His name fell from her lips like a prayer and his knees buckled with the sheer shock of it all. He felt a hand grip his elbow and vaguely realised Paul was the only thing keeping him upright.
“Steady, bro. Let’s sit for a minute,” Paul encouraged Adam quietly, trying to change his course to the couches in the corner. Adam couldn’t find the words to say otherwise and before he knew it was happening he felt plush fabric hit the back of his knees, sinking into the depth of the sofa. He blinked, seeing a halo of golden hair hovering behind Paul’s shoulder and in an instant the world started to turn once more. The entire room that had been watching them turned back to their own conversations, a shrug of shoulders enough to dissuade their concern in whatever was to transpire between Amy and his new mystery man. Paul placed a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t move. I’m going to get you a Coke. Get some sugar into your system.”
Paul was intercepted by Maya as he moved toward the bar. Protective of Amy and unsure of who these strange men were she blocked his path and squared her shoulders. “Who are you and who is that and why are you causing a scene?”
“Uh,” Paul shrugged. “I’m Paul. That’s Adam. I’m gonna assume you’re a friend of Amy’s and if you are, then that name should ring some bells.”
“Adam? Adam,” Maya muttered quietly to herself. “Why does that sound so familiar?”
“And we weren’t causing a scene,” Paul pointed out. “These two crazy kids haven’t seen each other for like a whole decade. When your buddy says hey, I think the girl with the wicked laugh I fell in love with years ago is here you don’t think ‘Okay, well that’s great. Let’s work the room some more and maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see you.’ You think ‘Holy smokes. It’s her. Hold my beer, I’m gonna help my dude find his soulmate.”
Comprehension dawned on Maya’s face. “Holy shit. That’s Adam. Boston Adam. Let’s spend the summer together and hold hands and fall hopelessly in love and neglect to tell each other that, Adam.”
“One and the same,” Paul agreed. “Can I get passed? Think we should probably get some sugar into him before he passes out from the shock.”
“What? Oh yeah, sure.” Maya moved out of Paul’s way and continued to stare at the pair as Amy sank down to a crouch in front of Adam, one hand tentatively finding purchase on his knee to stabilise herself. “Are they...?”
“She’s never been safer with anyone in her life than she is with him right now,” Paul informed Maya with a firm but gentle hand on her lower back, steering her away. “She’s fine. Adam has spent the last ten years basically dreaming about this moment. Leave them be.”
- - - - - - -
Her head was swimming.
He was here. In front of her. Close enough to reach out and touch. Another wobbly step toward him saw her sink down into a crouch in front of him as he sat dazed, something she was certain was reflected in her own features. She wobbled not so gracefully as she lowered herself down and made the split second decision to reach for his knee with her hand. The heat that flared at their joining sent a burst of nervous energy right to her brain and she held his knee a little tighter as he seemed to regain control of his faculties, a shy smile spreading across his face. His voice was barely louder than a whisper but it wouldn’t have mattered to Amy if they had been underwater. For the first time in forever he said her name and the soft, rounded syllables felt like a shot to her heart.
Her face crumpled rather indelicately and she had to stop herself from launching herself right into his arms. A swell of tears in her eyes hopelessly blurred her vision but she felt familiar calloused fingers cup her chin and she laughed giddily, Adam feeling the noise reverberate in the depths of his soul. She looked exactly like he remembered her. The way tiny creases formed at the corner of her eyes when her left dimple was showing. The two blue endless stretches of calm that he had spent weeks at a time day dreaming about diving into. The softness of her hair that often ended up tickling his nose on the nights they shared a bed, starting on opposite sides before inevitably waking up curled around each other like a question mark.
She laughed again, still very much in a state of disbelief as his hand moved to her cheek, his thumb brushing a wisp of hair from her face. “What are you doing here?”
His simple and earnest admission warmed her heart and she managed to keep it together for merely a moment before dissolving in a puddle of tears.
“I wanted my Soundgarden t-shirt back.”
“Stop it,” she laughed dubiously.
His gaze was unwavering and she knew this time his answer was completely serious. “I was looking for you. This whole time... I’ve been looking for you.”
She hiccuped in surprise through her tears and he covered her hand with his, lifting it from his knee and encouraging her to move from the ground to sit beside him. Amy hesitated, more than willing but not qnecessarily wanting to share this moment with three hundred other people.
They had spent two and a half months together practically half a lifetime ago. They were now virtual strangers. Yet fifteen minutes ago Adam had popped back into her peripheral and it went without saying that where they had left things in that taxi cab that night was about to be blown into smithereens.
This was about the two of them, as it always had been.
“Do you want to get out of here?”
It was only when she stood that he realised she wanted him to follow. He stood, willing to travel anywhere to be with her in that moment and she clasped his hand tightly before they wound their way through a bevy of people to the bar. Amy swiped at her face in an effort to make herself appear somewhat presentable and made a beeline for Maya and Paul who had decided to do shots of goodness knows what. The pair were laughing uproariously at something as they made faces at each other and Paul seemed to be enjoying himself immensely.
The brunette turned, her features softening when she saw Adam stuck to Amy’s side like glue. “You heading out?”
Amy bit her bottom lip, nodding skeptically. “Is that ok? I know we were going to hang tonight.”
Maya shook her head, wobbling slightly as she left her stool. “Totally fine baby girl. Paul and I are good here. Do you have your keys?” Amy nodded and Maya haphazardly threw an arm around her neck. “Tell me everything.”
“Later,” Amy promised, a sheen of tears still layered on her cheeks. “Have fun.”
“He’ll look out for her,” Adam said quietly behind her. “Paul’s a good guy.”
Amy squeezed Adam’s hand as Maya released Amy and climbed back on her chair. “The best,” Amy agreed softly. “Paul?”
Paul swivelled to face Amy, eyeing her curiously. “Yeah?”
Tugging Adam along behind her Amy dropped his hand and threw her arms around Paul, pulling him close. It took Paul a second a process what was happening and he loosely wrapped an arm around her, returning the gesture. She said something in his ear and mollified, he gave her a quick squeeze before releasing her. “I’m glad you’re here, too.”
They were moving again and Adam reclaimed Amy’s hand as she lead him through the halls to the dressing rooms. Knocking on a nondescript door she waited for a beat before heading inside, heading straight for a tiny mirrored vanity in the corner. She grabbed her bag and looped it over her shoulder and across her body, pausing when she saw her jacket. Adam made the decision for her, holding it up as she slid her arms into the sleeves. His hands lingered on her shoulders and she indulged him with a shy smile, a complete juxtaposition to her tear-stained face. “Every nerve in my body is screaming at me to hug you right now. And I want that, so badly. I just don’t want to do it here.”
“It’s okay. Same. I’m the same,” he settled on, his hands moving down her arms. “If you let me... I don’t know if I’ll be able to let you go.”
The sparkle in her eyes transported him back in time. A part of him knew that one of them needed to be rational about this, whatever this was. One of them needed to remember they weren’t kids anymore, to keep them aware of the fact that so much could have changed for them both in a decade. The excitement, the thrill of finding each other again didn’t give them permission to be irresponsible with the others feelings. Where did they go from here? He loved her without knowing how but he had no idea of knowing if she felt the same. He had no expectations but at the same time, he had unconsciously spent the last ten years imagining this moment. At the risk of sounding pathetic, he almost felt like he needed to protect her from himself. An overt physical closeness was nothing new for them. Him wanting to act upon that closeness was.
“Stop,” she said calmly without even sparing him a glance. “I can hear the wheels turning. You’re overthinking this.”
What he said next was definitely unintended and surprised them both.
“You looked beautiful tonight. You always did.” Their eyes met in the mirror. “I hope you know that.”
“I know how beautiful you always made me feel,” she said softly, honestly, a little taken back by how forthright he was being. “It’s always been enough.”
Impulsively, he ducked his head and placed a kiss so light she could barely feel it behind her ear. She reached up to touch the spot, to feel the heat left behind as if to reassure herself that it had happened. Just like a decade ago, she could feel the burning of his lips long after they were gone.
“Are you ready to go?”
He bumped her shoulder with his. “Lead the way.”
It was March and it shouldn’t have been especially chilly but winter had decided to linger late this year and the air carried a slight nip. Midnight was close and the streets were teaming with tourists and young people alike.
“Where are we going?”
“West Village. Maya and I lease a studio on the ground floor.” She looked embarrassed. “It’s nothing special but it’s home.”
“I knew you were in New York but I didn’t know where,” he said awkwardly, trailing behind her as they headed down to the subway station. “Your last letter had a Chicago address and then I lost track of you.”
Amy paused in the middle of her descent, forcing dozens of commuters to separate and swarm around them both like a rock in a river. “Hey. We lost track of each other. Come on. We’re going to miss our train.”
Relief washed over him as he realised she didn’t blame him for disappearing from her life, even though it wasn’t his fault. He followed her to the platform and into the subway car, aware of how tightly she was pressed against him. He felt completely out of his element and a part of her knew that, her back to his front as music played and people
called to each other throughout the car. A half a dozen stops later she moved to the doors and he moved with her, close enough to be a shadow. Ten minutes later they were back at her apartment and he entered first, allowing her to lock the door and deadbolt behind them.
“Maya’s not coming home tonight?”
She shook her head at his gentle inquiry. “No. Someone will have a couch she can crash on.”
“I didn’t mean to keep her from her own home. Sorry.”
Amy shrugged off her jacket and put it on the small table at the entry with her keys and purse. “Maya doesn’t get caught up in stuff like that. She’s never not put my happiness first. She knows that you being here is... important and that I would appreciate some space.”
Adam surveyed the small open plan apartment, the two rooms partitioned off with privacy screens. The kitchenette was tiny and the living room was a collection of bits and pieces the pair had accumulated over the last few years but it was comfortable. Cosy. It was Amy. “Oh? So you’ve mentioned me, then?”
The faint smile playing on her lips was accompanied by a nonchalant shrug. “Once or twice.”
His hands were jammed into his pockets as he stood somewhat uneasily in the middle of the room. She was leaning back against the table when the realisation hit her.
They were in her apartment. They were alone. They hadn’t seen each other in years. And for some stupid reason she wasn’t wrapped up in his arms yet.
“I’m going to hug you now,” she said somewhat awkwardly. “Um. I don’t know why I announced it like that either.”
They met in the middle. She went to loop her arms around his neck but wasn’t fast enough, Adam crushing her against his chest, her arms trapped between them. He held a hand to the back of her head and another at her waist as she tried to burrow closer to him, the hand at her waist finding purchase on the band of skin between her jeans and her shirt. She managed to wriggle her arms free and slipped them around his back, his button up doing little to protect him against the sensation of her nails digging into his skin through the cotton. The height difference between them hadn’t changed and he lowered his head to rest his chin on her hair, his senses immediately assaulted by the smell of her raspberry scented shampoo. The front of his shirt was rapidly dampening and he soothed her with a kiss to her hair, opening his stance and shifting his hips to allow her to rest her weight against him should she choose. Her grip upon him somehow became tighter and he caught her off guard, lifting her up the length of his torso and taking her feet from the floor. She wrapped her legs around him instinctively and her arms made their way to their original destination, Amy laying her head on his shoulder as he deftly manoeuvred them to the left and into one of the rooms. For the second time that night he felt the furniture beneath him before he knew it was there and he shuffled back against the headboard as Amy found herself straddling his lap. It was several moments before she lifted her head to look him in the eye and when she did he smiled, still rhythmically rubbing the skin on her lower back. “Hi.”
“Hey,” she managed, digging in her pocket to find a tissue to wipe her face. “You’re here.”
“I’m here,” he confirmed. “In the flesh.”
She looked like she wanted to say something else as she discarded her tissue in the bin beside her bed and she frowned, opting instead to lower her head to his shoulder. “I almost can’t believe it. I’ve imagined this so many times in so many daydreams that it’s almost surreal. Of all the places, of all the parties... You walked into ours. Where have you been? What have you been doing? Are you acting? Do you live in New York? How long are you here for?”
She could feel his shoulders shake as he laughed to himself, most likely at the speed at which she was firing off questions. “I’ve been acting, a little. I’ve been in California. I’m based in LA. I’m here auditioning. Staying with Paul while he films something. It was his idea to crash your party. He worked with someone who knows someone who works with Conan. We were meant to be networking when I...”
“When you what,” she probed gently, looking at him with concern. “Adam?”
Adam made a face. “When I heard you laugh. I didn’t even see you to start with, I heard your laugh and I didn’t dare hope it was you-“
“-and then Paul took it upon himself to find me,” Amy surmised with a wry smile. “I like him.”
“Same.” Adam admitted with a chuckle. “SNL, huh? That’s amazing, Ames.”
Amy’s face lit up at the familiar nickname
only he used and she nodded. “It’s just temporary at the moment. I’m doing some writing and I’ve done a couple of small segments on screen. Hopefully they see something in me and want to stay on for another season. Maya has been an amazing help. I was really struggling before I met her. Chicago was tough. I’m proud of what we achieved as the Uptight Citizen’s Brigade but I never expected... I never expected the nights to be so lonely. There are times we would drive all day and all night only to end up losing money. Which was fine, because it was never really about the cash, but those road trips.... they were never as good as the ones I took with you,” she said truthfully. “There were so many nights I caught myself wishing you were beside me. I don’t know if you think that’s weird.”
“It’s not weird. It’s nice to hear that you were still thinking of me, actually.” He moved his hands to her hips and delicately lifted her off of his lap. She looked at him questioningly before realising he was moving to lie down and she mirrored his movements, her head right next to his on the pillow. Her bed was a double meaning there was room for them both to have their own space yet they remained in the middle of the bed, pressing against each other. “I wasn’t lying before when I said I was looking for you. Every so often I would have an insanely vivid dream that you would show up in California and I would get to see you again. That summer changed my life, Amy.”
They were both laying on their sides, Adam’s hand still at her waist. He seemed strangely fascinated by the bare batch of skin at her back and while his fixation on the area surprised her, she couldn’t deny that feeling his touch anywhere was more than okay right now. His fingers rounded the curve of her side and she held her breath as his hand splayed across her stomach. She knew he could probably hear the pounding of her heart given that it sounded like a drum line to her own ears and she forced herself to relax as his fingers lightly tickled her sides.
“I have to tell you something,” he swallowed nervously. “I don’t know what your situation is or if you’re seeing anyone but I made a promise to myself that if I was ever lucky enough to be in your company again that I would be completely honest with you about how I feel. I think I could love you, Amy. I’ve never, could never forget about you and the greatest summer of my life. I would gladly have you in my life now in any capacity, but to be able to hold you and kiss you without torturing myself about how good you taste and how badly I want to be with you... It’s what I want. I know that this might seem sudden but for everything I know about the crazy girl who took a chance climbing out a bathroom window... I needed to tell you.”
He felt her stomach hiccup and immediately began to berate himself for being so forward. Amy had yet to say anything and she felt a tiny moment of pride given that Adam had been able to find the courage to be so honest with her. The Adam she knew would never have been able to do that. Did she really know him now, though? His smile was the same. The way his arms cradled her and made her feel at home had not changed. There were a thousand more things she could think of that she didn’t know about him but given his visceral reaction to seeing her tonight she had no reason to doubt his heart or to not want to learn more about the man she wasn’t readily prepared to let go.
Yes. She thought she could love him, too.
She moved a hand to cover her and linked his fingers with hers. “How long are you here for?”
“Til Monday night.” Her face fell and he couldn’t deny his heart dropped at the same time. It was Saturday night, or early Sunday now. “I have an audition Tuesday afternoon that I can’t miss.”
Any nodded, releasing his hand and suddenly rifling through his pockets. Adam watched bemused as she found his crappy Nokia cell phone, entering what looked like her name, number, address and email as a new contact. She called her phone from his number before he could say a word and dropped his phone on to the bed. “As soon as you get home I want you to put those details somewhere safe. Okay? I’m not losing you again.”
“Okay,” he said seriously. “I will. I’ll give Paul your number too. You can give my number to Maya. Give it to the entire cast, if you like. Whatever works.”
She allowed herself a small smile and drew closer to Adam, her stare moving quickly from his eyes to his mouth and back up again as if asking permission. He answered her question by surging forward and capturing her lips with his own. For all of his bravado his movements were tentative and sweet and Amy grinned against his mouth as she wrapped her arms around his waist and positioned herself flush against his body. She tasted like raspberry lip-smacker as she opened her mouth to him and he sighed before touching his tongue to hers, one hand moving to her hair. He tasted like peppermint and as he not so subtly slid his hand down first to her clavicle and then to ghost over the swell of her breast she let out a tiny whimper, inexplicably grateful that the universe had returned the first boy she felt she had really truly loved to her life.
The rest of the night was a blur of misplaced clothing and whispered tales of their time apart. She told him about appearing on Conan for the first time and hoping he would be watching. He told her about meeting Paul and that when he struggled to sell himself in an audition he allowed himself to think back to their first night in the clearing and how brave she made him feel and he just got on with it. She murmured irreverent musings about his tongue as he worshipped between her thighs and she could still feel his fingers tangled and tugging in her hair the next morning after she made him see stars.
They made promises of tomorrows and long weekends and Amy knew she would find a way to get to Los Angeles before the month was out if it killed her. The longing feeling in her stomach was replaced by pure contentment as she woke up with him wound around her, clinging with veracity as if he thought she might be gone when he awoke and Adam had just finished making pancakes as a commotion sounded at the front door, Maya and Paul stumbling in without having slept. Seemingly now fast friends, the pair spent most of breakfast ribbing on each other before Maya fell asleep in her pancakes and Paul collapsed on the couch, light snoring echoing through the largely open space.
Amy and Adam slipped out shortly after, taking advantage of the limited time they knew they had together before he had to leave and as they looked upon the same moon that night for the first time in a decade, it seemed as though falling in love with each other was inevitable.
And if they were being completely honest, neither would have it any other way.