See the end for the amazing music mixes created for the story! ♥
sings the song without the words
Pyri prowled the room restlessly while Kris unpacked his things. The other side wasn't too messy, although there was a pile of clothing draped over the back of the chair, more than Kris had in both his small suitcases put together. The closet had been pretty much claimed for England, too; Kris decided that discretion was the better part of valor, so he just edged one end over enough to hang up his jacket, and put the rest of his stuff in the dresser on his side of the room.
"You could take more space," Pyri said a little sulkily, leaping up onto the bed and stretching full-length on it; it creaked a little under her weight. Her tail lashed in the air.
"I don't need more," Kris said mildly. "I don't mind." Pyri yawned widely to show what she thought of that, bristling teeth on display and long tongue lolling out before she rolled it back into her mouth. Kris sighed. "You know, if you hadn't freaked Niska out, Matt might've done better last night."
"We're here to win, aren't we?" Pyri said, like that was that, and spread one paw wide to lick between the claws.
Kris hoped that his new roommate had a bigger daemon—a wolf maybe, he thought wistfully. Everybody had been pretty surprised when Pyri had settled into a leopard, Kris included. She'd spent most of Kris's childhood as one kind of dog or another, running all over with him. Then one day Kris had woken up with a big warm weight curled all along his back, purring, and they'd somehow both known that was it for them.
He'd just finished filling up the sock drawer when the door opened. "Hey!" the guy said, smiling, and came in to hold out a hand. "I'm Adam—Adam Lambert."
"Kris Allen," Kris said, and just managed not to jump as Adam's daemon peeked out abruptly from Adam's hair. The peacock tipped its crested blue head to one side to inspect Kris. Its tail curved down over Adam's shoulder like a cape, gorgeous purples and blues and greens, and Adam's black hair had matching streaks, so it almost blended in.
Kris stared. He couldn't help it; he'd never seen a guy with a male daemon before. He'd heard about it happening, but—He turned away quick, when he realized he was starting to look like an ass, and pointed to Pyri, who'd raised her head from the bed.
"Uh, this is Pyri," Kris said, and realized crap, Adam's daemon was going to hate this. Birds didn't so much get along with cats , to start with, and Pyri had a stupid thing for long tails, anyway.
"Oh, she's gorgeous," Adam said, approvingly. "That fur! This is Gild." He hooked his fingers under the peacock, and lowered him enough for the daemon to leap to the ground gracefully, fluffing his tail a little. Pyri's eyes tracked it.
She leaned down off the bed to sniff at Gild from the height of the bed, letting her jaws get close and licking her chops, meaningfully. Kris swallowed the be nice that wanted to come out; if Pyri decided she was going to be a jerk, that wasn't going to change her mind.
Gild didn't recoil and didn't say anything, just cocked his head to one side again, but he managed somehow to convey complete disdain. "Be nice, you," Adam said; Gild gave a loud, high-pitched shrill that made Pyri flatten her ears against her head, and then he turned and paced stately over to leap up onto Adam's bed, long tail gleaming behind him.
"I promise he won't be a little bitch all the time," Adam said reassuringly, like Kris was the one who should have been worrying, and smiled at him. "So where does that incredibly adorable accent come from, Kris Allen?"
Pyri gave a little growl under her breath, and Kris found himself stammering some when he answered. Maybe he was the one who needed to worry.
It didn't get better, after that. "Come on, what's the problem?" Kris said, exasperated. "Is it the bird thing? You were never like this with Cale's Helia."
"She's not a preening, useless, stuck-up little—"
"Hey!" Kris said.
Pyri sniffed and curled up in a tight ball on the floor, nose stuck against her flank, almost one solid mass of fur. Kris glared at her. It reminded him of the way she'd started acting around Rillek last summer, after the auditions, before it had all come apart. Except Rillek had just gone scared-shy, clinging to Katy's neck and peering sadly down with his huge lamp eyes, ring-tail curling anxiously around her shoulders. Gild's idea of a proportional response was jumping on Pyri's back, digging his talons into her fur, and clinging on yelling at the top of his lungs while she ran around the room hissing and trying to get him off.
"You totally deserved that, though," Kris said. "It's Gild's freaking tail, it's not a toy. "
Pyri didn't uncurl.
"And I'm not asking for a roommate change," Kris told her back. "I'm not doing that to Adam, not now." Pyri flicked one dismissive ear in his direction and didn't say anything.
Kris wouldn't have anyway, that part was true—not with the photos freshly spilled all over the internet: Adam with a beautiful boy in his arms, kisses like an Olympic sport; purple hair and eyeliner and, shockingly, a sleek green snake daemon with one loop coiled over Adam's wrist like a loose bracelet, and Gild stretching out his head to preen the other boy's hair.
Kris didn't know what to think about that so much. He didn't know anyone who'd actually—he'd never touched Rillek in all six years; he'd never even thought of asking to. Katy had never put her hands on Pyri. He'd heard stories about people doing that, but that was giggled locker-room stuff or something you saw in porn videos, kind of gross. That didn't seem to have anything to do with the helpless ecstatic look on the face of the boy leaning back in Adam's arms or the heavy-lidded, triumphant look on Adam's, and the pictures made Kris want to stare and shove the laptop away at the same time.
But Kris did know exactly what he thought about the pages and pages of hateful comments on the websites, about how it meant something, how Adam wasn't really a guy because his daemon was male, a display bird, showy. Adam had laughed it all off at the press conference. "He just likes to be pretty," he said, smiling. "And so do I!" But Kris had seen the quickly hidden flicker across Adam's face last night, in the hotel's common space, after Danny had picked up his Idria and moved to another couch. Kris wasn't going to ditch Adam after that, no matter how pissy Pyri got.
But even if it hadn't been for that, Kris didn't want to change roommates. He told himself it was just being smart. Adam understood this crazy ride they were on better than any of them; whenever things got confused or exhausting, he always had a cup of tea or a hug or some advice that made sense, and Kris didn't want to lose any of that.
"Especially not the hugs," Pyri muttered under her breath.
"Shut up," Kris said.
They moved into their room in the mansion later that day. Pyri padded around the room, sniffing all the corners; Gild promptly perched himself on the balcony and arranged his tail draping gorgeously over the rail, where he could be seen by the photographers and cameramen working on the lawn to get footage.
Pyri eyed the long, hanging tail with an intensity Kris recognized all too well. "Don't even think about it," Kris hissed at her, when Adam had stepped into the bathroom for a second.
Pyri huffed. "I can go get some air if I want," she said, dignified, and padded out onto the balcony. She reared up and put her front paws on the railing, and yawned her jaws wide into Gild's face. Gild leaned in and took a pointed sniff and said sweetly, "Aren't there biscuits for that?"
"Are you being obnoxious again?" Adam said, coming out of the bathroom toweling his face, his hair wildly spiky from taking off his beanie. He went out on the balcony and turned to call inside. "Kris! Finish unpacking later! Come on out here, they're filming."
"So? We'd just be on the balcony," Kris said.
Adam laughed. "Baby, every second of exposure on national tv you can get, that's the whole idea here." He held out a hand, beckoning, and Kris obediently put down his t-shirts and went outside to stand next to him and wave at the cameras.
It got a great spot in the segment, the two of them standing together, flanking their daemons. Pyri and Gild looked gorgeous, and you couldn't tell from the video that they'd just been trading insults.
The morning after the episode aired, a gossip blog story ran under the screencap, tongue-in-cheek but maliciously gleeful anyway, all about how everyone said they were very good roommates, and lining up photos of Kris next to Adam's ex-boyfriend for comparison. "I'm so sorry," Adam said miserably, sitting on his bed with Gild in his lap, stroking his feathers with one palm gently, over and over. "I'm—listen, I'll ask them to change my room. I—"
"No!" Kris said. "Seriously, man, no. I don't care what people want to think. Anyway. It's publicity, right? Like you said."
"The kind of publicity that gets your ass voted off before the tour," Adam said dryly.
"We've got one more week to get through," Kris said. "I'll take that bet."
And next week they were both safe, and on through to the top ten, and when Adam's name was called home-free, Kris turned to him and hugged him hard in front of the cameras and everyone, feeling victorious.
After the goodbye party for Alexis, Adam smuggled in a bottle of vodka and made cocktails for everyone in the kitchen. They all got a little drunk except Danny and Mike, who excused themselves, and Allison, whose mom cut her off after one drink. Megan got more than a little drunk, and her daemon Wikk crawled up onto the rim of the pitcher and tried to run around it in circles, and then fell in with a splash and had to be fished out looking like, well, a wet rat. A wet pink rat, since Adam had used cranberry juice.
Nobody was looking for another drink after that, so they wove off to their bedrooms one after another. Kris went upstairs and dropped backwards onto his bed, yawning, but he didn't really want to sleep yet. It was starting to sink in: at least fifty thousand guaranteed for the tour, and it all went up from here.
He dragged up his guitar from the foot of the bed and noodled on it a little; he was picking out Crazy when Adam came in, and Adam laughed and arranged himself across the end of the bed and sang along with it softly to the end. "We are crazy," he said after, stretching himself long and relaxed, eyes shut. "This is such a trip, Kris, how fast all of this happens—after working for this so long—"
"Yeah," Kris managed, through a throat gone suddenly tight. Adam couldn't see it himself, but his fingers were really close to Pyri's fur, almost brushing. She was watching him with wary, slitted eyes, but she wasn't moving away.
Adam lay there with his eyes closed a little longer, and then he sighed finally and sat himself up. "Okay, we have to get some sleep. What's our call time tomorrow?" He got off the bed and went to wash his face, and Kris put his guitar away with shaky hands and looked up to find Gild watching him from his perch on the foot of the bed.
"I was thinking I might ask Katy if she'd like to come out with us, next week," his mom said. "We can swing another plane ticket."
"I don't—Katy?" Kris started, a little confused—yeah, they were doing pretty well at staying friends, but it wasn't what you'd call painless just yet. Then he got it. "I guess Cale wouldn't do all that much for stopping people talking?" he bit out.
"Well—" his mom said.
"Seriously?" Kris said. "Momma, I am not going to use Katy like a prop and invite these people to—I don't even know, make some kind of story out of us."
"Honey, you were together six years," his mom said. "She's a part of your life, I don't think there's anything wrong in—"
"Making sure everybody knows I'm not letting Adam bang me in the mansion?" Kris said.
"Kristopher!" she said.
"I'll say I'm sorry soon as you tell me that's not what this is all about," Kris said.
"It's not like that!" She stopped and sighed. "Listen to me, baby, I'm so happy you've found such a good friend—Adam's a sweet boy, and I couldn't care less about any of the gossip, whatever people want to say. But I do care that this is your life, your dream. You know it does matter to some folks, and some of those folks pick up the phone and vote."
"What about Adam?" Kris said. "Or is it okay if those people vote for him to go home?"
"But that's really his life, he's made those choices," she said. "Baby, I'm not telling you to get back with Katy to win, or to lie about anything. I'm just saying, do you really want to go home early over a misunderstanding?
Kris stood silently, holding the phone to his ear. Pyri was curled at the foot of the bed watching him, unblinking. "Don't ask Katy," he said, finally.
Pyri started acting really weird around Adam after that. She would drift over towards him whenever he was in the same room, and stay near—not quite close enough for him to brush against her with his legs, but close enough that if he moved fast, if he jerked, he could have, maybe, if—
"Oh, be careful, Pyri. You wouldn't want Adam to trip over you," Gild said, snottily, looking down from Adam's shoulder.
Adam tugged on Gild's tail reprovingly without looking away from the mirror where he was doing his eyeliner. "I'm not going to trip over her!" And he didn't.
Kris didn't know what to say to her about it. He felt a breathlessness in his throat every time she got that close to Adam, an almost scared feeling, anticipation. If she kept doing it, sooner or later Adam would, just by accident. The closest Kris got was saying to her, "Do you know what you're doing?" one evening when they were alone in the room.
Pyri didn't answer for a long while, then she abruptly said, "He touched that boy's daemon. In the pictures."
"His ex," Kris said. For some reason, any time they'd talked about it, Pyri didn't seem to think Brad got to be anything other than that boy.
Pyri didn't answer. She kept on stalking Adam, ignoring Gild's pointed warnings, and Kris went on shivering with the deep scared feeling that any minute Adam could—
They had their own rooms by Top Five week, but Kris could still hear Adam's door slam after they got back from Matt's goodbye dinner. There was noisy rummaging around in the bathroom, water running and then shutting off, and then nothing, for long enough Kris got up and knocked on the door on his side and then opened it. Adam was stripped to the waist, braced against the sink counter with his head bowed and his face dripping. "It was such fucking bullshit," Adam bit out, furiously.
"Matt and me didn't care, man, you know that," Kris said. "It was the obvious choice."
"It doesn't fucking matter!" Adam said. "I know it was, I know they do this every year, making someone choose, and I did it. It was still just—it's fucking inhuman, you know? We're all we have in this, we don't have them—they're not on our side. And if we were the kind of bitches who were in here clawing and fighting and being complete jerks to each other, fine, but we're not, they know we're not, and I fucking hated it. Kris, I hated it so much. And Vila—Matt tried so hard, but when she hissed at me—"
His voice broke a little.
"Come on," Kris said, and took Adam into his room and dug out what was left of the bottle of wine Adam had brought back the other night. They sprawled on the bed and drank straight from the bottle and took turns making up really awesome insults to say on stage to Ryan and the judges. Adam broke up giggling at Kris's fake British accent; they were both laughing, breathless, and then Adam was wiping a few leaky tears away from his eyes, sitting up to turn away.
Gild gave a little trill and jumped onto his shoulder, anxiously combing his beak through Adam's hair. "I'm sorry," Adam said thickly, reaching up to pet Gild a little clumsily. "I'm okay. The stress is just hitting me tonight, I'm okay."
"You don't have to be," Kris said, and reached out to touch Adam's shoulder. Adam leaned in for a hug, and Kris slid his arms around him, holding Adam tight, his hand cupped around the back of Adam's neck. Adam was breathing soft and damp against his neck, and Kris didn't mean to, at all, he was just going to tighten his grip, but as he did, his fingers brushed the feathery-lace sweep of Gild's tail.
It went through him like a live spark, racing up his arm and making him jump a little, in the circle of Adam's arms. Gild made a small startled chirp, and Adam trembled all over. "Sorry," Kris said, whispering without meaning to. "I'm sorry—" but Adam was holding him, keeping Kris from pulling away.
"Are you?" Adam said, looking at him intently.
Kris swallowed. Pyri's tail was lashing crazily, next to them, her eyes going from Kris to Adam and back. Gild had hidden his head in Adam's hair and was peeking out. "No," Kris said, and Adam slowly—so slowly—reached out, and slid his hand into Pyri's fur.
Kris shuddered helplessly, and again, harder. He blinked away tears, watching Adam's hand stroking deep into Pyri's fur. She was pressed almost flat into the bed, eyes closed, quivering. Kris could feel it, how Adam's fingers were touching her in just the right way, perfect, perfect. Kris was going down boneless and weak to the bed, crumpling in shallow breaths, and then Adam wasn't touching Pyri anymore, he was touching Kris, touching Kris's face, and Kris reached out and clung to him and pulled him down too.
They lay tangled together on the bed, Kris's cheek pressed to Adam's broad shoulder, Adam's pulse or maybe his own drumbeating steady against the thin sensitive skin. Adam's hand was resting on his waist under his t-shirt, both of them taking in long, shaky breaths. Adam kissed him on the cheek, soft and chaste. Kris kissed him back on the mouth, just as soft, and tucked himself in closer. He didn't say anything. It didn't feel like there was anything that needed to be said.
In the morning it all looked a lot more complicated. Kris woke up in Adam's bed, snuggled along Pyri's warm side. The shower was running across the hall, and he picked his head up and blinked at Gild, who was staring at him balefully from the foot of the bed.
"Don't hurt him," Gild said, and then he jumped down from the bed and went out onto the balcony, tail dragging low behind him.
"What about him hurting you?" Pyri muttered, unconvincingly. Kris stroked her back.
"Do you want—" Kris said, and stopped.
Pyri worked her paws over the coverlet, kneading it. "Yes," she said, low, and Kris wanted it too; he wanted Adam to touch her again, to put his hands deep in Pyri's white fur. He wanted to hold Gild in his own hands and run his fingers gently over the sleek blue feathers. He was pretty sure he wasn't supposed to want those things, and he did anyway. He thought about Adam in the pictures, proud and wild and reckless enough to trust that much, refusing to mind when all the world saw him that way, wide-open. And then Kris thought about his mom, and his dad, and their faces looking at pictures like that of him.
Adam came back from the shower damp and toweling his hair, not quite looking at Kris. He sat down on the edge of the bed, not quite in arm's reach of Pyri.
"This isn't a good time," Adam said finally. Then he laughed softly—not quite his full laugh, but not cold, either. "It's about the worst time imaginable, actually."
"It felt like a great time, last night," Kris said, pissed-off suddenly—what was this, Adam holding open the door for him, like he thought Kris was looking for an escape hatch? "I'm not sorry."
"Maybe I am," Adam said though, unexpectedly, and Pyri flinched with a small noise that made Kris's hand tighten in her fur. "No, not like that, ever," Adam said. "But—Kris. You know how many people in this country think that daemons are only supposed to be between you and God? They won't even let their daemons talk to other people—"
"That's not my church," Kris said.
"You have a church," Adam said. "Don't tell me you've ever let anyone touch Pyri before."
The color climbed up hot, the memory of Adam's fingers sliding over her, something deeper than touch and conversation, that startling flash of beauty, the feeling of being helpless and known and loved— Kris flushed. Adam was looking at him with bright, warm eyes, like he wanted to touch Pyri again right then, or maybe touch Kris; and Kris said urgently, "Adam—"
"You know what those people would say about me if they knew," Adam said quietly, looking away. "This would be my fault," and Kris dropped his reaching hand to the coverlet. Yeah, he got it: he couldn't ask Adam for that when he wasn't even sure himself.
Adam got up and went out on the balcony to finish drying his hair, Gild jumping up to his shoulder to preen at him anxiously. Kris stayed on the bed still holding on to Pyri, rubbing his hands through her fur, weirdly, painfully lonely.
He stayed in the too hot shower for too long and had to run to make it down in time to get on the van to the studios. Allison and Danny talked to fill the silence he and Adam left, and it was almost a relief to split up for the duets, where he didn't fit with Danny at all, where it wasn't a struggle not to reach out and touch.
There was a new round of photos after, the stylists messing with his hair for too long and leaving it looking pretty much just the same, far as Kris could tell, and then taping another round of videos for the iphone app. Lunch was at six, a bagel crammed in his mouth on the way to two hours with the band trying to sell him a take on the Come Together arrangement that Kris wasn't totally sold on, which meant it dragged on take after take, and who the hell knew what he'd end up with on Saturday.
At dinner, Gild flew up and perched on the back of his chair. Kris was too burned-out even think about it until Allison made a weirded-out face at him and Adam across the table, surprised, and Gild hopped abruptly over to Adam's chair instead, his tail fluffing and setting nervously. Pyri was curled on the floor between their chairs, her head on her paws, and she turned to look up at Kris with her jewel-green eyes, not speaking; she didn't have to.
They didn't hang out all together after: it was getting on to midnight, and Kris dragged himself upstairs and brushed his teeth with his eyes mostly closed and went to his bedroom, crawling into his bed and curling around himself, Pyri at his feet. Somewhere out of sleep he felt Adam laying a hand on his shoulder, softly saying, "Kris?" and Kris sighed and unwound some into the curve of Adam's body, their knees slotting together.
He rolled over in the early morning, sun slant-hitting him in the eyes, even before the alarm. He wasn't in his bedroom; he'd gone to their old shared room. Adam was sleeping next to him with his hands folded up under his cheek, looking crazily young even with his last-day's makeup smudged around his eyes.
Gild was nested down in a pillow above Adam's head, small bright-eyed head watching, and Kris looked at him and put out his hand slowly, cautiously. Gild shifted a little, quivering, and Kris hesitated, but he went on and touched the soft feathers, sleek and warm, Gild's breath quick underneath rising and falling. Adam drew in a deep, startled breath and opened his eyes to stare at Kris, intense and wet, while Kris stroked down Gild's back again, all the way to the beautiful gleaming tail, feeling all that fragility under his hand like a gift.
Then he took his hand away and bent down to kiss Adam again, on the mouth. He didn't feel clumsy or awkward. Adam's mouth was warm and welcoming and easy, already known. Kris kissed him deep and slow, sucking a little on his lip, asking him in, and Adam's hands were sliding under his shirt. Kris raised his arms and let Adam strip it off him, shrugging his head out, and he lay back down in Adam's arms.
It was strange in a good way to feel Adam's big, solid body under him in bed, to feel not small exactly but wrapped-up, like cuddling in heavy blankets hiding from cold weather, the easy roll of Adam's hips up against him and the sudden, startling feel of wanting new things. Adam was touching him with wide, soft eyes, happy, and Kris laughed over him and let his head arch back while Adam's hand slid around his thigh and stroked him.
Kris lined them up and rocked against him while Adam's fingers worked inside slow, two of them wet and deep, moving in him. Kris stretched out on Adam and kissed him, their hips working together. The sun was coming up some more, warm on his bare skin with Adam's fingers stoking a low steady burn, just riding Kris back and forth, Adam's other hand running along his side and curving over his hip. Kris slid his arms under Adam's shoulders, his hand in Adam's hair to hold his head for more kisses, and spread his legs around Adam's to settle in deeper on him, rolling his hips against the slow give and press of Adam's fingers sparking inside him.
They both flinched when the alarm went off abruptly. Adam stretched out a hand to turn it off, and then he curled his arm around Kris's waist and rolled them up, keeping Kris in his lap, sunk deep on his fingers. Kris hooked his arm around Adam's neck and wrapped his other hand around both of them, still riding, and started jerking them off. They were panting too hard to really keep kissing. Kris tipped his forehead against Adam's and shut his eyes, Adam licking at his mouth a little, biting his lip, and then Kris was coming, shuddering out over his fingers. Adam gasped, his cock slippery and jumping, and Kris let go of his own and wrapped his wet hand tighter around Adam, and worked him fast and urgently to the end.
They slid crazily over sideways and crumpled together in a heap on the covers, tangled up and gasping for breath, Adam with his head pressed against Kris's shoulder and laughing softly, and Kris put an arm around him. "Mm," Adam said, smiling with his eyes shut, and Kris was sure; he was more than sure, and he laughed too, and kissed him.
Pyri jumped up on the bed and nudged them. "You're going to be late," she said.
"Yeah," Kris said, and didn't move, letting his head fall back. He started combing his fingers through Adam's hair. Pyri huffed a sigh and settled down on the bed beside him. Adam reached out a hand and stroked her back, petting, and she curled in closer under the touch and gave in, purring grudgingly.
Gild hopped onto her shoulder. "Move over," he said, and Pyri grudgingly shifted her flank; Gild managed to nestle himself into a small space between her and Kris's hip, the long shining feathers draped over all their legs, blue-green and purple and gold.
When Kris went back to Arkansas the next weekend for homecoming, Adam gave him a peacock feather to take, slung on a cord. "I can't give you a piece of Pyri's tail," Kris said, running it through his fingers. "Even if she kind of deserves it."
Pyri snorted her thoughts on that from where she was curled up on the floor around Gild saying their own goodbyes, one paw blissfully buried in feathers while he preened her fur.
"I'll wear some plaid," Adam said, and Kris tied the cord around his wrist, where people could see it while he played.
= End =
With many many thanks to Merry for beta! <3 And to my fabulous music mixers, chosenfire28 and inteligrrl, for the awesome mixes.
All feedback much appreciated!
Mix Title: Can't Stay Away
Feelings Show—Colbie Caillat
Your Love is a Song—Switchfoot
Shine On—James Blunt
Breathe In Breathe Out—Mat Kearney
I’ll Stand By You—Glee Cast
Edge of Desire—John Mayer
Can’t Stay Away—Kris Allen
Stripped—Shiny Toy Guns
Use Somebody—Kings of Leon
Mix title: Friends Fame and Familiars
Sounds Familiar—The Weakerthans
The Kids Are All Fucked Up—Cobra Starship
We Are Going To Be Friends—The White Stripes
No One Sleeps When I'm Awake—The Sounds
West Coast Friendship—Owl City
My Secret Friend (feat. Imogen Heap)—IAMX
Benefits of Lying (With Your Friend)—Apples in stereo
A Kiss To Build A Dream On—Louis Armstrong