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Physics Makes Us All Its Bitches (1/2) by cjmarlowe
KawaiiNot - cream puff
fakeplasticsnow wrote in aiholidaybash

Title: Physics Makes Us All Its Bitches
Author: cjmarlowe
Recipient: [Defected]
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Adam/Kris, past Adam/Brad
Length: 18,000 words
Notes: Title blatantly thieved from Of Montreal, who provided the soundtrack for the writing of this. No warnings to speak of, unless you count the mere existence of Valentine's Day. Which some years I really do.
Summary: Kris is in Brad, Brad is in Kris, and Adam is in a lot of trouble.

Kris wakes up in an apartment that is almost entirely unlike the Hilton in Dallas where he went to sleep, and even if the lack of blackout curtains hadn't given it away the moment the light started to pierce his eyelids he thinks he would have somehow known it. Hotel rooms don't feel lived in like this place does, and the pillow smells like unfamiliar cologne instead of industrial detergent.

"Okay," he says aloud, swallowing a few times and feeling distinctly uncomfortable. Almost ill uncomfortable. "Did I get sick last night?"

The room doesn't have any answer for him.

His head is a little fuzzy but he's pretty sure he didn't, though his body sure thinks he did and his voice sounds a little weird too, which is definitely not something he wants to be dealing with a couple of days before a big show. He's pretty sure he remembers going to bed at a decent hour, in his own hotel room, in his own bed. Alone.

There are a few completely rational explanations for ending up somewhere other than there, but most of them involve him being drugged and kidnapped and he'd just as soon that wasn't the case. But the irrational explanations don't make him feel much better either.

He forces himself out of the bed, shuffles along the polished wood floors, and doesn't see a single other person as he hunts down the bathroom, so that probably shoots down the kidnapping theory unless they're extremely charitable kidnappers. That leaves sudden mysterious illness and sleepwalking, neither of which seem any more likely.

When he finally gets a glass of cool water in him he braces his hands on either side of the bathroom sink and looks up at the mirror and suddenly he's wide awake because that is not his face.

Brad is used to not waking up where he expected to, sometimes wearing someone else's underwear with strange things scrawled on his body in eyeliner. So waking up in a hotel room means nothing more than the fact he had a very good time the night before.

Waking up in a hotel room halfway across the country is more problematic.

He doesn't realize this, though, until he rummages for hotel stationery to write his host a quick and friendly good-bye note and reads the letterhead.

"Oh, it would be fucking Texas," he says.

He throws the stationery back in the drawer and decides there are two things he needs to know immediately. First, what day it is; and second, who the hell brought him here. There are also about five hundred other things he needs to know, but those are the two that have the highest priority, and Brad's always had the ability to prioritize.

They're harder than he expects them to be, but he finds someone else's phone by the bed--though just where his erstwhile paramour is has yet to be determined--and it tells him that it's exactly when he thought it would be, which is not nearly enough time to be where he is.

"How about we just hope that the Hiltons put Paris in charge and the Lincoln Centre office supplies got sent to, oh, Beverly Hills?" Beverly Hills would be doable, and make much, much more sense.

But when he pushes the curtains open, that's definitely not LA he's looking at, and the reflection in the glass in front of him is not his.

Kris lets himself freak out for exactly five minutes: three minutes sitting down on the edge of the bathtub taking deep slow breaths and two minutes praying. Then he stands up, runs his fingers through his hair, and starts learning his way around this apartment.

At least he knows who he is, and where he presumably is, in a vague sort of way. He's only ever met Brad twice, once when Brad came to a show on the Idol tour and once when they were at the same party in WeHo before Christmas, but he knows this face. He's seen dozens of pictures of it, both deliberately and accidentally, alone and with Adam.

The apartment is clearly occupied by two, but he's the only one in it right now. The door to the other bedroom is wide open so he doesn't feel bad about peeking inside just to make sure, but it's made up and definitely unoccupied at the moment. There are clothes all over the back of the couch and a bunch of empty glasses by the sink, and a note posted up on the fridge with a tacky pineapple magnet.

It could be weeks old but the sharpie used to write it is still on top of the notepad on the kitchen counter, so Kris is just going to run with the idea that it's new-ish, that Brad's roommate is working out of town for a few days, and that he somehow needs to check Brad's messages and "answer his goddamn phone once in a while" to get any more information than that.

Once he feels like he can actually begin to cope with whatever this is, he tracks down a clean pair of shorts (in the top drawer of the dresser, alongside a few things Kris didn't look at too closely and definitely didn't touch) and Brad's phone (on top of a pair of leather pants on the window seat), and then sits in his underwear and stares at the phone for a little while because he has no idea who to call.

Finally, after pulling himself back from the brink of another freak-out, he dials his own number.

Kristopher Allen has no sense of style. Brad already suspected as much, but a minute and a half with Kris's wardrobe confirms it for him. At least his jeans fit well, and Brad manages to find a t-shirt that seems to be a couple of sizes smaller than the others. It probably doesn't even belong to Kris, which means that it's marginally more stylish than the rest and the fit is definitely more to Brad's taste.

He still looks like the American Idol, but there are worse things.

The knock on the door comes about three minutes after he finishes getting ready, which just goes to show how good he already is at this being-another-person thing. He doesn't recognize the woman on the other side of it, but he pretends he does because she has a badge and a phone and looks like she's exactly where she's supposed to be.

"That's...a new look on you," she says, looking him up and down, and Brad resists the urge to pose for her. He suspects the American Idol does not pose. "Are you ready?"

"I was born ready," he says, and grabs a messenger bag from on top of the desk that appears to contain everything he's going to need for the day. Really, the guy just makes it too easy. Like he was ready for this, which makes Brad a little suspicious because he sure as hell knows he didn't do it. He definitely had plans for his day--and his life--that didn't include waking up in someone else's body in Dallas.

'Ready' apparently meant 'ready for rehearsal', which Brad is definitely not ready for. Especially since said rehearsal is actually in the hotel, down in a vast and probably acoustically unsound meeting room, which barely gives him an elevator ride to prepare himself. The woman is apparently his manager or handler or possibly publicist, it's hard to tell, but whoever she is she knows exactly where he needs to be and when so he gives her the most ingratiating smile he can muster.

And rehearsal, because Brad doesn't exactly keep up with the American Idol's schedule, is apparently for his big to-do with his old Idolmates, the one Brad actually voted to have in LA to save Adam from Little Rock, a fact that's revealed when he arrives in the rehearsal room suddenly there Adam is, hovering by an industrial coffee machine and sipping on his tea.

He tries to think about how the American Idol would act around Adam (he has his suspicions, but he doesn't know) but Adam doesn't give him a chance to come to any decisions on his own. One minute he's across the room and the next he's wrapping his arms around him, and Brad honestly almost forgot what this felt like.

"Not very often I arrive before you do," says Adam, still hanging on to him even a few moments later so Brad figures this has to be their reunion and not just a random morning greeting. Probably.

"I had shower issues," he says as Adam finally lets go and takes a good look at him.

"Wow," he says. "You look...interesting."

"I believe the word you're looking for is 'good'."

Adam just laughs and wraps an arm firmly around his shoulders, and from this close Brad can see clearly just how much make-up he's put on to cover up the circles under his eyes. Something Brad hadn't had to do this morning because apparently the American Idol wakes up fresh as a daisy. Brad hates him just a little bit.

"Of course, of course," he says. "It's good. Unexpected."

"You're not the only one who gets to be unexpected sometimes," says Brad, looking around the room and wondering just who else he's supposed to know, and how to get Adam to point them out to him without making him suspicious. Because if one thing is clear right now, it's that Adam has no idea what's happened.

Brad could try to tell him, and a part of him really wants to do that, but in his head he's already formed a list of reasons why at best that would make Adam think he's joking, and at worst make him think Kris is certifiable. And frankly, Brad's still in the information-gathering stage of this transformation anyway; for all he knows, somehow Adam still has something to do with this. In fact, given just whose body he woke up in, it seems a little more likely than any other possibilities.

Besides which, it's been a long time since he's been able to see Adam quite like this, without all their history between them.

"Looks like they aren't ready to go just yet," he says, fishing a little bit, he hopes not too obviously.

"Ally's up first anyway," says Adam. "There's something weird with the sound so I was just kicking back while I had the chance. Did you say hi to her last night when you got in?"

"I...yeah," says Brad, because it sounds like something the American Idol would have done. In fact, it sounds like something he would've done with Adam, too, but he obviously hadn't and that in itself is a little curious. "Where did you get off to, anyway?"

Adam just gives him a chagrined look. "Lisa said there was this club we just had to check out, and I lost track of time," he says. "I think we all lost track of time. You were long since asleep when we got back, and I didn't figure you'd thank me for waking you up again."

"Sounds like she was right about the club. You didn't invite me along?"

"I don't think it would really have been your thing," says Adam. He waves at someone over Brad's head, and when he looks he recognizes Allison Iraheta waving back. He may not know her personally, but he'd know that head of hair anywhere. "Looks like she wants you."

"My work is never done," says Brad with a dramatic sigh, and gives Adam an air kiss before he goes.

He thinks afterwards that's something the American Idol probably wouldn't have done.

Adam is watching Kris try to fix Allison's hair when his phone rings, and when he looks at the number he's a little surprised to see who it is. Okay, more than a little surprised, in a day that's already been a little surprising.

"Hello?" he says, sitting down in a nearby chair and stretching his legs out, crossing them at the ankle.

"Adam! Thank God. I'm kind of freaking out a little."

"Brad?" says Adam. "What's wrong? What happened?"

"I'm not Brad," he says. "I'm Kris. And no, this isn't a joke and I’m not a crazy person, I swear. This is Kris."

It's the most ridiculous thing Adam's ever heard and it suddenly makes everything make so much sense. Maybe Brad would try to pull something like this on him, maybe, but Kris is the one who's been acting strange all morning, and Kris wouldn't.

"Kris?" he says. "Okay, hang on a second."

He holds the phone to his chest and searches out Kris again and when he sees him wandering tentatively over towards a member of his band, he calls out, "You little shit!"

Everyone else looks kind of stunned that he just did that, but Kris looks over at him and that look is so Brad that it makes Adam wonder why he didn't figure it out before Kris called him. Except that, of course, it's still completely crazy. Completely fucking insane.

"Talking to the ex?" Kris-Brad calls back at him, arching his eyebrows, and Adam knows they understand one another perfectly. "You need me for this?"

"Yeah, I need you for this," he says, then raises the phone again. "Sorry, had to sort something out on this end. First thing you need to do is stop freaking out."

"You believe me?"

"Yeah," says Adam. "Yeah, I believe you. Have you called anyone else?"

"Oh, thank God," says Kris. "Thank you, God. I wanted to call someone else but I couldn't figure out who I could even call, so I tried calling my own phone but it went to voicemail which freaked me out even more. I have no idea what's going on or how to fix this. You're the only person who knows both of us, Adam, and I have no idea if that means something, but...I didn't know who else to call."

Brad arrives, and he's not even really doing anything wrong but Adam is just irrationally bothered by the fact that he's not visibly freaking out, considering the complete mess this all is, so he lowers the phone for a moment again. "Your body's married," he says to Brad. "To a woman. Good luck faking that."

As Brad takes a moment to express his outrage through exaggerated facial expressions, Adam raises the phone.

"Are you talking to me?" says Kris. "I mean, my body? What's going on?"

"Well, as far as I've figured it out so far," says Adam, "you're in Brad's body and Brad's here in yours. And it's possible I'm dreaming right now, but this is pretty detailed for a dream, and nobody's flying. There are usually people flying in my dreams."

Kris groans, a very unhappy sound. "Wow," he says. "I guess I need to talk to him. I don't even know what else to do. Who do I even talk to about this?"

"I'm pretty sure there's no standard procedure," says Adam. "There are some things that management can't fix, and I'm not sure I'd want them to try. Wow. This is probably the craziest thing that's ever happened to me, and that's saying a lot."

"Craziest thing that's ever happened to you?" says Brad. "You're not the one in someone else's skin."

"Yeah, what he...I...he said," says Kris. "Are you guys alone?"

"No," says Adam, looking around at the too-many people setting up the temporary rehearsal space. "But we will be in a minute." He grabs Brad's arm and waits for no protests, pulling him out of the space and into a room to the side, not only unoccupied but filled only with stacks of banquet room chairs. "Okay, you want me to put you on speakerphone?"

"Yeah," says Kris, then as soon as Adam does he says, "Why'd you turn my phone off?"

Brad pulls it out with a frown, then makes an apologetic noise.

"I think I put it on silent by accident," he says. "It's not like mine. I'll figure it out after."

"Get Adam to show you," says Kris. "He knows how to work it." Adam is still having to make the mental shift to 'Brad's voice equals Kris' and 'Kris's body is actually Brad', and he wonders what it's like for them. "Where are your keys?"

"That depends," says Brad. "Are you in my apartment?"

"I'm pretty sure, yeah," says Kris. "Everything in here looks like it belongs to you. Your roommate isn't home, though."

"He booked a job," says Brad. "He's probably on set. And my keys should be on the dresser."

"They aren't," says Kris. "You're a little hungover, if that makes a difference. Thanks for that, by the way."

"Had I known my body would be taken over by a stranger, I would've laid off the margaritas by midnight," says Brad, rolling Kris's eyes. "They'll be somewhere. Try the basket by the fridge. I probably had a bottle of water before bed."

"Okay," says Kris. "Okay. So...okay. How did this happen? And how do we fix it?"

"I didn't do this," says Brad immediately. "Not that I haven't thought about spending a day as someone else, but first of all I would've made sure I knew how to end it, and second, it wouldn't have been you. No offense."

"Well, I didn't do it either," says Kris. "And not to be a jerk about it, but I'm not the one who was drunk last night."

"I'm...pretty sure I didn't do this," says Adam, rubbing his forehead with two fingers. "I mean, as long as we're all declining blame here. I know I'm the missing link here, but I wouldn't have. I was out at a club with friends all last night."

He can't help feeling, though, that it has to have something to do with him. How could it not? If it weren't for him, Kris and Brad wouldn't even know the other existed. But it's not like he can just make things like this happen, and even if he could, he wouldn't.

He can hear Kris taking a deep breath, and coming from Brad's mouth Adam still knows the sound of that at a bone-deep level. "Okay," he says finally. "There's some...stuff, that we should talk about in the meantime. While we try to fix this."

"Like how I'm supposed to perform a concert in your place?" says Brad. "Cause I might've gotten a little kick out of walking a mile in someone else's shoes this morning, but that's just a disaster waiting to happen. I think I pissed off your guitarist already."

"Oh boy, let's hope it doesn't come to that," says Kris. "So let's start with the fact that I woke up alone this morning. Does that mean there's no one...I mean, are you single?"

"Free as a bird," says Brad. "You need to tell me how to handle your wife. And by 'handle', I do not mean in bed. There are limits."

"You probably won't have to," says Kris, and his voice definitely sounds a little pained now. Adam recognizes the sound of that too. "We're separated."

Well, that certainly isn't what he was expecting to hear. He hadn't missed that Katy wasn't here in Dallas, but Katy often hadn't joined them on tour over the summer and neither of them had seemed particularly bothered by that other than missing one another. In fact, Kris always seemed pretty happy that Katy still wanted to pursue her own career and her own life, and not give up that part of herself just because of his Idol win.

Adam just stares at the phone for a few moments, like somehow it lets him stare right at Kris. It's a little less weird than staring at Kris's face when there's someone else inside.

"I didn't know that," he says when he's finished just staring. "You never said."

"No one really knows," says Kris. "It happened after New Year's. We figured, let's see what happens while I'm on tour, see if things change, you know? I'm sorry I didn't say anything--"

"No, no," says Adam. "I get it. I mean, when have you even had a chance? We both just got in last night."

"I was going to last night," says Kris, "or whenever we managed to catch up. But yeah, she's not going to show up or anything. She probably won't even call unless there's some kind of emergency, so you don't have to worry about that. And my family can't make it either, so that buys us a little more time there anyway."

"Well, that's a relief, at least," says Brad, pragmatic where Kris and Adam really couldn't be, about that. "Of course, there's still the issue of your concert. We don't exactly have the same aesthetic, Allen, unless you're interested in going a little techno glam for just one night."

There's a sound on the other end of the line that sounds a little bit like a head hitting a kitchen counter. "I have no idea what we're going to do," he says, "but we can't mess up this show. It's a big deal."

"It don't know," says Adam, trying whatever he can to make the best of the situation, "it's not a terrible idea. People are used to your live shows mixing it up and trying out some new stuff. And if there was ever a time to take it a little further, it's at a show where people are expecting us to have some fun and not stick to a blueprint."

"Okay," says Kris after another pause. "Okay, yeah, okay, but you still need to learn my songs if you're going to do this. You can get away with not playing guitar or piano, but you're going to have to sing. You have my voice right now so you should be able to do it."

"I'm also using your credit card to buy you a new wardrobe," Brad supplies, uninvited. "Just so you know."

"Aw, come on," says Kris. "That's really what you're worried about right now?"

"I'm stuck in someone else's body," says Brad. "Allow me my comfort food. You can dress me in plaid if you must. I'm pretty sure we'll both survive the experience. Oh, and you'd better cancel my lunch date unless you're planning on going on it."

"Do I need to go to work for you?" says Kris, then, "What do you do, exactly?"

"If we don't get this fixed before you need to go to work for me, we'll have much bigger problems to be dealing with," says Brad. "Let's just look at what we need to accomplish in the next, say, two hours, and take it from there. One mouthful at a time--not just about learning to give blowjobs anymore."

It's clear now that Brad was actually trying to act like Kris earlier, and probably not doing as good a job as he thought he was, because if Adam had seen Kris like this there would have been no doubt in Adam's mind that something was very wrong, instead of just a vague suspicion.

"I need to accomplish coffee and a shower," says Kris, "and getting back in my own body." For a second he sounds like he wants to ask something else, but whatever it is it's not coming out just yet. "Just tell me what I need to know."

"Don't be mad," says Brad when Adam ends the call. "How often do you get a chance to see how the other half lives? I like to take advantage of my moments." Adam just twitches an eyebrow at him. "Look, what would I have told you anyway? I thought I could pass until I figured out what the hell is going on with us. With a little more luck it would've been your Kris in here again before you even noticed the difference."

Adam sighs and drops his head to the table for a moment. "Are you sure we're not just really, really high right now?"

"Yeah, I wish," says Brad. "This would make so much more sense if I was tripping in the desert right now."

"So much of my life does," says Adam, and yeah, Brad can buy that these days. "All right, fuck, you need to feign a migraine, go back up to Kris's room, and watch him on youtube for a few hours."

"Does the American Idol get migraines?"

"He does now," says Adam. "And stop calling him that."

"It's his title, he should wear it proudly," says Brad. "It's like being Miss America. You only get it for one year so you might as well make the most of it."

"And I'll get the set list from Cale," says Adam, like Brad hadn't even opened his mouth, "because they might be doing a couple of covers. Kris likes to throw some mashups into his live shows."

"You're shitting me, right?"

"You need to pay more attention."

Brad is discovering he kind of doesn't like this Adam all that much, this tense, unhappy Adam. He remembers him getting intense, but not all pinched and curt, except for during that one show he did up at Lake Tahoe but the less said about that the better. And it's not Brad's fault this happened, even if he tried to play along at first, so he doesn't deserve having this taken out on him.

"At least you're not freaking out."

"Not freaking out?" Brad says, making a one-eighty from concerned to incredulous. "Of course I'm freaking out. I'm seriously freaking out. On the inside. On the outside I'm trying very hard to preserve the reputation of the American Idol and yes, I will call him that, thank you very much."

"Sorry," says Adam. "I'm not mad. Go, take the back way upstairs, I'll cover for you."

Brad checks Kris's messenger bag for the key card, relieved to find he remembered to tuck it in there. "And I'm in room...?"

"You're on your own there," says Adam. "I didn't see Kris last night, remember?"

"Oh, that's right," says Brad. "You went out with your band instead. Interesting." Adam's expression tightens up again, and Brad lets it go. "That's all right. We can pick this up again later."

"Just tell me you're taking this seriously."

"Look, you're not the one who's actually dealing with this," snaps Brad, "so just let me deal with it the way I have to deal with it, all right? You still look in the mirror and see your own face, so don't act like this is your problem and I’m a trial."

And suddenly it feels like the start of a hundred fights they've already had, a fight Brad doesn't want to have again. He looks at his hands--Kris's hands--then back up at Adam.

"I'll learn the songs," he says. "Hey, when else am I going to get to have an audience like this, right? I'll make him look good."

"I know you will," says Adam, and Brad nods and finally leaves to go look for that woman who brought him down here in the first place. He's an expert at faking it, after all.

More than anything else, Kris really wants to call Katy. But there are at least a half dozen reasons why he can't and another half dozen why he shouldn't, and the fact that he'd sound like a crazy person if he called her isn't even first on the list. But Katy's always been the person he goes to when his life's a little crazy, and his life's definitely a little crazy right now.

The fact is, he's already talked to the only people he can talk to about this and everyone else is just wishful thinking.

There's no way this can last forever. That's what he keeps telling himself. He's not going to try to convince himself it's not real, because down that road lies madness, but he tells himself it won't last forever. What's done can be undone, and what's changed can be changed back. He just needs to figure out how.

He finds the coffee in the freezer where Brad said it would be and makes some of the good stuff, because if there was ever a day he needed it, this is it. Then he sends text messages to Das, who he was supposed to have lunch with apparently, and Rachel, to reschedule some photo shoot tomorrow. Then he moves some clothes out of the way and sits down on the couch and starts retracing his steps for the past twenty-four hours or so.

It's the most useful thing he can think of to do.

Rehearsal in LA, nothing strange about that. Nothing out of the ordinary there. An ordinary flight to Dallas, an ordinary ride to the hotel. He didn't meet anyone new. He didn't have anything strange happen. His luggage wasn't delayed, didn't go missing. He didn't eat or drink anything strange.

He hung out with Allison and nothing strange happened, or at least nothing stranger than what usually happened around Allison, which is to say there was an incident with some balloons and shaving cream but he's pretty sure that didn't do this. He didn't have any strange conversations. He didn't hear any strange noises. He had what constituted a completely ordinary twenty-four hours in the life of Kris Allen.

He went to bed and fell asleep like any other day, and when he woke up it was a whole new world.

Maybe this is just something that's supposed to happen. Though when people say that God works in mysterious ways, Kris doesn't think about body swapping as being one of them. He always figured it meant things like delayed flights that cause you to accidentally run into long-lost friends, and spilled drinks that keep you from being hit by a car.

But he has to believe there's a reason, and clinging to that makes him feel marginally better about the whole thing.

Brad is becoming increasingly sure this is all somehow Adam's fault, even if Adam doesn't seem to know it, because he definitely didn't go to bed last night thinking about the American Idol. But he thinks back to the previous day or two anyway as he watches "Alright With Me" on repeat, wondering idly how he's going to sing that straight never mind look like the American Idol on stage.

The truth is, the previous night is a little bit fuzzy in places, but he's absolutely positive he had nothing to do with this. This is hardcore. This doesn't just happen accidentally. Brad's always believed in magic, in an abstract sort of way, but he also believes that you can only make things happen that you want, and this isn't something he wanted, ergo he didn't do it.

He refuses to believe it's a punishment for something, because he refuses to believe life works that way.

The song ends and he plays it again because it's definitely in their set and somehow Brad has to pull this off. Even if he didn't want to do it for Adam, and for Kris for that matter, it would be terrible karma if he didn't try to make this right, and above all else, Brad believes in karma.

Adam just doesn't have a lot of free time, even when he reshuffles everything that he can reshuffle. This concert is an event, and there are so many details of his own tour that are still being worked out, and so many people he needs to see and talk to about press and wardrobe and rehearsal and recording and a dozen other things.

But he's not going to leave Brad and Kris in the wind. Let it never be said that he doesn't have his priorities straight. So whenever he can squeeze in another moment with Brad, he does.

"No, he doesn't stand like that," says Adam, adjusting his hips. "You should put his sneakers on, that'll probably help."

"I don't think shoes are going to help," says Brad, wiggling his toes. "Do you think anyone would notice if I painted these?"

"Would you feel better if you painted them?" says Adam, and figures it's an innocent enough change in the grand scheme of things. And if anyone did see, well, Adam would just make something up to cover for him. Some kind of good luck charm between them; there's precedent for that now.

"Not really," admits Brad. "They're not my toes. I like my toes. These toes are kind of gross."

"I like your toes too," says Adam with a laugh. And weird as they are, he kind of likes Kris's toes too, but Brad is making a face at them so he doesn't mention that part. "The thing you need to get is that it's not that Kris isn't sexual, he's just...differently sexual. He's unconsciously sexual."

"Differently sexual, hm, I think I've heard that kind of thing before," says Brad, sitting down on the edge of the bed and groping around the side of it. "All right, tell me more of what I need to know while I try out this shoe idea. That Iraheta girl is going to get suspicious soon."

"You call her Ally, and all you need to do is just let her be a teenager around you," says Adam. "Sometimes she asks you for advice on things. Just remember that you've been in the same serious relationship since you were sixteen years old and do your best. And if Kris hadn't told me about his separation, he has definitely not told her yet. Don't lie, just avoid."

"Oh, I have a lot of practice at that," says Brad. "She likes to play the 'remember that time on tour' game, though. That's a little trickier."

"True," says Adam, "but if you find yourself trapped in a corner just mention silly string and she'll tell the stories herself. There are more silly string stories than you'd think. The most important thing is just that you adore her and she adores you."

"If you're to be believed, everyone adores me," says Brad, finding one sneaker and holding it up a bit dubiously. "I don't like wearing someone else's shoes."

"You're wearing someone else's feet," says Adam. "I don't know, maybe they're magic shoes and when you put them on you'll suddenly be all bouncy and kicky."

"Magic. Shoes," says Brad.

"Is it stranger than anything else right now?" says Adam. "Kris likes to touch things, so if you haven't got a guitar in your hands you'll want to grab stuff, your mic stand or your pants or whatever's in reach. Occasionally whoever."

"So not only does everyone adore Kris but he also likes to touch them, and apparently they just let him."

"Because they adore him."

"I could get used to this," says Brad, lacing on the shoe and then leaning over to search for the other. "He's probably miserable in LA."

"Kris is pretty good at adapting," says Adam. "I'm just worried that he's alone out there. Last time I talked to him he'd just finished sorting out your appointments as was going to start writing out anything that came to mind that could do this, which all things considered probably means pulling possibilities from every novel he's ever read. At least he knows the city, though. At least he's someplace a little familiar. More or less."

"Let me tell you, from a position of experience," says Brad, pulling the second shoe out from under the bed. "That's not going to help. It's not where you are, but who you're with."

"Well," says Adam. "Stand up and try the song again, and we'll figure out what to do about that."

"So we've figured some shit out," says Brad as soon as Kris picks up the phone and gets out half of 'hello'. 'Hell' is probably just as appropriate a way to respond to this right now anyway.

"Seriously?" says Kris. "You know what's going on?"

"No," says Brad. "Sorry, I didn't mean about that." Kris sighs and kind of wishes he hadn't led with that, then, and gotten his hopes up. "I meant about what you need to do in LA, since I'm pretty sure you're going to go stir crazy in my apartment before long."

Actually, at this point Kris is pretty sure he could settle in comfortably for a few days, maybe catch up on his sleep, but that can only last him so long before Brad has things to do in his life that can't be put off. Before Parker comes home and expects him to be Brad, which is certainly not an unreasonable expectation even if it's one Kris is nowhere near prepared to meet.

"You need to talk to Cassidy," says Brad. "You've met him, right?"

"Once or twice," says Kris. "About as often as I've met you."

"Look him up in my contacts. He's listed under Princess Cassandra."

Adam laughs in the background and Kris kind of wonders what inside joke he's missing there, but if he really needs to know he can ask another time. It's just one of many things he still doesn't know about Adam's life.

"And what am I supposed to tell him exactly? It's easy for you to be me, but I don't exactly know how to be you."

"Easy?" says Brad. "You think this is easy, American Idol."

"I told you to stop calling him that," he hears Adam mutter in the background, and Kris has to smile, just a little.

"At least you know something about me. All I know about you is...."

"Ah," says Brad. "All you know about me is what Adam's told you, and some scandalous pictures. Well let me tell you something, all I know about you is what Adam's told me and some wholesome pictures, and you were able to cancel everything I needed to do so you don't have to give everyone the Cheeks experience. I can't exactly cancel your big concert."

"Sorry," says Kris, genuinely chagrined. He's not the only one just barely treading water here, even if it feels like it right now. "So, Cassidy."

"We're going to try to bring him into the loop," says Brad, "so that you have someone to rely on out there while we sort this out. Unless there's someone else...."

"There isn't," says Kris. "Not here in LA. Not who'll both believe me and be able to do anything to help." If there was someone else, he'd already have tried.

"Okay," says Brad, and it may be Kris's imagination but he sounds a little gentler this time. "We're going to call him. You look up his address and just show up at his place. Trust me, it's the best way."

Brad's actually doing a passable job of "Before We Come Undone" with the whole band now that he's back into rehearsal, and Adam thinks maybe he's finding something there to emotionally connect with. Actually, there's probably a lot in Kris's songs that Brad emotionally connects with, now that he thinks about it. He definitely hasn't got Kris's body language down yet, but pleading the remnants of a migraine gets him a lot of leeway in that department. And maybe he and Adam can work on it later, in the privacy of his hotel room.

Adam's still a little overwhelmed when he lets himself think about the whole thing. He knows he's not the one this happened to, and he doesn't mean to make this all about him, but he looks at Kris now and he can see Brad inside him and it's completely disorienting. His visual brain keeps trying to tell him that it's Kris, but his gut just tells him it isn't.

And they're no closer to figuring out what's happening to all of them.

Of course, how would they even do that? You can't go to the doctor for existential displacement, you can't call your assistant to ask if she wouldn't mind tracking that body you lost somewhere, and you can't just look this up on the Interne--well, actually you can, but Adam already tried that and it really wasn't helpful.

And the real world isn't Alice in Wonderland, where you eat the tainted cake or drink the whiskey and end up in someone else's body halfway across the country. It just doesn't happen.

Except, apparently, when it does.

Even if it did, it wouldn’t have been him who did the eating if Kris and Brad are the ones who are affected. He doesn't remember all of last night, but he's pretty sure he didn't accidentally meet a witch either and ask her to cast a spell like this. If he was going to do that, and he's not saying he wouldn't, necessarily, if the opportunity presented itself, there are a lot of other things he'd ask for first.

He knows you don't apply ordinary Earth logic to occurrences like this, but even when you're superhigh there's a kind of order to things. It's a different kind of order, but when you look at it sideways you can see the flow of it. They just have to figure out the logic behind this, to find the order.

It's the only proactive thing he can think to do.

Brad is obviously a familiar sight at Cassidy's building because the guy he passes at the doorway not only doesn't hesitate to let him in but gives him a friendly smile as they pass...or more likely that's someone Brad is supposed to know, but thankfully he doesn't linger to make conversation. Kris heads straight up to Cassidy's door without letting himself think too hard about how he's supposed to handle this or second guess anything. He hopes Brad's car is okay where he left it, and he knows that should be the least of his worries but it nags at him, his brain fixating on that instead of a dozen more important things.

"Well look at you," says Cassidy, posing against the doorway after opening it for him. "Going for country chic?"

"I'm not Brad," Kris says right away. "I know I look like him, but...."

"Sure you're not," says Cassidy. "But you don't exactly look like Cheeks right now either. In fact, I’m not quite sure what you're going for. Anyway, come in already."

"Seriously," says Kris as he steps inside. "I'm Kris Allen."

"Right," says Cassidy. "The plaid's a nice touch, but you're going to have to work a little harder to get the rest of it down. I gave you that shirt, didn't I?"

"I...don't know," says Kris, pulling at it self-consciously. "I found it in the closet. You don't think Brad would've bought this?"

"You're really working this thing, aren't you?" says Cassidy. "That's pretty good, actually. Just like on TV, only I really doubt he'd ever wear that belt."

That would actually be true under other circumstances, but at the moment Kris really is attempting to be Brad.

"I don't know how to prove to you I'm someone you don't really know," says Kris helplessly. "It's not like you can ask me something only I would know. You don't know anything I would know."

"You'll slip up sooner or later," insists Cassidy. "Everyone always does. Adam actually called to tell me you were coming, which shows a real commitment to this whole thing, at least since I'm pretty sure he has better things to do."

"Adam does have better things to do," says Kris, "but you still don't believe me?"

"I think you're both full of shit," says Cassidy. "And you're not nearly as funny as you think you are."

"Exactly," says Kris. "It's not funny at all. Because it's actually happening and we're all a little freaked out."

Cassidy just gives him a skeptical, if at least a little amused, smirk. "Wine's in the fridge," he says. "I promised Adam I'd call him back to tell him you showed up. Though he's probably in rehearsal right now."

"He'll answer when he sees it's you," insists Kris.

As Cassidy moves out of earshot while he makes his call, Kris doesn't help himself to the wine but instead wanders the length of the loft, peering into doorways and finding Cassidy's piano up against the wall near his bed. After a quick look over his shoulder to see Cassidy still way on the other side of the loft from him, Kris overcomes his moral hesitation to invade his private space and lifts the lid to play a few notes. And then play a few more.

He doesn't mean to go any further than that, but it's the first time he's felt comfortable since he woke up this morning. This isn't his body and these aren't his hands, but the ability to play piano isn't just in his muscles but in his mind, in his memory. After a couple of false starts he gets into it, and doesn't stop until he realizes he's being watched.

He lifts his hands from the keys, waiting to be uninvited, but instead Cassidy comes up behind him and plays a couple of low notes at the end of the keyboard.

"I see you've met Gladys."

Kris runs his hand over her lovingly worn body. "She's beautiful," he says. "She's got such a rich sound. You can hear the years."

"Yeah, you can," says Cassidy. "And you're not Brad."

"No," says Kris, turning to face him. "No, I’m really not."

"Well fuck," says Cassidy. "What do we do now?"

There's a certain kind of body language Brad has that Adam has always read as an open invitation. He's seen it many times, many times, but he's never seen it wearing Kris's body before, and that look combined with that body equals instant hard-on. And that's in spite of an active effort not to respond to either of them right now.

"You are not picking someone up wearing that body," says Adam. "In case you were considering it."

"I was not," says Brad. "What kind of person do you think I am, anyway? This body's not mine to give. Not to you, not to anyone."

"I didn't say anything about me," says Adam.

"Oh please," says Brad. "There's still nobody who knows you as well as I do, Adam, whether you like it or not. If you thought you were hiding it, you were sorely mistaken."

"I wasn't trying to hide anything from you," says Adam, "and just remember that goes both ways."

"Hm," says Brad. "Maybe not from me particularly, but you are most certainly trying to hide it. Probably from yourself as much as anyone, which you know never works. You and I have had that conversation a dozen times."

"It's more complicated than that," says Adam, sipping his drink. "And I'm not talking about this with you. I'm especially not talking about this with you looking like that."

"That doesn't really help your case," says Brad. "You should look. Looking's not the same as touching. Go ahead and look the way you've always wanted to look, but were afraid of him noticing."

Adam wants to take him up on that, because he's not wrong, but not here and now. Not in this little hotel bar where even this early in the evening Kris's opinion of him isn't the only thing he needs to worry about. Brad's aware of that stuff too, but he's not as aware as Adam's had to become.

"Maybe later," he says vaguely.

"Alone, in your room, where you can get a better view?"

"Not what I meant," says Adam, laughing when he realizes Brad's actually kidding about that this time. "Why are you making that face?"

"I don't know," says Brad, setting his drink down. "This tastes different with Kris's tastebuds. It's a little weird. What does he usually drink?"

"Wine," says Adam with a shrug. "Beer. Nothing really fancy, that I've noticed."

Brad makes another face and sets the drink aside. "He's also a lightweight. I trust you won't let anyone take advantage of the fact."

"Never have before," says Adam. And there have been many occasions when he could have, technically speaking. This time, despite his body's insta-reaction, he's not even actually tempted.

Which would be kind of interesting, if he was letting himself think about that, but he's not.

"I don't even know what you've been up to lately," he says, watching Brad grimace at his drink again after taking another sip, like he was hoping it wouldn't be a repeat of the last. "You did that short film, right?"

"I did a couple of short films," says Brad tartly, and Adam knew that, he did, he was just referring to the one Brad was filming last month. "Which you haven't seen."

"Send me tickets and I will," says Adam.

"I thought you only did shows with red carpets anymore," says Brad. "I could probably get them to put out a bathmat for you."

"I'd come," says Adam. As long as it didn't conflict with something he had to be doing, he'd come. "But that bathmat better be red, bitch."

Brad just laughs, and as he pushes his drink aside, Adam signals for a beer for him to try then leans on his elbow and watches him contentedly, this strange Brad-Kris hybrid.

"We were perfect for each other once."

He doesn't even mean to say it, and he's not entirely sure what he means, it just comes into his head and then it's out of his mouth before he thinks about it.

"No, we weren't," says Brad, with the haste of someone who's given the subject some thought. "We were very good for one another once. If we were perfect, it wouldn't have ended. And I don't know about you, but I'm in a very different place now than I was then."

"What if I said I wanted to get back together?"

"I would tell you no," says Brad. "Thank you, but no. I've taken my turn on that ride."

"Yeah," agrees Adam. It was a hypothetical question anyway, but the answer is more of a relief that he realized it would be, like the possibility has been dangling over his head for a long time and he's finally addressed it head on. If at a completely inappropriate time. "It was good, though, right?"

"Unforgettably good," says Brad, "when it was good. And unforgettably bad when it wasn't. We both deserve something that's more of the first and less of the second, and when we were together we couldn't have one without the other."

"Yeah," Adam says again, and that sums it up pretty well. He needs passion in his life, but it's got to exist out there without the lows too. Or at least he hopes it does.

Brad's beer goes down a lot easier than his other drink had, and he's not kidding when he says Kris is a lightweight but Brad's being careful with it, not going too far. Adam appreciates it, on Kris's behalf.

Brad's laughing but still walking in a fairly straight line when they head back up to their respective rooms not long after that, not making a night of it because they still have a hundred things to do, and a hundred more in the morning.

At Adam's door, for a moment Brad leans up and is about to kiss him on the lips, like they always would, but then he kisses him on the cheek instead. "I'll let you save that," he says, and leaves it at that.

"I got your text," says Adam when Kris picks up on the first ring. In his head he now pictures Kris walking around with the phone in his hand, desperate for contact with those things that still make sense to him. "How are you holding up?"

"Better now," admits Kris. "Cassidy's cool. Is it too much to hope that you're calling with answers? Because I don't have any on this end."

"And I don't think you're going to," says Adam. "I don't think there's anything you can do in LA, and I don't think there's anything Brad needs you to do in LA. You cancelled everything, right?"

"Cancelled or rescheduled," says Kris. "Hopefully by the time we have to worry about them, Brad'll be back in here, or at least I'll be better at pretending he is."

Adam doesn't want to think about the second option, and he's pretty sure Kris doesn't either.

"How would you feel about coming to Dallas?"

"Again," says Kris, and Adam thinks he can almost hear a smile in his voice. "I'm pretty sure I just did that."

"It's like chutes and ladders," says Adam. "You slipped all the way down to LA, and now you have to take the long way to get back to Dallas." Okay, it's not a brilliant metaphor, and it implies that Dallas is something to strive for, but it still works.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" says Kris. "I mean, what if I--or Brad--needs to be here for us to switch back."

"Or what if you need to be together to switch back," counters Adam. "We just don't know, and...I think Brad needs you to be here. I think you need you to be here, to pull off this show. And...."

"And?" says Kris.

"I want to see you," says Adam. "I mean, I am seeing you, but it's not you. I haven't seen you in weeks. I know that sounds selfish, but I can't think of any good reason for you to stay in LA if Brad doesn't need you to be doing anything. Unless you want to be there."

"Want to be here? Are you kidding me?" says Kris. "It would beat sitting around Cassidy's loft obsessing about everything. At least I'd be doing something useful."

"And fewer people will know you here. It'll be easier not to have to try to be someone else."

"Except the master himself will be evaluating my performance," says Kris wryly. "I'm going to see if Cassidy can come out there too, then."

"It would probably look less suspicious," says Adam, but aside from that, he thinks that it'll just be easier for Kris to still have someone with him. No sense bringing Cassidy into the loop just to leave him behind again when Kris could use him the most and frankly, though he hasn't said so, Brad could probably use someone other than him too.

"Just your friends coming out to support you," says Kris, and then falls silent for a few moments. Adam can feel the tension of unsaid words, and just waits. "I'm scared."

"I know," says Adam. "I don't know how this is going to work out, but I'm sure it will. We'll figure it out."

"In the meantime, I'll just keep telling myself it's for a greater purpose," says Kris. "All right, I can hear someone calling your name in the background. I'll go talk to Cassidy and email you the details."

Someone is calling him in the background, but then someone usually is. "I'll see you soon, Kris. Have a safe trip."

"And just...hug Brad and my body for me."

"I will definitely do that," says Adam. Hell, he'll do it twice, once for each of them.


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