Characters/Pairings: Darren + Chris (friends)
Word count: 2,776
Summary: Watching Chris hold it together to sing I Have Nothing was almost traumatising, because it was just such an extraordinary song and he felt like his heart was hurting trying to hold it all together.
Warnings/Spoilers: If you haven't heard I Have Nothing through First Listen Friday or don't want to cry over Chris performing it, skip. But there's really not that many spoilers. Maybe have a tissue handy. Could be read in the same 'verse as True Happiness, but nothing explicit. They're just friends, that's all.
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..
There was nothing more emotionally draining than emotional shoots where you were arguing or upset with your on-screen partner. They'd had to do it before, little Kurt and Blaine arguments in season two, the larger one in late September before Chris had had to run off for the New Yorker Festival. The emotional scenes were the hardest ones, because while Amber's singing moved him to tears, the pained, nearly tortured look on Chris' made his heart feel like it was ripping apart.
And today, of all damn days. He figured people on Tumblr and Twitter were crazy for the one year anniversary since he'd kissed Chris, or Blaine had kissed Kurt, even though the scene had been shot several months prior so the buzz was kind of gone by the time the episode aired. But today, when everyone was celebrating, he was watching Chris move around and trying not to break into tears off-camera while Chris acted his way flawlessly around the number even though there were a few times he wiped at his eyes delicately and Darren wasn't quite sure if they were real tears or Kurt tears. Maybe a little of both.
He listened to Paris and Ryan's comments to Chris about more emotion, more arms, more poise, and the look on Chris' face kind of made him think Chris was close to breaking point already. Hey, he knew the guy. They'd been working together pretty damn close for, how long had it been? Eighteen months? Long enough that he knew Chris well enough to know that it wasn't just acting anymore. He was starting to crack, his eyes glittering a little too much.
Lea squeezed his knee. "The camera will be off him soon and doing shoulder-shots of us. Hold it together."
He swallowed, discreetly scratching the corner of his eye and catching a tear on his index finger. "He just looks so sad."
"He's meant to." Her smile was kind of reflective of everyone in the room.
The recording of Chris' voice that had been floating through the room for the better part of the last two hours of shooting made him realise once again just how truly gifted Chris was with his voice. Singing may not be his ultimate passion, but he truly hoped that Chris never gave it up.
"Just remember the script," Lea murmured, squeezing his knee again and moving back to her seat.
He fidgeted with the hem of his shirt, moving on to picking at a thread on the cuff of his shirt. He knew Wardrobe would probably kill him but he needed a distraction, and he had nothing else handy to keep his hands busy.
There was a reset called and Chris moved back to his mark on the floor, clenching his hands by his sides and rolling his shoulders.
If Darren thought about the horror movies he'd seen in the past, watching Chris slip back and forth between Kurt and, well, Chris, was kind of like the possession themes that those movies contained. He could never understand how he had a degree from Michigan and still couldn't switch like Chris could. Maybe it was a little like those people who had multiple personalities, who shook a little and then were totally different people. Chris was like that. His posture would shift and his eyes would flicker and his jaw would tense and he was just Kurt. It was the weirdest thing, looking at Chris but not seeing Chris anymore.
He wondered what Chris saw when he looked over at him during scenes. Did he inhabit another body that was distinctly Blaine's? The ridiculous bowties and the overly gelled hair helped, but was his actual acting as good or was it just hidden by what Costuming could do to him?
The takes rolled on, going from so many different angles that Darren wondered if he was going to get dizzy watching the final cut of the number in the episode. Chris' lips were pressed into a thin line by the time the final cut for the frontal shots was called and Paris declared a ten minute break, reminding them all to take careful note of where they were sitting and how they were sitting just in case they'd been picked up in the corners of any of the shots.
Some people didn't move. Kevin turned to chat to Mark and Chord, Lea was chatting with Naya and Cory. Dianna and Heather grabbed water bottles and walked out.
Chris stood frozen to the spot in the middle of the room for at least a minute.
Darren couldn't tell if he was still Kurt or had reverted back to Chris. He didn't seem to be either, but he didn't seem to be both. He was just…there. Still as a statue, gaze trained on a spot on the floor that from Darren's seat on the risers didn't look especially interesting.
With a final glance at everyone else, he hopped out of his seat and down the risers and stopped in front of Chris.
"Hey." His hand brushed over Chris' and it seemed to startle Chris out of whatever world he'd lost himself to.
"Hi. Sorry. Just…y'know, thinking." His smile was strained, the edges of his eyes rimmed in red and making the coloured ring of his eyes look more green than blue.
"Do you want to get some fresh air? Water?" Darren looked past Chris' shoulder to where one of the grips was adjusting the lens on a camera.
"N-no, I…" Chris blinked and a tear slipped down his face, a shiny trail on his careful makeup. "Can we catch up after? I don't want to have a full breakdown here before we get back to filming."
Darren's touch to his hand was brief but firm. "The hard part is over."
"The hard part isn't over. Just because my face isn't getting shot this time, now I have to focus on all of you. And you," Chris scowled and prodded his finger to Darren's chest, "have got to hold it together better."
"You just sound-"
Darren sighed and narrowed his eyes at Chris. "I'll do my best to be the composed boyfriend during a tear-jerking Whitney number."
"You better, or Kurt will withhold sex."
Darren mock-gasped and Chris gave a breathy little laugh. "Poor Blaine! You know he doesn't like using his hand and-"
"Okay, okay, I'm going to stop the talk now before I can't keep it together for entirely different reasons," Chris interrupted, pressing a finger to Darren's lips. "Stop. Go back over there and sit down in your seat. Don't bawl your goddamn eyes out."
Darren licked at Chris' finger to get rid of it from his lips. "I wonder if it's possible to do that. Like, your eyes just rolling around on the floor."
"That is not an image I needed. Thanks a lot."
Darren grinned. "Any time!"
He bounced back to his seat while Chris rolled his eyes. Dianna and Heather returned, slipping their water bottles into their bags. Jenna was apparently in a nudge war with Harry as they shoved each other back and forth in their seats. Honestly, they were playing children. They weren't actually.
And wow, that sounded a lot like Chris in his head. When did he decide to be so mature?
The cameras and time rolled on, and if he'd thought it was bad with Chris near tears, it was nothing to watching the girls around him slowly dissolve. He was pretty sure Harry and Mark had turned away for a moment between takes to collect themselves and Lea was torn between looking proud and like she was going to break into hysterical sobs as she clutched at Cory's knee so tightly that her knuckles were white.
He held it together. Sort of. Kind of. Just.
Okay, not really. A couple of times he had to hold up his hand for an extra moment to pull himself together, and Lea was the same, and Dianna, and even Kevin got a little emotional. Amber would break down between the thirty second takes. He remembered how upsetting the Valentines episode had been with Whitney dying at the same time, how Amber had turned up at work and sat in a chair and just bawled for an hour. They'd had to change filming schedules and push things around until she was more coherent and her tearful face was appropriately covered up with makeup. Once she'd found Mercedes again, she'd been okay, hiding behind the veneer of a character. But this episode was hard for Amber, so hard, and Chris' voice on the recording… God, it was so pure and raw and he found himself wanting to throw scripts at Ryan and demand he change all the songs Blaine kept getting so Chris got a chance to sing more.
Just when he thought one of the girls was going to plead for it to be over, Paris decided that he was satisfied they had enough footage and they could break for a late lunch and return for shooting later.
Chris was already grabbing up Kurt's satchel and leaving so Darren hurried to hook his arm through the strap of his bag and chase after him. He knew everyone was spent emotionally. They needed the hour off to collect themselves.
He kept Chris in his sights, but didn't completely catch up to him. He wasn't surprised when Chris strode across the lot to his trailer and shielded his eyes from the glare as he followed him across the lot.
"I can come in, right?" he asked, poking his head inside as Chris tossed the bag onto the small cot bed and sat with a huff in one of his arm chairs.
"Course. Just shut the door behind you."
He ducked his head automatically, even though he was nowhere near Cory's level of tallness and faced no danger at knocking himself out. He wasn't sure why he did it. Maybe it was something about going up steps to get through a door made him feel like he was getting higher up to where the top of the frame would smack his head.
He dropped his bag to the small kitchenette table and knelt in front of Chris. "You can cry now, y'know. If you wanted. Just expect me to cry with you because holy fuck, man."
Chris covered his face to hide the tears and stifle his snort. "I think I should be saying thank you but watching everyone cry…I haven't had that since Cheesus. O-or when Kurt returned from Dalton and they all stood up at the end and I had to keep it together. It's overwhelming."
He got it. Kind of. He'd had some aching performances but never really in front of the entirety of the Glee club staring back at him with tearful expressions.
He heard a barely-there sniffle, a hitch in Chris' breathing, as he covered Chris' knees with his palms. "You're well aware I can't hug you in that fucking chair so if you don't shift to the bed, then I'm pulling you down onto the floor, and I'm not sure Wardrobe would approve."
Chris huffed again but moved to the bed, sitting on the edge so Darren could crawl in behind him and cradle him against Darren's chest. It was warm, comfortable, secure, safe.
Darren dropped his head so his cheek could rest against Chris' hair, a little stiff and waxy from the gel and spray they put in it as it reached up to the goddamn sky (while his went down…really, it was like Hair just wanted to fuck with them both by making their strands do the exact opposite of what was natural, while Chord, Cory, Harry and Kevin all wore their hair without fuss or much difference from their everyday look. Mark was an exception. Mark was always going to be an exception).
Chris didn't cry much. He wasn't known for being a crier, especially when someone else was around, but Darren was well aware that sometimes Chris just needed to be held.
"I know I say it about a lot of the songs we do, but man, you really killed it. Whitney would be proud."
Chris sat up a little straighter, wiping the edges of his eyes and humming softly. "You didn't know her. You don't know what she'd say."
"Hey." Darren frowned, prodding at Chris to turn around. When he didn't, Darren rolled his eyes and basically hauled Chris back into his lap and tilted Chris' face up determinedly. "I know you get all down on yourself sometimes because you don't think you're good enough or talented enough or whatever, but Jesus Christ, Chris. You're going to leave the fans running out of tissues."
"Your face will cause a lot of heartbreak too," Chris muttered, fingers flitting over his cheeks to wipe away the tears but not disrupt too much of his makeup. The perils of an easily annoyed makeup department.
"My face is naturally attractive and causes lots of heartbreak anyway," Darren said, jutting out his chin but grinning.
Chris shoved him gently but then tugged him back in close, his nose pressing into the collar of the shirt they had Darren wearing. "I'm glad that number is over. I don't like the hurt and the tears. It's been nice being in the background this year so I can focus on everything else instead and not have to break down on camera."
"You just don't like breaking down," Darren pointed out.
"Yeah, well, that too. I'm not attractive when I cry."
Darren snorted. "You're kidding me, right? You could write a book on how to cry attractively. It's not even fair how good you make it."
"Oh my God, stop."
Darren was laughing, the quaking of his body making Chris shift beneath him. "You're like, precious when you cry. I just want to go all maternal on you and check you over for skinned knees."
"Maternal? Good God, there's an image." Chris was giggling as he untangled himself from Darren's arms, looking down at his hands. "I just wanted to do a good job of it. She deserves it."
Darren reached out to cup Chris' cheek, his thumb circling the curve of bone beneath Chris' eye. "You did a fantastic job. We weren't crying because it was awful, I promise. And you know it's not a break up between you and I. Um. I mean, Kurt and Blaine. So take the performance as it was. Which was amazing and don't hold on to the emotions surrounding the scene, okay?"
Chris swallowed and Darren wished Chris would just listen and accept the praise, because he could see the doubt and disbelief flickering in his eyes.
"I…um…we should get lunch," Chris said finally, turning his face away from Darren's hold and climbing off the bed to search through his bag. "I…um, I think it's pizza today. Or maybe lasagne. Are you coming?"
Darren pursed his lips. "Of course. I'll need to swap out of these shirts though. Sauce on a hundred dollar vest would probably lose me at least one testicle."
He watched in amusement as Chris' face turned red. "Yes. Well. Okay. You'd better go before you lose something that could be exceptionally valuable to ruining the world for generations to come."
"Aww, come on. You think I'd encourage my kids into this lifestyle?"
Chris eyed him critically. "I wasn't saying they need to become singers or dancers or actors or Broadway stars or start their own theatre group or whatever else you've done in your relatively short life. People will coo over your children simply because they're yours. It's like no one cares much about the names of Angelina's twins, but they still care because they're her actual kids."
Darren blinked at Chris. "How did we swap to discussing Angelina's children?"
"Because you feared you'd lose a testicle. You might lose the other one if you don't get out of my trailer so I can change and eat."
"Ew, you'd eat my testicle?"
Chris froze and then realised what he'd said and the way it sounded. "Oh my God, get out before I melt into the floor."
Darren patted him on the shoulder. "You'd probably make a really attractive puddle too. Can you write a how-to book next, maybe?"
With a growl, Chris shoved him out of the trailer while he laughed. Sometimes, he was pretty sure he had the best job in the world and the best co-star in the history of performance.
But at the very present time, he was starving and only had twenty minutes left of the lunch break. Whoops.
A/N: IDK IDK. Everyone else is all "OMG KURT AND BLAINE MY CREYS" and I'm like, "But hey, how do Chris and Darren manage their emotions?". I was going to wait until after the episode but I couldn't write anything else in the meantime because all I kept seeing was glittery sad Darren eyes so...you're welcome? There won't be more. Save yourself the trouble and don't put it on story alert. Instead, feed me reviews? omnomnomnom :D xo