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The Man Comes Around, Part Two


The Man Comes Around | pennilesspoet17 | R | Kris/Adam

Continued from Part One

Adam has a ridiculously expensive, wildly extravagant coffee maker in his house in LA.

It’s huge and sleek and black, and has more buttons and knobs than an airplane navigation panel. But Adam can operate the stupid thing while half-asleep in the early morning, or while drunk in the middle of the night, and on one rather memorable occasion, he was able to make two relatively-decent cappuccinos while receiving a handjob from a guy he’d met in Toronto (and had subsequently kept around for about five months).

The ancient coffee pot that sits in front of him right now has exactly one button on its base and an enormous dent on one side, and Adam can’t seem to get it to make anything but noise.

He winces as the coffee pot clicks and hisses again, and shoots a worried glance across the room. Kris is curled on the worn brown sofa under a thick blanket. Much to Adam’s relief, he’s still sound asleep.

Adam and Kris had stayed in the stables well into the night, keeping vigil over Jackson. Kris hadn’t said much after their kiss; he’d simply curled into Adam’s embrace, listening as Adam told him the wild tale of his life over the past two years, while occasionally humming a few melodies that had been floating around in his head all summer. Eventually, Kris had given into his exhaustion and had fallen asleep. Adam had deposited him gently onto his sofa just before dawn.

The coffee pot sputters again, so Adam gives up, and unplugs the cursed device. He’s searching the cupboards for tea bags when he hears a soft sigh and rustling from the living room area.

It’s mid-morning; the sun shining brightly through the wide living room windows. Adam watches Kris sit up slowly, then blink and squint against the sun’s glow. His hair is stubbornly sticking up on one side of his head, and when he yawns widely, Adam can’t help but compare him to a lazy puppy. He rubs his eye with the back of his hand, looking up as Adam slowly crosses the room.

“Good morning,” Adam smiles tentatively. He’s nervous that Kris will be upset with him for bringing him back here, and not leaving him in the stables or taking him to the main house.

“Hi,” Kris rasps, his own smile tight and nervous. He pulls his blanket up around him, biting his lip as he looks down at his lap.

“Um, I...you fell asleep, and I didn’t want you to be cold, so.”

“Thank you. I’m sorry I fell asleep on you,” when Kris looks up at Adam again, he looks more relaxed, his smile small, but more genuine.

“I was trying to make coffee,” Adam gestures back toward the kitchen, “but that coffee maker is terrifying.”

Kris lets out a short laugh and blinks up at him, and Adam files it into his memory as one of his favorite sounds ever.

“I was going to make tea, but I don’t think there’s any here, so...should we walk up to the main house?”

“I...I want to check on Jackson,” Kris’s smile fades as he pulls the blanket off of his lap, and stands up. Adam takes a small step back and runs a hand through his hair.

“Right, of course,” he replies with a tight smile. He watches Kris carefully fold his blanket, then cross the room to slip on his boots. He turns to look at Adam from his spot in the doorway.

“Are you coming?” Kris asks.

“Of course,” Adam grins.


Adam absently runs his hand down Rusty’s nose as he watches Kris and Jackson.

Kris is softly brushing Jackson’s neck and flank, while murmuring soft words of love and encouragement. Adam wonders what Kris’s foster parents saw in him that made them abandon him, because the person he knows now is warm, kind, and beautiful. Adam sees a young man with a good heart, who only wants to be loved. He thinks it would be easy to love Kris.

He’s pulled from his musings when he hears a familiar tune. Kris, he realizes, is softly humming one of the songs that Adam had been humming last night. It sounds different, with Kris’s tone; deeper, smokier.

Kris looks over at Adam, flushing when he realizes he’s been heard. He ducks his head, but doesn’t stop running the brush over Jackson.

“It sounds nice. The melody suits your voice well,” Adam says. He pats Rusty gently, then moves toward Jackson’s stable. He stays on the opposite side of the horse, watching Kris over Jackson’s broad back.

“I like it,” Kris replies quietly, “you wrote it?”

“Yeah,” Adam sighs, “on a tour bus earlier this year, believe it or not.”

“Does it have lyrics?”

“Kind of. They’re not great, to be honest. If you want, I can grab my notebook, and we can look at them over breakfast.”

Kris halts his movements, and peeks up over Jackson’s back to look at Adam.

“You...you’d let me look at your work?”

“Of course,” Adam grins. Kris smiles back.


Adam’s songbook is a thin spiral notebook with a bright purple cover that features a rainbow sweeping over a glittery unicorn. It was a retaliation gift from his ex-boyfriend Brad after Adam had written the bridge to what would become his second hit single on Brad’s arm - in permanent marker.

The lyrics to this particular song aren’t flowing quite the way Adam would like them to. He has a chorus, and the beginnings of a verse, but nothing seems to fit right, and none of the words seem to work with the melody. He loves the idea of the song, but he can’t seem to get the words to come out of his head.

He hands the notebook to Kris with a bit of reluctance; he’s never shown anyone a song this unfinished and messy before. The perfectionist in him cringes at the idea that he might be judged for laying out something that is less than what it could be.

Kris looks over the song, but doesn’t say anything as they finish breakfast. Adam watches Kris read the page over and over, as he absently hums snippets of melody. Eventually, Kris looks up at Adam, and points to the page with his pencil.

“May I?” Kris asks shyly.

“Please,” Adam replies, “I clearly need help.”

He watches Kris scribble notes in the margins of the page, fascinated at how quickly and easily Kris has taken to this. He wonders if Kris has his own songbook; wonders if he sings more than just other people’s songs.

Kris carries the notebook around all day; he occasionally stops to jot something down in it, before snapping it closed and wandering away with it tucked under his arm. Adam loses track of Kris for about two hours, eventually finding him seated in Jackson’s pen, writing furiously in the notebook again. The horse doesn’t seem to mind the intrusion; Kris stays in the pen until the vet comes by to check on Jackson.

They are sitting on the steps of the front porch at dusk when Kris finally hands the notebook back to Adam with a small, nervous smile.

There are lyrics and notes scattered all over the page, along with a few edits to Adam’s own words. He sees a block of words circled at the bottom of the page, and immediately, he can hear the way the song pulls together around them. He looks up at Kris with a wide grin, and points to the page. Kris nods, and Adam sings the words.

People always told me that bars are dark and lonely
And talk is often cheap and filled with air
Sure sometimes they thrill me
But nothing could ever chill me
Like the way they make the time just disappear.

“It’s perfect,” Adam exclaims, “You’re a natural at this.”

Kris shakes his head and bites his lip with a shrug.

“It’s just a few lines. I don’t know-”

“A few really great lines. Have you written before?”

Kris shrugs, “A little. But it’s not very good.”

“I think you are better than you think you are. Kris, you have natural talent here. I...I want to work on this song some more with you. I think it could be really awesome. Maybe I can hire you to help me write more songs.”

Kris gazes out at the stables for a long minute. He looks back at Adam sadly.

“If you want...but you’ll be gone soon.”

Adam’s stomach drops, and he has to turn away from Kris’s big brown eyes. He can hear the words Kris had whispered the night before, about losing everything he loves. He thought that encouraging this friendship with Kris was helping him open up, but maybe, in the end, he’s doing more harm than good. He has to go home; he can’t stay here forever. Does that mean he won’t ever see Kris again? Adam doesn’t know how he feels about Kris, but does know that he doesn’t want that. Not at all.

Adam turns back to Kris, who is looking down at his hands.

“You could come with me,” the words slip out of his mouth before he realizes what he’s saying. Kris looks up at him with wide eyes, “to Los Angeles.”

Kris opens his mouth, then closes it firmly. He shakes his head and stands up.


“I can’t do that. I can’t, Adam,” his voice is low and hoarse. Adam stands up, putting a tentative hand on Kris’s shoulder.

“It doesn’t have to be forever. Just think about it. You could be so much more-”

“More than what? I’m nothing special, Adam. I don’t need more than I have.”

“Maybe you don’t. But do you want more?”

Adam bites his lip when Kris looks up at him, his face unreadable in the dusk’s low light. Kris steps back, and Adam’s hand drops from his shoulder. He shakes his head.

“No,” he whispers, before turning and walking away.

Adam hasn’t known Kris long, and can’t pretend to understand the way he thinks, to know how he feels. In the hours they’ve spent together, Adam has learned to read Kris’s emotions through his eyes, his body language, and the few words he chooses to share.

As he watches Kris walk away from him, his gait tense, his head bowed, Adam knows, without a doubt, that tonight, Kris has lied to him for the first time. Kris does want more; he’s simply too afraid to ask.

He looks down at the notebook that sits abandoned on the porch steps. He snatches it up, along with the pencil Kris left with it. The words tumble out of his brain faster than he can write them. He finishes writing out the words, and reads through the lyrics again. The song is there, ready to be sung, and Adam thinks Kris should be the one to sing it.


When Adam emerges from his house the next morning, he’s surprised to find Kris sitting on his front porch, with two steaming cups of coffee.

Kris hadn’t shown up for supper last night, and Adam couldn’t find him anywhere afterward. As frustrating as it was, Adam knew that he had to give Kris his space; he had pushed Kris’s boundaries again last night, and his reaction had been the same. Adam wondered if Kris would ever grow tired of running.

Adam sits next to Kris on the low wooden steps, and takes the coffee with a small smile. Kris replies with a short nod, before turning to gaze out toward the main house, his hands wrapped tightly around his mug. Adam sips his coffee, and waits for Kris to speak. A minute later, he does.

“I was thinking last night, that your song would sound really cool with a steel guitar,” Kris’s voice is low and raspy, and he doesn’t look at Adam when he speaks.

“Hmm,” Adam nods, “do you play guitar?”

“No,” Kris shakes his head, “I always wanted to learn, but I never really had the opportunity, I guess.”

“I don’t play either, but a friend of mine...he’s in my band. He’s amazing. And he’s a good teacher. He tried to teach me, but I’m kind of hopeless with instruments,” Adam laughs. Kris turns to look at him, a small smile on his face.

“He taught Madonna though.”

“Madonna?” Kris’s brow furrows, “you mean the Madonna?”

“I know, crazy right? He introduced me to her once; it was pretty surreal.”

“Your life is...,” Kris shakes his head, “I don’t think I could handle doing what you do. Being surrounded by glamorous people all the time.”

Adam looks down into his coffee cup. It’s strange to think that just a few weeks ago, he was living such a crazed, surreal life. Coffee was consumed on the go, not on his front porch at dawn. Meals were eaten standing up, or not at all. The longest conversation he’d had with anyone since his tour had begun was an argument with his makeup artist about using his eyeliner on anyone who happened to be backstage at the time (he never wants Pink Eye again).

“It’s strange,” he finally says out loud, his eyes still on his coffee, “I never really realized how lonely my life was. I mean, how can you be lonely when you’re surrounded by people all the time? But I was. And I’m out here now, in the middle of nowhere and...” Adam looks over at Kris, who is staring back at him with large, warm eyes.

“I feel like I’m home.”

He watches Kris study him for several long seconds. He can’t figure out what’s going through Kris’s head, but the air between them feels heavy, tense. A breath, then two, and Kris sets his mug down on the porch and leans closer. Adam stays rooted to his spot, his hands wrapped tightly around his mug, afraid that any movement will shatter this moment. Kris runs one hand down Adam’s face delicately, his fingers dancing lightly over Adam’s eyes, nose and cheek. His hand settles on Adam’s neck as he reaches up and presses his lips to Adam’s.

This kiss is tentative and soft, much like the first one had been. Adam sets his mug down somewhere around his feet, and turns to fully face Kris as his hands reach up to frame Kris’s face. He can feel the stubble on Kris’s cheek, can feel the way his skin flushes under his touch. Adam takes control of this kiss easily; Kris’s bottom lip slides between his, and Adam sucks and nibbles lightly before moving to his top lip to do the same.

Kris’s hand slides from Adam’s neck to tangle in his hair, and Adam slides one hand down Kris’s back, pulling him closer as his hand settles on Kris’s waist. Kris pulls back with a sharp gasp, looking up at Adam with dazed eyes.

The sound of a screen door slamming startles them both. Kris jerks out of Adam’s embrace and stumbles back as Deena’s voice rings across the yard.

“Boys! Breakfast!” she calls, her hand hovering over her eyes to block out the sun’s rays.

Kris stands up shakily and walks toward the main house without a word. Adam rises, opens his mouth to call for Kris, but can’t seem to find the right words. Instead, he gathers their mugs and tosses the cold coffee out into weeds as he moves to follow Kris, his heart heavy with regret. He knows it’s very likely that he’s scared Kris off again, and he hates that, but more than anything else, he feels frustrated. Frustrated at himself for losing control; frustrated at Kris for kissing him and then pulling away, ashamed at his actions; frustrated that he can’t seem to fight this attraction.

Adam pauses at the front door of the main house, empty coffee mugs dangling loosely in his hand. He’s not sure he can handle the look of shame that will be on Kris’s face. He’s not sure he can handle another day of Kris working so hard to avoid him. Suddenly, he feels anything but hungry. He sets the mugs on the small table on the front porch and walks toward the stables.

Rusty, at least, seems happy to see him. Adam runs his hand along the horse’s nose, and lets him nuzzle his neck for a minute, before rounding Rusty to saddle him up. He secures the horse’s saddle, leads him out of the stables, and mounts him silently. He steals one last glance at the main house before spurring Rusty’s sides and taking off at a gallop toward the fields.

He lets the steady rhythm of the horse’s hooves hitting the soft ground settle his jagged nerves as he rides as far out as he can. Eventually, he slows the horse to a trot, and then stops him completely when he feels like he’s far enough away from everyone.

It’s silent out here, in the middle of nowhere. Adam can hear nothing but Rusty’s heavy breathing and the pounding of his own heart. He closes his eyes. A light breeze picks up, sliding over his face, and carding through his hair. He thinks about Kris’s fingers, long and nimble, twisted in his hair just minutes ago. He thinks about the way Kris looks up at him, like he’s trying to figure something out. He tries to picture Kris in Los Angeles, in his sleek condo, in the loud clubs that Adam likes to frequent, on red carpets and just walking down the crowded streets of West Hollywood, and he can’t. He can’t see Kris there at all, and he knows that Kris doesn’t want to be there, so what is he hoping for? Where does he see this relationship going? He’s leaving soon, just another person walking out of Kris’s life, but he can’t stay here. He can’t.

He opens his eyes and scans the horizon. He doesn’t know Kris; not really. He doesn’t even know his last name. He can’t afford to become so attached to someone so far away. So different. His life, his career, it won’t allow for it. Once he leaves the bubble of this ranch, everything will change.

So it should be easier than this to let go.


Adam rides back to the ranch sometime after noon. The sun is high in the sky, beating down intensely on his face, neck and arms. He knows he’s burnt; but he just couldn’t bring himself to come back.

The stables are empty when he brings Rusty in. He pours cool water into Rusty’s trough, and takes his time pulling the saddle off. His arms and shoulders are sore, and his face is burning, and all he wants to do is take a cool shower and hide away from the sun until the end of the day.

He sees Kris, seated on his front steps, knees pulled up, and his head resting on his knees. Swallowing, he walks toward him. Kris looks up as Adam approaches, his eyes widening as he takes in his sunburned face.

“I may have, uh, stayed out there too long,” Adam shrugs with a stiff laugh. Kris nods, but says nothing. He simply moves to the side to allow Adam access to his front door. Sighing, Adam opens the door, leaving it ajar, should Kris decide to follow.

“I can...do you have something to help? Like, aloe or something?” Kris asks softly from his place in the doorway.

“No. I’m sure Deena has something I can-”

“She does. I’ll just...” Kris jerks his thumb behind him, “I’ll get it. You should, um, take a shower. I’ll be back.” Kris turns and is gone before Adam can reply.


The cool water feels amazing on his ravaged skin. He takes his time, letting the water wash away the sweat and dust, and the sound of the water hitting the dingy green tiles soothe him.

He pats himself dry, and pulls on a loose pair of sweatpants and thin tank top. His entire head and neck are bright red, as are his arms below his elbows. The tan lines will be a bitch later, he realizes; he looks like he’s wearing a white freckled t-shirt. Shaking his head, he walks out of the bathroom and into the main living area, with hopes that Kris or Deena has left him some aloe.

He’s surprised to find Kris seated on the sofa in his living room, his fingers running along the long stalks of a potted aloe plant. He looks up when Adam enters the room, his smile tight and nervous.

“Deena says you can keep this here, and she also said you’re not allowed outside unsupervised anymore,” Kris says quickly. Adam smiles and sits on the sofa, leaving plenty of space between the two of them.

“Tell her thanks,” Adam rasps, his throat suddenly dry and rough. He clears his throat, and reaches toward the plant. “So, do I just...?”

“Oh. I’ll show you,” Kris replies softly. He gently breaks a leaf from the plant. Clear, thick gel drips out immediately, and Kris catches it on his fingers.

“Here,” Kris whispers. He scoots closer, and dabs the gel on Adam’s nose and cheeks. The gel is cool and soothing on his overheated skin. He closes his eyes, losing himself in Kris’s gentle touch. Kris’s fingers move slowly over his face, pausing only to gather more aloe. Adam thinks about the way Kris touched him this morning, about the way he’d looked up at Adam, just before he’d kissed him. Then he thinks about the way Kris had stumbled away and frowns slightly.

“Why did you run off like that this morning?” he asks softly, as Kris’s fingers sweep gel across his forehead. The fingers pull away, and Adam can hear Kris’s breathing pick up. He opens his eyes, to find Kris looking back at him sadly.

They stay like that, facing one another on the worn sofa, in total silence. Adam waits for Kris to respond, or leave, because he knows Kris doesn’t want to tell him how he feels. So he’s pleasantly surprised when Kris takes a deep breath and responds.

“I’m scared, Adam. You scare me.”

“I scare you?” Adam feels his heart drop. He knew he’d pushed too hard, too fast.

“You...I mean, you don’t,” Kris sighs, clearly frustrated with himself, “I’m no good with this kind of stuff,” he mutters. He shakes his head, and looks up again, his eyes bright and wide.

“I’ve never...I mean. You’re the first person I’ve ever... I just. I panicked. And then...then you were gone, and I...”


“I know you have to leave eventually, but I...I’m not ready yet. You’re...you’re the only real friend I’ve ever had, and I... I’ll miss you.”

Adam swallows thickly. He’s not sure what he can say. He’s not sure what he should say.

“I’ll miss you, too,” he whispers sadly. He leans forward, and kisses Kris softly, chastely, “but we’ll see each other again. I promise.”

It’s the best he can do.


“I have an idea.”

“I love ideas,” Adam smiles down at Kris. They’re seated on Adam’s front steps, sipping on fresh, steaming cups of coffee. Behind them, the sun is peeking out from the horizon, the sky glowing orange, pink and grey. Dawn has quickly become Adam’s favorite time of day; it’s quiet, peaceful, and just cool enough that the warm mug of coffee feels comforting on his cool fingers.

Kris, too, looks most at peace in the mornings. Sleep-mussed hair, face still puffy with sleep, and a voice that is scratchy and low, Kris makes it difficult for Adam not to imagine lazy Sunday mornings, and waking up to warm brown eyes and a soft, shy smile.

Kris looks away from Adam, his long fingers tapping softly against his blue ceramic mug. He lets out a soft sigh, and turns back to Adam, but doesn’t quite meet his eyes.

“I think we should have lunch together,” Kris says quickly.

“Uh, we eat together every day,” Adam replies, because they do. Sometimes they eat with the others, and sometimes they eat in the stables with Jackson, but they almost always eat together.

“I mean, we should go somewhere. To eat,” Kris says into his coffee mug.

Oh. Oh.

“You...you mean, like a date?” Adam asks softly. If he’s wrong, he’s going to feel really stupid, and will probably succeed in driving Kris off again. But Kris just nods wordlessly, and Adam can’t help the wide grin that spreads across his face. He runs his index finger over Kris’s knuckles, which are white from the way he’s gripping his mug.

“I think that’s the best idea ever,” he whispers.

Kris smiles into his coffee.


They set out to leave the ranch at about ten.

Kris is packing all kinds of blankets and water and food into the back of the truck, all the while refusing to let Adam help. He keeps shooing Adam away, and refusing to tell Adam where they are going, and Adam thinks it’s just about the cutest thing he’s ever seen. He sits on the front porch of the main house, and watches Kris pack up the truck, and only moves when Kris tells him it’s time to go.

They drive for nearly two hours, in the opposite direction of town, toward the mountains. As they reach the foothills, Kris turns off the main road, and onto a rough, narrow path that winds up steep slopes toward towering evergreens. He handles the truck with practiced ease, but his eyes never leave the winding road, and the soft conversation that they’d been having has come to a stop.

The trees filter out a good portion of the sunlight, and Adam can feel the way the temperature has dropped. He didn’t think Kris was serious when he’d told Adam to grab a jacket. It’s so hot down at the ranch, and Adam remembers how unbearably hot he’d been that day out repairing fences. He looks down at the thin leather jacket sitting on the seat next to him and shakes his head. He’s going to freeze up here.

Kris pulls off of the road and into a small clearing. It’s close to noon now, the sun high in the sky, but the air is crisp and cool, the trees absorbing most of the warmth and light from the sun. Kris doesn’t say anything when Adam moves to help him unload the truck, so he gathers as much as he can carry, and follows Kris around to the front of the truck, then down a small slope. It’s quiet here, even more than at the ranch, but as they make their way farther down the hill, Adam hears what sounds like running water. Eventually, the dense pockets of trees open up to a spectacular view; they’re standing at the edge of a narrow river that snakes through a valley covered in deep green trees. The water flows lazily down the hill, sparkling brilliantly in the midday sun. It’s stark contrast from the drier desert in the plains, only a few miles away.

“This is...amazing,” Adam smiles, his eyes closing as a cool breeze finds them.

“It’s my favorite place,” Kris replies quietly.

Adam opens his eyes.


They are laid out across a heavy, deep blue blanket, half-eaten food spread out on the ground next to them. The air is cool, and the sound of the rushing river soothing; Adam feels his eyes grow heavy. He hears Kris shift next to him, followed by soft humming. A work-callused finger runs over his bottom lip. He opens his eyes, to find Kris lying on his side, his head propped up on one hand. His cheeks flush when Adam looks up at him, but he doesn’t stop humming. Adam reaches up and slides a warm hand behind Kris’s neck. He pulls Kris forward, and captures his lips in a wet, heated kiss. Kris’s humming melts into a whimper, then a soft moan as Adam deepens the kiss.

It’s liberating to know that he can kiss Kris without fear of interruption. They are all alone, with only the river and trees for company. Kris seems aware of this as well; gone is the stiffness and hesitance that plagued their first few kisses. Kris is warm and pliant in his arms, sensual and responsive as Adam rolls them over, buries his face in Kris’s neck. (Sunburn be damned; he’s going to enjoy this.)

“Adam,” Kris whispers roughly. Adam pulls away, and looks down, needing reassurance that Kris is okay with this. Kris looks up at him with dark eyes, wet, kiss-swollen lips, and Adam smiles. Kris runs his hands down Adam’s chest, then around his waist. He tugs slightly, and that’s all Adam needs. He leans forward and kisses him again.

The kissing grows heated, all nipping teeth and tangled tongues. Kris runs his hands under Adam’s shirt, fingers dancing along Adam’s ribcage. Adam brushes his hand lightly over Kris’s ass, then runs his hand up Kris’s shirt and along his back. The skin under his fingers is tight and smooth, but as he moves farther up, he feels patches of raised, rough skin. Kris’s entire frame stiffens as he runs a finger over one of the patches, and he pulls away when Adam rubs along yet another.

“Kris, what-” Adam sits up slightly, and leans over Kris’s torso.

“Adam, please, don’t-” Kris tries to pull away, but Adam holds him steady as he studies Kris’s back.

Smooth, sickly pale skin is marred with five perfectly round burns, nearly the size of quarters. The scars are old, and puckered, and spread across the middle of Kris’s back in a disturbingly straight and even line.

“What...what are these?” Adam asks, voice low. Kris’s body jerks as Adam touches one of them, so he pulls his hand back and looks down.

Kris’s face is buried in his arms, and his breathing is ragged.

“Kris, please talk to me,” Adam pleads softly, as he runs a hand through Kris’s hair, “please, please don’t shut me out.”

For a moment, Kris doesn’t move; he just breathes into his folded arms, long, shaky breaths that eventually even out slightly. He turns his head to the side, away from Adam, before he speaks.

“They’re...cigar burns. My foster dad, he smoked them all the time. He...he was trying to make me normal,” Kris whispers blankly, “That’s why they took me away. They brought me here, because no one else wanted me.”

“Oh my God,” Adam breathes, “Oh, Kris.”

“I know they’re...we can just um, leave my shirt down? You don’t have to touch them or anything,” Kris rasps.

Adam shakes his head, and lifts Kris’s shirt slowly, carefully. He leans down, and presses his lips to one scar, then another, and another. He can feel Kris trembling underneath him, can taste the salty wet tears that are sliding down his own face, but he doesn’t stop until he’s kissed every one of them. When he’s finished, he lays his cheek on Kris’s back and closes his eyes.

“You’re beautiful, Kris,” Adam murmurs. He turns his head, and kisses the base of his spine tenderly. Kris shifts underneath him, so Adam sits up slightly, allowing Kris to turn over on the blanket. He looks down at him, eyes red and swollen, lips tight and turned down. He reaches down, and kisses the corner of his mouth, light, soft kisses, over and over, until Kris opens up again and kisses him back.

They settle back on the blanket, Kris laying his head on Adam’s chest as Adam pulls him into his arms. They remain like that, entwined under the dusty pink canopy of the fading evening sun, for several minutes, silent and thoughtful. Taking a deep breath, Adam runs a warm hand up and down Kris’s arms, unconsciously tightening his hold as he speaks softly into Kris’s soft, fluffy hair.

“When you say your foster dad was trying to make you ‘normal’, do you mean - was he trying to make you straight?”

A cool breeze flutters through the trees. Kris shivers, so Adam tightens his hold. He can feel Kris’s heart thudding rapidly, can hear his deep, labored breaths, can hear the faint rush of the river below. He closes his eyes, and kisses the top of Kris’s head gently.

“I was thirteen. I didn’t understand, really,” Kris whispers, “He just said that there was something wrong with me. I guess...I guess that’s what he meant.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you,” Adam replies crossly. He’s never wanted to strangle anyone as much as he does this man he’s never met.

Kris sighs, and settles into Adam’s arms, his small body relaxing as the minutes pass.

Sometime later, Adam opens his eyes to an inky black sky, and more stars than he’s ever seen in his life. He blinks once, twice, to clear his vision a bit. It’s a spectacular view, and he feels contentment like he hasn’t felt in a long time. Next to him, Kris shivers, and it’s only then that he realizes how cold it is. Sitting up slightly, Adam finds another blanket, folded neatly next to their forgotten meal. He grabs the thin material, and manages to cover them both with the arm that isn’t trapped underneath Kris. Once the blanket is settled, he wraps himself around Kris’s slumbering form, and stares up at the sky until his eyes grow heavy again.


They leave at sunrise.

The ride back to the ranch is quiet, but peaceful. Kris seems more relaxed, more content - as though a great weight has been lifted from his slumped shoulders. Perhaps it has been. Adam has a feeling that very few people know the things that Kris told him last night.

As they wind their way back to the main road, Kris relaxes back in his seat, his grip on the steering wheel loosening slightly. Adam reaches across the space between them, and slides his left hand over Kris’s right. Kris glances over with a small grin, and allows Adam to tangle their fingers together.

It’s close to noon by the time they pull up to the ranch. Adam can see the ranch hands out in the land behind the main house, riding near a large herd of cattle. As they climb out of the cab of the truck, he can hear Deena rattling around inside the house, the faint shouts of the ranch hands, and the whinny of the horses that are still near the stables. It seems so much louder here than it had been just hours earlier.

He and Kris work together to unload the truck. Then, with nothing left to do, Adam finds himself standing in front of Kris, who is looking tense and unsure. Adam smiles and leans down to kiss him softly. Kris sighs into his lips, wrapping his hands around Adam’s wrists. Adam takes both hands in his, and squeezes them as he pulls away.

“That was the best first date ever,” he whispers, and smiles when Kris scrunches up his nose, cheeks flushed.

“Naw,” Kris shrugs, “you must have had better-”

“Kris,” Adam drops one of Kris’s hands, then cups his cheek to tilt his head up, “It was the best first date I’ve ever had,” he repeats earnestly.

Kris blinks up at him, wide-eyed, a small smile curving his lips.

“Well, it was my first date ever, but...I don’t think anyone could ever top it,” Kris replies shyly, and Adam leans down to kiss him again.

“Oh! You’re back!” Deena exclaims from the doorway. Adam lets Kris pull away slightly, but doesn’t let go of his hand. Deena pushes open the screen door, a wide smile on her face. “I take it you had a good time?”

Adam feels his own cheeks flush at that, so he knows without looking that Kris must be tomato-red. He clears his throat and tightens his hold on Kris’s hand.

“We had a great time,” Adam says with a smile.

“Well, while you were away, someone named Lane called for you, Adam. And then your mother called. So I guess you need to call one or the other to check in,” Deena states, “You’ll have to use the land line in the kitchen.”

“Thank you, Deena,” Adam says, then turns to Kris, who is looking at his feet, his shoulders tense again. “I should probably-”

“You should check in,” Kris interrupts, “I’m gonna go check on Jackson.”

“Right,” Adam smiles, and lets Kris’s hand go. He watches Kris walk away, and something heavy settles in his gut. He takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and walks up the porch steps and into the main house.


“I’m sorry Adam, there’s just no way to move this meeting. You have to be here for it. Plus, the label is getting really anxious about all the tour dates you cancelled this summer.”

“Yeah, I get it. I just-” Adam is seated at the dining room table, his fingers tearing apart a large paper napkin, the cordless phone cradled on his shoulder. He looks out the large picture window, across the yard toward the stables. His heart hurts, and his stomach tightens with renewed anxiety. He closes his eyes. “When’s my flight?”

“You fly out of Denver tomorrow night at nine,” Lane says, and Adam can hear the familiar sound of her clicking on her laptop keyboard, “So you’ll need to be in Colorado Springs by about six.”

“Okay. Thanks,” Adam says softly, and hangs up before Lane can relay the flight numbers. He knows she’ll text him, and he should have reception once he gets back to Colorado Springs, and he should probably check his email soon...

He pauses. One phone call, and already his mind is moving a million miles a minute, filling itself with details and schedules, and flight numbers. He hates that he hasn’t even left the ranch, and already, the world he left behind is creeping back in.

He has to tell Kris.

He doesn’t want to. God, he really doesn’t want to see the look on Kris’s face when he tells him this. They’d just gotten to such a good place, and Kris has finally, finally opened up. Adam knew he’d have to go eventually, but was hoping to use his last couple of weeks at the ranch to work out a plan, or to try and convince Kris to come back with him. Leaving Kris like this, so suddenly...it feels like the worst kind of betrayal.

He picks up the phone again and dials his mother’s number. She picks up on the third ring.

“Adam?” Her voice sounds tinny, and far away. He tries to remember if Lane had sounded this far away, but he can’t even remember the sound of her voice right now. He feels so numb.

“I guess I have to come back early,” he says by way of greeting, his tone harsher than he had intended it to be.

“I know, I’m sorry. I did everything I could Adam, but it was out of my hands.”

“It’s not your fault, Mom,” Adam sighs, “I know that. I just...I’m not ready yet.”

“I know, sweetheart. I know. Maybe you could spend some time down in San Diego after the meeting? I know it’s not the same, but-”

“No. No, it’s not that. I...I met someone.”

“You met someone?” Leila replies, surprise in her tone.

“Yeah. He...he works here at the ranch. He’s...you’d really like him, Mom. He’s so sweet and cute. He’s quiet, but I’m working on getting him to open up. He loves horses, and he’s so good with them! He taught me to ride in less than a day, you wouldn’t believe it!” Adam smiles, as he pictures that first day with Kris and Rusty.

“There’s one horse here, Jackson. Kris cares so much for him. He sings to him, talks to him; and the horse loves Kris just as much, I think.”

“His name is Kris?”

“Oh. Yeah. He’s...” Adam blinks, his smile fading slightly as his eyes slide over to the stables again, “He’s something special.”

“You sound really taken with him,” Leila says wistfully.

“I-” Adam starts, then shakes his head and looks down at the worn wooden table top, “I’m falling in love with him. And I have to leave him now, and it’s going to break his heart.”


“I have to go,” Adam says thickly, as he blinks back the sting of tears, “I’ll see you soon.”

He ends the call, and sets it down on the table in front of him. He stares at it for several seconds, his jaw tight and his eyes wet with unshed tears.

“Come home with me,” he whispers to the empty room.


Kris is settled into the corner of Jackson’s pen, a sweet smile on his face as he runs his hand down the horse’s long nose. He starts slightly as Adam enters, but doesn’t move from his spot. Adam stops just outside the pen, his hands shoved into his back pockets, his entire frame tense. Both Jackson and Kris seem to sense Adam’s anxiety, because the horse lets out a disapproving snort, and Kris’s smile slides off his face as he rises.

“Adam,” Kris says softly, “what’s wrong?”

“I-” Adam starts, biting his lip as Kris steps closer. Adam pulls his hands out of his pockets, and pulls Kris toward him.

Kris melts into his embrace, his soft sigh warm on Adam’s collarbone. Adam swallows roughly, and splays his hand out on Kris’s back. He feels the soft cotton of Kris’s shirt, the heat that is radiating off his body, and the way his heart beats steadily in his chest. He tips his head down, and takes in Kris’s musky, sweaty, dusty scent, and lets his soft hair tickle his cheek.

“Adam,” Kris says, “what-”

“Dance with me,” Adam says, as he sways them both back and forth slightly.

“Dance? There’s no music,” Kris chuckles.

“We could hum something,” Adam suggests. Kris pulls away to look up at him, his eyebrow arched slightly. After a few seconds, he nods, wraps his arms around Adam’s torso and begins to hum ‘Desperado’ into his chest.

Adam laughs and hums along, his eyes closed as they sway in unison.


They’re curled on Adam’s beat up brown sofa, Kris’s head on Adam’s shoulder as Adam runs his hand absently through Kris’s hair. Kris is running his index finger over Adam’s hand, and humming the song they’d written together. He stops, lets out a long sigh, and lays his hand flat over Adam’s.

“Is everything okay with your mom?”

Adam tenses, and knows that Kris can feel it. He pulls back slightly, so Kris can turn to look at him.

“Kris,” Adam swallows again, his throat suddenly dry and scratchy. He hates this. Hates that he has to do this. Hates the sun for setting so fast, because if Adam could, he would stop it from moving across the sky, so that tomorrow would never come, and he could stay here with Kris forever.

“Adam, what-”

“I’m leaving tomorrow.”

Kris blinks once, twice, and then pulls his hands away from Adam’s.

“I don’t have a choice. My management, they...look, it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to go, Kris, but I have to. It’s my job, and I-”

“I get it, it’s fine,” Kris nods, but he isn’t looking at Adam anymore; he’s staring at his hands, curled lifelessly in his lap, “you were never going to stay; I knew that.”

“I...Kris, I don’t want to leave you. I lo-like you so much, and I meant everything I’ve said to you, I do.”

“I should...I should get going,” Kris says tightly. He stands up, and lets out a long, trembling breath. Adam grabs his hand and holds on tight.

“Stay,” he pleads quietly. He looks up at Kris, who is staring down at their joined hands, “stay with me tonight. Please, Kris.”


“Please,” Adam whispers, tugging on Kris’s hand. Kris tumbles forward and buries his face in Adam’s chest. Adam wraps his arms around Kris, and doesn’t let go until the sun breaks through the horizon.


The airport in Colorado Springs is much more crowded than it was the day Adam arrived.

That day seems so long ago now. He remembers thinking that this place seemed so remote, but now he feels almost claustrophobic, being around so many bustling people. He can’t imagine how he’s going to feel once he lands at LAX.

Kris is standing next to him, silently watching the couple ahead of them argue with the desk attendant about the weight of their luggage. His grip on Adam’s hand is tight, his posture tense. He seems to be deep in thought, and starts when the desk attendant calls for them to step forward.

The check-in process goes quickly and smoothly, and before Adam knows it, they’re standing at the maze of stanchions that lead to the airport security checkpoint. Kris’s hand tightens around his, and Adam has to swallow down the lump that has formed in his throat before speaking.

“I’ll call you when I get to LA, okay?”

Kris nods, but doesn’t look up. Adam sighs, and places a finger under Kris’s chin, tilting his head up to look at him.

“You have my cell number. You can call me anytime, day or night. I also left you Lane’s number - she’s my handler, and she will always, always know how to reach me.”

Kris blinks up at Adam, his eyes wide and wet. When he doesn’t reply, Adam pulls him into his arms.

“I’m so sorry,” he sighs into Kris’s hair.  He pulls away, knowing that if he doesn’t leave now, he’ll miss his flight. “Maybe you can come out to LA sometime,” he smiles.

“Maybe,” Kris mumbles, his gaze once again sliding to the ground. He scuffs the carpeted floor with his boot, and shrugs, “you should go.”

“Yeah,” Adam glances back at the security line, then down at Kris, “see you soon, okay?” He leans down, and kisses Kris chastely, then turns toward security. He turns back as he reaches the metal detector and offers a small smile to Kris, who is standing where he left him, his hands shoved in the front pocket of his dusty jeans, tears in his big brown eyes.

Four Months Later.

“You have three radio interviews this morning, and then we have to be at MTV by eleven, and you have a lunch interview with Rolling Stone, which you have to finish in an hour, because we have to leave for the airport at 1:15 if we are going to make our flight,” Lane is talking a million miles a minute, her eyes never leaving her iPad as she weaves through the lobby of the hotel. Adam follows her out front, where she manages to flag down a taxi before the door attendant can even get down the steps. Adam sighs, slips the poor guy five bucks anyway, and climbs into the cab.
It’s raining in New York, which is actually fine by Adam, because he’s in no mood for pleasant weather. He’s tired, hungry (this diet they have him on is the worst on to date) and he misses Kris.

They’ve managed to speak on the phone at least three times a week since Adam left, but it’s just not enough. He hadn’t realized how much he had relied on Kris’s facial expressions and hand gestures until he can no longer see them. Kris uses so much more than words to communicate. Adam needs to see him, to touch him.

He blinks and looks over at Lane, who is busy tapping away on her iPad.

“What’s my schedule when I get back to LA?” he asks.

“You have two days off, and then you are heading back into the studio to lay down that track with Tedder,” Lane replies without so much as a glance at his calendar, “Why?”

“I want to stop in Colorado,” Adam says, as the taxi pulls up to wherever the hell they were headed this morning.

“What? Adam, you don’t have time to-” Lane’s eyes are wide and panicked, the way that they get when Adam says something that upsets her carefully crafted system. Adam shrugs, and opens the car door.

“You said I had two days off. I want to spend them on the ranch,” he gets out of the cab before Lane can reply.


He rents a car at the airport, buys a map, and drives himself out to the ranch.

He’d thought about calling Kris, or even Deena and Jack, but he kind of likes surprising people, likes to see them smile.

He thinks about the first time he came out here, his ass sore and his stomach in knots from the harsh dirt roads. He thinks about the last time he made this drive, his eyes on the landscape, with Kris behind the wheel. He smiles when he thinks about Kris, thinks about seeing his face, kissing his lips, thinks about waking up with him right there, in his arms. He wants that, wants all of that, and he plans to spend the next day and a half trying to make Kris see that they should be together. That they belong together.

He pulls up to the main house, and steps out of the car just as Deena steps out onto the porch. She looks just the same, down to the large stains on her apron, and Adam feels like he’s come home. He grins widely, and reaches down to hug Deena tightly.

“This is quite a surprise,” Deena says with a small smile.

“I was passing through, and I thought...I thought I’d come see you,” Adam shrugs.

“Well, you know you’re always welcome. But Adam...Kris isn’t here.”

Adam’s smile fades. “Is he in town or something?”

“No. He...well, he left for Denver about three days ago. Said something about getting a job up there, then heading east to look for his brother.”

“Oh. Um, did he leave a number, or...”

“No, he didn’t. I’m so sorry, honey,” Deena wraps a warm hand around Adam’s arm and guides him to the porch, “why don’t you have a seat. I’ll get you something to drink. And it’s nearly suppertime. You look like you haven’t eaten since you left,” Deena shakes her head as she makes her way back into the house, the flimsy screen door slamming behind her.


Adam eats more at dinner than he has all week (thanks to Deena) and makes his way out to the stables afterward. Jackson is standing in his pen, looking as healthy and regal as he had the day Adam met him. He stands at the door of the pen and runs a hand along Jackson’s long nose.

“Do you miss him?” Adam asks softly. Jackson lets out a whinny and bows his head.

“Me, too,” Adam whispers.


Deena and Jack insist that Adam stay the night, and help him arrange a flight out early the next morning. Deena feeds him a hearty breakfast, and packs him a lunch to take with him, because “Heaven knows when those people in California are going to let you eat again.”

He checks his phone every minute until he’s forced to turn it off. He has no missed calls from Kris. It’s been a week now since they last spoke, and Adam wracks his brain, trying to remember if Kris had hinted at plans to move off of the ranch. Nothing comes to mind. As the plane makes its ascent out of Colorado Springs, Adam considers taking a few hours to look for Kris in Denver. But no. Denver is a large city, and Adam has no idea where to even begin to look.

It occurs to Adam then, high above the sprawling plains and purple mountains of Colorado, that perhaps Kris doesn’t want to be found.

”I have to go. Lane’s gonna kill me if I’m late to yet another photoshoot.”

“Okay. Have fun in New York.”

“I always do. Take care of yourself, Kris. I’ll talk to you in a few days, okay?”

“I’ll be fine, Adam,” Kris’s voice is pitched low and sounds rough, the way it always does at the end of a long day out in the sun. Adam wishes he could be there, to see Kris’s tanned, dusty face, in the low light of the dining room.

“I know, I just-”

“I can take care of myself. I can. Don’t worry about me.”

“I’ll always worry.”

Kris snorts out a laugh. Adam smiles.

“Have fun in New York,” Kris says softly, and ends the call.

Adam thinks about that conversation all the way to Denver. He thinks about it until he falls asleep, halfway through his flight to Los Angeles. Kris was trying to tell him something that night, the last night they spoke, but Adam was too wrapped up in missing Kris to see it:

Kris was saying goodbye.


It’s raining in LA.

Adam doesn’t really notice it, as he walks from baggage claim to the car that Lane has waiting for him. He watches the water hit the car windows as it barrels down the freeway, iridescent droplets streaking across the glass in long, trembling lines. The sound of the rain and traffic seems so loud. Too loud. He closes his eyes, and the hours, days, weeks that he spent with Kris flash through his mind. He wonders what happened in the weeks since he left the ranch. He wonders if he himself said something to cause Kris to run. He wonders if Kris is okay.

He wonders if he’ll ever see Kris again.

The car pulls into his driveway, and his driver is pulling his bags from the trunk of the car as Adam steps out onto the cobblestone path. The rain has slowed to a light sprinkle now. He takes his bags from the driver with a smile and a thank you, and proceeds up the path to his front door.

The front porch of his house is small, too small to hold even a chair and small table. But even if it was bigger, paparazzi and nosy neighbors can see his front porch from the street.

He hasn’t been in his house much since he came back from the ranch, but now that he’ll be in LA for a while, he starts thinking about all of the routines he’d started in Colorado. He wants to be able to sit outside and watch the sun come up with a strong cup of coffee. He wants to buy some land, and maybe some horses, far out of town, where he can ride away and not see anyone for miles. He wants to fall asleep on a blanket under a million stars.

But he wants to do it all with Kris.

He opens the door to his house and shuffles inside. He drops his bags in the entryway, strips off his damp jacket, and locks the door behind him. Tomorrow he’ll deal with the emails and phone messages and the line of people always vying for his attention. Tomorrow he’ll deal with his broken, battered heart. Tonight, he just wants to sleep and try to forget that he is all alone.


Adam starts and looks down the hall, his eyes bugged out wide, mouth agape.

Kris is standing at the end of the hall, in worn out sweatpants and a t-shirt that is way too big for him. His long fingers are wrapped around a steaming mug, and there’s a tentative smile on his perfect, perfect face.

“Kris,” he finally manages, “where...how...?”

“Lane helped me. She’s a very resourceful lady,” Kris shrugs as he inches closer.

Adam moves then, closing the distance between them in three large steps. He wraps his arms around Kris, and buries his face in his hair. Kris wraps one arm around Adam’s waist, holding out the arm that still has the mug.

“I went to the ranch. Deena said you went to Denver.”

“I know. Lane told me that she tried to talk you out of it, but you wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Adam pulls away then, and looks down at Kris, his eyebrow arched.

“I wanted to surprise you,” Kris shrugs, his cheeks growing pink, “I hear that you like surprises.”

Adam barks out a laugh and pulls Kris toward him again, “I do...I just usually like being on the other side. But this...” Adam pulls back, and cups Kris’s face with his cold, trembling hands, “this is the best surprise ever.”

Kris smiles. Adam kisses him.


The sun is peeking out over the Los Angeles basin, lighting up the thick layer of smog and the muted blue sky above. Adam wraps his hands around his steaming mug of coffee, and sits back on the porch swing, allowing the bench to sway slightly as he moves. He smiles into his mug when he hears the patio door slide open.

Kris settles next to him on the swing, all sleep rumpled and overly warm. He curls into Adam’s side, and steals his coffee as Adam wraps his arm around him.

“I always wanted a porch swing when I was younger,” Kris says softly. Adam uses his feet to swing the bench more.

“I didn’t even know I had a porch swing,” Adam laughs. He had always been too busy to appreciate his own backyard.

“Did you know you have a garden?” Kris asks, pointing toward the large patch of dirt on the other side of the pool.

“I do?”

Kris laughs, and Adam can feel him shaking his head.

“We should do something with that, I guess,” Adam whispers, and kisses Kris’s temple.

“Yeah,” Kris sighs, his body leaning into Adam’s like he might be falling back to sleep.

“Kris? Can I ask you something?”

“Mmm hmm.”

“Uh. What’s your last name?”

“What?” Kris’s head pops up, and he looks at Adam, brow furrowed.

“It occurred to me last night that I don’t know your last name. And...well, I want to give you credit on the song we wrote, and also, I just kind of think it’s important to know my boyfriend’s last name.”

Kris’s face melts into a sweet smile, and he lets out a giggle as he lays his head on Adam’s shoulder again.

“Allen. Kris Allen,” he says softly.

“Kris Allen. Rockstar,” Adam smiles.

Kris snores in reply.

The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash
Hurt, Johnny Cash
Golden, My Morning Jacket
Western Stars, Chris Isaak
Rise To Me, The Decemberists
Awake My Soul, Mumford & Sons
Just Breathe, Pearl Jam
Own Side, Caitlin Rose
Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound, Johnny Cash
Los Angeles, I’m Yours, The Decemberists
Soaked (Live at Glam Nation), Adam Lambert
Bright Lights (Live), Kris Allen

Warnings: Mentions of past child abuse. Animal injury.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 9th, 2011 05:48 am (UTC)
this was perfect <3
Aug. 13th, 2011 05:08 am (UTC)
Thank you. <3
Aug. 9th, 2011 07:38 am (UTC)
This fic made me feel... serene. :) This is beautiful.
Aug. 13th, 2011 05:09 am (UTC)
That was my goal! Thank you. :)
Aug. 9th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
I was following this back at Kradamadness. Imma read it from the start now. . .
Aug. 9th, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
I keep getting sidetracked by things I had to do, but I finally finished reading...

This. This is, I have no words for how awesome this is...
Aug. 13th, 2011 05:10 am (UTC)
:) Thank you so much! So happy you liked it! <333
Aug. 9th, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
I usually just lurk here but I had to come out of hiding to tell you how simply beautiful this was... Your writing is so wonderfully descriptive that I felt more like I was "seeing" your story unfold rather than reading verse. Awesome! :)
Aug. 13th, 2011 05:11 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I feel honored that you came out of hiding to comment! I'm glad you liked it. :D
Aug. 9th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
Yay! I've been waiting for this story to be finished to read everything from the beginning and properly enjoy it. And I think that the story is amazing. It is very touching; there were moments between Kris and Adam that were so fragile and vulnerable and fascinating. Angst + happy ending = my drug :)
This fic is beautiful, and I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you so much! :)
I actually really liked that your Kris couldn't play the guitar. I don't know why but this made me smile so hard; it was lovely :))
Aug. 13th, 2011 05:13 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for this lovely comment! I'm so happy that you liked it. :)
Aug. 11th, 2011 12:07 am (UTC)

Very sweet. I started reading and was unable to stop. Time well spent. :)
Aug. 13th, 2011 05:13 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! <33333
Aug. 11th, 2011 03:55 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you finished this! This is so good, so sweet, angsty, touching. And I'm overjoyed that you gave them a happy ending :)
Aug. 13th, 2011 05:14 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so happy you liked the ending! :D
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )