ggjunkie33: (Music:: Kradam: Plus he's cute)
[personal profile] ggjunkie33
Title: (Does Anybody Know) How to Hold My Heart
Author: [livejournal.com profile] ggjunkie33
Artist: [livejournal.com profile] acquiescence_
Pairing: Kris/Adam
Rating: PG-13
Length: ~7,500 words
Warnings: Some angst.
A/N: The title comes from the song Hold My Heart by Sara Bareilles. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] claire_kay, [livejournal.com profile] condancer, [livejournal.com profile] anobakitay, and [livejournal.com profile] bright_lights28 for the betas! You all make my writing a bajillion times better. A thank you also goes out to everyone on twitter and here on livejournal who cheered me on - I couldn't have done this without your support. Oh, and tell [livejournal.com profile] claire_kay thank you for the pool scene – she is the reason there is one in this fic :) 
Summary: College AU. Adam, Kris, and a group of friends take a road trip during spring break of their senior year. Adam returns home with more than he’d hoped for. [Written for [livejournal.com profile] kradamreversebb.]
 
The incredibly awesome art is by [livejournal.com profile] acquiescence_, and the art masterpost is here. There's more art there, so GO CHECK IT OUT and leave feedback and tell her how much you love it!!!
 
 

--



“Hey, Adam, turn the music down, you’re going to drive everyone crazy before we even hit noon.”

At Charles’s suggestion, Adam turns the volume up and throws his hand towards the back of the car to flip him off.

It is spring break of their senior year of college, and a bunch of Adam’s friends had decided to take a road trip together before they all head off into the real world.

They had a pretty big group, actually – Adam, Brad, Charles, Allison, Megan, Tommy, Cale, Danielle, and Kris. They’d all been friends since their sophomore year when Tommy had transferred to UCLA and introduced Adam and Kris, and their friendship had brought their two groups together. Now, they were almost inseparable, and their group did everything together.

It was amazing how well they all got along, considering how different they all were. They all shared a common love of music though, and they always found that, if nothing else, they could always resort to a debate over what was the best album of the year so far.

At the moment, they were all squished into Danielle’s parents’ mini-van, and there were at least three different conversations going on at once. Adam had called dibs on the passenger seat, so he’s sitting up front with Danielle while Kris, Allison, and Cale were in the middle row with Matt, Megan, Tommy, and Brad in the very back.

“Where are we?” Tommy asks.

“In the middle of bumfuck, nowhere, apparently,” Brad mutters.

“We haven’t even gone three hours into the drive, keep your pants on, Bradley,” Danielle answers.

Adam rolls his eyes. “Don’t mind him, he hates being stuck in cars for long periods of time.”

Danielle shoots him a quick smile before focusing her eyes back on the road. “Don’t worry, I’m used to Bradley’s sulking by now.”

Adam can see Brad huff and sulk even more through the rear view mirror, and he sees Megan hide a smile in the curve of her arm which she disguises as a cough.

Adam turns back to the radio and changes the station at the commercial, and they all sing along in a hilariously over the top way when “Don’t Stop Believing” comes on, and Adam grins to himself as he looks out the front window.

He has a feeling this is going to be an awesome trip.

-

They reach the hotel several hours and a couple pit stops later, and stumble out of the van stiff-limbed and groaning.

They’ve split up into three rooms, and he sees Kris head over to the check-in counter to get the keys for their room – Kris and Cale are sharing with him for the whole trip, and it’s going to be awesome. The three girls are sharing the second room, and the rest of the guys share the third.

They’re all tired after a ten-hour drive – they’d wanted to get to Seattle in two days instead of three, which meant more hours per day spent stuck in the van – and so they all separate to shuffle off to their respective rooms with an agreement to meet up the next morning at the ungodly hour of 7:30am to eat breakfast together before heading back out onto the road for another nine or ten hours.

Adam is exhausted even though all he’s done is sit all day, and Kris has to grab onto his arm in the hallway at one point to keep him from tripping over his feet.

“Dude, careful. If you pass out or something I can’t promise that Cale and I can carry you to the room,” Kris says. He’s slurring his speech a bit, vowels dragging out deliciously in the way his voice gets when he’s really tired, and Adam feels a flash of heat rush through him despite how tired he is.

Adam laughs at the mental image of Kris and Cale, both stick-skinny, trying to carry him through the hallway of the hotel at almost ten-thirty at night. Once he starts he can’t stop, and he’s laughing hysterically, bent in half at the waist, Kris and Cale trying to simultaneously shush him and ask him what’s so funny before they end up succumbing to the giggles themselves. They all end up stumbling down the hallway together, laughing their heads off like crazy fools, and Adam starts up laughing again just as he settles down at the thought of what the three of them look like right now.

Thankfully, they make it into their room fairly quickly after that (after three tries of entering the room – hey, putting the key card in the slot straight is hard when you’re laughing), and Adam flops down onto the nearest bed to muffle his laughter.

He’s already wheezing for breath, but then Kris jumps on top of him and despite being small, Kris is no slouch in the muscle department so Adam gets the air knocked out of him a bit.

Adam relaxes into the mattress as he catches his breath, feeling the hard lines of Kris’s body above him and enjoying the way Kris is absentmindedly rubbing his hand across Adam’s upper back. He can feel each breath Kris takes, chest rising and falling, and just when Adam starts to think he could fall asleep like this Kris gets up, trailing his hand across the width of Adam’s back as he shuffles past Cale into the bathroom.

They’re taking turns sharing the beds, and tonight Adam is the lucky one to get his own bed, so after Kris finishes in the bathroom Adam quickly takes his turn, and then plops down right in the middle of his bed and is out within minutes.

-

The next day passes by quicker than the first, even though they have more miles to drive through than they did yesterday. They pass the time with crazy conversations, games of “who can find the most license plates from different states,” “slugbug no punchback,” a sort of “I Spy” where they go through the alphabet finding different things for each letter, and sing-a-longs to a bunch of the different songs on the radio. He would say it feels like he’s in a Lifetime movie or something except for how they replace song lyrics with random words (or, more often, swear words or gratuitous imagery) and how they search for swear words on license plates.

They also play musical chairs more than once, switching up the seating arrangement so that they get to talk to different people throughout the day.

It’s nice to be surrounded by so many close friends. This last quarter of school was a bit of a nightmare, and he’s so happy to finally be on a break that the feeling is almost giddy. Plus, switching seating around is a good preventative measure so that no one will want to kill each other before they reach their hotel.

The afternoon passes by pleasantly, especially since Adam gets to sit next to Kris for a while, and talking with Kris is always interesting. They never seem to run out of things to talk about, and even when it’s silent between them it seems more like they’re just taking a break from all the other things they could say.

He enjoyed sitting next to Allison earlier too – she’s like a sister to him, only he imagines she’s much less annoying and much more energetic than any sister he would’ve had.

Tonight it’s Adam’s turn to drive, and he settles into the driver’s side after adjusting the seat – no one else really has legs as long as his, so when he gets in after Kris or Allison have been driving he is really, really squished. Everyone else finds it funny to watch, and Adam definitely hears some giggles as he climbs in since this time Brad had just taken his turn, and goodness knows Brad is quite a bit shorter than him, so he ends up with his knees digging into the steering wheel.

Time passes by slowly even though the scenery is pretty, and the drive is mostly quiet this time since it’s getting late in the evening and everyone’s tired from the long travel days that have been one after the other.

They stop at a rest stop with about an hour left of driving to do, and Adam stretches his stiff limbs as he walks around the small area. His rolls his head to stretch his neck and winces.

Hands land on his shoulders and he jumps.

“Jumpy, are we?” Kris’s amused tone makes Adam smile, even as his heart still races in his chest.

Adam feels the hands on his shoulders squeeze, and he groans softly at how good it feels.

“Tired,” Adam answers.

Kris digs in harder with his fingers at that, and Adam pushes up slightly into his hands. He didn’t know Kris was so good at this or he’d have asked him for a back rub much earlier.

“Do you need me to take over driving for a bit?”

Adam contemplates his offer for a second, but, “No, I think I’ll be good. Especially if you’ll do this for me again when we get to the hotel.”

Adam can almost hear Kris’s smile.

-

They finally arrive in Seattle at around nine, and the whole group hangs out in the girls’ room for about an hour before the boys are unceremoniously kicked out because the girls are tired and want to go to bed.

It’s currently a little past midnight and Adam can’t sleep. He doesn’t know why – he should be tired after the long day they’ve had – but he can’t seem to shut his mind off. He turns over, pulling the covers down a bit from where they feel like they’re choking him.

“Adam?” Kris’s soft whisper comes from a few feet to his left.

“Sorry, sorry.” He winces. “Didn’t mean to wake you up, go back to sleep.”

“ ‘S okay,” Kris mumbles. “What’s up?”

“Can’t sleep.”

“Mmm,” is Kris’s answer.

It’s quiet for a couple minutes, and Adam lies there staring into the darkness, trying to make out the weird shape on the ceiling to his right. Kris must’ve fallen asleep again; Adam can’t hear much except soft breaths and the occasional rustle in the room.

“Okay, now I’m awake,” Kris says, sighing, and Adam can feel it when he sits up in the bed.

“Sorry,” Adam says again.

Luckily they don’t have to worry too much about waking Cale up – he sleeps like a rock most nights, which while it’s awesome for pulling pranks, it’s not so awesome when you’re the one who has to go wake him up when he sleeps through his alarm. Mostly because Cale also tends to hit people who wake him up.

Kris just laughs a little, and says, “Pool?”

“Sure,” Adam agrees, and by unspoken agreement he heads into the bathroom to change first.

There’s something he’s always found soothing and kind of awesome about pools and oceans, about the stillness and quiet of water late at night when there’s no one else around – something kind of poetic about it – and to share that moment with Kris means something.

They head out to the pool around 12:30am, walking in comfortable silence with their arms brushing. Adam shivers at the contact of bare skin, and when Kris asks him if he’s cold he latches onto the excuse.

They get to the pool and enter quietly. It’s deserted, unsurprisingly, and Adam’s simultaneously grateful and nervous all at once. Being alone with Kris means that Kris will have no one else to look at, and as much as Adam knows he’s got a pretty good body these days – the boys that hit on him in clubs certainly affirm that for him, if nothing else –it doesn’t mean that sometimes the self-consciousness of his teenage years doesn’t rear its head.

Adam strips his t-shirt off quickly, like pulling off a band-aid, and avoids Kris’s gaze as he steps into the water, not wanting to even have the possibility of seeing disgust in his eyes.

He turns around just in time to see Kris strip his own shirt off, and damn. His gaze travels over Kris’s defined pecs and toned abs, and his fingers twitch in the water with the urge to touch. He wrenches his gaze away as Kris looks up again and steps into the water himself.

When he looks back, Kris is a couple feet from him, water rippling from the disturbance. He opens his mouth to speak, then shuts it again abruptly once he sees Kris’s face.

Kris’s eyes are darker than normal, his heated gaze traveling along Adam’s body, lingering around his chest.

“See something you like, Allen?” Adam teases.

Kris realizes that he’s been caught and blushes adorably, pink staining his cheeks, but he also has a spark in his eyes that makes Adam think of wet, slippery skin, arms and legs intertwined, and what the wet heat of their mouths meeting would feel like.

It makes Adam flush, and he breaks the shared gaze, staring now at the water’s surface, and shifts his feet. He opens his mouth again to say something, anything to break the tension, but has to shut it when his mind goes completely blank.

That’s when he’s hit with a huge wave of water that comes out of nowhere, some of it going up his nose and in his eyes, and he smells the chlorine strongly as he splutters.

Kris is laughing now, smile stretching his face, and Adam almost can’t be annoyed with him. Almost.

“Oh, you are so in for it now. It’s on.”

Kris squeaks and backs up quickly, and Adam chases him, sending forth his own wave of water with a sweep of his hands.

They’re swimming like crazy fools now, going in circles around each other and trying to dodge the other’s splashes while getting some good ones of their own in, and Adam can’t remember the last time he laughed so much.

Kris is just a few feet away, hands pulled back to start a wave, when Adam sees his opportunity and plunges forward, darting around Kris and stopping right behind him. Before Kris realizes what’s happened and can turn around, Adam reaches out and grabs his arms, pulling them behind his back.

“Gotcha,” Adam whispers into Kris’s ear.

Kris shudders against him, and turns his face sideways, putting his mouth only a couple inches from Adam’s, and Adam can feel Kris’s breath on his lips. He’s so close they’re practically sharing breaths now, Adam’s exhale becoming Kris’s inhale. Adam feels the weight of Kris’s body against him, warm and solid, and he feels it when Kris starts leaning in, mouth getting closer.

Adam’s frozen for a split second, flashes of scenes going through his mind of kissing Kris and then being pushed away, of disgust and pity spreading across Kris’s face, of losing Kris’s friendship. He acts, panicking, and dunks Kris’s head under the water before swimming away quickly.

When Kris emerges from the water Adam laughs, high and a bit fake, at the expression on his face – his nose is all scrunched up adorably and his eyes are squeezed shut. Adam’s heart aches a bit and his mind is racing, and he’s still not entirely sure what just happened.

Kris grimaces as he wipes water out of his eyes, and Adam tips over to float on his back for a bit, trying to calm his racing heart and not wanting to see whatever expression must be taking over Kris’s face. He scrolls through the options in his mind: regret, disappointment, relief, confusion. He’d rather not know which one it is.

The water is still, and everything quiets to a low hush for a moment before he feels the surface of the water shift near him.

“Hey, do you want to head over to the hot tub now? I’m getting a little tired,” Kris says, voice sounding funnily warped, as if the words bent and twisted when they hit the water before they reached Adam’s submerged ears.

“Sure,” Adam replies as he rights himself and then sloshes his way towards the steps, following Kris out of the pool.

Adam admires the water that streams off of Kris as he walks, and the droplets that cling to his arms as they sink into the luxurious heat of the hot tub. Adam wants to lick those biceps, lick up to his neck and mark him there on his collarbone where everyone else can see who he belongs to.

Kris catches his gaze and Adam flushes and looks away quickly. He can feel Kris’s stare like a tangible press on his skin, but thankfully Kris stays silent.

It’s not the first time Kris has caught him staring. Kris has never said anything about it though, and Adam follows his cues and keeps quiet as well. It’s an unspoken thing between them, and it will stay that way unless Kris chooses differently. Especially after what just happened tonight. As good of friends as they are, there’s no way Adam’s going to tell him about his maybe-not-so-innocent crush without Kris asking. Kris is straight, or at least Adam thought he was, and even if Kris isn’t straight Adam doubts Kris would ever want to be in a relationship with him. Kris dates girls who are kind, and cute, and do things like volunteer at animal shelters and go to church every Sunday and plant trees in the local park with a volunteer group.

Adam is pretty much none of those things, and while he loves who he is now, sometimes he wishes things were different.

But Adam knows it won’t do to dwell on the way things could be; this is the way things are now, and sometimes you just have to accept that in reality you can’t always get what you want.

They head back to their room soon, as the awkward silence proves to be too much for both of them, and Adam drops off to sleep feeling uneasy.

-

For a couple of days their whole group goes around and does cliché tourist things together, like visiting the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project (EMP). They even try out a ridiculous thing called “Ride the Ducks” - which turns out to be an amphibious vehicle tour of Seattle – and while Adam pretends to be embarrassed the entire time, he’s actually having tons of fun, laughing at everyone who gives their vehicle strange looks. Adam already has hundreds of pictures on his camera, and it’s probably the best spring break he’s ever had.

The last day in Seattle everyone wanders off in smaller groups, and Adam is kind of hoping to go shopping or something else fun that would explore part of Seattle they haven’t seen yet. Emphasis on the fun part. What Kris wants to do is not exactly Adam’s idea of fun, generally.

“Adam, come on, please.”

Kris is doing the puppy eyes again, and fucking hell, Adam really doesn’t want to go to a college basketball game, but the puppy eyes are killing him.

“It’s March Madness,” he says, like Adam’s supposed to know what the hell that means. Adam continues to stare at him.

“It’ll be so much fun, I promise.” Kris looks adorable today, wearing the blue and red and purple plaid that makes his brown eyes shine. It’s one of Adam’s favorite things on Kris, despite how much he teases Kris about his plaid obsession.

“Okay, fine, I’ll go.”

Adam sighs, and Kris fist pumps in victory.

He refuses to acknowledge just how adorable that is.

-

They get their tickets and figure out where their seats are, buying popcorn on the way, because of course Kris always gets a snack every time they go somewhere. To the movies, to a play, to a sporting event – well, okay, Adam wouldn’t know about that, seeing as he doesn’t go to many sporting events, but he would be surprised if Kris didn’t get anything. Kris eats like crazy a lot of the time and yet he never seems to gain a single pound. Adam is jealous.

Charles and Cale decide to join them, and they settle into their seats about fifteen minutes before the game is due to start. It’s actually a pretty good view of the court from what Adam can tell, and Charles and Cale certainly seem to be enjoying the fact that the cheerleaders are only two or three rows away. Adam just rolls their eyes at them and focuses on the players warming up past the girls in purple and gold who are doing high kicks and waving pom-poms.

“Kris?”

A feminine voice interrupts Adam’s bored musings on what muscle exactly one of the players is actually stretching in that position (and also, damn, boy is flexible), and he watches as one of the tiny blonde cheerleaders makes their way up the aisle of the bleachers towards them.

“Katy, is that you?” Kris says and stands up, making his way past Charles to where the girl – Katy? – has stopped on the step next to their row.

“Wow, look at you!” Kris exclaims. Katy’s eyes are lit up with happiness as Kris pulls her into a hug, and Adam feels a spike of jealousy at the easy way their bodies seem to fit together, the familiarity with which she rests her head on Kris’s shoulder for a second and the way the hug lasts a bit too long for them to be mere acquaintances.

Katy’s tiny and skinny and looks exactly like the type of girl Kris would date, wholesome and perky and pretty, and Adam immediately hates her.

“Oh,” Kris says, and blushes when he seems to realize that Cale, Charles, and Adam are all staring at the two of them now. “Guys, this is my friend Katy. We went to the same high school in Arkansas. Katy, you probably remember Charles, and this is Cale, and Adam,” Kris says, motioning towards each of them in turn.

Adam says hi and tries to be nice even though he can’t help but notice the way Katy’s keeping her hand on Kris’s arm, and how she and Kris are standing with a hair’s width of space between them on the stairs.

As Katy leaves to go back and do…whatever it is that the cheerleaders do at sports games besides look pretty and cheer, Adam hears Kris telling Charles that Katy’s invited their group to a party after the game.

Adam sighs.

It’s going to be a long night.

-

The game is…well, kind of interesting. There are a lot of times where Adam really has no clue what’s happening, but he enjoys it nonetheless. Kris keeps trying to explain things to him every couple minutes, but Adam’s not really absorbing any of it. Kris doesn’t seem to mind though, and his excitement is infectious, as Adam finds himself cheering along with the rest of the fans as the home team – University of Washington – makes basket after basket. Apparently it’s a big game – Kris tells him that UW is playing one of the teams in their own division, UCLA (University of California – Los Angeles), and so that’s why the fans are all hyped up.

He can’t help but dart his eyes over to Katy every once in a while, and then to look and see if Kris is looking at her. It’s hard to tell exactly where Kris’s gaze is focused on, though, and so Adam gives up even trying to worry about it after a while, his mood rising with every minute listening to Kris talk.

Katy had told them that they could bring more friends to the party later if they wanted, so at least Adam will have Allison, Danielle, and Megan with him as buffers if necessary. Unless, of course, they ditch him to go find hot boys, Adam thinks with an amused smile.

The home team wins the game, and everyone around them is chattering excitedly, hands making big gestures and huge smiles everywhere he looks, and the mood is infectious. Adam doesn’t understand half of the sports talk around him but he walks out of the arena with a smile on his face the same as everyone else.

Perhaps he should go to a couple sports games per year, if for nothing else than this atmosphere of euphoria that has Kris smiling blindingly at him. Adam smiles back, helpless to stop himself.

He’s about to say something about potentially grabbing dinner somewhere, but Kris’s phone chirps, interrupting him.

Kris pulls it out and looks at it for a couple seconds, and then announces, “Katy says some of them are going to go get dinner before the party and she wants to know if we want to come too?”

The smile slides off of Adam’s face for a second before he manages to paste it back on, cheeks feeling weird under the strain of the pretense.

“Dude,” Charles says. “You even have to ask?”

Kris grins sheepishly at him, scratching the back of his neck with one hand.

“I’ll tell her we’re on our way,” he says, turning back to his phone and beginning to type.

-

Dinner passes by with Adam sitting somewhat quietly in a seat next to Kris with Katy across from them, monopolizing the conversation and focused solely on Kris.

At least Kris looks a little uncomfortable at all the attention. If Kris had looked as enraptured with Katy as Katy seems to be of Kris, Adam would need to leave to go puke in the bathroom. And then possibly break something. Or get drunk. Very, very drunk. But, since Kris doesn’t look like that, there’s no need for the puking and the breaking and the drinking. Yet. And well, maybe there’s still a little bit of a need for the drinking, but he’ll moderate his ‘drunk’ to a ‘tipsy’ despite the likely copious amounts of alcohol that will no doubt be present at the party.

Adam excuses himself from the table and heads towards the restroom, Katy’s obnoxiously high-pitched laugh following him out of the room, and Adam feels the slight headache residing behind his eyes turn up a notch. He relieves himself and then washes his hands, leaving them under the water for longer than normal to indulge in the warmth – the restaurant is strangely chilly inside – and stares at himself in the mirror.

This is ridiculous. He’s letting this get to him, and he needs to just ignore it. He’s had an amazing trip so far, and he shouldn’t be letting Katy ruin it when he’s not even sure if Kris is interested in her. Especially since Adam basically rejected Kris a couple days ago. It was stupid move, but he can’t take it back now. What’s done is done. He panicked, and maybe it’s for the better; it’s not like Kris has said anything about that moment to Adam since it happened. Kris is probably relieved nothing happened, and wants to just forget about it.

If he waits too much longer, someone will come looking for him, so he decides to head back out and just get through the rest of the night.

Once he arrives, though, he finds everyone putting on their coats and getting up out of their chairs.

“Hey, if you’re ready, we’re going to head out to the party now,” Cale says as he tilts his head towards the exit, waggling his eyebrows ridiculously. Adam rolls his eyes at his enthusiasm.

“Yeah, sure,” Adam replies, pulling his jacket on, and then follows the group toward the door.

-

When they finally reach the party it’s at some fraternity on campus, and Adam is somewhat grossed out at the level of cleanliness that is, well, pretty much absent. There are bottles and plastic cups everywhere, and a couple of coolers with beers and soda are situated in one corner of the room while the other holds food and a stereo that’s cranked up loud enough that he’s having trouble hearing himself think.

Also, all the girls in short skirts so do not interest him. Perhaps this is why he’s never really gone to the frat parties.

They had picked up the rest of their group along the way to the party, so all nine of them are in the room somewhere. Kris, of course, had been pounced upon by Katy as soon as they got there under the pretense of introducing him to all of her cheerleading friends.

Adam may be a bit of a masochist sometimes, but there’s no way he’s tagging along for that.

He’s walking around the corner, searching for the bathroom, and then he sees.

It’s like being punched in the stomach or hit by an invisible train or something, and god he can’t even come up with appropriate metaphors for how this feels. He’s silent but it’s more due to the fact that he suddenly has no breath to speak with than anything else.

Because there, as soon as he turns the corner, is Kris being pressed against the wall and kissed by Katy, and he can’t look because it hurts too much. The split-second of what he saw is already more than he ever wants to see, but the image is practically burned into his brain now and he can’t un-see it no matter how much he wants to.

He can’t deal with this, he can’t, he’s stupid for ever thinking he even had a chance with Kris, and he just really, really needs to get out of this house right now because his shirt feels like it’s choking him and he can’t seem to take in normal breaths and just really needs to be somewhere that’s not here, in this corner, watching as his heart is unknowingly stomped on.

He walks back down the stairs and pushes roughly past people through to the backyard, not stopping to apologize even when he accidentally causes some girl to spill her drink. Surprisingly (but thankfully), the backyard is completely deserted.

He heads over to his left where there’s a lawn chair that’s hidden somewhat in the shadows and sinks into it, putting his elbows on his knees and just breathing. There’s a lump in this throat and he still can’t seem to breathe, and he closes his eyes to try to find some peace and block all the noise of the house behind him out. That’s almost worse, though, because with his eyes closed all he can see is that image of Katy pressing herself against Kris, his hands on her waist. It’s not like they were indecent or anything, so Adam doesn’t know why it feels like this. Why he’s reacting so strongly.

“Adam, sweetie, what’s wrong?”

Adam lifts his head from his hands and glances through slightly watery eyes to see the vague blur of purple color that must be Danielle coming towards him.

“Adam?”

Adam just shakes his head, and when Danielle puts her hand on his shoulder he breaks, turning in towards her, a tear sliding down his cheek as she settles next to him in the chair and pulls him further into her arms.

“Oh, honey, shhh,” she whispers into his ear, hot breath providing a contrast to the cool night air that’s making him shiver. Or maybe that’s from the slight crying he’s doing, he’s not entirely sure.

“I waited too long, I’m too late,” he says, voice breaking in the middle, face still hidden in Danielle’s neck. He’s not sure if he would be able to say this to her face, not when she’s been encouraging him to tell Kris the truth all along. He can’t stand hearing an I told you so, even though he doesn’t really think Danielle would say it. “I thought we were getting somewhere, but I was wrong.”

“You’re not, Adam, you’re not too late. You’re not wrong.”

“It was stupid to think I even had a chance.” He sniffs and rubs his eyes,

“Don’t even say that – I’ve seen the way he looks at you, babe. What happened?”

Adam buries his face further into her neck and breathes in the comforting scent of her perfume.

“He and Katy…” Adam can’t continue that sentence, it hurts too much to even think how that sentence ends.

“I’m sorry, sweetie.” She starts carding her fingers through his hair, gentle.

They lay together like that for a long time, listening to the music from the party drifting out through windows and the slightly opened sliding door, until Allison arrives to tell them they’re all heading back to the hotel. She gives Adam a curious glance, but thankfully doesn’t ask. He really can’t deal with this right now.

-

On the car ride back Adam pretends that he is too tired to talk with anyone, and it seems to fool most of the group. Allison still seems worried about him, and made sure that she climbed into the car next to him, tucking up against his side in silent comfort. Adam puts his arm around her and rubs her shoulders a bit, a way of saying I’ll be okay as thanks.

Adam’s grateful, if for nothing else than the fact that it means that he can put off dealing with Kris for another few minutes. He doesn’t think he could conjure up a smile right now without it feeling incredibly plastic and fake, and while Kris is sometimes oblivious he can usually read Adam.

He’ll have to face him eventually, though, since they’re sharing a room. Dread sits heavy at the bottom of Adam’s stomach just thinking about it, so he closes his eyes and pretends to sleep.

They get back to the hotel somewhere between one and two in the morning, and Adam’s exhausted both physically and emotionally. He’s silent as he follows Kris and Cale up to their room, and thanks the gods when Cale tells Adam to take the bed for himself tonight even though it’s not his turn. Adam gives him a grateful look, managing to conjure up a genuine smile when Cale lays a hand on his arm and says “No problem,” in response to Adam’s thanks.

Adam doesn’t miss Kris’s confusion as he glances between the two of them, obviously trying to figure out what he’s missing.

Adam doesn’t bother to try talking any more than that, slipping away into the bathroom to get ready for bed. He can hear Kris’s whispers (loud whispers) asking Cale what’s going on, but Cale gives him a nonsense answer, something about Adam looking tired. Danielle must have caught Cale before they all headed up to their rooms and told him about tonight. Adam’s not sure whether to be angry or grateful that she told Cale.

He’s too tired to figure it out right now though – his limbs feel heavy, and his eyelids are drooping more and more with every second that passes, so he quietly slips from the bathroom to the empty bed waiting for him and drifts off to sleep.

-

The next morning comes early – they’re leaving at eight to try to get a jump start on the drive back – and Adam feels shitty as soon as he wakes up and remembers last night. Kris is not in their hotel room as far as Adam can tell, but Cale is still there, snoring away in the bed next to Adam.

He hadn’t slept well, and had woken up every couple of hours or so, which was not surprising in the least. Stress has always given him insomnia. Heartbreak doubles that.

Breakfast at the hotel is weird, but the continental breakfast style suits their plans well. Everyone is eating at different times, because everyone’s in various states of scrambling to finish packing – Allison always leaves packing until the very last minute, so all he sees of her is a quick flash of color as she speeds by him with a muffin in one hand and a coffee in the other, eating as she walks. She still somehow manages to smile at him with her mouth full though, a sight that teases his first true smile of the day out of him.

It quickly disappears, however, once he sees Kris is sitting with Megan and Brad at a table that is close enough to the entrance that there’s no way he could avoid them noticing him. And of course, since Brad and Megan don’t actually know what happened last night, he’s not going to get any help with an escape plan from them. For a second he considers pretending he didn’t finish packing yet and escaping after grabbing a banana or something, but nixes that idea almost as soon as it pops up; Brad knows his packing habits from all the trips they’ve taken together, especially when they used to be a couple, and he knows that Adam tends to like to be packed long before they actually need to leave.

So, he bites the bullet and heads over to their table after grabbing a slice of toast, a yogurt, and a coffee. Coffee is seriously the only way he’s going to get through his day at this point. And of course the only empty seat is next to Kris. The only good thing about that is that Kris won’t be staring across the table at him; it’ll be easier to avoid his gaze when he’s right next to him.

He tries to sit as far away from Kris as he can, meaning that his right leg has a good inch or two of chair next to it, which really isn’t much, but he can’t get any farther away without being too obvious. Brad already gave him a weird look as he walked over, and Megan’s now giving him a look that says what the hell is wrong with you. He shoots her one of his patented yes, I know I look like shit, no need to tell me, thank you looks.

Thankfully, Kris seems to be oblivious to his friends’ silent conversation, and is happily munching on a piece of bacon. Of course, that makes Adam hate him a bit. The little shit looks just as good as he usually does, seemingly unconcerned about anything, and Adam’s right next to him feeling all emo.

Adam reaches for his coffee at the same time as Kris reaches with his left hand for the fork he’d set aside, and as soon as their arms brush, Adam jerks his back instinctively.

He just can’t handle skin-to-skin contact, not when it reminds him of the way Katy’s shirt had ridden up last night, causing one of Kris’s hands to touch bare skin.

“Sorry,” Adam mutters to Brad, Megan, and Kris, who are all staring at him now. “Didn’t sleep well last night, so I’m a little jumpy.”

It’s a poor excuse, and from the looks on their faces Brad and Megan know it (he can’t bear to look at Kris right now), but it’s all he could come up with on-the-spot.

“I’m gonna head up to the room and make sure I haven’t forgotten anything,” he says as he stands up and makes a quick exit.

Adam hears footsteps behind him almost immediately and quickens his pace, but to no avail.

“Adam.” Kris catches up to him and grabs his arm before he can escape to the safety of the elevators. “You know you can talk to me about anything, right?”

He looks concerned, and worried, and sincere in the way that Kris always is.

“I know, but,” Adam starts to explain, and then stops himself. His palms are a little sweaty, and his heart is racing, and he just can’t have this conversation.

Adam wants to be able to tell him. Kris is the one person in their group, besides Danielle, that he really feels he can talk to. That just gets him. And so Adam wants to be able to talk to him about this, because Kris always seems to have a way of making Adam feel better about something.

But this isn’t something Kris can know. This isn’t something that he can make Adam feel better about, when he is the problem. Adam can’t just tell him you broke my heart last night. It doesn’t work that way.

“But what?” Kris looks confused, and kind of hurt, and Adam hates that he’s causing Kris pain, but Kris has Katy now and Adam’s feelings are irrelevant.

“I…nothing.” Adam sighs. “It’s nothing.” His breath hitches for a second as he stares down at Kris, and then he tugs his arm out of Kris’s grasp and walks away so Kris won’t see Adam unraveling before his eyes.

-

“So you’re really just going to ignore me?” Kris asks, frustration written in the lines of his brow’s furrow and his sturdy jaw clenching. He’s cornered Adam outside at their lunch stop about four hours into the drive.

Adam studies the ground intently. There’s a particularly interesting crack in the pavement that looks kind of like a spider’s web.

“Seriously?”

Adam switches his gaze to the purple flower growing in the flower bed. It’s really pretty, especially since you don’t see many purple flowers.

“Fine,” Kris huffs.

And they just stand there. In silence.

Adam fidgets, picking at his nail polish, and thinks about how much this sucks. He doesn’t want to lose Kris as a friend, but it hurts to be around him now.

Finally, he can’t stand the silence any longer.

“I saw you, Kris.” His tone has somehow turned accusatory without his brain okaying it. He didn’t mean for that to come out of his mouth sounding so…bitter.

“What?” Kris looks confused; Adam wonders how he can possibly not know what Adam’s talking about. Or perhaps it’s just a sign of Adam’s stupidity, to think that Kris could even feel the same way. That this thing he thought was forming between them is something Kris even considered.

“Long-distance relationships are hard to manage, you know.” Adam’s tone is acidic and ugly, but he thinks he deserves to be a bit bitchy. He’s allowed to have a bad moment less than 24 hours after having his heart squashed.

“What are you talking about?” Kris is starting to get frustrated again now.

“I guess I never really figured you to be the type to go for blonde cheerleaders, but whatever.”

“This is about Katy?” Kris looks extremely bewildered now, eyebrows rising higher with each word out of Adam’s mouth.

“No, it’s about another blonde cheerleader you know. Yes, of course it’s about Katy!”

“She’s my friend, Adam, nothing more.”

Adam scoffs. “Sure, if being ‘friends’ includes shoving your tongues in each other’s mouths, then yeah, sure, you’re ‘friends’.”

Kris stills for a second, whole body motionless. “How long did you watch?”

Kris is staring at him now, eyes narrowing in concentration like he’s trying to figure something out. Like he’s trying to read Adam’s mind. But before Adam can answer, he speaks again.

“I pushed her away, Adam. I pushed her away.”

“You looked pretty happy to me.” His certainty is faltering, though, and Kris must notice how his voice has softened a tad; there’s no longer that harsh, razor-sharp edge to his words.

“I pushed her away. She caught me off guard, and I froze for a second, but then I stopped her and told her we could only be friends, because…because I have feelings for someone else.”

Adam stares at him in shock. He can’t mean what he thinks he means.

“Adam,” Kris starts, tentatively laying a hand on Adam’s arm. “I have feelings for you; not Katy.”

“Oh.”

-

They’re sitting side-by-side on the curb of the parking lot now, fingers laced between them, waiting for the rest of the group to finish eating.

“You really had no idea?” Adam asks, almost flabbergasted. “What about all those times you caught me staring?”

“Just because you think someone’s attractive doesn’t mean you want to date them,” Kris mutters.

Silly, stupid boy. “Kris, who wouldn’t want to date you?”

“Plenty of people.” He’s looking steadfastly not at Adam like there are stories behind those ‘people’, but Adam can tell that he doesn’t really want to talk about it. He’d rather savor the moment, the newness and wonderfulness of their relationship right now. They’ll have plenty of time to talk later.

Kris takes a deep breath, and then continues, “Plus, you pulled away. In the pool, I mean.”

“Well, they’re stupid. And so was I.”

Kris grins shyly at him at that, and Adam’s smile widens upon seeing the way Kris is looking at him, all adorably happy, almost glowing.

He just can’t help himself, and he leans over and gently presses his lips to Kris’s, breath hitching when they finally connect. Kris’s lips are soft and warm, and Adam can taste a hint of the coffee Kris had earlier. When he pulls away he meets Kris’s gaze, and his eyes are soft and warm with affection.

It’s a bit of a cliché, falling for one of your best friends, but Adam wouldn’t have it any other way.

He’s ready to head home.


[The End]



Notes:
Yes, “Ride the Ducks” actually exists.


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