Rating: PG-13 - seems to be a theme, lately.
Word Count: 4,400
Disclaimer: Couldn't be less true.
Summary: When Kris Allen gets cast as Romeo in the school’s Spring Shakespeare production of the year, Adam kind of wishes he was playing Juliet. HS AU in which they are the same age.
Notes: I didn't expect my grand re-entrance into Kradam to come so soon after the fourth wall came crashing down around me, but then again I never expected to write a high school AU either. Perhaps I should attribute my sudden inspiration to the epic that was the Kradison concert, which I was lucky enough to attend. Title from Romeo's famous speech, hence all the references to cheeks (no, not that Cheeks). ;D
When Kris Allen gets cast as Romeo in the school’s Spring Shakespeare production of the year, Adam kind of wishes he was playing Juliet. But he supposes Ryan, the director, just had to go with the obvious and pin him as Mercutio instead. It’s only another reason to be jealous of Katy O’Connell. No big.
Adam waves off a few congratulations as he watches Katy light up at the sight of the cast list and launch herself into Kris’ arms. He tries to be happy. After all, he’s in a show with Kris, and this means he’ll have an excuse to talk to him more.
Baseball hero, loved by everyone, too cute to exist, unfortunately straight Kris Allen stole Adam’s heart a year ago in their junior English class when he said he liked his eyeliner, and now has inexplicably decided to give it a shot in the world of theater - Adam’s world.
At first Adam thought it was his own influence that convinced Kris to dip his toes in the other side of the school’s social system. But rumor has it that it was Katy, the gorgeous blonde theater kid whom Kris is allegedly dating, who turned the tides.
After the two finish hugging and smiling at each other nauseatingly, Adam decides to make due on that excuse, sidling up to Kris and elbowing him on the arm.
“Hey, congrats,” he says, then catches Katy’s eye, who is still plastered by Kris’ side. “Both of you.”
Kris’ stupid grin stretches wider, if possible. “You too, man. This should be fun.”
Adam, whose eyes are on the way Kris’ fingers remain locked around Katy’s wrist, says, “Yeah. Lots and lots of fun.”
“So then Jimmy is all ‘Girl, you were the one who said I should give him a blow job' and obviously I’m totally infuriated and... you’re not listening.”
Adam looks up from his nails. “What?”
Brad sighs prettily, letting his arms melt all over the cafeteria table. “You’ve been cast in a production that doesn’t involve singing or any of your typical pizazz - what can you possibly be pissed about?”
Adam gives him a long look, long enough for Brad’s eyes to change from puzzled to knowing.
“You know no one knows for sure they’re dating.”
“But they definitely are,” Adam whines, all pretense gone. Brad has known about his thing for Kris for nearly as long as Adam knew about it. There’s not much they keep from each other.
“Honey, I beg you not to forget our observations from the Fall. The boy simply cannot be one hundred-percent straight.”
“Our observations were wrong.”
“Excuse you, but my gay-dar is flawless. Was the case of Mr. Armstrong not proof enough?”
Adam mixes raisins into his yogurt in a defeated sort of way. “I think I need to get over this. Give up or something.”
“Fuck no, you’re not,” Brad says, slamming one of his ever-present mineral waters on the table for emphasis. “You’re Adam Lambert for fuck’s sake, queen of the gays and the artsy-types in this excuse for a learning institution. If you can’t get into the pants of the boy of your dreams, then God help us all.”
Adam shoves a spoonful of yogurt in his mouth to avoid responding. Brad rolls his eyes.
A couple of weeks into rehearsal, Ryan decides to be pretentious and have everyone do trust falls to “build open and honest communication” within the cast. Adam is first partnered with the dude who’s playing Tybalt, Danny. The douche lets him fall on his ass to be funny, but Adam figures it’s for the better - his detest will be more believable in their fight scene.
Adam’s heart does a little flutter when Ryan pairs him with Kris, assuring them that since their characters are close friends, a real-life bond will aid in Romeo’s thirst for revenge.
Kris sort of beams awkwardly at Adam and ambles over. “So do you want to fall first, or me?”
“I dunno, I’m, like, way bigger than you,” Adam teases.
Kris smirks. “Think I can handle it.”
They start fairly close to each other, to work Kris up to supporting Adam’s weight. But Kris is strong, probably from all the baseball, and soon they lengthen their distance and it gets easier.
“So, why’d you suddenly have the revelation to audition for a play so late in the game?” Adam says conversationally after another breezy drop, mainly to distract himself from the feel of Kris’ big hands gripping his upper-arms.
“Well, actually,” Kris starts, and to Adam’s surprise, he sounds a little timid, “actually, it was something you mentioned to me at the end of last year in class, when we were reading Death of a Salesman aloud. Remember?”
Adam’s heart skips a beat and he falls a little too hard. Kris still manages to catch him though, and Adam chokes out a small, “Yeah, I think I remember.”
“You were reading for Willy and I was Biff. It was the scene where Biff cries and... I don’t know, I really got into it, and you said I was good. A natural.”
Adam swooshes through the air again, joyfully. “Yeah, well, you were,” he says more earnestly than he probably would have had they been facing each other.
“Okay, everyone switch!” Ryan calls out. Kris obeys and turns around, and Adam hates Ryan a little for ruining the moment.
“This far away good?” Kris asks, inching back a little. “I’m light.”
Adam swallows and forces his eyes up to Kris’ shoulders, which does nothing to stop the flow of all the sexual implications of their position rushing through his brain as their bodies meet.
“And then,” Kris continues as he steps further away, preparing to drop again, “I started getting to know Katy through our parents, and obviously she does theater - ”
“Right,” Adam says shortly, catching Kris a little later than expected. How very adorable, meeting through their parents. “She’s really nice,” he amends, but that also comes out somewhat cold.
Kris doesn’t seem to notice. “Yeah, she is,” he says with enthusiasm, and lets himself fall even further. “Hey, this is pretty fun!”
Adam catches Kris again and again, and soon Adam is saving him mere feet from the ground, impressing everyone around them.
Ryan makes an example of them, announcing dramatically that that is the kind of trust he wants between every member of the cast by the end of the production. The way Adam’s chest feels warm when Kris positively glows at him is dampened, however, when Ryan next pairs the two leads.
Adam can’t help but watch the way Katy giggles every time she lands in Kris’ arms, and how Kris chuckles fondly back. He hopes that no one connects that to the reason for why he drops the freshman playing the Nurse.
Adam hates the part of the school day that is actual school. He truly does not see the point of calculus, despite his math-nerd friend Anoop assuring him that it is one of the most useful mathematical subjects. He prefers to daydream all period instead. And if those daydreams involve a boy that happens to look and act quite a bit like Kris Allen, then, well, Adam tells himself he’s only human.
Because, really, who could resist? The more time they spend together, the surer Adam is that the boy is pretty much perfect in every way. He’s growing cuter and cuter as he experiments with his hair and on those shocking days when he doesn’t wear plaid or when he dons that particular pair of his tightest jeans he looks downright hot.
But the hotness isn’t even the main attraction anymore. While that was, admittedly, the initial reason Adam first noticed Kris, it’s only a portion of the reason he’s so enamored with him now: Kris is sweet, funny, adorable, and jesus christ he’s talented without even knowing it. Kris manages to be shy and yet honest every time he asks Adam a question about acting, an event that is apparently increasing. At least once every rehearsal Kris seems to have some concern that he is “too nervous” to approach the director about, or that’s how he keeps putting it to Adam.
“Hey, I was wondering about that discovery thing Ryan was talking about earlier. I don’t think I’ve really got it, and I just couldn’t ask him again.”
“It’s all in the eyes,” Adam said, and proceeded to coach him on how to convey realization to an audience. At the time Adam acted relatively calm, but as he lay awake that night in bed, he couldn’t help but replay the eagerness in Kris’ eyes, and the way his eyelashes fluttered whenever Adam’s face got close to his.
In addition, Kris has also taken to sitting with him at snack breaks during longer rehearsals, he and Katy joining Adam’s group of the more elite cast-members.
At first Adam worried that his uppity theater friends would not take kindly to the baseball hero, traitor to his social circle, but Kris had them all charmed within minutes, joining in the excitement about costumes enthusiastically: “All I know is, I want a really cool sword,” he said, and had everyone laughing.
But things reach another level when Kris corners him after a grueling Wednesday rehearsal.
“Hey, Adam?” he says, knocking into his shoulder on purpose as they exit the building into the chilly spring air.
“Oh, hi,” says Adam, startled, and wheels around.
Kris scratches the back of his head nervously, staring at the ground. “I was wondering... I don’t know if you ever have free time or anything... But the part at the end when I’m about to commit suicide, I’m having a lot of trouble with it. I can tell Ryan’s pissed that he can’t get what he wants out of me, but I just... I can’t seem to... I’m saying I need your help. I was wondering if you would maybe work on it with me.”
Adam blinks at him a few times. It’s the most words Kris has spoken to him in a row. “I’m, um. Yeah. I’m free now, if you want. I mean, if you are.”
“Yeah,” says Kris and offers a small, shy smile. Adam grins back, and can’t help but notice the way Kris’ cheeks go a faint pink.
On the way to Adam’s house, he asks Kris why always him.
“Well, you’re like the most talented person I know. Plus I trust you,” he says, covering up the last part with a jokey reference to their record-breaking trust falls. But somehow Adam knows that he really means it.
They make it inside a few minutes later, climbing the stairs of the mercifully empty house (his mom must be at Neil’s soccer game). Who knows what his brother would have thought of the school jock taking acting tips from the head theater geek.
Adam pushes open the door and leads them into his attic bedroom.
“Woah,” Kris says, most likely in acknowledgement of the clutter. There’s a pile of wacky new clothes Adam picked up from a thrift shop the other day with no real plans to wear any of it scattered all over the floor, about fifty CDs - broadway recordings and rock albums alike - crammed and stacked messily into a shelf, and so many posters that the wallpaper is nowhere to be seen.
“It’s not much,” Adam mumbles, kicking a makeup book hastily under the unmade bed.
“No, it’s cool,” Kris says, and really seems to mean it. “I love Labyrinth,” he adds, indicating the massive movie poster. “I wish my room could be like this, but my mom won’t let me.”
Adam laughs, and then sits on the bed. “Okay, read the speech for me.”
Kris was right - while his reading of Romeo’s dramatic exiting monologue is full of emotion and packing a lot of punch, it doesn’t quite feel tender enough, like the words are really coming from a place of hopelessness, of no purpose but devastation and love. So Adam decides to go for a different approach than perhaps Ryan did.
“That was really good, but I want you to try something. Come sit on the bed with me.”
Kris’ gaze slams into Adam’s, alarmed. But he places himself carefully beside Adam anyway, hand inches away from Adam’s thigh.
“See that pillow right there? I want you to lie beside it and pretend that it’s Juliet, no, seriously,” he insists through Kris’ nervous giggling, “talk to it. I don’t want you to worry about projection. Ignore all the exclamation marks in the text. In fact forget everything you’ve learned about playing to an audience so far. Forget all the conventions of acting Ryan has shoved down your throat. There’s no audience but me, and I’ll be right here sitting at the foot of the bed, watching for every subtle movement in your face, every flicker in your eyes.”
Kris stares at Adam, clearly afraid.
“I want you to be on the edge of death, and not just act like it,” Adam continues. “Because when you’re in a situation when you’ve lost everything, you’re not going to shout and take it out on the world and be dramatic. You’re not performing. It’s going to be personal. No one needs to understand but you.”
It’s that which gets Kris nodding like he gets it. Like he’s ready.
“Okay,” Adam whispers. “Go for it.”
Kris takes a moment, shifts a little, leans over the pillow. And then he opens his mouth. “How oft when men are at the point of death have they been merry!”
Before when the line had been loud, on the edge of hysterical, this time it’s soft and wavering, accompanied by a small ironic smile. Kris downplays the speech entirely, runs his palm down the pillow, whispers, “Forgive me, cousin,” glancing not up to the sky, where the traditional reader would, but at nothing, nothing at all, his eyes full of a desperate and yet somehow calm need for everything to end.
Adam can’t pinpoint the moment when Kris stops playing to the pillow, his gaze instead shifting to Adam’s face. And though the line indicates that he embrace his lover, he instead reaches for Adam’s cheek, slowly cups it, stares into his eyes, holds his hand there until the last hushed, nearly inaudible line, “Here’s to my love.”
A long moment passes, and then Kris lets his fingers ghost down Adam’s neck, gropes for an invisible vile of poison. He drinks from it, only a sip.
It takes Adam a stunned, terrifying minute to realize that the speech is over, and Kris is looking at him expectantly, hesitantly.
“I... That was...” Adam clears his throat, tries to smile. “Really nice. Really, really good. Do that for Ryan tomorrow, see what he does.”
Kris forces out a laugh and another silence slips by before Adam has the sense to suggest working on it a little more. They do for another twenty minutes or so, hashing out certain lines and digging for details, but it’s with the hushed significance of a working pair who know they’ve already achieved something special.
When Kris leaves, Adam doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. He’s up all night thinking about that touch, wondering what was real.
A couple of days later while Adam is bored in class, he gets a text from an unknown number.
Hey, it’s Kris. Got your number off the cast contact sheet. Just wanted to thank you for helping me out with the dying scene. Ryan was really impressed. Means a lot. ;)
Adam stares at the emoticon winking at him for a moment, and then frantically adds the number to his contacts. He debates what to respond for several minutes, unsure how far to go. In the end, he decides that keeping it simple is the key, and types in four words.
It was all you.
Of course Adam has a million papers due by the time tech weekend rolls around, and there is nothing more stressful than being in an all-Saturday wet-tech run when all you really need to do is hide yourself in your room and work.
After an agonizing hour of lying pretending to be dead onstage listening to false-starts and light-technicians arguing with the stage manager over the cues, he is dismissed and lumbers backstage to grab his stuff.
He reaches for his bag but is stopped by a small, female hand on his arm.
He does a double take. It’s Katy standing next to him, expression warm. “Oh, hi,” he says back, attempting to keep the surprise out of his voice - they haven’t been talking much lately, which must be weird for her since they were pretty friendly when she was playing Cosette and he Javert in the fall production of Les Mis. Come to think of it, he feels kind of bad about mostly ignoring her with zero explanation.
“I just wanted to say, Kris told me how you helped him with the monologue last week. I thought that was... really cool of you.”
“Well, it was no problem,” he says, a little nonplussed.
“I just mean, I don’t know, I kind of expected you to be cold to him. I think people thought you were going to get Romeo.”
Adam shrugs. It’s true; there was buzz that Romeo would be Adam’s first lead role in a play, but he didn’t get too worked up about it. Maybe he would have, had Kris not been the one to snatch the part, but that’s beside the point. In fact, he’s been feeling very fulfilled playing Mercutio - he’s had a lot of fun with the Queen Mab speech.
“He did just kind of sneak up on people, auditioning,” Katy continues. “But he wanted to, for a bunch of reasons,” she adds, peering at Adam significantly so that he can only wonder what those reasons were.
“He’s been pretty amazing,” Adam says, to dodge the moment.
“Thanks to you.”
Adam stares at her. He has no idea where she’s going with this, or what any of it means. “Well, I’m sure you’ve been really supportive too - ”
“We’re not together, Adam.”
Adam’s heart freezes mid-beat. “What?”
“I don’t know what you’ve heard, but we’re not together. Kris isn’t my boyfriend.”
A few seconds pass during which Adam tries very hard not to openly freak out. “Oh,” is all he manages.
“So do with that what you will,” she says, patting him on the shoulder as she departs in time for her next scene.
Adam goes home and buries himself in his homework. And yet even as he bangs out an essay on The Great Gatsby, he finds himself turning ideas over and over in his head, what to do about Kris. What to do.
Production week flies by and Adam still has not done anything. Everything he’s wanted seems to be in the realm of possibility, for once, and Brad’s been screaming at him all week to just kiss the guy already, but Adam is unable, suddenly scared, and not at all like himself.
“Blondie basically told you he wants you, he sent you the flirtiest text of all time, and yet you sit there eating cupcakes during intermission with him like a fucking pussy?”
Adam shakes his head and buries his face in his hands. Brad is sprawled out on Adam’s bed, crumpling the opening night program in a hand.
“I mean, what the fuck are you waiting for?”
“I don’t know,” Adam says, collapsing and muffling his voice in his lap. “I don’t know.”
The worst part is that Brad is right. Brad is always right, has been repeating the sentiment of “going after what you want” over and over since the end of the show, pausing only to mention, oh yeah, you did a good job by the way.
Adam’s never been the type to be shy in going after what he wants. His confidence has worked wonders before - there was that time earlier this year when he caught Matty staring at him across the table in art class and had his pants around his ankles in the storage closet across the hall in five minutes flat.
But Adam was already in love with Kris by then, so it didn’t mean anything, and that’s the difference. Adam is ridiculously, stupidly in love, and never before has he made a move on a guy he really, really cared about. This time it has to count. This time it matters.
“You’re really messed up over him, aren’t you,” says Brad keenly, peering at him over the feather boa he wrapped around himself which was previously shedding pink on Adam’s floor.
“Yeah,” Adam says, noting the weirdness that they both realized this at the same time. “I guess I am.”
The cast party is one of the rowdiest Adam has been to throughout high school. It’s at Danny’s house, and everyone is enjoying making a mess of it, to say the least.
Once Adam is nursing his fifth beer and is in a reasonably good mood, he decides to go look for Kris. He really, really wants to see him right now; it’s time to make his move. Perfect timing, when they’re both on a post-show high and have a few drinks in them.
Kris is nowhere to be seen, so Adam heads upstairs to where the music is blasting from. He can hear everyone chanting, shouting something over and over. One of the words sounds suspiciously like “kiss.”
Curiosity piqued, Adam pushes aside a beaded party-curtain to reveal most of the cast in a circle cheering, and in the center are Kris and Katy, kissing.
Not just kissing. Making out, tongues and all.
Adam’s stomach lurches and by the time they come up for air, he’s making a break for it, letting his beer drop to the rug and bolting down the stairs.
It’s not like there was a stake claimed or anything, Adam tells himself. Nothing was promised, no guarantees were made.
And yet he hoped so much, was so excited for the first time he would place his lips over Kris’. And now Kris went and kissed someone else. A girl.
Adam runs until the front door is behind him and throws himself out onto the Gokey family porch, falling onto the swinging bench there. He feels pathetic, cuddling himself and forcing tears back, driven from a wild, happy party because of a crush that isn’t mutual.
The truth is he waited too long. He didn’t seize the moment, was too shy, didn’t even try seducing Kris. He hoped it would happen naturally, but that’s ridiculous, because nothing good does.
Adam is jerked from his hopeless musings by the sound of the front door crashing. He doesn’t lift his head; he knows who it has to be.
The weight of the swing shifts and Adam can feel Kris seat himself next to him. A hand is placed delicately on Adam’s shoulder, but he shrugs it off. He deserves to be childish in this moment.
Despite himself, Adam looks up at the sound of his name. He hopes his eyes aren’t too red-rimmed and that his eyeliner hasn’t run, hopes he can still recover some dignity and pretend he bolted from the room for some other reason. Anything than be rejected by Kris. He can handle just about anything but that.
“Adam, you didn’t see what you thought you saw,” Kris says softly.
“Oh yeah?” Adam says with an edge of hysterical sarcasm. “Please, enlighten me to the other possible meanings that two people kissing can have.”
“You have to know,” says Kris. “You must.”
“Would you mind not being cryptic for one second of your - ”
“How much I like you.”
That’s definitely enough to make Adam freeze mid-sentence. “Huh?”
“Katy and me, we’re just friends. That was us re-enacting a scene - everyone was yelling at us to kiss, so we did. That’s all. In fact, she’s been trying to set me up with you. She knew I liked you from... c’mon, Adam, please believe me.”
Kris’ hands are balled into fists and he’s no longer looking at Adam. When Adam breathes in to speak, it’s a shaky breath. “So the chanting...”
“Yeah,” says Kris, a tiny bit hopeful, “They were chanting at us. We’re just friends. She knows that I’m... that I’m gay.”
Kris says it in a very small voice and looks at Adam, as though if that doesn’t prove he’s telling the truth, nothing will. And Adam dares... Adam dares to believe him.
“How long have you - ”
“Since I met you. In English class.”
A hesitant smile breaks out across Adam’s face. “Me too.”
“Yeah?” Kris asks, gorgeous brown eyes sparkling a little.
They stare at each other for a moment, unsure what to do. Kris inches a tiny bit closer, almost imperceptibly so, and Adam sees that he’s wearing his best pair of jeans, the ones that hug his adorable girlish hips. Adam hasn’t felt this juvenile since his first kiss with that geek Roger under the playground bridge in seventh grade.
But then Brad’s words slam through Adam’s brain. What the fuck are you waiting for? And suddenly he doesn’t feel like a kid anymore. He reaches for Kris, cups his cheek just like Kris had, and leans in.
The kiss is slow and soft at first, but then Kris makes a little noise and Adam groans and deepens it. He slides his hands down Kris’ back, strokes his sides, edges closer so that their chests are pressed together and their legs are entangled. Kris is beginning to toy with the edge of Adam’s t-shirt when -
“Hey, Allen. You’re kissing the wrong Juliet.”
“Fuck off, asshole,” Kris says to Danny, and then crushes his mouth to Adam’s once again while simultaneously flipping the bird.
Danny stalks off, shocked, and Adam smiles into Kris’ mouth; he always knew he was born to play Juliet.