blue_soaring: (adam // king of rock)
[personal profile] blue_soaring
Tommy Joe joined up with Ravi Dhar and the Heartless. I HAD TO DO THIS. For [personal profile] rivers_bend, who graciously has finally allowed this fic to escape into the wild. Thanks to her and [livejournal.com profile] zoodlemouse13 for tidying it up beautifully. ♥

I am totally addicted to creature!AUs.

So much glee and thanks to [livejournal.com profile] quinn222 for her gorgeous, gorgeous banner. Art is the fucking best. THE BEST. \o/


Stranger Things Never Changed My Mind
Glamdom. Adam Lambert/Tommy Joe Ratliff. AU. Xeno. NC-17. ~21,000 words.
The incredibly life-like figment of Adam's imagination drops belly-down, claws outstretched, eyes flickering left then right then left again. Thin crooked ears like antennae swivel forward in a question.







It's dark and cool out behind the concert hall. The air stinks of exhaust and moulding dirt, old garbage. Adam breathes shallowly through his mouth, face tipped up to the starless sky. The show's going perfectly, the crowd's loving it, he's loving it, but it's overwhelming. Going from midnight cabaret to an audience of seven thousand takes some getting used to. He needs a minute to make sure he can give the best he's got right up to the end.

Something skitters through the dark to his left. Pushing away from the shadows, he paces out under the hazy light of a street lamp away from the rats digging through the dumpsters. Being a rock star's so glamourous.

When the scratch of nails on asphalt comes again, this time from directly in front of him, he freezes. He's not exactly afraid of rats, but he'd rather not get up close and personal with one and its seventeen closest friends. With a glance at the time on his phone, he figures it's time to head back in anyway. He turns around and stops short, staring at the tiny black shadow crouched near the wall where he'd been standing. Its eyes flash yellow in the darkness, and Adam thinks, Cat, in the split second before it creeps into the light.

It's not a fucking cat.

"Shit," Adam hisses, back-pedalling. Wisps of shadow cling to it, curling like smoke through the air to settle against its body. It's small, slinking movements more feline than anything though it looks vaguely humanoid, its pupil-less eyes narrow glowing slits tracking his movement. Claws grate against the pavement, the same dull matte black as the rest of it, the sliver of light that reaches it sucked flat and lifeless. When its mouth opens, bares teeth made out of dagger shadows, Adam yelps, "Oh my god, stop!"

It stops. After a beat of silence, it cocks its head curiously.

"Stop," Adam repeats, and it settles back on its haunches like the cat it so very much isn't, regarding him steadily. Not sure what else to do, he points at the blackness it crawled from. "Go."

Faster than Adam can follow, the thing jumps back onto its feet, more insect than feline now as it skitters back, hesitating at the edge of the ring of light. It hisses, pawing at the ground, and turns back. It shows its teeth again.

"I said go," Adam says, strong and firm, thankfully much calmer than the mad gallop of his heart.

With a sound like a whine, the thing melts into the shadow.

*


By the time the show's over and the troupe's rounded up to hit the road again, Adam's pushed his encounter with the weird little creature in the alley out of his mind. Being on tour is stressful. Stress leads to weird things like back-alley hallucinations. As the sun rises outside the kitschy roadside diner where they stopped for breakfast, bathing the parking lot in light, he's pretty much decided the whole thing never even happened.

Until he turns to laugh at Neil bitching about runny egg yolks and catches a flash of yellow out of the corner of his eye. His voice dies in his throat. The thing from last night is hunched in the shadow of a car, hugging tight to a muddy wheel and staring.

"I'll catch up," Adam says, slowing.

Neil waves a hand, already lost in some random political discussion with Cam.

Waiting for the group to round the corner toward the buses, Adam takes a quick glance around for witnesses to his insanity as he moves closer to the car. Ten feet between him and the shadow thing, he says, "Hi."

The creature blinks big round eyes up at him.

"I'm hallucinating you again, aren't I." Heaving a sigh, Adam crouches down to get a better look at it, careful to keep his distance. It's smaller than he remembers, and looks more scared than scary in the bright light of day. "Does my hallucination talk?"

It hisses, not angrily, more like a curious snake, and darts forward a few feet.

"Stay there!" Adam barks, scrambling up and back.

The incredibly life-like figment of Adam's imagination drops belly-down, claws outstretched, eyes flickering left then right then left again. Thin crooked ears like antennae swivel forward in a question. While Adam's still trying to figure out what the hell to do, it gives another quiet hiss and crosses both hands over where its mouth should be.

Confused, Adam puts a hand over his own mouth. Since it can't talk, maybe it doesn't like Adam talking, either.

It shakes its head furiously, yanking its hands away and slapping them back. Then it nods, creeps forward a few steps, and nods again. It looks up like it's waiting for an answer.

"Uh, okay?" Adam tries. He honestly doesn't have a clue.

Keeping one hand firmly over its mouth, the thing lopes straight up to him. It darts around his feet making frantic huffing noises, bumping the top of its head against his legs until he cautiously sinks back down onto the balls of his feet. It shoves up under his hand, eyes closed in bliss as it breathes deep and heavy.

Adam almost jerks his hand away. Not only does he remember those teeth, but the creature is fucking sub-arctic, like sticking his fingers in a bucket of ice. But it's making noise like a sandpaper purr, quivering beneath his touch, and his automatic response is to soothe it with a gentle stroke over its hard, shell-like skin. It pushes closer, one hand still covering its mouth like a promise, the other careful on Adam's thigh as it wriggles between his legs, antennae-ears brushing his chest.

"You're so strange," Adam tells it, watching its ears twitch as he strokes between them. "Neil would probably say you're some genetic experiment gone wrong, but I don't think so, huh?"

Claws pluck at the front of Adam's shirt, catch in thin cotton. The creature goes still, as if it thinks its done something wrong. Adam offers what he hopes is a comforting smile. A few hitches in an old tee are no big deal.

The creature's claws flatten out over the centre of Adam's chest, making his heart trip. Yellow eyes fix on his face as it presses harder, eases off again.

"I'm not afraid of you," Adam says in response to the question it seems to be asking, and rubs closer to the base of its ear. He definitely should be afraid. The thing looks dangerous and cute all at once, like it crept out of one of Tim Burton's nightmares. "Nervous, maybe, because I haven't seen anything like you before. But not afraid."

It presses the palm of its hand harder to Adam's heartbeat and stares up at him, eyes wide and wondering.

"It's okay," Adam says, smiling, bringing his other hand in to stroke down the creature's small back. The cold seeping through his shirt is probably giving him frostbite, but even though the little guy is still shivering, its warmer than it was at first.

When the chill biting into Adam's skin spikes, he lets out a surprised huff, but it's not until the bite becomes a harsh dig that he glances down. He doesn't get it at first, because it doesn't hurt in any way he knows, so the thing's claws sunk into his chest don't make any sense. He sucks in a startled breath, a bitter cold ache spreading out along his ribs, his limbs, making him sway on his feet. There's no blood, no burn, only a terrible empty ache throbbing in time to his heartbeat.

The creature hisses again, bumping Adam's hand, like it doesn't understand why Adam's stopped petting, that Adam's fingers are numb with seeping cold.

"I don't," Adam starts, and tumbles back on his ass, vision blurring. Bile swims up into his throat as claws slide out of flesh.

With a hitching whine, the thing crawls on top of him, pawing at his chest, his throat. Adam drags up an arm to protect his face and it wriggles under, bumping Adam's chin with the top of its head, pawing and huffing and sniffing at him, its whining hitting a shrilly worried pitch.

"Stop," Adam rasps, batting weakly at it, "god, stop, what did you do?"

The thing's mouth splits open on a screech that shatters the tentative morning quiet. It hunkers down with its hands flattening its ears to its head, eyes squeezed shut as it screams and screams and screams.

Then it's gone, Adam's ears ringing in the sudden silence. The sun's warmth comes flooding in. Adam carefully levers up, making sure the creature's not lurking in the shadows. Bright green leaves rustle in the summer breeze. There's nothing, no sign of it anywhere, except the ache lingering in his chest. He gingerly rubs at the cold spot above his heart, expecting to find tears in his shirt, in his skin. Nothing.

"Great," Adam says to the empty lot. "I really am crazy."

*


Adam doesn't tell a soul. Neil's spent the last month and a half suggesting he's bitten off more than he can chew with a tour that criss-crosses the country like a schizophrenic fit. Even Monte, with all his experience on international gigs, is tired lately, dragging through soundcheck. The troupe never fails to bring their all at show time, but the parties after happen less and less. Telling anyone, especially Lane, who should probably know when her client's gone off the deep end, wouldn't do any good. So he keeps his mouth shut, and if he squints a little too hard at every shadow, heart tripping as he waits for a flash of yellow, it's nobody's business but his.

On their way out of Texas, he crashes hard. The steady thrum of the bus's engine, the road passing beneath them, melds pitch-perfect with the bone-deep weariness weighing him down. Seconds after he hits the pillow, he's out.

The sound of someone rooting around in the closet outside his room wakes him long hours later. He rolls over, already sinking back into sleep when a dip in the mattress brings him swimming out of it again. He sucks in a breath and holds it. Could be nothing. He's always falling asleep with his phone in his hand, or forgetting to put his water bottle in the nightstand before dropping off. He's lost track of how many times he's startled awake when they bump into his knees, clatter to the floor.

The mattress shifts again, slow, steady dips creeping closer to his head. He's dreaming. He's overtired, run ragged, this is nothing more than a startlingly vivid dream. Something cold bumps between his bare shoulders, definitely a water bottle, and oh fuck, it's nuzzling at him, water bottles don't fucking nuzzle. He jerks away with a muffled shout, plastering his back to the wall and staring wildly into the dark.

"Sorry," the creature hisses, hunched in on itself, its voice shrill and grating like nails on a blackboard, chalk-dry. "Sorry, smell good, sorry."

"Go away," Adam says, shaking. "Leave me alone."

The thing cowers down lower, almost vanishing into the blankets, whining.

Searching for something to fight it off with, the best Adam's gaze lands on is the pillow. Against those claws, he might as well use tissue paper. "Please go away."

"Please?" the creature echoes, then, "please, please," as if it knows what the word means. "Please, sorry."

"I don't know what you want," Adam snaps, fear thin and metallic coating the back of his throat. "And you hurt me, you little shit, so you can go please-please somebody else."

"Sorry!" the thing wails, barely a sliver of movement in the late-night black. "Okay not okay."

"You, stay there," Adam says, pointing a firm finger at it. Not taking his eyes off it, he scoots around to the foot of the bunk, setting one foot then the other carefully to the floor. He gropes for the old tennis racket propped inside his closet, a leftover from the first days of the tour when they all had the energy to enjoy an occasional day off. "What do you mean, not okay?"

"Not okay," it repeats, completely unhelpfully. The sound of its claws catching in the sheets sends a shiver down Adam's spine. It perches on his pillow, moving its arms weirdly back and forth, saying, "Not okay," each time it jerks them out to the side.

Adam shakes his head. "I don't understand."

Letting out a frustrated hiss, the thing launches itself into a flying leap aimed straight at him. Screaming like a five year old girl, Adam takes a swing at it, missing entirely as it slams into his chest, knocking him back into the wall. Claws gouge into the wall beside his head, his stomach churning hot then cold as its other hand presses to his heart in a clear threat.

"Not okay," it hisses, yanking its hand away. Putting its hand back, it yanks away again. "Not okay. Sorry."

Shuddering, muscles burning from adrenaline, Adam says, "Down."

The creature immediately drops to the floor, tucked into the tiniest ball imaginable. It looks sad and pathetic and scared, and Adam doesn't want to trust it. "You didn't mean to hurt me?"

The thing starts out shaking his head no, then switches to nodding yes, then stops when Adam sucks in a sharp breath, confused. "Hurt, no," it rasps. Its claws stretch out towards Adam's leg. "Warm."

Adam hefts the racket. "Don't touch me."

The thing snatches its hand back. "Warm," it says again, a plaintive whine.

"Yeah, I heard you," Adam mutters. Keeping the racket at the ready even though it didn't really help the first time around, Adam moves to the bed, yanking off the fluffy comforter crammed against the wall near the foot. "There," he says, dropping it to the floor, kicking it into some semblance of a nest. "Warm."

Warily, the thing creeps toward the blanket. It sniffs at it a few times, poking it with his claws, and then it lets out a pleased noise, crawling all the way into the mounded comforter until only its eyes peer out from the folds.

"Great." Adam thumps down on the edge of the bed. "Now what?"

"Warm," the creature says, "sleep, warm."

"Yeah, I don't think so." Scooting back onto the bed, Adam tucks his cold feet under the sheets. "I thought you couldn't talk."

"Couldn't," it says, and nods. It buries its face even deeper in the blanket. "Good smell."

"This is so fucked," Adam moans.

*


The second time Adam jolts awake, it's to morning sunlight shining in through his blinds and a giant smear of black on his chest. He scrambles up with a vicious curse. The thing on his chest shrills in alarm, tumbling all the way down to hit the floor with a muffled thud.

"Don't do that," Adam snaps, peering at it over the edge of the bed.

"Sorry," it says, pulling itself up onto all fours with a pained whimper. "Blanket is not warm like you."

"What the hell," Adam says. Last night it was all raspy caveman. This morning it's tossing clauses at him. "Did you get bigger?"

The creature looks down at itself and blinks. Running its claws over its head, making sure what it's seeing is really there, it simply says, "Yes."

"Holy shit."

It pats its face. It actually has a mouth now, not just a coal-black slit for its teeth to peek through. "Holy shit," it agrees.

The sound of movement near the front of the bus jerks Adam back from the freak out he's about to have. He has no idea what to do here. For a hallucination, it's pretty fucking detailed, and those gouges in the wall over there look real to him. "Okay," he says, going with logic. "What do you want?"

The creature peers around curiously. "Stay?"

"Oh no," Adam says, "no way. I don't even know what you are."

Its ears droop. "Nothing."

"Don't try that with me," Adam says. "You're right there."

"Nothing," it says again, crumpling down sadly, and it keeps on going, sinking into the shadow of the nightstand until it's gone.

"What the fuck!" Adam shouts over the sound of a quick knock on his door.

Neil pauses on the threshold, taken aback. "It's your coffee, crazy person," he says, jiggling the cup. "That you spent half of last night begging me to get you this morning?" His gaze skips from the blanket heaped on the floor to the tennis racket propped up by the bed. "I don't want to know. Just drink your damn coffee."

A pillow thrown at Neil would totally drive him off, but then Adam wouldn't get his coffee.

*


That night during the show, with thousands of eyes glued to Adam's every move, he can't shake the feeling of being stared at from the shadows above the stage. It honestly creeps him the hell out. He flubs the lyrics twice, once missing his cue because he's peering up into the dark, searching. A few misplaced lyrics are nothing that hasn't happened before. His bandmates are his friends, and they don't prod, not even when he begs off a round of True Blood before crashing.

After the venue's cleared and all the instruments are packed up, Adam slips back out onto the empty stage. The shadows all around the edges are deep and black, impenetrable as the dark stretch between the stage and the lonely exit signs glowing in the back of the hall. He looks up into the rafters. "I know you're there."

"Here," comes the creature's rasp, somewhere off to his left. He turns to watch it slink out into the sparse light, its steps becoming long and lingering as it nears the fresh scuffs on the floor from Monte's pedals. "Had to watch. Beautiful."

Beautiful isn't the first word Adam would use to describe his show, but he laughs, says, "Thank you," to the compliment.

"Sorry made you mad," it says, pawing at the stage, its claws adding more thin scratches to the scuffs from heavy equipment and rough-heeled boots. "Want to stay."

Not sure there's a good answer to that, Adam asks, "Do you have a name?"

Its head tilts curiously. "Name?"

Adam digs out his venue pass and points to his picture from the album, his name beneath it. As the star of the show, maybe he shouldn't need one, but it made life easier to have something to flash at security besides his own face. He looks a hell of a lot different in his own clothes, a baseball hat and sunglasses than he does in full-blown makeup and costume. "Mine is Adam."

"Adam," the creature says, a quick flicker near its mouth like a tongue swiping over lips. "Have name."

"Yeah?" Adam grins. Conversation is a hell of a lot easier when he doesn't have to guess at one half of it. "What is it?"

The creature's shoulders slump. "Don't know."

"Okay," Adam says slowly, "weird, but not as weird as the fact that you exist in the first place."

"Sorry," it says, and scuffs at the stage again before looking back up. "Please stay?"

"Why?"

Settling back on its haunches, claws biting into the floor between its spread knees, it regards Adam steadily for a long minute. When it says, "Might remember," Adam doesn't believe it for one minute. It cringes back from his narrow-eyed stare. "Want to stay. Please."

"I'm going to regret this," Adam says, and sighs as it peers up at him full of shy hope. "Fine, you can stay. As long as you behave."

"Behave," the creature says eagerly, and darts forward, one hand braced on Adam's thigh as it leans up to nuzzle his hand. "Behave, promise."

"So, so fucked," Adam mumbles.

"Fucked!" it echoes gleefully.

*


Two shows and four days later, Adam's on his way to Starbucks with Cam and Lane when he catches sight of the creature clinging to the shadows between a mailbox and a rusty Buick. It hasn't missed a minute of Adam on stage. He's caught it lurking during each soundcheck, still and quiet in dark corners as it watched, and later, in the hush of the bus rolling down the highway, it's curled close to his side whenever they're alone, eyes closed and purring. Whatever it did that day in the parking lot, it hasn't tried it again.

"Oh hey," Adam says, "order mine, okay? I'm just gonna take a quick look at that over there."

"What over where?" Cam asks, but Lane rolls her eyes, says, "Sure, Adam, don't spend too much," and drags Cam along.

Once they're inside, Adam crosses over to a store window, not having to fake his interest in the crocodile print boots in the display. He waits until there's a cool weight leaning against his leg to ask, "What is it?"

"Sign," it says, pointing a claw.

Adam looks at the pedestrian crossing sign, the cross street posted above it. "Thomas Avenue?"

The creature nods. "Not street. Name."

"Your name is Thomas?"

The creature shivers, pushing harder against Adam's legs. "Name me," it hisses, clawing at the ground, rubbing its face into the calming hand Adam settles on its head. "Name me, Adam, name me."

"Tommy," Adam laughs, and the creature shudders, goes still on a shaky inhale. Worry lances into Adam's gut. "Tommy?"

"I have a name," the creature rasps, slumping bonelessly against Adam's legs. "My name is Tommy."

Adam glances up at the sound of someone calling his. Lane is outside the Starbucks, a coffee in each hand and her phone caught to her ear by her shoulder. "I have to go," he says. "Are you okay?"

"Okay," Tommy says with a nod, already melting away, smoky tendrils coiling in on themselves, sinking into Adam's shadow. "'Bye, Adam."

"No, wait," Adam says, "I didn't mean," but it's too late. Tommy's gone again. Turning to wave at Lane, Adam takes a quick glance at the shadows, searching for a hint of yellow eyes. He didn't mean goodbye. He hopes Tommy didn't, either.

*


Another show that night, and the familiar weight of Tommy's attention is on him. He belts out lyrics he hasn't really felt in ages as the screams from the crowd swell with his voice, rise up to meet him. Taking all that energy in, he pours it back out in the song, his heartbeat pounding through him like the beat of the drums. All through the signing afterwards, his skin's crawling with it, his smile too wide and his eyes too bright, and he's going to read headlines about him doing drugs before a show again, but he doesn't care. He'd been afraid that all Tommy had wanted from him in the end was a name, and in giving it, he'd lost the strange little guy forever.

It's crazy how Tommy fits so easily into his life. Almost the pet he hadn't realised he'd wanted, or needed. As much as Tommy acts like one, though, he isn't. He talks--not much, but he does--and he has thoughts, feelings. Things he wants and isn't afraid to ask for with an eager nibble to Adam's fingers. A goldfish isn't anything like the affectionate, mischievous little shit Tommy's proven to be.

Later, once he's shaken free of the impromptu party thrown by the rest of the troupe to celebrate, he slips into the darkness of his room. "Tommy? Are you here?"

One of the shadows on his bed moves. Tiny slits of yellow cut through the dark. "I'm here."

"Where did you go today?" Adam asks quietly, too aware of the chatter out front as he heads over to sit on the bed. "I was worried."

"Worried," Tommy echoes, wonder laced through his soft rasp. He yawns and stretches, rocking up onto all fours to crawl into Adam's lap, nuzzle up against his belly. "I hid. If she saw me, she might send me away."

"Who, Lane? No way." Petting Tommy's head, Adam notices his ears are shorter than they used to be, less like antennae now, more like small horns. He traces a fingertip around the nub of one, laughing at Tommy's surprised snuffle, the way Tommy kneads carefully at his thigh in pleasure. "If she saw you, she'd convince herself in five seconds she didn't. She's too practical to believe in seeing things like you."

"You believe," Tommy says, almost a question.

"You jumped me. Even my powers of self-delusion don't stretch that far." Adam settles onto his back, grunting as Tommy immediately follows, all his weight on Adam's stomach for a moment before he curls up half on the bed, half on Adam. "Fuck, you're getting heavy."

Tommy doesn't say anything, purring quietly. Adam closes his eyes, more than willing to fall asleep just like this. He'll worry about taking his boots off later.

As he's drifting off, something wet and cool swipes at his belly where his shirt's ridden up. He ignores it, idly stroking Tommy's slinky, bony back, until it comes back again, slower. "That tickles," he complains, shying away.

"Sorry," is a chill rasp against his skin, absent and meaningless as Tommy noses at his side, licks him again, a quick darting flick. "You taste good."

"My life is so fucking weird," Adam moans, rolling away from Tommy's tiny tongue dipping too close to his bellybutton. He flings his arm heavily over Tommy's body, grinning at Tommy's startled huff over getting caught so easily. "Do me a favour and don't mention things like how I taste, okay?"

With another huff, Tommy squirms and kicks until he's on his back, his belly beneath Adam's splayed hand. He paws at Adam's wrist until Adam starts rubbing, then starts purring again, shivering happily.

"You're shameless," Adam accuses.

Twisting around snake-quick, Tommy catches Adam's hand in both of his clawed ones, nuzzling and licking into Adam's palm, fast and cold between his fingers, like Tommy's trying to get as much as he can before Adam snatches it away.

"And sneaky," Adam says, flattening his hand out over Tommy's mouth instead, muffling a startled hiss.

Immediately, Tommy goes limp. His eyes, big and wide in the dark, dart up to Adam's face. He starts trembling, claws curled carefully against Adam's wrist, not holding on, but not pushing away, either.

"I'm not mad." Too often Tommy gets like this when they're playing around, afraid and slinking back like he's done something wrong. He never seems sure he's allowed to touch Adam, always waiting for a cue, always the first to stop if he thinks Adam's growing impatient with him and vanishing into thin air without giving Adam a chance to explain.

Searching Adam's face, Tommy ducks out from beneath his hand. "Playing," he says.

Adam makes a soft noise of agreement.

"Playing," Tommy repeats, and rolls back onto his belly, pressing tight against Adam's side with his cold nose buried in Adam's armpit. Adam counts off the seconds, barely hitting five before Tommy's tongue darts out.

"You brat!" Shoving Tommy back, Adam grabs the edge of a blanket, hauls it up and over himself to block Tommy scrabbling to get back in close. Muffled darkness settles in beneath it, and Adam holds his breath, listening for the tell tale catch of Tommy's claws in cotton. He's not expecting the teasing lick at the back of his neck and he jerks away, flinging the blanket back with a curse. "Okay, that's cheating."

"No," Tommy says smugly, flexing his claws as the rest of his body forms out of the shadows. "You didn't say I couldn't."

"You're so freaky," Adam says, stretches his fingers out to touch the last few wisps of black before they coalesce into Tommy. Tommy flinches like it hurts, and Adam drops his hand. "Sorry. I should've asked."

"Never ask," Tommy says, crawling closer to bump his hand. "You never have to ask." Bits of shadow turn to wisp again, slither cool around Adam's fingers, his wrist. It's bizarre and strange and when Adam's heart kicks at his ribs, more wisps coil up, blurring the edges of Tommy's shape in the dark. "Always touch me, Adam."

Dragging in a steadying breath, Adam curls his fingers through the smoke. It clings cold and heavy to his skin, creeping higher up his arm when he gives it the chance. He swallows hard, a phantom ache flaring in his chest. As soon as it does, the wisps slink back, reform into Tommy's claws stretched out carefully in the palm of his hand.

"It didn't hurt," Adam says, quickly wetting his lips. He's not sure what he felt, but it wasn't pain. A strange, numb tingle lingers beneath his skin, deadened nerves reawakening.

Edging close, Tommy noses at Adam's cheek, settles down with his face buried in the crook of Adam's neck. "Never hurt," he says, his rasp more like a whisper. "Always careful now."

Reaching for the discarded blanket, Adam tugs it in close around Tommy's small frame, ignoring the chill in his own body as he rubs warmth back into Tommy's.

*


The next day, Adam can't do anything right. He's exhausted and cranky, and every time he opens his mouth to sing at soundcheck, his mind's on the shadows around the stage instead of the words coming out of his mouth. When Monte suggests a break, he doesn't say a word, waving as people file out to find coffee, and maybe a singer who can focus for five fucking seconds.

"I kept you up," Tommy says, perched on an amp beside Monte's guitars. He doesn't sound too sorry about it.

"It's not that," Adam says, waving it away. He tosses his mic from one hand to the other, casually strolling over to lean on the amp, help himself to a mouthful of water in case someone's watching. "The international leg is coming up soon."

Crouched on his haunches away from the dark, Tommy seems slightly more human than feline today. He fluctuates frequently between the two more in manner than appearance. Lately, his face is more expressive, despite the fact he still doesn't have much in the way of features. He moves on all fours like an animal, lazy and slow as he crawls down from the amp, goes to sniff at Monte's guitar. "I don't know what that means," he says, carefully rubbing the back of one hand against the guitar's shiny red body. "This is gorgeous."

"Monte will absolutely agree with you, but don't let him catch you touching it," Adam says, spilling some water out onto his fingers to flick on his face. "It means we'll be flying instead of driving. I can't take you on a plane, Tommy."

"You don't have to," Tommy says, not really paying attention. He touches the tuning pegs carefully, stroking down over the frets and jerking back in alarm as it makes a horrible screech. He hugs his hand close to his chest, staring at the guitar as if it tried to bite him.

"Claws aren't really made for playing," Adam says, giving his head a comforting pat. Tommy's dull black surface isn't as slick or as hard as it used to be, either, more like rough crushed velvet under Adam's hand. It's even softer between the small points of his ears, fur-like. Adam scratches his fingers gently though it and Tommy calms, curls back against his legs.

After a quiet minute, Tommy says, with something like a smile, "You're worried about leaving me behind." Rising up to brace his hands on Adam's belly, he shakes his head. "Don't. I'll find you."

"There's time yet, anyway," Adam says. Only a little more than two weeks, but it's time.

Tommy purrs contentedly, and Adam tries not to think too deeply about why the idea of leaving Tommy behind makes him sick to his stomach. Makes him afraid, in a way those claws pressed to his belly don't.

*


Two weeks fly by. As Adam boards the plane with Monte and Lane, dutifully stowing their carry-ons along with his in the bin overhead, he tries to keep from staring into every scrap of a shadow he can find. Monte shoots him a concerned glance as he flops into his seat by the window.

"Rest up," Monte says, climbing in after him to give him a brotherly clap on the knee. "Sleep is all long flights are good for."

Adam flashes him a smile, mumbles something about him being the one who knows best, and settles down, eyes closed.

The flight itself is a blur. The trip from the airport to their hotel is even more so, and it isn't until he wakes up enough to notice the language on all the signs does he clue in they're in Berlin. It seemed like it should've taken longer to reach the city. He should've had more time to process.

He barely glances at his hotel room before dumping his suitcase on the bed and heading into the bathroom to splash water on his face, his way lit by the late afternoon sunlight spilling in through the wide bank of windows. The morning before he boarded the plane, Tommy had nuzzled him awake, rasped, "Don't worry," one last time and melted away to nothing before he had a chance to do more than open his eyes. He'd expected at least a little something more. Not goodbye, but a see you later, maybe an I'll be waiting, anything except what he'd gotten. He still doesn't know what the hell Tommy is, but he'd thought friend was good enough.

When he moves back into the main room to flick on the light, his heart trips at a familiar voice. "No light please."

"Tommy," Adam blurts, gaze jumping over the chairs arranged in the window bay to the bed, finding Tommy there at the head, curled up awkwardly like doesn't know what to do with his limbs. "Oh my god, Tommy."

Tension seeps out of Tommy's frame. "I thought you'd be angry."

"I want to know how the hell you got over here, and why didn't you tell me, but fuck, no, I'm not mad." Flopping down on the bed, Adam lifts his arm, waiting for Tommy to snuggle in beneath it. "Maybe a little ticked. I thought I'd left you."

As Tommy crawls close, the first thing Adam notices is how he moves. Sinuous on hands and knees, slow and slinking, and then Adam realises knees, not crouched on the balls of his feet anymore. He's still tiny, thin and bony beneath the soft black, but so much larger than the small thing in the alley all that time ago.

"The same as I'm always with you," Tommy says, curling close, stretched out long and so far from human against Adam's side. "In your shadow."

"When you say it like that, I feel like I should freak out," Adam says. Tommy claws scratch lightly over his belly, shorter and slimmer than they used to be, still as sharp. "No, okay. I'm freaking out." He struggles up out of Tommy' s hold, gesturing vaguely, as if that'll explain everything that's kicking around inside his head. "Look at you!"

Obediently, Tommy looks down. "I look like me."

"You look like me," Adam counters. "Anybody who sees you now isn't going to mistake you for a fucking cat."

Tommy rocks up onto his knees, hunched down with his hands braced on the bed between them. "I'm not a cat."

"You sure as hell acted like one," Adam snaps, and instantly feels like a dick. Shouting never helps anything. He'll only drive Tommy away.

But instead of a flinch, Tommy's face twists in a snarl. Sunlight glints dully off pointed black teeth and his claws sink into the bed, metal springs twanging. "Don't yell at me. I'm trying--" He gives himself a vicious shake, spilling backwards off the bed to slink into the shadows near the armoire, his breaths heavy and rasping.

"I'm sorry." Shuffling over to sit on the edge of the bed, Adam holds his hands up helplessly. "I don't know what you are. I don't know what you want."

"I told you," Tommy grates, hunkering down further from the light. "I'm not anything. All I want is to stay."

Adam drops his hands, biting back frustration. "That doesn't tell me anything."

"That's everything," Tommy growls. "I'm a shadow, Adam. Shadow's don't exist without something to cast them. I need you." He curls tighter in on himself, holds his head in his claws. "Don't make me go. I want to be."

Shakily, Adam pushes up off the bed. "Stand up." When Tommy doesn't move, he says, "Stand up, Tommy. You said you were trying. Try harder."

With a sound like a whimper, Tommy crawls away from the wall. He grips the edge of the armoire to slowly climb to his feet. There isn't much to him, only a vague suggestion of a human shape, arms and legs and the slant of a jaw, a soft feather of black falling along one side of his face, hair-like. He's a shadow of someone, but it isn't Adam.

The same as every poor schmuck in every Hollywood film ever, Adam asks, "Why me?"

"Your heart," Tommy says, yellow gaze unblinking. "I could smell your heart, how easily you gave it away to all those people screaming for you, and I wanted it."

Adam forces air through the tight squeeze of his throat. "Is that what you tried to take that morning, in the parking lot?"

"You told me to go away," Tommy says, nodding, sinking slowly back into a ready crouch. "Then you said it was okay. But you didn't understand, so it wasn't. And I was so, so careful after that, Adam, I didn't take any of it. Not even when you let me taste it, and it was so hard." He shivers, claws plucking at the carpet. "It's so fucking hard."

"Is that what you want?" Adam asks, flicking a glance at the door, wondering if he can make it in time, if it'll make any difference at all when Tommy's spent the last two months literally living in his shadow.

"Yes," Tommy hisses, long and drawn out, sinister in the waning daylight. "So bad. But you won't be you anymore if I take it, you'll be like me, and I want you to be you. I can have you forever if I don't take you."

Picking the meaning out of that jumble is a lost cause. Most of what's coming out of Tommy's mouth isn't making any sense at all, not in a safe, logical way, and there is only one very important thing Adam needs to know right this second. "If I don't send you away, are you going to kill me?"

Tommy's head snaps up like somebody's slapped him across the face. He tears agitatedly at the floor, ripping out giant chunks of fluff and glue, making that same whining noise high in his throat as when Adam had almost blacked out in the diner's empty lot.

Heart in his throat, Adam shouts, "Tommy! Tommy, stop!"

"Adam," Tommy gasps, rearing back. He stares at the ragged mess of the floor, chest heaving on each wheezing breath. "Please don't. I won't hurt you. I won't, I promise," and he slips into a shrill whine again, slinking low on his belly, covering his mouth with both hands, the same promise he made and broke once before. He squeezes his eyes shut, nothing more than a crooked black smear against the hotel's off-white walls.

"God, just stop," Adam says, his head ringing from that awful sound.

Silence crashes in so hard Adam sways on his feet. He grabs at the bed to steady himself and ends up sitting down before he falls. Closing his eyes, he breathes steadily until he's sure the room won't spin when he opens them again.

Tommy isn't by the armoire anymore. He's smack in the middle of a weak sunbeam, his outline hazy where the light tries to reach him, absorbed by his blackness before it can, and reaching for Adam with something like worry in his glowing eyes.

"I'm okay," Adam says, swinging his legs up to roll off the other side of the bed, put some space back between them. Tommy crumples in on himself, shrinking, but there's no shadow for him to fade into trapped in the middle of all that light. "So what are you going to do? If you stay?"

Tommy tilts his head as if the question doesn't make any sense. "I'll stay."

"Yeah, but if you stay," Adam asks, circling closer to the window, "what will you do?"

"I don't--" Tommy starts, and curls his claws into fists again to keep from tearing at the carpet. "There's nothing else. All I want to do is stay with you."

Grasping the curtain, Adam carefully draws it across the window until its shadow hits Tommy. Shuddering, Tommy melts back into it, the black wisps curling up from his shoulders solidifying again as he creeps away from the light. "Thanks," Tommy whispers, shivering as he touches his arm. Bits of black fall away from his fingers, pepper the carpet like ash.

Nodding, Adam closes the curtains the rest of the way. Twilight fills the room, soft and cool, so much like the touch of Tommy's skin. The nervous jitter in Adam's stomach is telling him loud and clear that he should get the hell out of here. But he goes to the bed instead, tugging his suitcase off it, straightening out the bedclothes. "Come on," he says, fluffing the pillows. "Up."

In the middle of biting at his shoulder, spitting out dead flecks of black, Tommy stops and looks up.

"Okay, that's kind of gross," Adam says, proud his voice comes out evenly. "Can't you wash that off?"

"I don't know," Tommy says. He flickers back through the shadows, a quick there-and-gone again until he crawls around the edge of the bathroom door, staring up at the shower. "Maybe?"

Tipping his face to the ceiling, eyes closed, Adam breathes, "God." He really doesn't know what the fuck he's doing here. On his way into the bathroom, he flicks on the small nightlight so he doesn't trip and crack his incredibly stupid head open on the granite counter, then pulls open the shower, gesturing for Tommy to get in. "One way to find out, right?"

"Right," Tommy says doubtfully, dripping apprehension as he eyeballs the whole works, creeping on all fours in over the splash guard. "I guess."

"Pussy. C'mon." Taking Tommy's wrist in one hand, Adam drags him to his feet. Adam directs him to stand back out of the spray and Tommy cowers against the wall, miles away from the vicious thing that had clawed the shit out of the floor. The floor which Adam is totally going to have to pay to fix. He murmurs something soothing when he turns the water on and Tommy jolts, and checks to make sure the temperature is warm. "There. Go on."

With a nervous glance, Tommy edges into the light rainfall drizzle. His mouth falls open on a groan like the grate of rocks down a mountainside as the water sluices down his arm, and he crowds under the shower head, hunched over with his arms tight to his chest, claws curled together like he's trying to catch the warmth and keep it forever. "It's so warm," he hisses, shuddering. "Make it more."

Turning up the hot a little more, Adam cranks the drizzle to a downpour. Tommy makes a sound like a laugh, clanky and dull like a broken bell, but a real laugh, not some rasping imitation of one. "Try that," Adam says, pointing at the loofah hung waiting on a hook. "That should work better than chewing on yourself."

"Chewing gets it off," Tommy says, too happy to sulk. He fumbles with the loofah, sniffing at it first before sticking it under the water. He dabs at his face with it and scrunches up the small bump of his nose. He shoves the sponge out the door at Adam, water dripping all over the tile. "You do it."

"It doesn't hurt," Adam tries, but Tommy shoves it at him again. Heaving a sigh, he takes it, motioning for Tommy to turn around. There's enough light that Adam can see what he's doing, but only barely. He grips Tommy's shoulder to hold him still and drags the loofah high across his back in gentle, sweeping circles. Tommy's trembling erupts into full-body shivers, a choked-off noise caught in his throat stopping Adam short. "Does it hurt?"

"No," Tommy quickly says. "No, it's like when you rub my belly, don't stop."

And alright, so that's a little strange to hear when Tommy is mostly-human shaped and standing in a shower. Swallowing tightly, Adam goes back to scrubbing, black flakes caught in the loofah and swirling down the drain. Tommy's skin is even softer it its wake, supple and warming. He lets out another one of those muffled noises, one hand coming up to slap on the tile, and the only thing that keeps Adam from crawling into the shower after him to see if he's really alright is the clunk of his boots on the floor. "Tommy?"

Tommy glances over his shoulder, a quick flash of yellow eyes and deep dark red between parted lips before he's plastered to Adam's front, clawing at the back of Adam's shirt to get at skin. He buries his face in the crook of Adam's neck, ragged breaths cool compared to the steam building up around them. The chill wet pressure of Tommy's tongue on his throat drives Adam back a step, then one more as Tommy prowls out after him, short sharp nips of razor-point teeth followed by another frantic lick, another, Tommy driving him back until he's caught up against the counter.

"Tommy, wait," Adam says, hands skidding down Tommy's arms, black cold wisps coiling around his fingers not enough to grab onto. "Wait, I don't think--"

"I won't hurt you," Tommy promises, his voice grating in Adam's ear from behind him--Tommy's shifted through the shadows to perch on the counter at his back, arms and legs wrapped around him, slim and strong dragging him in close. "You feel so good," echoes in a moan off the tile, a cold rush against Adam's skin. "So good, Adam, please."

"Don't--" take my heart sticks in Adam's throat. It sounds so ridiculous. There's a fucking shadow clinging to his back, nibbling delicately at his neck, and he wants it to not take his heart.

"Never," Tommy says, nuzzling at skin damp from the heat of the running shower. "Not even if you give it to me, I won't take it. I just want, Adam, I want," and he breaks off with a harsh groan, tugging roughly at the collar of Adam's shirt, trying to get more skin.

Twisting partway around, Adam catches Tommy by the chin. He leans in without thinking, closing his eyes against the fascinating yellow burn of Tommy's and opening his mouth for the chill slide of Tommy's tongue. Tommy tastes blank and somehow sharp, like the bite of winter air. Like nothing, and Adam's brain struggles to make comparisons, figure out what is and isn't in the not-taste flooding his mouth.

Tommy makes a startled noise and he's pushing forward, trying to get deeper, his teeth pricking at Adam's lips when he's not careful. A hitch in Adam's breath is enough to get him to back off, be more gentle as he catches Adam's tongue to suck it when it flicks against his, slow and sweet and soft. The cold press of claws through cotton jolts Adam back to reality, where he's in a dark hotel bathroom making out with a shadow that literally wants to eat his heart out. He jerks away, holding Tommy off by the throat, not even sure that will do any good. But all Tommy does is make a miserable noise and slump forward in his grip, heavy and boneless.

"Easy," Adam says, shouldering him up, smoothing a hand over his jaw as his head lolls back. "Tommy, you still in there?"

"So good," Tommy hisses, twitching as Adam's thumb grazes too close to his mouth, his tongue flicking out against the pad. "Adam."

"Stop," Adam says, and Tommy backs off with another one of those grating purr-like noises, slumping lazily against the mirror, somehow sated and quiet and thrumming for more all at once. Carefully, warning gaze fixed on Tommy's face, Adam runs his free hand down Tommy's body, chest and stomach and thigh, and Tommy quivers beneath his touch. There's no heat between Tommy's legs, though, only soft smooth nothingness. He lets out a quiet breath. Without that piece of the puzzle, he has no idea what's going on here. "What do you want?"

"I don't know," Tommy says, then, "more. I want more."

"Stay." Waiting for Tommy's reluctant nod, Adam shuts off the shower. The hotel room itself is dusky, dozens of shadows cast from the nightlight in the bathroom reflecting off the mirrors. Going to the bed, he yanks down the duvet, sitting on the edge to tug off his boots before peeling off his damp tee. He leaves on his jeans, not sure he really wants to go there. "Tommy," he calls, scrubbing his palms dry on water-spotted denim.

There's a muffled thump from the bathroom, a glint of yellow in the mirror before Tommy skulks around the door, hanging back against the jamb until he's sure there's no more sunlight to trap him. Even upright, he doesn't move like a human. Like he has joints where Adam doesn't, he moves through the shadows like mercury, a glance Adam's way seemingly enough to tell him to crawl onto the bed. He curls against the stark white sheets on his side, one arm beneath his head, fine strands of coal-black hair caught on the pillow. He looks more human than ever, and startlingly so much less.

Adam slides onto the bed on his back, one hand tucked under the pillow, the other on his belly. He inhales slowly, wondering if he's really going to do this. Beside him, Tommy is silent and still, the closest he's ever been to a shadow except for the constant thrum of his attention focused solely on Adam.

"Alright," Adam finally says, and the weight of Tommy's focus ratchets up a notch. "Get up here and kiss me again."

"Kiss you," Tommy says, that wondering tone again, the mattress dipping as he rolls up onto his hands and knees. He hesitates before crawling on top of Adam, his knees bracketing Adam's hips, his hands the pillow, claws perched carefully to keep from slicing into goose down. "You really want me to?"

Settling both hands on Tommy's hips, expecting the soft give of flesh, the sharp angle of bone, Adam shivers when it's nothing at all like that. It's hard and soft all at once, but not like it should be, solid muscle layered over a token skeleton frame. "Yeah, I want you to kiss me."

Tommy's eyes flicker shut. He breathes in deeply, leaning close to scent the air near Adam's throat, following the line of it up to Adam's mouth. Their lips bump, Tommy's cool and smooth, and Adam opens up for him, surprised when it's the slick tip of Tommy's tongue tracing his lips first before dipping inside, licking at his teeth. Pulling back, Tommy brings their mouths together at a different angle, flicking his tongue at Adam's to coax him into playing, catching it carefully between sharp teeth the second Adam does. Adam inhales sharply through his nose.

The backs of Tommy's claws curl against his cheek, meant to be reassuring but only reminding him how different Tommy is, how other. Then soft lips take the place of teeth as Tommy starts sucking, letting Adam slide almost free before he dips down, fits their mouths together so Adam's tongue slides into his, steady slow fuck that makes Tommy moan. And it's crazy, because Tommy is a fucking shadow, but he gives it all up so easily, melting against Adam's body.

"No," Tommy says, darting back as Adam tries to roll them, pin Tommy beneath him. "I like being on top of you."

"Fuck," Adam says, his bare feet dragging against the sheets as he pulls his knees up, settles Tommy's weight more firmly in his lap. He's not surprised he's getting hard from this, except he is. Tommy may be pliant and willing, but he's dangerous, inhuman, and Adam is getting off on it so hard he knows he's totally and completely fucking crazy. Just fucking gone.

"Oh," comes tumbling out of Tommy's slick mouth, startled, interested. His hands move to Adam's chest, cruel edges of claws right there next to Adam's collarbones, bracing to rock back and down onto Adam's dick. "You got hard for me," he says, gaze snapping to Adam's face, lip caught between scary-sharp teeth. He snatches his hands away, lacing his claws firmly together as he scoots back a little, sizes up the bulge of Adam's cock trapped in his jeans. "Can I watch?"

"What, watch?" Adam stutters.

"Yeah, when you jerk off." Eyes crinkling, Tommy plucks gently at Adam's fly. "I can't do it for you. I can't even suck you. So I want to watch." A shameless glitter takes over the yellow glow as he rocks the back of his hand against Adam's cock. "I want to watch again."

Sucking in a gasping breath, Adam flashes back to all the times he thought he had been alone. He'd never once felt Tommy in the privacy of a dressing room when he stole a fast and dirty moment after a show, or when he took his time in his own room on the bus, dragged it out and made it last. Tommy hid from him to watch, and even as his face heats, he reaches for his zip. Tommy makes a quietly excited noise, settling clawed hands on Adam's sides. Barely shoving his clothes far enough out of the way, Adam tugs his cock out and wraps a firm hand around it, jacking it from root to tip. He doesn't even think about what the hell he's doing as he thumbs the ridge, asks, "You like it?"

"Yes," Tommy hisses, "Adam, fuck, do it all. I wanna watch you play." He tugs hard on Adam's jeans, claws splitting the seam, grazing terrifyingly close to Adam's balls. Adam's cock jumps in his hand. "Touch everywhere."

"Oh my god," Adam groans, squeezing his eyes shut as Tommy creeps backwards off him, jeans caught in teeth and claws dragging down his legs. Tommy strips him naked and crawls back between his thighs, nuzzling at his hand where it's not moving on his cock. He's afraid to look down, have the reality of what he's doing come crashing in, so he gets his other hand involved instead, stroking his sac, shuddering as Tommy's face shoves between his legs without warning, small tongue darting out to lick his fingers, nose up under his balls to get at his ass. "Jesus, Tommy!"

"You like it," Tommy says, not making it a question, his claws on the insides of Adam's thighs keeping his legs spread wide. He licks again, wide and wet from as deep as he can get between Adam's cheeks all the way up over his fingers to the head of his cock. Tommy eagerly tongues at the slit, trying to wriggle in after he's licked up all the precome beaded at the tip and letting loose with a dissatisfied hiss like metal grating on metal when he can't get it. "Do it, I want to know what you taste like."

"This is crazy." But Adam spits in his palm, starts jerking off fast and easy. With how turned on he is, it shouldn't take much, but every time Tommy darts a lick at him, his rhythm stutters. Tommy's got no reservations at all about where he sticks his tongue, licking the salt from the crease of Adam's thigh, lapping at Adam's balls until they're slick and heavy and Adam has to give them a harsh tug to knock himself back from the edge because he's suddenly not ready for this to end yet. There's nothing in Adam's head except the obscene wet noise of his hand on his cock, Tommy's purring as he wiggles down lower, chasing the taste of skin all the way to Adam's hole. He braces for the press of Tommy's cool tongue inside him, expecting it, wanting it, but Tommy scrambles up, drops down heavily on top of him with barely enough space between their bellies for him keep jacking.

"Faster," Tommy says, licking at Adam's open mouth, into it, "faster, I can smell it, you're gonna come for me, Adam, you're gonna get it all fucking over me, hurry up, I want it."

Like that's all he's been waiting for, Adam arches up, a couple more strokes and he's gone. The familiar coil-burst of heat barely registers beneath the way Tommy's clinging to him, rutting against him like he's getting off on it too, and then Adam realises that he's smearing come everywhere as it spills between them. Claws scrape paint as Tommy grabs for the headboard, dragging himself up to get it smearing lower, gleaming wet startling against his blackness. He drags his claws across his own belly, sucking at the tips, eyes glued to where Adam's hand is slowing.

As Adam lets his hand fall away completely, his cock soft and thick in the mess they've made, an eager growl comes pushing up out of Tommy's throat. He slinks back down in a heartbeat, rubbing his cheek against Adam's cock, tongue flicking out to taste it, nosing it out of the way so he can lick up over Adam's stomach in long slow passes. Adam throws an arm across his eyes as Tommy comes back to sniff out the patches he's missed, methodically cleaning up every smear until he lets out a satisfied whuff of breath and collapses, head pillowed on Adam's thigh, mouth close enough to lick again if the urge strikes.

Dazed and lost, Adam pushes a hand into Tommy's hair, black strands still more like fur than anything, and scratches gently. Taking it as a cue, Tommy nuzzles at his balls one last time, gives him a quick, playfully smug kiss. "You liked it a lot."

"Yeah," Adam croaks. Cautiously, he lifts his arm, lets his eyes adjust to the dark, find Tommy's darker shape almost lost in it. No regret comes pouring in, no shame at what he's done. Apparently he's absolutely okay with having sex with a shadow creature. More than okay, because he'd like to do it again, take his time. His gaze slides to Tommy's shiny wet mouth.

Tommy's grin shows only a suggestion of vicious tiny teeth. "And you want another kiss," he says, so very certain he's already crawling up to bump at Adam's mouth, playing at kisses until Adam's grip firms in his hair, makes him give it up properly. He sinks down with a moan, stretching out on top of Adam, claws sliding through Adam's hair. "I kinda liked it too."

"I can't believe you watched," Adam says, and gives Tommy's hair an admonishing tug.

Tommy's eyes flicker briefly shut. He licks his lips, his tongue a startling flash of deep blood red against black. When Adam doesn't tug again, his eyes slowly clear. "I watch you do everything. I like it."

Adam's eyebrows make for his hairline. "Everything?"

"Everything," Tommy confirms, a vaguely impish cast overtaking his sparse features. "The first time I saw your dick, you were taking a leak backstage before a show. The first time I saw you finger yourself, you were-" Tommy sits bolt upright, all his weight coming down on Adam's chest punching the air out of his lungs. "You came before you got a finger up your ass, I wanted to see. Fuck."

"Oh my god." Adam shoves a hand back through his hair. "Two months ago you couldn't talk, and now you sound like a fucking porno."

Tommy grunts, apparently really ticked off he missed out on the fingering thing. "I could so talk, I just forgot."

Lightly, Adam says, "You forgot."

"Shut up," Tommy growls, a dangerous flex of his claws burying them in the bedsheets.

"You're not going to hurt me," Adam says, joking, sure, but saying it to make it real, make himself believe it. Before he can change his mind, he presses a kiss to one of Tommy's claws, a brief flash of cold and hard stamped forever in his memory.

Tommy's eyes narrow down to hazy slits. Muscles flex in his forearm. "Do it again."

"Oh," Adam drawls, aiming for lighthearted, "now you want me to kiss you," but his pulse missed the memo, tripping all over itself going from zero to sixty.

"Please," Tommy says, shivering.

Keeping his gaze on Tommy's until the last second, Adam turns to lick carefully at the same claw he kissed. They're cold as steel, flat lifeless black that should scare the shit out of him, and they do. But they don't. He kisses it again, lingeringly, and it wouldn't do a thing for him except how it makes Tommy tremble.

Out of the blue, Adam's tongue sliding down to the strange hidden ridge where vicious claw melds with more forgiving black, Tommy blurts, "I think we should stop."

Disappointment wells up, but Adam settles back. "Okay."

"Okay?" Tommy asks. "Just okay?"

Adam shrugs. "You can tell me why if you want. I trust you."

"Fuck, you shouldn't," Tommy says, picking his way backwards, crawling off Adam's legs to crouch near the foot of the bed. "We shouldn't have done that. Now all I can taste is you."

Since Tommy had licked every square inch of him, he's not surprised. Then Adam's brain catches up. "Are you going to do anything?"

"No," Tommy hisses, kneading at the bedclothes, absently touching his belly where Adam's come has dried. "No, I won't. Because then it'll be over."

Of all the things to trust in, honest greed isn't the one Adam would pick on his worst day. But if it's what he's got, he'll deal. He sits up against the pillows, slinging an arm over one knee. "Should you go?"

Mouth clamped shut, Tommy nods.

"Do you want to?"

"No," bursts out of Tommy, a pitiful moan.

"Then don't go." Rolling off the bed, Adam heads into the bathroom to wring up a cloth, cleaning what's left of his come and Tommy's saliva off his skin. Rinsing it out, he goes back out to Tommy, gesturing with the cloth for Tommy to move back up on the bed. "Lie down."

As Tommy settles into the warm spot Adam left behind, he says, "You shouldn't touch me."

"You said you're not going to do anything," Adam says, and braces a hand on Tommy's hip, wipes him clean with the cloth in the other. "I believe you."

"But I could," Tommy says, gaze darting this way and that, anywhere to land on something that isn't Adam.

"But you're not going to." Adam gives the cloth a careless toss back into the bathroom. "You're going to sleep with me like you've done dozens of times before, and that's it. Nothing else."

By the time Adam's straightened out the shredded sheets as best he can and slid beneath them, Tommy's finally found the guts to look at him. Offering a smile, Adam tugs the sheets up around his shoulders, arm outstretched to make a pocket for Tommy to slip into.

"You shouldn't trust me," Tommy says, settling his cool back to Adam's chest. He moves his hands around a few times before tucking one beneath his cheek, the other hooked in the top of the blankets.

"Well, I do." Curling an arm around Tommy's waist, he tugs Tommy flush from chest to calf, the chill that's always clinging to Tommy's skin not nearly enough to ruin his contentment. "Get used to it."

Tommy grunts. But he doesn't say anything more, and he's curled up in Adam's arms, so Adam counts this round as his.

*


In the morning, Adam wakes to his heart still beating strong in his chest and Tommy curled up against his back, one arm flung over his side and clawtips tickling his stomach. His phone says it's close to nine, but the room's still cast in deep twilight. As he shuffles over onto his back, needing to see Tommy's face, a jittery buzz starts up in his insides. It creeps all the way out to his shaking fingertips as he strokes them across Tommy's forehead, down the bridge of his nose.

Glowing eyes slit open. With a sleepy, animal-like snarl, Tommy catches Adam's fingers in his teeth, biting bloodless dents into flesh.

Smiling widely, Adam sweeps his thumb down to stroke beneath Tommy's chin. "You stayed."

"You told me to," Tommy says, licking at Adam's fingers, then nuzzling into Adam's palm, breathing long and deep.

Curling his hand over Tommy's mouth and nose, Adam watches the light in Tommy's eyes bank to a soft smoulder. He pushes up onto one elbow, taking in the sharper lines of Tommy's face, the angle of his cheekbones, his brow, the slant of his eyes beneath the glow. Adam's gaze travels down over Tommy's throat, his chest, the shape of muscle and bone clearly defined by darker shadows, and he follows with his hand to find Tommy's skin still inhumanly smooth, no bump of nipples or bellybutton or cock as he skims between Tommy's thighs.

Tommy shivers beneath his touch anyway, breath hissing in through his teeth. He squirms out from under the blankets, kicking them into a haphazard heap at the foot of the bed and flopping back a long dark careless sprawl on the white sheets. "Wanna screw around some more before you go?"

Adam manages a laugh through the sudden rush of blood down south. "There goes the tender moment where I tell you how beautiful you are."

Surprise flashes in the widening of Tommy's eyes, the slack fall of his mouth, and Adam's heart squeezes in his chest. He wants to see more of Tommy's face, watch what he's thinking, what he's feeling, written stark across it like newsprint. Climbing up onto his knees, he swings a leg over Tommy's hips, watching for the quick, eager dart of Tommy's tongue. He settles slowly down, trapping his dick between them, rubbing lazily against Tommy's belly.

Claws lightly prick at his ass, and Tommy starts, "You could," before his breath skips, clawtips digging in a little harder. "Stick it between my legs," he says, and it doesn't sound much like a suggestion anymore, "fuck me like that."

"Jesus," Adam says, because he's been shying away from that word, and now it slams into him on a sucker punch of terrible, visceral want. He levers up to kiss Tommy's throat, and as soon as the space is there, Tommy scrambles over onto his belly, the smooth curve of his tiny ass snugged up tight to Adam's dick. Adam doesn't need to touch, he knows what he won't find, but he slides fingers into the smooth crease anyway, stroking along it and staring down in wonder as Tommy twists and moans, nerve endings firing like crazy even though there's nowhere for Adam to push into him.

"Come on," Tommy groans, arching his hips up, his spine a deep curve Adam has to touch, tracing along the hard bump of vertebrae, "you gotta go soon. Fuck me, rub one off on me, I don't care, but fucking do it."

"I know you didn't learn to talk like that from me," Adam says, and nearly swallows his fucking tongue as he slides his thumbs and then his cock into the crease of Tommy's ass. Fitting both hands to Tommy's cheeks to push them together, he curls his fingers over the top of his dick to keep the slide smooth and tight, the dry drag slowly turning slick as his cock leaks all over Tommy's skin.

And Tommy's squirming like he's actually getting fucked, panting and whining low in his throat and ruining Adam's long steady strokes, so Adam reaches down, angles his dick to push between Tommy's thighs instead. Tommy's heel comes up, bumps Adam's back, and then his legs are squeezing tight, and he's moaning for Adam to make it wetter, really go for it, and Adam backs off long enough to slick his cock with spit.

"No, no, wait," Tommy says, reaching back to skim down over his thigh as he opens his legs up again, "me too," his ass tilted up, smears of precome glistening on his darkness. Adam gets his fingers wet again fast, slicking the insides of Tommy's thighs, and Tommy shakes his head, moans, "I mean me. On me, spit on me."

Adam can't stop the filthy curse that punches its way out of his throat. He's going to have to figure out later where the hell all this is coming from, if it's stuff Tommy's picking up somehow or if it's just Tommy, more of his personality surfacing along with the gorgeous shape of his face, his body. Tommy hisses impatiently at him, and he scoots back, bends down to lick between the cheeks of Tommy's ass, tasting the same cool nothing as the inside of Tommy's mouth along with the salt of Adam's skin rubbed off on him. Tommy writhes, chanting something wordless and rasping under his breath, and Adam lifts up a little, cuts it all short as he shoves Tommy's legs back together and lets the saliva pooling in his mouth drip from the tip of his tongue, slide wet and warm between Tommy's thighs. The ragged moan that comes tearing out of Tommy is all the encouragement Adam needs, his mouth flooding wet again, and the second time around he makes it filthy and real, spitting onto Tommy's ass.

Tommy jolts and shoves up onto his elbows, rutting wildly against the sheets, head thrown back like he's right there, about to come, and he wants it so, so fucking badly he can't breathe. Imagining the look on Tommy's face if he could come, the pleasure-shocked daze taking him over, makes Adam shove his dick back between Tommy's legs, the slick slap of skin as he fucks hard and fast and the breathless grunts he drives out of Tommy obscene in the morning quiet. He comes with his teeth digging into the sharp wing of Tommy's shoulder blade, and Tommy groans so beautifully for it, dropping his head down to bare the back of his neck, that Adam has to bite him there, framing the peak of Tommy's spine in his blunt teeth, his jaw clamped tight as Tommy squirms. He bites down harder and Tommy bucks, goes still, quivering in Adam's hold with so many noises spilling out of him, small and hitching, helpless and addictive.

When Adam lets go, Tommy stays right where he is, still trembling as Adam mouths at the dents he's left in Tommy's skin, memorising the feel of them, the nothing-taste. He aches to know if they'll last, if he could mark Tommy up and come back hours later to kiss them all again. His kisses grow longer, lingering, and Tommy stretches out with a satisfied purr, melting beneath him.

Tommy jostles his hips. "Gonna be late," he says, snuggled deep in the pillows.

"Brat." Biting one last time at the slant of Tommy's shoulder, Adam rolls off the bed, arms stretched above his head until his spine gives a satisfied pop. He's more awake than he's felt in days, juiced for the day ahead even though there's the nagging want to stay in here in the dark and roll around in Tommy's soothing coolness. He doesn't bother with any of the lights as he makes his way into the bathroom, turning on the shower and climbing in by the glow of the nightlight still burning.

Minutes later, as he's rinsing shampoo from his hair, he hears Tommy's soft, "Oh wow." He blinks water from his eyes and pushes open the stall door, and then has to grab it in a death grip to stay upright. Tommy's kneeling on the god damn counter with his back to the mirror and his knees spread wide, twisted partway around to stare at Adam's come wet on his ass, the insides of his thighs, stroking the back of one hand over the shiny mess, rubbing it into his shadow-pitch skin.

"You cleaned me up before I could see last night," Tommy says, the brief jump of his gaze meeting Adam's in the mirror. "So fucking hot."

"Yeah," Adam says, and, "Jesus," and, "Tommy," because Tommy's slinking on hands and knees across the wide counter, hopping down lightly to his feet to land in a crouch in front of the shower. He pushes one hand up through the soap suds sliding down Adam's thigh, the backs of his claws curling beneath Adam's cock, hefting it slightly. Adam locks his knees, the shot of lust burning through his veins turning to flashfire heat when it hits the nervous quiver of his stomach over having Tommy's fucking claws on his fucking dick.

"Bet you could go again," Tommy says, falling forward onto his knees, free hand braced on the splash guard. "Maybe since you like it so much, I'll let you jerk off on my face."

There's no way in hell Adam will be ready to go again before he has to leave, but his dick gives a desperate twitch anyway, game to try.

"I so wanna crawl into that shower with you," Tommy goes on, big shit-eating grin plastered across his face as shadow wisps coil lazily through the air, the hardness of his claws turning steadily to soft smoke as his edges start to blur and fade, "but then you're gonna clean me up again, and I wanna smell like you all fucking day."

"You shit," Adam hisses, grabbing onto the shower stall with both hands as shadows slide cool down his legs, goosebumps prickling in their wake. "Tommy, come back."

A hissing laugh echoes off the tiles, burrowing under Adam's skin and nesting there, creeping like an itch long after it's faded. He hangs in the doorway, water pattering down behind him, and waits for the familiar feeling of alone to settle in. When it doesn't, he swallows hard, slowly backing up into the shower spray to finish washing. He's not alone, and it's weird, disconcerting to know Tommy's watching him when he can't see Tommy at all, but it feels good, his nerves tingling in something like anticipation.

The feeling doesn't ease as he gets dressed, leaving the curtains closed in case Tommy's planing on staying behind. Out in the hall, all the way down to the lobby to meet with Lane, as he climbs into a car for a day full of appearances and interviews, he feels Tommy with him. It leaves him distracted and unfocused, and he spends more time glancing at his shadow than the very nice woman interviewing him over lunch. The questions are more of the same, though, and he gets through them easily. He's surprised when Lane comments that it's one of his better interviews, and the woman will probably dedicate more ink to his brilliantly happy personality than the answers he gave.

There's another show that night. After his makeup is done, his costume perfect, and everyone's bustled off for last minute touches, he eases the door to his small dressing room shut. "Tommy?"

A shadow in the corner sways. His eyes jump straight to it, but it's only a clump of feathers on the dressing table ruffled by the air conditioning. "What if I want a kiss before the show?" he tries.

Nothing but a tingling awareness. "Alright," he says, gut-sure Tommy's in here somewhere, playing, "but you'd better be here when I get back."

Or what? the silent shadows seem to say, and Adam catches himself grinning stupidly in the mirror. Before someone comes back to find him talking to no one, he heads out and up to the dark wings of the stage, the screams of the audience washing over him in tangible, sweeping waves. From the moment he steps out into the light, their voices swelling, crashing into the music, all he's thinking about is Tommy lost in the shadows, watching, always watching, and waiting.

*


"And tomorrow," Lane's saying, a dull, nagging drone at the periphery of Adam's attention. He loves Lane, she's amazing, everyone on his staff is amazing, but right now there are just too fucking many of them. He'd expected at least a moment between the encore and the usual after-show strip down and clean up by his team to collect himself. His heart's beating so fast in his chest it's rattling his ribcage, and he can't stay still, weird thrumming energy driving him up to his feet to pace as Lane goes on. And on. And fucking on.

"Adam?" Lane asks, stylus poised over her iPad.

"Yeah," Adam barks, and then, "yes, sorry. Say that again?"

"Do you want to do this tomorrow?" she repeats, the real question behind it showing in her eyes. Is there somewhere else you want to be?

"No," Adam says, because fuck, how is he supposed to explain he has a date with the cockteasing creature that lives in his god damn shadow, and then he says, "Yes," because fuck that, he doesn't have to explain anything. "I'm sorry, it's just, the show, you know?"

"Right," Lane says, not entirely like she believes him, but she's willing to go along with it. "Lunch at one in the hotel cafe, okay? I'll reserve a table."

"I'll be there," Adam promises, barely holding back from herding her out the door. "Thanks, I love you, have an awesome night!"

A smile and a wave and she's finally gone. Adam slams the door and slumps against it, barely able to fucking breathe though how worked up he is. He fumbles for the light switch, plunging the room into darkness as he says, "I swear to fucking god, Tommy."

"What?" comes Tommy's gorgeous rasp, and a cool weight presses against Adam's legs, opens them to slip between. He grabs for Tommy's hips, fingers trailing through shadow-smoke before Tommy solidifies in his grip, arms looped around his neck, chill wet tongue tracing along his jaw. "What're you gonna do, huh?"

"Fucking die," Adam says with total conviction.

"That would suck," Tommy says, sinking down, "'cause I thought you were gonna come on my face for me."

Adam groans, tearing at the buttons on his jeans, trying desperately to slow down but he can't, not after all day knowing Tommy's been right there beside him the whole time filthy from that morning, that Tommy had been out there on the stage with him, slinking through the shadows, basking in all the heart he poured into every note. His eyes haven't fully adjusted to the dark, and there's not much besides the faint glow of Tommy's eyes for him to work with, so he cups Tommy's cheek in one hand, wets his palm and starts jerking off with the other. His cockhead bumps against Tommy's parted lips as Tommy leans in close, and then Tommy's licking at him, sucking at the tip, his teeth right there like a threat, like if Adam doesn't give it up good and fast Tommy'll suck him for real, and Adam would have to hold so perfectly still for it, not thrust at all, because one wrong move is all it would take for Tommy's teeth to slice into skin.

"Oh fuck," Adam groans, and Tommy hisses eagerly, lips and nose and cheeks rubbing over the head of Adam's cock as he comes, too dark to see it properly but fuck, fuck, can he feel it, the swipe of Tommy's tongue over come-seared lips and the bob of his throat as he swallows, opens up for more.

Before Adam has a chance to catch his breath, Tommy's saying, "Race you to the hotel," and slipping away, and Adam starts spitting curses like he's street or something, scrambling to tuck his dick away, zip up. It's not even a real race. Tommy will get there the very moment Adam does.

That's exactly why Adam wants to get there fucking yesterday.

The hotel's only a five-minute walk from the venue. Adam covers the distance in about half that time, legging it through side streets and back alleys where the shadows are deepest, the teasing, taunting shape of Tommy flickering through them, goading him on. He whips through the hotel lobby, nothing more than a wave and a distracted smile for the concierge that greets him. In the elevator, he can't help staring down at his shadow. Like a total freak, he wants to kneel down, touch it, find Tommy in it. The tiny security camera up in one corner is the only thing that keeps him on his feet.

Outside his room, he fumbles the keycard. He's sure he's not imagining the hissing laugh that brushes his neck, so he says, "Shut up," half a laugh, to the nothingness in the hallway. The chill against this skin might be the A/C, might not. He shivers like it isn't.

"Oh my god," he says, finally getting the door open and throwing himself across the threshold. Even before the door bangs shut there are smoky black wisps spilling from his shadow, solidifying quickly into Tommy racing for the bed.

Tumble-rolling down onto it, arms above his head, knees up and spread, Tommy's saying, "Come on, Adam, fuck, c'mon, touch me, gotta touch me," and Adam's on the bed in a blink, not even sure how the hell he got there so fast.

"Baby," Adam says, running both hands up Tommy's sides, leaning down close to carefully kiss him as his voice dissolves on a moan. Adam's already come, only minutes ago, so the harsh-edged need jangling around his insides doesn't make any sense, except for how it feels exactly the way Tommy looks. Tommy's tongue pushes into Adam's mouth, as demanding as his legs hooking around Adam's waist, but Adam pulls back instead of giving in, traces the sharp angle of Tommy's jaw with his mouth, licks at his throat. A ragged noise, half-purr, half-groan, echoes low in Tommy's chest, grows louder as Adam nuzzles into the crook of his neck, gently bites.

"Oh fuck," Tommy says, trying to yank Adam closer. "Please, anything."

Easing back more, getting off on the desperate whine that spills from Tommy's lips and determined to not think too hard about how hot being wanted, craved, really is, Adam asks, "Anything?"

"Yeah, Jesus." Claws prick through the back of Adam's tee shirt. He completely forgot his jacket back in his dressing room. "Anything. Just fucking touch me."

"Spread out for me, baby."

Tommy huffs like he doesn't want to let go, but his arms and legs slowly fall away. When Adam takes a moment to look at him, all dark lines and stark edges against white sheets, he reaches impatiently for Adam's hands. "Put them the fuck on me already."

"I love how eager you are," Adam says, even though he doesn't mean to, and Tommy shivers, nods quickly as Adam's hands skim up the insides of his spread thighs. "Where, Tommy? Where do you want me to touch you?"

The first thing that comes tumbling out of Tommy's mouth is, "Everywhere, please," and then, when Adam's knuckles brush the soft crook of Tommy's hip, he says, "Fuck, there, Adam, touch me there," with a careful grip on one wrist leading Adam back between his legs.

Way beyond turned on, still so confused, Adam cups his hand over smooth blankness, rocks down firmly with the heel. Tommy gasps, arching up like there's something there, and Adam presses harder, strokes his fingers all the way down between the cheeks of Tommy's ass searching for whatever it is that's making Tommy moan like that. At the gentle scrape of nails, Tommy's leg jerks, knees pulled up and fallen wide, hips rolling eagerly, driving for more.

Adam slides his other hand up to stroke over Tommy's belly, another one of those desperate, wordless noises bursting out of Tommy's throat. The screech of claws on metal brings Adam's gaze up to where Tommy's grabbing onto the headboard, stretched out long and beautiful with his eyes squeezed shut, mouth open on sharp, panting breaths.

"Is it that good?" Adam asks, pushing both hands between Tommy's legs, rubbing him over and over, playing at pushing against his hole, at palming his cock, as if Tommy had either one of those for him to touch. "Why's it so good, baby? Tell me how to make it better."

"Jesus," Tommy gasps, arching up, rutting into Adam's hands instead of offering any sort of answer. Adam backs off, earning another curse, and then Tommy says, "I want your dick on my face."

Breath sticks in Adam's throat. He's maybe half-hard, more than willing to get all the way there, but--and it's such a fucking shame--he's not a teenager anymore. Tommy's going to have to give him another few minutes here.

"No," Tommy says, like he can read Adam's mind, or maybe just Adam's face, "I don't, I don't fucking care, I want it on me, you smell so fucking good, Adam, c'mon. You know what a fucking 69 is, do it."

Rocking back to skin off his shirt, loving the way Tommy's eyes flare brighter in its wake, Adam says, "You want my mouth on you?"

"Fuck, please." Tommy reaches for him before he's got his jeans all the way off, scooting down further onto the bed so Adam's got room to swing a leg over, straddle his shoulders. "C'mon, hurry up, oh fuck yeah."

"God, Tommy." Locking his elbows against rush of heat spilling up his spine when Tommy nuzzles at his thigh, Adam sinks lower, concentrating on not dropping down like a sack of potatoes as Tommy licks at him, quick, darting flicks like Tommy wants the taste of him so bad he can't take his time to actually get it.

It takes the scrape of teeth to knock Adam into motion, leaning down to kiss between Tommy's legs open-mouthed and wet. The sound Tommy makes, the way he starts licking harder, frantically, is more than enough to get Adam doing the same, his mouth flooding with the cool taste of Tommy and something else, thicker and somehow more real. Adam's come on Tommy's skin, leftovers from before.

"So good," Tommy says through a moan, almost lost in the one Adam can't hold back, exactly the same as how Tommy can't stay still, his hands cool, claws sharp, on Adam's hips, his own coming up off the bed to push desperately closer to Adam's mouth, chasing after sucking kisses. Caught up in the inhuman smoothness of Tommy beneath him, Adam bites, quick and hard, flesh mounded between his teeth, and Tommy jerks up with a sound that would've been a scream if only he'd had the breath.

Face heating, Adam says, "Sorry," a soft brush of lips to make up for his half-assed apology. He doesn't know what the hell he was thinking, biting Tommy there, when Tommy's reacting like it's his dick Adam's sucking on.

"What the fuck," Tommy wheezes, holding on so tightly his claws are close to breaking skin, "do it again."

Adam doesn't ask if Tommy's sure. He wants to do it again. He nips at soft skin, traces a teasing path down between Tommy's legs as far as he can reach and then he latches on, sucking hard enough to pull flesh against his teeth. He bites down slowly, giving Tommy time to anticipate it, easing off as Tommy's voice shreds, and then biting harder, ruining it completely. He's so focused on what he's doing to Tommy, how much Tommy loves it, he's not expecting the strange sensation of Tommy's mouth closing over his cockhead wet and cool, or the quick pressure of Tommy delicately sucking him, razor-point teeth clenched together to keep from hurting, and a barrier preventing Adam from slipping deeper into Tommy's mouth where he wants so badly to go.

But Tommy's teeth are hard, and Tommy's sucking harder than he should, and the head of Adam's cock pressed against them sort of hurts anyway in an amazing, unbelievable way. Tommy clues in fast, purring a warning as he eases up, and then it's only lips and tongue on Adam's cock, soft and cool and Adam wants to thrust, wants to fuck into Tommy, wants to fucking crawl inside him and find out what he tastes like on the inside.

"Oh god," Adam groans, burying his face against Tommy's thigh as the heat in his belly coils tighter, a split-second warning before he loses it for a second time. He can't breathe through the shock of it, can't think about anything except how fucking crazy it is for him to be coming again so soon, and more than that how delighted Tommy sounds sucking on him, swallowing and purring and nuzzling up open-mouthed against Adam's oversensitive dick, licking like maybe he thinks he can magically get one more drop squeezing out of Adam already wrung dry if only he tries hard enough.

Adam's legs give out entirely. He manages to list to the side so he doesn't squish Tommy, but that's it. One of his legs ends up sprawled across Tommy's chest, Tommy's claws curled in the hollow behind his knee, and his face squished against Tommy's calf, the nothing-smell of Tommy's skin sweet and soothing filling his lungs.

Tommy nuzzles at his ankle. "That was fucking awesome."

"Oh my god," Adam says.

"Yeah," Tommy agrees, nipping at skin, a light teasing stroke of claws all the way up to Adam's thigh and back down again, unable to stop touching even now. "When can we do it again?"

All Adam can do is laugh, breathless and amazed and so happy it hurts.

*


One day starts to melt into the next, one country into the one after it. The faces in the audience become a blur, none of them mattering as much as the high they give him, the way they drive him to sing his soul to all the darkened corners, the shadows that dance across scuffed stage after scuffed stage. When he isn't performing, he's running promo, giving soundbites, doing all the things he's supposed to do without a hitch. The faster they're done and everyone's smiling at him, the sooner he can get back to his lightless room and the soothing blackness of Tommy's slight body against his, the playful glint of yellow eyes, the sweet scrape of teeth and claws on bare skin.

He takes to wearing sunglasses everywhere, which totally fits his image, but the real reason isn't for anything so dramatic as that he's spending so much time in the dark the light's begun to hurt his eyes. It's just it doesn't take as long for him to adjust to the dark this way. Tommy doesn't need the darkness all the time; he spent weeks and weeks hopping between daylight shadows at the beginning of all this, but he moves more freely in it, sinfully gorgeous as he plays at riding Adam's cock, head thrown back and mouth fallen open, tongue darting over his lips.

Days turn to weeks, then a month, Copenhagen and Paris, Zurich and Milan, venue after venue and one hotel room as good as the next as long as Tommy's in it. In London, as Adam lies awake at quarter to three in the morning, Tommy's head pillowed on his hip, his fingers tracing slowly over Tommy's lips, back and forth and so addicted to the cool kiss of Tommy's breath, he says, "You haven't changed much lately."

The tips of Tommy's claws pause in the middle of scratching lightly at Adam's thigh. "This is pretty much me," he says, and nuzzles at Adam's belly, using it as an excuse to not meet his eyes. "And like, don't think I haven't been trying or something."

Adam lets his fingers sink into the spiderweb strands of Tommy's hair. "Is that why you changed in the first place, because you wanted to?"

"Sorta." Tommy absently kicks at the blankets, knocking them off the edge of the tousled bed. "You're the only reason I changed at all. Can't do it by myself. I mean, yeah," he says, shrugging, "I probably wouldn't have even thought about it without you, but even if I had, I couldn't have done it."

Adam nods, knowing Tommy can see him perfectly in the dark, and waits. He's been wanting Tommy to tell him more for weeks, his churning thoughts impatient whenever he's been stuck with only Tommy's presence in his shadow, but every time Tommy became real again, touchable, they've flown straight out of his head. He knows Tommy's getting something from him, and Tommy is always the most Tommy-like right after a show, playful and dirty and snuggly all at once, basking in his warmth like a cat in the sun, but aside from a few nebulous ideas and the lurking truth that what Tommy will always want from him is beating inside his chest, that's it. It's amazing how easy it is to live with that knowledge hanging over his head. Most days, he barely notices.

Then there are times like this, when his pulse kicks and Tommy stiffens, slinks up on hands and knees to prowl above him, eyes gleaming in the dark. Times when Tommy forgets to use words, when a growling rasp is Adam's warning to stay very, very still as Tommy sniffs at the hollow of his throat, licks down the centre of his chest to bite gently above his heart. Of all the times Tommy leaves bright red marks on Adam's skin, this is the only one he does it deliberately, a gradual increase in pressure until the top few layers split under his teeth and Adam's pulse trips. He backs off then, nosing at shallow wounds, licking to soothe them, and it's nothing, absolutely nothing at all like when Tommy's claws sank bloodlessly inside Adam's chest, curled cold and terrifying in the wretched empty ache taking the place of his pounding heart.

Before he can stop the words from tumbling out, Adam asks, "What happens if you take it?"

Tommy freezes. He sits slowly back, scrubbing his mouth dry on the back of his wrist, hair tumbled over his eyes. "Nothing good."

Adam settles his hands on Tommy's thighs and firmly tells himself to shut the fuck up. What they have is good. It's fucking incredible. "Do you have to take it all?"

Snorting a laugh, Tommy drags a clawed hand back through his hair. "We're talking about your fucking heart, Adam. I'm pretty sure you need the whole thing."

"Literally my heart? Or metaphorically?" One day, Adam's going to write a song about this. It's either going to be the most beautifully uplifting song ever, or drive whole generations of teenagers to write gothic lovesick poetry. "Metaphorically I've got some to spare."

"I like you better when all you wanna do is fuck," Tommy grumbles, and moves as if to crawl away. Adam holds on for a minute longer, waiting to see if he really wants distance between them or only thinks he should, and Adam bites back a smile when he settles back down without a fight. "I can't remember, okay? I'm not sure I ever even took one before. I don't remember wanting one until I found you, but that could be like my totally sappy romantic soul or some shit talking."

"You could try," Adam says, and shrugs in the face of Tommy's wide-eyed disbelief. "You stopped before hurting me once already."

"I'm not fucking playing around with your heart," Tommy says, and drops down like he thinks that's the end of it, an arm and a leg flung carelessly over Adam's body.

"Tommy," Adam says, very seriously, because he's been thinking about this for awhile now. He's never going to forget what it felt like that morning in the parking lot of a roadside diner, and it wasn't anything like he imagines it would feel like having his heart physically carved out for real. He'd been scared, fucking terrified, but unlike then, now he knows what to expect. Now he knows Tommy. Fragment of a shadow or not, Tommy has more soul than some people he's met. "Tommy, I want you to try."

Tommy hunkers down, face buried in Adam's side. "No."

Scooting down to put them face to face, noses bumping, Adam says, "I need to know."

"Y'only think you do," Tommy mumbles, eyes shut stubbornly tight.

"You managed to do all this," Adam says, stroking a hand over Tommy's face, "from just being with me. That's what you said, isn't it? Maybe you could do more. Be more."

"It's not safe," Tommy says, and that isn't a no anymore. Not nearly a yes, but not a no.

"You'll be careful with me, baby," Adam says, brushing a kiss along the sharp slant of Tommy's cheekbone. "You always are."

"Maybe too careful, if you're being fucking serious." Tommy's eyes slit open. "You're not gonna like it."

"So then I'll know." Pushing an arm beneath Tommy's shoulders, sliding in close, Adam gradually gets Tommy lying on top of him again, a solid, reassuring weight. He takes Tommy's hand by the wrist, brings killing claws up to rest over his heart, and the quiet noise building low in Tommy's chest spills free as he begins to shake.

"I can't," Tommy says, pressing his hand firmly against Adam's chest. A hunger Adam hasn't seen before, one Tommy hasn't let him see, fills his face so much like lust but so different, sharper, harsher. "Oh, fuck, I want to."

"You only took a little before," Adam says, and doesn't have the slightest fucking clue if that's true or not, but he recovered fast back then and he'd do a hell of a lot more right now if Tommy asked. Tommy's crawling up onto his knees, both his hands cupped over the mad pound of Adam's heart, and he's so fucking gorgeous, dark and other and wanting.

Tommy's eyes flicker to Adam's face. "Only a little now," he says, and a shudder goes through him, seeps into Adam through the cold press of his claws.

Adam remembers the cold. The same as last time, it starts as a bite, blistering like dry ice pressed to bare skin, and then it's like the icy dig of a needle, razor-point slice. He stares at Tommy's claws, forcing his breathing to stay even as first the tips vanish, then more, a bitter numbness spreading out along his nerves, deadening them to everything but the driving, brutal cold.

"Oh shit," Adam groans, "oh fuck," and Tommy immediately stops, half his hand sunk into Adam's chest. Adam can feel Tommy's claws scraping his ribs, tips biting into his heart, and it hurts but it doesn't, it's awful and terrible and he can actually fucking see how much Tommy loves it, face gone slack, eyes glowing as bright as flares. His fingers twitch weakly on Tommy's wrist. He's sure he's not going to black out. His vision's fine, his head's not spinning. Tommy only needs to take a little. "S'okay. Keep going."

"It's not okay," Tommy rasps, "fuck, Adam, it's so good, it's not okay." He closes his eyes, claws sinking a fraction deeper, and Adam gasps, teeth grit against the ache. "Your heart," tears out of Tommy on a moan and he jerks his hand free, tumbling back in a graceless panting sprawl onto Adam's legs.

Warmth comes flooding in, chasing away the throbbing ache in Adam's chest. "You didn't take anything," he says, not certain he's got it right until Tommy whines miserably, awkwardly clambering back up onto his knees. "I was fine. It didn't hurt." It didn't feel exactly good, but it wasn't hurt. Adam sits up a little, absently rubbing at his chest. "We can try again."

"No," Tommy says, darting back out of Adam's reach, perched near the foot of the bed. He slinks down low, quaking, his voice torn to shreds with fear and want. "Please don't make me. I want it so bad. You felt so fucking good, so fucking warm inside, fuck, fuck, please don't make me. I'll take it all."

Adam's first instinct is to back off, let Tommy calm down. If he does, he'll never get Tommy here again. Tommy will fix it in his head that he was seconds away from killing Adam or worse, whatever worse is in Tommy's world, and Adam will never fucking know if all Tommy really needs from him is a sliver of his heart. He can live without a sliver. Tommy didn't even make him fucking bleed, he severely doubts they're talking actual blood and muscle here. He has to know if Tommy can be more. If he can make Tommy more.

"You won't," Adam says, and, "I trust you," as he rocks forward, halfway up on his knees with the need to drag Tommy back in close. "Just one more time."

"No," Tommy snarls, the sound of cotton shredding beneath his claws all the warning Adam gets before Tommy's weight slams into him, knocking him flat. He flails stupidly, shocked but not scared, not even when the world goes sideways and he ends up with his face shoved into the pillows. Tommy straddles his back, pinning his arms above his head. "All you're fucking thinking about is the good," is a vicious hiss in Adam's ear, and his heart trips, a bastard mix of wild, giddy fear, the kind that swoops in on rollercoasters and late nights out in strange countries, and a twisted thrill pooling in his gut. He jerks against Tommy's hold, not sure what the hell he's trying to do, but it's fucking amazing when his arms don't even budge, Tommy's grip like iron. "Think about the bad, Adam," Tommy's saying, challenging, but Adam's not thinking at all, too caught up in what it feels like to have Tommy above him like this. "Think about what it'd be like to fucking end up me."

"I love whatever the fuck you are," Adam grits out, trying to twist around, a flood of adrenaline spiking his pulse as Tommy holds him firm. Tommy's always been so careful with him, making filthy demands left and right and centre but never physically taking them, not like this. Five minutes ago, sex hadn't been much more than a vague desire floating at the back of Adam's mind, the low-grade buzz that's always there when he has Tommy close. Now his dick's digging hard into his belly, and Jesus, it's like he's a teenager all over again, everything new and scary and fantastic. "Oh my god, I want you to fuck me."

Air hisses through Tommy's teeth. "Not fucking listening to me," he growls, and drags his claws lightly over Adam's mouth, sliding one inside the second it opens to pin Adam's tongue. "Shut up and listen to me."

A claw makes a pretty decent gag, but Adam ends up moaning anyway, his mouth flooded with Tommy's strange ozone-tastelessness. He arches up into Tommy's weight, mind going a mile a minute trying to figure out what they could do, fucking aching with the need to get more after so many weeks satisfied with rolling around on top of one another. Tommy's claws are too sharp for it, but Adam closes his lips around the one pinning his tongue anyway and sucks it. It's hard and cold and cruel in his mouth, and it's perfect when Tommy shudders, moans for him.

"You don't even know," Tommy says, scratchy and uneven. His hard angles where they dig into Adam soften, turn to cool haze, and Adam grabs frantically onto his wrist, sucks harder as if that'll keep Tommy from fading away. The claw seconds from piercing Adam's tongue becomes shadow-smoke curling against it, formless and insubstantial and somehow still holding his mouth open, filling it. He chokes in surprise as Tommy's other hand comes up to cover his eyes, blinding him, and Tommy's nothingness loses form entirely, spreading out all along Adam's body, smothering him from head to toe in cloaking blackness. He can't move, can't see, can't even hear his own panting breaths, and now he is scared, fucking terrified that this is what it's like for Tommy to live in his shadow.

The coldness pinning him shifts, roiling like fog, sweeping down like a touch. Pressure is the only thing that registers, no shape, no texture, and as it seeps slowly beneath him, cutting him off from the familiar brush of cotton on skin, his heart nearly cracks through his ribs. The black shudders in response and Adam thinks, Tommy, moans it maybe, and the black hesitates before pushing harder against him, up between his legs and ghosting over his dick and Adam knows he's shaking like a fucking leaf caught in a hurricane. This isn't sex. This is nothing like sex. Whatever the hell this is, he wants it so bad he can taste it.

Through the creeping cold comes more hesitation and a flash in Adam's mind of Tommy's head tilted in that are-you-sure gesture, doubtful eyes and pursed lips. A strained laugh grates in Adam's chest, soundless, because fuck, yes, he's sure. He's so fucking sure he's more afraid of himself than Tommy right now. He'd let Tommy do terrible, awful things to him. Things he doesn't understand but wants just the same.

The pressure against him changes all at once, shifting from pressing down to pressing in. Thick in his mouth, murky in his eyes, electric snap in his chest. Tommy seeps inside him through his fucking pores, smoky and oily and foreign, crawling through his veins and into his marrow and nesting around his thundering heartbeat covetous and worshipful. He's shaking, twisting fitfully, not sure if he's really moving at all or if it's only in his head because he can't feel anything but Tommy cold inside him, grateful and wrong. The vague sensation of wrapping his arms around himself, of trying to hold Tommy in, registers through the fog, and only then does he realises Tommy's pulling out of him, shadows sluicing down his skin like water.

Blind, Adam shoves over onto his back, grabbing at something he can't see. His fingers get caught in clinging nothing like in a grip and he drags his knees up, spreads them wide as the pressure centres around his hips. His head falls back as he fucks up, and when Tommy pushes inside him again, cool and soft and unreal sliding into his ass, no burn, no drag, only sweet rolling pressure, he comes so hard starbursts explode through the black covering his eyes. It's nothing at all like getting fucked, whole worlds away from it with the phantom ache of Tommy cradling his naked heart thrumming in his bones, and it takes him ages to come down, breathing hard and staring blankly at the slowly-resolving pattern on the ceiling.

"What," Adam croaks, groping weakly for something to hold on to, anything, and he finds pillows and blankets and bypasses them both, wanting Tommy after all. He struggles to sit up, shaking off the wave of dizziness that strikes. "Tommy?"

"I'm here," Tommy says, the faint glow of his eyes as they briefly open enough for Adam to find him. His face is buried in his hands, chest heaving as he breathes deeply, nuzzling into his own palms, sniffing and licking at them, tiny broken noises echoing low in his throat like pure bliss. "You're all fucking over me," he grates, and rubs his face in his shoulder, the crook of his elbow, tumbling down onto his back as he tries to get at more. When Adam holds out a hand, palm up, he whines high in his throat, scrambling back up to press into it, crawling up to snug his face into Adam's thighs, his belly, biting at him, completely fucking gone out of his mind.

"So good, Adam," Tommy's hissing, over and over as he pulls Adam's arms around him, rolls over so Adam's crushing him into the mattress. He squirms and wriggles until every possible inch of him is pressed to every possible inch of Adam and even then he won't stay still, claws scratching lightly down Adam's back, a foot rubbing Adam's calf, nosing into the crook of Adam's neck.

"Why," Adam tries, throat clicking as he swallows, "why didn't you tell me you could do that?"

Tommy keeps sniffing at him, no answer forthcoming, so Adam takes him lightly by the throat, forces him to focus. The frantic flickering glow in his eyes, steadies, slowly calms. "I didn't know," he says, stretching his neck out in Adam's hold, twisting not like he's trying to get away, but like he wants to feel more of it. "I mean, I thought, but didn't know it would be good for you. Fuck, Adam, is was good, wasn't it? So fucking good."

Adam isn't certain what the hell it was, but good is an alright word for now. Once he gets his head straightened out, he might tack on staggering, shocking, stupefying, and a dozen other words that don't come close to describing the lingering thrill of filthy-perfect violation. His aches literally everywhere, all the places Tommy touched him, worse than after the first time he let someone inside him, better, incredible.

Blinking up at him, Tommy lightly touches his face. "Adam?"

"It didn't feel like before," Adam says, "when you--"

Tommy quickly shakes his head. "I wasn't trying to, not that. You just, you fucking pissed me off, okay." His claws slide down to Adam's wrist, holding. "You wouldn't shut up, and you weren't fucking listening to me, and I wanted to show you how fucking wrong you were. I thought you'd fight." He shifts again, legs sliding up to cradle Adam between his thighs, smooth press of lukewarm skin as his breath slowly leaks free. "But you just let me in. I could've stayed there forever."

The first thought that hits Adam is forever is a long time to go without seeing Tommy's face again. The second thought is that maybe he should be a little more concerned about the idea of a shadow creature nesting inside his chest not sending him into screaming fits. He honestly has some doubts about his sanity, but maybe the best part about being stark raving mad is you don't care. You just don't fucking care.

Too exhausted to think anymore, Adam lets his eyes slip shut, strangely and perfectly safe cradled in Tommy's arms. The last thing he notices before he drops off is Tommy gradually losing heat, turning cool and shadowy once more.

*


Adam has always loved hitting the LA club scene. There's something addictive about a room full of people free and careless with their fun, out looking to enjoy life. Lately, he's been going less and less, paid appearances mostly, and when Neil not-so-casually slides it into conversation, Adam's stuck. There's no good way to explain what Adam has at home is a million times better than anything he can find on the dance floor. What Adam has at home is pretty much guaranteed to land him in the nuthouse if he tells anyone, or rehab at the very least. Neither are his idea of a good time.

So Adam says, "Sold-out international tour," heavy with meaning, and Neil backs off, unimpressed but without a leg to stand on. He was there for the whole thing, he knows how fucking gruelling it was. Wanting some downtime before hitting the studio for album number two is completely legitimate. He has a home address now. He's going to fucking enjoy it.

But every time Adam ventures out, night or day with Tommy gliding along in his shadow, invisible except for the constant press of his awareness, Adam can't help but want more. He wants to show Tommy things, bring him places. Really bring him places, let him experience them instead of always forced to lurk at the periphery.

All Adam gets when he brings it up is a blank look and a shrug. It's early for them, barely past midnight, the room dark except for the flicker of the television as Tommy mainlines episodes of Justified. Netflix is the best and worst present Adam's ever gotten him. He's a total junkie.

"Quit it," Tommy says when Adam pokes a toe into his ribs. "I don't really need to go out and like, live life or something. I've seen it. This is better."

"It's actually scary how much of a couch potato you are," Adam says.

Tommy rolls his eyes. "You know what I meant. I've got you." It comes across so casually, like it's nothing at all, like he doesn't know how Adam's chest squeezes tight. But there's a glint in his eyes that says he does, and he crawls up to nestle close at Adam's side, purring long before Adam's fingers scratch through his hair. "I'm good."

Adam frowns at the television, plot line completely lost along with the point he was trying to make. Tommy does this to him all the time. Tosses out words that sound like promises, like when he says forever, he fucking means forever, straight to the end of the universe devotion. It knocks Adam back on his ass long enough that he isn't expecting Tommy to lift up suddenly, claws splayed on Adam's chest and ask, "Are you good? This isn't about me, is it, fuck. It's about you."

About to say no, it isn't, Adam stops. It really is. People laud him for how giving he is, but the truth is, he's a greedy son of a bitch, and it is so all about him. Having a secret obsession is exciting, gratifying in more ways than one; it means all of Tommy is honestly and truly all his. But he can't shake the feeling that there's more. He knows there's more. And ever since Tommy literally crawled under his skin, he's been absolutely certain of how to get it.

What he needs to figure out is how to convince Tommy.

Scooting down lower on the couch, dragging both knees up so Tommy settles between them, he pulls Tommy in for a kiss. Tommy goes easily, opening for the push of Adam's tongue, tasting like winter air, cool and sharp. He warms beneath Adam's touch, stealing body heat, and drops steadily deeper into Adam's mouth, barely noticing when Adam's fingers stroke down his forearm, over his claws, except to shiver for it, push harder.

Tommy hasn't been inside him since London. He knows Tommy's been craving it but hasn't asked, afraid of how much he wants it, and Adam hasn't offered, either. He thought he'd been respecting boundaries, not pushing, letting Tommy adjust. But he's been saving it. For this.

"I want you to fuck me," Adam says, and Tommy hisses, rocks down onto his cock. It's not the right word but close enough, the meaning behind it hitting home as Tommy paws at his clothes, shoving them impatiently aside to get at skin. He tugs off his shirt and lets it drop, lifting his hips as claws catch in his sweats so Tommy can tug them down instead of tear straight through them. Cotton rips anyway, Tommy's claws too sharp and Adam too slow, and Tommy flashes him an evil grin and shreds his pants from crotch to knee. As torn cloth falls open, Tommy hooks one claw beneath the drawstring waistband, snaps it with a quick jerk to leave Adam bare.

"I liked those," Adam complains, completely failing to put any heat in it at all as Tommy stretches out, palms braced on the couch arm either side of Adam's head. His heartbeat trips, picks up again and takes off like a rocket when Tommy nuzzles at his neck.

"Like you care," Tommy says, a dangerous scrape of teeth at the hollow of Adam's throat. He shuffles his knees closer, pushing beneath Adam, edging him into Tommy's lap. Adam drops his arms above his head, draping them loosely over the couch arm to leave his body vulnerable, throat and belly and heart exposed. Flashfire hunger brightens Tommy's eyes. "You really want me to?"

Adam figures, "Let me watch this time," is all the answer Tommy needs.

A sliver of fear shows in Tommy's pupil-less eyes before he says, "Nothing to see," and he is a total fucking liar. His claws scrape along the tender underside of Adam's arms, hard tips melting to soft shadow halfway down as the well-defined shape of Tommy's body hazes in the harsh light of the forgotten television. He doesn't lose form entirely but becomes a slinking nightmare thing, features erased, restless roiling blackness surging up to cover Adam's chest, a thin suggestion of a hand reaching out to touch his face. When Tommy speaks, it's harsh and guttural, an animal's snarl coming from nowhere at all and only vaguely like words asking if Adam's afraid yet, if he's still sure.

But Tommy's not subtle, Adam would know what he's trying to do even if he'd made Adam deaf and blind again. "You're not going to scare me off," he says, and wonders if he's the liar now when the creeping chill spikes, pierces like ice. "I'm not afraid of you, Tommy, stop it."

"You should be," Tommy rasps at him, the yellow light of his eyes slitting through the darkness close to Adam's face, then the red slash of his mouth, vicious black teeth. "You shouldn't want me."

"Well I do," Adam says, frustrated because this isn't how he wanted it to go, he'd been counting on Tommy giving in easily to his need, all defences down with the memory of how incredible it had been when Adam let him in before, "so get used to it."

Tommy growls, shoves up into his face still trying to scare him, and it is scary, heart-shock terrifying, but not a panicked fear for his life. He wants Tommy, he wants this. He's going to fucking get it. He licks at the sharp points of Tommy's teeth, at his mouth, eyes slipping shut as a more hints of the familiar shape of Tommy's face materialises out of shadow. He doesn't stop, not even when it isn't a kiss anymore, the push of Tommy's tongue turning to wisps sliding deeper into his mouth, bizarre and fucked up and nothing compared to the feel of Tommy sinking inside him through his skin, creeping through muscle and tissue and bone to reach his heart.

Finally, Adam thinks, arms locking around Tommy's back, a vain attempt to hold on when at any moment Tommy could melt away entirely to slip free. He ignores the cold, ignores the dizzying churn in his stomach trying to tell him this is a horrible idea, every last scrap of his attention on the gentle pressure on his heart, Tommy cradling it in his claws like something precious and rare, too easily destroyed, and Adam groans, "Take it."

Tommy shudders, touch sliding away. "No."

"Take it," Adam insists, holding on tighter, able to feel the pressure where Tommy's arms press into him, able to look down and see the clean divide between flesh and shadow. He'd reach inside his own chest if he could, take his heart and shove it into Tommy's hands, but he can't. He needs Tommy to do this for him. It's only a symbol. His real heart isn't what Tommy aches to claim.

"No," Tommy repeats, trembling touch creeping tentatively back, unable to help himself. A ruined noise slips out of him as Adam's heart kicks, and he strokes it carefully as if to soothe. "I can't. It's not, it's not mine. I lost mine," he says, and crumples down, pressing his face to Adam's chest, "I won't lose yours."

It's getting harder to hold onto Tommy, numbing cold stealing Adam's strength, but he refuses to let go. "You're not going to lose it," he says, words like rocks in his throat, "baby, you're not gonna lose me."

Tommy hisses, "I can't," wildly desperate, "tell me no, Adam, please tell me no. Stop me."

Adam drops back to the couch, smiling as his breaths go shallow, rattling with the cold. "You know I won't," he says to the fear bright in Tommy's eyes. "It's been yours for a long while."

"Adam," Tommy moans, miserable, wretched, as his grip clenches tight.

Agony rips through Adam's chest. Real claws sink into his shuddering heart, shred through muscle and sinew in a hot, searing rush. He gasps for breath as Tommy squeezes the life out of him and the scream ready to tear out of his throat turns to a bubbling laugh because he doesn't believe it. It's happening, he's letting Tommy kill him, but he doesn't believe in it so it doesn't matter. Whatever Tommy's taking from him, it's willingly given. He can live without it as long as he doesn't have to live without Tommy.

And then the scream Adam holds trapped in his throat explodes out of Tommy's, fear pure and absolute and piercing, the same scream that tore out of him the morning he first tried to take Adam's heart, long before Adam knew anything at all about him, before Adam loved him. Before Adam knew without a single doubt that when begging Adam to let him stay, he meant let him love. The easiest thing Adam's ever done is to let Tommy love him.

A choking sob cuts through Tommy's scream. He tears away, viciously silenced as his body is eaten away by shadows darker than he ever was, the light of his eyes the last to vanish. The television fizzles and cracks, the picture dying with weak pop that plunges the entire room into blackness. Gritting his teeth, Adam grabs at the back of the couch, sweat breaking out slick on his skin as he struggles to get up, panting Tommy's name with whatever scrap of breath he can find. The silence is deafening. Dead. He can't feel Tommy anywhere in it. He'd forgotten what it felt like to be alone in the dark, what the rest of the world feels when the lights go out. Reaching out desperately, his hand smacks down on the coffee table, his phone flaring brightly as it thumps to the floor.

Washed-out light spills over fingers digging like claws into the carpet beside the phone. Adam gropes frantically for the touch lamp on the table behind the couch, nearly knocking it over. A warm yellow glow floods the living room, bathing the man huddled in a terrified ball on the floor in light.

A man, not a shadow of one. Adam breathes, "Tommy?" trying to take it all in at once. Smooth pale skin stretched over a slim frame, all muscle and bone; a tumble of blond hair, dyed blond, dark at the roots and the shaved sides; a glint of half a dozen ear piercings or more; a whole sleeve of tattoos bright and real, more ink on the other arm; wide dark eyes finally turned up to face him, sweet chocolate brown.

"God," Adam says, dropping to the floor on his knees, "god, Tommy."

"Tommy," Tommy echoes, looking down at himself in wonder, "Tommy Joe," shocking without the familiar rasp, a hint of his real voice clear beneath the unused scratch. Naked and quivering, beautiful, he holds up a hand, stares at the long, lean shape of his fingers, and reaches out carefully to fit them over the strong steady beat of Adam's heart, says, certain and sure, "Adam."

*
End

Amazing!

Date: 2011-06-04 05:39 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Just got thru reading this totally mind-boggling, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat fic! I am still breathing hard. . . partly because of how you've managed to capture the wonderful love/chemistry between Adam and Tommy, BUT, also because the way you narrate the storyline. . .the words you so carefully chose to write down. . . are just amazing! This entry was quite long, but, I was so caught up in it, that time seemed to stand still. . I couldn't put it down. . every time I tried, I HAD to come back to keep reading!!

A really great story from a great author!

Janshawaii

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