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[American Idol] [David Archuleta/David Cook] [PG-13]

First of all, I have to wish [ profile] hopefulgenius a very, very happy birthday! I hope this day is as special as you are, darling, and then some. This part was originally meant to be written in time for our first anniversary, but then life happened, and family happened, so hopefully this will make up for it. I adore you, Meg, and no matter what or who happens, you'll always be my baby~

It's been a long time coming, folks, but here it is at last, the final chapter. I'm both sad and relieved to see it coming to an end, I cannot lie. Thank you all for being so patient with us, and for sticking this whole ride out! ♥

(Side note: I'd bug my wifey for an epilogue or something, if I were you. Just sayin'.)

All previous parts can be found here. And don't forget to check out the most amazing website accompaniment that the fawesome [ profile] starafar set up for us!

Present Perfect Progressive


David knows he should make the first move, the unplanned kiss in the kitchen yesterday notwithstanding. (Which, fuck, David has no idea what he'd been thinking; they'd been in plain sight of the cameras, if it hadn't been for one blind spot by the column--)

He's older, more experienced, goddamn fearless, and this is Archie he's dealing with. Jesus, of course he knows he should make the first move.

He cancels all his appointments that day, determined to spend the afternoon thinking about what to say. Dean's characteristically quiet, even shuts off the camera after an hour of recording without David ever needing to say, "This is all you're getting out of me right now, man, sorry."

The quiet helps, though, because David figures out his opening line sometime later, and he's rehearsing it over in his head when Archie shows up. Archie, whose jaw and shoulders are set, whose eyes, hair, skin are all blazing in the sunlight spilling right where he stands. David feels his stomach clench as he drinks it in, hears himself say, hoarsely, "Archie--"

And then Archie says, "What do you feel for me?"

It's like he steals David's words right out from under him.


It's been over an hour since their managers barged into their apartment, Carly, Jason, Brooke and Michael in tow, and practically demanded they have an Idols Day Out--

“It'll be like the Breakfast Club,” Jeannie had said, beaming. “Only with Idols!”

“That was totally what I was thinking!” Danielle chirped.

And David's pretty much used to ignoring them when they get like this, because it's not as if it doesn't happen often enough, except this time, when he'd made to protest, they'd taken him and Archie aside and said, voices hushed, "Listen guys, ratings-wise? We're stagnant on a good week, and the studio says it's because there's too much talk on this show. We need more action. So get out there, shoot the shit, go a little crazy, and make something happen."

That wouldn't even have phased David, under normal circumstances, but now --

If the show's canceled, so is his and Archie's living arrangement.

Archie had shot him this look then, tight and panicked, and David's pretty sure he'd mirrored the same expression right back. He has no idea if their reasons are the same, but he's not messing this up until he knows for sure.

So that's how they end up saying yes.

It's been over an hour since then, and Plan Idols' Day Out has been scrapped in favor of Plan Idols' Day In (because fans somehow get wind of the fact that there's an idol gathering happening at the house – which, surprise, surprise, seriously, those kids are like the fucking mafia – and now there's a stampede of them outside, and it's never a good idea to step out into a swarming mass of crazy).

Anyway. Okay, David has to admit this is all kind of nice. It's been a while since he's seen the whole jean-gang; they've all been busy with their own albums and tours and promo, and there's a lot of catching up to do. It's like being paid to hang out with some of his best friends in the world.

“Missed me that much, huh?” Michael smirks, slinging an arm around David's shoulder as he spikes (almost all) their cokes with vodka - thank fuck for ways around the no-alcohol clause - and David actually does, enough that he just rolls his eyes and lets Michael laugh and nudge him in the ribs.

They kick back and talk for a while, trading stories about groupies and their families and music, and the cameras should make it awkward, maybe, but Dean and Jared are almost totally professional, and more than completely unobtrusive, so it's just like being back on Idol. The vodka only gets stronger as the afternoon wears on, and after a couple of rounds, when the conversation starts to lull, reverting to sixth grade games suddenly seems like a good idea.

At least until Carly says, gleefully, “Simon says kiss your partner!” and David turns unsteadily on the one foot he's balanced on, both hands still clasped behind his back, and realizes that his partner is Archie. Michael and Brooke are already at it (sloppy and on the cheek) , and Jared's looking at them both with the brightest grin David's ever seen out of him (which is saying a lot).

Archie's looking up at him, too, eyes already half glazed-over. When David offers him a smile, he flushes, the color high on his cheeks, and tilts his head a little. Suddenly, all David can think about is the curve of Archie's neck, the sweet spot in the hollow of his throat, the noise he'd make, warm and low, if David just reached over and--

"Yeah, no," David says to the camera; Jesus, he hopes he doesn't sound as breathless as he feels. "Sorry, guys. I'm not that much of an exhibitionist. If kissing has to happen, it's going to have to happen in private."

He shifts his weight a little as he speaks, till his thigh brushes up gently against Archie's, and has to hide a smile when Archie almost visibly jumps. Then he sees Archie swallow, hard, and take a careful breath, before very slowly brushing back.

It isn't - it's not a big thing, not some huge declaration or overwhelming gesture, but it makes something twist in David's stomach, makes him catch his breath and think, okay, makes him realize that this is going to happen later - they're going to happen, and oh God, the rest of the afternoon is going to be fucking torture.

Of course, that's when Carly grabs him and shoves him into the bathroom.

(He fucking loves Carly.)

"So?" Carly demands, once she's barricaded the door behind them. "Have you told him?"

"Uh," David says, once he's caught his breath. "Not exactly."

Lesser men would have crumpled under the strength of Carly's glare. "What? Cook, what is it going to take for you to--oh my God."

David realizes he's smiling, and tries to stop.

"Oh my God," Carly repeats. There's a hint of a squee hiding in between the mixture of pride and disbelief in her voice. "He already knows, doesn't he?"

Another ineffectual swipe at his mouth, and David gives up the fight. His grin feels too big for his face. "I think so, yeah."

"Oh my god!" Carly says, and it is 100% squee this time. "Cook!" And then she smacks his arm. "Why aren't you doing something about it?"

"Well," David says wryly. "I was about to before you guys waltzed in."

"Waltzed--oh my god." Carly's eyes are wide. "We totally cock-blocked you."

"Pretty much," David agrees. "Yeah."

"Okay then," Carly says, decisively. "We're going to have to fix that."

She's barreling out the bathroom door before David can stop her.

It takes all of two seconds before she reappears again, Archie in tow, and David only barely manages to keep his balance when she kind of nudges Archie into him and then slams the door shut. That sobers David right up.

"Oh my--"


"You're not going anywhere, kiddos!" Carly's voice doesn't sound remotely muffled, even from the other side. "You're hogging the spotlight, and how am I supposed to promote my album if the camera's never on me?"

"Too bloody right," Michael chimes in, and David swears he hears a giggle. "Why do you think we're even here, mate? Because we like you?"

"Um," Archie says.

"The thought crossed my mind," David calls back.

"Okay," Carly chirps. "We're done talking. Have fun, you two."

"Brooke?" Archie appeals.

"Don't even, Archuleta," Carly says, but her voice is already fading.

David puts his hand on the doorknob, then thinks better of it. "Uh," he says, instead. It's only just hitting him how close Archie is, and it feels like his skin is humming from the proximity. "So."

"So," Archie says, as his gaze sidles back from where it'd been locked on the door. He still looks apprehensive, like he's walking on glass, but he doesn't sound afraid. "I - we could, um, maybe continue our conversation? From this morning?"

"Yeah," David nods, but his voice comes out hoarse for the second time that hour alone, and Archie's head jerks up, like it's some kind of siren call. His eyes flicker as he blushes and wets his lip, and--

It's like last night all over again, David's sudden burning need to touch.

"Yeah," David repeats, as he closes the distance between them, doesn't even pause when his voice cracks. "Or--"

Archie doesn't move away. "Or," he parrots, faintly. They're so close now, just inches apart, and Archie's shaky exhale against his skin is the only yes David needs.

He bears down on Archie, crushes their mouths together and slides his hands into Archie's hair, drinks all of him in. Archie sinks into him, this warm, pliant weight, and when he circles his arms around David, it's like there's energy crackling in the air, in their skin. David shudders, helplessly, and feels Archie respond in kind.

Something comes loose inside him. He's got Archie up on the bathroom counter before he even realizes what's happening, has Archie's back right up against the mirror, his palms burning so hot he feels like he might leave a brand. Archie's fists are clenched in his shirt, and he's making this - these sounds, arching up into David like he wants... like he wants, now, now, Cook, oh my gosh, and -- Jesus, why haven't they done this yet?

David fumbles blindly for Archie's jeans, feels fire spark in his stomach when he finds the top button; Archie's hands are scrambling for purchase on his back, yanking him closer still, and then they come up to his shoulders--


David jerks back, startled, but Archie's hands are still on him, still keeping him close.

"No," Archie pants. His cheeks are flushed and his eyes are only half-lidded, his shirt already hanging loosely off one shoulder, and David has to physically restrain himself from leaning in to find out how that strip of skin tastes. "No, I don't - I just -- or. Or is awesome, Cook, I'm - I want -- but you haven't - you never answered my question."

And I need to know, is written all over his face.

"Fuck," David swears, and hangs his head as he tries to get his bearings back. He has to wait for the haze of desperation to clear before he can look up again, before the confusion and concern in Archie's expression stops feeling like a sucker-punch to the gut. He isn't sure what Archie sees, but he starts to pull away, and David tries to school it in as he reaches for him. "No, Arch, don't - just give me a second, okay? Stay."

He presses their foreheads together once Archie's hands still, counts the beats between Archie's breaths and waits for his heart to keep time. It takes a moment, but then Archie relaxes against him, and he sort of pats David on the back, a little, like the time David stayed up three consecutive nights plagued with writers' block, or the week he'd been running a temperature after staying out too long in the rain signing autographs for fans, or the day of Adam's death anniversary, after his mom had called just to touch base, and he'd just been so tired.

"I want to be with you," David says, abruptly. Archie freezes, but David doesn't pull away. "That's not all that new for me."

"You said," Archie says. It doesn't sound like he's breathing. "Last night you said you'd been wanting to - to do this? A while?"

"Yeah," David says, and it's only a little shaky. He's always believed in wearing his heart on his sleeve, but it never stops being fucking terrifying. "Uh, I guess I should've said something, but that could've gotten really awkward really fast."


"Just - this isn't me thinking with the wrong brain, Arch, okay? It's not like - this doesn't have to be anything serious, we don't have to do anything you're not comfortable with, but this isn't about the sex."

There's a beat of silence, and David sort of maneuvers his hand away from Archie's jeans.

"This isn't just about the sex," he amends. "I mean, ideally, I want this to go somewhere. And I feel like," he pauses for another moment, gathers enough courage to add, "I think you want the same thing. But I don't know if - I mean, this is a pretty bizarre situation we're in. Outside the show you might realize that this isn't -- that you have other choices. If we're talking about right now, though - right now, if you're sure, I think--"

"I'm sure," Archie interrupts. David does look at him, then. Archie's eyes are guilelessly wide. "I'm - I don't know if you're right, um, about the show or - or all of it, but I - right now, I'm sure."

"Arch--" David begins, but Archie leans in and swallows the rest of his words.

"I'm sure," he says again.

David lets out a long breath, cards his free hand through Archie's hair again. There's a lot at stake here; the show, their families, their careers. Maybe more.

"Okay," David murmurs eventually. "We can work with that."

(They tell Jared and Dean too, later, and David knows he's kind of fucked when Jared says, "You guys could pitch this for next season: "Newlygay, Simpson-Lachey 2.0"!" and he takes it under serious consideration.

"Um, whatever, Jared," Archie laughs, and leans into David's side, but David knows that look, knows that it means Archie's actually thinking about it too, and the knowledge makes him grin.

They'll figure something out.)
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