AN: Here's the final chapter! Sorry for the wait; this one gave me a lot of trouble to write, and then I was distracted by the CrissColfer kiss from Glee!Live. Hot damn. Anyway, hopefully I did this justice. Enjoy!
Chris woke up with a pounding headache reminiscent of being whacked in the head with a frying pan. Not, of course, that he had ever been hit in the head with a frying pan– but the resulting pain would surely be the same as what he was currently feeling.
He rolled over onto his side to get up, but was stuck on the floor breathing rapid, shallow breaths at the slight movement. "Oh," he groaned, his insides writhing. "Too fast. Way too fast." He waited until the world stopped spinning and then gingerly raised himself off of his kitchen floor, taking inventory of the various aches his body was feeling. His tailbone was unusually tender from his odd sleeping place, but when he raised his shirt and twisted around to peer at it, it didn't look nearly as bruised as his ego.
A harsh rattling sound that was discordant and loud in the silence of the morning made Chris fear an earthquake before he realized it was his vibrating phone, which was lying screen-down on the floor beside a pale pink puddle of unfinished wine. Chris bent down to pick up his phone, going as slowly as possible to take mercy on his head, and wiped a few stray droplets of wine off of it before answering.
"Hello?" He all but whispered, not having the energy to check the caller ID.
"Chris?" A frantic voice came through the speakers immediately, sounding as if it were coming from a megaphone to Chris's sensitive ears. He identified the voice as Ryan Murphy. A very, very unhappy Ryan Murphy.
"Yeah, hi, Ryan," Chris sighed, trying to stifle a yawn. "Is everything all right?"
"Where are you! You were supposed to be here an hour ago!"
Chris winced and held the phone a foot away from his ear. Everything was so loud. He supposed this was his first hangover, and he was certainly not eager to try drinking this much again. With a jolt, he realized Ryan was still shouting at him through the phone and hastily moved it closer to his ear again.
"– an hour ago, I've been calling every five minutes, and I can't find Darren either–"
"Ryan," Chris interrupted in a low voice, his eyes closed. "Please. Please. Quietly."
"Why are you whispering!" Ryan practically shouted. "What's going on? Where the hell are you? Where's Darren? We're running a tight ship and you–"
"I'm coming, Ryan. Sorry. I. . . overslept," Chris explained carefully, attempting to sound carefree, well-rested, and not as if he were trying to speak past a raging headache. "Give me twenty minutes."
"What about Darren?" Ryan asked, sounding slightly mollified.
"I don't know where Darren is," Chris answered shortly. "Sorry. I'll see you in twenty minutes."
"'Bye, then." Ryan sounded irritated, but thankfully hung up the phone without yelling any more.
Chris glanced at the time on his stove, giving another groan. He was late to work for the first time in his entire life, his breath smelled and tasted like bruise, he was sore as all hell because he stupidly decided to fall asleep on the floor, and now he was expected to show up on set and like he was in love with the guy that he had come on to and then yelled at only hours before. He briefly considered calling Ryan back and telling him he couldn't come to work, but Chris knew that on Glee, you didn't skip unless you had a damn good reason to. He imagined telling Ryan that he couldn't come to work because he had a hangover and sexual tension with Darren. . . . No. He had to go.
Chris got ready in a record ten minutes, popped an aspirin, and sped to Paramount, praying that no cop would catch him on the way. The roads were surprisingly sparse, though, and he reached set within another five minutes, giving him time to check his appearance in his rearview mirror in the parking lot before getting out. His eyes looked slightly bloodshot, but the redness in them had been diluted after he spent a couple minutes splashing water on them before he left; anyway, they were the best he could do. The makeup artists would have to work their magic.
Chris stepped out of his car, straightened his shirt, and marched into the heart of the activity on set, where it appeared they were already filming a scene. Just be professional, Chris told himself firmly as he walked past a group of hired background dancers learning choreography. Don't mention last night when you see him. Don't even talk to him if you don't have to.
And then, as if the mere thought of Darren was enough to summon his presence, Chris looked up and saw him about fifteen feet away, talking to Ryan. Chris had planned to check in with Ryan, but that suddenly did not seem like a good idea anymore. He spun on his heel and began to walk purposefully in another direction— any other direction. He had only had the chance to take a few steps, however, before Ryan shouted his name. Chris deliberated whether he was far enough away to pretend not to have heard, but when Ryan called him again, he winced, turned around, and walked resignedly over to where Darren and Ryan were standing.
"Where were you going?" Ryan asked, irritated. Chris shrugged and mumbled an incoherent answer, which Ryan ignored. "Well, since you two couldn't bother to show up on time—" Ryan paused to glare at both of them, waiting for them to explain their tardiness and beg for forgiveness. Neither of them said a word. "We've started filming Lea and Cory's scene," Ryan continued. "We're almost finished, though, so head over to Costumes and Makeup and come straight back here when you're through. We're going to start with 'Blaine's Transfer.'" Ryan shoved them both in the direction of the makeup trailer and turned back to Lea and Cory, who were filming a scene in McKinley's parking lot.
Chris began walking toward the trailer immediately, taking long strides to tell Darren that, no, he did not want company. Darren didn't seem to take the hint, though, because he sped up until he was walking alongside Chris. The part of Chris's brain that wasn't freaking out at the awkwardness thought that they probably made a funny picture— two people speed-walking, one studiously ignoring the other.
"Chris, are you okay?" Darren asked hesitantly, his concern mixed with the huffs of someone who's slightly out of breath.
"Do you really care?" Chris responded blandly, doing his best to sound light and conversational.
"Of course I— why would you think that I don't care?" Darren sounded hurt, and Chris had to fight the urge not to look at him.
"Oh, I don't know," Chris mused, reverting to his usual defense of sarcasm. "Maybe because you—" Chris broke off, remembering his original intention of pretending the previous night had never happened. "Forget it. It doesn't matter."
"Look, I just wanted to say—"
"Forget it," Chris repeated harshly.
Darren didn't say anything else, thankfully. The rest of the short walk to the makeup trailer passed by in an awkward silence that was not broken as they entered the trailer and sat down in their seats.
"Morning, boys!" Eryn, the chief makeup artist, greeted them cheerfully. Chris and Darren both muttered hellos, which made her smile falter briefly, but she recovered quickly. "Wow, you two look tired! Late night, huh?" Chris and Darren were saved the embarrassment of answering as she gently pushed them both into chairs right next to each other and moved into an adjoining room to gather her materials.
"Chris," Darren said as soon as she was out of earshot, "I'm really—"
"Save it, Darren," Chris said, trying to keep his voice level. "Let's just do our jobs, okay? Don't make this hard."
"How can we do our jobs, when we can barely talk civilly?" Darren asked desperately. "You won't even look at me when all I want is to—"
"Maybe I'm not looking at you because I can't control myself," Chris interrupted bitingly, still carefully averting his gaze from Darren's. "I wouldn't want to lose control. Then you might kiss me back like you did last night, and we wouldn't want that, would we? So you do your best to avoid me as much as possible, like you did after the first time you kissed me, on tour. . . and I'll do my best to keep my animal urges under control."
Eryn returned at that moment to dab concealer on Chris's skin, so he was able to focus on her instead of Darren, who had either been struck silent by Chris's words or was reluctant to speak in front of anyone else. It seemed to be the latter, because as soon as Eryn moved away again, Darren spoke
"I shouldn't have said that, Chris. I was upset," Darren said quietly.
"And I was drunk," Chris replied, staring at the ceiling instead of facing Darren. "But you still seemed to blame me for my actions, so feel free to take responsibility for your words."
Eryn had walked back into the room, so Chris knew not to accept a response from Darren. He tapped his foot impatiently, feeling incredibly uncomfortable. Eryn seemed to pick up on the vibe in the room.
"Why so quiet?" Eryn inquired conversationally as she applied some cream to Darren's face. "Usually you two won't shut up!"
"Just tired," Chris muttered, using his go-to excuse for not acting normal. Eryn accepted it without question, clicking her tongue against her teeth sympathetically as she put the finishing touches on their makeup.
"There you are!" Eryn smiled at Chris and Darren kindly. "All finished. Now, you better get next door and change quickly; Ryan sounded like he was at the end of his rope earlier."
Chris was the first out of his seat. He sped to the door, threw a thank-you over his shoulder at Eryn, and was next door changing into Kurt's outfit before Darren had even exited the makeup trailer.
As Chris pulled on a ridiculously stylish sweater-vest and laced up a pair of knee-high boots, he thought about Darren. If he was honest with himself, he was to blame as much as Darren. Yes, he was wrong to kiss Chris one day and then get pissed at Chris for reciprocating another. . . but Chris shouldn't have pushed himself onto Darren. Darren had tried telling him to stop, but Chris hadn't wanted to listen.
He kissed me back.
He had kissed back. He had seemed to want it as much as Chris did. And on tour, when Darren had kissed Chris. . . had that been just an act? Just a friend wishing another friend happy birthday?
No, Chris decided firmly. There was something between us then, and there was something between us last night.
Or was he just fooling himself, indulging in a fantasy? Chris remembered how, as a kid, he had watched the girls at recess plucking petals off of flowers.
He loves me, he loves me not.
Was his rationale for Darren harboring secret feelings as baseless as a child's chant?
Chris glanced at his reflection in the mirror, trying to push such thoughts to the back of his mind and think like Kurt. Blaine. Fashion. Glee club.
Chris left the costume trailer, noting thankfully that Darren seemed to have gone on ahead instead of waiting for him. He reminded himself— again— to think like Kurt, not like Chris.
Blaine. Fashion. Glee club.
Chris began walking back to set, allowing a wry smile to flit across his face. Right. If only my life were that simple.
"Blaine, I— why— what are you doing here?" Chris stammered, using all of his control to look at Darren with shock and pleasure rather than mortification. This was so much worse than he had imagined. He kept picturing all of the events from last night piling up between them until he hardly knew whether he was saying the right lines, or making the right facial expressions anymore. He was just trying to get through this scene so he could get away as soon as possible.
"I transferred." Darren— Blaine, not Darren— smiled warmly at him, and Chris felt his heart thump pathetically in his chest. Darren, on the other hand, seemed to have no problem doing his job. Damn his professionalism. It cropped up at the most inopportune moments.
Chris got lost in Darren's eyes for a moment. After spending so much time decidedly not looking into them, being forced to was a bit overwhelming. It was too easy to pretend that it wasn't Blaine looking at Kurt— to pretend that it was Darren looking at Chris with so much affection and care. They were so green and brown and gold, like fall, with none of the darkness they had had the night before. And they were currently losing that affectionate look and turning over to hesitancy.
Shit. My line. Chris froze, staring at Darren as he racked his brain for the correct words.
Chris sighed and turned to Ryan. "I'm sorry, I lost the line. Let's go again."
Ryan looked confused, and Chris thought he knew why; he usually had his lines down perfectly. "Rolling!"
"Blaine, I— why— what are you doing here?" Chris began again, looking surprised as he stared at a smiling Darren.
"But what about Dalton? Wes, David, the guys, what about your dad—" Chris rattled off rapidly, hardly inputting any emotion in an effort to stay focused on his lines.
"You were worth it," Darren— Blaine— said simply, raising his eyebrows. "You don't mind, do you?"
"No, of course I don't," Chris said, biting his lip. "I just don't want you to do this because you're trying to be. . . noble or something, I don't want you to ruin your—
Darren leaned in right on cue, capturing Chris's lips with his own. Chris kissed back hesitantly, trying to fight back the emotions that were threatening to overwhelm him. This was nothing like last night. This was fake, wrong, and it felt like the universe was mocking him by giving him what he so desperately wanted in a way that made it impossible to truly have.
Chris's head whipped around as he shot a frustrated look at Ryan. "Cut" meant there-was-something-wrong. "Cut" meant do-it-again. "Cut" meant you're-going-to-kiss-that-boy-no-matter-how-bad-it-hurts.
"Chris." Ryan just stared at him for a moment, one of the rare occasions that he was lost for words. "Chris, just. . ." He sighed, and Chris felt himself getting defensive. What? What was he doing wrong? "More emotion, please," Ryan said finally.
They went through the scene again, Chris making sure to emote this time to avoid having to repeat the scene. Chris and Darren kissed again, and Chris tried to swallow his feelings and allow Kurt's to shine through. He thought he had done a better job this time, but—
They redid the same scene so many times over the next hour that Chris lost count. Finally, though he didn't look satisfied, Ryan called for a lunch break. Chris stretched his arms behind his back gratefully. He didn't think he would be able to get through the scene again without having some sort of emotional breakdown, which would be fun for no one. He turned to Darren to share a look of relief at the break before realizing that he was supposed to be ignoring Darren and hastily turned away. Unfortunately, Ryan was waiting for him on the other side.
"Chris, what's going on?" Ryan's eyes pierced him. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm just really tired," Chris answered mechanically, itching to get away.
"All right." Ryan nodded, but still his eyes searched Chris, too all-knowing for comfort. "Just relax during lunch and we'll try again after, okay?" He patted Chris on the back and walked over to Darren.
Chris took this opportunity to speed away. He passed Ashley and Lea, who both called him over to eat lunch with them, but he mumbled an excuse and kept going. He wasn't hungry anyway. All he wanted was to get far, far away, away from Darren and work and inquiries about his well-being. . . but since that wasn't possible, he chose the next best thing.
Fifteen minutes later found Chris lying face-up on the roof of a building in fake New York, his arms crossed behind his head as he gazed up at the cloud-less blue sky. He loved it up here. The rest of the cast were too afraid to climb up here, but in reality, the buildings had many hand-holds and was relatively easy to scale. The best part was how separated it was from the hustle of Paramount. People rarely walked past, and the few who did never bothered to look up. Up here, Chris was left blissfully alone with his thoughts, which were unsurprisingly still revolving around a certain curly-topped cast-mate.
Chris let out a small sigh and closed his eyes. He didn't even know what to think anymore. He wasn't mad at Darren anymore, not really. Hurt, yes. Confused, yes. All he wanted was to go back to the drama-free friendship they had shared before they kissed. He just had no clue how to do that. He supposed he should let Darren talk to him, but the thought of bringing up feelings with his best friend brought a blush onto his cheeks. Maybe the best thing to do was to move on. Darren obviously didn't share Chris's feelings for him, if his actions last night were any indication.
But he kissed you back, an unbidden voice in his head insisted.
Maybe being alone with his thoughts wasn't helping. Chris opened his eyes and—
"Holy crap!" he yelped, scrambling backwards, his heart slamming painfully in his chest. "Darren— what are you— holy crap!"
Darren was pulling himself onto the roof, his face shining slightly with the effort. He collapsed onto the floor, breathing out "I'm sorry" between gasped breaths.
"You nearly gave me a heart attack!" Chris tried to calm his breathing, one hand still on his chest in shock. "Jeez, make some noise next time!"
Darren looked up, not looking nearly as composed and dapper as Blaine although he was still wearing his blazer. "What was I supposed to do, sing on my way up? I could hardly breathe! Not all of us have Spidey climbing skills."
Chris ignored this and asked the more pressing question: "How did you know I was up there?"
Darren suddenly looked nervous. "I know how you work, Chris," he said quietly. "You always climb up here when you're stressed out. Just because I never followed you before doesn't mean I didn't pay attention."
Chris didn't say anything, still processing the information that Darren knew his habits that well.
"Chris, we need to talk." Chris could feel Darren's gaze boring into him, and he looked up unwillingly. His eyes were intense, his expression blazing.
"Are you breaking up with me?" Chris joked feebly with a nervous laugh. Darren, understandably, ignored this.
"Chris, I can't tell you how sorry I am about— well, everything," Darren began, his voice low and rough with emotion. "Last night. . . on tour. . . I'm sorry. I shouldn't have kissed you, even if it was your birthday. If I could take that back, I would.
Chris swallowed past a lump in his throat. "I didn't realize you regretted that so much," he said icily, trying to hide how much that revelation hurt.
Darren looked stricken. "No! No, no, I didn't mean it like that! I—" Darren shook his head as if trying to dislodge the correct words from his brain. "I shouldn't have kissed you. . . like that," Darren clarified. "Not without warning, not under a pretense, and definitely not with the intention of avoiding you for so long after."
"Not how I kissed you last night, in other words." Chris felt warmth rising into his cheeks.
"I don't blame you for that," Darren said quickly. "It wasn't under the best condition, but I'm not mad about it." He paused, and if Chris wasn't mistaken, Darren's cheeks had a pink tinge to them as well. "I kissed you back. So I don't really have the right to be mad."
"Yeah, well, you seemed pretty mad last night," Chris muttered.
"I know. I was. . . drunk, confused— not that that's any excuse for blowing up on you." Darren paused, and his hazel eyes had a faraway look to them. "I didn't sleep well last night. I kept remembering how you looked. Like you hated me. Like I had— I don't know, broken your heart or something. And I kept thinking, 'How could you do that to him?' I was more ashamed of myself than I've ever been in my life."
Silence fell upon them. Chris peeked at Darren to see if he was going to continue, but he was sitting with his knees drawn up to his chest, staring out over the studios down below.
"You were my first kiss," Chris admitted quietly. Darren turned and looked at him, but didn't say anything. "My first real one. I think what upset me the most when you kissed me was that it didn't mean anything to you. I wanted it to, so much, but it didn't. And I guess—" Chris broke off and took a deep, shuddering breath, then continued, the pitch of his voice betraying how nervous he was. "I guess I wanted, just once, to kiss someone just because I wanted to, and because I could, and I was drunk, and you're so—" Chris stopped his verbal spew, knowing he had said too much, revealed too much. He looked down, playing with a loose thread on his jeans so he wouldn't have to face Darren's reaction.
Darren was quiet for a long, tense moment that left Chris wishing he had kept his mouth shut. Then—
"What?" Chris looked up, but this time Darren was avoiding his gaze.
"When I kissed you— it did mean something to me. Both times," Darren said slowly. "And— and I was scared of how I feel about you, and I was scared of screwing things up between us." He gave a short laugh, rubbing his forehead with his hand. "So of course that's exactly what I did. Messed everything up."
Darren looked up, meeting Chris's eyes, and his were burning with emotion. "You're perfect, Chris. You are," he repeated sternly, because Chris had made a strangled noise in protest. "You're smart, and funny, and so damn beautiful that I can hardly stand it, and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I ruined things between us by freaking out yesterday."
"Oh," Chris said in a small voice, not trusting himself to say anymore.
Darren gave a shaky laugh. "Yeah. And I'm not trying to— to push you or anything," he said, looking worried. "I understand if you don't feel the same. I just wanted to lay everything out. I'll feel lucky if you just forgive me, but you have every right to—"
"Darren," Chris stopped him, unable to keep a huge grin from taking over his face. "I do. Feel the same way, I mean."
Darren beamed back, his eyes lit up in happiness and all worry evaporating. "Well, that's a relief. I really wasn't looking forward to jumping off this building in embarrassment if you didn't."
They both laughed. Chris couldn't remember ever feeling so light-hearted. He felt— no pun intended— like he was on top of the world. So this is how it feels when everything is perfect, he thought giddily.
After the laughter dissipated, the air seemed charged with an electrical current. Darren's smile faded. He looked as if he was steeling himself up for something.
"Chris, can I kiss you?" he asked seriously.
Chris laughed unsteadily. "Since when do either of us ask permission?"
"Since I decided to do this right."
"In that case," Chris said, his breath coming faster in anticipation, "yes. God, yes."
And without wasting any time, they both leaned forward, lips meeting in the middle. Chris placed one hand on Darren's shoulder, feeling the muscles stretched taut, and the other hand snaked around Darren's neck as the kiss became deeper. Darren brought his hand up to cup Chris's cheek gently, his mouth moving fiercely against Chris's lips. Then he swiped his tongue against Chris's bottom lip and Chris somehow had the presence of mind to think, Where did he learn to do that? before he was lost in the bliss and warmth and heady scent that was kissing Darren Criss.
Chris pulled away first, his breath coming rapidly and his face warm. Darren was flushed, his pupils dark and large, eyes half-lidded in desire.
"Why'd you stop?" Darren breathed.
Chris leaned forward again and rain his hand through Darren's hair, freeing it of its gel and allowing it to curl messily. A dark lock of hair hung down over Darren's forehead, giving him a distinctly Clark-Kent-ish look. Chris smiled in satisfaction.
"There. Now you look like Darren again," he said happily, surveying his handiwork.
Darren laughed. "Eryn's gonna kill me."
"Just tell her you were attached by a bear."
"Right." Darren nodded distractedly. "Can I kiss you again?"
Chris raised an eyebrow. "Feel free."
Their lips connected once more, but this time it was slow and sweet. Darren caressed Chris's cheeks, his lips moving torturously slow, soft against Chris's. Much too soon, they broke apart.
"That," Darren said softly, planting one last lingering kiss on Chris's nose, "should have been our first kiss." He leaned back onto his arms. "I take it you forgive me?" Darren asked, a lopsided smile on his face.
"On one condition," Chris said, deciding that Darren looked far too proud of himself.
Darren's smile fell a fraction of a centimeter. "What's that?"
"Beat me back to set!" Chris scrambled to his feet and began climbing down the building, leaving an astonished Darren behind.
"Wait, seriously?" Darren called, looking over the edge apprehensively. "You're like a monkey! That's not fair! You're kidding, right?"
"Better hurry up!" Chris laughed deviously, already halfway down, as Darren carefully crawled over the edge.
Later that night, as they laughed about the day's events over Chinese takeout in Chris's living room, Darren boasted about beating Chris, the self-proclaimed ninja, in his own habitat. Chris just smiled, quiet but content with the knowledge that he had let Darren win.
After all, Chris thought as he fondly watched Darren waving his chopsticks in the air expressively and bragging with a mouth full of chow mein, sometimes you have to lose some to win some.
AN: Thanks so much for reading, and thanks for the kind reviews— they mean the world to me. Feel free to let me know about any Klaine/CrissColfer fic ideas or prompts, and I would be delighted to write them! Drop any suggestions in the comments, send me a message, or look at my profile for alternate ways to contact me. :)