ps: 50000000000% fictional and a tale from the land of the grassy knoll
Everything started to go wrong around top eight. First there were all the news stories about his dad—and okay, David recognized the value of having everyone think he was, like, a total fluffhead, but he still hated seeing all these stories going, aww, poor helpless little David, controlled by his dad! Even if he had planted a few of them.
He'd only been looking for a little extra publicity, something to balance out Cook's seventh-inning bombshell—ugh, gosh, only Cook would be so totally dumb as to hide a story as awesome as a brother with brain cancer, and then still not talk about it even after it came out. And now it especially drove David kind of crazy that Cook got all the credit for being all private and stoic and whatever, even though everyone in the freaking world still knew.
Anyway, so David had been looking for a little something to keep his name out there, and the old Star Search story had just been asking to be stirred, so he'd used it, and then five seconds later it had blown up ten times as big, and then, for some bizarro reason David was still trying to figure out, the Idol producers actually banned Jeff from backstage, even though he hadn't done anything. Which sucked, because it meant David had to deal with all the stupid music arranging himself instead of focusing on the offensive strategy, right at the most crucial stage.
He'd had a great plan in the works for taking Cook out with Jason on top 4 night. He was sure that once that happened, he'd be golden—Jason was totally going to bomb in a big way as soon as he had to do three songs, and anyway, even if he didn't, he was so dopey that no one would notice if he was a little extra dopey the night of the finale, if David decided he wanted insurance. And Syesha wasn't worth worrying about—the producers wanted their boy winner this time, they'd crush her for him even if she pulled off the greatest performance in the world.
He did still manage to get the sound mixer guy to screw up Cook's levels on Hungry Like The Wolf, so half the country got this really crappy version. But with Jeff out of the picture, David didn't have time to figure out something for Baba O'Riley. The only thing that made him feel better was that the song was totally cut off at the knees; he'd heard Cook practicing.
Except none of that mattered, because Jason bombed in a big way even when he only had to do two songs, even with a gimmie like Mr. Tambourine Man, and if that wasn't enough, Simon hauled out the torpedo launcher to finish him off. Plus Simon slobbered all over Baba O'Riley, which Cook managed to sell mostly with his stupid shiny eyes and fluffy hair and a ridiculous glory note he hadn't done in practice, and David wanted to throw things at all three of them. He ran back to his room as soon as he could get away from the post-show mess to check Dial Idol, and that was when he realized he was in serious trouble, because not only was Castro in the sub-basement, Cook was in the lead, even with his hot mess of Duran Duran and the chopped up Who, and by almost six points. And Syesha was like, only a point behind David.
David didn't usually let himself swear, but for just this once, he shut the door and closed the window and smothered a pillow against his face and yelled, "Fuck!"
Wednesday night, after Castro went out in a blaze of so-not-caring glory that David would totally have admired if it had been faked, he went back to his room and grimly sat down and looked at the demographics. The hometown visits meant there was no chance at all of pulling something off that coming week, and anyway, it so wasn't worth the effort. Syesha was on the way out, that was obvious to brain-damaged marsupials in Tasmania. And Cook was probably going to get Castro's leftovers, the same way he'd gotten everyone else's leftovers, and, argh. It was just ugly all around.
Anyway, the brain-damaged marsupials got their totally predictable top-three show. David did manage to drop enough subliminal hints to Nigel that they got saddled with the super-lame disco group number, which he figured had to leach away some of Cook's cool factor, except then Cook came out of wardrobe wearing these completely ridiculous jeans and, um, possibly no underwear, not that David was looking or anything, except he totally was, along with the entire female population of the United States, and Cook just bopped right through the whole number with zero shame. It especially sucked after With You had flopped like a dead fish or whatever.
But at least some things went David's way: he managed to slip the fixed coin into Ryan's pocket for the toss while Ryan was all groping him during the hometown videos, so he was going last for the finale—no thanks to Jeff yelling "Second! Second!" from the audience like he was a moron who needed to be told, duh. David also set Dean Kaelin going with some stories about the producers favoring Cook, giving him one of David's songs. Dean was kind of dumb, so the NDA didn't scare him like it should have, and he would pass along pretty much anything David stuffed into his head.
Meanwhile he wandered through the Idol compound until he found Cook working on some music, and he put on his best big innocent eyes and told Cook he'd gotten Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, and Cook obligingly shared that he had U2—dammit—and he was doing Dream Big, whatever, and he was thinking of doing The World I Know, which made David want to jump up and down in joy, because that was so not the song to do for the finale.
"Oh, that's so cool," David said, all wistful. "That, um, you're doing three new ones," he added. Then he raced off and found Nigel and talked sadly about how cool the U2 number was and how much energy it had and how sort of slow and intense Imagine was. Predictably, Nigel went with Cook opening with the U2, and David closing with Imagine, which meant Cook's last number was going to be the drippy Collective Soul one.
Monday night, David got the cortisone shot he'd been saving till the last minute, and after that he made sure not to practice anywhere Cook or the judges might've heard him, and he even kept it a little down during dress rehearsal. Simon watched the dress from the judges' podium and looked kind of pissed, which David thought was probably a good sign. He revised that to a great sign when Simon gave him the first round, even with Cook nailing the U2, and then Simon totally hated Cook's second song too.
In the third round, David was pretty much in the wings doing a victory dance while Cook was singing The World I Know, because okay, it was really pretty and meaningful and stuff, but it was just totally not an Idol finale song, even if Cook did get a standing ovation. Then Simon said, the kiss of death, "You're a really nice guy," and told Cook he should've done Billie Jean, which was totally right, and then—David held his breath, because Cook went for the mike, and gosh, he was going to talk back in the finale, except then Cook totally went on about progression in this calm, cool way, and said, "Why do something I've already done before?"
David stared out at him, with an open mouth. It was so unfair. Cook had been, like, an idiot savant of strategy the whole competition, but this was like—if Cook had been planning that line all week, it couldn't have landed better, five seconds before David was going to go out there and do Imagine. What really made him want to scream was that Cook hadn't even meant it that way, he'd probably be all, oh, sorry man, if he realized afterwards, or something stupid like that.
David couldn't do anything about it at that point. He went out and did Imagine, and then he stood there and wanted to kill Randy and Simon, because they were practically fighting to pile compliments on him, and at this point it was total overkill. His fans were going to get all complacent, and Cook's were probably ready to, like, burn cities to the ground or whatever, and he kind of knew what he was going to see even before he got away from the interviewers and back to his hotel room and checked the Dial Idol results.
He put his head down on his arms on the desk and tried not to cry. He'd fought for like, years, to get here. His parents were no help with the stupid, naïve just practice lots! And it'll all work out! crap, and he was about ten minutes away from not being a cute young kid anymore, and the odds got about a million times worse as soon as he slipped out of that zone.
He pulled himself together after a little bit. He was still going to get a recording contract—it was going to be a little rougher without all the Idol-winner backing, but this wasn't the end of the road. It wasn't going to be the worst thing in the world to be Cook's runner-up, especially after Simon and Randy gushing, because any time Cook screwed up, it would be all, oh, the wrong guy won, and David was robbed, and whatever. And thanks to the tour, there would be plenty of chances to make sure Cook did screw up.
The problem was, Cook seemed to be, like, Teflon. He messed up the Star Spangled Banner, but the mainstream media raved about him anyway, and he did the stupid thing with Kim Caldwell, who made no strategic sense for him to be dating, way too D-list, and he hit bad notes all over the place, and everyone still kept saying he was amazing and huge and the best performer, and he got a ton of press, and a bunch of endorsement deals, and David could see his own fans ebbing away.
That was when he decided it was time for some extreme measures. He figured out the perfect night—they had a two-day break staying in the same hotel where neither him or Cook were flying back to record—and he ordered a cocktail of drugs on craigslist through a five-deep chain of of fake accounts, paid through the mail by cash. When they were all out at dinner that night, he made sure to sit next to Cook—that was easy because Cook helpfully slung an arm around his neck as they went into the restaurant—and he waited until the main course had come to slip the stuff into Cook's Diet Coke.
As soon as Cook had polished the glass off, before the drugs had time to hit, David leaned over towards him and whispered, "Cook, um, I don't—I kind of don't want to make a big deal or, or anything, but, um, I feel kind of—tired? Would it be, um, lame of me to leave? I don't want to like, take one of the cars, and make people wait, after—"
"I'll come with you, that'll leave enough room for everyone else," Cook said, being his usual stupid nice-guy self, and in the car he rubbed his face with both hands and got this sort of slightly confused frown.
"Are you okay?" David asked, watching him narrowly. He hadn't told the hookers any particular time, just to be on tap for when he called them, to give himself the maximum flexibility.
"Uh, yeah," Cook said, blinking hard. He was walking carefully by the time they got back to the hotel.
David had to take his key to open his hotel room door. "Maybe you should lie down," he said, guiding Cook inside. "You don't look all that great."
"Yeah, I," Cook said, vaguely, and shook his head like a dog. David pushed him down onto the bed, took off his boots, and started on his shirt. His own heart was thumping kind of fast. He'd never done anything this complicated before, that was probably why he was nervous. This was totally going to work, though, he told himself. Cook had both hands over his face now and was panting, and he, um. He was definitely hard.
David's hands were shaking a little anyway while he undid Cook's belt. His mouth felt kind of dry and hot. It wasn't because of Cook. Cook totally didn't live up to all the People's Sexiest Bachelors hype. He had a belly and silly tattoos on his chest, even if his mouth was nice and his legs were—were really, um, kind of built, and—David swallowed again while he pulled Cook's jeans off. Not like he hadn't already seen it, practically, what with Cook's stupidly tight pants, but, um. It was kind of a different level, when Cook was in just boxer-briefs, and really, uh, interested.
David was horrified to realize he was getting interested, too. He didn't do this kind of thing. Sex was lame, it was just a way to get distracted and stupid, unless you were doing it to get something from someone else who had gotten distracted and stupid, and even that was usually too much of a risk to his image. But now he had to stop and brace his hands on the bed and lean over, panting.
Okay. He was going to get it under control. This was good enough, the hookers could take it the rest of the way. He hadn't trusted them not to mess up the undressing on the video—Cook was pretty out of it, and it wasn't going to look good if they were yanking off his pants while he just lay there all, um. All sprawled out on the rumpled white sheets with his black boxer-briefs, and his mouth open and breathing hard, one hand on his own belly, starting to sweat as the rest of the drugs kicked in. David stared at him. Cook's eyes opened, kind of glassy and dazed.
David felt a little dazed himself, but he made himself follow the program. Cook might remember enough of this in the morning to get suspicious—he really wasn't a hookers-and-drugs kind of guy—and David didn't want Cook drawing a line to him. "Um, I'm going to, let you get some rest?" David said, leaning over him.
Cook turned his head and looked at him, and he put his hand up and took hold of the front of David's shirt. "I, uh," he said, thickly, and then he said, "Jesus, fuck," and put his other hand on his face and started laughing a little.
"Um, okay," David said, swallowing. Cook's laugh was kind of—hot, which sounded stupid, but it was, this sort of warm sexy sound, and right now, with Cook all spread out, it was hitting David in a really weird way—he was actually shivering, and—and Cook's hand was sliding up around his neck. David was leaning too far over him. His knees felt weak.
He didn't really—he felt so—he yelled at himself in his head to get up, to get the hell out and call the hookers and get this done, except he was sort of crumpling onto Cook, and Cook reached out and put his arm around David's waist and heaved him over onto the bed.
The second set of drugs was definitely hitting—Cook was moving, suddenly, and just yanking at his clothes. David lay there shivering, helplessly. He couldn't make his body move. Cook was—Cook's hands were all over him, and he was so big, and Cook's mouth was on his throat, and he was so warm, and—and—"Oh, oh," David said, desperately, and Cook laughed over him, again, while he pushed David's legs apart, and oh, gosh, his mouth.
Somewhere five minutes or so further along, David stopped even being able to think of fighting it, and it was like his brain just poured right out of his head, and he was grabbing at Cook, pulling him, begging him for more, for everything, for all of it, and Cook was giving it to him, and it still didn't feel like enough.
They had sex three times in a row. David still felt like he was burning up, but he didn't have the energy to even twitch anymore. Cook staggered out of the bed somehow and David heard him drinking glass after glass of water in the bathroom, and he wanted some so badly, but he couldn't move. Cook brought some back to him, though, and sat him up and practically poured it down his throat. David hated, hated, hated how lame and weak it was, but it felt so good to just be sort of leaning back against Cook's body with Cook's arms around him. After bringing him three glasses, Cook put the glass on the end table and pulled the covers over them and cuddled him, and David told himself he had to get up and get out of there, but instead he totally fell fast asleep.
He woke up in the morning sore and sticky. Cook wasn't there: water was running in the bathroom. David slowly pushed himself up to a sitting position as the water shut off and Cook came out.
He'd put his boxer-briefs back on, and he'd washed up, but he was—um. He looked like he'd been attacked or something. His pale skin showed all these bites and scratches, and it almost made David want to blush for real and not just for show. Cook came over to the bed and sat down on the edge and said, in this really gentle way, "Uh, so how are you doing?"
David stared at him, and Cook added, still softly, "I know you must be feeling pretty confused about what happened last night," and he sort of reached out to pat David's shoulder, and he added, "That should never have happened. I screwed up—" because of course Cook was going to be the big man about this, and of course Cook would never in a million years have wanted to have sex with a pathetic little airhead, and Cook would never in a billion years ever want to do it again, and it was too fucking much.
David knocked away Cook's arm, hard. "Shut up, what do you know," he snapped, and Cook blinked. "You did it because I totally messed up drugging you."
Cook just sat there for a minute with a funny expression on his face, and then he said, "Huh."
David felt his eyes getting kind of weird and prickly. "No one will ever believe you if you tell them," he added, bitterly, and went to yank back the covers and get up.
Cook caught him by the wrists. "Oh, I'm not going to tell anyone," he said, and he pushed David back down flat onto the bed. David stared up at him, startled. Cook was leaning over him, half smiling. "Congratulations, Archuleta," he said. "You just got interesting."
"Um," David said, warily.
"And we can share the blame," Cook added. "The dose I gave you probably gave you some trouble."
"What?" David said. "Wait, what, you—" He stared, about ten million things falling into place, and then he blurted, "That's stupid, why would you drug me, you already won—"
Cook let go of his wrists and stood up and, um, shucked his briefs. David totally didn't look—well, not for long, anyway, because Cook pushed back the covers and got back into bed, making himself comfortable. It made David feel weird and a little bit nervous to have Cook just—lying there with him. It was almost weirder than the sex had been, and he was already off-balance, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. He edged back away from Cook, but Cook reached over and just pulled him in again, settling him against the pillows and propping himself up on one elbow.
"Winning's just the starting point," Cook said.
"Oh, gosh, I've heard your ten standard interview answers," David said with an eyeroll, and mimicked, " 'It was five-thirty in the morning in Omaha, it was raining—' "
Cook tipped David's head up and kissed him, and then tipped his head back more and bit him on the neck a little, and on the collarbone, until David was shaking and panting raggedly. He tried to shove Cook off, but it was a pretty feeble attempt, and Cook just laughed at him softly.
"Christ, this is going to be fun," Cook said, and David kind of wanted to punch him, except he didn't think that would work well, and, um, he also kind of wanted Cook to keep kissing him. But Cook said, "Okay, business first," and pushed him back into the pillows. "Use your head, since apparently you've got a good one. Carrie Underwood made four million last year. Simon Fuller made sixty-seven million. Who do you want to be?"
David stared at him, working it out. "You want to—steal the Idols?" he said slowly.
"Bingo," Cook said. "The 19E people are pretty stupid. Most of them are forty years out of date, and they're fucking up half the talent they're finding. I'm kind of scared to see what kind of crap they try to put on your album," he added. "In three years, five at most, the show's going to be off the air. And there won't be a damn reason to stay on board after that."
"Oh, gosh, yes," David said. "But—" He stopped and said, "Who else have you got? Michael Johns, and Carly—do they know about this?"
"Michael and Carly are truly sincerely nice people, and I'm their very good friend and they trust my advice," Cook said, solemnly. "We won't need to bring them into the loop until we're ready to go public. Castro's the only other one who knows the long-term game plan."
"Jason?" David said, and then he sat up and glared at Cook. "Oh my gosh, he threw the top four!"
Cook laughed. "Yeah, that must have driven you nuts, now I look back at it," he said, amused. "You got my east-coast feed fucked up that night, didn't you?"
"Um," David said.
Cook grinned at him. "Come on, you can tell me," he said. "You went back to your room after the finale and cried a little, didn't you."
"How did you get Simon to trash you like that?" David demanded, suspiciously.
"I got him alone and asked him for his advice the weekend before the show, and he told me to switch on the last day before the show and do Billie Jean, and I said I would," Cook said. "He did all those talk shows saying I was going to win, and then I did World I Know anyway—"
"Oh my gosh, I hate you," David said, and tried to hit Cook with a pillow. Cook laughed and yanked it away and pulled David down into his arms again. He slid his fingers into David's hair and tugged on it a little, sort of possessively, which half pissed David off and half turned him on, and gosh, this was going to be so annoying.
"Man, this is going to be awesome," Cook said. "And I thought Castro was a pretty lucky find."
"He sleeps all the time!" David said. "Was he at least faking it to eavesdrop on the rest of us?"
"No," Cook said, with a faintly disapproving note. "He's really sleeping. Don't get me wrong," he added, "he's a smart guy, he got it right away, he's got a lot of solid ideas—he's the one who came up with getting Michael out early, so he'd have the early elimination buzz—but he doesn't have that real killer instinct. You, on the other hand—" He grinned at David. "I'm surprised I'm still breathing. And you sell that sweet little Mormon boy thing so damn well."
"You do the, whatever, Mr. Nice Guy Bartender routine all the time yourself," David said.
"I am a nice guy," Cook said. "I'm just a nice guy who wants to make a shitload of money, and not have to listen to a ninety-year-old mummified relic tell me what to sing."
"Oh my gosh, you are not a nice guy, nice guys don't drug innocent seventeen-year-olds—well you thought I was!—into having sex," David said.
"Even if they're really hot for it?" Cook said, grinning, and slid his hand onto David's thigh under the covers, rubbing his fingers lightly over the inner skin.
"Shut up and kiss me again," David muttered, hating the way he was quivering. Cook laughed, but he did bend down and kiss David some more, and then he rolled David over onto his side and snuggled up behind him and murmured in his ear, "You too sore for me to take you again?" which made David's stomach jump in this squirmy and happy way for zero good reason, and David bit his lip and said, "No," in this stupid voice that cracked a little, and he would have been so mad at himself, except then Cook did take him, and this time he was all slow and thorough and amazing and David came everywhere, like, twice.
"Jesus, to be seventeen again," Cook said, and licked his thumb clean, which made David's whole body sort of feebly twitch in the direction of a third round. "Oh yeah, you think so," Cook said. "I'm going to have to ration you."
"Oh gosh, no, I have to get this out of my system," David said, hazily. "I totally can't think."
"It's awesome how you still aren't swearing."
"Swearing is a bad habit, I'd slip up."
"Wow, I think I'm in love," Cook said.
"What about Kim?" David said, trying to make it sound like he was being snide and teasing instead of burning with jealousy. He wondered if maybe Cook would dump her if she got caught making out with, like, Paris Hilton—
Cook poked him in the side. "You know, I can see you plotting her downfall."
"Oh my gosh, I'm, like, losing it," David said, horrified. He glared at Cook, who was laughing. "Shut up! This is all your fault!"
"Kim's dated ten Idols, is pals with twenty more, and she's interviewed all the others at least once," Cook said. "Don't go after a crucial piece of the plan."
"Oh," David said, mollified. "Okay. But that jerk Constantine totally does not get to join us. And I get the same share as you do," he added.
"Oh you do, do you," Cook said.
"Yes," David said, tugging Cook down and snuggling in against his chest. He thought maybe he could get used to this, actually. "I got this far without any help and I'm only seventeen. You totally want me."
Cook laughed and bit David's ear. "Yeah, I guess I do."
= End =
With many thanks to Terri for eagle-eyed beta. :D
|All feedback much appreciated!|
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