excellent." He walks over to Adam. "Anything I can help with?" he asks quietly.

Adam shakes his head, a small smile on his lips. "Nah. I've got it. Thanks, Jackson. I'll see you tomorrow. Oh, and can you maybe reschedule the rest of my afternoon?"

Jackson frowns and looks down into his date book. "Um..."

"I normally wouldn't ask, but I've really got to deal with this, and I have a feeling it'll take all night."

"I'll see what I can do."

"Thanks, Jackson. You're the best."

"Remember tomorrow, Adam. Don't be late to your ten o'clock!"

Adam's already walking down the hall. He throws a wave over his shoulder. "Don't worry. I'll be there."

He arrives at the Omni Hotel and hands the keys over to the valet with a nod. The elevator is swift, and he's knocking on the door marked '413' just before he realizes he just cancelled an entire evening of meetings and various appointments to look after Kris. Well fuck if that didn't mean something.

Kris opens the door with red eyes and an open bottle in his hand.

Oh fuck.

"Adam! Hey! C'mon in..." Kris steps back to let Adam pass, drawing his arm wide as a welcoming gesture.

Adam steps inside and turns to Kris as he closes the door and flops down on the lounge chair next to his bed. He kicks his feet up onto the ottoman.

"Kris?"

"I hadn't found a use for the mini-bar," Kris says, his words slurring just a little, but enough that a furrow forms between Adam's brows. "But now I have."

"Kris, you shouldn't be doing this," Adam says, coming over to sit on the bed next to the chair. "I mean, I'm not trying to tell you how to live your life, but getting drunk isn't going to help anything, and after your scare with Hepatitis in Morocco..."

Kris nods, and keeps nodding. "You're right, Adam. No, you're right. Here," he says, holding the small bottle of vodka in Adam's direction. "It tasted funny without coke anyhow."

Adam takes the bottle and sets it on the bedside table. That seemed easier than he thought it would be upon seeing Kris.

"I signed divorce papers today."

"It's final, then."

Kris nods. "Yes. I am no longer happily married to my high school sweetheart." He lifts his left hand and wiggles his fingers around, showing Adam the mild tan line where his wedding band used to be.

"It's only two P.M. Do you want me to order something to eat? Have you eaten?"

Kris shakes his head. "No, I haven't. I should. I should have before I drank. That was really stupid of me."

"No, no, Kris. It's fine. We'll fix it now." Adam pulls out the hotel restaurant menu and grabs the room phone. "I'll fix everything," he says to himself.

***


DRAKE
Blackbirds Like Beatles

He's walking down the narrow hall at the back of the soundstage, looking for a place to warm up. He's going on stage to perform a new song from his album for the Teen's Choice Awards, and he's up for Best Male Vocalist against Kris Allen and David Archuleta this year. Not that he doesn't think the other two are talented, but American Idol? He's glad he's never felt the need to prove himself on national television. He was the star of his own TV show for Christ's sake. Hopefully, his new album will put him back on the charts. It's been too long.

He passes an open door and pauses in his footfalls as his ear catches a familiar acoustic tune. Backpedaling, he leans over and peers inside. He can't see the man's face through the crack in the door, but he does see the strong shoulders clad in plaid, the soft brown hair in a messy tousle, and the guitar in his hands. The hands which are strumming a quiet rendition of "Blackbird" by Paul McCartney. The Beatles. Drake has got to talk to this guy.

"I thought I was the only one who used that as a warm-up song," he says after pushing the door open a bit more. The strings of the guitar around the man's neck vibrate a dissonant chord for a second as the man jumps at Drake's sudden entrance. Drake looks at the man's reflection in the make-up mirror. A flush is travelling fast up from his chest to his ears. He's rather adorable. And familiar.

"Hey, do I know you?" Drake asks.

"Um...I'm Kris Allen," the man named Kris says, and turns to hold out his hand, adjusting his guitar to hang behind him.

"Oh! Yeah, right. Drake Bell," Drake replies, taking Kris's hand and returning the firm handshake.

"You're a Beatles fan too?" Kris asks, nodding to the t-shirt under Drake's blazer.

"Oh, yes. Huge. You probably won't meet a bigger Beatles fan than me."

Kris, who up to this point looked a little nervous, raised an eyebrow and the corner of his mouth quirked up into a grin. "Oh, really?"

"I take it you don't think so?"

"I bet I'm a bigger fan than you."

Drake grins and nods to Kris's guitar. "I was just looking for a place to warm up myself...wanna play something?"

Kris smiles, and his eyes get all crinkly, like Josh's. Drake's heart feels a little light. He steps inside the room and sets his guitar case down, pulling out his Les Paul acoustic-electric.

"Is that a Les Paul Classic?" Kris asks.

"It sure is. I'm obsessed with them."

"So am I."

Drake stands and pulls the guitar strap over his head, adjusting it. "You love The Beatles and Les Paul guitars? Wow. I'm sorry I misjudged you."

"Misjudged me?"

Drake waves a hand and starts ear-tuning his guitar. "You know...the whole 'American Idol' thing... I've always hated the idea of that show. I'm glad some real talent's finally coming out of it."

Kris shrugs. "It's okay. I get it. I'm just glad I got to play my guitar as well as sing. Otherwise, I never would have made it."

"Well, from what I've heard on the radio, that's a bunch of bullshit."

Kris laughs, throwing back his head. Drake likes the line of this throat. "Well, thanks. To be honest, I don't think I've heard your music. You're up for an award tonight, though, right?"

Drake nods. "Against you, actually."

"Oh, then I better up my game."

"You haven't heard me play yet."

Kris smiles. "Show me what you got."

***


JOSH
Peas Can't Compete with Paul McCartney

"...and his dream is to play with Paul McCartney!" Drake says, waving his arms ecstatically. "I mean, it's like a match made in heaven! I can't believe how much we have in common. Not to mention he's a pretty damn good musician."

Josh nods, scanning his text messages. "That's really cool, Drake."

"Yep! I think I'm going to invite him over for some jam sessions. I'd love to write some songs with him. He's really pretty amazing."

"He was pretty good live at the awards last night," Josh agrees.

"He was, wasn't he? I can't even be miffed he got the award over me. I mean, you know how I feel about American Idol."

"That's it's the devil spawn of the Satanic cult that is the recording industry?"

Drake laughs. "Yeah, something like that. If only everyone wrote and performed their own music," Drake says wistfully. "There would be so much better music out there."

"I agree." His phone rings, and he picks it up immediately, happy for the distraction. "Hello? Oh, hey, yeah. Today? What time?" Josh looks at his watch. "Yeah, give me a half-hour. Okay. Thanks. Bye."

"What's up?" Drake asks, watching Josh spring to his feet from the couch.

"I've gotta go record some ADR today. Looks like there's a few we missed. I'll talk to you later, okay?"

Drake nods. "Yeah, no problem."

Josh smiles, and heads upstairs to the door. It's not unlike Drake to find something cool and shiny and talk about it and fawn over it, but it's usually not a person. At least, not a person who isn't either dead or some kind of hall-of-famer. Josh frowns as he slides into his car. He'd seen Kris on TV last night - had seen his face all over the news due to various things like his American Idol win, his record, his divorce... He seemed a nice enough guy, but something about Drake's reaction to him was...off. Like...almost like a girl talking about a crush.

He put his Bluetooth in and called his friend Heather. Maybe she'd know what Josh was talking about. Because even in his head, it sounded insane. Drake was straight, right?

Hello?

"Heather! Hey...do you think Drake could be gay?"

Hello to you, too, Josh. What the fuck are you talking about?

"Sorry - I just... Nevermind. It's dumb."

Fuckin' spit it out.

"Okay. Well, Drake met this guy at the awards last night, and he seems really cool, but he's all Drake has been talking about. All morning. Kris this, Kris that. So - what do you think?"

I think you're insane, and need to think about why you're asking.

"What do you mean?"

Josh...you and Drake and like...peas and carrots. Different, but you go together so well. Don't ruin that by flinging around assumptions. Even if Drake is a flaming homo.

"What? He is? Why didn't he tell me?"

He can almost hear Heather roll her eyes. Oh, you know he doesn't care about sexuality. Just look at his wardrobe. But that's not the point I'm trying make. Just...don't read into his little infatuation, if that's what it is. You'll only get hurt.

"I...okay. Thanks, I think."

You're welcome.

"Wait - so who's peas and who's carrots?"

A dial tone rings in his ear.

***


ADAM
Meeting the Parallel Line

"Hey, you wanna hang out tomorrow?" Adam says into his phone to Kris. "I've finally got a day off, and no one else needs my attention."

He hears Kris chuckle. "Actually, I'm hanging out with Drake tomorrow."

Adam's heart stops and he sucks in a breath. "Drake?" Please let it be the screaming that's damaged my ears...

"Yeah, Drake. Oh! Sorry. I mean Drake Bell. Not, you know...Drake..." Kris assures, and Adam lets out a breath.

"Oh, okay."

"You could come along if you want. We were just going to hang over at his place. Maybe mess around on our guitars. I'm supposed to be meeting his roommate, Josh."

"Uh...yeah, sure! Sounds great!" But inside Adam's wondering what he's getting himself into.

***

Kris is driving and they're on their way to Drake Bell's house. "It's a mansion," Kris explains as they drive through Studio City on their way to Los Feliz. "Like, four bedrooms and a pool. It's kinda insane. I can't imagine needing that much room."

"It's because you're so tiny," Adam jokes, and they share a smile through their sunglasses.

Kris's eyes turn back to the road. "Well, maybe if I had a roommate, like Drake does, it wouldn't be so insane. Drake uses one of the bedrooms as a makeshift studio. I thought I had a lot of guitars..."

"How many does he have?"

Kris chuckles. "And ruin the surprise? No way."

"How'd you two meet again?" Adam asks, shifting in his seat. The Fusion is very comfortable, but Adam shouldn't have worn his leather jacket. It wasn't quite Autumn yet. He wonders if the short drive to Los Feliz is worth turning on the air conditioning.

"At the Teen Choice Awards. Remember? I told you about that guy I met backstage who was also performing...he was wearing a Beatles t-shirt..."

Adam smiles. "That's right. Love at first Beatles sight. I remember now."

"Ha ha. Seriously. He's a really awesome guy. He loves Paul McCartney as much as I do."

"That's awesome, Kris." He's genuinely happy for his friend. "So...what's his stuff sound like? I didn't get a chance to Google him."

"Uh..." Kris fumbles around in his pocket, trying to drive at the same time. Pulling out his iPhone, he hands it over to Adam. "Hook it up to the stereo. Drake's at the top of my playlist right now."

Raising an eyebrow, Adam does as he is told and starts the first song on the list playing. Immediately, an underwater radar sound starts pinging, filling up the cab of the car, and Adam looks at the name of the song: 'Up Periscope'." He really likes the Beatles, doesn't he?" Adam asks, unsure how a copycat is someone Kris would really get along with and like musically.

Kris nods as the intro continues, complete with radio chatter and gurgling water. "Yeah, he really does."

Then the intro is over and a very happy, bouncy song starts playing. As Adam listens, he notices the lyrics, and bursts out laughing. "He is so talking about sex here."

Kris grins. "Hey, I never said he was a saint."

"Good little Christian boys shouldn't be listening to such filth," Adam jokes, turning down the volume and just letting Drake's music play in the background. Okay, so not so much like the Beatles, he thinks, but it's wonderfully catchy.

"And when were you under the impression I was a good little Christian boy?" Kris smirks. "This isn't his latest, actually," he continues. "This is his second album. His latest is just... It's amazing, Adam. It's like a two part story, about the land and the sea... I don't really know how to explain it. It's like each song tells a different part of the story. It doesn't surprise me that he took so long on it."

"How long?"

"Three or four years. It just came out."

"Wow. Maybe that's why I hadn't heard of him..." Adam says, looking at the iPhone and scrolling down through the names of the songs.

"Maybe. But he used to be on Nickelodeon. Had his own show."

"Really? Hm. I don't really watch Nick. Save for Spongebob."

Kris shrugs, pulling onto a street. "Me either. But I've managed to catch a few episodes now that it's in syndicate. It's freaking hilarious. His roommate Josh starred in it with him. They're best friends."

Adam turns off the music as Kris pulls up in front of a two-car driveway. "Like us?" he jokes.

Kris smiles as he takes back his phone. "Exactly like us."

They climb out of the car, Kris grabbing his guitar out of the back seat, and Adam looks up at the large Spanish-style home. It's gorgeous, he thinks. As they walk down the steps against the right side of the house to the main door, Adam is a little in awe of the detail and the structure of the house, most of which he knows he can't see. How old is this guy? To be able to afford the down payment on a four-bedroom house in this neighborhood... Though maybe the better question is how successful is he at his age that Adam hasn't heard of him in the decade he's been living in L.A.?

He stands just behind Kris as Kris rings the doorbell, and they both take their sunglasses off as they wait. Shortly after, the wide, thick wooden door opens and a young guy about the same height as Kris with straight auburn hair that sweeps across his forehead stands there, wearing a blue graphic t-shirt and tight blue jeans that ride low on his hips, adorned with a white belt. He's skinny, has bright brown eyes, and he's really kinda hot.

Well, shit.

"Kris!" the man says, and his arms go wide.

Kris smiles and sets down his guitar, stepping up into the embrace. "Drake!"

It's just a quick pat on the back, but it looks warm and familiar, like something between he and Kris, and Adam raises an eyebrow at it.

"Drake," Kris says, as he pulls away, "This is Adam Lambert."

"Adam! Hi," Drake says, and his smile is infectious. He holds out his hand for Adam to take.

"Nice to meet you, Drake."

"Naw, man, the pleasure's all mine. Kris has told me all about you."

"Oh, has he?"

Kris ducks his head a little, and Adam can see him acting a little embarrassed, which is rare. "Not really."

"I also happen to have a TV," Drake says, chuckling. "It's a little hard to miss your face," he says to Adam. "But come on in! Josh and I were just making something to eat. You guys hungry?"

"A little," Kris says, setting his guitar in the foyer and following Drake into the house and back into the kitchen. Adam looks around to see if he needs to take off his boots, but it doesn't look like it, so he follows.

The kitchen is large and full of brown marble, deep mahogany cabinets and shiny modern appliances. The dining room nearby has a balcony and gorgeous dark hardwood floors. There's a large cut out section of the wall that looks down into the living room, and is guarded by a wrought iron decorative banister. Adam is suitably impressed.

"Your house is gorgeous," Adam says to Drake, and Drake turns around and smiles.

"Thanks. It was built in the late 20's. I bought it after it was restored." He gestures to the new guy standing next to him at the kitchen island squeezing limes. "This is Josh. Josh, this is Kris, and Adam."

Josh looks up from his task. "Hey... How's it goin?" He's really cute, Adam thinks, and his blue eyes and smile are warm and almost goofy, like he's overly excited. His dark hair is falling into his eyes, and Adam notes how his biceps bulge under his red t-shirt as he presses half a lime down to expel its juices.

"Nice to meet you," Kris says, and Adam nods.

"Hi." Then Adam tilts his head. "You look kind of familiar," he says to Josh.

"Well, you know, I am a hot-shot actor," Josh says, smiling, and Adam can't quite tell if he's joking or being cocky. He's got a bit of that swagger in his voice, and having just met him, Adam can't tell how serious he is. "Had my own TV show and everything."

Drake swats Josh's arm with the back of his hand. "We had a TV show," he admonishes. "But yeah, Joshie here's been in a few movies."

"A few?" Josh says, and Adam can tell he's pretending to be scandalized. "That's like saying you've written a few songs!"

Drake shrugs. "Speaking of songs..." He turns to Kris. "Hey, Kris, wanna grab your guitar and work on some stuff? I think Joshie's got lunch covered."

"We're having fajitas!" Josh says very proudly, and wipes his hands on a towel. "Just gotta finish up this limeade."

Drake starts to walk out of the kitchen. "Come on, Kris. Let's go jam. You comin', Adam?"

Adam shakes his head. "Maybe a bit later. I think I'll stay here and help out Josh."

"All right."

Kris gets close to Adam and gives him a wink and a playful push with his shoulder. "Don't be getting into too much trouble, Lambert."

"I have a handle on my pants, thank you, Mr. Allen."

"Just makin' sure... Nice to meet you, Josh!"

"Nice to meet ya too!" Then Kris's back is retreating, and Adam is turning back to Josh.

"Need help with anything?" He steps up to the counter.

Josh looks up from adding some ice and a bit of sugar to a glass pitcher filled with water and lime juice and Adam notes that their eye level is about the same. "Um...can you handle a knife without drawing blood? 'Cause blood would make me queasy."

Adam laughs. "I can see if I can't manage that. What do you need cut up?"

"Those red and green bell peppers right there," he says, gesturing with his elbow to a cutting board and some vegetables. "And the onion, if you're up to it."

"I'm on it." Adam slips off his jacket and drapes it on the back of a dining room chair, then comes back over and picks up the knife and a pepper. "How do you want them?"

"In strips, length-wise."

They work in silence for a few moments, listening to the rock station on the radio, and hearing the strumming of guitars and laughing from the sunken living room below.

"How long have you known Drake?" Adam asks to break the silence, sweeping up the seeds and pits from the peppers and going over to the trashcan to throw them away. He brushes his hands together to get off any remaining seeds over the open trash container, the toe of his boot pressing on the lid lever.

"Oh, since we were about thirteen or fourteen. When I moved here to California to pursue acting."

"Wow. Long time."

Josh nods. "Yeah, about ten years now."

"Where did you used to live, before moving here?"

Josh flicks his bangs out of his eyes with a sharp movement of his head and sucks some juice off of his thumb. "NYC, baby! Grew up in Hell's Kitchen."

"Wow. That's awesome. My brother lives there."

"Yeah? Where did you guys grow up?" he asks as he puts the pitcher of limeade into the fridge.

"In San Diego. But I've been living in L.A. since I was nineteen."

Josh chuckles. "Me and Drake's show was set in San Diego."

"Oh yeah? That's really neat."

Josh shrugs. "Haven't been there too often, myself. Usually too busy filming something or another." Josh is now slicing up some raw chicken.

"I swear I recognize you from something," Adam says, racking his brain for the answer.

"Well...my latest movie, Red Dawn, just came out... We did a remake."

"Yeah, I heard about that. But no, it wasn't that. I haven't seen that yet."

"American Heritage? I dunno...I've done a lot of indie films," Josh suggests.

"Wait...say 'NYC' again."

Josh's eyes shift. "Um... NYC?"

Adam laughs. "Sorry, I'm just trying to place your voice."

"It's okay, man. It's hard bein' so famous. But I'm fly." He moves to the stove at the end of the island, setting a pan down and heating up a bit of oil.

"That's it! The Wackness! You were in that with Ben Kingsley!"

Josh grinned. "Hell yeah, I was. Nice..." he says, nodding in acknowledgement and smiling.

Adam smiles back. "I try to watch all the Sundance movies. Though I think it was the red shirt," he says, looking back down to his bell pepper slicing. Didn't want to accidentally cut himself and all...

Josh looks down at himself. "The red shirt? Why?"

"You had one on in a scene or two," Adam replies, thinking back.

"Huh. Yeah, I guess I did."

"So have you and Drake always been roommates?"

"Oh, no. I moved in almost a year ago. After Drake's ex moved out and took all her friends with her."

"Oh. I'm sorry to hear that," Adam says, not wanting to pry, but feeling the need to figure out the full story here.

Josh shrugs, tossing some of the chicken into the pan where it sizzles loudly. "She was...well. She was Melissa. They'd been together for a few years, and her friends stayed here a lot. Had a couple of break ups. I think it was just time. And Drake needed some company, and this house is huge and I'm here all the time anyway..."

Adam nods, moving onto the onion. "I get that. I mean, sometimes I just think Kris and I ought to move in together, we see each other so often."

"Why don't you?"

Adam shrugs. "Well, he just went through a divorce, and I didn't want to pressure him into moving in with me or anything like that. I'm not even sure he'd want to move in with me. Our...styles aren't exactly the same. And I thought he could use some time to himself."

Josh looks at Adam for a minute until Adam looks up and catches his eye. "Maybe that's exactly what he doesn't need. I mean...I wouldn't know, but since you guys see each other a lot, maybe that's Kris's way of saying he needs you around more, bro."

Adam pauses. "I...I never thought about it that way before."

Josh shrugs and resumes stirring the pan. "I could be way off. I mean, I only just met you two."

"I might ask him anyway. Thanks."

"No problem."

"Hey!" they hear from below. Josh reaches over to turn down the radio.

"What?" he calls back.

Drake's voice carries up from the living room. "Is lunch ready yet? I'm starving!"

"You're always starving, Drake! Go get a banana from outside, if you can't wait a few more minutes!"

Adam chuckles. "Wow. You guys sound like an old married couple."

"Have you seen our show?" Josh says, like that would explain everything.

Adam shakes his head. "I'm sorry, I haven't. Kris tells me it's hilarious."

"If it weren't so weird, I'd have us go downstairs and watch some of it. Then you could look at my chubby, Jewish eighteen-year-old self and we could laugh at me together."

Adam blinks. "You were chubby?" He knows he's being obvious, but he sweeps his eyes up and down Josh's buff and rather skinny frame.

"Gargantuan," Josh replies, nodding, and Adam sees his cheeks color a little at Adam's blatant staring. "I'm Pudge Master Flex, don't you know? Lost over a hundred pounds over the course of that show."

Adam laughs. "Wow. I mean...I used to be a little chunkier," he replies, looking down. "But I haven't lost that much weight since high school. Mostly just lost fat and gained muscle."

"You look amazing," Josh says, and Adam is right; there is a telltale blush coloring Josh's cheeks.

"Why, Joshie, are you hitting on me?" Adam teases. He can't help it.

Josh ducks his head and shrugs. "What? You're hot and you know it. Don't even deny it."

It's Adam's turn to duck his head. "Thank you, that means a lot. Now if only I could get rid of these freckles," he jokes, raising an arm.

"I like freckles. Drake has them too," Josh says kind of quietly, and Adam picks up on a hint of something he's not quite ready to name.

"So...you're Jewish?" Adam says, trying to get back to something more neutral.

Josh nods. "Yup. Not, like, practicing, but my ma's Jewish, so so am I."

"Me too," Adam says, and Josh looks up, smiling. "Not practicing either. I mean...I'm not really religious. Just more spiritual." Adam waves a hand lazily in the air like he's making a grand gesture about the universe.

"Yeah...me too."

"I used to be more active when I was younger...performing in Hebrew occasionally."

"In Hebrew? Wow. That's farther than I'd ever gotten," Josh chuckles.

Adam shrugs and moves to clean off his knife in the sink. "I'm not fluent or anything."

Drake and Kris show up in the kitchen archway, Kris leaning against the arch and Drake coming up behind Josh to get into his personal space.

"We're hungry. Feed us," Drake whines pitifully.

Josh elbows him away. "You're a pig, Drake Bell. And it'll be done in a minute. Now let me work."

"I'm not really that hungry," Kris says, his arms folded over his chest. He's taken off his jacket, and Adam takes a second to admire the muscles in his arms and chest discreetly. He doesn't know why he's suddenly looking at all these things. It's not like he hasn't seen Kris dressed in less. He sighs mentally. I need to get laid. He decides to blame Drake and Josh and their ridiculous hotness for turning the aroused part of his brain on. I really need to get laid.

Kris steps over as Adam dries his hands on a towel. "How's things going between you two?"

"Great!" Adam says truthfully. "Yeah, I found out where I knew him from-"

"The Wackness!" Josh cuts in.

Adam smiles, continuing, "And we both just found out that we're Jewish."

"Spiritually Jewish," Josh reiterates.

Adam chuckles. "Oh, and I know a dirty little secret..."

Josh's head snaps around to look at Adam behind him, who is leaning back against the sink, smirking. "What? What secret?"

Drake's interest is clearly piqued. "Secret? Joshie's keeping a secret from me? Is that even possible?" he teases Josh, and Adam sees Josh avoid everyone's gaze before turning back to cooking the fajitas.

"It's nothing big, I'm sure," Adam says. "I just found out he likes freckles. Lucky for him, I've got millions."

"He does," Kris says, and Adam shoots him an 'oh really, you noticed?' look with his eyes, and Kris's eyes answer back, 'how could I not?'

"You do?" Drake says, coming over to inspect Adam's arm, which he holds up. "You don't look like the freckly type."

"I'm a bit ginger under all this fabulousness," Adam quips, tugging on his own hair.

"Wow, you really do have a lot of freckles," Drake says, and holds his own arm up to compare. "And I thought I was freckly."

Adam laughs. "Curse of the red hair, I guess."

"You're really more a strawberry blond," Kris says and everyone looks at him. "What? I mean, from the pictures I've seen. Not, like...you know, that," he explains quickly.

Drake runs a hand down Adam's forearm. "Yeah, I can see the hair on your arm," he says, hopping up on the counter so that his sneakered feet dangle. "Besides, it's not like Josh liking freckles is that big a secret. I've always known that."

"You have not," Josh retorts, moving the pan off the heat. "I've never said that."

"Yeah you have."

"I think I'd remember if I said I liked freckles. And why does it matter anyway? Freckles do not make up a whole person."

"True, but it's like being better than a blonde," Drake says. "We always have the most fun." He winks at Adam, who grins in return.

Josh huffs and says a little too loudly, "Food's done! Who's hungry?"

"Ooh, me!" Drake says, hopping off the counter and bouncing to Josh's side.

Kris and Adam try not to laugh.

***


JOSH
MJ Figures It Out

When Adam's kart slips on a banana peel that Josh's kart drops, causing him to spin off the track, Josh lets out a big "Whoop!" as his cart crosses the finish line before anyone else's.

"Hey!" Adam exclaims, maneuvering his kart across the finish line in 5th place. "You totally cheated! I had your ass, JP."

Josh grins at his new-found friend. "It's not my fault you suck at Mario Kart. This game is so old-school, man."

"Yeah, well while you were playing video games, I was taking vocal lessons and performing in musical theatre. Or maybe I was being a club-kid. How young are you again?"

Josh knows Adam is teasing. "I'm not that young, grandpa."

"Your grandpa don't look this fabulous, son."

Kris drops his controller and stands, stretching. "Okay, when the arguing breaks out about who in the room is more fabulous, this is my cue to find some other form of entertainment."

"Aw, Krissy, don't go," Adam says, reaching out a hand to tug on Kris's pant leg.

Kris makes a face. "I hate it when you call me that."

"No you don't. You're too laid back to hate anything I do."

Kris rolls his eyes, and goes to sit down on the couch. "You're so full of yourself," he says to Adam, but Josh can tell he doesn't mean it.

"I'm gonna go get something to drink...anyone want anything?" Drake says as he stands.

"Water's fine for me," Adam says.

"You got any beer?" Kris asks.

"Yup. Josh?"

Josh shrugs. "Beer sounds good."

"Alrighty." Drake wanders off to the kitchen, and Josh turns to Adam. "Wanna play another?"

"Not if you're gonna beat my ass every single time."

"Aww, c'mon, man... This game is easy! At least I didn't make you play Grand Theft Auto or something like that."

Adam looks him up and down, and Josh tries not to twitch at the attention. "I barely know you, but you're just a big ol' dork underneath all that gangsta, aren't you?"

Josh laughs, not taking any offense. "Are you sure you haven't seen Drake & Josh?"

"Positive. Why?"

Josh shrugs. "Our characters were basically exaggerated extensions of ourselves. So yes, I'm a complete dork."

"Don't be knockin' the gangsta in the white boy," Kris says behind them, plucking at his guitar strings. "We're all a little fly."

Adam throws back his head and laughs, and Josh really likes the way it echoes off the high ceiling. "Kris, you are the most fly white boy I've ever met."

"Until you met me," Josh inserts.

Adam grins. "I'll have to take your word for that."

"Here you guys go," Drake says, coming into the living room with three beers and a bottle of water for Adam.

"Thanks," Adam says, breaking the seal and gulping down a quarter of the bottle.

Josh has to literally shake his head for a second to keep from staring. What the hell was wrong with him? It's gotta be the freckles, he thinks to himself. Because you like freckles, right? He sighs a little before taking a sip of his beer.

"Anyone up for another game? Or a different game?" Josh asks.

Drake shrugs, and looks to Kris, who's closed his eyes and seems lost in a melody he's strumming out. "Kris?" Drake asks.

"Huh?" Kris says, opening his eyes.

"I'm gonna take that as a no," Josh chuckles, and reaches forward to turn off his Wii.

"I wanna check out the rest of this house," Adam says enthusiastically, standing and stretching out his long form, working out the kinks in his shoulders.

Josh stands, grabbing his beer. "I'll show you. Looks like these two want to get back into song playing."

"Can't stop the muse, man," says Drake, as he picks up his own acoustic and starts plucking a counter melody to Kris's. Kris smiles.

Josh laughs to himself. "C'mon," he says to Adam, and leads him out of the living room.

He leads Adam around, showing him the guest quarters - which is mostly a storage space, but has its own kitchenette - Drake's master bedroom, Josh's bedroom, and the fourth bedroom, which is set up as a makeshift studio with a keyboard, mic, computer and more guitars mounted on the walls than he thinks Adam's ever seen, based on the expression on his face.

"Holy shit... Kris wasn't kidding when he said Drake had a lot of guitars."

"They're like his babies. I think he cares more about them than he does about me," Josh jokes.

"Oh, I'm sure that's not true," Adam says in a knowing voice, and Josh shoots him a look, but flips off the light and leads Adam past Drake and Kris, who are whispering frantically about something, scribbling down lyrics on a notepad, outside to the side garden. It looks out over Griffith Park, and in the late afternoon light, things start to take on a reddish-orange hue.

Buster, Drake's golden labradoodle, looks up from his patch of shade. Adam immediately goes over to him and crouches down.

"Aw...hey there, puppy," he coos, reaching out to pet the dog's short, curly fur, and Buster gets up and lavishes in the attention.

"His name's Buster," Josh tells Adam.

"I didn't know you guys had a dog...I saw the cat, but..." Adam giggles as Buster licks his cheek.

Jesus Christ, that's adorable.

Josh blinks. "Actually, he's Drake's. So is the cat."

"You don't have any pets?"

Josh shrugs. "I've been on location a lot, lately. Haven't really had time for pets. Wanna check out the pool?"

"Yeah, sure," Adam says, standing.

They walk down the steps that curl around the back of the house, a step garden following them on the left. The pool is inset into the ground, with square ceramic blocks ringing the pool like a dotted line in the grass. There are scattered pieces of lawn furniture, and Josh drops into a chair, inviting Adam to join him with a gesture of his hand.

"My place doesn't have a pool, unfortunately," Adam says as he settles down. "This must be nice."

"It is, actually, I can't lie," Josh replies, sipping more of his beer.

"Hey..." Adam starts, turning in his chair towards Josh, tucking a knee up on the seat. Josh can tell the tone of the conversation is changing and he doesn't know what to do about it.

"Yeah?"

"Well... Normally, I really wouldn't say anything, because it's none of my business, but it seems like... Like...well, maybe you might need to talk," Adam finishes, and he's looking at his hands which are fiddling with the denim on his calf.

"Talk? About what?"

"Well... Fuck, I don't know. Nevermind. I'm just being nosy," Adam says, and sits right in his chair again.

"You know I have to know what you're talking about now, don't you?"

Adam shrugs and smiles a little. "Maybe it's nothing. Maybe I'm...seeing something that's not really there. Maybe I'm projecting. I don't know. I just thought...well. If you had something you might want to talk about, you could talk to me about it. I know we haven't known each other for even a whole day, but I'm a pretty good sounding board, I think."

"Dude, just tell me what you're thinking," Josh says.

"How do you feel about Drake?"

"Drake? Well, he's my best friend. Why?"

"I just thought...there were some things you would say, or the way you'd look at him...I dunno. I just kinda reminded me of..." Adam sighs, closing his eyes. "I just know what it's like to have feelings you don't understand, or don't know what to do with," he finishes quietly.

"Oh."

"Have you ever kissed a boy before?" Adam asks bluntly, and Josh is thrown all over again.

"I... well, no, of course not!" he stutters, before continuing with, "Well, maybe once or twice," in acquiescence.

Adam smiles softly at him and turns to him again. "Who was it?"

"Oh, just Drake. But it wasn't like that! We kissed on the show, once."

Adam raises his eyebrows. "That was in the script? On Nickelodeon?"

Josh nods, swigging more of his beer. He needs to drink to talk about this. His face already feels warm. Mostly from embarrassment, he thinks.

"Was it...I mean...did you like it?"

"It was in front of a ton of people. It was meant to be comedic."

"And the other times?"

"Random pecks on the cheek. Well, a few years ago, Drake kissed me on the mouth...after I gave him a book signed by Paul McCartney." Josh chuckles. "I think it was a mindless thing."

"Did you like it?"

Josh shrugs. "Never thought about it, really."

"Until now."

Josh doesn't answer. He doesn't know how to.

"Do you want to? Kiss Drake, I mean," Adam asks quietly.

Josh gulps some more of his beer, letting the bottle knock loudly on the wooden armrest of the chair he's sitting in. "I...don't know. He's my best friend."

"Well, in the words of the great Debbie Novotny, 'It's not who you love, it's how you love. Genitalia is just God's way of accessorizing.'"

Josh snorts. "Who's Debbie Novotny?"

"Just one of the many mothers of gay boys everywhere."

"Gay..." Josh muses quietly, mulling the word over in his mind.

"Do you think you might be gay?" Adam prods gently. "Or, are you? I'm sorry, I was just assuming you were straight... And I should be the last person to assume anything."

Josh shakes his head. "I don't know. I haven't...I haven't really thought of anyone else. Any other...guys," he says, avoiding Adam's gaze.

"Do you want to try? I mean, you really don't have to, because it's kinda weird, but you could kiss me and see if you like it. And I'm not trying to, like, turn you, or anything. Everyone knows you don't turn straight boys. I just thought...maybe... Well. I guess it's apparent I might have been right about something, but I don't want to assume."

Josh is finally looking at Adam, who is looking calmly back at Josh. Josh feels a laugh bubble up in his throat and lets it out.

"This is insane."

Adam shrugs. "Hey man, I just want to help you figure things out, if you need to... Because it's better to know how you feel, even if nothing ever comes from it," Adam says, and Josh wonders again what he keeps alluding to.

"Well, I've always liked girls," Josh says stupidly.

"That's fine," Adam says. "Women are very beautiful."

"I can't kiss you," Josh says.

"I didn't say you had to."

"It would be... Well, disrespectful," Josh says honorably, and Adam laughs.

"What? How so?"

"Well, you're obviously pining for someone or something."

"Am I? I didn't realize my lingering glances at you were so obvious," Adam jokes.

"What? I...well, I...I mean..."

Adam stuck his bottom lip out, and Josh's eyes were automatically drawn to it. "The more you come up with excuses, JP, the more I'm gonna think I'm just not desireable."

"What? No! It's not that, you're very..." Josh says before he can stop himself. Adam was totally fishing for compliments, and Josh knew it.

"Very...?"

"Nothing."

"I see. I'm nothing! Well, that's an ego boost," Adam pouts.

"I can't be sober and talking about this. Or thinking about this. Or something." Josh reaches into his pocket and pulls out a tightly rolled joint. "I don't really do this shit anymore, but someone gave it to me at a party last night, and this seems like a good time to light it up," Josh explains.

Adam watches him carefully before saying, "I don't really do it anymore either, but you don't have to make excuses, Josh. You're allowed to toke it up whenever you feel like it."

Josh shrugs, putting the joint between his lips and inhaling a little and he flicks his lighter and holds it to the end. As the smoke enters his lungs, he holds it in, already feeling the calming effects of the drug. He passes the joint over to Adam who takes it deftly and pulls his own hit off of it, passing it back to Josh.

Josh lets out his breath as he takes it from Adam, and watches as Adam sits back and exhales slowly, bluish smoke curling and wavering in between them and then up into the sky.

Beautiful.

Josh takes another hit and relaxes into his chair. "Fuck, maybe I should do this more often."

Adam chuckles, taking the joint from Josh. "I dunno. Maybe you're just too tense. Gotta stay loose, man."

Josh watches avidly as Adam smokes the joint. Maybe it's the alcohol, maybe it's the MJ, but Josh can't help but be fascinated by the way Adam looks; by the way he sits there in Drake's backyard - so casually - as if they'd been friends for years. His long legs are stretched out in front of him, and his head is tilted up to the sky; lounging like a giant jungle cat, dressed in black and disappearing into the growing shadows.

"Sexuality is fluid anyhow," Adam says, smoke curling from his nostrils. "People use it as a crutch to define who they are. But it's not like a gay man and a straight man have different morals, different dreams, different wants. Not the base stuff, anyhow. Everyone's both an individual, and has similar dreams to others in their culture. It's how they decide to fulfill those dreams that matters. Not what shape the body is that they're attracted to. Which you can't do much about anyway."

"The pot making you wise, or are you always like this?"

Adam chuckles. "Maybe a bit of both."

Josh knows that the drugs are just messing with his head, but the word "fine" slips out anyway. He's not sure Adam knows what he's referring to, or even if Adam hears him until he sees movement out of the corner of his eye.

Adam stands, facing him. He's smiling softly. "You really don't have to," he says. "You might very well just have a crush on your best friend. But maybe, if you think about doing more than kissing him, exploring those desires might be worth it."

Josh stares up at Adam, who is a dark shape against the orangey-pink sky. There are a few lights from the house and the perpetual glow from L.A., growing brighter as the sun sinks lower, that cast Adam's face in strange shadows; that make his hair look more purple than black. Strange thoughts flitter through Josh's head, and he can't really grasp any of them except that the words "pretty" and "attractive" lead to "yes."

Shakily, Josh stands. He takes the joint from Adam, takes one last drag, and then stamps out the butt under his foot. "Okay," he says quietly, exhaling in smoke, stepping up to Adam.

Adam comes closer, and somehow, he feels taller than Josh, though in reality they're about the same height. Maybe it's his posture, Josh thinks dumbly as Adam places his large hands solidly on Josh's shoulders and slides his hands up a little to cup Josh's neck, his thumbs braced near Josh's ears. Josh automatically looks up, tilting his face and wetting his lips. He's got that nervous feeling in his stomach...that kind he used to get when a really pretty girl would flirt with him, maybe kiss him...back when he was losing weight or had just lost it all, and was still the insecure, dorky, fat kid that liked magic tricks. He still liked magic tricks.

But he had seen the appraising looks Adam had been casting his way all day, so is it really so hard to think of himself attractive? To be worthy of someone like Adam? Or someone like Drake?

Josh sucks in a small breath just as he sees Adam's eyelashes flutter close and feels his lips pressing softly against his own. Josh's hands come up to rest lightly on Adam's hips, and he presses back with his mouth, just as Adam shifts closer, bringing their bodies within inches of each other.

Josh is trying to remember exactly why he's kissing Adam - what the objective is, here - but it's like a low-grade buzz has taken over his brain, like white noise, and he can't quite focus. But he tilts his head and invites Adam in by parting his lips a little as they kiss again, and Adam takes his time, teasing Josh's lips and tongue with his own, getting bolder as Josh pulls Adam against him with a small noise in his throat.

Josh is just falling into it, just realizing the feeling of the solid warm body pulled against his, and the tell-tale beginnings of arousal pressing near his groin, when he pulls away to catch his breath.

Adam is breathing a little hard and still holding his head, his lips shiny and rosy in the waning sunlight. "Did that help?" he asks casually.

Josh laughs under his breath. "Um..."

"Well," Adam says, and he has a bit of a predatory smirk that takes Josh by surprise - or not by surprise, really, because the smirk suits Adam just fine, but he doesn't know what Adam's thinking and that scares him - and continues with, "What would you do if Drake did this?"

Josh isn't sure how Adam manages it, because Josh isn't a small guy, but suddenly, he's pressed up against the wall of the house, between the chairs they'd been sitting in, and he hears more than sees his half-empty beer bottle fall to the grass, spilling out behind Adam's foot. Adam is hovering his body an inch from Josh's, his breath falling on that sensitive spot beneath Josh's ear.

"Would you want this, Josh?" Adam asks softly. "If I was Drake, what would you do?"

Josh takes a second to formulate a response. Well, at least a few seconds, maybe a minute or two, to think about Drake so close, so hot, so aggressive...and realizes that it's all wrong. Adam pulls back and Josh is staring at Adam's mouth, which is a very nice mouth, and uses his own weight to simultaneously pull Adam against him and turn them so that Adam is now pressed against the wall. Adam looks shocked only for a second before he smirks.

"Actually, I think things would be more like this," Josh says against Adam's cheek, right near the corner of his mouth.

Adam turns his head a little so that his lips brush Josh's. "So you think you'd be on top?"

That question brings a whole series of images into Josh's brain and he groans, burrowing his face into Adam's shoulder.

Adam chuckles against his hair. "You okay, there, JP?"

"I think I'm gay," Josh moans piteously into the fabric of Adam's shirt, his hands on Adam's hips curling to fist in the cotton.

"Hey - stop manhandling my remaining pudge," Adam jokes, trying to squirm away. "And what's wrong with being gay?" he prods gently.

"Nothing! Of course," Josh says quickly, hopefully not too quickly, pulling away to look Adam in the eye. "I just..." He ends his thought with another groan, slumping back down against Adam.

Adam's arms come up to give Josh's back a comforting rub. "Hey, man, it's okay... Maybe you're just bi. I mean, you still like tits, right?" Josh scrunches his eyes shut, but nods his head. "Well, then maybe you're bi. Or Drakesexual or something."

Josh pulls away. "Drakesexual? What does that mean?"

"It happens sometimes. When you're just attracted to someone of a gender you aren't normally attracted to."

"Well...I mean, kissing you was great," Josh says.

Adam smiles. "Yeah, but that's just kissing. I've kissed girls and liked it, but I had no desire to get into their pants. At all. Unless you wanted to do more with me..." Adam says with a smile.

Josh drops his chin to his chest, laughing. "Fuck, I don't know anymore." He drops his hands. "And what about you? Are you Krissexual?"

Adam's eyes widen slightly and he blinks. "Kris?"

"Yeah, you like him, right? That's what I heard."

Josh watches as Adam bites his lip and looks off to the side. Then he looks down to his fingers and begins picking at his nail polish. "Well, that was over a year ago, so..."

"Ha! I knew it!" Josh exclaims, stepping away and pointing an accusatory finger at Adam.

"Knew what?"

Josh freezes in pantomime, turning his head to the left to see Drake and Kris making their way down the stairs. Buster weaves his way between their legs to jump a little in excitement in front of Josh, yipping to get their attention.

"Oh, uh...nothing?"

"He just figured out my celebrity crush," Adam says with a smile.

Josh drops his arm. Even in the low light, he can see Kris's eyes flick to the fallen beer bottle at his feet, then to Adam against the wall, and Josh, standing in the path to escape. Josh starts to panic. He knows Kris is smart - Kris will know exactly what happened, and then he'll say something to Drake, and Drake will think he likes Adam - which, well, he does, but it's not so much like that - and then Josh will have to explain that it was all an experiment, and Drake won't understand, he really won't, and he'll kick Josh out of the house, and...and...

"Well, I was thinking we could head out soon," Kris says to Adam, interrupting Josh's inner descent into despair.

Adam pushes away from the wall. "Sounds good," he says, smiling, and yep, Josh can see it. Right there, in his smile. They way Adam feels about Kris is plain as day, and Josh wonders how Kris can't see it. Actually, Josh wonders if he ever looks like that when he's around Drake. Maybe he does, if Adam could tell how he felt after only knowing him a few hours.

Buster runs around their feet as the four of them ascend the stairs. He follows them inside and leaps up on the couch, lying down and taking up most of the cushions. Kris grabs his guitar and puts it gently in its case while Adam runs upstairs to the kitchen to get his jacket. Josh follows.

"Hey, Adam," Josh calls quietly as they enter the kitchen.

"Yeah?"

"I...well... Thanks. For talking to me."

"No problem, Josh," Adam says with a smile, slipping his leather jacket over his shoulders. "You can call me any time, 'kay?" He pulls out his phone. "Here, give me your number."

Josh mutters his digits as he watches Adam's chipped nail polished thumb work the iPhone in his hand. He can't shake this fascination with Adam, but he's not sure why. Thinking about Adam makes him nervous and excited, and thinking about Drake makes a pang of longing start in his heart and blossom out like a stain bleeding out through fabric. And maybe he feels a bit guilty. Even somewhat high, the full thought and realization of his feelings for Drake are startlingly clear, and a flash of panic starts in his pulse.

"You won't tell-" he starts, then stops as Adam looks up. Josh shoves his hands in his pockets, one hand curling around his cell phone. "You won't tell Kris about this, right? I...I don't know what to say to Drake. I think I feel kinda guilty."

Adam steps towards him and places a comforting hand on Josh's shoulder. "Don't. Really. I have no intention of telling Kris, because it's not really any of his business. And don't worry about what to say to Drake. You might not have to say anything at all. But if or when you do, the words will come. Let the Universe take care of things for you a bit, okay? And you have nothing to feel guilty about. You weren't cheating on your feelings, were you?" When Josh shakes his head 'no,' Adam continues. "There. So nothing to worry about. But seriously. Call me if you need anything."

And with that, Adam presses a button on his phone, and the cell in Josh's hand starts buzzing against his palm, making him jump. He laughs and stops the call, saving the number called into his address book as "Adam Pudge Master Flex II Lambert." Well, it's funny now anyhow.

"Goodnight, Josh."

"'Night, Adam."

***


ADAM
Only You and Me

"I think there's something going on."

Adam cocks an eyebrow as he finishes a morning stretch. He has Josh on speakerphone. "Something? Like what?"

"Well....Kris is always over here," Josh says.

"Yeah, and?"

"Okay, now I feel stupid for saying anything."

"No - don't. I just... I don't want to stir up something that's probably nothing," Adam replies.

"So you have noticed! I knew I wasn't crazy!"

Adam sighs. "It's kinda hard not to. All Kris talks about is Drake."

"Same here."

"Do you think...?"

"What?"

Adam hesitates. "Are you busy? Can you meet me somewhere? Say Starbucks on Sunset?"

"I'll be there in fifteen."

***

"This is my theory."

"Shoot." Josh sucks down some of his strawberry banana smoothie. They're sitting in Adam's Mustang in the parking lot of Griffith Park.

"Drake and Kris are both straight, right?"

"As far as we know, yes."

"Well...what if they weren't?"

Josh stops sucking on his straw. "This, coming from the gay guy saying 'you can't turn straight boys'?"

"I didn't say that. I said you don't turn straight boys."

"What's the difference?"

"It's not a total anomaly. A straight guy will meet someone...another guy. Maybe this new guy is gay, maybe he's straight - but this guy is so amazing, so everything the first guy is looking for, that they become quick friends. They do everything together; they start to exhibit signs that they're attracted to each other. Maybe they don't know it, maybe they do, but the idea of the other being gay is so outlandish, they spend months or years avoiding the unavoidable. They've found their soul mate."

"Wait...so are you saying that you think Drake and Kris are like that? Soul mates?"

Adam makes a face. "Well, it's a theory anyhow."

Josh looks down at his cup. "I don't want Kris to be Drake's soul mate."

Adam bites his lip. "I'm in love with Kris."

He sees Josh turn his head to look at him. "Does he know?"

Adam shrugs. "Probably not. I mean...after all that bullshit about my crush and how it wasn't 'threatening', I doubt he'd ever believe it."

"I don't think that's true. Kris loves you too, I'm sure of it."

Adam snorts and takes a sip of his latte. "Not the way I want him to."

"Okay, let's assume you're theory is true. Who's to say it's not really you?"

"What do you mean?"

"The scenario you just supplied is like, textbook Adam and Kris. Don't tell me you don't see it."

"Nothing is textbook Adam and Kris. And besides, you and I just met. How would you know what's textbook me and Kris?"

Josh's eyes shift away and dart from focus to focus.

"Josh..."

"Okay, okay. I did a little homework on you two, okay?"

"Homework?"

Josh nods. "Yeah. I mean...I noticed that you and Kris are like night and day, and I wondered how you guys were friends, so I did some googling, and came across some fanvids and pictures and stuff about how close you guys are. The visual evidence of you two together is...very compelling. I'm surprised that since you guys have been hanging out so much, the paps haven't been all over you two like you're the next best thing to Branjelina."

Adam chuckles under his breath. "Yeah, our fans are insane."

"But they're not wrong, are they?"

Adam looks directly at Josh. "I used to think so, but you're right. They're not. At least, not about me."

"And not about Kris, I bet." Josh shifts in his seat to face Adam a little more directly. "Look, I was about ready to panic over this, but you know what I think we should do?"

"What?"

"I think we need to get our bffs back."

Adam laughs. "I like the way you think, JP."

***

Josh insists they go back to his place - Kris is over there right now, apparently. They walk in, feeling rather secretive; Josh is actually tiptoeing around. Adam stifles his laughter.

They walk to the banister in the dining room, looking down into the living room where they hear random guitar strumming and the murmuring of two voices. Kris and Drake are bent over a notebook again, their heads nearly pressed together. The next second, they're looking up into each other's eyes, and they're sitting close - too close - and Adam clenches his fist. Jealousy is an ugly mistress.

Josh's hands are gripping the iron banister tightly enough that his knuckles are white. Adam is about to put a comforting hand on Josh's shoulder to calm him down when Kris says from his unwavering gaze into Drake's eyes, "Are you guys finished spying on us, or do you want to wait to hear the song we've been writing?"

Josh jumps, stepping back onto Adam's foot.

"Ow!"

"Oops, sorry."

"It's okay," Adam says, wiggling his toes in his boot. There's muffled laughter from the couch below.

"Oh shut up!" Josh says, crossing his arms over his chest. "You'd have spied on us too!"

"Would not!" Drake yells. "Get your asses down here!"

Sighing, Adam turns around and heads downstairs. After a moment, Josh follows. They enter the den to see Kris and Drake standing, guitars in hand, grinning wide grins.

"You two are really quite hilarious," Kris says.

"Oh, are we now?" Josh says, still in defensive mode.

Kris and Drake nod. "You've been so busy talking to each other about us that you've missed everything," Drake elaborates.

"Everything? What's everything?" Adam asks.

"Well, this song, for one." Drake gestures to the couch. "Come on. Sit down. We'll play it for you."

Sharing a look, Josh and Adam sit down. Kris shifts his stance and waits for Drake's nod. Kris starts off, playing a quiet intimate melody. A few measures of an opening, and then Drake starts playing a counter melody as Kris begins to sing.

I thought I had it all figured out
I thought the world would scream and shout
When I found the one that's meant to be
'You and me.'

I ran a path that made me happy for a time
Until I found the one that matched my rhyme
I was confused, I still am, I cannot see
I don't know how you changed my 'you and me'.

Drake's voice joins Kris's for the chorus, and Adam sits there, hoping but not hoping, wondering if...could they really...? Did this song mean what he thought it might mean? He sees Josh's arms relax to his sides out of the corner of his eye, and realizes Josh is feeling the same way. Raw and exposed.

Your heart's never been next to mine,
But I'm hoping one day, you'll let me
Feel the way you feel
See the way you see
Only you and me.

Drake's high tenor takes over for the second verse, and Adam's eyes drift over to Kris, who's looking intently at his fingering, his strumming hand, but Adam, with his mind, wills him to look up. To look at Adam. Adam needs to know what he's thinking, because if he was ever wrong - if he ever misread how Kris might feel - he'd hang up his best friend card forever. He really never saw this song coming. This was for them? For Josh and Adam? From Drake and Kris?

One day I thought I knew how I felt
But you took that and tore it all away
You like to think I can't see
How you want us to be 'you and me'.

Would you be scared if I changed my path?
If I took your pencil and redid the math?
The answer you seek is right here in me
I'm your you and it's all me.

Kris joined Drake's voice for the chorus again, and Adam's fingers clenched around the fabric of the worn-out couch beneath his hands.

Your heart's never been next to mine,
But I'm hoping one day, you'll let me
Feel the way you feel
See the way you see
Only you and me.

Your heart's never been next to mine,
But I'm hoping one day, you'll
Feel the way I feel
See the way I see
The way I see you and me.

They played a few closing bars before letting the vibrations hang in the air, which now felt heavy like lead. Drake and Kris looked at each other briefly before turning to look at Josh and Adam, sitting dumbly on the couch.

"I...don't understand," Josh says quietly, needing to clear his throat. "I don't..."

"It's beautiful," Adam says truthfully.

Kris smile is big, but it doesn't hide his blush. "Thanks, Adam."

Josh stands, and starts to pace behind the couch. "No, really. I don't understand. Was that for us? Did you guys write that...because of us?" He looks to Adam, who brings his hands together on his lap so he can mess with his nail polish. "Because... Because..." Adam looks up, sensing what Josh is about to say. They lock eyes for a moment before Josh looks over to Drake. "I think I'm in love with you, Drake."

There's a quiet but collective intake of breath, and Kris and Adam glance at each other for a moment before Kris says, "We'll just...um..."

Adam stands. "We'll go outside," he says, and nods with his head towards the patio doors. He waits for Kris to set his guitar in its case and allows him to leave first, shutting the door behind him with a quiet click. Josh and Drake still haven't moved.

Oh boy.

"It was about you, you know," Kris says from behind him and he freezes.

***


KRIS
If the Sun is Pulling the Earth, Does it Mean They're In Love?

Kris waits an eternity before Adam turns around. At least, it kind of feels like an eternity.

"I really wish you were a total jerk," Adam says, mumbling to himself.

"Sorry?" says Kris, a chuckle in his throat.

"I wish there was something, anything, that could make me not like you as much as I do," Adam replies, turning around. His eyes are pained.

"Adam, I'm not sure where you're going with this..." Kris says, puzzled. He can't let himself hope.

Adam takes his shoulders under his big hands, the nail polish on one thumb gone, and the rest chipped. "If I could hate you, this wouldn't be so damn hard." He swallows and tries to meet Kris's eyes. "You could be just another pretty face, someone straight and untouchable, not...someone - not someone I've fallen completely in love with." The last is said in an almost whisper, and it takes Kris a second for it to really register.

Kris feels himself blink in shock. He can feel his wide eyes and his uncomfortable stare up into Adam's troubled face. His lips part and he tries to respond, but so many other truths and signals are slapping him in the face, and his brain keeps trying to switch tracks as he starts to understand Adam's recent behavior and the talks he's had with Drake and suddenly, it all makes sense.

He's not surprised, exactly, but...well, if he were honest, it's been a niggling feeling in the back of his mind, always, but nothing he's ever thought on with any sincerity. So it's in shock that Kris realizes that the thought that's always been sitting back there has finally become a reality, because a part of him never thought it would ever really happen, but it has, it is happening, and now Kris doesn't know exactly how to react. Despite the fact that he and Drake wrote that song because of how they felt. About Josh and Adam. He wanted Adam to acknowledge his feelings for Kris. Kris's feelings for Adam.

"Adam, I-"

"No, Kris, I know you don't feel that way about me, and that's okay. I just...I'm not sure I can spend as much time with you. I know it's ridiculous, but this isn't sudden - for me, I mean. I just don't have enough self-restraint left anymore and I'm sorry. I just think not hanging out as much might help me clear my head, because whenever you're around, I can't focus - I'm constantly worrying about my actions and words. So, yeah, I think-"

"Don't you want to know what I think?" Kris cuts him off, irritation bubbling up in his chest.

Adam blinks, his mouth open in surprise at being stonewalled. "Well, I-"

"I think it's all bullshit," Kris curses. "I've known for almost two years that you think I'm attractive, Adam, and it's never changed anything between us."

"But I never developed any feelings off of that attraction," Adam tries to argue. "And I was fine being friends, really. But something about my feelings for you have changed, and I love being your friend too much to let this infatuation ruin it. I didn't even want to tell you. I just...the feelings aren't going away, Kris." Adam ducks his head, as if in shame. His hands fall from Kris's shoulders.

"And you think spending time apart is going to fix that? That's just stupid, Adam." Kris puts his hands on either side of Adam's head, forcing him to look up. "And what's even stupider is that I didn't realize how much you and your friendship and your presence in my life mean to me until you decided that trying to take that away from me was a good idea." Kris pulls Adam's face down until their foreheads touch. "You are not allowed to just call this off because you feel like it, Adam Lambert. You're not going anywhere, because infatuation or not, I don't want you to. You're not leaving me that easily."

Adam is breathing deeply and irregularly, his breath shuddering as his lips part. His eyes are anguished and Kris can see he is trying not to cry. Kris pulls him down into a hug, made awkward by their height difference. "C'mon, man. It's okay."

"Fuck, Kris. Stop. Just stop making me love you," Adam says, his breath hitching.

Kris pulls back. "And what if I don't want to?"

"What?" Adam asks, blinking in confusion, licking his lips.

Kris doesn't take much time to contemplate his next action, except to look into Adam's eyes, look at his mouth and back again before leaning up and pressing his lips against Adam's pliant, soft ones.

The moment they're held in seems like eternity and yet too short all at once, and a million thoughts and nothing really coherent or worth remembering race through Kris's head, and he's almost dizzy with it. It's just a press of lips against lips, and the dizzy sensation grows as Kris forgets to breathe. He pulls away, after a minute, two seconds, he doesn't know, a tiny line of saliva connecting their lips for a fraction of a second before snapping.

Adam is staring at him like he's never seen him before.

"Kris..." he seems to finally manage.

"You're not going anywhere," Kris emphasizes with a little shake of his hands on Adam's head. "Just let whatever happens happen, okay? Stop over-analyzing everything."

Adam nods, swallowing. "Okay."

Kris nods with finality. "Okay. Let's get out of here, yeah?"

"What about your guitar?" Adam asks as Kris drags Adam through the side yard and around the house and up into the driveway.

"I'll get it tomorrow. And my car. Just drive, Lambert."

He can see Adam staring at him like he doesn't know how to deal with the information presented in front of him. Kris crosses him arms on the roof of the car and leans forward.

"Adam. Look at me. I am totally serious. About you. About us. I wrote that song for you. Maybe I don't have all the details sorted out, maybe I'll get scared or you'll get scared and maybe we'll mess this whole thing up. But I want to take that risk. Because ever since I met you, it's been you and me. Always."

Adam face is unreadable as he takes quick strides around the car to face Kris; to take his face into his hands and kiss him with a passion that takes Kris's breath away. There's no tongue, even, Adam just touches his lips and pulls his soul through his mouth, and Kris doesn't even care if Adam never gives it back. He'd give it to Adam willingly. He's never been able to understand why there's always been a pull from the base of his gut to Adam, but it's there, like the magnetic pull of the earth to the sun, and it took Kris a while, but he finally realized he was powerless against it.

Adam steps away. "Let's go," he says, his voice raw, and his lips red.

Kris nods, once. "Yes."

***


DRAKE
Is Forever Too Young To Be In Love?

"How long?" Drake asks.

"What?"

"How long have you thought you were in love with me?"

Josh looks to the ground fidgeting like he does when he's nervous. "I don't know. I don't think I really realized it until recently. But I've always... I mean, I've always admired you, Drake, you know that."

"Do you like guys? I mean...are you gay?"

Josh flinches, and Drake regrets the way he worded that. "Sorry, you don't have to answer that."

Josh shrugs. "I dunno. I still like girls, I just..." Josh runs his hands through his hair. "Adam has this theory, all right? Where one guy can not be gay, but can maybe meet some other guy who is, and the first guy doesn't realize it at first, but the second guy is everything he wants, so it's not that he's gay, it's that he has a soul mate."

Drake's brows knit in confusion. "Come again?"

"Argh! Nevermind," Josh says, and sits down, cradling his head.

Drake sets his guitar down and sits next to Josh. Close. "Josh." Josh makes an indiscernible sound. "Josh, look at me." When Josh finally looks up, Drake puts his arm around Josh's shoulders. "I don't know about guys with other guys. I just know about you and me. And I like you and me. I love you and me. All I can think about is you, is having you in my life. I hate it when you're away, even if it's for acting. I can't sleep. This place is completely empty without you. I mope when you go to the store, even, I'm so pathetic. I love you, Joshie," Drake confesses as he runs a hand through Josh's curly hair. "If my life isn't just you and me, then I don't want it."

Josh sniffs and Drake can see he's about to cry. "Oh, fuck, Drake," Josh says, and rubs at his eyes.

Drake smiles. "Can I ask you something?"

Josh shrugs. "I guess so."

"Can you kiss me? Because I've been staring at your mouth all day, and I need you to kiss me now."

Josh looks shocked for a second while he looks down at the smile on Drake's lips. He licks his own, and then a smile, the bright, infectious kind that Drake loves, forms on Josh's mouth, and he says, "Yeah...I think I can do that."

Josh's lips are wet and soft, and there's a hint of salt from his tears, but it's gentle and sweet and everything that's Josh, and it promises more, which is everything that's exciting about Josh.

Their foreheads are pressed together for a breathless moment. "We should go get Kris and Adam," Drake says.

There's a buzzing noise and Josh yelps, scrabbling at his pocket. He presses a few buttons on his phone for a moment and then grins. "No need. They're not here anymore."

"What? Where'd they go?"

Josh shrugs. "I don't know, but Kris just texted me using Adam's phone and told him not to worry about his guitar and car - that he'd pick them up tomorrow."

"Do you think that means...?"

Josh nods and pockets his phone. "Yeah, I think it does."

Drake grins. "Can you kiss me again? 'Cause I rather liked that."

Josh pulls Drake to him with a smile.

***


Come Together

If anyone would have told me a year ago, no, even a month ago, that'd I'd be sitting here, with him, my best friend, or with them, laughing and sharing and knowing, I'd never would have believed them. I would have laughed, or thought they were crazy. But love isn't crazy, is it? It's just the opposite. It's so sane it's incomprehensible. There's no point in defining it, in controlling it, it just is. We all succumb to it sooner or later. It's inevitable that it will take some hold in our lives. And when it does, you just have to be along for the ride. They say that love is all these things; that you'll know the difference between it and lust or hate or pain or joy, but that's not true. To say that is to take away all the things love truly is, which is just that: love is.

 

 





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This is a non-profit, non-commercial work of fiction using the names and likenesses of real individuals. No offense is intended by this work of fiction. This fictional story is not intended to imply that the events herein actually occurred, or that the attitudes or behaviors described are engaged in or condoned by the real persons whose names are used without permission. All references to attitudes or behaviors described are fictional unless otherwise noted.