Bright Night, Chapter 10/15
Rating: PG-13/Possibly R
Pairing: Adam/OMC, mentions of Kris/OMC, mentions of Kraty, eventual Kradam
Warnings: Language, some violence & mentions of past abuse
Summary: AU taking place in summer 2013. Neil Lambert decides to attend his ten-year high school reunion, and drags his newly-engaged brother, Adam, along. Also attending the reunion is the recently-divorced Kris Allen, who was in love with Adam in high school, and who is confused about his feelings for him now. Adam and Kris quickly connect, but feel guilty doing so with Adam's fiancé in the picture. Before long, though, they both discover something that makes their advances feel right, and it takes them on a night-long adventure that they will never forget.
Author's Note: Just an extra warning; in this chapter, Adam tells Kris about his past with Sean. No really graphic descriptions of violence, but there are mentions of abuse. Hope you guys enjoy!
There was an awkward, silent tension in the car. It weighed heavy in the air, and on both men, who were too lost in their own thoughts to say anything. It had been that way when they’d both got in the car and pulled away from the school. Now that they had made their escape, the truth was stark: they hadn’t seen each other in over ten years- What the hell do you say to someone you haven’t seen in ten years?
Kris knew exactly what he should say. He just couldn’t bring himself to say it. What happened in the bathroom? Kris was so confused by it all that he couldn’t even force his mind to try to make any sense of it. He craved answers. And part of him- a greedy, selfish part of him, way down deep- felt like he was entitled to the answers. You don’t just cry in someone’s arms for half an hour without explaining. He shook his head at himself. God, I’m an asshole. He’ll tell me when he’s ready.
Kris snuck a peek over at Adam, who was sitting in the passenger seat, simply staring out the window. Kris was pretty sure he wasn’t interested in the beautiful view outside, but just interested in setting his eyes in any direction but Kris’s. Adam had an odd look on his face. He was furiously gnawing on his bottom lip, and he was fidgeting in his seat awfully much. He was obviously conflicted, torn between whether or not to explain to Kris about Sean. Or… He won’t, Kris thought with dismay. Jesus, this must be so hard for him. Explaining to Kris, who was virtually a stranger now, about how his ex-boyfriend just attacked him in a bathroom- no wonder Adam was so torn.
Kris decided to break the silence. They weren’t going to talk about this because there was nothing else to talk about- though that might be true. They were going to talk about it because it was the only thing they should be talking about. It happened, and they’d both experienced it, and now it was the giant elephant in the room. God, he looks like he’s about to cry again, Kris noticed, frowning at the realization that Adam was warring with his mind so badly that he was about to actually tear up. Kris tilted his eyes back to the road, unable to watch Adam torture himself any longer.
Clearing his throat, Kris said, “Um, Adam?” Kris flicked his eyes over toward the passenger seat to see Adam turn his gaze toward Kris. As soon as their eyes met, Kris looked ahead again because all he needed was to make sure he had Adam’s attention, plus, it was probably safer to drive with your eyes on the road. He swallowed hard, struggling to find the right words. He drummed his fingers nervously on the steering wheel as he spoke whatever words just happened to spring to his mind. “Adam- uh, you don’t have to talk about this if you don’t want to… But- well, do you, um, wanna tell me about what happened in the bathroom back there?”
Once again, Kris saved him. Ever since getting in the car, Adam had been fighting a mental war about whether or not he should explain his situation with Sean. Although on the surface of things, he was just as confused about the recent confrontation as Kris was. But Kris was smart enough to understand that there was definitely something going on before that- that there was some kind of a dark history between Sean and Adam. Adam couldn’t just get away with saying, “I have no fucking clue what that psycho was doing back there.” Nope, you ruined that when you cried for thirty minutes afterward, Adam told himself harshly. You made it pretty obvious that something had happened before.
There were so many warring thoughts swimming through his throbbing head. So many pros and cons and reasons why or why not to tell him or just ignore the situation completely. You have to talk about it. There’s nothing else to talk about. But you’ve never told anyone before. Ever. This was your little secret. But maybe it’ll be good to talk about it. Maybe it’ll help you move on. But I haven’t talked to Kris in years- you hardly know him anymore. But he held you while you bawled in a tiny bathroom stall, he deserves to know something. And maybe it’s better to tell someone you hardly know. You don’t have to look at them everyday and get reminded that they know. But maybe Kris doesn’t want to know. Who would want to know about something like that? Sean used to beat the shit out of you- who cares? Well, Kris, probably. But that’s-
And that’s when Kris cut off that last thought. Kris broke him away from his conflicting thoughts and saved him once again from his own head. Kris asked whether or not he wanted to talk about what happened. Kris had given him a choice- he said, You don’t have to if you don’t want to- but Adam didn’t view it as a choice, he viewed it as an opportunity. He was going to tell him. Kris had offered to listen to his story, and he was going to tell it.
Adam’s heart started pounding faster and faster as he took a deep breath to prepare himself for his confession. It’ll be so good to get this off my chest, he thought, as he said, “Yeah, um- I do want to talk about it.” But maybe it won’t feel so good, Adam thought, stomach lurching. What if Kris is freaked out? Disgusted? Adam knew his story wasn’t actually that complicated, to the point where Kris would hate him, but seeing Sean had brought back a lot of self-consciousness and a terrible fear of rejection. Who cares? Adam told himself, determined to tell Kris, just to get it out of the way. As sad as it is to say, you’re probably never going to see Kris again after tonight. Adam sighed, knowing it was true. And he shot a glance back at Kris, who seemed to be staring at him expectantly, and he realized that he’d taken a long pause after agreeing to tell Kris. Deciding to stall just a bit more, Adam added, “Oh, um, could you just pull over?” And upon seeing Kris’s puzzled but compliant face, Adam explained, “It’s just, I might cry or something and I’d rather be... not moving, you know?”
Adam could tell by Kris’s face that he did not know, but Kris said, “Yeah, yeah,” nonetheless. Adam hadn’t really told the complete truth, anyway. What he meant was that Kris might try to comfort him while he was crying- there was no doubt there would be tears- and they might crash into something. Kris was already swerving as it was- Adam decided not to take any chances.
Finally, they pulled off into some parking area, and Kris took the key out of the ignition. Kris looked uncomfortable as he said, “Do you mind sitting outside?” Adam looked around at their surroundings. They were in a clean, well-lit park. No one was around. “It’s just that I don’t have enough gas to keep the car running, and it gets really stuffy in here if the air’s not on.”
Adam was quick to put Kris at ease with a disarming smile, and he said, “Of course I don’t mind. Some fresh air would probably be good for me.” Adam couldn’t have cared less about how fresh the air was- it was just that he was feeling so ambivalent about telling Kris, and his mind was so focused on it, he would have agreed to practically anything Kris suggested. Plus, it gave him more time to think about what he was actually going to say. Kris would probably be pretty pissed if Adam made him park the car just to hear, ‘Oh yeah, Sean used to hit me a bunch.’
They walked a pretty far distance away from the car, in the grass, and suddenly, they both stopped and agreed that they’d found the perfect spot. Sitting down on the ground, Adam knew he was as ready as he’d ever be. If it all went to hell now, it was as close as he’d ever gotten to telling someone.
Adam spread his legs out, placed his palms on the ground behind him, and leaned all his weight back. It felt like something big, dramatic, was about to happen, so Adam cocked his head toward the sky. He noticed how huge the full moon was, and all the millions of stars dotting the sky, and suddenly it didn’t feel so big anymore. Adam closed his eyes and somehow still saw the brightness of the moon behind his eyelids, and he felt the warm breeze blowing on his face. For someone that had just gone through hell, he was pretty relaxed now.
Suddenly, he felt Kris’s hand close over his, and he snapped his eyes open. He saw Kris sitting the exact same way he was, and his big brown eyes were staring at him, full of concern. Kris took his hand away once more and said softly, “Adam, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. We can talk about anything else if you want, okay?”
Adam knew that. Kris definitely wasn’t forcing him- he was setting him free from the darkness that had been with him since his junior year of high school. Although after high school, he didn’t feel as bad, and didn’t think about Sean as much, it still haunted him sometimes. It was a kind of shame that you could never really wash away. Unless you told someone. When it comes out of your mouth, it’s out of your body, out of your mind, out of your heart.
“Kris, I promise I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t want to. You’re not forcing me. I’m telling you because I want to. I need to.” Kris nodded in understanding, and this time it looked like he really understood. Kris, you are so, so incredible, Adam thought, a hint of a smile barely ghosting his lips. Thank you for just being here for me. Adam took a deep, steely breath, cursing to himself, Fuck, fuck, fuck, because he was so excited and scared to tell Kris something he’d never told anyone before and he had no idea what he was even going to say yet.
And then he began. He forced himself to think back to the past, to his school days, and remember what had happened. “So, I met Sean in eighth grade. He moved here in the middle of the year and the teacher sat us next to each other and we instantly clicked.” Adam knew he was talking too fast, but he was feeling so nauseous that he didn’t really give a rat’s ass. His eyes were squeezed shut, not to block Kris out, but to remember Sean. It was so long ago, so distant, yet so clear. “Everything happened so fast. We both discovered we were gay, and then we came out to our families and friends and everybody and next thing you know, we’re a couple.
“Jesus Christ, he was such a good first boyfriend. He was so sweet, and generous, and caring, and loving. He was so attentive. At least, the first two years we were together he was.” Adam’s tone turned darker with that last sentence, and he heard Kris shuffling around on the ground. “Fuck, two years. That’s a long time when you’re a teenager. But it didn’t feel like it with Sean. Until junior year, you know.” Adam gulped in some air, knowing his lungs weren’t getting enough because of the speed he was talking. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he was grateful that Kris wasn’t interrupting to ask questions, and was just allowing him to tell his story.
“So then junior year starts. Sean was on the football team for the first time. I hardly saw him that summer after sophomore year because he had practice so much. Three-all-days or whatever the hell they were.” Adam heard Kris chuckle softly, but then trying to disguise it as a cough. Whatever. “But when that year starts, I knew something was wrong. I didn’t know it at the time, but I think it was the football players. I could tell they didn’t like me- they would call me dirty names when I passed them in the halls and stuff.” Adam felt his eyes welling up, but went on.
“But Sean… He was acting just weird. I thought he was going to break up with me, thought he’d gotten sick of me. Like, his jokes were suddenly really mean, and about me- and he teased me a lot. But I thought that was just normal couple stuff. Like, I thought all couples make fun of each other. No big deal. But then, one night, I went over to his house crying because my parents were having this huge fight, and he made fun of me. Called me a crybaby pussy.” Adam felt a single tear creep out of his eye and roll down his cheek, but he made no effort to wipe it away. Kris remained silent. “And then he hit me. He slapped me right across the face. And then he made fun of me for crying about that, too.
“But for some reason, I just accepted it. I didn’t even try to get out of the relationship with him. I thought it was no big deal. And the next day, I picked him up from football practice, and he slapped me again. And after the big football game, I went to the locker room to check on him, and he choked me until I almost passed out. And at school, he’d take me to a supply closet and kick me in the stomach so hard I shit my pants. And soon, I was driving to his house for daily beatings. Every day it was something new, something worse.” Tears were streaming down Adam’s face at this point, and he was lying flat on his back, his arms lacking the strength to keep himself up anymore. His eyes were still closed, though.
“How sick is that? Everyday I’d go over to his house, like it was just part of my routine. It was just part of my life now. I didn’t try to do anything to stop it. I didn’t really care anymore. He beat me, and I just accepted it. For two fucking years. Jesus fucking Christ, he could’ve killed me.” Adam’s stomach clenched at the realization. If Sean just hadn’t eased his grip on Adam’s neck for just a few seconds, Adam wouldn’t be here right now. “But I wouldn’t have even cared. He had insulted me, and torn me down so many times that I just didn’t care about life anymore. I felt like I was better off dead, anyhow. If I really was as fat, ugly, disgusting, skanky, annoying, stupid, and unwanted as he said I was, what did I have to live for?” Adam cringed at the memory. I can’t believe I used to think like that. With all the love and happiness I have now. Goddamn.
Adam heard Kris swallow loudly and sniff beside him. Is he crying? Adam thought, but he didn’t open his eyes to check because if he saw Kris, it would jinx everything. He would be brought back to the present, and he wouldn’t have a story to tell. So Adam continued. “But anyway, he beat me horribly the last two years of high school. And no one seemed to notice at all. Not my parents, not Neil, not my teachers. No one cared.” Adam was once again taken aback by his own former loneliness. “And then, after graduation, Sean broke up with me. All he did was call me a few names and punch me a few times. That was the lightest beating I’d gotten in a long time- I could tell he thought I just wasn’t worth the effort anymore. And I hadn’t seen him since then, until tonight.”
Whoa, I guess I’m done, he thought, his face feeling much wetter, but he also felt much lighter, too. He found himself slowly opening his eyes, which were burning with tears. He couldn’t see Kris beside him anymore, and he looked glanced up to see him above his head on the ground. Adam felt his head being lifted off the grass and gently settled in Kris’s lap. Kris gingerly stroked his hair while he wept softly. This time was different from the bathroom. Adam was crying not out of fear or humiliation, but of sheer relief. I did it. I told someone. It’s gone, and I’m free.
Kris had kept quiet during Adam’s whole heart-wrenching story, but he had a huge question niggling at him. As much as he’d wanted to believe after the scene in the bathroom that Adam and Sean’s relationship had not been abusive, some part of him had known. Adam’s breakdown in the stall had made it obvious that what happened had not just been a random encounter with his ex. But there was just one thing that was bugging Kris. And he prayed that this time, his instinct was right.
It had probably been about twenty minutes since Adam had finished talking, and they’d been silently crying during that time- both of them. Kris’s heart broke for Adam, for him having to endure such torture from the guy who supposedly loved him. Shit, that was just heartbreaking, Kris kept repeating in his mind while he cried and rocked a teary Adam back and forth.
Kris cleared his throat from all the tears that he had swallowed, and spoke in a hushed tone. “Adam, I just have one question about what you told me.” Adam’s blue eyes made contact with his, a question clearly in them, “Um, it’s kind of personal. So you can just completely ignore it if it’s TMI.”
Adam’s eyebrows furrowed, and he hesitantly said, “Okay…”
Kris bit the corner of his lip and decided to just voice his question and get it over with. “Those last two years… Did he ever, um- well… Force you?” Kris’s cheeks grew hot, and he hoped that it was too dark for Adam to notice. Force you? Kris chided himself. Man, I’m such an articulate dickhead, aren’t I?
But Adam didn’t seem to care about his poor word choice. He shook his head slowly. “No.” Kris never thought he’d be so relieved to hear that word in his entire life. “We had sex for the first time in the middle of sophomore year. Fuck, I was so young. Sixteen.” Kris’s stomach clenched. If he thinks sixteen is young… Imagine what he’ll think of me. He had to suppress a shudder at the memory, as Adam kept talking. “During those years he was hitting me, we never had sex. It was like he didn’t want me anymore- he told me that several times, actually. All I was good for was being his little punching bag. He got such a power kick from beating me up- no wonder he was so good at football. But to answer your question, no. He never forced me.”
Kris felt a fresh pang of guilt. He’d just allowed Sean to attack Adam in the bathroom. After the hell that Sean had put Adam through. Kris just stood there, watching. He did nothing to help Adam in any way. I’m so sorry, Adam, Kris thought, and he felt so genuinely sorry that he decided to voice his apology as well. “I’m so sorry you went through all that, Adam.” And before Kris knew it, he was leaning down and planting a gentle kiss to the top of Adam’s head. Oh, shit. The man has a fiancé, he’s gonna kill me, Kris thought, although their kiss earlier had been much more passionate, and no big deal. But Adam didn’t seem to notice, or care about it. “And just for the record, I did notice something was wrong. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. You know we all cared about you very much, Adam. Still do.”
Adam just breathed out a very sleepy “Mmhmm,” in response. Shit, is he falling asleep? I can’t carry him back to the car! He’s like six-and-a-half feet tall! And we can’t sleep out here. Somebody he knows will probably find us here in the morning and wonder why Adam’s sleeping with someone who’s not his fiancé. But Kris’s panicked thoughts were interrupted by Adam speaking once again. “Hey, Kris,” he murmured. He didn’t sound tired this time, just sad. Kris couldn’t blame him for that. That’s normal considering what must be on his mind right now.
“Yes?” Kris replied quietly and distractedly, carding his fingers through Adam’s thick, dark hair. God, I love your hair so much. I just want to run my hands through it all day.
“Will you do me a favor?” Adam asked.
Kris shifted his eyes from Adam’s hair to his face. Just a quick glimpse let him know that Adam’s eyes were closed. With Adam’s eyes closed, he was totally unreadable. “Of course I will, Adam” Kris said emphatically. I’ll do anything for you. Anything. If you need someone to kiss you right now, I’m your guy.
Adam’s voice was almost pleading when he asked the next question. So much so that Kris finally realized that he was the first person to ever hear Adam’s story. “Will you tell me something you’ve never told anyone else before?”