aneas: (Default)
[personal profile] aneas
Title: 100 hours.
Author:[personal profile] aneas
Artist: [profile] 3whiteroses
Type: AU
Word-Count: 31 100.
Rating: Mature
Pairing: Adam/Kris.
Disclaimer: This portrayal is entirely fictional. Not for profit, just for our entertainment.
Warnings: AU. Mmm...Possible embarrassment squick in some places?
Betas: The delicious [personal profile] jerakeen and [profile] forsweatervests. They’re goddesses, and I worship them. Without their work, Architect!Adam wouldn’t make any sense at all. Thanks to [personal profile] lire_casander and [personal profile] cookie57, you’ve helped me so much…


Summary:

Lil said he had to look both professional and reliable for the hearing and when he nodded, she added, ”And that means no leather at all, Adam.”
“When you say no leather . . . what do you really mean?” Adam asked, intrigued.”









Lil said he had to look both professional and reliable for the hearing and when he nodded, she added, “And that means no leather at all, Adam.”

“When you say no leather…what do you really mean?” Adam asked, intrigued.

So that’s how he ended up wearing a totally boring charcoal suit today. His jacket is boring, his shirt is boring, and - oh, the outrage! - his tie doesn’t even sparkle. He looks like, like…like a clerk! The dullest, most conservative clerk ever. Lil is a tyrant. And to add insult to injury, she made him wipe off any trace of eyeliner, too.

Adam can deal with looking conventional. What he can’t deal with is the complete lack of fabulousness here.

He’s aware that he’s sulking, but it’s not because of his outfit. Well, not entirely because of his outfit. His business is taking off big time right now, and it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day already, so this court appearance is an inexcusable waste of time for him. He already apologized for the incident and offered to pay the damages. What more do they want? His firstborn?

He fidgets and rubs his hands together. They feel naked without his rings and nailpolish. It makes him restless knowing that whoever’s sitting here, wearing his clothes, is not the real Adam. It’s a disguise, and more than anything, Adam hates disguises. He’s been fighting tooth and nail to be himself, to live life on his own terms. Having to put on a costume just to conform to the norm after all this time is driving him insane.

But Lil said prison, and Adam would not do well in prison. Even if it’s for a couple of days. He’d prefer to stay out and be less fabulous than he thought was possible, instead.

Lil puts a hand on his arm and opens her mouth to say something, but just then, there’s a rustle at the door, and everyone rises. The judge is back.

Judge Abbot is a middle-aged man whose giant gut precedes him into the chamber. Adam thinks—rather bitchily—that for once, black seems to have no slimming effect whatsoever. He coughs and gives Adam a stern look over his glasses, his beady eyes suspicious. Adam smiles winningly at him, which only works to make the judge look even more constipated.

Well. It was a long shot anyway. The man is so not a fan of Adam’s.

“Mister Lambert,” he says, “you pled guilty on all charges.” He pauses expectantly, and Lil nudges Adam’s arm.

“Yes, sir.”

“You were driving under the influence and crashed into public property, causing extensive damage.” His tone is harsh enough to make Adam flinch. When he puts it like that, it sounds worse than it really was. He crashed into the security fence surrounding a worksite. Which belonged to him. It was three in the morning and Adam had had only two glasses of wine at dinner—almost five hours before he sat behind the wheel. There’s no need for the look the man is giving him, like Adam went kamikaze across a schoolyard completely wasted. In a Hummer. While the kindergarteners were at recess.

“I’m getting incredibly tired, Mister Lambert. I’m sick of wasting time with irresponsible people that drive like the streets are their private racetracks and then come to my court acting contrite. I’m tired of letting you all go with only a slap on the wrist, like reckless driving is just a shenanigan you can get away with, instead of a real crime with real consequences.”

Adam has a very bad feeling about where this is going.

“That’s why I’m going to use this case as a cautionary tale. I hope it’ll work as a reminder of what could happen when people old enough to know better forget that driving and being responsible are not mutually exclusive.”

“Your Honor,” Lil says, “we would like to state that the reason Mr. Lambert took the car that night was because there was an emergency problem at one of the sites that required his immediate presence. He did not intend to drive that night or endanger anyo-”

“Don’t try my patience, Mrs. Rounds. I’m sure that as the owner of a Maserati, Mr. Lambert can afford to pay taxi fare.”

Adam closes his eyes. His mother always said buying that damn car was a bad idea. She’s so going to be tattooing ‘Mom told you so!’ on his ass…

“Mr. Lambert, I’ve been told you’re a good architect,” the judge says. Adam snorts—perhaps unwisely, but come on. A good architect, he says. Ha! Last year, Adam was nominated for the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Good architects design houses that don’t crumble under the breeze; Adam Lambert is a fucking rock star in the world of architecture.

The judge is waiting for an answer, and for once Adam manages to hold his tongue and simply nods.

“That’s good to know. You’ll be paying for all damages and the cost of this trial. But you’re not getting away with just throwing your money around either. I want you to learn your lesson from this. So we’ll put your knowledge to good use. A local church is currently raising funds to build a block of apartments to help single mothers get back on their feet. I hereby sentence you to 100 hours of community service, beginning next week. You’ll be helping them with their project in any capacity you’re needed.”

There’s a long, long pause. Adam is waiting for him to bang his gavel, but instead, the judge leans forward and says, “That means, Mr. Lambert, helping them with the actual building process. Not just staying in your fancy studio working on the blueprints, but spending those hours at the actual site. Am I making myself clear?”

Adam nods then, too shocked to do anything else, and the judge finally bangs the gavel, bringing the hearing to a close and crushing Adam’s hopes for this hearing going his way.






Hour I.

Kris looks around the lobby he’s found himself in, wondering for a moment if he got the wrong address. The place is incredible. It has high ceilings, glossy walls and dark polished floors that reflect the light coming in through the huge windows. He’s never been in a building quite this impressive before. There’s some kind of techno music playing in the background, instead of the pseudo-ambient garbage he would expect from a posh office like this, and when the receptionist raises her purple head to greet him with a smile, he’s too surprised by how young she seems to return it.

This is not at all what he would have thought an architecture firm would look like.

“Hello, how may I help you?” the receptionist asks, her voice friendly and a little raspy. Her smile is infectious. She’s the first receptionist he’s seen in a long, long while who isn’t rabid at the sight of customers.

“Yeah-I’m here to meet with…hold on a sec,” he takes the paper from his pocket and reads out loud, “with Adam Lambert. I have an appointment with him.”

“Let’s see,” the girl says, checking her screen. “Kristopher Allen?” Kris nods, relieved to get the confirmation that he’s in the right place. “Well, you’re early. Mind waiting for a moment while I talk to him?”

She gestures towards a big fuchsia sofa, near a pitch-black door with a gleaming logo affixed, proclaiming the space to belong to Hendel and Lambert, Architects. She picks up the phone, looking away from Kris and talking quietly into it. Kris perches awkwardly on the surprisingly comfortable sofa and looks around. Behind the girl’s desk, made of black wood and steel, is a massive glass wall revealing a large room behind it, full of movement and activity. The room has no partitions whatsoever, just a lot of tasteful and delicate-looking desks that are also made of steel and glass, crowned with expensive computers. The walls are bare, painted in a lustrous silver tone that amplifies the light and makes everything sparkle.

Kris watches the scene, enraptured. He never thought that designing buildings could be such an animated activity. The employees type energetically, beckoning each other closer every once in a while, and there’s a lot of movement among and between the desks. In a corner, around a huge trendy conference table, three men are engaged in a rather feisty discussion over a model of something made of balsa wood and…wire? The shorter guy at the table, with hair that makes him look like a skunk, throws his hands in the air and exclaims something, while another man with dreadlocks leans on the table by his side and laughs.

It would be hard not to notice that everyone working here seems to be somewhat alternative. Colorfully dyed hair, piercings and tattoos are everywhere, only second to platform boots and lots and lots of leather. Kris can’t help but be curious about the man he’s supposed to be meeting. This Lambert guy must be something else entirely.

The receptionist receives a call, and then she’s up and beckoning Kris. “I’ll take you to Adam, Mr. Allen.”

“Thank you,” he mumbles. She offers him one of her wide smiles.

The music is even louder inside the workroom. Nobody seems to be paying them any mind as they cross it, but Kris still avoids looking around to confirm it. He’s obviously underdressed in his plain jeans, scruffy converse and old t-shirt. He hurries his pace. He feels like a sparrow in a room full of peacocks.

The girl opens another of those big black doors, and keeps it open with her body, inviting him through. “Adam, this is your two o’clock appointment, Mr. Kristopher Allen. Mr. Allen, this is Adam Lambert, our almighty boss!” She grins, her eyes mischievous, and then ducks quickly when a paper ball comes her way. With a giggle, she pushes Kris gently through the door and disappears.

“One of these days, Ally, I’m really gonna fire you!” the guy yells after her, rising from behind his desk. That’s when Kris gets his first eyeful of the infamous Adam Lambert. And what a first impression he makes! Lambert is really, really tall, with wide shoulders and a solid build. He looks like he could snap Kris in half without breaking a sweat and look fabulous doing it. But that’s not really why Kris is gaping like an idiot, and it isn’t the all-black ensemble with chains dangling from his belt, either. The greenish streaks in his black hair barely even register with kris; he expected that much after seeing his employees. Kris is forced to pause by the insanely blue eyes Lambert turns his way. They’re striking, made more so by the expertly applied eyeliner around them. And the smile isn’t bad either. Separately, the man’s facial features are impressive. In combination, however, they’re lethal. Kris’ gut jumps, apparently agreeing with him.

“Hi,” Lambert says as he comes closer to shake hands with Kris. “It’s nice to meet you,”

“Likewise, Mr. Lambert,” Kris mumbles and tries not to show the shiver that runs through him when their hands meet.

“Please, call me Adam. We’re not very formal around here.” No, really? Kris thinks wryly. He never would have guessed. Taking in all the leather the guy is wearing and the feathers hanging from his ears, the staff’s unusual attire makes total sense now. They’re clearly allowed to be a little unconventional with their outfits when their boss dresses like an extra in a Lady Gaga video.

Lambert’s smile is unexpectedly warm and friendly. “Can I call you Kristopher? You don’t seem old enough for me to call you Mr. Allen.”

The guy is a charmer, that’s for sure. “Kris is okay,” he answers.

“Come on then, Kris; have a seat.”

With an answering smile, Kris follows Lambert over to a couple of leather couches arranged casually by the huge window. The glass goes from floor to ceiling, framing an incredible view of the city skyline. It’s overwhelming, sunsets in this office must be amazing.

“Nice office,” he comments once they’re seated. Kris has chosen the big couch, while Lambert sits in one of the single black leather chairs. Although Kris knows next to nothing on the subject, his mother did have a ton of interior design magazines at home, and he’s pretty sure he recognizes both the couch and the chairs from those glossy pages. They look expensive.

“Thank you. We designed the building ourselves. We’re very proud of it. Would you like something to drink? Coffee, soda?”

“No, I’m okay, thank you.” There’s a moment of silence as Lambert studies—quite openly—Kris’ face, and when he’s satisfied with what he sees, he leans closer, resting his elbows on his thighs, and says, “I’ll be honest, Kris. I hope you know how this supervision business goes, because I have no fucking idea what I’m supposed to do here. It’s my first time, so please be gentle with me.” His tone is mocking, but underneath that, he sounds genuinely lost. Kris suppresses a laugh at his expression.

Kris didn’t expect to like this guy—definitely not so fast—and yet here they are. It had been a surprise when Pastor Evans had called him and informed him that he was going to oversee a reckless driver that happened to be an architect—and also incidentally the help they so urgently need to finish the project. They really are desperate; they can’t turn down any help if they want the block of apartments finished on time, so criminal or not, there was no way Kris could say no to this arrangement. The pastor had told him that all he had to do was to make sure that Lambert was following through on his sentence and report it to the state at regular intervals. It hadn’t sounded all that difficult—especially considering what they would be getting out of it.

Kris isn’t sure what he had been expecting, but he couldn’t have even imagined this guy. He doesn’t look like the typical reckless driver. Not that Kris has met a lot of reckless drivers in his life, but there should be a type, right? And this can’t possibly be it.

“I’m not exactly experienced myself,” Kris admits. “This is a first for me as well. How about we play it by ear? As far as I know, your case isn’t typical, but the orders seem pretty flexible to me; it doesn’t have to be that hard.”

Lambert chuckles dryly. “Oh, I’m sure Judge Abbot wants it to be as hard as possible.” He leans back and puts an arm over the back of his chair, crossing his right leg over his left. He raises an eyebrow imperiously and says, “To be honest, I don’t think he liked me very much. He acted like my mere existence pissed him off.” He rolls his eyes. “I have no doubt he specifically chose this little project,” he says, gesturing with his hand dismissively, “to bug me as much as possible. He was very into the idea of making an example of me, and I’m pretty sure he wants to see me sweat blood, so…” He leaves the comment hanging there, his upper lip curving in a sneer.

Suddenly, Kris isn’t sure why he liked this guy at all. He doesn’t know what irritates him more, the mocking tone of Lambert’s words, or the disdainful way he talks about the project. “Listen,” Kris says, trying to keep his cool. “I’m not sure if anybody told you, but this is a volunteer project. It’s been a lot of work to even get it off the ground, and we had to make a lot of sacrifices. People have been volunteering to “sweat blood” to get this done. It means a lot to us. So we really don’t need any negativity around just when we’ve started getting somewhere.” Lambert’s spine stiffens. His blue eyes don’t seem so friendly anymore, and Kris notices that he has crossed his arms defensively.

Kris doesn’t want to be rude, honestly. He’s usually a pretty laid-back guy; he takes pride in the fact that he doesn’t lose his temper easily. But this project is very dear to him. He’s been working his ass off the last two years to save enough money to be able to take a six-month leave from work and dedicate it to making this happen. It’s not Lambert’s fault that he doesn’t get how vital this project is to him, but they can’t deal with this kind of negative attitude at the site either. If Lambert won’t be able to give them what they need, then it’s better to know sooner rather than later.

“This project is important for a lot of people. We want – no – we need this to work out. Obviously, I don’t expect you to be as invested in it as we are, but if you’re going to act like this is the most unpleasant chore in the world, then no offense, but I’m not sure we do want your help. I’ll sign whatever document you need me to sign, and you can just go on with your life, okay? No hard feelings.”

He’s sure his tone is more tired than angry, but still, Lambert looks like he’s been slapped. The silence between them stretches until Kris is ready to just get up and leave, but then Lambert speaks, his voice icy despite the apology in his words.

“I’m sorry if I offended you. I didn’t want to imply that working in this project would be a burden; I just meant that surely the judge didn’t have my convenience in mind when he gave his sentence. Don’t forget that this is supposed to be punishment for me, not a picnic.”

Kris sighs and rubs his eyes, trying to hide an angry blush. Great. What a way to start their working relationship. They really do need an architect on board. The project’s blueprints are old, and the license to build has an expiration date that’s coming up pretty quickly. They’ve been having problems at the site—problems an architect could easily solve—but they can’t afford to pay for professional assistance. They could really use Lambert’s help.

“Sorry, I…I overreacted. I’m kind of touchy about this project. We’ve been working on this building for a long time, more than two years now, and my patience is running low.” He looks at Lambert, who still has his arms crossed, all traces of his nice, friendly persona gone. “Seriously, man. I’m sorry.”

Kris hopes he’s coming across earnest enough. If he costs them an architect over a misunderstanding, Megan will have his hide. After an endless stretch of uncomfortable silence, Lambert smiles with one corner of his mouth.

“Was that our first fight?”

Kris tries to fight off a grin, but it’s hard. Lambert seems to notice it and raises an eyebrow.

“Kristopher, I think this relationship is moving too fast for me. I might need a bit of space,” he jokes, and Kris laughs out loud, relieved.

“From what I see, Mr. Lambert, space is something you don’t lack at all,” he says, and makes a gesture to encompass the whole office.

“I’m a big boy, I have big needs. So, what? Are we friends again, then?” He throws some puppy eyes at Kris, and Kris caves.

“Not quite there yet. But I think we’re on our way.”

“Then you better get used to calling me Adam.”

Kris nods, and Lam—Adam smiles.






Hour IV.

It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday morning, and Adam is parking his SUV in a nice enough—and yet extremely boring—neighborhood near the southern limits of the city. Judge Abbot is clearly a sadist, because this is torture, plain and simple. And not the good kind either, the kind that ends with orgasms all around. This must go against the Geneva Convention or something.

It’s not that he’s not used to waking up early for work, because he is, but it’s just that this is supposed to be his day off and last night there was this crazy party at Alisan’s. There were so many hot boys and so little time. Adam is insanely busy right now; he deserves a little distraction, a little partying. He’s been working all around the globe for months; he needs to have some time for himself every once in a while.

But he had to leave the party early and couldn’t even drink–well, couldn’t drink too much, anyway, because he’s supposed to be a responsible adult– and he even took a cab to get back home. But that’s mostly because he’s scared of Leila, definitely more than he is of Judge Abbot, to be honest.

He gets out of the car with his cup of coffee in hand, and the sun hits his head like a ruthless fist. Torture. He never thought someday he would consider using his hard hat as protection against the sun. Thank God he put his giant sunglasses on when he left the house, because otherwise, he’d be melting like the Wicked Witch of the West in a downpour now.

He opens the trunk and takes out his hard hat, fitting it snugly over his hair. It’s custom-ordered, silver and fabulous, of course, but hardly his accessory of choice. Next is his blueprint carrier, lined with leather and designed by the one and only Cassidy Haley. The drawings Kris had left in his office last Thursday are in it. Adam spent three hours yesterday going over them, and he’s so counting them as part of his service, no matter what the judge said about always being on-site.

The project looks fine, if a little plain; nothing special. It’s a basic block of apartments with some communal space. The main structure of the building is already up, so it’s time for the plumbing, sanitation, and electrical installations, as well as constructing the interior partitions. He closes the trunk and walks unhurriedly towards the building to get out of the sun.

As he gets closer, he hears female laughter and finds himself wondering what could be so funny at a construction site. That’s when a lithe woman with long blonde hair crosses the threshold and stops dead in her tracks.

“Hello,” she says cautiously.

He puts on a charming smile.

“Hi, I’m Adam Lambert; I’m meeting Kristopher Allen here-” he starts, but she interrupts him and bellows behind her. “Kris, your delinquent is here!” Adam splutters indignantly, but she ignores him. “You’re late. You were supposed to be here first thing in the morning.”

First thing in the morning? It is first thing in the morning! He opens his mouth to give her a piece of his mind, but then Kris appears and distracts him.

“Hey, Adam, I see you’ve met Megan,” he drawls. Adam sighs. He’d forgotten about the drawl. It’s so unfair that the guy ticks every single box of Adam’s type. And what’s worse, he’s actually even more gorgeous than Adam remembers. His old jeans are too baggy, but the tight t-shirt he’s wearing makes up for it in spades. He looks absolutely mouth-watering, and Adam hasn’t had breakfast today.

Oblivious to Adam’s lecherous thoughts, or at least, that’s what Adam hopes, Kris gestures towards the half-done stairs. “Come with me. I’ll give you the tour and then introduce you to the rest of the gang.”

Like any construction site, the place is pretty messy, with plenty of sawdust and haphazardly dumped piles of material everywhere. Pipes, cement, and plaster are heaped in the corners; the insulation material competes with bricks on occupying more floor surface. Despite the clutter, the space is full of possibilities, and Adam already has a lot of ideas for the future apartments. He wants clean configurations and interconnected rooms to achieve free-flowing spaces. It’ll be stunning.

By the time they reach the top floor, Adam is out-and-out smiling. Kris has been talking nonstop since they started the tour, and it’s clear that he loves this project. He’s incredibly enthusiastic about it, and his enthusiasm is contagious.

“And the best part is that the neighborhood is fantastic. There’s a park nearby – wait, I think we can see it from here.” He turns and happily gestures towards the east. “Look! There it is! And there’s also a primary school five blocks down, and a laundromat, and the church is really close, too. I mean, we’ve been looking for a place just like this for a really long time, but we thought we’d have to settle for whatever we could get, and then, bang! This site appears on the market and how perfect is it? I couldn’t believe it.”

Adam laughs, and Kris blushes.

“I’m sorry. I guess I’m a bit overexcited,” he says, sheepish.

“No, it’s okay. It’s a great project. It’s wonderful to see that you’re so passionate about it,” Adam answers. “In my experience, the more fanatical you are about a project, the better the results.”

They smile at each other—dare he say it—sappily, until Kris looks away and clears his throat. “It’s good to have you on board, Adam. I’m really glad that you’re helping us.” His voice is soft, and his eyes shine.

He looks amazing under the morning sun, all perfect skin and well-built shoulders. Adam’s stomach churns in a familiar way, and he wants to bang his head against the closest solid surface. No, no, no. Don’t crush on the nice guy, he tells himself firmly, he’s probably straight anyway. It’s funny that his stern inner voice always sounds like Mrs. Rivers, his algebra teacher.

Kris is still staring at him, with these brown warm eyes of his that Adam is already fond of. He has always been a sucker for earnest eyes and boyish smiles.

“I want you to know that I wasn’t drunk that night,” he blurts out.

“Hey, you don’t have to-”

“No, I want to. Really,” he says. Kris bites his lip and nods.

Adam takes a deep breath.

“I had a business dinner with some Portuguese clients that night. I only had two glasses of port; it would have been impolite to refuse and I need the business. They’ll give me free reign and they pay wonderfully. The project is the remodeling of a winery in Porto. The Portuguese take their port very seriously, apparently.” Kris nods again, uneasy. Adam thinks he’s probably going to end up making Kris uncomfortable with this, but he is on a roll and just keeps on talking.

“I got home and went to sleep, but it turned out that there was a gas leak in one of my sites. I had to run over there quickly, even got myself a nice ticket on my way over. I was so frantic by the time I got there; I crashed into the security fence somebody had moved to where I usually park. It was, like, three in the morning anyway; there was no one in any real danger, except to my poor bumper.”

Kris is still staring at him with an anxious expression on his face.

Adam adds. “I’m telling you because I don’t want you to think that I run around driving under the influence like, like Heather Locklear or something!”

Kris snorts, and Adam cringes. Of all the stupid things to say! He closes his eyes, waiting for the mocking or the dismissal to come, but after a few seconds—or a couple of weeks, Adam’s not sure—of silence, Kris puts him out of his misery.

“Adam, I can honestly assure you that I’ll never compare you to Heather Locklear. I give you my word,” he says formally. Adam feels torn between relief and humiliation. He tentatively opens one eye, and sees Kris, barely holding back a laugh. When it inevitably spills out, Adam can’t help but laugh with him. The whole thing is pretty ridiculous, and the way Kris is laughing with his whole body is just too much to resist.

It takes them a couple minutes to calm down, and then Kris says, “Come on, man, I have to introduce you to the guys. Let’s go downstairs.”

Kris stops at the top of the stairs. “Don’t worry about the conviction thing. It doesn’t matter to us, really. We needed you; this project was pretty much doomed without an architect. God sent you to us, and that’s the only thing that matters, okay?” When Adam nods, Kris nudges his arm with his shoulder and starts to go down. “Who cares if we volunteered and you came under duress? What’s important is that you’re here right now, helping us.”

Adam pauses for a moment and watches Kris go down, whistling.

Hey, Adam, his heart says, about that “crushing on the nice guy” thing? I’m afraid it’s a bit too late.






Hour VIII.

Kris takes off his hard hat and looks around. It’s really hot outside, but here on the second floor, there are no windows yet, and the breeze slipping through the holes in the façade creates a cool stream of air that keeps the heat at bay. It’s lunchtime, and everybody’s slowing down, finishing up their work for the break. In the corner closest to the elevator pit, Adam is crouching, talking to the electrician.

It’s Adam’s second day at the site. Last Saturday, he spent the whole morning taking notes around the place, talking with the staff—and being a big sparkly distraction, to be honest. The guy is huge, impossible to miss, even when he’s not wearing a black t-shirt that reads: You’ve been a naughty boy. Now go to my room! But Kris has to admit that he knows what he’s talking about.

“Mr. Reynolds, all I’m saying is that you can’t be conservative with the measures, because while right now an elevator fits here comfortably, who knows what’s going to happen in twenty years? Things change fast, so we must be flexible and plan with future advances in mind.”

Mr. Reynolds, a retired electrician with white hair and dark skin, gives him a distrustful glance.

“I’ve been installing elevators for thirty years, son, and I never had a problem before.”

“Trust me, you’ll be grateful when the time comes and the tenants won’t have to take up a collection to renovate the elevator,” Adam says. The old man sighs in response, admitting defeat, and rises to talk with his crew. Adam watches him go, biting his lip thoughtfully. He still seems pretty overwhelmed with the number of volunteers and the quality of their work.

Kris remembers the look on Adam’s face when he learned that almost 65 percent of the crew on the project was working free. “But that’s crazy! You can’t expect professional behavior if they don’t get paid, Kris! They won’t commit!” he’d said. Kris had just chuckled and pointed out to him that almost everyone Adam met the weekend before, (Matt, Archie, Anoop…) were volunteers. He was amazed, but it looks like nothing baffles Adam for long, because almost immediately he invented a game called “Guess the job”. His hypotheses were hilarious, (Archie as a call boy?) but he nailed Cook’s job as a rugby coach on his first try. Adam’s mind works in mysterious ways.

Kris drops his gloves on a sack of plaster and goes to Adam, who seems to be taking notes.

“Hey, man,” he says, crouching down to sit by his side. Adam turns towards him with a tired smile.

“I can’t believe this is happening. Not only did everyone come back on Saturday, but even more people showed up today.”

He sounds amazed. Kris doesn’t want to burst his bubble, but it has to be done.

“Don’t get used to it. People come and go. Sometimes there are twenty people here; sometimes we only have five. It depends on their schedules. People have more time during weekends, so these are usually the better days.”

“But you’re here every day. I could hear the concrete mixer in the background when I called you last Thursday to talk about the price of the bathroom tiles. That’s a lot of hours, man. Are you getting paid enough for this?” he asks, sounding perplexed.

“Not really.” Kris shrugs. “I took leave from work so I could finish this project. I’m living off of my savings right now.”

“God, are you kidding me?” Adam is gaping. “Why would you do that?”

Kris looks at him. Really, really looks at him. It hits him suddenly how sad it is that Adam doesn’t understand the motivation behind all the work they’re doing. For Adam, this is just a job, because he doesn’t know how this building will affect people’s lives. Kris wonders if there is a way to make Adam understand; for some reason, he really wants Adam to.

Maybe it’d be enough if Kris could explain his own motivations for doing this. It’s not in his nature to tell a virtual stranger something so intimate, but maybe he can share parts of it? Just enough to make Adam see. He mentally braces himself and kicks off.

“I used to do volunteer work when I was younger. And I went on some mission trips, too; to Morocco and Thailand, but mostly to Africa. I always wanted to help people, but I didn’t know what I was getting into with the missionary work. You can’t even imagine the conditions those people live in, struggling for the most basic things we take for granted every day of our lives. Seeing that changes you. It’s—you can’t look at your life the same way afterwards.”

“But you don’t do it anymore?” Adam interrupts him.

Kris nods. “I got sick during one of the trips. The doctors told me that I shouldn’t travel for a while.” He tries to smile to show it’s not a big deal. “I went back to volunteering, but it just wasn’t enough anymore. We’re all so fortunate, you know? And—and there are people out there with no shelter or food; mothers who can’t feed their children, have nowhere to go, stuck in abusive marriages because they can’t see a way out. What we’re doing here isn’t that big a deal for us. I have a home to live in, food to eat. I can afford to take these six months off. When you think about what this will mean for all those women—the children. Tthere is no excuse not to do it.

Adam just stares at him, face unreadable, and Kris flinches inwardly. He went and did it again, didn’t he? He made things weird. He’s just about to laugh and make up an excuse to run away, but Adam says, “You’re an incredible person, Kristopher.”

Relieved and now blushing, Kris says, “Oh, shut up,” looking down at his boots to avoid Adam’s eyes.

Everybody at the site has his or her own stories. Megan’s is, in Kris’ opinion, especially touching. If Adam has to be impressed with somebody’s tale, it should be hers.

“Really, you’re amazing. Right now, I’m feeling totally ashamed of myself,” Adam says.

Kris raises his head. “Hey, no. Don’t do that. This is not about making other people feel bad, it’s about helping and sharing and being happy, man. It’s not about making anyone feel guilty.”

“I’m Jewish, Kris. We’re all about the guilt,” Adam deadpans, but his eyes are twinkling.

Kris laughs. “Well, we Christians are pretty hung up on remorse and penitence too,” he says. Adam snorts and folds the sheet in his hands. He gets up from the floor and holds his hand out to Kris.

“Let’s go eat something. I’m starving. All this talking about guilt and remorse and stuff puts me in the mood for bacon.”

Kris chuckles and takes the offered hand to stand up. “You’re paying,” he says.

“If I’m paying, then you’re gonna have to put out,” Adam answers absently, arranging the documentation inside his portfolio. Kris stumbles over his own feet. Realizing what he just said, Adam’s eyes widen, and he flushes. “Oh, shit! I was joking. It was- I didn’t…”

Kris starts to laugh; Adam’s embarrassed face is hilarious. “Don’t sweat it, man. It’s cool.” Adam is still looking at him, gaping, and Kris smirks. “Besides, a pitiful bacon sandwich only merits first base. A real make-out session with me takes, like, lobster at least.”

This time it’s Adam’s turn to trip over his own feet. Kris turns around to hide his smile and heads down the stairs.






Hour XXIV.

“I brought you coffee,” Adam says, handing Kris a too-large cup. The coffee is inevitably too sweet, but Kris nods and thanks him anyway. Any hot liquid is welcome right now. The sunset is almost over, and Kris was beginning to feel a little chilly.

Now that he knows Kris is at the site fulltime, Adam comes by at least twice a week. Their early evening chat every Wednesday has become a kind of ritual for them. They go over all the weekly details, drinking the coffee that Adam brings from some pretentious café near his office. It’s nice to know that Adam trusts him enough to share all artistic matters with him, but Kris is afraid that a big part of it is because he’s the only one Adam is totally at ease with. Everybody is cordial towards him, and Adam is extremely polite in return, but there’s some kind of distance between the gang and Adam that Kris doesn’t know how to close. He can count on Matt to assist him, Matt seems to like Adam just fine, but asking Megan for help would be pointless. Adam and Megan are like water and oil. If love at first sight is possible, then Kris supposes Adam and Megan fell in hate at first sight.

“I talked to the waterproofing guys. We’ll have the supplies here in two weeks.” Adam says. Kris hums in response. “And we have to choose between the three carpentry budgets, Kris. We can’t delay it anymore.”

“I know.” He sips his coffee, resting his back against Adam’s SUV door. He watches the guys pick up their belongings, their work for the day completed. It’s nice here, in the twilight, with Adam by his side, just hanging out and talking.

“I have the new floor plan here. Can you look at it tonight and send me any modifications tomorrow morning by fax? That way, I can change the plans and have them ready by the afternoon, and by Friday we could begin to trace and start with the partitions. We should take advantage of the weekend rush.”

“Sure.” He watches Megan leave the building. He waves his hand and she waves back, already talking on her phone. Judging by the way her smile is widening, he guesses she’s talking with her son Ryder. Her blonde hair shines under the streetlights when she tilts her head back, laughing out loud, and he feels a twist of longing in his gut.

Sometimes the yearning sneaks up on him and catches him unaware. It’s times like this that he has to be extra careful, because he would spend his life wallowing in doubt if he gave free reign to these feelings. The decision he made when he left Conway was sound. He knew it then, and he knows it now. It was the right thing to do even if it hurt the people he loved. Staying was not an option, not anymore.

Surrendering to self-doubt would only lead to madness. It’s just that, sometimes, he can’t help but wonder whether there had been another way; a way that he wasn’t smart enough to see.

“Have you ever regretted something so much that it literally pains you to think about it? he blurts out. Something about Adam pushes him to be reckless with his words. He doesn’t mean to share so much of himself, tries to keep it in, but they just come out, regardless.

Adam looks into his eyes searchingly, but doesn’t answer. He jumps up to sit on the hood of his car, sipping his coffee. He’s leaning forward, his arms resting on his knees, and his profile is sharp against the streetlights.

“Only every single fucking day of my life,” he finally says.

Kris turns back to face forward again, and they finish their coffees in silence.






Hour XXXVII.

When Adam picks up his bag from the floor, his spine creaks. Loudly. He’s getting too old for this shit. In the last two days, he’s spent almost twelve hours at the site. He really needs to find himself another hideout, one that doesn’t wreak havoc on his body. And doesn’t ruin my clothes, he thinks sulkily, rubbing at a plaster stain on his jeans.

He’s letting his friends think that this project is literally eating his time away, but that’s not true. In truth, he’s started using it as a hiding place, a haven from all the unresolved issues in his life.

Not that he has many. Right now, the biggest one is his personal life. He knows he’s lucky; he loves his job and he has money and success. He gets commissions from all over the globe; people admire his work, and he’s respected in his field. His family has always loved and supported him, and his network of friends is well beyond what he deserves.

But.

He still feels lonely. There’s never a shortage of offers if he so much as hints that he needs somebody to spend the night with, but that’s just a stopgap measure, just a fun night. It doesn’t make him feel much better in the light of day, and to be honest, he’s always happier when he’s in a relationship.

What makes it even worse is that Brad doesn’t seem to be having the same problem. It’s hard work trying to be friends with the guy that broke your heart. It takes a lot of dedication, lots of patience, and a great poker face. But sometimes Adam is just not in the mood for feigning indifference. Especially when the love of his fucking life is throwing another party to celebrate his newest relationship. Again.

He can’t deal with it tonight. He can’t go to Brad’s and smile and wink at him and pretend it doesn’t hurt that he’s not the one holding him. He feels raw right now. Too raw to put on a brave face and swallow back his feelings.

It’s hard not to feel betrayed. It doesn’t matter that their breakup was an amicable one, or that they agreed that they make better friends than lovers. His heart doesn’t listen to reason. He still loves Brad, and something in his gut still yells Mine! every time Adam sees him.

The wooden stairs creak behind him, and he turns around, startled. Kris is coming down, looking as surprised as Adam is to find someone else still at the site. It is Friday night after all.

“Adam? I thought you left ages ago.”

“Ditto. No hot date tonight?” Adam jokes. He learnt early on that the best defense is a good offense. Not that he has to be defensive with Kris, it’s just habit for Adam since the breakup.

“Yeah,” Kris laughs. “Two of `em. One with the shower, and then a threesome with a bottle of beer and my TV.”

Kris is beautiful when he smiles. Adam has mostly gotten used to it, but sometimes it stills sneaks up on him, and he can’t help but lose his train of thought, distracted by the luscious lips and ridiculously perfect skin.

When Kris smiles and his eyes shine, full of mischief, he looks a little like Brad, and it makes Adam’s heart crack and shatter into a million pieces. He knows this is all kinds of fucked up, but he can’t help it. So he has a type. Sue him.

He grimaces and tries to hide his inner turmoil.

“Well, I don’t want to cockblock, so I’d better be going home.” He knows he wasn’t quick enough to cover it up when Kris comes closer, concern in his voice.

“Are you okay, man? You sound off.”

“No, I’m okay,” he tries, but Kris is pretty perceptive, and doesn’t budge. “Really, Kris. I’m okay.”

He tries to smile at Kris like he has not a worry in the world, but his façade is for shit, apparently.

Or maybe Kris has telepathic powers.

Kris smiles at him indulgently. “I’m off to eat something. Do you want to come?” he asks. Adam’s gratitude for the company is so instantaneous that he’d be ashamed if he weren’t so relieved. Now, when his friends call, he won’t be lying when he says he’s out with somebody.

“Sure. I’d love to,” he answers.

Kris’s smile widens.

“I hope you’re hungry. I’m taking you to my new favorite place, and they like their customers ravenous.”

The restaurant is very close, so they decide to leave the cars behind. As they walk, Kris tells Adam how he discovered the place just two weeks ago when he was looking for somewhere cheap and close to the site for lunch. He’d been desperate for something other than the rather questionable hot dogs they’ve been getting off a cart for the last—God knows how long. Megan thinks they might have actually been dogs once upon a time, not that that stops her from eating a couple every day. When they arrive, the restaurant is packed despite the early hour, but the waitress recognizes Kris and leads them to a secluded corner with a wink.

“¿Qué van a beber?” she asks.

Kris translates for Adam. “She wants to know what we want to drink.”

“A cocktail?” Adam says.

Kris scrunches his nose. “I think some wine would be better. This is a Spanish restaurant. They take their wine as seriously as your Portuguese friends,” he says with a teasing smile. When Adam nods, Kris orders for them, and Adam tries to hide that he finds a Spanish-speaking Kris really, really hot. He waits until the girl leaves to ask him about it.

“Where did you learn to speak Spanish so well?” He fidgets with his menu, not bothering with reading it at all. He’s so letting Kris order for them both.

“You’re kidding, right? My Spanish is a disgrace. I learned some words here and there with all the volunteer work I did, but mostly I’m only fluent when I’m asking for food or wondering where the toilet is,” Kris says in a self-deprecating tone, while his eyes roam over the menu.

“It can’t be any worse than mine. I can only say useful things like, ‘Crazy chicken’, and, ‘Excuse me, madam, but he told me he wasn’t married’!”

It’s a good thing Kris isn’t drinking, because he snorts so loudly that the old couple at the next table shoots them stern looks.

“That’s a story I really need to hear, Adam.”

“Believe me, the one where I had to use: ‘I swear to God this is not what it looks like’, is much more entertaining,” he deadpans.

The waitress comes back with a bottle of red wine. When she opens it, she offers a taste to Kris, and Adam smiles to himself. It’s nice having someone else be the worldly one for a change.

Kris accepts it graciously, and she pours them two glasses. Adam takes a sip. It’s an excellent wine with a strong body, and its rough taste leaves a trace of wood and apple at the back of his tongue.

“Do you like it?” Kris asks, and when Adam nods, he smiles, relieved.

“I’m shit at ordering wine. This vintage is the only one I know,” he confesses sheepishly. Adam tries very hard not to be charmed, but it’s a difficult task when Kris looks so earnest and eager to please.

“I like it. A lot,” Adam adds after a moment. The curve of Kris’ lips is the perfect company for the wine.

The dinner is nice. Adam kicks up a small ruckus when Kris tries to convince him to try an octopus salad starter, and he stubbornly refuses until Kris calls him a coward.

“I bet you’re a sushi fiend,” he says. “If you eat it raw, you damn well can eat it cooked, Lambert.”

Adam makes a face as he tries a taste—and then keeps on making it as he eats half the plate. That Kris is right and the salad is delicious is so not the point. It’s a matter of principle.

Adam finds talking to Kris easy. He’s always so composed; he takes all of Adam’s stories in stride, and before long, Adam finds himself dragging out his most outrageous anecdotes just to catch him off-balance.

They eat, and talk, and laugh; it’s all so easy that they don’t even notice the passing of time. Finally, the owner of the restaurant takes it upon himself to inform them, warmly but firmly, that they have to leave so they can close, but says that they’re very welcome the next day. If this was a date, Adam thinks, I would totally call it a success.

“I’m going to burst,” he complains as they walk back to the site. “I told you the…what is it called again? The dessert thingy?”

“Flan,” Kris answers.

“Yes. The flan,” he carefully vocalizes, “was too much.”

“But you liked it?” Kris asks.

“Yes, but that’s not-” he tries to explain, but Kris interrupts him.

“We both liked it. So stop complaining. You shouldn’t worry about dieting and stuff so much.”

“Says the guy with the perfect body.”

“Shut up. You’re too skinny. You need to put some meat on your bones,” he chides Adam. It makes Adam want to kiss him.

“I could kiss you right now,” he says.

“See, that’s why I insisted that we share the bill. I didn’t want you to feel all entitled to cop a feel or something.”

Adam doubles over with laughter; Kris smiles at him and shakes his head.

They keep on walking at a relaxed pace. It’s a clear and warm night, and right now, Adam is so full of bonhomie and excellent food that he hardly remembers why he was so distressed earlier.

They reach the parking lot, and Kris waves at the security guy on shift. Adam leans against his car, and Kris mirrors him. They unconsciously mimic the positions they always take in their Wednesday chats, with their backs against the car and their gazes on the building.

“Are you feeling better, now?” Kris asks softly.

Adam nods. “Yes, thank you for the dinner. It was very nice of you.”

Kris shrugs. “It looked like you needed some time out of your own head. I know how that feels.”

And before he realizes it, Adam is telling Kris all about Brad. He could blame the wine, but he knows he didn’t drink nearly enough. There’s something about Kris’s patience that makes Adam relax, trust him. And it doesn’t help that, as his brother used to say, Adam is kind of afflicted with a really bad case of suicidal sincerity when he’s with people he trusts, where he blurts out his inner fears, thoughts and feelings at the drop of a hat. That’s why in five minutes flat, he’s managed to give Kris a summary of his love life for the last five years.

“And it’s not that I’m resentful, you know?” Adam raises a hand to his heart. “I’m glad he’s having a blast, really, I am, but why does he have to fucking flaunt his happiness in front of me all the time? I don’t even know how many guys he’s been with in the last year.”

He knows he’s whining, but he can’t help it.

“You broke up a year ago?” Kris asks.

“Ten months. We were together for two years,” Adam answers.

“Two happy years?” Kris asks, and that’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it? Because by the last three months, they were hurting each other more than they made each other happy.

“Mostly. We were insanely in love—the key word being insanely.” He snorts. How can he explain to Kris the utter exhilaration he felt when he and Brad first started their relationship? It doesn’t seem possible, but he tries anyway. “In the beginning we could hardly spend any time apart. I took him with me everywhere; I loved showing him new places. We went all over Europe and Asia.”

“He must have liked that,” Kris comments.

“He did. He’s a very curious person, and he loved learning about other countries and other cultures,” he explains. Kris nods. “But in the end, for me, they were all business trips, and Brad had to spend a lot of time alone. So what started off as exciting and romantic lost its appeal after a while.”

He sneaks a glance at Kris to see him frowning. “Was he demanding? I mean, did he resent your work?” Kris asks.

Adam considers that. “Not exactly. Instead of fighting with me over it, he just decided to stay behind.” He rubs his right eye. “When I noticed his distance, I became clingy, and that, in turn, suffocated him. It was kind of a vicious cycle.”

The discussions, the stony silences, the cold shoulders; they all come back to him, and Adam remembers clearly how much they were both suffering in those days.

“It was difficult, because I really have to travel a lot. That he didn’t come with me cut in half the amount of time we could spend together.” He bits his lip. “It made things…difficult.”

“But you loved each other,” Kris says.

“Believe me, it was never a matter of falling out of love. He’s younger than me, and he needs to find his own place in the world.” Adam pauses. “It’s complicated, okay? We were complicated.”

He runs a hand through his hair. “When we’re together, I mean, together as a couple, we feed each other’s insecurities. And we have a knack for hurting each other in the worst ways. We know each other too well, and we can be serious bitches when we fight.”

Kris looks up at him, and the light coming off the streetlight paints his brown eyes gold. Adam takes a deep breath and keeps on talking. It’s good to talk about this with somebody who hasn’t met Brad. They didn’t split their friends when they broke up, thank God, but sometimes Adam wonders if it would have been better if they had. That way, he could at least feel like he had someone in his corner.

“And that was the beginning of the end,” he says with a grimace. “It wasn’t the only reason for our break up, but it showed us we had problems.”

Kris says nothing for a while. When he finally talks, his voice is wistful. “Love should be enough.”

Such a romantic, Adam thinks and can’t help but smile. “We didn’t break up because we weren’t in love anymore, but because we loved each other for the wrong reasons, in the wrong way, at the wrong time.”

“Wrong reasons?” Kris asks.

Adam heaves a sigh. “Yes. We were projecting our needs on each other, I think. I admit I went into full-on sophisticated mode with Brad, trying to impress him.” He shrugs. “It was exciting for me to be his mentor, you know? To take care of him and his needs, and show him everything.” He worries his bottom lip between his teeth. “But I needed a partner, and he wasn’t ready for that level of commitment. He’s young, and he needs to live through a lot of things I’ve already lived. I know it’s better this way. It hurts like hell, though.”

It feels kind of… liberating, to admit it out loud. He’s been repressing this feeling for so long, not allowing himself time to grieve the relationship because he’s supposed to be the experienced one, the mature one. As if Brad hadn’t been his first love, as if his heart wasn’t broken too.

He stands there, breathing hard like he’s been running instead of talking, half-elated and half-ashamed. But Kris isn’t judging him. He just puts a hand on Adam’s arm and squeezes.

“I’m sorry,” he offers.

“Not your fault,” Adam says. Not his wittiest repartee, but right now, that’s all he’s got.

“I know. It doesn’t mean I’m not sorry it didn’t work.” Kris’s eyes are locked on Adam’s. Adam offers him a sad smile in return.

“Well, that’s life,” he says. Kris pulls his hand back. Adam misses it immediately. He needs to recover lost ground; he’s starting to feel weak and insecure again, as it usually happens at the end of one of his talkative moods. “And what about you, Kristopher?” he asks, turning the tables on Kris.

Kris raises both his eyebrows.

“Somebody waiting for you at home?” Adam asks.

Kris shrugs. “I’m single,” he says. It sounds odd, because there’s a touch of coldness in his tone. As always, Adam tries to use humor to lighten the mood.

“But you’re so hot,” he says and makes a show of checking Kris out.

Kris must be getting used to Adam’s antics because he takes it in stride. “Thank you. But no, I’m not seeing anyone right now,” he says. And if there’s tightness around Kris’s smile now, Adam chooses not to take it seriously. Kris is never cold, so it must be Adam’s impression.

“You must have some embarrassing and sappy stories of your own. Give me a hand, baby. I don’t want to be the only one baring his soul here. Care to share them?” he asks with a charming smile.

Kris’s only reply is a firm “No.” He looks away pointedly, and Adam feels it hit him like a slap.

And he thought he was embarrassed before…

“Oh,” Adam says in a small voice, and pushes away from the car, the palm of his hand warm against the cold hood. Kris grimaces and makes as if to touch Adam’s arm—in an apology maybe—but Adam sidesteps him and turns towards the driver door.

“Well, it’s getting late. I think it’s time for all good little architects to go bed.” Adam knows his smile is artificial, empty, but Kris is just going to have to make do. He doesn’t have a better one right now.

Kris follows him and puts a hand on the door when Adam climbs into his car.

“Adam, wait.” He runs a hand through his hair, nervous. “I didn’t-“

“Don’t worry about it,” Adam says, tightening his fake smile. “It’s pretty late anyway.” He fastens his seatbelt and offers Kris a parting nod that he hopes doesn’t look as stiff as it feels. “I’ll see you soon, okay?” he says and starts the engine.

Kris hesitates, and for a moment, it looks like he’s not going to close the door. Adam holds his breath.

The door shuts softly. Adam doesn’t lower the window to say goodbye.






Hour XXXVIII.

Adam doesn’t show at all that weekend, and Kris has to wait five days to apologize. By Wednesday, he’s almost sure that Adam won’t come to their weekly Wednesday chat either. It’s not like they have a formal appointment, after all.

But still, he waits.

By the time Adam’s car appears, Kris has been pacing the length of the parking lot for almost an hour. He’s been going over how incredible rude he had been. After everything Adam shared with him, that was no way to handle one simple question. He’s going to have to apologize seriously for being a dick and making Adam uncomfortable. It’s the least he owes him.

Talking has never been Kris’s thing. He envies people who are articulate and never fail to find the right words at just the right time, whereas Kris shuts down when there’s something he doesn’t want to talk about. If he tries to talk anyway, he flusters easily. The results are incoherent and usually kind of pitiful. If he’s not careful, he can be downright offensive because he’s so honest. When he tries to prevent that by preparing speeches in advance, he ends up sounding stiff and pedantic, which is almost as bad as offending people. But he babbles a lot when he’s nervous and unprepared, so…a vicious circle, that’s what it is. Sometimes he thinks he shouldn’t be allowed to talk, like, ever.

That’s why he prefers to let his actions speak for themselves, and that’s why as soon as Adam parks his car and opens the door, Kris hands him a cup of the expensive, crappy coffee Adam loves so much.

Adam blinks once, twice, and takes the Styrofoam cup with a puzzled look. He opens his mouth, but Kris beats him to it.

“It’s cold, because I didn’t know when you’d be here, and I didn’t want to miss you in case you came at your usual time, so I went to the café this afternoon—and let me tell you what a showy stupid place it is—and I had to smell all the different kinds of coffee they had in order to get the right one. They weren’t very happy with me, by the way, but I wanted to show you that I’m sorry, and…that’s all. I think.”

Adam lowers his eyes to the cup in his hand. Then he looks back up at Kris. There’s a little smile trying to curl the corners of his mouth.

“You went downtown just to bring me a cup of my favorite coffee?” he asks, disbelieving.

“I’m not sure it’s the right one, though. It smells kind of similar, but they were pretty irritated with me by the time I chose that one, so I couldn’t really stick around to make sure. And you put a lot of stuff into your coffee, like cinnamon and vanilla and,” he scrunches his nose, “mango syrup, and that made it kind of hard.”

Adam laughs and shakes his head. “You’re incredible, Kris Allen.”

Kris doesn’t want to look too eager, but…

“Does that mean we’re okay?” he asks, and then waits anxiously for the answer.

“Yes. We’re okay,” Adam tells him, and Kris can breathe again. “Now make my day and tell me that the plumber came to fix the bathrooms on the first floor.”

During their conversation, Adam drinks all the cold coffee. That’s how Kris knows that he’s actually forgiven.

It looks to him like Adam’s rather fond of gestures as well.






Hour XLIII

Adam knows he’s fucked when he realizes that he spent almost twenty minutes that morning standing inside his closet, torn between his tighest jeans and ones that are more... construction-appropriate. The baggier jeans are comfier and certainly more practical to work all day in.

They don’t sparkle, though.

He goes with the tight ones in the end. He never bothers to try and hide that he’s shallow. Especially from himself.

He spends the whole day constricted and uncomfortable in his pants. By noon, he has lost all feeling in his waist; the long seams on the sides of the pants have branded his thighs, and crouching down to pick up things has been an impossible task. But it’s worth every moment of discomfort because Adam has noticed that Kris’s eyes have lingered on him today more than any other day.

The tight jeans become a regular part of his construction-site wardrobe.






Hour XLVI

There’s shouting coming from upstairs. Kris takes off his protective glasses and shoots Matt a questioning look.

“What the…” Matt starts to say, but a male voice bellows, interrupting him.

“No, really, don’t be shy! Tell me how you feel, please.” The words are dripping with sarcasm, and the voice is unmistakable.

Matt mutters: “Adam?” and Kris nods, amazed. Just then Megan’s voice comes down the stairs with such strength that Kris thinks she must have been a banshee in another life.

“Why? Are you going to take your head out of your ass long enough to hear what another person has to say?”

Ouch! Kris thinks, and he’s sure the expression on Matt’s face reflects his own.

“What’s your problem, Megan? You’ve been at my throat since day one. What’s bugging you? Just tell me and get it out of your system.”

“You!” Megan yells. “You and your arrogance is what’s bugging me! I’m sick of you, okay? I’m sick of watching you flaunt yourself all over the place, like this is all yours to do what you please with, instead of stopping for a moment to actually listen and learn!”

Matt shakes his head. Kris winces in sympathy.

“Should we go up there?” Matt asks in an undertone, unsure. Kris opens his mouth to tell him that maybe they should let them get whatever their problem is out of their chests without an audience, but he never gets the chance, because the yelling starts all over again.

“Believe me, blondie, you can’t teach me anything I don’t already know.” Kris can practically see Adam’s smirk and folded arms.

“You are such an asshole, Lambert!” she hollers.

“And you’re a harpy!” Adam retorts with a loud sneer.

“I think we’d better go upstairs, dude,” Matt says again, and this time Kris has to agree. He takes off his gloves and his hard hat, and Matt does the same. The yelling doesn’t even pause.

“At least I know what’s important, you jerk. You come here in your designer clothes, with your fancy car and your two-hundred-dollar haircut like you’re God’s gift to us, when you have no idea at all what real life is!”

“Should I apologize for having money? It’s not stolen, you know, I work fucking hard to earn it.”

“Oh, yeah, I’m sure what you do is really tiring. Like working in a mine, right? You must be exhausted after doodling all day, you poor dear,” she mocks.

“So now you’re an expert on what an architect does. Megan Joy, ladies and gentleman, our intrepid reporter.” Adam’s sneer is so strong; his disdain virtually dripping from his words. “You know nothing about me and don’t you dare pretend to care.”

“And don’t you dare pretend you’re here out of anything other than obligation!”

“You have no fucking idea why I’m here!” Adam has a great set of pipes, Kris thinks absently.

Megan’s laugh is unkind, floating down the stairs. “Neither do you. And it sure as hell shows, Wonder Boy. You may be a famous architect, but this isn’t one of your flashy museums or whatever shit you usually do. This is real, dude, this is life.”

Kris starts to ascend the stairs, Matt behind him. They can hear Adam, lowering his voice to a growl. “I know about real life. I’m not that sheltered, whatever you may think.”

“Then get down off your high horse and take a look around. It’ll do wonders for your patronizing attitude.”

“So coming here to work every fucking hour I have free is having a patronizing attitude?”

“What do you want? A medal?”

“I come here to help you guys!”

“Giving out your spares is not sharing, pretty boy. It’s called bestowing charity!”

There’s a loud bang then, and Kris runs up the remaining five steps. When he reaches the landing, he finds Megan standing defiantly in front of Adam, the wooden board they use as a makeshift table for the blueprints knocked down on the floor, along with a bunch of papers and drawings that Kris can’t spare more than a passing glance for.

“I don’t care who the fuck gave you your diploma, Lambert, you’re nothing more than an arrogant prick who thinks he’s entitled to-”

Adam interrupts her. “Now, wait a minute, princess, who do you think you are? Why don’t you take your self-righteous speech and shove it where-”

“Hey, guys, GUYS!” Kris almost never shouts, so on the rare occasion that he does, it’s always effective, if only because of the shock value. “Time-out, okay?”

Matt is standing quietly behind him, and Kris can hear more people starting to come up the stairs. They need to do damage control before things get completely out of hand and others get involved. Kris looks to Matt. He doesn’t even have to say it. Matt moves slightly closer to Megan and nods at Kris almost imperceptibly. Then he speaks in a gentle tone, spreading his fingers over the small of her back. “Sweetie, why don’t you come downstairs with me to get a drink or something?”

For a moment, it looks like Megan is going to protest. But then she takes a deep breath, and with a loaded look thrown Adam’s way, she leaves with Matt. Kris knows she’ll be fine; Matt will take care of her. She’ll be laughing again in no time. After four years of working together, Kris knows he doesn’t have to worry about Megan. She’s stronger than she looks. Adam is the one Kris is worried about right now. He looks furious.

Adam’s pursed lips are almost white, an amazing feat considering how red his face is. And he’s breathing alarmingly fast.

“How are you?” Kris asks.

“Fine,” he answers through his clenched teeth, sounding anything but. He’s almost vibrating with anger and radiating tension. Kris decides to give him time to calm down. He crouches down to pick up the blueprints and the markers scattered around the floor, and after a moment’s hesitation, Adam joins him.

They work in silence. They lift the board and place it over the barrels they’ve been using as legs, and Kris dumps the papers on it. When they’re done, Adam runs a hand through his hair and mumbles something.

It’s too low for Kris to catch. He stares at Adam, almost afraid to ask.

“I said I’m sorry,” Adam repeats grudgingly.

Kris shrugs. “You don’t have to apologize to me, man. I wasn’t the one you were shouting at.” Trying to be the voice of reason when it comes to Adam and Megan would be an exercise in futility. They’re too stubborn and headstrong to listen to anyone else when they’re angry. And this was a long time coming, Kris knows. They’ve barely been able to stand each other since the day Adam started on the project. To be honest, Kris is astonished that they’ve managed to act professionally until today.

“That girl hated me on sight! I don’t know what her damage is!” Adam says at last. There’s an undertone of hurt in his voice, and he sounds almost surprised at the concept that he might not be everyone’s favorite.

“What happened?” Kris asks, taking a seat on some sacks. Adam starts pacing the room.

Adam is volatile and always in motion. Kris has to admit that it’s been a source of entertainment for him ever since they started working together. He never stays still; even when he’s on the phone, he talks with his hands. He always paces when he’s thinking. It’s like Adam is made of pure energy, and he has to dissipate it by moving around or he’ll go supernova.

This time is no different. He walks and talks, his hands wind-milling around his head.

“I don’t know! I was just here, minding my own business, and she came and asked me what I was doing. So I told her I was thinking about a new layout for the ground floor, all glass and wide spaces. And then she went ballistic and started yelling at me!”

Adam doesn’t wait for a response; he keeps on talking.

“Seriously, that girl is insane! She yells at me, tells me I’m an inconsiderate asshole, that I know nothing about real life, not a single clue, and that I have no sense whatsoever. And I don’t even know what she’s angry about.”

He stops in front of Kris, looking distressed.

“I got this idea last night, and at first I thought it would be too expensive, but this morning, I checked with a couple of my contacts, and I got one of them to agree to donate the materials we would need in exchange for a consulting work I can do in my sleep. I don’t see what’s so wrong with that. I just want the building to look fantastic. With open space and massive glass walls at street level, it would look like the other floors are floating above the entrance! It’ll be so striking!”

Uh-oh, Kris thinks. Now he can see where the problem is. “And how would the tenants use this open ground floor of yours?” he asks carefully.

“Well, entrance, obviously. The stairs and the elevator will be in the center with specially treated walls so it’ll look like a black, lacquered box that hides the connections and liberates the rest of the space. All clean lines and polished surfaces. Very Zen-like. It’ll be fierce!” He grins, looking excited and triumphant.

“And where were you thinking about moving all the rooms on this floor that we already have in the blueprints? Not to mention the two apartments we’d lose with the new distribution,” Kris asks slowly.

“Well, I thought about moving the children’s care room to the first floor. And…” he stops for a second. “And I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal to lose two apartments on each floor. There are twenty four more.”

Yeah, that’s exactly what Kris was afraid of. The idea of happily losing four apartments for no reason whatsoever would not sit well with Megan. Arguably, she could have just told Adam why they can’t afford to do that instead of yelling, but that she doesn’t like Adam combined with how personal this whole thing is to her probably made her see red immediately. If Adam had known Megan’s story, he might not have been so cavalier with the apartments. Kris ponders telling Adam about it, but in the end, it’s not his story to tell.

He tries to tactfully explain why they can’t go ahead with Adam’s idea. “The thing is, we really can’t afford to lose the two apartments on the ground floor, and then another two on the first floor to accommodate childcare, just because you want an open-floor plan at ground level that only has artistic value.”

Adam crosses his arms over his chest. Kris raises an eyebrow at him. Talk about defensive body language. Adam’s posture is shouting DANGER in big neon letters. Unfortunately, Kris can’t just back away with his hands held high; he needs to make Adam understand.

“This is a building with a very specific purpose. It’s supposed to help single mothers get back on their feet, and childcare in the same building will allow them to leave the kids in an easy-to-reach, safe environment while they work.” He rubs his forehead. “We can’t just eliminate it. And we can’t remove four apartments because that would mean that we’ll be helping four fewer women.”

“So you’re saying you don’t want the building to look good,” Adam says, annoyed.

“No.” Kris tries cautiously. “What I’m saying is that we don’t want to sacrifice utility for the sake of beauty. Not when it means that there are four families that we’re not helping if we choose to go with the aesthetic option.”

“I don’t work like this,” Adam says, crossing his arms over his chest defensively. “I don’t usually have to compromise. Not on my budget, and certainly not on space.”

“I know. But this is not a gallery in Europe or the fanciest mall in Asia. It’s not a lavish villa in Dubai, either. It’s just a little building that needs to be useful. Nothing more. We’re not looking for an award-winning project, man.”

Adam is still angry; Kris can see it in the stiff line of his shoulders and the way his jaw is twitching.

“Our goals are pretty humble,” Kris says. Adam has his head down and his hands braced on the blueprints.

“But it doesn’t have to be ugly in order to be useful, does it?” Adam says with a small voice. He sounds so crestfallen that Kris wants to hug him and make it better. Badly.

“And that’s why we have you. If there’s a way for this to happen, if it’s possible for this building to be both practical and beautiful, I’m sure you’ll find it,” he says.

Adam sighs. His shoulders relax a little.

“I know it’s a challenge, but I trust you completely,” Kris adds.

Adam stares at the blueprints in front of him for a long time. Then he turns to Kris with a tiny smile dancing on his lips and narrows his eyes.

“They really do grow them charming in the South, don’t they?” he says.

Kris bursts out laughing.

Crisis averted, just like that. Kris hopes Matt has been half as lucky as he’s been, and that he’s still alive and in one piece after dealing with a seething Megan.






Hour LI

The following Saturday, a messenger comes in before lunch, with the biggest bouquet Kris has ever seen in his life. Megan is almost dwarfed by the height of the white roses and pink tulips, so it’s remarkably easy for Matt to steal the card from her and read it out loud.

“Megan: Thank you for making me understand the difference between designing buildings and designing homes. Adam. PS: Even if it was by yelling my ears off.”

“Aww,” somebody behind Kris says, and Kris smirks when Matt gags. Cook takes the card from him, slaps the back of Matt’s neck and sticks it back in the bouquet.

Megan is blushing furiously, and goes away muttering something about stupid men and old-fashioned gestures, acting like she doesn’t like the flowers but clutching them to her chest at the same time.

On her way out she shouts up the stairs, “I still think you’re an asshole, Lambert!”

From two stories above, Adam shouts back. “And I still think you should cut your hair! Hippie!”

“Whatever, Glam Boy!” she replies, and leaves to put her flowers in some water.

Kris watches her go in awe. She’s glowing. Adam managed to make Megan glow. He’s seeing it with his own eyes and he still can’t believe it.

Last time he saw Megan glow like this was when she told him she was pregnant, before her shitty husband left her; before the mortgage became an impossible burden and she lost her medical insurance. Even after all of that, Megan still isn’t bitter. She just has a no-nonsense attitude now and a tougher look on life than most people, that’s all.

Megan is strong; she has to be in order to raise her son alone. She’s been on her own since Ryder’s father abandoned them when he was barely ten days old. Megan is totally devoted to her son; she works hard for him, to be able to give him everything he needs and make him as happy as possible.

She never dates, she doesn’t party, hardly ever goes out. Last time Megan bought something for herself was probably when her old work boots died of overuse.

The flowers Adam bought her are useless, frivolous, and probably overpriced; it’s exactly the kind of thing she doesn’t allow herself to have. But the bouquet made her eyes shine, and her smile lit up her face, making her look like the young girl she never allows herself to be.

Kris wonders how Adam could possibly know that Megan needed something extravagant and just a little bit ridiculous. It’s completely over the top, much like the ground floor Adam had planned and Megan had hated, so how could he even tell she wouldn’t throw that bouquet back at his head and yell at him some more? Kris thinks that this whole thing proves how wrong Megan has been about Adam all along. Adam is thoughtful. He’s insightful. And he damn well knows how to grovel and ask for forgiveness when he’s wrong. After the scene they made at the site, Adam could’ve tried to hide any transgression on his part, but instead he chose to make his apology as public as possible. Kris doesn’t know if he could have been so brave and gracious in the same situation.

With a jolt, Kris realizes that everyone but him has already gone back to work, and he’s standing there like an idiot with a huge, infatuated smile on his face. He looks around, trying not to blush, and then covers his eyes with his palms when he fails.

Shit, shit, SHIT, he thinks, hitting the back of his head against the bare concrete wall. This can’t possibly be good.






Hour LIX

Adam turns up the volume of Kris’s iPod and shakes his hips to the beat. He’s so glad he made Kris download Starstrukk! He loves Katy Perry; her music is perfect for cleaning windows. He’s been at it for two hours now, and he’s barely tired after taking care of all the windows on the first floor. He’s hoping to be done with the second floor today as well. It’s mindless work, so Adam busies himself with analyzing Kris’ music choices as he does it. Despite his easygoing persona, the guy is pretty closemouthed about his life. Since Adam can’t seem to pry things out of him, he’s been reduced to having to piece clues together.

Kris’ tastes are eclectic, running from the Beatles to Keith Urban, with some Muse thrown in for good measure. He has classic rock, pop, and lots of country on his iPod. Adam smiles when the song ends and a delicate new melody start, going from energetic pop to a soft ballad in two seconds flat. That’s Kris for you.

Adam jumps when a hand touches his shoulder and yanks out the earphones.

“You stopped singing…” Kris says, looking disappointed.

“I don’t know this song,” he says and offers one of the earphones to Kris.

“Oh.” Kris smiles. “It’s one of my favorites. It’s called Falling Slowly.”

He takes one of Adam’s rags and starts to rub the glass, humming the song. Adam follows his lead.

They work closely as they listen to the song, and when it ends, Adam puts it on repeat. Kris chuckles.

“What?” Adam says defensively. “I like it.”

He doesn’t bother specifying what he likes, before he turns back to the window and starts wiping the corner studiously. What he likes is working beside Kris, their arms touching, the soft melody in one of his ears, Kris’s voice, warm and sexy, singing along in the other.






Hour LXIV

“Give me a hand, would you?” Adam says from the door, and Kris comes closer to take the large box he’s carrying. He puts it on the floor, following Adam’s gestures.

“Open it!” Adam says brightly, his smile enormous and infectious. When Kris opens the box, he discovers around fifty hardhats, all of them black and shiny. He looks up, knitting his eyebrows. What is this for? They already have hard hats.

Where the hell did they come from anyway? And wait a moment. Are they black? Kris has never seen black hardhats before. He looks down to check it out and then up at Adam again, surprised.

Adam must have misread Kris’s expression, because he jumps where he’s standing excitedly.

“I know; they’re so awesome!” He bends down to take the one at the top and puts it on. “I had them made especially for us. This is mine. Look!” and when he turns, he signals to the little logo in glittery silver ink at the back of the hat.

Kris leans closer to read. “’Not Save For Work!’?”

Adam cracks up, delighted, and Kris can’t help but smile. The guy is insane.

“Do all of them have stuff like that written on them?”

Adam walks away, snickering. “Don’t be silly, Kris. I don’t have that much time to waste. Besides, not all jobs have funny connotations.”

He’s almost out of sight when he hollers back, “But you’ll see I was at my finest with the ones I ordered for the plumbers!”

Kris runs back to the box to look at the rest of the hard hats. He knows enough about Adam by now to be wary of his sense of humor.






Hour LXVII

“How come you never talk about your life back in Arkansas?” Adam asks Kris.

They’re unloading boxes of tiles and passing them inside the building through a human chain of volunteers. Thankfully, the truck was delayed, or they’d have had to do this under the sweltering sun. We’re almost done, Adam assures himself, only a couple more boxes left. Manual labor was not what he had in mind when he put on his new Armani t-shirt this morning. His hands are red and tender and his arms are sore. Gym weights are totally different from this. If this is what Kris does everyday, it’s no wonder his arms look so fantastic.

Matt passes by with a box full of water bottles that he’s offering everybody and answers Adam’s question. ”Kris doesn’t like to talk about himself; it endangers the mystique.”

“Yes, Giraud, I’m so mysterious,” Kris jokes.

Adam takes a large sip of water and stares at him; the wrinkles at the corner of his eyes, sweaty bangs hanging over his forehead. How Kris manages to look hot even when he’s sweating like a pig, Adam has no idea.

“Well, we wouldn’t know, now, would we? You never say a thing about your previous life. You could have been a serial killer for all we know!” Matt remarks over his shoulder, carrying the water to the other end of the line.

“I’m not a serial killer,” Kris mumbles, staring absently at the building.

“It’s not serial killing if you don’t kill more than three people over thirty days,” Adam informs them. Adam is an encyclopedia of irrelevant crap. He wishes he could say he was proud of it. It’s just a side-effect from having lived with Neil and not having many friends all through his high school years.

Kris turns his head slowly to look at him, puzzled. “I’m not going to ask why you know that.”

“It’s better if you don’t, actually.”

They regard each other in silence, and then Kris shakes his head and asks, “And what about you? Why did you go into architecture?”

“Long version or short?” Adam asks.

Kris takes Adam’s wrist and turns it around to see his watch. He never wears one himself, and it drives Adam crazy that he still manages to always be on time.

“Long version, and I’m buying the beers,” he says.

“Throw in a sandwich and you’ve got yourself a deal,” Adam offers.

“You’re on.”

The bar they choose is the noisy one two blocks down. A couple of the volunteers from the site are there, too, now that the workday is over. Kris and Adam nod at the two Davids seated at the counter eating a sandwich, and head straight to one of the booths at the back by unspoken agreement.

“So,” Kris says, after he swallows the first bite of his juicy hamburger. Adam looks down morosely at his chicken salad and curses, once again, his father’s sturdy build.

“So?” he parrots back.

“How come you’re an architect?”

“Why? It doesn’t suit me?” Adam jokes.

Kris smiles and takes a sip of his beer. “You’re kind of extreme for such a conservative profession.”

“But I’m an artist!” he protests.

“Sure you are, dear,” Kris mocks him.

Adam mimics a fake British accent when he speaks. “I’ll have you know, sir, that architecture is one of the Fine Arts, equal in importance to painting, sculpture, or music, and is the only one that provides shelter as it feeds the soul.”

Kris looks at him in silence for a moment as he chews. “Kind of long for a t-shirt slogan. And also? You accent is ridiculous.”

“Says the man with the twang and a mouth full of hamburger.” Adam deadpans. Kris opens his mouth and sticks out his tongue, and Adam exclaims, “Gross!”

Kris smirks and stares expectantly at him.

“Okay, I’ll tell you. Let’s go back in time, right? Imagine, California, mid-nineties.” Adam makes an all-encompassing gesture with his hands. Kris snorts.

“I was a chubby, redheaded, gay teenager with self-esteem problems and a mother who started to collaborate with an architecture studio and then fell in love with the architect. Still with me?” He looks at Kris and when he nods, Adam resumes talking.

“So the guy wanted to get along better with his girlfriend’s kids, so he invited me and Neil to the studio. He was working on the design of a nursery in Holland, and he asked us if we wanted to help. Neil wasn’t interested, but I’d always liked design, though, okay, it was mostly fashion design up till then, but it didn’t seem that different than helping out the drama teacher with the stage décor, so I started spouting off ideas to Philippe. Ideas that until that exact moment I hadn’t even known I had, about how the nursery should work, about the colors and the materials and stuff. At first, I could tell he was humoring me, but then he started paying attention, which only encouraged me, and after that, he actually sat down and started taking notes.”

Now that he’s driving down the Memory Lane, all the emotions rush back to Adam, and he can’t help but smile. “A few weeks later, he showed me the blueprints and the drawings of the nursery before he sent them to Holland, and then, when it was finished, somehow it got nominated for an award, and it won. Philippe took me with him to the ceremony in Amsterdam, just the two of us, and he made me go up on the podium with him when he gave the acceptance speech.”

He’s smiling widely now and glances at Kris to see him with his hands full of a half-forgotten burger that’s slowly dripping ketchup over his fries. His warm brown eyes are wide open, and he seems enraptured.

“Philippe said that the technical part of the project was the result of teamwork, but the artistic part, the soul of the project, was totally my idea. He said that I gave him the guidelines, and he only had to translate them to paper, so the award should be mine. And then he gave it to me, right there, in front of all those important people, everybody smiling and clapping at me.”

He remembers how he felt like it was yesterday; the lights, the flashes, the sound of the applause, and the feel of Philippe’s hand on his shoulder, proud. It was like magic, probably the best night of his life. He’s older now, and he has learned since then that the award ceremonies are more often about politics than art, but that night, for the first time in his life, he had felt like he was more than an awkward teenager with bad skin. He’d felt like an artist and the applause carried him to the top of the world.

He has carried that feeling with him; no matter how much time has passed, he can still feel the excitement and the joy, the same as he did that day.

He raises an eyebrow when he hears Kris gulp. He seems to be choking on his burger.

“And that’s the long story. I decided that I wanted to feel that way all the time, so I went to college to study architecture. My mother and Philippe weren’t together anymore by the time I graduated, but he hired me anyway, and when he decided that he wanted to retire, I inherited the studio and his list of clients. That’s why the studio is called Hendel and Lambert. I kept his name, because I owe him everything.”

Kris wipes his mouth with a napkin, worryingly quiet. Adam fidgets under his unblinking stare.

“So, are you actually a redhead?” Kris asks finally, completely serious.

Adam gapes at him. “Really? That’s the part of the story that stood out for you?”

Kris smirks. Adam throws a napkin at his head. “You’re a little shit, Allen. You look all tiny and sweet, full of charm and smiles, but inside you’re laughing at us all the fucking time.”

Kris takes a sip of his soda, eyes full of mischief.



It’s only when Adam is in front of his mirror, busy with his daily cleansing routine before bed, that he realizes that Kris never actually answered the question about his past.






Hour LXXII

He’s going to be so late; it’s not even funny. Thank God Tommy is a trooper and said it wouldn’t be a problem if they stopped by the site before their dinner with the Ramos Pinto delegates or Adam would be in a real trouble.

He parks the car, steps out hurriedly, and then, dismayed, notices that he forgot to bring his work boots. That’s just perfect. He’s going to ruin his new snakeskin boots if he goes in like this, not to mention his trousers. Shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

He runs back and opens the trunk, hoping against hope that by some miracle a pair of work boots have materialized. Hey haven’t. His hard hat, a bottle of water, some rolled blueprints and a box of condoms are all that’s left. Nothing more.

“Hey,” he hears someone say, and turns around to see Kris’s smiling eyes. “I thought you had a meeting.”

“Yes, I do, but I left my portfolio here. I need it, like, right now, if I want to be on time. The clients are already at the restaurant waiting.”

“And where’s your portfolio?” Kris asks.

“On the fourth floor. I left it there this afternoon. It has the blueprints for the winery in Porto, but I can’t get it, because if I do it, I’m going to ruin my new shoes,” he whines and tries his puppy eyes on Kris. They work wonders with his mother.

Kris glances down at Adam’s boots, but doesn’t seem all that impressed. And the puppy dog eyes only seem to amuse him. He chuckles and shakes his head.

“I’m way too tired to go and rescue it for you,” he says.

Adam pouts.

Kris shakes his head no with a smile.

Adam turns up the intensity of the puppy eyes to level six on his scale of adorable.

“You’re so lucky I have Anoop’s cell. I’ll tell him to bring it down here,” Kris says. He takes out his phone, and while he’s scrolling down his contact list, he blithely says, “You clean up well. You sure this is only a business dinner?”

Adam smiles. “Well, I know where the night’s beginning, but who knows where it’ll end, right?” He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively.

Kris chuckles again, fondly, and then gets Anoop on the phone and starts talking to him. Adam doesn’t hear what he’s saying, too busy being ecstatic that Kris noticed and commented on his appearance. He’s glad that Kris got to see him out of his work clothes for once. He feels much more secure in his usual black ensemble and full make-up. He spends an embarrassing amount of time in front of his closet trying to choose what to wear to the site every day, but still it never has quite the same effect. He’s doing what he can with more-or-less practical clothing, trying to find the right combination that says: Fashionable but Down to Earth, or Bold but Sensible, or Chic and Accessible… or, you know, Totally and Unapologetically Available.

Tommy steps out of the car. “Hey, babe, Longineu called. He says that we better be there in fifteen minutes, or we could be saying goodbye to our nuts.”

Adam snickers. “Don’t worry, Kris is saving our lives. And our balls, too,” he adds with a laugh, and puts an arm over Tommy’s shoulders when he comes closer.

“So, you’re Kris, then?” Tommy says, and smiling widely, he extends his hand towards Kris. “I’m Tommy. I’m glad we meet at last. Adam talks about you all the time.”

“No, I don’t,” Adam says, and hopes the make-up covers his blush. This crush is beginning to reach ridiculous levels, really.

Kris scowls, but accepts Tommy’s hand cordially. “Well, nice to meet you, too.” His tone is wary, none of his charming personality in sight. Adam wonders what that’s all about, but Tommy’s talking again before he has a chance to open his mouth.

“This building of yours looks good,” Tommy comments. “Adam is pretty enthusiastic about it, too.” Kris looks…blank, his expression lacking his usual warmth. Tommy seems oblivious to the cold shoulder. “Mind if I come along to look around next weekend?” he asks.

Kris doesn’t answer immediately; he seems like he’s considering saying no. Adam frowns. Kris takes a glance at his frown before turning to Tommy and saying, “Sure, any and all help is welcome, man. Any friend of Adam’s is already a part of the family.” There’s something off about the whole conversation that Adam can’t quite put his finger on.

Tommy smiles. “Thank you. I appreciate it.”

Anoop chooses this moment to appear with Adam’s portfolio, and Adam waves his arms over his head to beckon him. Anoop doesn’t see his flailing, but notices them finally when Kris puts two fingers in his mouth and whistles loudly.

Kris sticks his hands in his pockets and nods back towards the building behind him. “I should get going. I’ve got some stuff to take care of before going home. You guys have a nice evening.”

“Bye,” Adam says, not sure what just happened. Kris turns around and walks towards the building with a quick pace. Adam shouts, “See you on Saturday!” after him, but Kris doesn’t look back.






Hour LXXXVIII

“Here’s your coffee,” Adam says, holding out the cup. Kris smiles tiredly and takes it.

Adam shakes his head. Has Kris always been this thin? He doesn’t think so. Granted, Adam hasn’t been around much this last week, had to run back and forth between the new project at work and the site, but surely someone must have fed the guy something while Adam was busy. “Have you had anything to eat today?” he asks, “At all?”

“I forgot. The electrician got the outlet positions wrong in half the third floor apartments, so we had to rush to fix the wiring before they started the plasterwork today. We barely finished an hour ago.”

Adam leans in through the open window of his SUV to get the paper bag in the front seat. He takes out a bagel and hands it to Kris.

“I’m your architect, not your mother. How the hell are we supposed to finish this building if you don’t take care of yourself? I need my sidekick completely operative!”

Kris smiles, mouth full of bagel. “So I’m your sidekick, now?”

“Of course you are,” Adam replies.

“And how come you’re not the sidekick?” Kris asks, or at least that’s what Adam thinks he asks, because his mouth is full of food again. “I’m the one who works the hardest here; I’m supposed to be the hero of the story.”

“Please,” Adam says, taking out another bagel and offering it to Kris. “I’m older, taller and wiser. I even dress in black all the time. You’re so the Robin to my Batman!”

“I’m not going to start wearing leotards to satisfy your kinks, Lambert,” Kris warns, but the happy face he makes as he takes the bagel ruins the gloomy effect he’s going for.

“But you would be so hot in tights and a yellow cape,” Adam complains.

“Not happening, buddy.”

“You are no fun at all, Kristopher, just so you know,” Adam informs him.

Kris smiles. Adam smiles back.

Adam has missed Kris’s smile. It’s been absent for a couple of days now. He’s been worried, to be honest, not that he’s told anybody. No matter how curious he got, he didn’t think Kris would appreciate him asking around. He’s a private person, he probably wouldn’t take it too well to be the subject of speculation at the site.

Adam promises himself to pay extra attention to Kris’s schedule from now on. This whole thing could come down to exhaustion.

“Do you have to go back just yet?” Kris asks.

“Not really. Why?”

Kris shrugs. “Thought maybe we could hang out a little. Just—to catch up.” He tries to play it cool, but Adam can see the tips of his ears reddening.

“I can stay as long as you want,” he says. Kris ducks his head and grins.






Hour XCIV

They’re on their lunch break when Adam’s cell beeps. The message makes Adam snort. Kris tilts his head in question.

“It’s nothing. The guys are having a pool party at Cassidy’s.” He’s already typing something in response.

“You weren’t invited?” Kris asks.

“Oh, no, I was, I totally was. I just told them that I had to be here.” He snorts. “Cassidy says all the hot guys are taken already, and they’re really bored. He requests my presence to entertain them.” He puts the phone away and takes another bite of his sandwich.

“You know you don’t have to be here every Saturday, Adam. You can take a weekend off, if you want. I mean, your 100 hours are almost complete anyway.”

“I know,” Adam says with a smile. “And my supervisor is a pretty nice guy, too. He would totally give me a day off if I wanted it. But I like being here. It’s fun.”

Kris smiles back at him, pleased. These moments between them are precious; Kris treasures every day they get to spend at the site without Tommy now—because God knows they’re growing scarce. He’s trying very hard to be civil with the guy, for Adam’s sake if nothing else, but deep inside? He really, really doesn’t want to.

He doesn’t have it in him to be openly rude to anyone, and he wouldn’t want to offend Adam by telling his friend to back the heck off anyway, so he has to resort to just not being all that nice to him. It’s all petty, passive aggressive shit, like not asking him how he’s doing, or not introducing him to people… He knows he should be ashamed of himself for the satisfaction he gets out of this stupidity, but he can’t help it! Tommy’s always around Adam, chattering about work and clubs and acquaintances—stuff that effectively leaves Kris out of all their conversations and makes him feel like he doesn’t know Adam as well as he thought he did, and that just bugs Kris. A lot.

Kris had to pull back after a while, find excuses to disappear whenever Adam and Tommy work together on something. Adam is a very tactile person; he touches people as he works—to get their attention, to describe something, to just lean against them. He used to touch Kris all the time, freely, constantly, liberally, and Kris never noticed how much he cherished those touches until they were taken from him and given to someone else.

Someone cuter and way more interesting than plain old Kris Allen.

Kris wants things to go back to the way they were. He wants Tommy out of his site. He tries to ignore the fact that Adam seems to enjoy Tommy’s presence. Since he started coming by, Adam smiles more, jokes all the time, and just acts generally cheerful. And Tommy’s following him around like he’s the half-sized shadow of Adam. A shadow that brightens Adam’s smile, wears trendy clothes, and has outrageous hair. Kris doesn’t like thinking about any of this, because when he does, he wants to yell at them, or shave Tommy’s head, or kick Adam. Hard.

And then he wants to kick himself, because this? This is ridiculous. He’s too old to be crushing on someone like this. Last time he was this infatuated with somebody, he was fourteen and still thought he was straight.

Good times they were. Not.

Besides, he doesn’t want this friendship to end as badly as that one did. He sneaks a glance at Adam. It took him three years to get his friendship back on track with Katy after they screwed up their relationship. Kris doesn’t know if Adam would give him that kind of time.

Adam’s cell beeps again, and Adam laughs when he reads the message.

“They’re crazy,” he says, showing Kris a picture of two guys, all smoky eyes and high cheekbones, naked from the waist up, with “Come to the dark side, we have twinks!” written on their chests.

Kris smirks and takes the phone to get a closer look. “They must be pretty desperate if they’re trying to bribe you with naked strangers and purple lipstick.”

“Not strangers. The one on the right is Cass,” Adam says, and when Kris raises his head, he adds, “and Brad is the one of the left.”

Kris turns back to the picture again, looking closely. Adam has joked enough about having a type and his legendary fondness for tiny southern brunets that Kris shouldn’t be surprised. But knowing something is one thing. It’s entirely different to have tangible proof.

Brad has brown hair, a chiseled jaw, and warm dark eyes, and more importantly, he could easily be part of Kris’s family. As a matter of fact, he looks uncannily like to Kris’ cousin Jake, who lives in Little Rock and works in a bank. Only, you know, minus the mascara.

Unless the dress code at banks has changed drastically since Kris was last in Arkansas, and the tellers are now allowed to wear mascara and fake purple eyelashes.

“He’s…cute,” Kris says, finally, handing Adam back his cell.

“Yeah. He has perfect skin, the asshole,” Adam responds, his tone rich with affection. Then he smirks and snaps a picture of Kris, laughing at his protests.

“What are you doing? Adam!”

“I’m sending them your picture,” Adam confirms his fears. “They will stop bugging me as soon as they see it.” He types something. Kris leans over his shoulder to read.

“Sorry. Busy working. My supervisor is a slave-driver…but he’s cute!” He sends it before Kris can stop him.

“Hey!” Kris says. He thinks he should probably be more offended by this and tries to at least look it. But Adam just snickers and steals Kris’s Coke.

“If we finish early, we can drop by the party if you want to,” he says, after taking a sip, giving Kris a strange furtive glance.

“Yeah?”

“Sure, why not? It could be fun. If you don’t mind being teased within an inch of your life, of course.”

He’s not sure if a pool party is his thing; Kris is more a `barbecue, plaid and some beer´ kind of guy. Adam’s world of cocktails, tinsel and tight clothes seems fantastic, but a little overwhelming for Kris, like an alternate universe where everybody is shiny and gorgeous and sophisticated. He finds Adam’s artistic friends sort of intimidating. From what Adam has told him, Alisan sings, Cassidy is a famous designer, and Brad…well, Brad is some type of performer that expresses his creativity in a complicated way that after three tries, Adam has given up on trying to explain to Kris. Somehow, it involves the internet, some kind of new age mentality, and lots of glitter. Kris thinks there are feathers involved somewhere, too.

In comparison, Kris is plain. He plays guitar, watches baseball, and eats breakfast foods at dinnertime wearing only his underwear. And socks.

Glamor is very far from Kris Allen’s living room.

“I don’t know,” he says, looking away. Adam touches a hand to his chin and turns his head. He studies Kris’s face intensely, causing him to suppress a shiver.

“We should go. I’d like to take you to the party.” His voice is hoarse. Intimate. “Would you come with me?” he asks finally, as if Kris can say no to that.

Kris nods. He can’t deny Adam anything when he’s looking at Kris like that. And who cares if it’s not his scene? He deserves this. He wants to go on a date with Adam. He’s been waiting for the perfect moment to ask Adam out for weeks now. Granted, a party hosted by the dreaded ex is not exactly the most auspicious first date in the world, but…he’s ready to take a chance. He’s dying to take a chance.

The familiar beeping of Adam’s cell breaks the moment. Adam tilts it so Kris can see the screen, too.

“Pretty! We should start volunteering, too. LOL!”

Kris blushes. Adam laughs.





They leave early that afternoon. Adam offers to come by Kris’s place to pick him up an hour later, but Kris knows that if he’s alone he’ll talk himself out of going and conveniently come down with the flu, so they take their cars and go to Kris’s place first. He needs to shower and change into something that makes him look less like a construction worker.

“I don’t know if that’s possible, but you can at least try and wear something clean,” Adam says bitchily. Kris pays him no mind. Adam is such a sore loser. He wanted them to go to his place first, but Kris had to object. It only makes sense that he gets to go home first when it would take him no more than five minutes to get ready, whereas Adam would probably take longer than an hour. Adam bitched and moaned, but when Kris threatened to time him, he had to give up. Kris tried not to gloat. Much.

Kris’s living room is kind of cluttered, papers piled on his table, his gray t-shirt slung over the sofa, but everything is more or less clean, and the late afternoon light comes through the window, painting the whole room a warm shade of orange.

“Nice,” Adam says, looking around.

“Not very Zen-like,” Kris jokes.

“But it’s totally you,” Adam answers.

Kris smiles and gestures towards the kitchen. “Want a beer?” he asks.

“No, thank you.” Adam looks so large in the middle of his tiny living room, and so totally out of place with his tight jeans and necklaces dangling over his charcoal t-shirt. Kris has always loved contradictions. That’s why he learned to play viola as he learned to play baseball, and that’s also why he adores bacon and strawberry jam sandwiches. Because life is made of contrasts, of things that shouldn’t go together, but in reality get along smoothly.

Things that are not supposed to work, but do anyway; things that had spent their whole lives being separately awesome but are even better together than apart.

Like chocolate covered pretzels. Like laughing during sex.

He looks at the imposing figure of Adam that should be, by size alone, incredibly intimidating, but manages to give off an air of closeness and sweetness to Kris instead. Who would have thought that black nail polish and leather could be sweet? And who would have thought that someday, Kris would be looking at someone like Adam, thoroughly besotted by him?

“Well, not to be impatient, but if we want to find someone still sober when we arrive, you better go shower now, Kris.”

“Yeah, all right. Make yourself at home. Give me five minutes, okay?”

It’s probably the fastest shower Kris has ever taken, but it doesn’t matter in the end, because standing in front of his closet in just a towel and dripping all over the place, he’s using up every second he managed to save. He needs to find something to wear that’s a little more creative, but there’s no use trying. Not when his closet is intent on being its usual boring self.

“What’s taking you so long?” Adam yells from the other room.

“Just trying to find something to wear,” Kris shouts back.

“Oh, for the love of all that’s holy, not plaid, please!” Adam says, and Kris frowns, because that? That cuts off half of his wardrobe right there. “Tell me you have at least some black t-shirt that we could-“

Adam is at the door, frozen, staring at Kris with wide eyes. Kris blushes.

“Oh! I’m sorry I just—barged in.”

“No, it’s okay, don’t worry,” Kris answers. It’s not like he minds. “I’ll take any help I can get. I don’t really do pool parties that often, so I have no idea what I’m supposed to wear.”

Adam is looking anywhere but at Kris’s face or body, and he’s the closest to uncomfortable Kris has ever seen him. It’s sweet, and endearing—and kind of empowering for Kris, too. Knowing that his bare chest is able to break Adam’s legendary composure is definitely an ego boost.

”There is no dress code or anything,” Adam says. “Just wear whatever makes you feel comfortable.”

“And makes me look good, too, I guess,” Kris says. Surely he can do a little flirting of his own. This is supposed to be a date, after all.

Being with Adam gives Kris this indescribable, exhilarating feeling. He feels different when he’s with Adam, stronger, wittier and surer, like he can do anything he puts his mind to. It’s addictive. Everything seems easy and clear, and he feels so alive, his blood vibrates with energy in his veins. Never before has he ever had the courage to flirt with guys he thought were out of his league, let alone flirt with someone like Adam, while he’s in his bedroom, half-naked and wet.

It’s all Adam’s doing. He looks at Kris like he’s sexy, extraordinary, and mysterious, and he makes Kris believe it, too.

“Well, that won’t be hard,” replies Adam. “You could wear an old sack of plaster with a hole for your head, and you’ll still end up looking amazing, I’m sure.”

“You flatterer, you,” Kris says jokingly. He bends over slowly, oh, he’s enjoying this a little too much! and grabs an olive green t-shirt that’s almost new. “How about this? Is it okay?”

Adam, in full fashion-guru mode, comes closer to look inside the closet.

“It’ll work, especially with a leather jacket. Do you have one around?” he asks.

“No, my days of being a leather daddy are over,” Kris deadpans.

“It’s a wonder you’re not moonlighting as a comic,” Adam says dryly. Kris snorts. Adam crouches to go through Kris’s jeans. “Don’t worry, we’ll ask Tommy for one of his, you two are about the same size.”

Yeah, sure. Like Kris is ever going to ask Tommy for anything. “I don’t think so,” he says.

“Don’t be shy, he won’t mind,” says Adam. “He has, like, two thousand of them. He denies it, but I’m pretty sure he has a leather fetish.” Digging deeper, he pulls out the oldest pair of jeans Kris owns. “A-ha!” They’re soft and so worn-out that they’re almost grey instead of light blue. “These are terrific.”

“And they also barely fit me anymore,” Kris retorts. “They’re so tight they’ll cut off my circulation.”

Adam blinks slowly and looks at him blankly.

“That means I’m not wearing them,” Kris clarifies. Adam’s brow furrows like he doesn’t see the problem. Kris shakes his head resolutely.

“Fine!” Adam says. “Be that way. But they would have looked great with the jacket.”

“That’s totally irrelevant; I already told you, I’m not asking Tommy to lend me a jacket, Adam.”

“If you’re shy, I can do the actual asking. In fact, I’ll call him right now so he’ll bring the jacket down when we pick him up.” He puts the green t-shirt down absently and picks up a white one.

Kris freezes and stares at him, a heavy lump settling in the pit of his stomach.

“Tommy’s coming?” he chokes out.

“Yeah. He called while you were in the shower. He said he had no plans tonight, so I invited him along.” He turns around when Kris stays quiet, and his eyes turn suspicious as soon as he takes a look at Kris’s face. “Why? Is that a problem?”

“No!” Kris hurries to say, “of course not!”

He turns around and starts going through his underwear drawer; it requires his utmost concentration to locate a pair of clean boxers after all.

God, how could he be so stupid! He’d been thinking about asking Adam out for so long, he just assumed… His face heats up with embarrassment; he hopes it’ll pass before he has to turn around and face Adam.

“Kris?” Adam calls. Kris doesn’t turn around—he’s not ready yet—he just makes a humming noise and keeps on rummaging through the drawer. Adam calls again, softer this time. “Kris?”

Kris considers running to the bathroom, saying that he needs to get dressed, but a hand on his shoulder stops his conflicted fidgeting. It’s warm, but it still makes him shudder.

“What’s wrong?” Adam asks. “You didn’t want me to invite Tommy?” And isn’t this awesome? Now, on top of everything else, Kris is feeling guilty for making Adam worry.

“It’s nothing, Adam, honestly,” he says.

“Don’t lie to me.” Adam shakes his head, looking disappointed and just a bit angry. “You suck at it, and it’s embarrassing to watch, baby,” he says, squeezing Kris’s shoulder. Kris finds himself smiling, because even when he’s annoyed with Kris, Adam can’t help but look adorable.

Reluctantly, he raises his head and looks up, and the earnest, worried look in Adam’s eyes breaks him open.

“It’s just that—I thought—that, maybe…” Kris closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. “Ithoughtitwasadate,” he blurts out hurriedly.

Adam takes a step back, looking shocked, and takes his warm, comforting hand with him. Kris’s heart stutters and stops.

“What?” Adam looks perplexed and tense, as if he’s about to flee. Kris doesn’t like where this conversation is going at all.

“It’s just a misunderstanding, okay?” he says, placating, trying to do damage control. “It’s not a big deal.”

Adam licks his lips, forehead creasing. “But…you’re not…I mean, you thought I invited you to the party as…a date?”

Adam ends the question in an incredulous-sounding high note. A sharp, ice-cold feeling stabs Kris in the stomach. This is not how he had imagined this day would go.

“I just didn’t realize you and Tommy were…” He can’t finish the sentence, though this does explain a lot of things, like Adam’s happiness when Tommy is around, for example. “It was an honest mistake, I’m sorry.”

Adam stares at him unblinking. Then he says, voice hoarse, “We’re not together. Tommy and I. We’re not dating, I mean.”

Kris doesn’t even know what to feel anymore, but his lips still curl a little bit at that. Because this is good news, isn’t it? This is great! This means he and Adam can still give it a shot! But when Kris takes a step closer to him, Adam steps back.

And he’s not smiling.

“I don’t think this is such a good idea.”

Kris frowns. “Why not?”

“We work together, Kris. It’s just—not a good idea.”

Kris raises an eyebrow. Well, that’s obviously bullshit. “We don’t exactly have the most complicated working relationship.” He searches Adam’s eyes to gauge his reaction, but Adam looks away. “The building is almost complete, anyway,” Kris says. “In three weeks it’ll be over, and we won’t have to see each other for work anymore.”

Adam shakes his head resolutely. Kris pushes. “Tell me what the real problem is.”

“We’re friends, Kris. I don’t want to fuck that up.”

Kris snorts. “That’s not the reason, and you know it. Tell me why, Adam.”

Adam puts his hands over his eyes, pressing down. “I’m not ready, okay?”

“Ready for what?”

Adam lowers his hands and looks Kris right in the eye. “I’m not ready to start a new relationship. Even casual is complicated for me right now. I think the stuff with Brad broke me, or something. I need more time.”

“That’s bullshit,” Kris says, angry.

“What?”

“If you’re not interested in me; fine. If I’m not your type I can accept that. Hell, I can work with that. I won’t even mention the way you were looking at me a moment ago, like you wanted to tear off this towel and throw me on the bed.” Adam flinches and blushes a little, and Kris finds himself growing bolder. He was right. “But don’t tell me you’re still in love with Brad, because we both know that’s not true.”

Kris has no idea where these words are coming from, but it looks like he has even more.

“It’s been weeks since the last time you mentioned him to me—other than that lunch you guys had last week, which you said was spent talking about his work and his boyfriend anyway. You’re over him, Adam, and you know it.”

“Since when are you such an expert on me?” Adam sputters, annoyed. “How come you know how I feel better than I do?”

“It’s not like I’m making it up. You talk to me more than you talk to anyone. For months now, you’ve been talking to me about everything from your clothes to you family to—to your sex life! You don’t exactly have a filter.” He pauses. “So yeah, I’d like to think that after all that—I do know how you feel.”

Adam sneers. “Funny that you mention this, because the truth is, I have no idea how you feel. This `knowing about each other´ thing is supposed to go both ways, but I know nothing about you.” He crosses his arms over his chest, chin raised stubbornly. ”You don’t talk. You never tell me a fucking thing about your past. Every time I ask you something about your family or your friends, you close up like a clam, and you change the subject.”

Kris feels his chest constrict, breathing growing harder by the second. He tries not to hear the coldness in Adam’s voice, he’s just lashing out because Kris sprung this on him, but of course it doesn’t work.

“Aren’t you going to deny it?” Adam asks, vicious.

“No,” Kris says and looks down to avoid seeing Adam’s smug and ugly smile. He wishes he hadn’t left the bed this morning. He wants this whole thing to be a bad dream.

He hates fighting with Adam.

“Damn right you aren’t. Because it’s the truth.” Adam slinks closer, until he has Kris trapped between his body and the wall. “You don’t get to be all high and mighty and tell me I’m hiding. I’m being honest here, more so than you are. At least I share what I feel with you, whether you believe it or not. You just keep everyone away. It’s no wonder that you can’t understand.” He pauses to take a deep breath, but his eyes don’t soften at all. “I’m scared because I gave my heart to someone, and he crushed it. I’m as available right now as I can afford to be. But you- you’re not there at all.”

He makes a dismissive sound.

“You don’t trust your friends with the tiniest part of your life. So fuck you, Kris Allen. Fuck you and your holier-than-thou attitude.”

He turns his back to Kris and walks towards the door. Kris makes himself speak, because he has a feeling that if Adam walks out now, this will be it for their friendship, Adam won’t even look back. And he wants Adam to understand, even if it won’t change his mind.

His voice trembles, but he pushes on regardless. “Not everybody has the same joyful past you do, Adam. Some people just want to forget where they came from, what made them the way they are now. Maybe they don’t want to carry what they had and didn’t have with them. Maybe they just want to start fresh, okay?”

Adam freezes at the door, listening, his hands fisted by his sides.

“My life has been kind of complicated, and I’m not used to sharing. It doesn’t come easy to me. But that doesn’t mean the parts I did share were any less real.”

His voice doesn’t tremble anymore. This is probably the first time he’s been able to talk about this subject to someone more or less coherently. “I’m sorry if that wasn’t enough for you.”

Kris waits with bated breath for Adam to react, but when he does move, Adam just opens the door and steps out without a word.






Hour XCV

Adam considers going home, but he knows that he shouldn’t be alone right now. The party is not a good place either, because Brad would get angry, and Cass would try to get Adam drunk and fuck some random guy, and that’s a disaster waiting to happen. He needs someone to talk to, somebody who knows him, who understands him and has knowledge and experience in the matters of the heart. He’s been driving towards Tommy’s place, but he makes a U-turn and goes to Monte’s instead.

Lisa opens the door, and something tiny and fast springs out. Adam can’t even make a sound of surprise before he has his arms full of a squirming little girl.

“Perfect. You caught her, you bathe her!” Lisa says brightly, while Ariel giggles.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“My house, my rules!” Lisa shouts over her shoulder, already walking back inside. Adam knows that voice, it’s the `don’t piss off the pregnant lady´ voice, so he picks up the giggling girl and follows Lisa into the bathroom. Monte is already there, crouching in front of the bathtub. Aurora’s long hair is full of foam, and she’s arranging it in a pretty cool bun. Impressive, Adam thinks, specially considering she’s using soapy water as her only product.

“Your offspring was trying to make a getaway through the front door,” he says.

Monte doesn’t even look up when he asks. “Naked?”

“No.” Adam seats Ariel on the toilet seat.

“Well, that’s good. At least no one will call Social Services this time,” he says. Lisa snorts and starts to undress Ariel. It’s a tough work because she’s heavily pregnant and the girl is trying to make the task as difficult as possible. Adam has to help her, and it takes the combined force of them both to undress her and put her into the tub. The first thing she does when she’s in there is to dump a bucked of water over her sister’s artistic hairdo. Aurora starts crying.

Monte sighs. “And people have the nerve to say girls are easier than boys.”

Lisa escapes in the commotion, and Adam follows her out. It’s starting to get cramped inside the tiny bathroom. He sits on the floor in front of the door, his back against the corridor wall and his long legs spread out in front of him.

“It depends of the age of the boys, I guess,” he says, and Monte turns to him with a raised eyebrow.

“Boy troubles?”

“Yeah. Of sorts.”

“Did you f-u-c-k Tommy?” Monte asks, face serious as he spells. Adam rolls his eyes.

“Tommy’s straight!” Lisa yells from the kitchen.

“Did he f-u-c-k you, then?” Monte asks again.

Somebody needs to teach Monte the meaning of the word straight, Adam thinks. “No,” he says, exasperated. “This is not about Tommy, okay?”

“It better not be about Brad again, because we already did this song and dance,” Monte says sternly as he straightens up to rinse Aurora’s hair.

“Song! Song! We want a song, Adam!” Ariel shrieks, and Adam flinches at the volume. Such a spitfire, this one, but he loves her. He sings Lady Gaga’s “Papparazzi” for them, their favorite, while Monte takes them out and towels them dry; and then again after dinner, when they ask him for a lullaby.

When he offers to sing them something more sedate, like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, they give him a pair of perfectly synchronized ‘Bitch, please!’ faces. Adam didn’t know kids could do that.

He sits on Aurora’s princess bed and sings, and the girls sing along with him, their childish voices high when they shout: `WE ARE PLASTIC BUT WE STILL HAVE FUN!´ When he gets to the chorus, his voice breaks. He hates his subconscious sometimes, for speaking so clear and loud that he has no choice but hear the message. He gulps and tries to end the song but he feels the room closing on him, and he has to get out of there right now.

“Monte’s outside, waiting for you,” Lisa says, rescuing him. After he kisses the girls, he hugs Lisa tightly, as tight as he dares with her large stomach between them.

“You’re amazing, you know that, right?” he says, voice hoarse.

“Yes, I know. Now get out, I have to calm them down now. They crush so hard on you, it takes me hours to bring them down after every visit.”

Adam laughs at the face she makes. “That’s because they know I love them more than any other girls in the whole world.”

The girls giggle madly, and Lisa ushers him out the room. “Get out, now!”

Monte is lounging on the porch, the light over him switched off. Adam sits beside him on the cushioned bench and gazes around the garden. The night is warm, and Lisa’s casserole makes him feel full and satisfied.

It’s good to be sitting here, in silence. He can feel himself starting to unwind slowly. Monte’s house always has that calming effect in him.

“I want what you have. I want this,” he says, after a while.

“Ready to swap, then?” Monte jokes. He has his eyes closed and his hands behind his head. “All my girls already adore you.”

Adam leans back against the cushions. The bench is really large, kind of extra wide, and super comfortable. “Like you’d give them up.”

Adam looks up at the stars, but they’re all blurry. He scowls.

“I think I fucked up a good thing today.”

“How?” Monte still has his eyes closed; it helps Adam for some weird reason.

“There’s a guy. His name is Kris, and he’s the-”

“Your supervisor, the guy that volunteers at the charity site and he’s tiny, cute and totally your type, and also? He’s stopping global warming all by himself.” Adam gapes, and Monte smiles. “You’ve been talking about him nonstop for months, Adam.”

“I don’t!”

“Do too.”

“Do not!” Monte snickers and Adam huffs. “Anyway, I have, like, the tiniest crush on him-” he ignores Monte’s snort and continues, full of dignity, “as I said, the tiniest crush on him, nothing serious, because he’s all, I don’t know, reserved or something.”

He knits his eyebrows. “He’s not distant, though. I mean, he jokes with everybody and laughs all the time and gives off all these friendly vibes, you know? But it’s only, like, a façade, and everything stays on a superficial level. He’s the kind of person that puts you at ease, and he makes talking to him so fucking easy…I’ve told him practically all my life, and he never talks about himself. About his past. Nothing.”

He feels Monte turn his head to look at him. Adam says, “But not in a creepy way. He’s pretty good at distracting people whenever the spotlight is on him. And I thought, okay, that’s good. He’s just emotionally unavailable, and that’s fine. I’m not looking for a relationship, here. We can be friends. It’ll be perfect. A safe little crush that goes nowhere.”

He breathes deeply. “And then, tonight, he drops the bomb and tells me that he wants us to go out in a date, and I…” he stops, insecure.

“Freaked out?” Monte suggests, helpfully.

“Yes, I guess. I don’t know why, really.”

“That’s because you’re terrified of change,” Lisa says from the threshold, and they both flinch.

“Give us a warning, love!” Monte says, his hand over his chest. Adam sniggers. She comes out and sits between them. It’s not until she puts her legs over Adam’s and reclines against her husband’s chest that she looks at Adam.

“You want to be with him, and after Brad, it’s logical to be cautious,” she says, and by now Adam is familiar enough with her antics to know that she’s not letting the subject rest.

“But?” he urges her, gesturing with his hand for her to go on.

“But the real reason you freaked out tonight was because you’ve been living safely in your secure bubble of no deep relationships and now it’s time to jump out of your comfort zone.”

So basically he’s a chicken. “No, really, don’t pull your punches or anything,” he says, and Monte laughs. Lisa grimaces, but she doesn’t back down.

Adam wants to object to her words, but after considering it for a few moments, he realizes that he’d be lying if he did. The longest affair he’s had since his breakup with Brad was the weekend he spent in Tokyo with Mr. Aizawa-san’s personal assistant. Two nights.

Wow. That’s kind of sad, now that he thinks about it.

“We’ve talked this over, Adam. You can’t keep doing this,” Monte says.

“I’m in mourning!” he tries to protest, but Lisa shakes her head. The movement loosens a couple locks of her blonde hair from her ponytail. Monte catches them between his fingers.

“There’s mourning and then there’s you. The guy who built the Taj Mahal got back into the game quicker than you have!” she complains.

Monte laughs.

“What exactly are you afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen? It crashes and burns? Then you just get up, brush off the ashes and carry on,” Lisa says.

“Well, that’s easy for you to say. You have the perfect life, the perfect husband and the perfect family. I’d hate you both if I didn’t love you so much,” he objects, sulking.

“It took us time,” Monte says, and puts his hand over Lisa’s shoulder. “And it wasn’t always easy. But we tried, even when it was hard. We never stopped trying. Because it was worth it.”

Adam lets his head fall back on the cushion. He closes his eyes.

“So you think I should go back and talk to him?” he asks. And he wants to, God, he wants to go back to Kris’ really, really bad.

“No,” Lisa says, and Adam turns his head to look at her.

“But why?” he asks.

“Because right now, you’re not sure about what you want. And whatever happens, this guy deserves total disclosure.”

“Even if he never offered it?” he says, annoyed. Aren’t his friends supposed to be on Adam’s side?

“Especially then,” her voice is sharp.

“I don’t understand,” he whines.

“That’s why I’m here, to explain it to you in small words,” she deadpans, and it’s Monte’s turn to snicker, again. “You say he never talks about himself, right?”

“When we were arguing earlier, he implied he didn’t like to remember his past, that it was painful and stuff. But that’s stupid, because nobody is one hundred percent happy with their pasts. Everybody has skeletons in their closets.”

“Yes, and that’s very mature of you to know that, but do you really think everyone should be able to just blurt those out? What about people who never had the support of their family or friends? I’m not saying that’s your guy’s case, I know nothing about him, but it could easily be. Maybe he never had to learn how to talk about his skeletons.”

That would make sense when combined with what Kris has said. Adam looks at Lisa in awe. “Do you have superpowers or something?”

Monte barks out a laugh, and Lisa smirks. “Yes. As soon as you become a mother, you develop omniscient powers. It’s a DNA thing. That’s why Leila always knows what you’re up to.”

Adam rolls his eyes and sighs. He tries to go back to the matter at hand.

“Then let’s say his teenage years were crap. Kris leaves his town and his shitty life behind, and he starts a new one. And he doesn’t want to bring bad karma to his new life, so he doesn’t talk about his past?”

“Who knows? At times, you forget that not everybody is as outgoing as you are, sweetie. People usually don’t share as much of themselves as you do. To be honest, you’re a little overwhelming sometimes.” She’s being polite. He can tell.

“So I’m a little too intense, is what you are saying?”

“Not to everybody’s taste, but a delicacy nonetheless,” Monte recites. Adam smirks at him. Lisa frowns at the obvious joke she’s not getting, but it’s a long story Adam’s sure Monte will tell her later, so he urges her to continue. Monte beats her to it.

“You can’t blame him for being cautious. He’s just being sensible. He’s waiting to see if he can really trust you. After all, how can he be sure if you’re not over Brad yet?”

“Oh, he seemed to be pretty sure, believe me,” he says, remembering what Kris said earlier.

“Well, he can hope you’re over Brad, but how can he know it for sure? Especially when you don’t know it yourself,” Monte says.

Adam stops and contemplates Monte’s words. Lisa nudges his stomach with her right foot, and he obediently rubs the arch of her foot.

“You’ve been pretty hung up on Brad for a long time now, babe.” She groans when he presses his thumb hard against her instep. “And knowing you, I’m sure you gave him all the details about your fantastic relationship and traumatic breakup.” He blushes, and she tilts her head. “Maybe he was waiting for a signal that you’re ready to start a new relationship.”

If that’s the case, then it makes sense that Kris looked so distressed when he discovered that Adam didn’t consider the party a date.

“I’m not fond of telling people what they should do with their lives,” Lisa says, and elbows Monte in the gut when he mutters, “Since when?”

Adam smirks.

“But I actually think that you should take a few days to put things in perspective, sweetie.”

“What for?” he asks, confused.

Monte sighs. “We've talked about this, Adam.” He frowns and adds, “A lot.”

Adam cringes.

“You need to think about what you want in a partner and where your life is going. And now that you’ve met this guy, maybe he’s the person to share your plans with.” Monte pauses for a moment, looking Adam straight in the eye. “If that’s so, then you should start your journey together with no doubts or what-ifs. And if you’re not ready, if he’s not what you’re looking for, then it’s only fair that you tell him that.”

Adam closes his eyes. He’s tired just from thinking and feeling. Monte’s right, of course, that’s why he always comes here when he needs an honest opinion, because Monte and Lisa ground him with their sensible approach to life and their vast experience in making their relationship work. When he’s depressed and feels ugly or fat or totally unlovable, he goes to Danielle, who pets and hugs him, and shares her stash of Belgian chocolates with him. When he’s tired and angry, Cass has a nice word and a new jacket for him everytime. And when he doubts himself and feels like he can’t do anything right, then Brad is always there to kick his ass and bring him out of any broodiness with a witty remark. He loves his friends.

He’s lucky they love him back.

He remembers Kris’s words and wonders if that’s what he meant by carrying what he didn’t have with him, wonders if Kris ever had friends like his. Adam can’t even imagine what a life without his friends would be like. That would certainly explain why Kris says he doesn’t know how to share. It hurts him to think about the level of loneliness Kris must be in. It’s no wonder he’s so reserved.

“What are you thinking, baby?” Lisa asks, her voice gentle.

“I think you’re right. It’s about time I take charge of my life again. No matter what happens with Kris, I should decide where I want to go from here. I can’t go on like this.”

“That’s the right attitude, man,” Monte says, and smiles.

Adam grins back. “And the first decision I’m making is that I’m moving here. This house makes feel safe.”

Lisa shakes her head. “That won’t be possible; Adam. We’ve talked about it and I already told you that they don’t make Disney Princess beds in King size.”

“But that’s so unfair!”

“I know, sweetie, I know,” she says sympathetically and pets his arm.






Hour XCVI

Kris stops with the phone in his hand and breathes deeply, trying to relax. It’s completely inappropriate for him to call Adam at his office for a private matter like this. But if Adam doesn’t want people calling him at work to discuss private stuff he should try answering his damn cell.

It’s been five days since their not-date. Five long days without any contact from Adam, and it’s been killing Kris. He spent all day Sunday working at the site, hoping against hope that Adam would appear. And he knew, he knew, that the possibilities of Adam appearing to clear the air between them were closer to none, but it was pointless telling that to his heart, which made a somersault every time a car blew its horn outside the site.

The anxiety only grew as the days passed, and by Tuesday night, Kris was so tense that he was snapping at everyone. He finally had to accept that it was getting out of hand when Megan asked him why his temper was running so short, looking almost scared to approach him. So he went home early for once instead of working himself to exhaustion and tried to contact Adam for the first time. Adam’s cell was off. Kris didn’t leave a message on the voicemail; he hates how unsure and stupid his messages always sound even when he’s not shaking from nerves.

He thought that Adam would return his missed call on Wednesday, so he spent the whole day with his cell in his hand, checking the screen every five minutes. But Adam didn’t call, and when Kris finally decided to call Adam again, he got no answer. He tried at six, and then again at eight, with the same result. His last call was at nine thirty, and this time, Adam simply rejected the incoming call and switched off his phone so Kris couldn’t reach him.

It felt like a slap.

He had honestly never thought that Adam would refuse to talk to him.

So, okay, Kris was out of line acting like he knew more about Adam’s feelings than Adam himself, and he can’t deny that he’s distant and has problems sharing his emotions, but how the hell is he supposed to explain himself if Adam doesn’t let him even apologize?

And why does Kris always have to be the one asking for forgiveness? Wasn’t Adam out of line that night, too? He said some nasty things about Kris, and it doesn’t look like he’s even a little sorry. Would it kill Adam to take the first step at least this one time?

Unless…

Unless Adam wasn’t answering Kris’s calls for another reason entirely. Maybe he wasn’t angry, or offended. Maybe he was trying to send Kris the message, without having to address it directly, that he wasn’t interested in Kris. Perhaps that’s Adam’s preferred way of letting people down gently. It sucks, but Kris can’t deny that it’s pretty effective.

He spent last night tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep. He was lying awake in the dark, staring at the ceiling wondering if he’d misread the whole situation. Wondering if maybe Adam really is that friendly with everyone, whether the all the flirting was real, or if it had been his own wishful thinking.

His insecurity raised its ugly head again. Had Kris been projecting? Had Kris been imagining the flirting, the touching, the glances? There’s only one way to know for sure, and Kris presses the green button on his cell.

It’s noon, and everybody’s at lunch. Kris is at the completely empty top floor, leaning against a window, his heart beating madly. He can almost hear it echo in the huge empty space.

“Hendel and Lambert, Architects. How may I help you?” a cheery and familiar voice answers the phone.

“Allison?”

“Yeah? Who’s this?”

“It’s Kris, Kris Allen.”

“Hi, Kris! How is everything at the site?” She doesn’t sound at all hesitant, and this is a good sign. If Adam were still pissed with him, he surely would have told Allison to not put Kris through.

“Fine, it’s…fine. I…uh. Can I speak with Adam?” He crosses his fingers. The first obstacle could be over in a second.

“He’s not here, Kris,” she says. She sounds sincere. “He dropped by this morning to pick up the blueprints and stuff, but he already left.”

Kris pinches the bridge of his nose. He debates with himself for a moment. He’s not sure if leaving a message would be enough to make Adam call Kris back. Surely it’s better to call later to try and catch him at the studio. “When will he be back?” he asks. If Adam is out for a business lunch, it could be hours before he returns.

There’s silence for a moment at the other side of the line. “In two weeks,” Allison says, sounding surprised.

“What?”

“I thought you already knew.” She sounds perplexed. “Yesterday morning, he told me to book him a ticket to London. We have a project there, and the clients have been asking for him for a while now.”

Kris knows all about the skyscraper Adam’s been designing in London. He’s been incredibly excited about it; he even showed Kris the drawings. But Adam never said he was going to have to fly over.

Allison’s voice breaks his reverie. “He’s been postponing the trip, but now that your building is almost complete, I guess he figured he’d take care of the other sites. In fact, he said that given he has to fly overseas, he’s going to visit the project in Milan as well, and pick up all the documentation for the winery in Porto.” She laughs, and adds, ”Just between you and me, I think he’s planning to do some serious shopping while he’s in Europe.”

Kris wants to hit something. Or somebody. “Did he leave yet?” he asks, bluntly.

“No,” Allison answers, confusion plain in her voice. “Is there a problem? Monte is still here, if you want me to-”

“Allison, when will his plane leave?” He’s already running down the stairs, palming his pocket to check if his car keys are still there.

“In an hour or so, but-” He switches off his cell and fights the urge to throw it towards the nearest wall. Goddammit! How much drama does the man need on a daily basis? Now Kris has to run to LAX to stop him for leaving, like in some chick flick. He feels like he’s been starring in the most bizarre soap opera ever.

Kris would laugh if he weren’t so angry. The whole thing is ridiculous. Why can’t they talk like adults? Why is Adam running away in a tantrum? And then he stops in his tracks, managing to barely avoid the crash against the stair railing.

If Kris managed to catch him on time, what would he say to Adam to make him stop? “I’m sorry I was presumptuous, please don’t leave?”

If Adam feels he has to resort to running all the way to Europe to avoid talking to him, then nothing Kris says can make him change his mind. He’s really, really stubborn. Kris knows that much.

Though it’s kind of obvious now that Kris never really knew Adam as well as he thought he did. He never would have expected Adam to leave the city, the country, without telling him, and yet here they are.

But Adam doesn’t have to tell him anything anyway. Why should he? Despite what Kris had thought about the two of them, after Adam’s words last Saturday, it’s obvious that he doesn’t consider Kris anything more than a friend—and Adam has a lot of those.

It hurts Kris to think that that’s all he ever was to Adam. One of dozens, nothing special.

He looks down at his dirty work boots, to his battered jeans. What was he thinking, trying to stop Adam? What possessed him? He has no hold over Adam. What if he’s not going alone? What if he’s taking somebody with him to Europe?

The thought hits him so hard that he has to sit down on the stairs. You’re so stupid, he thinks. Two or three nice words, a little innuendo and a heated look, and you think you’re in love.

He rests his elbows on his knees, his hands holding up his head. He feels so embarrassed. How mortifying, mooning around after Adam like a lovesick teenager. It’s humiliating.

Clearly, Adam expected Kris to get the memo sooner.

The only objection Kris can rightfully have about this whole thing is the shitty way Adam rejected Kris. But nothing else. The rest has all been Kris.

Message received, Kris thinks. He won’t bother Adam anymore.






Hour XCVII

Mid-morning in LA is mid-afternoon in Porto, a good eight hours of difference, and Adam is waiting for his daily call from the studio. He’s sitting in front of the river, people-watching at Praça da Ribeira and having a tiny cup of coffee, strong and fragrant, in one of its bars. The terrace is full of people. The weather is splendid, and he’s been here for a while, enjoying the flow of people and the way the passing hours move the shadow of the Ponte Don Luís across the water. The light is gorgeous, warm and alive and it has a buttery sort of quality that brings out the colors of the wineries at the other side of the Ribeira. Not for the first time, Adam thinks that his friend Drake would love it here, because the city is exactly like him: vibrant, noisy, unabashed and full of old charm. If he were to paint the city, the result would be dreamy.

Adam has only been here for three days. When he left the States, almost two weeks ago, he spent four days in London, reacquainting himself with the city, visiting his building site at Canary Wharf and enjoying his time alone. London was the first city he visited with Brad as a couple. It’s somehow fitting that it ended up being the city where Adam finally let him go, realizing the big difference between love, longing and possessiveness. It was a bittersweet trip. Amidst the surge of memories, Adam found hope and anticipation tangled up in all his messed-up feelings. With his spirit somehow lighter, he left for Rome.

He loves Italy, and what’s more important, it seems Italy loves him too. Their personalities mash up perfectly, and the country suits him. The Italian way of life pleases his hedonistic side, and it doesn’t hurt that the food is fantastic, the shops are insane and the men are gorgeous and always look incredibly well-put together.

In Milan he tried to sort out his feelings for Kris. There’s this misty dim atmosphere that surrounds the city, a muted elegance that speaks of restraint and poise. It made Adam’s skin itch with the need to be really outrageous.

On his third night in Milan he went out dancing, letting the music enclose him. It wasn’t until he was up against a wall with a guy as far from his type as he could get, that the wrongness of the whole thing assaulted Adam. He didn’t want to be there, having casual sex with a stranger, trying not to think about Kris.

The next morning, he packed his things and took a plane to Porto. He’s self-aware enough to know that he’s been running from the truth, trying to hide, and he admitted that the ton of excuses he already had to justify his behavior were just that, excuses.

It doesn’t matter how messed up his head and heart are, though, because he’s a master at rationalization. If Philippe taught him anything, it was how to be a serious professional; so he kept his personal matters to himself while he dealt with the work he actually came here to do. He needed to see the winery, take some pictures and look for all the documentation. He also wanted to get a taste of the city, because he takes pride in the fact that his projects always reflect the places they are part of and the culture they’re built into. Once he gathered all the information he needed, he sent it all by fax to LA, and then he decided to stay a few days more to sort out the rest of his feelings.

He’s ready to be in a relationship, and Kris could be the perfect guy for it. He’s sweet and funny and hot. But he’s also kind of aloof, and Adam knows from previous experience that his relationships tend to go okay as long as the other person is the needy one. If his partner starts to detach, or Adam begins to think or feel that his boyfriend is becoming indifferent, he goes all Carrie Bradshaw on his ass: analyzing everything, acting clingy and no matter how hard Adam tries, he always ends up suffocating his partner.

Adam admits freely that he’s pretty high maintenance. He’s used to talking about his own needs, his hopes, and expectations. On the other hand, Kris never asks for anything. Adam is afraid that his theatrical temperament would suffocate Kris, somehow. He doesn’t think they could have a healthy relationship if his needs end up over-shadowing Kris’. Kris doesn’t deserve that.

It’s bad enough that he’s certain that he eventually would disappoint Kris. He knows because they are as unlike as they can be without being of different species. What are the chances of them working long term? Really scarce. Adam and Brad had everything in common; all the odds were in their favor when they started their relationship and it still didn’t work out. Adam doesn’t want to feel that way again.

When his cell-phone rings, Tommy’s face appears on the screen. Adam sighs.

“Hello, baby,” he croaks, his throat suddenly dry.

“Adam?” Just by his tone of voice, Adam knows what he’s going to say before Tommy even opens his mouth again. “The documentation for Kris’s building came in today. They need your signature so they can close. You’ve got to come back.”

Adam looks around. He watches the people walking leisurely by the riverside or having a coffee under the sun, the soothing sound of the Portuguese caressing his ears. He’s going to miss this time he has spent in this sort of suspension bubble. Going back to real life is going to be hard.

“I’ll be there in two days,” he says.






Hour C

Kris’s hands are sweating. He has to pick up the final documentation from Adam’s studio today. Certificates of occupancy, permissions, the entire bureaucratic nightmare that accompanies this sort of project. They are the last link between Adam and the building. Once it’s severed, there will be nothing to bring them together anymore. It will also be the first time they’ll see each other since the doomed not-date. Kris is nervous.

The last two weeks have been awful. Adam’s words were eye-opening for him, making him realize that the way he’s been keeping himself on the sidelines of life is not healthy. The sudden realization left him feeling numb. He went to work every morning and made decisions, plans, finished the building somehow.

The first couple of days after Adam’s departure he refused to talk about him, and when anyone asked him where Adam was, he just shrugged and answered that surely Adam had found something better to do with his time. Matt rolled his eyes every time he heard Kris and didn’t comment, but Megan actually stopped him once and told him that it wasn’t necessary for him to take the role of the site’s asshole now that Adam wasn’t around. In her opinion, she could manage just fine without having to punch his nose daily in order to stop the insolences.

She only had to yell at him once. He stopped and started acting like a human being again after she dressed him down for almost making Archie cry. Cook wasn’t nearly as scary as she was.

The first time Tommy came to the site, Kris had to stop what he was doing and go for a walk, the pain in his chest stealing his breath away. Fifteen minutes later, he was able to come back in and talk with the guy with something that resembled his normal face. After that, Tommy became his only source of information about Adam, and it helped him a lot. Kris wanted to ask, oh, he was dying to know, but he never allowed himself to even mutter the tiniest question about Adam whereabouts.

Tommy was generous with the information anyway. He shared it casually, while talking about completely unrelated subjects. Adam says the weather in London is awful, or Adam sent me a picture of a pair of Italian shoes he found in a little shop in Rome, or I don’t know how Adam expects us to understand the winery documentation when it’s entirely in Portuguese… Every time Tommy mentioned Adam’s name, hot and angry jealousy made itself at home in Kris’s stomach.

Kris wondered if Adam told Tommy what happened between them before he went away, because sometimes Tommy looked at him with a weird expression, like he was measuring Kris somehow. But if he knew, he never said a thing, and Kris never asked.

By the time the second week was almost over, Kris had accepted the fact that he and Adam weren’t meant to be in any case. Adam is way out of his league. He travels all over the world, he’s famous in his work, he has a lot of money and success. Kris is just a foreman who likes composing songs and watching CSI reruns on TV, who owns a decrepit car and didn’t know for the life of him who the hell Giorgio Armani was before he met Adam.

It was stupid to think that it would work. The only thing that ever brought them together was the project. Without it they have nothing else in common.

The building is in its final stages, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. The façade is amazing, flying slightly over the street in some places, penetrating inside and creating balconies in others. The apartments are stylish and the floor plan is so intelligent it makes them look bigger than they really are. Adam used all his contacts to ensure the biggest discounts possible in the materials, so the building has better finishes than expected. The result is a classy edifice, beautiful in an understated way, but modern and catchy at the same time.

The painters were putting on the final touches when Kris finally got used to going with Matt and Cook after work to have some beers. They teased Matt about his crush on Megan, and Kris and Matt made a bet about how long it would take Cook to ask Archie on a date so they could stop being adorable all over the site.

He told the guys vague things about his childhood, funny anecdotes of growing up in a small town. Slowly but surely, he’s trying to open himself a little more. He even went with Megan and Ryder to the park once. It was a bittersweet experience; the kid is amazing, and by his looks, Ryder could be his and Katy’s. He always wanted a kid, and part of him still wants the normalcy of what could have been. He’s ashamed for wanting it, and angry for being ashamed and guilty for feeling angry, and all-around confused and hurt.

In any case, Kris is used to not having what he wants, so he just wakes up and goes to work, and takes the days as they come. And before he knows it, he has a missed call and a message in his voice mail.

“Hey, Kris. I’m back.” There’s a pause. “I’ll have all the documentation for the building ready by next Friday. Come by whenever you want to pick it up. Unless…unless you want me to send it to the site. Your call. Well. I’ll see you next Friday. Or not.”

And just like that, Kris is back at square one, Adam’s voice sending him back in time. He wants to see Adam, he wants it so badly, but at the same time he’s angry and conflicted and confused.

He debates with himself all week. Should he go? Should he send somebody else? He’s not closer to an answer when Friday comes. He’s so hesitant that he’s been sitting in the snobbish café near Adam’s office for more than two hours, getting the stink-eye from the staff. It’s almost six now, and he still has no idea what he’s supposed to do.

He wants to see Adam, but he’s scared. He’s not sure if he’s over the rejection yet, and the way one phone call from Adam unbalanced him so hard is a clear argument against seeing him. But if Kris wants to regain some semblance of order in his life, he has to know, for sure, where he stands with Adam. With that in mind, he resolutely steps out the café and heads towards Hendel and Lambert.

It doesn’t matter how firm and sure the voice in his head sounds though, reality tells another story. It takes him almost half an hour to walk up the two blocks that separate Adam’s office from the cafeteria. He’s hoping there’s no one still at work when he arrives. It’s Friday, after all.

Only Allison is still there, arranging stuff in her bag when he crosses the front door of the office. All the lights are switched off but the small one by her table. She’s humming, her happiness for the coming weekend obvious in her voice. Her glee is contagious and it makes him smile despite his nervousness. Everything in Adam’s life is weird and wonderful. He somehow has the only happy receptionist in the whole world.

“Kris!” she exclaims and smiles widely at him. “Long time no see, dude!”

As always, her raspy voice surprises him for a moment.

“That’s no way to address our guests, Allison,” says somebody from behind Kris, and Kris’s stomach jumps. It takes everything he has in him to not turn towards his voice. He catches a glimpse of Adam approaching on his left. He has a bunch of blueprints on his arms.

“Shut up, boss!” she replies, happily. She picks up her bag and comes closer, saying conspiratorially to Kris, “Since he came back from Europe, he’s been acting all prim and proper. Such a bore!” And dodging Adam’s grasp, she runs out of the office towards the lifts, yelling, ”Have a nice weekend!”

“Be careful, you!” Adam bellows, too, and then he turns towards him and gestures for Kris to follow him. “Let’s go to my office, okay?”

Kris nods and walks by Adam’s side in the large and dim workroom, not daring to raise his eyes to see if Adam is looking at him, or worse, to find that he’s not.

It’s getting late, almost half past six, and as Kris imagined the first time he was here, the sunset from Adam’s office is an amazing spectacle. The large windows frame an incredible view of the city’s skyline with the slopes in the background. The sky’s colors are so vibrant they seem almost electric, incredibly alive. From crimson to lavender, orange and purple, the light tints every single reflecting surface in Adam’s office turning it into a jewel case. It’s appropriate, Kris thinks absently, and walks until he’s only inches from the glass.

“Would you like something to drink?” Adam asks, and Kris smiles, because it’s déjà vu all over, and he wants to laugh out loud and also cry a little, too. He shakes his head, and inhales; he half expects it to hurt, because there’s a lump in his throat that’s making him choke, but it doesn’t. It’s just a bit of familiar tightness in his chest. Nothing he can’t handle.

He hears Adam rustling some papers and stuff on the table, and then his sure steps coming closer. For a second, he’s afraid Adam is coming to stand beside him, but no, Adam stops by the chairs, and Kris can hear the leather creaking comfortably as he sits down. He mentally braces himself before turning around.

The warm light suits Adam; he looks fantastic. His hair is longer, he’s wearing it back, and he has the barest hint of eyeliner, maybe the result of the long day. Kris drinks in his presence, trying to find traces in his face of the long days they’ve been apart. He wants to ask: Did you miss me? Because I missed you, and please, let’s never do something so stupid ever again.

He’s never been more glad of having a filter between his brain and his mouth. He’s not sure what Adam would do if Kris were to blurt out what’s on his mind.

He smiles sadly. Adam ran to Europe last time, and all Kris did was ask him for a date. This time, he may very well end up on Mars if Kris bares his soul so bluntly.

“All the documents you need are here,” Adam says, and then starts to babble, taking out a bundle of papers from a thick envelope and explaining Kris what each one is. Kris isn’t really listening though. Right now, he couldn’t care less about the building. For the first time since they had the fight, he’s suddenly sure about what to do.

He has no explanation for why that kind of clarity and boldness always finds him when he’s with Adam. He doesn’t know where this confidence is coming from, but he likes it. He likes the man he is when Adam’s around.

“I’m sorry I scared you,” he says. Adam freezes, the sheet in his hand hovering midair. He doesn’t look at Kris, but his tense stance says he’s listening.

“I’m not good at sharing. Not when it comes to my own past and thoughts and emotions. Stuff happened when I was younger and I guess I stopped doing it and now I’m out of practice. Sometimes I shared too much and it made people uncomfortable, and then I got used to telling less and less every time. Eventually, it seemed easier to keep everything to myself, you know? Fewer possibilities to inconvenience people.”

Adam turns his head, his eyes sharp. “Inconvenience them?”

“In a small town, everybody knows everybody’s business. And everybody talks about everybody’s lives. I wasn’t sure about…anything, really,” he snorts. “But what I knew was that I wanted to sort it out myself, without everyone wondering about the Allens’s queer boy.”

“So you what? You decided to keep a low profile? So nobody could be uncomfortable with your gayness?” Adam’s voice is cutting. The way he says it makes it dirty.

“Don’t turn this into something it’s not. I had friends, okay?” He doesn’t want Adam to think nobody supported him. “My friends, well, we were close. But the things we had in common when we were children were not the same when we grew up. It wasn’t their fault that I didn’t want to be different. I was the one that had a problem with myself, not them.”

“But you don’t-” Adam tries to talk, but Kris interrupts him.

“Listen, I’m glad you’re so well-adjusted. I really am. But not everybody suddenly discovers they’re gay and their life becomes rainbows and unicorns, okay?”

“Hey!” Adam says, and Kris realizes that he’s being a jerk.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to…” He sighs, and runs a hand through his hair. “Give me a break, Adam. I’m not as good with words as you are. What I’m trying to say here is that I didn’t want to be gay, and I know it’s not something you can choose, but I was fourteen then, okay? I didn’t know better. I was confused and lost and I wanted to fit in so much, that the idea of being gay scared me shitless.”

Kris takes a couple of steps closer to him. “So I lied. When somebody asked me about girls, I lied. And I didn’t like the way it made me feel, so I decided to just stop lying. The best way I could find of not hurting people was to never share too much. And that slowly became the norm, instead of the exception, and before I knew it, it was the way I felt more secure.”

Adam’s eyes are large and Kris can’t quite decipher if they hold anger or pity.

“I’m not justifying myself. I’m just explaining how things are.”

“I never wanted you to feel that you owed me any explanation,” Adam says, and slumps forward like the world’s weight is settling around his shoulders.

“See, that’s where we differ. Because I wanted to give you an explanation, and you left.” When Adam opens his mouth, Kris raises a hand. “I’m not saying you didn’t have your reasons, but I needed to talk to you and you weren’t here.”

Adam swallows thickly, his eyes guarded. “I’m here now.”

“Yes, you are,” Kris concedes. He takes another step closer. “How have you been?”

“Fine,” Adam says, but his face tells another story.

“I missed you,” Kris says, and again he wonders where all these words are coming from, because he doesn’t remember deciding to say any of them. Besides, he never did allow himself to miss Adam, he’s been too angry, too tired, too depressed to.

Adam shakes his head. Kris takes another step.

“Are you still in love with Brad?” he asks.

Adam looks up. “I love him, and part of me will always love him,” he says defiantly.

“That’s not what I asked,” Kris replies, because he’s fluent in Adam, and he knows that if he lets Adam steer the conversation, he’ll be out of this office in ten minutes with a pat on his shoulder and the big brown envelope in his arms, and he’ll never see Adam again.

Adam stares at him, his face stern. “No, I’m not in love with him anymore. I thought I was but I realized that I haven’t been in love with him for a while.” His voice is firm, but there’s something in the way he keeps himself still, his hands closed in fists on his thighs, like he doesn’t trust his arms not to reach out. That gesture gives Kris hope and makes him even bolder.

“I still want you,” he says, and Adam closes his eyes. Kris takes one more step and now there’s only four feet between them. “Do you want me?”

“It’s not going to work,” Adam says, his eyes still closed.

“Probably not,” Kris answers, but he takes another step towards Adam anyway.

“I’m a bitch, really. I’m so high maintenance you wouldn’t believe it,” Adam says. He opens his eyes and looks pleadingly at Kris, who shrugs but doesn’t stop moving. “And I work all the time and travel like nobody’s business.”

“I’m a slob, and I have problems expressing my feelings,” Kris says. “I hate tea, and I think that plaid is the answer to all the great questions in life.”

“I’m possessive, and when I get angry, I can be vicious,” Adam warns.

Kris is so close now he can count the freckles over Adam’s lips.

“I never close the bathroom door. Feathers make me sneeze, and I hate Celine Dion.” Adam raises both eyebrows, so Kris explains, “I felt I should warn you. I’m talking homicide levels of hate here. “I’m Alive” made me projectile vomit once.”

“I sulk for hours, and I’m petty and insecure, and I waste too much money on useless things, especially if they’re glittery.” Adam has to open his legs to allow Kris to come closer. Kris thinks it’s funny that he does it at the same time as he crosses his arms over his chest. Confused much, Adam? he thinks.

“I own exactly four pair of shoes; I despise clubbing; I think the Twilight series is crap, and I like to go to church every now and then.”

“I’m Jewish, Kris. What the hell are we doing?” Adam tries to get up, but Kris is faster and puts his hands on Adam’s shoulders, straddling his thighs and sitting in his lap.

“You make me feel happy, and confident, and when I’m with you, I’m a better person,” he says. Adam’s startled eyes let a hint of vulnerability peek through.

“We have nothing in common. We are so bad for each other it’s not even funny,” Adam says. “There is no way this is going to work.”

“What are you afraid of?” Kris asks, and puts a hand on Adam’s face.

“You scare the crap out of me,” he mutters, and Kris’ chest contracts.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Kris reassures him, both hands on Adam’s face now. “You know that, don’t you?”

“Not consciously.” Adam tries to move, his hands going to Kris’ waist as if push him away, but Kris stands his ground and kisses him.

Adam’s lips are smooth, and they have a trace of lipstick over them, waxy and kind of fruity. When Kris turns his head to kiss him deeper, Adam’s smell assaults him: coffee, musky perfume, the leather of his necklaces, and his warmness, so male, so close. Adam moans and parts his lips, and Kris doesn’t waste a second, delving inside. Kissing Adam is as amazing he thought it would be, except in the way it’s like nothing he has ever dreamed. Because instead of being ravished against a wall, with Adam’s hands caressing Kris’s body, as he dreamed so many times, Kris is the one doing the ravishing. The hands keeping the jaw immobile are his, the teeth that bite the lush lower lip are his, and the person arching sweetly against the aggressor is Adam, not him. But Kris wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. This is right. This is how it should be.

“I’ll take care of you, you don’t have to be afraid,” he murmurs against Adam’s neck, biting the skin delicately.

Adam snorts. “So full of yourself-” he starts, but he moans out loud when Kris’ bites turn forceful. His hands squeeze Kris’s ass, and then it’s Kris’s time to moan.

“Wait a second, Kris, just wait, okay? We have to talk,” he says, but Kris is not in the mood.

“We’re not good at talking,” he comments, and he pulls back until his buttocks are resting on Adam’s knees. He takes off his t-shirt and smirks when Adam’s eyes grow wide. “I ramble on and on, with no end in sight, trying to make myself clear. And you,” he says, starting to unbutton Adam’s black shirt, “love the way your voice sounds, and can talk for hours saying nothing of consequence if you’re given the chance. So I’m not giving it to you.”

He tugs at the shirt until it comes loose. Then he puts his hands on Adam shoulders and pushes the fabric away, sliding his hands over heated skin.

“So no more talking, okay?” he begs.

Adam eyes search his face, like he’s looking for something, Kris isn’t sure what, exactly. He seems to find it, anyway, because he nods. “Okay. Self-restraint sucks, anyway,” he says and reaches up to catch Kris’ mouth in a heated kiss.

Their chests collide and it’s almost too much, the heat, the smoothness, Adam’s necklaces cold between them. Kris watches the pale skin against the black leather cushion, the freckles covering it in strange patterns; Adam’s hands caressing his back, going down and down until they rest at his waistband, forcing him to close his eyes and shiver.

“God, I‘ve wanted you for so long,” Adam mutters, and brings Kris even closer until their groins meet. Kris makes a twisting motion, full of intent and heat, and they both groan when the movement makes them shiver. Adam freezes the moment Kris tilts his head back to lick his neck from collarbone to ear, and he’s still shuddering when Kris opens his dark jeans.

“Let me,” he says, and Adam gulps and nods. Kris slithers back until he’s down on his knees between Adam’s legs, pulling at Adam’s jeans. Adam helps him by raising his thighs from the cushion, until Kris has him naked. It’s not an easy task; the tightness of his jeans and the fucking buckles of his boots make sure of that.

“Seriously, who the hell puts bedazzled buckles on leather boots?” Kris asks, trying to take them off.

“Shut up, you heathen. They’re Italian!” Adam says.

Kris throws them against the furthest wall in retaliation. They land with a loud thump, but Adam’s cry of indignation turns into a loud moan, because Kris has his dick in his mouth by then.

He shudders beautifully, from head to toe, and Kris’s hand on his left side presses him against the cushion. He tastes strong, the muskiness driving Kris half-wild. It’s Adam’s scent undiluted, skin and heat, hints of sweat and thick musk. He sucks and caresses the underside with his tongue, bobbing his head up and down, his right hand a tight grip around the base. Adam’s hand runs through Kris’s hair, absently, tugging at some of his locks, burying his fingers in them and making Kris groan.

“Come here, come here right now,” Adam urges, and Kris lets him go with a final lick, rising. Adam straightens and tries to take Kris’s pants off. His hands are trembling, uncoordinated, but Kris is too occupied trying to get out of his converse still standing up to help him. Finally, Adam loses his patience, and pulls down the baggy jeans without bothering to unbutton them, and takes Kris’s underwear with them.

The air is cold against Kris’s feverish skin, but he has no time to feel it. Adam pulls him into his lap, Kris’s thighs around Adam’s hips, and this, this is what he wanted. He leans back, exposing his torso to Adam’s mouth, and Adam snakes an arm around his waist and licks his collarbone.

“You’re so limber,” he says, and then he laughs when he notices what Kris is doing with all his leaning backwards and twisting. “Kris!”

“What?” he says, blushing. “I hate it when people leave their sock on, it’s weird.” He takes off both his socks and let’s them fall to the floor. “Didn’t you ever notice how tacky it is in porn when they leave their socks on? It’s bizarre. I always wondered if socks in gay porn are the equivalent to plastic high heels in straight porn.”

Adam is laughing against Kris’s chest, his body shaking with it. “Only you, Kristopher, only you!” he says finally, staring at Kris with shining eyes, and then kisses him forcefully on the mouth.

Kris sighs happily and twists in Adam’s lap again, reminding him of how naked and pliable he really is. In case Adam forgot.

Adam whimpers and Kris smirks, and then Adam leans back again. He puts his hand around them both, his rings adding texture at the delicious pressure. The sensations run through Kris, and he wants to do so many things at the same time, like scream and kiss Adam and touch his skin and lick his nipples…in the end he can only look down and shiver. Kris is mesmerized by the way Adam’s hand moves, feeling the sliding of his dick against Adam’s, their skins hot and wet.

He leans down until he has Adam’s mouth under his, resting his forearms on the back of the chair, his hands buried in Adam’s hair, forcing is head back. It’s difficult to breathe, the heat coiling in his groin, and he’s going to come, so soon, like a teenager, because he’s been waiting for this for a long, long time, and he can’t believe it’s really happening. He pants, sharing Adam’s breath. Then it’s like lightning down his spine and he cries out, because Adam moves his hand down Kris’s crack, just the hint of a finger inside him, and Kris shouts and shouts and comes, his body covered with goosebumps and tears in his eyes.

“You’re so fucking gorgeous,” Adam gasps. Kris is pliant in his arms, his head resting on Adam’s shoulder, watching Adam jack himself against Kris’ still-twitching cock, Kris’s come easing the way. It’s so hot he can feel an answering stirring in his dick, trying valiantly to wake up again.

“I wanted you to do this to me at the site,” he murmurs, and Adam whimpers, whimpers, so Kris bats Adam’s hand away and takes over, releasing his own oversensitive dick. “I fantasized about you blowing me on the stairs, fucking me against the piles of plaster on the roof,” he says, and Adam trembles and bites his lip.

Kris twists his hand, and then he says, “The day you wore that blue t-shirt, you know the one I’m talking about?” Adam nods and Kris rewards him by notching up the pressure on his cock and rubbing his thumb over the head. Adam goes all yielding and wobbly. “That day, I wanted to push you up against the nearest wall and lick you open, and I didn’t care if anybody saw us.”

Adam’s whole body convulses, and it’s awesome; Kris didn’t even know it was possible to do that. Adam is gorgeous when he comes, his mouth open and his face contorted as if in pain, and Kris has to bite his lush lips, has to drink in the moans while Adam spurts on his hand.

He doesn’t wait for Adam to come down, he licks his earlobe and murmurs in his ear, “You’re mine now, and I’m not letting you go.”

Adam opens his eyes, completely blissed-out, and smiles at him.









“I’m sure this is not what Mies van der Rohe had in mind when he designed this chair,” Adam says casually, caressing Kris’s back.

“Hmm?” mumbles Kris. He’s so comfortable, lying against Adam’s chest, his head tucked under Adam’s jaw, his nose touching the hollow of Adam’s collarbones. It smells amazing. He wants to spend the night right there.

“This chair,” Adam explains patiently. “It was designed by a famous architect. I think having sex on it wasn’t quite what he had in mind when he designed it.”

Kris opens one eye and looks at the chair besides them, the twin of the one they’re sitting in. He reflects on it for a while.

“I’m not so sure,” he finally says. “This chair is pretty wide, leather is easy to clean, it has no arms, and,” he wiggles a little over Adam’s lap to illustrate it, “it allows a lot of leverage for the one on top.”

Adam groans and his hands fly to Kris’s hips. “Stop it, baby. You’re going to be the death of me.”

Kris snickers, but he stops his movements. “I totally think he had this specifically in mind when he designed it.”

“It could be. He was a womanizer. And also? Another in this series is called The Daybed.” Adam wiggles his eyebrows suggestively. “I’m thinking about buying one.”

“See?” Kris mutters. “All architects are perverts.”

Adam pinches his butt and Kris just snuggles closer. “Are you cold?” Adam asks. Kris shakes his head, but Adam embraces him anyway. Kris looks outside.

If the sunset was stunning, twilight is positively amazing. The lights of the buildings against the darkening sky make a striking contrast. They sit there, basking in the dusk, letting the city lights come alive.

Kris feels safe, cared for. It’s been so long, he’s out of practice. But he wants to give something back to Adam, a way to thank him for awakening Kris after a slumber that lasted too long.

He has to swallow twice before he finds his voice.

“When I was fourteen-” he starts, but Adam’s arms tighten.

“Baby, you don’t have to tell me anything, okay? We have time. We’re in no hurry.”

Kris raises his head and looks Adam in the eye. “I know I don’t have to. I want to, though.” Adam gulps and nods. Kris lowers his head back, closing his eyes, and uses the beating of Adam’s heart to calm himself. It’s hard to trust somebody, after so much time keeping everything to himself. But if he wants this relationship to work, he knows he has to do it.

For the first time ever, Kris feels that he can tell someone the whole story. Adam is going to be there, is going to listen to him, and his arms will shelter Kris. Maybe it’s time to begin anew. He already feels this is the first hour of the rest of his life.

“When I was fourteen...”

FIN

Date: 2010-07-26 01:02 am (UTC)
foursweatervests: Natasha, hidden (circus of the dead)
From: [personal profile] foursweatervests
Ahhhh! Posted! Congratulations, querida! It's absolutely insane how much work you put in to this piece; way to go, you!

Date: 2010-07-26 01:54 am (UTC)
cookie57: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cookie57
WooHoo! Done and posted!

This is wonderful. Warm and romantic and just a little angsty. I hope you come back to visit these boys sometime so we can see how they are doing.

Date: 2010-07-26 11:58 am (UTC)
cookie57: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cookie57
Does a little shimmy with you
Your icon is scrumptious.

And I was trying to politely hint for more, and not be all demanding and whiny.

Date: 2010-07-26 03:57 pm (UTC)
cookie57: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cookie57
I love you too. But you may regret giving me free reign in the whining and demanding department.

Date: 2010-07-26 04:25 pm (UTC)
cookie57: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cookie57
It's a deal!

I've been reading your feedback here and on lj- I think architecht!Adam is a hit.

Date: 2010-07-26 04:37 pm (UTC)
cookie57: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cookie57
Your artist is incredible- gave you great stuff to play with. I love the one with Adam grabbing his tie off to the side.

I saw the crying comment- I'll be interested to see if she gives you specifics on what made her cry. I thought this one had a dash of angst, but not crying levels of angst. Kinda like a pinch of salt. Everyone has their own triggers for tears, so I'm curious what hers are.
The next one is more angsty (at least I think so- I can't wait to see what you did with the fight), but you know, good fights lead to hot make up sex.

Date: 2010-07-26 04:53 pm (UTC)
cookie57: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cookie57
Yes! That one!

I don't care so much if Adam let's loose, as long as Kris doesn't come off as whimpy. From the beginnings of this, it seems they both have real things to be mad about. They are kind of both right and both wrong in the way that happens when you go too long without talking about the big stuff.

Date: 2010-07-26 05:01 pm (UTC)
cookie57: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cookie57
You know I love to read your stuff, so send ahead. I probably won't get to it until tonight, but I promise to give you lots of opinions.

Date: 2010-07-26 03:12 pm (UTC)
foursweatervests: Natasha, hidden (Default)
From: [personal profile] foursweatervests
Actually, what's unusual is how rough your rough drafts aren't. They're already fully-fleshed stories that just need a bit of tweaking.

But, you know, I never say no to praise! ::pets::

Date: 2010-07-26 05:49 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] indusnm
THis was great, but I really, really want to know what happened when Kris was 14...

Loved it, thanks for posting!

Date: 2010-07-26 04:33 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] indusnm
Haha, that would be awesome. I'm sort of one of those must know everything annoying readers ;)

Date: 2010-07-26 07:48 am (UTC)
diane_mckay: (Default)
From: [personal profile] diane_mckay
Wonderful. Seriously so good. Do not have words.

Date: 2010-07-26 12:29 pm (UTC)
poppetawoppet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] poppetawoppet
THis was really awesome!

Date: 2010-07-26 02:16 pm (UTC)
lightningdark: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lightningdark
This was a lovely read!
well done, bb <3

Date: 2010-07-26 04:07 pm (UTC)
sand_dais: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sand_dais
This was a great story to read. I was skeptical at first about Adam as an architect but you did a great job with making it believable.

Date: 2010-07-26 04:21 pm (UTC)
silsecri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silsecri
I loved it. But that was an awful place to stop. As I'm sure you know.

I've been looking forward to reading this story since I read the summaries and it's been everything I hoped and more. Architect!Adam was adorable in his fabulousness and secretive!Kris still has me all curious. I loved all the supporting cast, too.

Great job!

Date: 2010-07-26 07:34 pm (UTC)
cydsa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cydsa
I loved this story hun.

It was discovery of self & love & perfect

thank you!

Date: 2010-07-27 01:38 am (UTC)
adammlambert3: (Default)
From: [personal profile] adammlambert3
ahh soo amazing, i loved it!!

Date: 2010-07-27 01:50 am (UTC)
elizaria: (mood- hearts for you)
From: [personal profile] elizaria
This was awesome! I loved what you did with the relationship talks, friends & personal history of these characters. I totally enjoyed the feel you created in this piece, I can't quite explain what I mean except maybe repeat the words adorable, angsty awesomeness

Date: 2010-07-27 02:30 pm (UTC)
mollywobbles867: (kradam)
From: [personal profile] mollywobbles867
This was wonderful! Bookmarking

Date: 2010-07-27 10:52 pm (UTC)
crybaby4u: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crybaby4u
You did a great job with this story. I was sorry it ended there was so much more I wanted to know. The characters were so interesting.

I loved Monte's wife in this. I never really see here brought into many fics so it was nice.

I love when AU's find such cool and artistically driven jobs for one or both of the boys.

Thanks for sharing.

Date: 2010-07-30 08:44 pm (UTC)
dragojustine: (Glam)
From: [personal profile] dragojustine
I enjoyed this SO MUCH! I don't normally like my Adam too angsty or damaged, but the particular way you described his relationship with Brad really really worked for me- I ship them so hard and it's good to see something that acknowledges just how good it was but at the same time makes me believe it's a good thing it ended, you know? Lovely.

And your Kris! All passionate and intense about his work and charming and good natured and incredibly reserved, and you managed to do all those at the same time and make me really believe him, and... yaay!

Date: 2010-08-05 08:48 am (UTC)
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] staranise
*happy squiggle* This is very, very much not my fandom--but I really enjoyed it anyway. I love your way with dialogue, because it's snappy and smart without ever sounding over-clever or false.

Date: 2010-08-07 01:15 pm (UTC)
pomegranate02: Adam Lambert modelling his swacket (Thumbs-up swacket)
From: [personal profile] pomegranate02
Thank you for a wonderful read. I started and couldn't put it down.

Date: 2010-10-11 10:52 pm (UTC)
too_rational: (Hot)
From: [personal profile] too_rational
Oh, wow. Gorgeous and heartbreaking and HOT. I love it! <3333

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