Pairing: gen (Kris Allen band fic)
Disclaimer: Probably not true. Especially the parts set in the future.
Summary: "Right. So people are taking sneaky pictures of us. I’ve definitely never had that happen before. Does that mean we're properly famous now?" The Kris Allen band on tour. As they would tell you, they play music. The extra antics are just a bonus.
Cale decides he both loves and hates the beaten up old couches on the tour bus. Pros: they're insanely comfortable. Cons: they're insanely comfortable, and he doesn't want to move, even to walk the ten steps it would take to drop into his bunk. Plus, Kris' head is a warm weight on his thigh, his lashes fluttering as he fights his own losing battle against sleep.
Across from him, Ryland raises an eyebrow at the sight and mimes taking a photo, trying his damnest to laugh quietly when Cale flips him off.
Kris snorts, eyes still closed, and turns so that his face is mostly buried in Cale's shirt. "Talk all you want, I can fall asleep to anything."
Ryland's laugh bursts out of him, as if holding it in had taken far too much effort. It's only that funny because they're all dead tired, and going to be dead tired, on the road, for a long while yet. Everything's fuzzier when you're all strung-out.
"Right. So people are taking sneaky pictures of us. I’ve definitely never had that happen before. Does that mean we're properly famous now?"
"What's this 'we' business?" Andrew says. It took Cale a while to figure him out - he's a little withdrawn, intense, deadpan-funny, and sometimes the other guys aren't sure if he's joking about something. But they're getting there. "More like Mr Americal Idol and Cosmo's hottest bachelor plus three other dudes," he continues without waiting for a response, smirking a little from his perch behind Ryland's couch.
Ryland turns so he can give Andrew an excessively obvious once-over, sleazy as he can make it – which, it turns out, is very. Cale's kind of impressed. "I don't know, I think the girls like Andrew too."
"But Torres has better hair," Andrew says, with a plaintive mock-pout in his voice and a blank expression on his face. Kris' shoulders shake with his low laugh, and Chris snaps his head up from where he'd been putting his bass away.
He flips his hair theatrically, shampoo commercial style. "Oh yeah. You know the ladies are all about the hair."
Everybody laughs this time. The sound of it seems to fill up all the space on the bus.
This is going to be home for a while, Cale thinks, being here with these guys.
It's not so bad at all.
* * *
After they finish their set in New York, they all linger on the side, half-watching the next couple of performances. No one's really paying much attention. Cale's shaking a little, and he wasn't even doing that while he was on stage. It's the tail end of the adrenaline rush just hitting him head on, and from the way Ryland's tapping on the wall, Chris running his fingers roughly through his hair and Andrew shaking his head a little as if to clear it, they're all feeling it.
Beside him, Kris is still and silent, smile lurking at the corners of his mouth. Cale hasn't seen him show any hint of nerves for a very long time now. Maybe the first couple of times he went to American Idol tapings, Kris had been a little uncertain, but even then he didn't seem high-strung.
Kris is used to big crowds now, endures the public gaze with as much grace as he can muster, and sometimes that's still a little strange to Cale. It feels like a secret that only he and Kris' other family and friends back in Arkansas knew, all about this great guy and his voice and his music, being exposed to the world at large.
And now he's being dragged along on this crazy ride. Exhibit A: tonight.
"Madison Square Garden. Dude. I can't believe that just happened."
He gets three murmurs of agreement, and Kris finally stirs. "Oh man. Did you hear them singing along? Did you?"
The look on his face is part disbelief and part wild happiness. When Kris is closed off, he all but disappears, but in moments like this, he's impossible to ignore, and Cale doesn't fight against the impulse to touch, just a hand on his shoulder, feeling the warmth seep through his shirt.
It's part of how they are.
Kris turns his smile on Cale for a moment, just acknowledging the contact, and then Joe King walks past. He waves, grinning when Kris tosses off a sloppy salute in return.
That guy seems genuinely nice, Cale thinks, and has to take a moment to be weirded out that he's seen enough of Joe King lately, what with doing multiple events also involving the Fray, to make that assessment.
He shakes his head. "You know, I kind of feel like I've been having an out of body experience for two months."
"You get used to it," Kris says lightly, somehow managing to make it clear that he's talking to all of them, and starts freak-dancing to Jay Sean.
* * *
He's trying and failing to fall sleep on yet another flight when Kris pokes him in the arm. Because they're such good friends, Cale doesn't pretend to be asleep. He even goes to the effort of cracking both eyes open, even though it's an effort - that's how good a friend he is.
Kris stares at him, kind of fixedly, for a long moment. "So...I was wondering - this is okay, right? You're not sick of being dragged all over the country at random hours?" he says finally, and smiles like he's laughing at himself on the inside.
Cale gives Kris his best incredulous face. Since when did they need to talk about this?
Truth is, Kris never really asked Cale to be in the band, because there was never any question of him saying no. It seems like a lifetime ago now, but back when Cale first said he'd follow Kris anywhere, he meant every word.
Sure, the venues and crowds are different these days, but when he looks across the stage and Kris is looking right back, it feels pretty much the same.
"No, I'm good. This is fun. Even if you made me learn a Britney Spears song."
Just like that, Kris looks like himself again. "Oh come on, Baby One More Time is a classic. Could be much worse."
"I really don't see how."
Kris smirks like he did the first time he got pushed into singing that song. "You think I'm in love, that I'm sent from abooooove... Be glad it's not that one instead. Believe me, I was tempted. Would've been hilarious."
Cale mimes blocking his ears. "Oh God, stop. I was trying to sleep, you know." He closes his eyes and settles back, dialling his voice down to a murmur. "If I have nightmares about starring in a Britney Spears video, it's your fault."
Kris chuckles quietly, as if a real laugh would be impolite. On Cale's other side, Chris starts humming, something low with a sweet melody.
* * *
This is why the tour bus should never run out of caffeinated beverages.
"Why am I awake?" Kris whines, wrapping his arms around Cale and pushing his face into his shoulder. It would be pathetic if he didn't look completely adorable with his hair sticking up in all directions, plaid pyjamas rumpled.
(Once upon a time, Cale might have raised a mental eyebrow at himself for thinking a guy was adorable, but -
It's Kris. Cale's pretty sure the most macho jocks at college thought the same thing.)
"Because you have a radio interview in half an hour." He sympathizes, he really does. It's so early that no one else is awake, and Cale's only up because he couldn't sleep. "I know you can probably do those in your sleep these days, but what if they find something new to ask?"
Kris snorts into his neck. "That'll be the day. What're you up to?"
He had been bored enough to be reading through his twitter replies, but Kris doesn't need to know that. Getting the 'don't just read anything unless you want to be traumatized for life' talk once is quite enough, thank you.
"I was thinking...bubbletweet for the fans?"
"Ooooh nice. Do you want me in it?"
Cale raises both eyebrows.
"You're not going to get dressed first?"
Kris raises his head just enough to crack one eye open and look down at himself. Inspection over, he shrugs, "I'm covered."
Quite a few sarcastic replies run through Cale's head, but for once he restrains himself. "Okay. As long as Lizzie isn't going to kill me in my sleep for letting your public see you like this."
"What Lizzie doesn't know yet can't hurt her. It's too early to be wearing real clothes," Kris mumbles, the syllables slurring together even more than usual.
Again – so many comments he could be making. But no, Kris hasn't had any caffeine, it would be an unfair battle. Never mind.
KrisAllenBand Bubbletweet for yall w @calevis24 n special cameo from @KrisAllen's pjs http://bbltwt.com/elkdjfa
[Cale's face appears on camera.] "Hey guys, it's Cale here. I just wanted to say thanks for all the support – that's from all of us, even though I'm the only one actually awake right now." [Camera pans to Kris on guitar, strumming an indistinct melody.] "We've got background music courtesy of Mister Kris Allen, here, in his flashy sleepwear. He's not actually awake, though, or he'd realize that's actually Andrew's guitar."
"Is not!" [Kris glances down.] "Oh f – fudge, man, he's gonna kill me. We've gotta hide the evidence. This message will self-destruct in 3…"
[Pan back to Cale's face. He's grinning.] "Oh no it won't. Anyway, thanks for watching!"
calevis24 A little something for the fans RT @KrisAllenBand Bubbletweet for yall w @calevis24 n special cameo from @KrisAllen's pjs http://bbltwt.com/elkdjfa
KrisAllen @KrisAllenBand I plead the fifth...wait, can I still do that?
KrisAllenBand @KrisAllen I think that time's passed. Watch your back, revenge shall be mine...Nice PJs, though. – andrew
* * *
The New York shows are pretty great. At the first one, there's a guy in plaid sitting in the front row who throws a bunch of flowers on stage during Baby One More Time. Before he launches into Can't Stay Away, Kris picks up the bouquet and sticks one of the yellow flowers behind his ear, grinning like a kid.
When he waves another flower - red this time - threateningly at Cale before the next song, he ducks his head obediently and lets Kris tuck it into place.
Kris mouths just go with it.
It could be their touring motto. Ryland, Chris and Andrew all have some wild stories to tell, but none of them have ever been in a band with quite this many intense fans. Some of the things that go on are a little weird – there have been a couple of signs he's not sure he wants to understand – but they're pretty much rolling with whatever comes their way, and it's working so far.
The way Kris gets on stage is like nothing else he's ever seen. This is new, something he's picked up with the Idol touring experience, and his energy exerts a strange kind of pull on everybody else up there with him. So for the first couple of shows it's just Kris jumping around on his electric guitar, playing piano like he's trying to dive into the music and live there, and then Andrew starts showing off a bit more on his solos, and that's so incredible and just fun to watch that it sets everybody else off.
They're no longer cogs in a machine that makes damn good music. It's a lot more organic than that, the way they all feed off each other, the understanding that doesn't require a whole lot of spoken words.
* * *
Kris loves fun cover songs, and Radiohead, and changing his set around, so they practice Sulk, but he doesn't really believe Kris is ever going to play it until he gets a copy of the set list for one of their smaller shows, a club gig in Massachusetts. Maybe Kris never would have done it for real, except Ryland had been talking to Andrew about one of their nastier reviews, some elitist snob just talking shit about the Idol machine, and didn't realize Kris was standing right behind them the whole time with this thoughtful look on his face, eyes hard in a way he hardly ever let anyone else see.
"I've got a special treat for you guys," Kris says that night, his speaking voice hoarse after running through most of their set. He meets Cale's eyes for a moment, and there's a little smirk curving his lips. "You probably know this song - I haven't played it in years, but I love the band, so here goes."
It's actually kind of scary, when they do get into it, because the audience - a little older than their usual - goes nuts as soon as they recognise the song, and when Kris sings that part, you're so pretty, when you're on your knees, eyes closed, fingers wrapped around his mic, the words breathed right into it, low and with that hitch in his voice, for a moment Cale's worried a riot's going to break out.
It turns out to be a great show, one of their best, and the reviews are hilarious.
* * *
Not that Cale tells Kris about them - he knows Kris would rather just not hear about it. In fact, they all do, which is why Ryland still can't stop apologizing for talking about that nasty review, even though Kris keeps saying it's not his fault Kris accidentally eavesdropped at the wrong time.
"I still feel kind of bad. None of us think of you like that, you know that, right? All that 'karaoke show' bullshit?"
They're on the bus, and normally Kris would be all but melted into the couch, half asleep by now, but he's sitting ramrod straight, the line of his shoulders tense when Cale glances at them.
"People like that, they've got their idea of me set before seeing a minute of the show. I could care less what they think. It's just...eventually, I want to be judged for what I do, you know?"
"We're all lucky your idea of acting out is singing Radiohead covers," Andrew shrugs. "You could be...I don't know."
"Making Boats and Hos part of the actual set?" Chris says with a smirk. "With interpretative dance and all. Come on, can't you see it?"
He can't, actually, but that's not the point of the comment. It serves its purpose well, because Chris is great at this kind of thing, breaking the tension at the right moment - Ryland claps delightedly and the set of Kris' shoulders gets a little less stiff as he starts to grin.
Then Andrew says, deadpan as anything, screwing up his face as if he was doing his damnest to picture it and whatever his brain came up with is hurting him on the inside, "er...no. I seriously can't. Just...no."
Kris laughs so hard he falls over, or he would if Cale doesn't reach out to hold him up.
"Whatever, that's not the point. Don't ever tell me I can't do something, though, it just makes me determined to try to make it work." He smiles a little crookedly and winks at Andrew, who goes through about five different expressions before settling for just shaking his head and laughing a little bit.
It's about the most drastic reaction Cale's ever seen him have to anything, beating out even the time that giant pink lacy bra almost landed on him about five concerts ago.
(They're working on it, though. So far, Plan Startle Andrew And Make Him Squeal Like A Duck ("Ducks don't squeal, do they?" "Details, details.") has been a massive fail, but it looks like all they have to do is get Kris in on the action. Awesome.)
"It's just music," Kris says into the silence, and strums a couple of random cords on his guitar. It's not anything, just restless hands, like they all get sometimes. "You guys know what I mean."
And yeah, they do.
The band at Madison Square Garden. From left to right: Kris Allen, Cale Mills, Ryland Steen, Chris Torres, and Andrew DeRoberts.
Notes: There are quite a few little details slipped in here from various articles, interviews, and tweets. The most important of which is probably the fact that Kris and the band did in fact do 'Boats and Hos' for soundcheck at one of their Christmas concerts. (Look up the lyrics. Seriously.)
Thanks to all the guys at the radio posts for their encouragement. Feedback of all kinds is always welcome, especially since this is my first AI fic. (The next one will contain approximately 50% more Adam, if I finish it in this century.)