Title: True Happiness
Word count: 1,861
Summary: It's been said that Darren must have pulled deep for the Cough Syrup performance. What if the happy Darren we know had a point where he had hidden, dark secrets?
Warnings/Spoilers: Trigger warnings for talk of suicide ideation, spoilers for 3x14.
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Glee, FOX, Ryan Murphy or anything else related to the Glee universe. Nor do I know Chris or Darren and so I hope to God they never see this..
They say those with true happiness have been to the brink of despair, seen the other side, and fought back from it.
When the final cut is announced, Chris breathes a sigh of relief, because the emotions on-set are high and strained and he's honestly not sure he can watch Darren pour his heart into the scene again.
He hops off the stool they had Kurt sitting on, striding the few meters until his arms are around Darren's body and holding him close.
He can't claim to know everything about his on-screen boyfriend, because they're just best friends and everyone has their secrets, but right now he's still in the bubble he was in during the whole series of takes, where he doesn't notice anything but Darren, Darren, Darren, and the background noise slowly decreases until it's just them, holding each other, oblivious to the crew and musicians packing up around them.
Darren pulls away first, his head lowered as he focuses on breathing evenly.
"Are you going to be okay?" Chris asks, because there's just something...but maybe he's imagining it.
Darren licks his lips and his eyes meet Chris' and they're so nervous and fearful and yet guarded. Darren is nothing if not confusing. "Can I come over tonight?"
It's not an answer to Chris' question and yet it is. Any time one gets too affected, they both end up at Chris' place, watching bad TV and eating good pizza or Chinese and trying to separate themselves from the characters they get lost in.
"Of course," Chris agrees, reaching out to touch Darren's cheek briefly. "I'll meet you there, okay?"
Darren nods, gives his arm a brief squeeze, and is gone, exiting the set through the side door and leaving Chris with a bunch of tech guys who are adjusting the lights for the shoot tomorrow.
He figures he has about an hour before Darren arrives, so he quickly tidies up the scattered papers and stows dirty dishes in the dishwasher to make the place more seemly and less like a twenty-one year old male's house, especially one with almost no time to sleep and who has so many projects happening at once he's currently using his toes to keep count of them all.
He underestimates by fifteen minutes, but it's okay because his shoes have been ordered into neat lines and the laundry basket of unfolded t-shirts and un-ironed jeans has been hidden behind a closed door.
Darren brought the food which is pizza. Even though Chris typically gets Chinese and Darren gets pizza, they each know the other's favourite and can order without asking. Chris tries not to focus on the fact he couldn't tell you Cory or Mark's favourite pizza, but he knows most of Darren's favourite foods without thinking. Although maybe Cory and Mark don't have one. Food is food and both boys will scoff anything.
He shakes his head to dispel the thoughts, taking the pizza boxes to the kitchen to reheat each pizza in the oven while Darren removes his jacket and shoes. There aren't words but there rarely are at first. They've both come to respect the silence as their thoughts untangle and their personalities realign without the influence of Kurt or Blaine crowding their minds.
Chris watches though with a bitten lip as Darren shuffles into the kitchen, his head bowed and his eyes distant. He can't help the instinct of wrapping his arms around Darren and is honestly surprised when a soft sob falls against his shoulder. He brushes his fingers through Darren's curls, down his spine, up again, over and over until Darren mumbles something about the pizza burning.
Chris startles and pulls them from the oven, only the back of each slightly blackened. "Oops," he smiles, and Darren smiles slightly back as he fetches plates and napkins and glasses filled with cold water.
They move to the living room but the TV remains silent as they each eat, Chris shooting glances at Darren who appears oblivious to his concern as he bites, chews, swallows. His fingers dance on the edge of his plate, like he's playing his keyboard, and Chris tries to guess what it might be even though he has no idea if Darren is playing an A or an F-sharp given that there's no sound other than the light whispers of his fingers.
The silence stretches on until Darren has pushed his plate away and shifts closer to Chris, tilting his head to rest it on Chris' shoulder.
Chris discards his plate, carefully lowering it to the floor, before adjusting their positions. He leans back against the arm of the couch, tugging Darren until his head is resting on Chris' chest and they're pressed together, Chris' front against Darren's back, and Darren is nestled comfortably between his legs. His fingers start running through the curls almost absently, but mostly methodically, because he knows it soothes Darren faster and he's still clearly on edge and desperate for contact or comfort. Darren's eyes drift shut, his thoughts slowing for the first time in hours.
No one talks. Neither needs to. Not now. Not yet. It's not the first time they've been in this place and it won't be the last. And this episode is brutal enough on their emotions. Chris is surprised Darren hadn't cracked earlier.
"I was maybe fourteen or fifteen," Darren murmurs, his voice low but sounding anxious, "when I first realised the thoughts I was having weren't normal. People around me were genuinely happy and I...I just wasn't."
Chris forcibly keeps his body relaxed because he's well aware how little Darren actually opens up to his emotions.
"I thought everyone struggled like me, y'know? I think it was Chuck who called me out on it because my music had mellowed out and was darker. Like writing Human for instance. There's way too much negativity in that song that I forget I once felt."
Chris wraps his free arm over Darren's stomach, warm and solid, and Darren's covers it until their fingers link. They aren't together, but they both know how much they like holding hands from hours of doing it during takes. It just feels natural and easy and another one of those things that is so soothing, just holding someone's hand in yours.
"I never...I was never like Dave," Darren admits, his voice faltering a little. "But I thought about it sometimes. When I couldn't sleep or when I was walking home on my own and didn't have things to distract me. And I...I thought everyone did that. I just...I thought everyone sometimes found it hard to breathe and not worthwhile."
Chris squeezes his hand, his thumb brushing over Darren's.
"But it was only ever thoughts, and eventually I threw myself harder into music with Chuck and tried to not dwell on it so much."
Chris drags Darren's body closer and holds it tighter, tucking his chin over the curve of Darren's shoulder. "I think lots of people think about it. You start to get older and your world expands and whatever age you are, there are times you consider an alternative to struggling," he whispers against Darren's ear, moving his hand from Darren's hair to cover Darren's and press it between the two of his.
"Did you...?" Darren doesn't finish the question but he doesn't need to.
"Yes," Chris confesses, so quietly he tries to pretend he's not talking about this sort of thing. He's never told anyone else. He wonders if Darren has, or if maybe he got a piece of Darren that's been unshared with someone before.
Darren doesn't push. He knows Chris will shut down and bottle his emotions if he tries too hard to get inside Chris' head.
"I hated being home-schooled sometimes, but I hated returning to school after two years away even more. I couldn't lose myself in the crowds and I couldn't make proper friends because I was different and they'd formed their little cliques and I didn't fit in anywhere."
Darren wriggles a little until his cheek is pressed to Chris' shoulder and he can listen to the sound of Chris talking rumbling through his chest, the way his heart beats steadily into his rib cage.
"I thought there was no escape. I didn't think I'd ever get out and even if I did, I wasn't sure who I'd be," Chris mused. "Killing Carson is an attempt at killing the boy I feared I was. He's so me and yet not me, but he doesn't escape and I didn't think I would either. Unless..."
Nothing more is needed. What else could be said?
Darren moves until he's curled into Chris' lap, his spare hand resting over where Chris' heart pounds.
Somewhere Chris is glad he recognized that there was more to the Cough Syrup scene than first planned, but he's also sad to have Darren quietly crying in his arms as he struggles to box away the emotions he gave Blaine and return to the way he generally is - happy, free, energetic. Chris isn't sure anyone sees this side of Darren, the one that struggles with Blaine's heartache and injects his own angst into the portrayal and who ultimately ends up dampening Chris' shirt with tears.
He isn't immune though, his own tears trickling down his face as he clutches Darren's body. It's exhausting to slip between characters and yourself, to infuse so much emotion into someone you don't know and yet knew better than anyone else. The two of them spent plenty of time discussing the motivations behind their character's actions and putting in little things during their performances. It was partly to separate themselves better from the characters, but it was also because it's easier to pretend that it was the character feeling those things and not you. It wasn't Chris who was sad and crying but Kurt who was miserable and bawling. Somehow it just made sense in their actor minds.
Darren eventually quietens down, his breathing occasionally hitching and shaking as he regains control. Chris rubs his hand over Darren's arm and presses a soft kiss to the top of Darren's hair.
"You're incredible, you know?" Chris says, nuzzling Darren's hair and squeezing his hand.
"So are you," Darren replies, his hand squeezing back.
Silence falls again but it's not awkward or uncomfortable or that weird tension when Darren arrived and was spaced out with his thoughts. It's easy and simple and neither notice when their breathing syncs up, or the way their hearts beat the same rhythm, or that Chris starts to feel sleepy with the heavy warmth of Darren resting against him. In fact, Darren's only faintly aware when Chris gives a breathy hum which he does just as he falls that final bit into sleepy unconsciousness. He smiles to himself, cuddling a little closer, shutting his own eyes.
He'll just sleep here a little while.
They'll wake up at some point in the night and organise beds or couches or blankets or even just switching the lights off.
Right now though, Darren is emotionally spent and happily gives in to the pull of sleep.
A/N: These are the things that occur to me when I can't sleep at five in the morning. I'm not sure where it came from and yet I do. After that episode on Tuesday, I think we all need to sit around in a circle and do a group hug.