Title: In the Aftermath
Summary: Written for aiholidaybash, using the prompt: New Year’s Eve – first Kradam kiss. PG or higher.
Word Count: 2250
Authors Note: Title borrowed from “Aftermath” – Adam Lambert
“What do you mean you’re not spending New Year’s Eve in California?” Alisan’s appalled voice rippled across the line. “You better have a good excuse for this one, Lambert. What is it this year? New York? Vegas? Paris? Ri–”
Adam laughed, knowing this would go on forever if he didn’t put a stop to it now. “Actually, I’m going to Arkansas.” He mindlessly doodled a few abstract shapes on the paper in front of him as he waited for her reaction.
The silence was deafening, followed by an eventual, “... What? Are you fucking with me?”
“No. It’s just...” he sighed, letting his pen clatter to the surface of the desk, “this is Kris’ first New Year’s since he and Katy split up, and ... he just needed the moral support, or whatever. I’m not scheduled for anything this year, and he’s my best friend, so...”
“I see,” Alisan replied knowingly. “But why Arkansas? Doesn’t he want to get out on the town and do something more, I don’t know... exciting? Bring him out here; we love Kris. We’ll make sure he has a good time.”
Adam rolled his eyes at the tone of her voice. “I have no doubt. But, no, this is his thing... His folks are having some big party they throw every year, and he’s missed it the past few, so he wants to hang around.”
“Sounds sorta masochistic if you ask me, surrounded by all those people who’ve known him his whole life and what happened this year. He really is a glutton for punishment.”
“Agreed,” Adam said. “But he’s my glutton. And maybe I’m just as bad.”
Adam had to admit: Kim and Neil Allen threw one hell of a New Year’s Eve party.
He figured half of Conway’s residents had to be packed into their home. The dining room table was covered with homemade hors d’oeuvres and the bar Kris and Neil had set up earlier in the day kept the alcohol flowing and the drinks filled.
Adam had spent most of the time chatting with a few of the Allen’s family friends with whom he’d become familiar in the time he’d known Kris. Surprisingly, he also noticed the whole O’Connell family at the party, too. Katy’s twin sisters had been giving him excited glances from across the room all evening. He made a mental note to say hi to them at some point; he’d always found it sort of adorable that they were such big fans.
Passing through the empty kitchen, he paused, taking a few minutes to collect his thoughts. Seeing Kris was great; it always was. But, something was different about this visit, something he couldn’t quite pinpoint.
Nothing ever really changed with the Allen family – they were warm and welcoming as always. Kim and Neil treated Adam as if he was one of their own. He and Daniel got into verbal sparring matches much like he did with his own brother (though, admittedly, these were more joking than abrasive, compared to those with Neil). Sometimes it felt like he fit into the family like a missing puzzle piece, but this time, it was something more. He knew what he wanted it to be, but he was afraid to put a label on it too quickly.
“Having fun?” Kris asked, coming up to Adam, interrupting his thoughts, and pressing a fresh vodka tonic into his hand.
“Of course I am. This party is incredible. Everything is,” Adam told him honestly, sipping his drink through the cocktail straw in his glass.
Kris snorted in the self-deprecating way that Adam hated. “Thanks, but I’m sure it’s nothing compared to what you could’ve done tonight instead.”
“Oh please,” Adam scoffed. “Your parents know how to throw a bash. Besides, it’s nice to not have to perform for once, to just kick back and relax... and have free drinks delivered to me by a cute boy.” He nudged Kris affectionately in the ribs.
Kris rolled his eyes. “You say that like it’s something new.”
Adam laughed. “Touché.”
“Seriously though,” Kris said, his facial expression sobering. “I’m sorry I’ve kinda been all over the place tonight, but thank you for coming. I mean that. It… it just helps a lot having you here.”
“Aw, baby.” Adam wrapped one arm around Kris’ shoulders and pulled him in for a hug. “You don’t have to thank me or apologize. I told you all you had to do was ask and I’d be here. And for the record, I’m glad you did. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be tonight.”
“Really?” Kris’ eyebrow went up dubiously.
“Really-really,” Adam replied in his best Shrek voice. Kris laughed and Adam responded by pressing a loud kiss to the top of his head.
“Has she talked to you?” Kris asked, lowering his voice. He bobbed his head in the general direction of where Katy and her family were located, but Adam knew who he meant without it.
“Not really,” Adam said, shaking his head. “She gave me a hug when they first arrived, but I think she was surprised to see me... though I could say the same for her. Why are they here, anyway?”
Kris shrugged. “My parents have known Pete and Peggy since Daniel and I were kids. And it’s not like Katy and I hate each other now, it’s just... it didn’t work out, you know? My mom did ask how I felt about having them here, but it didn’t feel fair to say no.... Not after all these years.”
“You realize you’re pretty much the best person I know, right?” Adam asked, affectionately leaning his head against Kris’.
“I second that,” a third voice pitched in behind them.
“Thanks, Mama,” Kris said, turning to face her with a smile, “but I don’t think you count.”
Kim gasped, feigning insult as she shook a corkscrew in their general direction. “You bite your tongue, young man. Of course I count. A mother always knows best. You tell him that, Adam.”
“Listen to your mama, Kris,” Adam teased, releasing his arm from around Kris’ shoulder so that he could help Kim fill champagne glasses.
“Thanks, sweetheart. You don’t have to do that, though. Kristopher can make himself useful for a few minutes,” Kim insisted.
Adam took an open bottle of champagne and started filling the plastic flutes. “No, it’s fine. We can both help. It’ll go faster. How long ‘til midnight, anyway?”
“It’s 11:45,” Kris announced, joining them near the counter. Adam pushed another bottle of champagne toward him.
“Can I just take this to my room and come back downstairs at 12:01?” Kris moaned, partly in jest, but Adam suspected he wasn’t completely against the idea.
“You will do no such thing! Kristopher, honey, there are lots of people here, don’t worry about midnight. I’ll make sure you get your New Year’s kiss.” Kim’s tone was light as she spoke, but Adam could have sworn she gave him some sort of meaningful glance. Kris was focused too intently on filling the champagne glasses to notice.
Well, hell, Adam thought. If Kim Allen was on board... The purpose of Adam’s visit was starting to take a drastic turn. Adam hoped Kris would be as supportive as his mother.
Once they finished filling glasses, Kim asked Daniel to round up a few of his friends to help distribute the flutes among the guests so Kris and Adam could rejoin the party. (“You boys work hard enough the rest of the year,” Kim had said resolutely, shooing them out of the kitchen.)
“Five minutes!” Kris’ dad announced over the din of the crowd, and people slowly began assembling around the huge television in the living room. They’d missed the Times Square ball drop by an hour, but local Little Rock stations were prepared with countdowns from the various parties around the city.
“Bottoms up, bros,” Daniel said, pausing next to them so that both Kris and Adam could pick up flutes of champagne.
“Thanks,” Adam said with a smile. Kris nodded his agreement. Daniel gave a mock-salute and continued to the next cluster of guests.
Kris fidgeted a bit and glanced at his watch again.
“What are you worried about? It’s a new year coming,” Adam murmured quietly, trying to sound encouraging. “A new beginning!”
Kris sighed. “I know. It’s just like... I don’t know, man. Every year that I can remember, I always looked at this as a good thing. I went into every New Year not really knowing what to expect, but in an exciting way. This time, it’s... I’m not scared, I just... it’s so different. I’m going into it alone, and I don’t think I really know how to do that.”
A thousand things that Adam wanted to say rushed through his head, but he settled on one for the time being. “You’re not alone, Kris. You’ll never be alone as long as I have anything to say about it. Understand?”
Kris smiled, even if Adam thought it looked a little forced. “Thanks.”
“And don’t you forget it.” Adam’s tone was firm. He would prove it to Kris if he had to, and the perfect opportunity was approaching. His mind was made up – it was now or never.
A silence settled over them as they watched the next few minutes pass. By the time the countdown clock on the television screen was down to 36 seconds, almost all of the party guests had joined them in the living room. An excited buzz seemed to settle over everyone. Kris looked about ready to throw up.
Adam felt nervous energy coursing through his body. He’d done a lot of crazy shit on New Year’s Eves past, but it was entirely possible that what he was thinking of doing this time would take the cake.
Across the room, Katy caught his eye. For the first time that evening, she smiled at him, a knowing look lighting her pale eyes. Almost imperceptibly – Adam almost wondered if he’d imagined it – she nodded, as if encouraging him. And then it was over; the brief moment that connected them had ended.
“TEN!” the crowd shouted out.
“Oh God, oh God,” Kris muttered.
“Stop it, you’ll be fine,” Adam shot back.
“Whatever, man. At least you-“
“At least I what, Kris?”
“You’ll probably have someone this year.”
“And you won’t?”
“Wanna find out?”
“ONE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
The guests erupted into cheers and party horns were blown. Couples kissed. Auld Lang Syne blared from the television. From somewhere behind them, a few handfuls of confetti were thrown, and Adam grinned as the colored glitter rained down upon them. It was almost too appropriate.
He swallowed down the contents of his champagne flute with one practiced slug. “Here goes nothing,” he murmured to himself, and then took a deep breath.
He grabbed Kris by the shoulders and turned him so they were facing each other. Before Kris could question him, he leaned in and kissed him, long and hard. Kris initially let out a short gasp, but when he started to respond, Adam wrapped him in a hug.
They pulled apart, breathless.
“Happy New Year?” Adam offered with a small, almost shy smile. He reached up with his thumb to erase a shiny blue piece of confetti from Kris’ temple. Over Kris’ head, he could see Kim standing near the doorway to the kitchen. She gave him a quick wink before disappearing into the other room.
“I... I think so,” Kris stammered, his expression torn between shock and amusement. “I... did you just kiss me?”
“I do believe that’s what the kids are calling it these days,” Adam replied, rolling his eyes playfully.
“And you meant to?” Kris asked, a bit more seriously, but he didn’t look upset.
“I meant it.” Adam looked down into Kris’ eyes, hoping to convey everything he couldn’t say in words – to let Kris know that this wasn’t a sympathy midnight kiss, or a joke, or anything other than where his reality existed at the moment.
Kris was quiet for a moment before he finally spoke. “Me too.”
They both looked at each other, studying each other as everything and nothing changed all at once. By the time they were finished, they were both grinning.
“You sure about this?” Adam asked, concerned, his hand resting on Kris’ shoulder. “It’s okay if you’re not.”
“Adam...” Kris began, and then he paused, searching for the exact thing he wanted to say. “This last year has been crazy. I haven’t been sure of much at all – my music, my... my marriage, pretty much everything major in my life... except one, no, two things: my family... and you. I’m sure about you. I always have been.”
Emotion was thick in Adam’s throat. “Thank you,” he whispered. “And the same goes for you.”
Kris smiled. “Good. Well,” he paused, rubbing his hands together. “This evening has taken an interesting turn.”
“Interesting, indeed,” Adam echoed, pulling Kris into his chest for another hug. As they embraced, he looked around, wondering how others were reacting to their rather public displays of affection. No one looked disgusted or shocked. A few people smiled at them; most people paid no mind at all, still caught up in their own New Years moments.
Adam hoped they were even a fraction as memorable as his.