Rating: PG for a little bit of swearing
Summary: Adam and Kris get stranded during a freak October blizzard in Arkansas
Disclaimer: I do not own the people involved. Pinks is real, Haven Motel made up as far as I know.
Did my best to research treatment of frostbite. I'm not a medical expert.
Kris thought he heard a car pull up and ran to the window. No one. He gazed over his parent’s front lawn, the Halloween decorations were buried in snow and icicles hung off the eaves like skeletal fingers. Of all times for a freak blizzard.
He tried Adam’s cell again – still no reception. He knew he wouldn’t get through. Kris had already tried five times in the last half hour with no luck. Adam would have already been on the road when the storm hit. He had been Memphis with music execs and decided to drive down to Kris’ place instead of fly. Adam could have taken the interstate all the way to Conway but at Little Rock he was going to switch to ‘country roads’ for a better view at the fall foliage – something he didn’t get to see in LA. He also didn’t get snow and ice in LA. The roads were a mess. Adam could be anywhere.
“I can’t sit around mom; I have to go look for him.”
“Kris, I know you’re worried but you heard the radio, they want everyone off the roads. He’s not that late.”
“He’s three hours late.”
“They’re saying the roads are too dangerous to travel,” she insisted.
“Exactly. Adam’s never driven in snow. He could have had car trouble or gone off the road.”
His mom sighed and tossed him the keys to their four wheel truck. “The emergency kit and blankets are in the back. Let me get a couple of thermos of hot coffee ready. Do you know what route he was taking?”
Kris hugged her. “Yeah, I sent him the directions.”
With a backpack full of coffee, sandwiches and chocolate brownies – with walnuts of course – Kris started out the door.
“Wait,” his mom called, rummaging through the front closet. She handed her son a heavy winter coat. “This should fit; being a California boy, I doubt he has a warm coat with him. There are mitts in the one pocket, a scarf in the sleeve and a hat in the other pocket. Tell Adam I don’t care about messing his hair; he has to put it on. Be careful sweetie.”
Kris kissed her cheek. “I will, I promise.”
The roads were horrible. In town, they weren’t too bad but once he was out of the city limits, the going was rough. Tree limbs scattered long the road, street signs were obliterated and visibility was nonexistent. He had seen a few cars off the road but they were already being helped. He pulled over just to make sure none of them were Adam.
While his mom had been packing the backpack, he had done some quick calculations. Taking into consideration what time Adam had left – he had called Kris before he hit the road – the speed limit and how much he would have slowed down due to the weather, he managed to narrow his search down to thirty miles east of Conway. Still a lot of territory to cover but he’d manage. Kris prayed Adam didn’t get turned around in the storm.
The windshield wipers worked as fast as they mechanically could and Kris still could barely see through the glass.
Two hours later, he saw a car pulled off to the side, half in a ditch. It was nearly buried in snow and appeared abandoned. He was going to pass it by when something in his gut told him to check it out. Pulling up beside it and gathering his coat around him, he ventured out.
The cold slapped him in the face and he raised his hand to shield his eyes. All the windows were covered in snow. He swept the snow away and peered in. The mid- afternoon sun was non-existent through the snow clouds and he couldn’t see anything. Kris turned on his flashlight. A body was slumped over the steering wheel. The face was hidden beneath tussled black hair. A stud earring sparkled.
Kris pounded on the window. “Adam! Adam! Can you hear me? Open the door!”
Adam didn’t stir. Kris tried the door. It was locked. He tried the other door – all locked.Kris ran back to his truck for a crowbar. He smashed the back door window in, just behind Adam. Kris heard a faint moan. He reached around and unlocked the driver’s door. It wouldn’t budge – frozen shut. Using the crowbar again, he pried the door open. The inside of the car was nearly as cold as the outside. Carefully, Kris leaned Adam back against the headrest.
Kris’ mom had been right. Adam was in sneakers, jeans, a thin sweater and light leather jacket – no hat, no gloves. He had an ugly bruise on his forehead and a small cut on his temple. The blood was still pretty fresh so he couldn’t have been stranded there too too long. But it was long enough, especially with the way Adam was dressed.
Kris gently slapped Adam’s cheeks. “Adam, heh, wake up, we gotta get out of here.”
Adam’s hand fluttered through the air like he was swatting flies. His eyes slowly opened and he looked in a daze at his best friend. He smiled.
“Heh, Kris,” Adam mumbled, patting Kris’ cheek, “when did you get to LA, I would have picked you up.”
Adam sounded drunk but Kris knew slurred speech and confusion were warning signs of hypothermia. He reached over, undid the seatbelt and started pulling Adam out, getting him awkwardly to his feet.
“Boy, someone jacked up the air conditioning,” Adam laughed, swaying, throwing himself and Kris off balance. “It’s colder than a witch’s ….”
“Don’t worry about that now Lambert, let’s get in my truck.”
“Sure, sure, nice clothes but not tight enough.”
Kris got Adam into the winter coat. Once Adam’s arms were in, the rest was easy until he got to the hat.
“Wow, wow there pal, that thing is horrid. Wouldn’t be caught dead in…”
Kris shoved it on Adam’s head. “You’ll be dead if you don’t wear it. Come on, in we go.”
It took Adam several tries to get his leg up high enough but he eventually crawled in. Kris wrapped a wool blanket around him, tucking it in to retain warm, fastened the seatbelt then hurried to his seat. The truck had been left running and when the doors closed, the cabin started heating up.
“I want to go to Pinks for a chili-cheese chicken burrito, guacamole on the side and an ice tea,” Adam whispered as he passed out.
“How about we go to a hospital instead?”
The truck crawled down the rural highway; Kris knew there was no way they were getting to a hospital, let alone Conway, tonight so he started looking for alternate shelter. There were no other cars on the road. Obviously the rest of creation had better sense than Kris and Adam to be out on a night like this. Adam was shivering violently but hadn’t come around and Kris was worried. He could have a concussion, he most surely had frostbite. They had to find someplace warm and fast.
Hovering in the sky, a mirage of blinking neon, Kris saw the sign for the Haven Motel. He knew this place was a dump but as long as it had heat, it was a luxury resort. He pulled in, finding the last remaining parking spot and ran into the manager’s office, leaving the truck running. They were lucky – one room left.
As it turned out, he had already parked in the spot outside of their room. He unloaded the emergency kit, blankets and back pack from his mom, and then cranked up the heater in the room before unloading Adam.
Kris gently jostled Adam. “Wake up Lambert, we gotta get you out of the cold.”
Adam groaned and wrapped the blanket tighter around himself.
“Adam, move it! I can’t carry you myself!”
Blue eyes glared at him. “I was just warming up Allen and you want me to go back into the Arctic? Forget it, I’m staying here.”
Kris was glad Adam was making sense again; he noticed his stubbornness had thawed out too.
“I’ve shut the truck off and the keys are coming with me into that nice, warm motel room.”
Adam shut his eyes again and mumbled. “Have a good night; see ya in the morning.”
Kris needed another approach. “Okay, great, you stay here and become a human Popsicle and I’ll go inside and enjoy hot coffee and brownies,” Kris smiled as Adam’s eyes popped open at the mention of ‘brownies’.
“Only way mom makes them.”
Adam slowly crawled out. “I love your mother.”
The room was small and drab but warm and dry. Adam had stumbled getting out of the truck, his jeans now covered in wet snow.
Adam leaned hard on Kris as he could barely walk. He sat clumsily on the double bed and looked around. “I’ve died and gone to designer hell.”
Kris shook his head and knelt down in front of his friend, trying to untie the wet and unyielding shoe laces. He pulled off Adam’s soaked sweat socks. Adam’s feet were red, raw and freezing.
He reached up for Adam’s belt. “Take your pants off.”
“Excuse me?” Adam half laughed through chattering teeth.
“You pant legs are soaked. Do you want to warm up or not?”
“Fine, fine, but I can do it myself.”
Adam stood up and promptly fell back on the bed. His feet were numb. Muttering obscenities under his breath, he tried to undo his belt but his fingers didn’t work either. Kris gave him a hand, tactfully not saying anything.
Adam sat there, dressed in his sweater and briefs, a blanket around his shoulders. He gave Kris a smirk.
“Okay, your turn.”
“Drop ‘em Allen.”
“We don’t have time for games – I have to treat your frostbite.”
“Your pants Kris! If I go pantless, so do you.”
Not having time to argue, Kris removed his boots and pants, padding into the bathroom in his sweatshirt, boxers and socks. Adam laughed behind him. “That look is really you.”
The sound of running water rivaled the knocking room heater in Adam’s throbbing brain. He raised a hand to his forehead, pain radiating over his scalp. He looked at his hand and saw blood.
“Kristopher, help me up.”
“In a minute,” he called from the bathroom.
“Now! I’ve got to see my face!”
Kris was really getting pissed. Didn’t Adam realize time was against them if they were going to reverse the damage to his hands and feet? Hobbling into the bathroom, Kris plunked him on the closed toilet. Adam turned towards the mirror.
“Oh my Ra, do I even have enough foundation to cover that up?” He ripped off a piece of toilet paper and dabbed the cut at his temple. “You never told me visiting you could be dangerous to my health.”
“You’re beautiful; now get your feet over here.”
Swinging Adam around, Kris got him to lift his legs and put his feet in the tub of lukewarm water.
“Holy motherfu….,” Adam screamed, yanking his feet out of the fire.
Kris grabbed Adam’s knees, forcing his feet back in. “It’s barely warm, it’s just the circulation coming back.” Tears streaming down his friend’s red cheeks. He spoke soothingly, as if quieting a frightened animal. “Take it easy, once your feet warm up, the pain will go away.”
Kris took the empty ice bucket and filled it from the tub. He sat on the edge, beside Adam, bucket on his lap.
“Give me your hands.”
Adam stuck them under his arms.
“Adam,” Kris sighed, “I’m too tired to fight with you. If you ever want to hold a…whatever…again, you have to do this. The pain won’t last forever.”
Reluctantly, Adam lowered his numb hands into the water, hissing as they made contact. Kris gently swished the water around.
Adam sniffed. “Do I get a manicure and pedicure when I’m done Madge?”
“How about an extra brownie for being brave?”
“Nearly as tasty as a…”
The bathroom went dark. The storm had cut the power. Kris found Adam’s lap, putting the bucket on it and told Adam to stay put – everything stay put – until he found the flashlight.
Adam heard nothing until a thump and a chorus of un-Kris like oaths.
“Are you okay?” Adam called out.
“Fell over your damn shoes.”
“You left them there.”
There was a knock on the door. Freezing wind whip through the room. Adam heard muted voices then the wind was cut off and Kris returned, beaming flashlight in hand.
“Who was that?”
“The manager. Power’s off to the whole place. He’s bringing some candles and I asked for as many hot water bottles as he had.”
“We need to keep the bed as warm as possible.”
Adam cocked an eyebrow. “Well, Mr. Allen, I’ve never had a problem with that.”
“Your feet, Adam, for your feet. God, sometimes you can be, be…”
“Exactly. An annoying… frustrating...”
They both laughed. “…amazing prick. How’s the pain? Be honest.”
“Not so bad.”
“Fantastic. Another hour of this I’d say then I’ll get you into bed.”
The room cooled down pretty quickly. Kris and Adam were in the bed, winter coats and hats on, blankets over their legs, devouring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sipping hot coffee laced with vodka from the mini fridge. A couple of candles flickered in the darkness and the wind howled.
Kris dug into the back pack and pulled out the brownies – two each. Kris finished his first one in two bites and just when he was reaching for his second, Adam’s hand flew out and snatched it, popping it whole into his mouth.
“Mine for being brave,” he declared, cheeks stuffed like a chipmunk.
Sated, they donned their gloves and shivered, talking about mundane things like the cost of guitar picks and the increasing variety of glitter. A ringing interrupted the next discussion – if almonds were substituted for walnuts, would the taste sensation be the same.
Kris pulled his cell out of his coat pocket, checking the glowing ID screen. “Oh, shit.” He flicked it open. “Hi mom…yeah I found him…no, we’re both okay.”
A stream of garbled yelling poured from the phone. The boys winced as Kris held it away from his ear.
“I know, I know…sorry you worried…in a motel…in the morning…just a sec.”
Adam did his best impression of a deer caught in the headlights when Kris handed him the phone. He took a deep breathe and smiled, trying to sound normal.
“Hi Mrs. Allen….okay, mom….I know….I know….yes, I wore the hat…no I didn’t fuss.” He crossed his fingers on that one. “We will…yeah…okay…thanks for the goodies…bye bye.”
Adam closed the phone and dropped it in his lap. “Your mom must have read the same book as mine on how to lay guilt trips.”
“Leave it to them to turn grown men into four year olds.”
The wind picked up and the temperature in the room plummeted. Even in the muted candlelight, they could see their breath.
“There’s nothing left to put on,” Adam uttered. “It would warmer in the truck!”
Kris had an idea, one he was sure Adam would like. If he were honest with himself, he wouldn’t mind it either.
“There is something else we could do.”
“We could…share body heat.”
“Body heat?” Kris could hear the smirk in Adam’s voice. “And how would we do that Mr. Allen?”
“Well,” he started, feeling his cheeks heat up. “We…take off the coats and wrap ourselves around each other and, uh, share body heat.”
“I guess I could force myself to hold you in my arms.”
Kris turned to Adam, a little fearful that Adam was enjoying this so much. “It’s just to stay warm, okay; there’s nothing sexual about it.”
“If you say so.”
“Damn it Adam, why can’t you be serious? Do you know how lucky we are even have a roof over our heads.”
Adam didn’t respond at first, but when he did, his voice was thick with emotion.
“Do you think I don’t know that? Do you think I’m not constantly thanking the universe that you found me? I would be dead right now if you hadn’t.”
Kris’ voice softened. “Someone would have found you.”
“Who? No one else was on the road. Sure, I would have been found…the next morning frozen solid to the steering wheel. If I don’t find the humor in this, I’ll fall apart.
“When the flurries started, I thought ‘no problem, like driving in rain’ then it got heavier and heavier and the wheels started swerving and I couldn’t see any road signs. Next thing I know, I’m flying off the road and then you’re there but not there, you know?”
“You weren’t making much sense. You thought we were in LA.”
“I owe you my life Kris.”
Kris bumped his shoulder with Adam’s. “I suppose we could call it cuddling.”
Adam leaned over, kissing Kris chastely on the cheek. “I’ll behave myself.”
In a minute or two, the hot water bottles were refilled, the candles extinguished, and the boys laid together under the blankets, wrapped around each other – coats on top for good measure.
Adam wrapped his long limbs about his hero’s smaller frame, Kris’ head resting under Adam’s chin. Kris clutched Adam’s hand as it lay over his chest. Exhaustion caught up with them and they drifted off to sleep.
Kris woke up first. Sunlight glared through the motel windows, blinding him. The only sound was Adam’s soft breathing in his ear. The storm was over.
During the night, Kris had shifted onto his back and Adam had rolled nearly on top of him, leg over Kris’ waist and arm across his shoulders. The room’s heater had turned back on when the power was restored but Kris was pretty sure the warmth he felt was all Adam.
He could have stayed like that for hours, surrounded by the peaceful aura of his best friend. Adam stirred, leaning in to the body beside him. His lips were a hair’s breadth from Kris’s when he awoke.
“Sorry,” he whispered. Adam stretched and looked around from under heavy lids. “We survived the night.”
“We should get going before my mom calls again. How are you?”
Adam flexed his toes and fingers. “Everything still attached and working, thanks to you.”
Kris threw on his clothes and went to the office to pay the bill. Adam took a little longer to dress, his fingers a tad tender. He met Kris at the truck.
“The manager didn’t want anything, said he was just glad to help. I left something anyway.”
They climbed in the truck and headed back to Conway and Kris’ parents house.
“Do you think your mom will hug us or hit us?”
“Probably both. I called her from the office. She’s already starting breakfast – fresh muffins, steak and eggs, lots of hot coffee.”
Kris nodded. “A whole plate full.”