Rating for this section: PG-13
Pairing: Adam/Kris, others
Warnings: Earlier sections may be triggering for some people
Author's Note: I've decided to change the way I'm doing these updates. I'll post whatever I have done (so long as it's coherent) on this journal every week or two and then post updates to kradam_ai every10K words or so. This is so people may tailor their reading experience as they prefer and to force me to be a bit more disciplined about writing it. If you like reading in small bites, here is probably the better place, but those who prefer reading in larger doses may wish to wait until the community posting.
In 1683 the first boat carrying fey landed in Virginia. Receiving ill welcome from the young American colonies, most of the passengers and the ones who followed after chose to go west, eventually establishing the new kingdom of Western Faerie in the Pacific Northwest. Distrust of Faerie persisted in the east and traveled outwards as the United States
and its ally, the Kingdom of Texas, spread west into the lands bordering those claimed by the fey.
Two years ago Kris Allen, lost to himself after a bitter three-year war, answered a newspaper ad and headed west to the chaotic borderland known as South California. He'd hoped, in a land with no loyalties, he could find respite from his own divided nature. What he found was something else.
When Kris woke up, Adam was gone. He panicked briefly until he found Adam’s note about going to cook breakfast. After a moment of reflection he decided his first instinct had been correct and went back to panicking.
When he got to the house he heard unknown voices echoing down the hallway from the kitchen. They seemed to be talking about who hooked up with who at the last ball. Which could only mean Adam had invited some of his completely terrifying friends to breakfast. Kris paused, momentarily considering going back to bed, but then he thought about what would happen if Danny were to discover them and bravely soldiered on.
Kris skidded into the kitchen in what he hoped looked like a casual stroll. From Adam’s amused look he didn’t think he’d been entirely successful. He took a quick assessment of the kitchen. Despite the slightly charred smell that hung over everything nothing looked particularly damaged. He allowed himself to relax a bit.
That was until he got a better look at Adam.
“What . . . what are you wearing?” he asked, clutching the edge of the counter for support.
What Adam was wearing was a pair of clunky hiking boots, some rumpled jeans that seemed about two sizes too big, a horrible denim vest complete with faux-leather fringe and what was possibly the ugliest plaid shirt known to man. Kris could see that. He could not, however, figure out what these things were doing on Adam.
“Isn’t it just hideous?” Adam said, looking for all the world like he couldn’t be more ecstatic about that. “I’m trying to be incognito. My stylists don’t really have much experience with what regular humans wear, but we thought if we just went with ugly and shapeless we’d get it in the ballpark.”
Kris could just stare at him.
Someone snorted. “Every time I look at you in that outfit a fairy loses her wings.”
“Now you’re just being mean,” Adam said.
Kris turned to find the source of the voice. At first he thought he was looking at Julia, one of their kitchen staff, but then his vision shifted and he felt his world tilt violently.
Three brownies stood clustered around the stove. He’d seen brownies before. The ones in LA all stayed in the better groomed parts of town where Kris never went, but they were the most common of the fey left back east. But the ones from home all had the surgery to smooth out their skin and reshape their features to more human proportions. The only ones Kris had ever seen in their unaltered form had been in the war.
These three all had the brown wrinkled-apple skin, long noses and pointed donkey-like ears of Thistleleaf’s allies. Kris felt his heart thump hard in his chest as adrenaline shot through his veins, leaving him shaky and nauseous.
Adam appeared in front of him, blocking his vision of the three by the stove, and gripped Kris by the upper arm.
“I think Kristopher just needs his coffee,” Adam said. His voice was as bright as before but his eyes were sharp with worry.
Kris took a deep breath and gave Adam a half-hearted smile. “Coffee would be good, yeah.”
Adam made a big production of handing Kris into a chair and grabbing him a steaming mug of coffee. It gave Kris enough space to settle himself.
Adam sat beside him and placed a seemingly casual hand on his elbow. “These are some old friends of mine—Marigold, Yarrow and Thorn,” he said, nodding at each brownie in turn.
Kris looked at the first one with the bold streaks in her hair and the heavy weight of silver loops that ringed her long ears and thought he’d never met anyone less likely to be called Marigold. On closer inspection they all looked different than Thistleleaf’s troops—more modern, not so desperately angry.
He took a sip of coffee almost absently. It curled around his tongue, rich and aromatic and completely without the processed bitterness that infested the wretched stuff which was all they could usually afford.
“This is amazing,” he said. God, amazing didn’t even begin to describe it. It was like what coffee dreamed of becoming in a better life.
“I made it!” Adam said.
“That’s because it’s the only thing you can make,” Marigold said.
Adam made a production of acting offended. “I don’t understand why you always have to be so negative. It's like a disease.”
“You set the toaster on fire. On fire.”
Adam grimaced. “Don’t worry, they managed to fix it,” he said to Kris. It did look fine if suspiciously shiny where it sat on the counter.
“Here,” Thorn said, handing Kris a big plate of waffles covered in strawberries.
“Thank you,” Kris said. Thorn smiled shyly at him and then went back over to where he’d been mixing up more batter.
The waffles, if possible, were even better than the coffee. Although—
“Not that I’m complaining, but where is our kitchen staff? We have to feed a couple hundred people here in about an hour.”
“I gave them the morning off,” Adam declared airily. “Thorn said they would cook.”
“That’s very nice of them,” Kris said. “There’s just one problem.”
Adam looked over at the brownies, frowning. “Oh, that,” he said, face clearing. “Brownies are good at glamour. To everyone else they’ll just look like your regular staff.”
Kris supposed he could live with that. The staff probably welcomed the morning off and if the waffles were any indication no one would be complaining about the menu for once.
“I am glad you are up early,” Adam said. “It’ll give them more time to renovate the house.”
Kris was almost afraid to ask. “Renovate the house?”
“Oh, it’ll look the same from the outside,” Adam said, totally oblivious to Kris’s agitation. “We’ll just have some more space and maybe some new furniture. And hopefully some color that isn’t beige.”
“I like beige,” Kris said a little helplessly.
“Oh, I’ve noticed.” Adam gave him a kind of pitying look. “Don’t worry, I told them you’re Southern.”
Considering what Adam’s people thought “regular humans” dressed like he could not even begin to imagine what that even meant. “I . . . thank you? I think?”
“You’re welcome!” Adam said. He looked so happy Kris couldn’t help but smile a little stupidly in return.
Danny clumped into the kitchen and took the coffee Thorn handed him. Kris tensed but Danny didn’t seem to notice anything wrong.
Kris had felt duty bound to tell Danny just who Adam was last night. He’d taken it far better than Kris would have expected, but finding more fey infesting his kitchen might have been enough to send him over the edge.
Danny sipped his coffee but just grunted at the taste. Probably because he hated joy.
“I’ll need some help rearranging the common room for the group sessions,” Danny said.
“I’ll help,” Adam said.
Danny considered him for a minute but then nodded brusquely. “It’s, uh, nice to see you trying to blend in.”
Adam’s answering smile was nearly blinding.
Kris realized right in that moment that they were wearing the exact same vest. And to think, just last week his life had actually made sense. He put his head down on the table as Adam and Danny left the room and counted to ten. And then to twenty for good measure.
Kris lifted his head. Thorn hovered uncertainly by his shoulder with Marigold standing just behind.
“We heard what you did. For Adam.”
Kris sat up and tried not to look too apprehensive. He hoped he wasn’t going to have to go through this with every fey they met. “I’m sure whatever you heard was pretty exaggerated.”
“Not likely,” Marigold said, pushing her way forward. “Look, Adam’s important to us, okay? And for more reasons than those assholes up on the hill will ever have.”
She held up her hand and a gently glowing ball of light appeared. At Kris’s confusion she rolled her eyes and grabbed his hand with her free one.
“You ever get into trouble—or if he does, you call us, okay? Just think really hard about needing our help and we’ll come if we can.”
Kris would have refused but he’d seen what whoever was after Adam was prepared to do. “Okay.”
She nodded, suddenly approving, and pressed the ball of light into his hand. It melted into his skin and thrummed along his veins for a moment before subsiding. He’d carried summoning spells before of course in the Division. But this one felt friendlier somehow.
“Adam’s a good kid, but he can be a little dumb sometimes,” Marigold said. “He trusts way too easily for someone in his position.”
“He just wants people to be happy,” Thorn said.
“Yeah, and as a life goal, it’s pretty fucking stupid.”
“I think it’s nice,” Thorn said, looking stubborn.
Kris thought it sounded nice, too, but maybe Marigold had a point. “I’ll watch out for him, okay?”
“Hmmph,” Marigold said. “I guess that’s okay.”
Thorn beamed at him and gave him another waffle. Kris decided that maybe he could stand to spend more time around Adam’s friends after all.
Kris paused in the doorway to the bedroom, completely speechless.
He’d had hope from the kitchenette and living room. Adam’s crew had somehow altered the space so it was twice as big, but they’d just filled it up with some better appliances, actual grown-up furniture and a giant television. Oh, and a bar stocked with about every kind of alcohol available in the Los Angeles greater area. Kris thought you’d have to be a special kind of asshole to complain about that, especially after he’d spotted the pie Thorn had left them in the refrigerator.
The bedroom was another world. A king sized bed filled up most of the opposite wall. Which would have been okay except for the giant American flag comforter that covered it. Kris was pretty sure those were American flag sheets sticking out from one edge and those were definitely star spangled bolsters scattered across the bed. The curtains were done in a violent red white and blue plaid that almost made the comforter look sedate and there appeared to be a large poster of monster-trucks on one wall.
The only consolation to all of this was that Adam was looking as disturbed as Kris felt. More so, probably.
Adam sat on the bed and bounced on it once. “The bed is nice,” he said, determinedly cheerful.
Kris gave in and sat beside him. The cotton of the comforter felt warm and smooth and, well, sort of homey under his fingers. It smelled of the sun and a fresh breeze, like it had just been pulled in off the line.
There opposite the bed was a large picture of central Arkansas in spring that wasn’t new at all. He’d bought the poster in college. When he’d come out here he’d just shoved all of his old boxes in his car without paying attention to any of it. The poster had sat battered and torn in the back of the closet. Adam’s people had repaired it, smoothed it out and put it carefully under a glass frame.
Kris hadn’t been home since he’d come to LA. That was the first view of Arkansas he’d seen in over two years. It felt . . . okay, though. Like something it was time to remember maybe.
Adam put his hand on Kris’s back and rubbed it in small circles. “Here,” he said, “look at this.”
Kris let Adam pull them until they were lying side by side on the bed.
“Oh,” he said. A wide bank of skylights had been installed above the bed, although the view was never one you’d see from LA. The night sky stretched out above them—the kind of sky you only got when you were far from civilization and thousands of stars shone down out of the velvet dark. The windows had been left cracked open and the sweet cool air of an Arkansas night in high spring sifted over them. It carried the tender green smell of new growth and apple blossoms with just a hint of something wilder beneath.
“We can change it if you like,” Adam said, frowning at the curtains.
“No, leave it,” Kris said, giving into the helpless grin that spread across his face. “It’s perfect.”