Fandom/Pairing: American Idol; Kris/Adam
Summary: "I mean, you guys are like— you’re like soul mates or something. Come on! You’re Kris and Adam, man!"
If Kris could’ve, he would have canceled the concert. He didn’t want to go in the first place. It’s exactly the kind of thing he likes least—playing for a room full of out-of-touch sponsors, having to mingle and suck up to them afterward. He thought those days were over after breaking out of the Idol bubble, but apparently no. It makes him feel like a sellout.
“You are a sellout,” Adam tells him cheerfully. “Everyone in the industry is.”
Kris groans and rolls his head back against the seat’s leather headrest. “Thank you. Really. That’s very reassuring.”
“Oh, please. It’s one weekend of schmoozing with the old-as-fuck cronies. You’ll survive. It’s the price we pay to do what we do.”
Wendy, their handler for this event, makes an annoyed sound from the bench seat behind them. Her legs are crossed at the knee, one high heeled foot jiggling as she types into her Blackberry.
“Please tell me you’ll rein in your language when we get to the resort,” she says without looking up.
Adam gives her a cat-like smirk. “Don’t worry, I know how to behave.”
Wendy responds with an unimpressed hmm under her breath. Kris only met her last night, but he’s amused to find she’s one of the very few people immune to the Adam Lambert charm.
Kris knows it’s ridiculous to complain; Adam’s right, it’s the price he has to pay. These are the people who will be funding his next tour. And they’re footing the bill for a trip to a five-star resort on Palau. Kris can’t remember the last time he had any kind of a vacation. Yeah, it’s business, but it’s still as close to a break as he’s had in awhile. He wishes Katy were here; she’d make this more bearable, take some of the attention off of him. She’s better at handling these things. He thinks a lot of the time that she’d be better at being famous than he is. But she’d had an audition lined up she couldn’t skip, and so it’s just Kris, flying solo.
At least he has Adam. He’s glad the label set it up as a joint appearance—doing this all on his own would be too depressing, too intimidating. Adam will keep him sane, will know exactly the right things to say to the industry suits, and they’ll eat it all up like always.
Adam is the only reason this fourteen-hour flight doesn’t feel like a monumental waste of time.
The speakers above them crackle, and the pilot’s voice comes out, a little muffled. “Folks, it seems we’ve lost radio signal. It’s likely temporary, but if it doesn’t come back in a minute, we may have to turn around.”
Turn around? To where? They’re supposed to be landing in two hours. Kris looks across the aisle at Adam, who just shrugs. He doesn’t look too worried, in any case, turning back to his phone a moment later.
“I’m going to go see what the problem is,” Wendy says with an impatient sigh, standing up and smoothing out her skirt, purse in hand. She shakes her head. “If we’re late, I swear to god, I will—” She grumbles the rest of that particular threat under her breath as she marches up to the cock pit.
She opens the door and then closes it behind her, and that’s when the plane starts to dive. Kris’s stomach drops to his knees. It’s like a steep roller coaster drop, except a hundred times worse. This time when he glances over at Adam, Adam looks worried. More than worried.
The pilot’s voice comes over the intercom again, a little frantic and garbled. “We’re making an emergency landing. Put on the life vests above you and buckle yourself in.” Anything else he says is drowned out by patchy, hissing static. The electricity cuts in and out, the lights flashing as the plane shakes like they’ve hit major turbulence.
Kris is frozen in place, paralyzed by fear, white-knuckling the arm rests. He can’t even move his head, but in his peripheral vision he sees Adam stumble out of his seat, throwing open the overhead compartment and yanking out two life vests. He staggers over to Kris and shoves one over Kris’s head, yanks the cord so it automatically inflates, and then does the same for himself, all before tumbling back into his seat and fastening the belt.
“Kris—” Adam says, just loud enough to be heard above the engine’s roar, and then the plane dips in another freefall, like it’s being sucked down by a giant vacuum.
Instead of finishing that sentence, Adam reaches across the aisle and clamps a hand down on Kris’s arm, nails digging hard into his wrist. They lock eyes for a few intense moments. Kris doesn’t know what Adam planned on saying, but he’s pretty sure he can guess.
He turns and looks out the little window. Flashes of the water below come at him in strange angles as the plane tilts to one side and then the other. He tries to remember the last thing he said to Katy. To his parents. He’s not sure, but—but they have to know he loves them, he figures, even if he forgot to say it. Of course they know. He starts praying. Not out loud, just in his head. He can’t form coherent thoughts, it’s just a steady stream of God, God, please, oh God, please please please—
The water outside of the window looms closer and closer, until he can see the waves more clearly, the caps of them cresting white, and then he can’t see anything at all. It’s all blurred, and everything rattles painfully hard as the plane skids against the ocean surface. The impact sends him up out of his seat. His head slams against the roof, smacked into stars, the belt strapped across his waist biting hard enough to break skin. Luggage tumbles out from the overhead compartments, and the entire world seems tipped to one side. But no, it’s just the plane.
For a few, heart-stopping seconds, he thinks this is it, they’re going to roll, but then the plane’s wings slant back the other way, evening out. Slowly it comes to a rumbling, shuddery stop, until the only movement is from the choppy bobs of the waves. The plane tilts forward, the loose luggage sliding down the aisle toward the cockpit.
“Kris. Kris. Kris.”
Kris doesn’t know how long Adam’s been saying his name before he can collect himself enough to look over at him. He tries to lift his arm, but it’s pinned down by something—by Adam’s hand. He never let go of his wrist.
“Are you hurt?” asks Adam.
“I— I don't think so,” he says, shaking his head. It hurts from where he hit it—that’s definitely going to bruise— and his ears won’t stop buzzing, and his bones ache from the violent vibrations of the plane as it went down, but he’s not bleeding anywhere. The rest of him seems mostly okay. Just a little banged up.
“Get up,” Adam says firmly. “We have to get off this fucking plane. Now.”
Kris’s hands are shaking too hard to undo his seatbelt; Adam does it for him, half-drags Kris out of his seat. He has to grab onto Adam’s shoulder for balance because the plane is rocking on the waves, threatening to pitch him to one side. Together they scramble toward the cockpit and kick the bags out of the way. Water seeps out from under the door crack, sloshing over their feet and then sliding back under again. More of it gushes out when they pry open the door.
Adam peers his head inside first.
“Shit,” he says, immediately retracting. His face is a sickly shade of white. “Fuck, fuck, fuck—”
Kris steps past him, and is met with the sight of the pilot, a jagged shard of glass lodged deep in his chest, his face a bloody mess. He braces one hand against the wall to keep himself upright. He doesn’t have to look any closer to know that it’s too late; the pilot is already gone. Most of the front window is smashed in, allowing spray from the waves to pour in, the weight of it tilting down the nose of the plane.
He looks to the right and sees Wendy—she didn’t have time to get back to the main cabin, so she must have strapped herself into the co-pilot’s seat. She’s bleeding from her head and her neck, the blood from her head wound trickling down the side of her face in a sluggish trail. He presses two fingers to the base of her throat and feels a flickering pulse, weak but there. She’s unconscious, but she’s alive, alive, alive. He pushes his palm against the side of her neck in an attempt to slow the bleeding. It spills through the cracks of his fingers, and he can feel her body pulsing under his skin.
Adam reappears. “I found a raft,” he says breathlessly. “I got together some other things, too, and I think we can—Kris? Kris?”
“She’s alive,” he tells Adam, and sees the realization hit Adam, the way his body sags with relief at the news. He turns back to Wendy. “We need something to stop the bleeding.”
“Okay,” Adam says, “okay, how about—”
He picks his way over to the pilot, and then hesitates, closing his eyes before he reaches for the pilot’s jacket. It’s one of those shiny sports jackets with snap buttons and a thick cotton collar, and the pilot’s arms flop like a rag doll’s as Adam shimmies the torn jacket off of his body. He presses it to the side of Wendy’s head and gently picks the purse off of her lap.
“We don’t have much time,” Adam points out, his tone low but urgent.
He’s right; the water is still coming in, and planes aren’t meant to float. Moving Wendy is a risk—she might have internal injuries or something, for all Kris knows her spine could snap in half—but staying is certain doom, so the decision is made for him. Kris lifts her out of the seat as carefully as he can.
Adam shoves the emergency exit door open with his shoulder, and the wind from the waves whips inside the plane, hitting Kris full in the face, stinging and salty and thick with the overwhelming smell of jet fuel. The waves from this vantage point look huge, tossing the plane up and down like a tipsy cradle. Adam hefts the inflatable raft onto the water and keeps it in place with one hand.
“You first,” Adam orders. Kris wants to protest, but the look on Adam’s face leaves no room for argument.
He climbs in unsteadily, Wendy still in his arms, and lays her down, tightens his hold on the jacket against her head and neck. She looks paler than she did a few minutes ago. That can’t be good.
Adam chucks a plastic bag into the raft, along with Wendy’s purse and a tin first-aid kit, and then he climbs in himself, pushing them away from the plane. It’s already beginning to submerge, thick black smoke curling up from the tail. Kris doesn’t want to look at it anymore, doesn’t want to look at the debris floating around them, and so he focuses on Wendy. Even though it’s just as grim a sight as the sinking plane, at least he can do something for her.
There are paddles fixed to the inside of the raft, and Adam rows them away from the wreckage, the waves rolling them along. After a few minutes, Adam grunts with the effort, his teeth clenched.
Kris looks up at him, squinting in the harsh sunlight. “What do we do?”
“Look,” Adam says, and stops rowing long enough to point ahead of him.
Kris twists around and sees what Adam has in mind—there’s a tiny white-rimmed island, not too far off in the distance.
“We can’t stay out here. It’s close enough that when they come looking, they’ll see us. And—” Adam darts a glance at Wendy, swallows hard. “And we can do more for her there. Okay?”
“Okay,” Kris agrees, because it’s as good a plan as Kris can think of—he can’t even think at all, right now.
It takes half an hour for Adam to get them to shore. When they’re close, he hops out of the raft, hip-deep in the water, and pushes them in all the way until the raft hits the ocean floor. They both carry Wendy onto the dry sand, having to pause every few steps to readjust their hold on her blood-slick skin. Once she’s flat on the beach, Kris leans his ear down to her chest.
She isn’t breathing.
Kris learned CPR in ninth grade health class, but he can’t remember the specifics. So he does what he thinks he’s supposed to do: tilts Wendy’s chin up and breathes into her mouth a few times, and then pumps her chest with folded hands, one two three. His palms keep slipping against her skin, soaked with wet blood.
He waits for it to work. For her eyes to open, for her to cough and sputter out mouthfuls of seawater, to sit up and be okay. The way it happens in the movies.
He repeats the process over and over, breathe one two three, pump one two three, until it becomes more than just mechanical, but visceral, almost, he’s not even counting anything anymore, he’s just doing it—
Eventually Adam’s hand falls on his shoulder. “Kris,” he says softly. “She’s—” He stops, and in that heavy pause Kris hears everything he doesn’t want to say.
“No,” he pants, “I can still—” But he looks down at Wendy’s slack face, and it hits him, then, the uselessness of keeping at this, the horrible futility of it all.
When Adam draws him away from the body, Kris doesn’t resist. He doesn’t get far, though, before he sinks to his knees and vomits in the sand. He stays on his hands and knees even after he’s done heaving, and he can’t stop shaking, from nausea and fear and sobs trapped somewhere between his chest and throat.
Adam puts a hand on the back of Kris’s head and says, “Hey,” until Kris looks at him.
Behind Adam there’s the ocean, spread out as far as the eye can see; Kris can’t see the remnants of the plane anymore, but he’s not sure if that means it’s gone, or if it’s just too far away to make out in the fading light. The sun is setting already, and it’s happening fast, clear blue smoothed out into bruised violet and yellow.
“We’re going to wait here,” Adam says. “We’re going to wait, and they’re going to send help. They know where we are. They have satellites and GPS and coordinate locator thingies and, fuck, I don’t know, whatever they use. Shit, they’re probably already on their way now. So we just have to wait it out. Okay?”
Adam ducks his head to peer more closely at Kris, his concerned face filling his field of vision and blocking out the ocean. His eyes glitter dark in the twilight; you’d never know looking at them now how blue they are in the sun.
Kris forces himself to nod a little. “Yeah, okay.”
They sit on the sand and stare at Wendy for awhile in silence. There’s no sound save for the waves rumbling onto the shore, wind rustling through the trees somewhere behind their backs, and Adam breathing hard beside him. Kris pulls his knees up tight to his chest and wraps his arms around them, feeling something beyond hysterical. Mostly he’s just numb.
“Hey.” Adam nudges him in the side with an elbow. “Go clean up, okay? You’ll feel better.”
Kris is pretty sure that nothing will make him feel better at this point, but he gets up and walks to the shore anyway, dips his hands in the water and scrubs the blood off of his palms and arms. Not his blood. He tries not to think too much about that fact. The waves lap over his shoes as he leans down and splashes some of the cool water on his face. It stings when it hits the side of his temple where he banged his head. He touches the skin there experimentally. It’s already swollen. Shit.
Despite that, he actually does feel a little more human when he comes back. Adam has dragged the raft further up off the shore and started emptying its contents out onto the beach. Kris pokes through the plastic bag; it’s filled with whatever was stocked in the plane’s mini-fridge, a few cans of Diet Coke and little water bottles and five bags of pretzels and potato chips, and a bottle of Absolut. That one was on Adam’s request.
He turns it over in his hands and makes a face at Adam. “Really?”
“What? It was right there!” Adam says with a short laugh. “Besides, getting drunk seems very appropriate right now.” He holds out the bottle. “You want?”
Kris shakes his head no. Adam shrugs and twists off the cap, takes a long swig and then another, and then drags the pilot’s torn, bloodstained jacket off the sand and into his lap. He empties out the pockets—there’s a Swiss army knife in the pocket engraved with the guy’s initials, a lighter and half a pack of cigarettes, three cough drops, a wallet (“Patrick Dean McCormick,” Adam reads from the license, studying it for a few moments before tucking it carefully back under the plastic holder), and a phone that leaks water when Adam opens it.
Phones. They haven’t even checked theirs. Kris pulls his out and turns it on—no signal, and a dying battery. Of course. He turns it back off and drops it in the sand beside him.
“Fuck.” Adam pats all of his pockets, frowning. “I must’ve dropped mine on the—” He looks out at the ocean and shakes his head mournfully. “Well. This sucks.”
Now there’s an understatement for you, Kris thinks. He rubs the side of his throbbing head and says, “It wouldn’t have worked out here anyway.”
“No, but it’s going to be such a bitch reconstructing my contacts list.” Adam frowns at him. “Hey, is your head okay?”
“It’s fine. I just bumped it—”
“Let me look.”
Adam scooches over to him, brushes his fingers gently over Kris’s temple. Kris hisses when his thumb touches a tender spot, and Adam quickly withdraws his hand.
“Hang on,” he says, and reaches for the first-aid kit, rummages around and pulls out a packet of aspirin. He hands two of them to Kris along with one of the little bottles of water. “Take these. It’ll help.”
Kris swallows the pills dry and chases them with a mouthful of water, and when Adam rips open a bag of pretzels, he obediently eats some of those, too, even though he’s too queasy to be hungry.
“So what now?” he asks, after the pretzels are gone. The sun is sinking quickly behind the horizon, darkness creeping in. He shivers.
“Now we wait, I guess.” Adam shrugs. “If you want to sleep or something, I can keep lookout. I bet they’ll be coming any minute now.”
Kris really, really doubts that anyone even realizes they’re missing yet, and if they do, no one is going to send a rescue mission at night. But he doesn’t bother to point that out, just nods and lies with his back flat to the sand, gazing up at the rapidly darkening sky. The pounding in his head subsides after awhile, and he’s hit with a wave of exhaustion, but every time he closes his eyes, all he can see is Wendy’s face. The blood on his hands.
So instead he keeps his eyes open, focused on the stars overhead. Waiting.
He awakens to the insistent prodding of Adam’s boot in his ribs. At first he doesn’t remember where he is—but the waves rolling against the shore and the sand scratchy under his palms jerk him into awareness. Everything comes flooding back—the plane, the crash, the pilot, Wendy, all of it. Even more so when he sits up and his aching head screams in protest.
He blinks blearily up at Adam, who stands over him, hands fisted on his hips. “How long did I sleep?”
“Awhile,” Adam says. He waves a hand over his shoulder. “Long enough for me to do that.”
Kris stands up, brushing the sand off his jeans, and looks to where Adam’s gesturing. The letters SOS are spelled out huge in the sand.
“Nice,” he says appreciatively. He squints up at the sky. He can’t tell if he slept for a long time, or if the sun just rises early here; either way, it’s beating down hard. He’s sweating already. “Any planes go by?”
Adam sighs. “Not yet.”
They sit in the hot white sand, drinking lukewarm Diet Coke and staring out at the water. Adam picks up Wendy’s purse from where he’d set it with the other things and looks through it. There’s chapstick, a compact, a pack of tissues, a key ring, a pack of gum, her Blackberry, a trashy romance novel, other odds and ends. Kris takes the phone and turns it on. No bars, of course, but he can see the pictures she has saved. Most of them are of a little boy, no older than three, at what looks like some kind of picnic. He has bright blond hair and big eyes, and a wide smile on his face in each shot—eating a hot dog, feeding some ducks, sitting on the shoulders of an older man. Wendy’s husband, maybe. He thinks she mentioned having a son.
He shuts the phone and presses it to his chin, thinking about Katy. He wonders if she knows by now. If anyone’s told her.
Everyone probably thinks he’s dead.
The glare of the sun off the waves hurts Kris’s eyes, but he doesn’t want to look away, just in case he misses something. A boat, a plane, anything. But two hours pass and nothing comes, and it’s just getting hotter and hotter.
“We have to get out of this sun,” Kris says, when it becomes apparent that sitting around waiting isn’t going to get them anything but heat stroke.
Adam wipes the sweat off his forehead with one arm. “How, exactly, are we supposed to do that?”
“I don’t know, build a shelter or something?”
“Okay there, Tom Hanks.”
Kris ignores him and grabs the pilot’s pocket knife, heading toward the nearest grove of palm trees. After a few seconds Adam gives in, stands up and follows him. They use the pilot’s knife to cut some leafy palm fronds, and then drag them back closer to shore, where they stick the branches in the sand, carefully layering them across each other. The process takes a few hours, but eventually they manage to build something relatively sturdy that won’t collapse in on itself within five minutes.
In the time it takes to assemble a sort of lopsided lean-to, Kris doesn’t see a single plane, helicopter, or boat in sight. Nothing except a few birds circling over the waves.
He flops down next to Adam under the shade of the palm leaves and heaves a frustrated sigh. “Where are they?”
“On their way,” Adam assures him, sounding far more confident than Kris feels. He tears open another bag of pretzels and pops a handful into his mouth.
Kris watches him chew and says, “Maybe we should be careful with the food. Just in case…”
He doesn’t really want to consider the possibility that rescue isn’t on its way, but he figures one of them has to, and it’s not gonna be Adam.
“I’m telling you, the cavalry is coming,” Adam insists. He scoffs. “Hell, TMZ will probably storm in on a fucking motorboat any second now like this is Normandy. Those fuckers always track me down.”
But he rolls up the bag of pretzels and sets it aside anyway.
The cavalry doesn’t come.
Kris sleeps curled around Adam. He doesn’t stop to think about it; he just throws an arm over Adam’s waist and gathers him in, presses his face into the back of Adam’s neck. It gets surprisingly cold at night, and once the sun sets, it’s pitch dark. The total blackness freaks him out a little, so it’s nice to have Adam up against him, sharing his body heat, reminding him he’s not all alone out here. And Adam doesn’t seem to mind.
When he wakes up, though, his arms are empty. He crawls out of the shelter and finds Adam standing over Wendy’s body. It’s right where they left it.
“Hey,” he says softly as he approaches.
Adam starts a little and nods at him, then looks back at her.
“Do you think…” he starts, and then trails off. When Kris looks at him, he bites down on his bottom lip. “Should we do something? With… her?”
There’s a strong stench coming from the body, one that reminds Kris of the refugee camp in Mae Sot. It’s the smell of decay. Of death. And it’s only going to get worse with the sun out in full force like this.
“I mean, since we don’t know how long it’s going to be,” Adam continues, all in a rush, like he’s trying not to think too hard on what he’s saying, “before they find us, you know?”
Kris rubs his arms, suddenly shivery despite the heat. “Um. Yeah. We should probably… take care of it.”
They find a spot down the beach, further inland, where the sand is more compact. Together they dig a pit, using the pocket knife and rocks and sticks and their hands. Neither of them says a word as they dig; it takes a good hour before the hole is deep enough.
“You ready?” Adam asks, once they’ve returned to the body.
“Wait,” says Kris, and he peels off one of his socks, dips it in the ocean and uses it to clean some of the dried blood caked on her face; it doesn’t do much to make her presentable, but it’s the least he can do. He carefully slips off her high heels and pockets her wedding ring, and then he nods. “Yeah. I’m ready.”
They carry her to the grave, set her inside it and scoop the dirt back into the hole until she’s fully covered. By the time they’re done, Kris’s hands are streaked brown. Adam finds a few big rocks and places them at the head of the grave as a marker.
He comes next to Kris and puts a hand on his shoulder. “You want to say something?”
Kris thinks about it for a minute before shaking his head. Neither of them knew her well; this was a one-time assignment.
“I don’t know what to say either,” Adam admits, and then he starts crying. He quickly covers his face with one hand. “Shit, god, I’m sorry—”
“Shh.” Kris rubs his back. “Don’t apologize. It’s okay.”
“This is just—it’s so fucked up. All of it.”
Kris slides an arm around Adam’s waist and squeezes, feels Adam suck in a shaky breath.
“I know,” he says gently. “I know it is. We just have to… stick it out.”
A plan. What they need is a plan, or else this waiting around is going to drive them both out of their minds.
Kris racks his brain for everything he learned in every science class he has taken in his life. The problem is that Kris is not a science guy. Or a school guy in general. He managed to do well enough in his classes because he’s good at memorizing information quickly—it’s the same with sheet music and lyrics. But unlike the music, he never bothered to retain the academic stuff. It all ended up shoved down the garbage disposal of his brain in order to make room for what was more important. So while he could rattle off all the chord changes in Blackbird at the drop of a hat, he cannot for the life of him remember the periodic symbol for copper.
Still, it’s logic. Water has a cycle, right? Water evaporates in heat. And he’s pretty sure that when seawater condensates, it loses its salt. So he just needs to find a way to do that.
The first thing he does when they get back to their camp is empty out the first aid kit, fill it with seawater, and then collect some small shells and rocks. He brushes the sand off of them and puts them in the two empty mini water bottles. That weighs them down in the water when he sets them in the kit, and then he covers all of it with the plastic bag. The sun should take care of the rest.
Adam looks on with interest and says, “Did you used to be a cub scout or something?”
“Actually, no, I never joined their distinguished ranks.”
“I was.” When Kris twists around to shoot him a look of surprise, Adam huffs out a laugh. “Ooh, did I just blow your mind?”
Kris grins. “A little bit.”
“I was seven, and it was only for about two seconds. Not long enough to learn anything useful.” Adam picks up a piece of driftwood and twirls it around in his hand like a baton. “Of course, I didn’t think I’d ever need to know how to start a fire by rubbing sticks together. Jesus.” He flings the wood toward the water.
“We don’t have to rub sticks,” Kris says. “We have the lighter. We just need… you know. Stuff to burn.”
Adam looks over his shoulder. “I can take care of that.”
Kris follows his gaze to the dense jungle behind them, his stomach in knots. “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he tells him. “There are probably, uh, things in there. Bad things. That bite.”
But Adam looks unconcerned. “I’ll be careful. I’ll bring the knife,” he says. “You stay here and keep lookout, okay?”
Kris hems and haws and—screw it. One of them has to go. “I’m giving you half an hour,” he says warningly.
Adam takes off, armed with the knife, while Kris sits under the shade of the shelter. He reaches a hand into his pocket and pulls out Wendy’s ring. The band is silver and encrusted with a white diamond. Kind of similar to Katy’s, only fancier. Of course, that isn’t saying much—he’d been near broke when he bought her ring, had to beg his dad for the money with the promise of paying him back, and even then ended up with something pretty cheap.
After Idol, he’d told Katy she could upgrade it, if she wanted, but she declined, said she would never. He loved her even more for that.
He swallows hard against the lump in his throat and yanks one of his shoe laces free, slides Wendy’s ring onto it. He ties it tight around his neck so the metal rests against his chest. It seems safer this way, where he doesn’t have to worry about losing it, where he can just feel it on him all the time.
It makes him panicky to not have Adam here, so he sings to himself to pass the time. He decides to sing ten Beatles songs, and if Adam isn’t back by the time he’s done, he’ll go searching. He gets halfway through the tenth song— Penny Lane—when Adam emerges back to their makeshift camp.
“Any luck?” he calls, jumping to his feet, heart thudding against his chest. He didn’t realize before how fast it was beating.
Adam walks toward him with a big grin, arms loaded down with bundles of branches and sticks, and—
“Are those coconuts?” Kris asks.
“Hell yes they are,” Adam nearly crows. He drops everything at his feet. “I hit the coconut tree jackpot, motherfucker. There are a ton of them, not far back.”
He tosses one of the coconuts to Kris, who catches it, and then picks up the other, attempting to spin it on his finger like a basketball.
“Maybe we can use the coconut oil as sunscreen,” he says thoughtfully.
“You would say that, ginger,” Kris teases.
But actually, that’s not a bad idea. This amount of sun exposure can’t be good; Adam’s already a bright pink, his eyes a little puffy. The last thing they need is to get sun poisoning.
“Let’s crack this baby open.” Adam whips out the pocket knife, holding down the coconut, and stabs it viciously. A second later he cries out. “Oh, fuck me—”
Kris hurries to his side. “What did you do?”
Adam holds out his hand—the blade sliced the webbed skin between his thumb and index finger. The cut’s not deep, but it’s still bleeding. Kris grabs the bandage tape from the first aid kit and wraps it quickly around the wound.
“Does it hurt?” he asks, once Adam’s all taped up.
“Not too bad,” Adam says.
Kris watches him, trying to figure out if he’s lying, but he looks okay.
“Give me that.” He takes the knife and steadies the coconut between his knees, carves a hole into the shell. It takes a minute but he manages to do it without stabbing himself. He offers it to Adam, and Adam brings it to his lips and drinks the milk thirstily.
“How is it?” Kris asks.
Adam shrugs and says, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” He extends the coconut to Kris. “Wanna try?”
Kris shakes his head. “All yours.”
He starts to gather up the kindling when Adam’s hand grabs his wrist. Kris freezes as Adam runs his fingers over his faint bruises. They’re in the shape of Adam’s fingerprints, from when he squeezed too hard on the plane.
“I’m sorry,” he says softly, eyes still on Kris’s wrist. “I didn’t mean to—”
“I know,” he cuts in. He looks down at the sand. “I’m glad that you—if that was gonna be, you know—”
The end. He can’t bring himself to finish the thought out loud, but it hangs in the air between them.
“Well,” Adam says after a moment, “this is pretty much the worst vacation ever, I’d say.”
“Pretty much,” Kris agrees. He lies down with his back to the sand and blinks up at the sky. “I’m just glad Katy couldn’t come. “
“Yeah, thank God for that.” Adam flops down next to him so their shoulders are pressed together. “How is she, anyway?”
“She’s good. I think.” Off of Adam’s raised eyebrow, he adds, “I feel like I never see her anymore, you know? I’m working so much, and I keep saying, once I’m done with this album, this tour, then we’ll have time. But it never happens. And now—” His voice wavers so badly he has to stop for a second. “What if I never see her again? And it’s all my fault, because I didn’t try hard enough while we—”
“Don’t say that,” Adam says sharply. “You’ll see her again. You’ll make the time. You will.” He reaches down and squeezes Kris’s knee. “We’re going to get through this. I promise.”
That night they manage to build a small fire using the lighter and some dry kindling and thick log-like branches, enough to keep them warm. This time Adam is the one to hold Kris. He winds an arm around Kris’s stomach, pulls him in tight, and kisses the top of his head. Kris doesn’t need the body heat when they have the fire, but he’s glad anyway.
He closes his eyes and thinks about what Adam said. He wants to believe him, but he’s not so sure.
Four days pass, and with each one, Kris’s hope dissolves a little more, and everything about this situation feels more and more real.
All of his joints ache, and he’s covered in bug bites, and even with the coconut oil, they’re both sunburned. The heat is blistering and intense, even under the little shade they have. He’s hungry and, he’s pretty sure, dehydrated, even though they’ve carefully rationed the water supply. His contraption which had, at the time, seemed so clever, doesn’t do much to collect water; he’s lucky to fill the bottle an inch overnight, and he ends up licking the drops off plastic.
Adam wandered one day into the jungle and managed to drain raindrops collected on leaves into a bottle, and found some puddles, too, deep enough to fill another. But it hasn’t rained since they arrived, and Kris knows it’s only a matter of time before that source dries up.
They’ve gone through not only most of the water, but most of the food—they’re down to Wendy’s gum pack, the cough drops, and a steady supply of coconut milk. The hunger gnaws at him, a constant ache, and it makes it hard to concentrate on anything, to want to do anything other than curl up in the fetal position clutching his stomach.
On top of everything else, Kris hasn’t seen a single ship or plane since they got here.
It feels useless, at this point, but he sits under the shelter and scans the horizon anyway, until his eyes nearly cross from the strain. He rubs them tiredly with one hand and looks over at Adam—he’s in the water, in past his waist, holding a long branch in one hand. The pocket knife is tied to the tip with one of his boot laces; all morning he’s tried to spear fish with it, to no avail. He’s been trying for days now.
Adam’s shoulders look less red today, peeling away to a tanner shade. Kris knows if he was close enough, he’d be able to make out the freckles sprinkled on his skin; sometimes at night, when Adam falls asleep first, he traces them with his fingers in the flickering firelight. He knows Adam’s embarrassed by his freckles, but it’s one of the things Kris loves about him. Something so simple, but it’s part of Adam the rest of the world doesn’t get to see, the pieces that make him so human.
He stands on shaky legs and walks up to the shore, watching as Adam lifts the spear up, perfectly poised. A second later, it splashes down hard in the water.
Adam growls in frustration. “Mother of fuck!”
“No luck?” Kris guesses, even though he doesn’t have to ask.
Adam doesn’t answer, too absorbed in… whatever he’s doing. Getting in the hunter zone. Whatever.
Kris says, “I’m gonna go check out the jungle. All right?”
“Yeah, okay,” he says without turning around, probably only half-listening. “Just be safe, okay?”
The jungle has no path; it’s all brush and thick vines, but Kris beats his way through, ignoring the slap of branches against his chest and legs. He stops after a minute and looks back, worried he might not be able to find his way back again. But he’s come this far, so.
After a little while the trees space out more, and he stumbles into a small clearing. There’s not much around—coconut trees, yeah, but that’s about it. He bends down to examine some of the other plants, experimentally pulls a few of them up out of the ground. Some of them have what look to be edible roots. He figures they can be boiled and hopefully be safe. At this point they have to take risks.
Unfortunately, Kris was right about the rainwater; he doesn’t see any out here at all. But he puts his hand on the ground and notices it’s surprisingly cool. He thinks maybe if he digs, he can hit groundwater. At first he uses the knife, and then once the hard dirt is broken through, he just hollows it out with his hands and digs and digs, ignoring the aching in his arms.
He’s not sure how long it takes, but finally the hole is big enough for him to stand in it. The clay seems to be getting more moist the further he goes down. That has to be a good sign. He decides to leave it for now and come back later to see if there’ll be any water in it.
“I am going to kill you!” Adam yells when he makes his way back to the beach. His eyes are a little wild, and he grabs Kris roughly, shaking him by the shoulders. “Do you have any idea how fucking freaked out I’ve been? You can’t just disappear like that.”
Kris pushes him off. “I told you where I was going.”
“You were gone for an hour! Jesus Christ, I thought something happened.”
“Something did happen.” Kris drops the roots down by the fire. “I think if we boil these in water, they should be okay to eat.” He looks up at Adam, who is still wide-eyed, expression borderline hysterical, and he goes over and puts his arms around him. “I’m sorry, okay? I won’t do it again. I swear.”
“You fucking better not,” Adam mumbles into his shoulder, but he relaxes and returns the hug. He pulls back and smiles. “And hey, I have a surprise for you, too.”
He shows Kris the fish he managed to catch. Three of them. Skinny little ones, but still.
Kris stares at them in disbelief. “You actually did it? Are you serious?”
“You better believe it!” Adam replies with a broad grin. “Tonight, we feast like kings!”
Okay, maybe not kings, but it’s the best meal they’ve had so far. Adam spears the fish on a thin stick and rotates them in the flames. They have to eat them right off the sticks, and try to nibble around the bones, but still, it might as well be filet mignon as far as Kris is concerned.
He uses an empty coconut shell to boil some of the fresh water—the process is tricky, but he’s able to do it by using two pieces of driftwood as tongs and holding it above the fire. It takes a few tries but works. Adam places the roots in the coconut shell and lets them boil. They don’t taste that great, but they’re hungry enough to not care.
They sit around singing songs and eating and feeling better about the situation, and it’s sort of like a summer camp bonfire, minus the vodka that Adam breaks out.
“You clearly didn’t go to theater camp,” Adam says around the lip of the bottle, taking another pull.
And Kris laughs—a real laugh, loud and unexpected, bubbling out of him like champagne overflowing from an uncorked bottle. It feels so good that he doesn’t want to stop. Adam cracks up, too, reaching over to clap Kris on the back, and Kris leans into him, feeling better than he has in days.
Things start to get both easier and harder from there in out.
Easier because there’s more of a routine to their days: Adam spends the mornings collecting fish while Kris is in charge of the water. His hole in the jungle actually worked—Kris went back the next day to see that water had slowly oozed out of the clay and made a pool. The first time he saw it, he couldn’t believe it; he dipped his hand in it, touched a finger to his lips to be sure he wasn’t dreaming.
The water is a little muddy and gross, but it’s fresh, and one night gives him enough for two days supply. And Adam gets better at the fishing thing—he manages to catch a few each day, enough for them to live off of.
But it’s also harder because they’ve been here long enough for Kris to realize that they may be stuck for a really, really long time. Indefinitely. He barely bothers to look out at the ocean anymore; it just seems futile, because nothing ever comes. It’s just azure water stretching out as far as the eye can see. It’d be gorgeous if it wasn’t so scary.
Kris doesn’t want a routine, but he gets one anyway. He doesn’t bother wearing his shirt anymore, or his jeans, just walks around in his boxers, barefoot unless he’s going into the jungle. When he looks in Wendy’s little compact mirror, his face stares back at him, browned by the sun.
He and Adam bathe in the ocean naked, scrubbing their skin with sand. It’s not really awkward; Kris has seen Adam naked before, once accidentally walked in on him naked in the early days of Idol when they roomed together. It wasn’t a big deal then, and it’s not a big deal now.
Still, Kris finds himself sneaking looks at Adam sometimes. The thing is, he doesn’t usually think of guys as beautiful—but Adam kind of is, like this. Well. Okay. Adam’s always been a pretty guy, but Kris likes him better this way, without hiding behind the stage makeup and crazy outfits. He’s always preferred when things are stripped down bare—songs and people. Like how he always finds Katy as her prettiest in the mornings, with her tousled bed hair and naked face. He likes how imperfections can make people more beautiful.
“I don’t usually get naked with boys and not fuck them,” Adam jokes, and Kris blushes all the way up to the tips of his ears.
He splashes Adam with a spray of water and says, “Well, Lambert, if you play your cards right…”
And then Adam reaches over and dunks him, laughing wildly.
When they’re not preoccupied with surviving, they sit around and talk. It’s the most time they’ve had with each other in a year.
They did drift apart a little, after the tour, but for Kris, it felt only natural for them to have a certain parting of the ways then. Most of the time, Kris was too busy to be too sad about that. And he knew Adam already had an established life in L.A.—he had a circle of friends and family nearby, not to mention an album of his own to record and promote, and a media damn near obsessed with his every move.
Besides, there were still phone calls and emails at least once a week, and the occasional lunch or dinner. It wasn’t a total blackout, even if they didn’t see each other as much as he wished they could’ve. He’s still always considered Adam one of his best friends. The kind he’d drop anything and everything for. He likes to think he’s the same to Adam.
If he couldn’t keep up with Adam as much as he wanted, all he had to do was check the tabloids. Every week Kris heard some new story. Adam supposedly trashing a hotel room at the Hilton, Adam getting in a fight with Britney Spears at a nightclub and calling her a crazy bitch, rumors linking Adam to pretty much every male celebrity on the scene— regardless of age, sexual orientation, or marital status.
“None of those are true,” Adam says with a roll of his eyes. They’re in the jungle, snapping off branches for firewood. It’s hard to find the dry stuff. He stops, considering. “Okay, I did call Britney a psycho, but that was only after she threw a drink on my friend Evan for no reason. I mean, seriously, bitch is straight up crazy.” He levels Kris with a curious look. “So what about you? Any scandalous celebrity encounters?”
Kris shrugs. “Not really.”
He doesn’t frequent the night scene in L.A., doesn’t attend many events unless the label forces him. He always feels awkward and out of place at those things, like he’s waiting for someone to walk up and ask him what he thinks he’s doing there.
He thinks for a minute and snaps his fingers. “Oh! Once I peed next to Jack Nicholson in the bathroom at a Lakers game.”
“No shit! Did you get a look at his dick?”
“Are you kidding? The guy is scary. I was terrified. But I did notice he left without washing his hands. That was, uh, kind of gross.”
Adam snorts. “Jack Nicholson is unhygienic? Someone alert Page Six!”
Kris pokes him with a stick, and then they start sword-fighting with the branches, until Adam jabs him in the ribcage and Kris jumps on his back.
“You’re like a damn monkey!” Adam cries, staggering under Kris’s weight.
Kris locks his arms under Adam’s neck. “I’m scrappy.”
“You’re so going down, Allen.”
“Hmm, I don’t think so. You underestimate me. I’m the underdog. The dark horse. It’s my schtick.”
Adam sinks down to his knees and rolls Kris off his back, and they wrestle with each other, biting at shoulders and elbows until they’re both exhausted with laughter. Kris ends up sprawled with his face pushed into Adam’s stomach. Adam smells like sun and dirt and sweat, and when he opens his mouth a little, he tastes the salt of Adam’s skin.
“Stop trying to distract me,” Adam says breathlessly. He rolls over, pins Kris underneath him and holds down his wrists. His face hovers close, chapped lips breaking into a triumphant grin. “Ha! I win. Suck on it.”
With no one else around, Kris touches Adam a lot. When they first met, Adam kept a safe distance, and once Kris caught onto why he was doing it, he went out of his way to make sure Adam knew how much it didn’t matter. And once Adam realized that, they always made excuses to touch each other—hugs and back pats and neck squeezes and kicking each other under the table.
It changed a little after the Rolling Stone piece, at least in public. The media didn’t blink twice at stories about drug-fueled epiphanies at Burning Man and instead ran with the ADAM LAMBERT WANTS IN KRIS ALLEN’S PANTS angle until Adam was embarrassed he’d said anything in the first place—or at least as embarrassed as Adam ever got.
“I just really don’t want the ‘predatory gay’ label,” Adam explained. “And your career doesn’t need the fucking speculation either.”
Kris didn’t care about the speculation—the media would say whatever they wanted to say—but he cared about what Adam wanted. That was most important, so he’d agreed, and after that there was always an uncomfortable awareness in public that hadn’t been there before.
But there are no cameras or paparazzi here. Kris likes that he doesn’t have to think about it before he grabs Adam in a hug, or leans against him, or huddles by him at night when it gets cold. They wake up tangled together and it just feels natural. It’s funny because he’s spent months living out of hotel rooms, and hardly any time in the same bed as Katy; he’s missed this, having someone this close.
And he needs it. He needs the closeness, the human contact, needs Adam.
But that’s nothing new.
One early morning Kris wakes up and Adam isn’t there.
He lifts his head off the ground and peers out from under the palm leaves toward the shore. Sure enough, there’s Adam, bathing in the ocean, completely naked, his back to Kris. He cups his hands and splashes the water onto his front, over his shoulders. It runs down his back in rivulets. Kris watches the lines of him, the way his black hair shines in the emerging sunlight.
His hand moves seemingly of his own volition. He doesn’t even fully realize what he’s doing until it’s slid under his boxers, over his dick, and he’s already halfway to rubbing one out. He closes his eyes and holds his breath and tries hard to think of Katy. Of her soft curves and pink mouth and glossy blonde hair. But the images don’t come, and all he can see is Adam, Adam’s sculpted shoulders, Adam’s brown skin so hot to the touch, the shape of his hips, the flat of his muscled stomach leading to that curl of dark hair—
And that’s when he comes.
Oh, he thinks, and then: Shit.
He lies there for awhile, trying to figure out what, exactly, this means.
His relationship with Adam has always been… different. And it isn’t that he hasn’t ever thought of Adam in this context. Who hasn’t? It’s Adam, after all—he exudes sex, practically demands for people to think of him like that. Kris is secure enough to admit he’s always found Adam attractive, if only in an objective sort of way.
It’s just, there’s always been Katy. And Katy’s always been enough. She should still be enough, he thinks, and his stomach twists with guilt. He shouldn’t be thinking of anyone else like that when he’s married. If he’s going to jerk off at all, it should be to the thought of her, not Adam.
But it isn’t that simple. It’s not about loving Katy less. It’s just that part of him wants Adam now, too.
Eventually he comes to the conclusion that he needs to just push this all out of his mind. Adam is his best friend, and Katy is his wife, and that’s how it is. How it will stay. Even if his dick has other ideas.
He drags himself into the ocean, shivering at the first cold wave that breaks over his legs, and cleans himself off as discretely as possible before Adam notices.
Adam doesn’t notice. He just turns and smiles at him like nothing’s changed.
Except Kris is pretty sure that everything has.