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Dearly Beloved, or: Adam is An Alien and Has To Marry Simon Cowell

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“Adam!” Simon said, when the assistant showed Adam into his office. “Thanks for coming in.”

“No problem,” said Adam, shaking Simon’s hand when he offered it. “Everything okay? Your message sounded kind of urgent.”

Simon nodded, and brought his other hand to cover Adam’s, squeezing for a second. “Why don’t we sit down?” he said, in a soothing voice.

That couldn’t be good. “Okay?” said Adam, letting Simon sit him down in the big leather chair by the desk.

Simon went around to his own side and sat down in his own, even bigger, more leathery chair. “Adam, you know I’ve been absolutely thrilled with what you did on the show this year.”

“Thank you,” said Adam, tucking his hair behind his ears.

“And I know how excited you are about starting the tour. I hear you’ve been working extremely hard in rehearsals.”

“It doesn’t even feel like work,” Adam gushed, thinking vaguely that maybe he could derail whatever bad news he could feel coming with an avalanche of enthusiasm. “Everyone we’re working with is so amazing, it’s so exciting.”

Simon nodded, watching him. Then he steepled his fingers under his chin and said, “Adam, I’m afraid I’ve heard some rather alarming news about you.”

Oh God. Adam cycled quickly through everything he had ever done that might piss Simon Cowell off. He couldn’t really think of anything – okay, he could think of lots of things, but none that Simon could possibly know about. “Oh?” he said, trying to sound casual. “Is something wrong?”

Simon leaned forward on the desk. “Adam,” he said gently, “why didn’t you tell me you were an alien?”

Adam blinked at him. “I’m not an alien.”

“Yes you are,” said Simon.

“No I’m not.”

“Adam, we both know you are,” Simon insisted. “You won’t make this easier for yourself by continuing to lie.”

Adam held a little staring contest with Simon for a minute, which he lost because Simon had had so much plastic surgery he probably didn’t even need to blink anymore, and then sighed, slumping backwards in the chair. “Fine. I’m an alien. But don’t get any ideas about selling me to science, okay, I’ve been going to regular human doctors my whole life and none of them have ever realized or found anything out of the ordinary.”

“Of course I wouldn’t do that,” said Simon, clearly appalled. “What kind of monster do you think I am? Do you think I’m evil or something?”

“No,” Adam mumbled. “Sorry.”

Simon watched him grumpily for a minute, then waved his hand. “Water under the bridge – look, the problem here, Adam, is that the rules are quite clear. You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent and legal U.S. resident with the right to work full-time to enter American Idol. You’re not even a citizen of the Earth.” Simon reached into a drawer in his desk, pulled out a little green man doll, and made it dance across his desk. “Are you?”

“Oh my God,” said Adam. “That is so offensive.”

“I’m not here to be politically correct,” said Simon, unconcerned. “I’m here to tell you that unless we rectify this situation, I’m afraid you’ll have to be disqualified. You’ll be stripped of your second place ranking, your record deal will disappear and you will not be welcome on the tour.”

“What?” said Adam, sitting bolt upright. “You can’t do that! I worked my ass off to get this far!”

“By lying your way into the competition in the first place,” Simon said smoothly. “You took a place that could have gone to a legal resident of this country.”

“Good luck finding a legal resident of this country who can sing like I can,” Adam snapped.

Simon just nodded. “Your considerable talents are beside the point, Adam. You need to become a U.S. citizen as soon as possible, and the quickest way to do that is for you to marry me.”

There was a silence. Adam wasn’t saying anything because he was sure he’d imagined that last part so it must still be Simon’s turn to speak.

Simon wasn’t saying anything either, though, which was alarming.

“Say that again,” Adam said slowly.

“I want you to marry me,” said Simon. “For the good of the Idol brand.”

Adam stared at Simon across the desk. “You want me to what?”

“Marry me.” Simon pushed a file of papers towards Adam.

The file was beige. Adam stared at it. Then he stared at Simon some more. “I can’t marry you.”

“Of course you can!” Simon said cheerfully. “It’s very simple. You fill those out, bring them along with you, I sign, you sign, our lawyers act as witnesses, and then all this pesky alien green card nonsense goes away.”

“I. Can’t. Marry. You,” Adam repeated, really enunciating this time.

“Of course, we won’t be telling anyone about it,” Simon went on. “Suggestions of foul play in the competition would be bad news for everyone involved. So you needn’t worry about your image or anything like that.”

“But you’re old,” Adam said.

Simon frowned, or looked like he might have frowned if his forehead still moved. “Marrying a mature, fiscally secure person who’s in a position to help you professionally or politically is a time-honored tradition,” he said sharply. “I don’t know what makes you think you’re too good for it.”

“I don’t love you!” Adam protested.

“I don’t love you either,” Simon assured him. “If that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Then why do you even want to marry me?”

Simon smiled craftily. “Marrying a young, beautiful person who’s in a position to help you in...various ways is a time-honored tradition too.”

“Ew,” said Adam before he could stop himself. Simon scowled and waved the little green man doll at him again. “Ugh,” said Adam. “Look, nobody’s going to believe you anyway. If you start telling journalists I’m from space they’ll just think all that Botox finally went to your brain.”

“Of course they would,” Simon said briskly. “That’s why I’d have you disqualified for reasons that couldn’t possibly be revealed to the press without breaching your right to privacy, spread a rumor that it had something to do with drug trafficking, and then use my not inconsiderable influence to make sure you never work in this business again.”

“You are evil,” Adam realized then. “I spent all that time saying you weren’t evil in interviews and you totally are!”

Simon looked pleased. Then he kind of shook his head and said, “Hey!”

“This is ridiculous.” Adam folded his arms and slouched down in his chair.

“You’re ruining the line of your jacket,” said Simon.

“I don’t care,” Adam snapped, and then tried to stealthily straighten up again.

“Look, I’ll give you a few days to think about it,” Simon said, standing up. “But Adam, I’m really just trying to help you.”

“Help me into your pants,” Adam said.

Simon ignored him, and came around to lean on the desk next to Adam. “You worked so hard on the show. You really are an extraordinary talent. Wouldn’t it be a shame for all that to go to waste?”

Adam touched the edge of the file suspiciously. “I guess.”

“You deserve to enjoy every success. Don’t you want to have all the things you deserve? Everything you’ve worked towards for so long?”

“Yes,” Adam admitted. He pulled the file a little closer.

Simon squeezed his shoulder supportively. “You wouldn’t want to embarrass your family by having rumors of criminal activity in the press, would you?”

Adam thought about his parents. He shook his head.

“And you don’t want to go back to topless dinner theater, do you?” Simon said kindly.

“No,” said Adam. His voice sounded very small in his own ears.

“Then I think you know what to do.” Simon gave the file a little nudge and it fell right into Adam’s lap.

Adam looked at it miserably. “But I have a boyfriend.”

“Perhaps best to mention it to him beforehand,” Simon advised. “To avoid any unfortunate re-enactments of The Graduate.”

Adam lifted the file up by the edges. “I need to think about it.”

“Of course,” Simon said warmly. “I’ll have a driver take you home.”

“Don’t bother,” Adam mumbled, getting to his feet. “I brought my own car.”

“Very well.” Simon sat back down at his desk. “Drive safely, dear.”

“Oh, fuck you,” said Adam, and let the door slam on his way out.

*

The first person Adam called was Neil, because Neil was – apart from Simon, apparently - the only person who knew the truth about Adam.

“I have to marry Simon Cowell!” he wailed as soon as Neil picked up.

“Oh my God, fucking what?” said Neil, which was exactly the reaction Adam wanted.

Adam recounted the whole story as best he could between crying jags and restorative slugs of vodka. “And then he said nobody would let me be a singer anymore,” he hiccupped, and that set him off again.

“Yes, but what did he say about you being an alien?” Neil said urgently.

“Oh, that.” Adam blew his nose noisily. “He didn’t really seem to care. He knows nobody would believe him if he told them anyway.”

“But how did he even find out?” Neil wondered. “We’ve never told anyone. Have we?”

“I told Brad,” Adam said. He plucked a fresh Kleenex from the box and pressed it over his eyes.

“Oh, great,” said Neil. “You couldn’t just take out a billboard?”

Adam took the Kleenex away and frowned at the phone. “Hey, Brad’s like a locked box when he wants to be, okay, I know he didn’t tell anyone.”

“But then how did Simon -”

“Because he’s a spy or something, I don’t fucking know!” Adam said wildly, grabbing for the vodka again. “Does it matter? Neil, what the fuck do I do?”

“You could start by asking me to be your best man,” said Neil, which was Adam’s cue to call him a doucheface motherfucker and hang up.

The second person Adam told was Drake.

“What?” said Drake, staring at Adam from all the way at the other end of Adam’s bed. “You have to Simon Cowell what?”

“Marry him,” Adam said carefully. “But Drake, about me being an alien-”

“Never mind that,” said Drake, standing up and pacing quickly around the room. “Can we focus on what’s important here? How the fuck are you just gonna sit there and tell me you’re marrying Simon fucking Cowell?”

“I don’t have a choice,” Adam said desperately. “Drake, they’ll – he’ll take everything away. He’ll make it so I can’t go on the tour.”

“I can’t believe this.” Drake covered his face with his hands, sighed loudly, then came to sit down again, even further away from Adam this time. He peered at Adam over the tips of his fingers, then started rubbing his temples. “I can’t believe I was going to move here.”

“No!” said Adam before he could stop himself, and moved quickly to sit right next to Drake, and if he used his knees and shoulders to corner Drake so he couldn’t get up, well, it was only because he cared so much. “Don’t say that, come on, don’t – don’t you still want that? I still want that.”

Drake tried to push him away, so Adam grabbed his hands and held them. Drake said, “Do the words ‘forsaking all others’ mean anything to you? You’re getting married, hello!”

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t still see each other!” said Adam, and then Drake started fighting him for real. He only stopped when Adam dropped his head in defeat and pressed Drake’s hands to his cheek, his forehead, his mouth. “Please don’t be mad at me,” Adam begged. “I don’t know what to do.”

Drake sighed. Adam clung onto his hands. Drake said, “Like, I know we haven’t decided exactly which direction we’re going in yet? But what with the whole move-to-L.A. plan, I kind of thought it was a forwards one.”

“I know,” said Adam. “Me too. And it was – it is.” He was going to cry again. He pressed Drake’s fingertips against his eyelids to try and stop it.

“And maybe this is a really stupid, crazy thing to say,” Drake went on determinedly, “but like, you have to marry someone, and – seriously it didn’t even occur to you to ask me? Not for a second?”

Adam froze. He wanted to say that yes, of course it had, but that wasn’t true and he didn’t like to lie. Plus Drake would be able to tell. He took a deep breath and said honestly, “No.”

Drake was quiet for a minute. Then he said, “Oh.”

He sounded so hurt. Adam lunged up and grabbed his shoulders. “Because this isn’t real,” he said, shaking until Drake looked at him. “This is – Drake, it isn’t real.”

Drake’s eyes darted around. “And what, this is?” he said, gesturing between them.

“Well.” Adam swallowed hard around the giant lump in his throat. “I was starting to think so.”

“Me too,” Drake said softly. When Adam risked a glance at him, he got a small smile in return. “Come here.”

Adam folded himself willingly into Drake’s arms, tucked his face into the crook of Drake’s neck and just breathed there for a while, letting Drake stroke his shoulders and his hair. “This sucks.”

“Uh huh,” said Drake. He kissed Adam’s forehead. “I bet we’ll feel better if we have sex.”

“God, yes,” said Adam, and sat up so he could take his shirt off.

Drake eyed him curiously. “And you’re an alien,” he said, like he was just now remembering.

“I am,” said Adam. His stomach clenched with nerves.

Drake bit his lip. “Can you do anything cool?”

Adam grinned, and pulled Drake closer. “I’ll show you,” he promised, and when he fell back onto the bed, Drake followed.

Afterwards, Drake looked up from playing connect-the-freckles on Adam’s chest and said, “What’s your position on adultery?”

“When I’m being blackmailed into marriage in the first place?” Adam ran his palm down Drake’s spine. “I think I feel pretty fucking great about it.”

Drake put his head back on Adam’s shoulder. “Good,” he said.

The third person Adam told was Kris. That was kind of an accident – Kris and Katy had a little disagreement over the phone: nothing serious, and Adam was trying not to listen but there was nothing else to do when it was someone not-him’s turn at rehearsals, and anyway it was over within five minutes and Kris was talking in a gross yet cute baby voice about something disgustingly adorable by the time he hung up.

“Married life,” he said with a shrug when he caught Adam watching, and then looked horrified when Adam promptly burst into tears.

Adam flapped his hands and tried to say he was all right, but it came out like, “Hennnnngggggg,” so Kris bundled him into one of the small green rooms and pulled him down onto the couch.

“What is it?” he said, wrapping his arms around Adam and holding him tight. “What’s wrong? Adam, tell me, you’re freaking me out.”

Eventually Adam managed to bring Kris up to speed – it took a while, because Adam was terrified of telling people about the whole alien deal, and also he kept interrupting himself with more hennnnngggggg noises.

“You can’t marry Simon Cowell,” Kris said anxiously. “He’s old!”

“That’s what I said!” Adam agreed. He pulled his sleeve down over his hand and used it to wipe his eyes.

“But you can’t not come on the tour,” Kris worried aloud.

Adam heaved a deep, shuddery sigh. “I know.”

Kris chewed his lip, thinking. “Have you asked your parents for advice?”

“They don’t know,” Adam said heavily.

“That Simon’s making you marry him?”

Adam shook his head. “That I’m an alien.”

Kris blinked. “Did Neil just bring you home one day and say he found you under a bush?”

“No,” said Adam, laughing a little bit despite himself.

“Then what? They were victims of some really extreme adoption agency fraud?”

Adam laughed for real this time. “No, I just – when I realized, you know, that I was different, I went to them and asked them to tell me about how I was adopted, and they just kept insisting I wasn’t. My mom got really upset whenever I brought it up.”

Kris frowned. “It doesn’t seem like them to be anything but honest with you.”

“I know, right? So weird.” Adam rubbed his hands against his jeans. “But they seemed so invested in this birth story they’d come up with and everything...my whole family had the exact same story whenever I asked anyone about it. They kept telling me it was okay to play pretend but that saying Mom and Dad weren’t my real parents was really hurtful to them. So in the end I stopped asking. I mean, they’re my parents wherever I’m from and I love them so much, but I’ve always wondered if there’s anyone else like me on this planet.”

“So you don’t know anything about where you’re from, or anything like that,” Kris said slowly.

Adam shook his head. “Nope.”

Kris hesitated, then said, “Adam – how do you know you’re an alien?”

Adam sighed, opened his mouth, and sang the first few bars of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ at Kris. Kris just looked at him like he was crazy. Adam said, “I know you couldn’t hear that. It’s too high for the human ear. My full range is like forty human octaves.”

“Uh,” said Kris. He patted Adam’s shoulder. “Adam, have you ever considered-”

“I’m not crazy,” Adam assured him. “I can hear it when I sing, even if nobody else can. And dogs can hear some of it I think. And when we were kids I would sing underwater in the pool and Neil could hear that.”

“Like whale song?” Kris said incredulously.

Adam scrunched up his nose. “I guess? I don’t know, I actually think that my home planet might be like kind of a Waterworld deal, because I can breathe underwater too.”

“Of course you can,” Kris said faintly.

“I have gills,” Adam explained. “But they only open underwater. And like, I control them. I mean I have to tell them to do it. There were some close calls when I was a teenager though.”

Kris said, “Where are they?”

“Right here.” Adam pointed to the spot just under and behind his ear. Kris reached up and trailed his fingertips lightly over the skin, making Adam gasp and shiver.

“Ticklish?” Kris murmured, staring like he was mesmerized.

“Um,” said Adam, blushing when he thought about the hour Drake had spent the night before, driving Adam to the edge of madness with his mouth, gentle and insistent on Adam’s skin. “Something like that.”

“Oh,” said Kris, and then, “oh,” and he blushed too, but didn’t move away, just put his hand down and grinned, laughing under his breath. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be,” said Adam, waggling his eyebrows.

Kris laughed and gave Adam another hug. Adam rested his head on Kris’ shoulder.

“There’s something else I can do,” he said quietly, and lifted his hand.

He didn’t know exactly what he was doing, or how he was doing it, he just concentrated and moved his outstretched fingertips, and when he was done, Kris’ name hung in the air in front of them, sparkling in the low light.

“Oh my God,” Kris breathed.

“I know,” Adam said, feeling a little smug because it was fucking cool to be able to write shit in glitter in the air. Fuck it, he thought, and dotted the ‘i’ with a little heart. “Neil used to love this when he was little.”

“I love it now.” Kris reached out to touch the letters of his name – they dispersed, and Adam watched him examining his hand for any trace of glitter. It didn’t work like that, though. Kris looked up at him with a huge smile on his face. “I don’t even know why I’m surprised, man. Of course you’re an alien. I mean if anybody was gonna be from space it would be you, right?”

Adam laughed. “Right,” he said, and then felt the smile start to drop slowly off his face. “But now I have to marry Simon Cowell.”

“Oh,” said Kris, his own smile disappearing into thin air. “Right.”

Adam put his head back down on Kris’ shoulder and sighed.

Kris rested his cheek on Adam’s head. “Do you want me to come with you? For the signing, I mean?”

Adam thought about it. Neil was in New York, and he couldn’t very well ask Drake to be there, and Kris was the only other person who knew the whole story. “Yes,” he said, curving his hand over Kris’ kneecap and squeezing. “Please.”

“No problem,” said Kris. They were quiet for a few moments. Then Kris said, “Adam – you know if there wasn’t Katy, that I would - ”

“I know,” said Adam, shushing him.

“In a second,” Kris said fiercely.

“I know,” Adam said again. He closed his eyes. “Thank you.”

“Half a second,” Kris went on, mostly under his breath. “A millionth of one.” Then he said, “Wow, Simon Cowell. And they say marriage is sacred.”

“I know,” said Adam, and they both cracked up. When Allison came in later to look for them, they were still laughing, but they couldn’t tell anybody why.

*

The day of the – Adam couldn’t bring himself to call it a wedding, not even inside his own head. The day of the thing came alarmingly quickly. One second Adam was smothering his sorrows in his favorite leather store, and the next he was standing in a non-descript little room with Kris, Simon, the lawyers, and a frankly terrified-looking officiant. Simon had probably kidnapped her pets or something, Adam thought glumly.

“All right, Adam, it’s your turn,” she said, turning to him. Behind her, Simon waved the little green man doll threateningly. “Repeat after me: I, Adam Mitchell Lambert.”

“I, Adam Mitchell Lambert,” Adam repeated dully.

“Do take you, Simon Phillip Cowell.”

“Do take you, Simon-”

“Stop the wedding!” yelled someone, crashing through the doors. Adam looked up – it was Drake.

“Drake!” said Adam.

“Hi Drake,” said Kris.

Simon sighed. “Adam, we discussed this.”

“You can’t marry this guy,” Drake said, rushing up and pushing Simon out of the way to stand in front of Adam instead.

“I have to,” said Adam.

“No you don’t.” Drake started digging in his pockets. “Look, I don’t want to marry you, okay, you were right not to ask me. We are so completely not there yet and I don’t even know if we ever will be, but I do know we’re never gonna get there if you marry Simon freaking Cowell, okay, so here-” he pushed something into Adam’s hands. “I made you this.”

Adam looked at it. It was a ring, silver and kind of lumpy, with weird little designs draping themselves over the curves of the metal. It was heavy and warm. Adam loved it. “You made me a wedding ring?”

“Aww,” said Kris.

Drake waved his hand. “I just melted down an old bracelet I had and then etched the surface, it’s no big deal.”

“It’s a big fucking deal!” Adam insisted, and leaned down to kiss Drake thoroughly. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” said Drake, going pink around the ears. “Look, just marry me real quick, okay, and we’ll totally pretend we aren’t and we can get divorced as soon as this residency bullshit is figured out, and-”

“The deal was for you to marry me, Adam,” Simon put in, earning himself a pretty epic bitchface from Drake. “Not just anyone who takes your fancy.”

“That’s good, because you couldn’t take my fancy if you drugged it and threw it in the back of a van,” Adam snapped.

“Yeah!” said Kris.

“You tell him, babe,” said Drake.

“Stop the wedding!” yelled another someone, racing through the doors Drake hadn’t bothered to close behind himself. It was Neil this time.

“Neil!” said Adam.

“Hey Neil,” said Kris and Drake.

“Adam, this is really getting ridiculous,” Simon said.

“You’re not an alien!” Neil said breathlessly, skidding to a halt. He waved something at Adam. “You’re human!”

“What?” said Adam, then looked at what Neil was holding. It was a photograph of – “Oh, God, Neil, I do not ever need to see Mom from that angle!”

“I know, I already booked us each some therapy sessions, okay, but look,” Neil insisted, waving the disturbing photograph in Adam’s face again. “Tiny baby coming out of her!”

“That’s you!” said Adam, trying to claw out his own eyes and bat the photograph away at the same time.

“No, this is me,” said Neil, and thrust yet another photograph of their mom’s vagina in front of Adam’s eyes. “Adam, they were telling the truth this whole time. You’re their biological son, you’re my biological brother. You’re not an alien! You’re just a mutant!”

Adam had to grip onto Neil’s shoulders for support. His knees were weak and his eyes were filling up – man, all he did was cry these days, seriously. “I’m normal?” he said, just in case he’d got it wrong.

“No,” Neil said very seriously. “You’re a total freak. But you’re American, Adam, you were born here. You’re human.”

“Oh, thank God,” said Adam, and he grabbed Neil and waltzed him around the room, mom vagina photographs and all.

“Look, this is very touching, but you don’t have any proof that these photographs are legitimate,” said Simon. “Any idiot with Photoshop can-”

“Stop the wedding!” yelled yet another person, seriously it was getting ridiculous, even Adam could admit that. Brad came running through the doors.

“Brad!” said Adam.

“Hey Brad,” said Kris and Neil.

Drake folded his arms and cocked his hip out. “If this is some ‘I still love you’ bullshit...”

“Oh, relax, Sleeveless, he’s all yours,” said Brad, flapping a hand at Drake. He turned to Adam. “Seriously? You were gonna marry Simon Cowell for a green card? Seriously?”

“I don’t have to anymore!” Adam grabbed the photographs from Neil and showed them to Brad.

Brad stared at them for a while. “Okay, first of all? If I wasn’t already gay, that would have done the really horrifying trick. And second of all, how fucking stupid are you? Simon Cowell? Seriously? Simon Cowell?”

Adam was starting to feel bad on Simon’s behalf. “He isn’t that terrible.”

“He’s old!” Brad said. “And he’s British.”

“What’s wrong with being British?” said Kris.

“Yeah, Brad,” said Drake. “Don’t be so ethnocentric.”

“The show is called American Idol!” Brad yelled. “American.”

Oh. Oh! “You’re not American!” Adam said, turning on Simon in a fury. “You couldn’t get me a green card anyway!”

Simon put his hands in his pockets. He rocked on his heels and shrugged. “Worth a shot.”

“Ugh!” said Adam.

Kris said, “It’s not fair to trick people like that!”

Brad leaned over to Simon. “The boys you pick for your show – they’re pretty, but they’re not so bright, you know?”

“Eh,” said Simon. “It isn’t called ‘American Genius’.”

“How did you even know I was getting married today?” Adam said to Brad.

“I read it on Twitter.”

“And how did you know that we thought he was an alien?” Neil demanded, turning to Simon.

Simon looked placidly back at him. “You wrote about it on your blog.”

“Neil!” said Adam, Drake, Kris and Brad.

Neil had the grace to look chagrined. “I didn’t think anyone would take it seriously.”

“So we don’t have to get married now?” Drake said to Adam.

“No,” said Adam, and watched Drake do a relieved little stagger in place. He held out the ring. “Do you want this back?”

“Hell no, I made that for you,” said Drake. “Here.”

He took Adam’s right hand and slid the ring onto his absolutely not wedding finger. It fit perfectly.

“It can be our ‘you’re moving to L.A.’ ring,” Adam said hopefully, peeking at Drake from under his lashes.

“Well,” said Drake, grinning bashfully. “I do have that job offer here and everything.”

“And everything,” Adam repeated. He squeezed Drake’s hand.

“If we’re all done being nauseating, Simon and I both have media empires to run,” said Brad in a bored voice.

“And you two should be in rehearsals anyway,” Simon said, pointing irritably at Adam and Kris like it wasn’t totally his fault they were missing out on choreography.

On the way out, Adam stopped Simon with a touch to his elbow. “You know,” he said, “if I’m a mutant then it probably isn’t going to be all that long until an actual alien shows up.”

“I look forward to it,” said Simon. “Take me to your leader and all that.”

“Mmm,” said Adam, linking his arm with Simon’s so they both dropped back a little from the group. “But I’d really hate to hear that you took advantage the way you tried to with me.”

“What are you going to do,” Simon scoffed. “Glitter me to death?”

“Maybe,” Adam said dreamily, entertaining a brief fantasy of Simon drowning in a mountain of sparkles. “More likely I’d just burst both your eardrums with a single note.”

“You wouldn’t,” Simon said, but he wasn’t sure, Adam could tell.

“You’d be a crappy judge if you couldn’t hear anything,” Adam said lightly. “You might even find you have to get someone else to run that media empire for you – especially if your eyeballs somehow came popping out of your head too.”

Simon wasn’t talking anymore. He had gone rather pale. Adam let him go as they reached the doors, and leaned down to put his lips next to Simon’s ear.

“Drive safe, dear,” he whispered, and started singing the national anthem as he jogged down the stairs.