Never Say Never
So, here's the last chapter and it is so weird for me that the story has come to an end.
Thank you so much for every review and for everyone who has followed or favorited. I have learned so much as a writer through this story and I'm grateful for everybody who has helped me on the way.
I would especially like to thank Ped for pointing out the quibbles. You know I would take you as a beta in a heartbeat ;-)
Thank you so much tolsklainegleek who has helped me the last chapters of the way. I have been looking for someone like you for a long time!
I will edit the entire story as soon as I can, and put it as a download link on my tumblr page.
I will now go on hiatus and write "How you remind me".
I haven't decided if there will be a sequel to Never Say Never - maybe it will just be a couple of drabbles, but I'm still open to ideas.
Chapter 30 – Goodbye
Standing in front of Ryan's door to his private home had a calming effect on Darren. Ryan was obviously helping him out here and he cared enough to invite them on a Sunday night, even though he too had an early call tomorrow.
Ryan opened right away and dragged them inside for a hug. "So, did you guys have a great trip to San Francisco?" he asked as they walked through the hall and into the kitchen.
"Yes, thank you," Chris answered. "We have been spoiled rotten by Darren's parents."
Ryan laughed. "It doesn't matter how old you get, the minute you cross the door step to home, you're nothing but a kid again."
"God yes," Darren agreed. "But I have enjoyed being a kid for a weekend."
"I'm happy to hear that," Ryan said. The three of them got seated around a tall table on bar stools. Everything was beautifully decorated at Ryan and David Miller's home, and the kitchen was no exception. The dark color of mahogany wood was lifted with brighter colors on the cabins and drawers. "I have some white wine cooling," Ryan started, "but I can only imagine that you would want to get the hard stuff done before that."
"Yes, please," Darren begged. He laced his legs around the steel of the stool and leaned in on the table, resting his elbows there. He was getting tired and the suspense was wearing him out. "I'm imagining the worst and I'm fed up as it is already."
Ryan switched to a serious mode right away. "I get that, Darren, I really do, and I have to be honest with you, I feel guilty for some parts of the trouble."
"Why?" Darren asked with big confused eyes.
"I should have been looking after you more, and I should have made sure everything was okay when we offered you to become a regular." Ryan rubbed his cheek. "I talked with Jeff and David back then, and in hindsight David didn't come across as professional enough for the situation, even though he tried very hard to act like it."
"No, no, sir," Darren interrupted. "You couldn't possibly have known how bad things would turn out. I didn't even know how bad it was. Alla was the first one to understand."
Ryan tried to hide a smile. "You don't need to say sir, Darren."
"Sorry," Darren muttered, "just a habit from being on set." Most of the cast and crew called Ryan sir, like an endearment more than anything.
"So," Ryan started. "I have been asking around and I have been pulling a lot of strings, just like I promised you I would. Yesterday, things finally connected to a picture complete enough to make sense. What I'm about to tell you cannot go elsewhere. People close to me could lose their jobs or get their reputations damaged."
Darren and Chris nodded right away. "So, how serious is it?" Darren asked, with a pounding heart.
Ryan cleared his throat. "David apparently has a reputation that leaves a lot to wish for. He is cocky in a business that requires a lot of diplomacy, and he has burned down a lot of bridges he could have used to back down a bit. About 6 months ago he started networking with some connections that showed interest in you, Darren. And David was right about one thing; it is some heavy guys with money enough to make the industry moving. The company is an association of different investors called "Jefferson and Marcs". They are good for the money, and movies preapproved by them will happen. But they're also known for interfering with the storylines and the casting process. They love mainstream stories with the "right" sort of moral." Ryan let the sarcasm shine through with an arched eyebrow. "Let me put it this way," he said for clarification, "I would never receive as much as a dollar from them."
Darren twitched on the stool and swallowed hard. "What is the right sort of moral," he asked suspiciously.
"Conservative values," Ryan carried on. "Straight, solid, mainstream characters that never second guess what is right or wrong. The same thing goes for the actors they cast. No skeletons in the closet, no extreme liberal opinions that shines through in interviews; and no "New Normal" for sure.
Darren closed his eyes and tried to control the rage that grew from within him. "And no homosexuality," he then breathed out.
"Right," Ryan confirmed, "not on the outside image at least. And maybe that's what really troubles me about them. They don't really care, as long as the outside image covers up the things they don't like. And that's why they like to keep the publicists very close, because they need to be sure that whatever could hurt their movie, or the brand of the main characters will be covered up right away."
Chris moaned quietly next to him.
"I cannot believe this," Darren stuttered. Nothing of this made sense, and at the same time it made perfect sense, which was scarier than anything else.
Ryan twitched on his stool too, and Darren realized that Chris and Ryan had a non verbal conversation with each other across the table.
"But why would they be even remotely interested in me in the first place," Darren then asked. "I mean, I play a gay character, and I support LBGT. You don't have to Google me that much, or ask a lot around to figure out who I am as a person and what I stand for."
Ryan's smile was sad now. "You see, that's the hypocritical angle of it all. Because doing the things you do, you appear as being politically correct. So it's okay to support LGBT, as long as you're not gay yourself. Besides that, I think your role in "Imogene" has helped you far here. They just needed to see that you could play a straight character, and you have proved that."
"This makes me sick," Darren whined and locked eyes with Chris.
Chris put his hand on Darren's back and rubbed him gentle. "I know, Darren, it makes me sick too."
"I realize this must be a lot to take in," Ryan said softly when Darren had been given a moment. "But I'm afraid that's not all. In this negotiation with Jefferson and Marcs, David has given them the impression that you are all on board, and that you have verbally agreed to the deal David is closing. Furthermore, it looks like David has been bribed with a decent amount of money to "keep you on track" so to speak."
Darren could hear his heartbeat in his ears by now; like the beat of a drum, calming him and fueling his anger at the same time. "Explain to me what keep me in track means," he fumed.
"Cover up stories," Ryan explained. "When David first started talking with Jefferson and Marcs, he didn't know about Chris. But from the moment you told him about your love for him it became a major obstacle for the networking."
"Do you think Jefferson and Marcs knows about our relationship?" Chris asked frowning.
"It's hard to tell," Ryan answered. "David hasn't been paid for nothing. I think they know something needs covering, and with a lot of money already going David's way, they really have him on lock down. If things get out of hand they have paid money for something David hasn't been able to provide."
Darren hid his face behind the palms of his hands. "And then I handed him the pictures with Jennifer and me," he said. "I was giving him Jennifer on a silver platter."
"I'm afraid so," Ryan sighed. "She would have made the perfect beard, and I think that's what David intended her to be when he published the pictures"
Darren turned pale and felt sick to his stomach. Weeks of anxiety and confusion had come to an end, but how could he feel relieved about something like this. It wasn't even about the money David might or might not have received, it was the betrayal. How could David not have known that something like this would be suffocating Darren and leave him no room? How could David not have talked to him about this a long time ago?
He dropped his head backwards and looked up at the sealing with tears in his eyes. Chris reached for him right away. He moved his stool closer, until their legs and arms were touching and then he intertwined their fingers. Darren looked at him and Chris just dried away his tears. There was nothing but love in those blue eyes caressing him, and Darren breathed the strength coming from Chris directed to him. Ryan reached for Darren's other hand and squeezed it before he slowly pulled away again.
Darren took a deep breath as Chris rubbed his knuckles. Again the touch of the ring was the connection Chris reminded him of, as unspoken as it was.
Ryan just let them be for a moment before he spoke again. "The things I have told you this far, I have said to you as your boss, Darren. But now I want to tell you something as your friend."
Gratitude filled Darren as he locked eyes with Ryan.
"You do not need Jefferson and Marcs. It's right that they have a lot of money, and they have supported some great movies and some great actors, but from what I know about you and your beautiful heart, it's not the kind of people you want to be working with. You are not missing out on anything. You are so talented and a lot of chances will come your way no matter what." He hesitated for a moment, but then continued. "I always try not to give my actors career advice. You guys have managers and agents for that, but today I will make an exception and say, please do not sign a contract with Jefferson and Marcs, Darren; and please watch your back when it comes to David. He cannot force you to sign a contract you haven't approved off, but he will not hesitate to put a lot of pressure on you, or tell you that you are blowing the only big chance you will ever get."
The will to fight suddenly shot through Darren, like a hot empowering force. He would not take this anymore, and he would not put Chris through any more than he already had to endure. He wanted to fight for their love, and he would not let David call the shots. If he had to shout his love for Chris from the rooftops, that's what he would do; and he would do it with joy and pride. He nodded, clearer in his head by now and looked determined back at Ryan. "What do I do?" he asked. "What CAN I do?"
Ryan smiled. "Well, let's get to business on that one," he answered, "over a nice chilled glass of white wine." He found a plate with cheese, grapes and crackers from the fridge, and poured the wine in three beautiful glasses. Darren suddenly felt hungry and started with the crackers right away. Chris giggled next to him and received a kick under the table in return.
"You have different options ahead of you," Ryan continued, when they all had food on their plates and the mood had lifted a bit. "If we somehow could prove that David has received money for prepping you, we could take it to court. But as appealing as that might sound, it will be a lot of hard work, and the burden of proof lies with us. It would also damage David forever and you would have to be okay with that."
Darren shook his head still chewing on a cracker. "No," he said when he was done. "That's not what I want. He can be the asshole, not me; but there have to be some consequences for him at least."
"I couldn't agree more, but it's your shot, so I'm just telling you how I see it," Ryan stated. "Your other option is to confront David. Tell him what you know, but not how you know, obviously. It will give you the upper hand if he admits to be guilty as charged. However, if he ends up denying everything, he can make your life a living hell the two years your contract is still running. It will be his word against yours."
Darren sighed. It was an option at least, and a better one than the first, but it would still be hard.
"The third option will require some contemplating from both of you before you decide to go there," Ryan said.
The boys looked at him with serious faces.
"You can let it slip," Ryan explained with raised eyebrows, "like I told you the first time."
"What good would that do?" Chris asked curious.
"If you let it slip and make your relationship public all David's networking will be destroyed, and since he hasn't told Darren about any of it, it's hard for him to blame him later." Ryan looked at them. "Darren hasn't broken the contract and he hasn't done anything illegal. He might have acted against his publicist's advice, but that happens every day in Hollywood. And furthermore," he continued, "if you, Chris, are the one slipping the news, David can blame Darren even less."
Chris looked thoughtful. "How would we go about that; and when?"
Ryan leaned forward. "We are just about to wrap up the season, and as you know, most of the cast is signed up for a lot of interviews in the weeks ahead of us. We cannot "feed" a journalist; that will come out all wrong and rehearsed, but if you guys just look out for the opportunity and make it appear like "pure" coincidence, it will work perfectly."
Darren shook his head and cupped Chris' hand. "Chris, you've always said you didn't want to go public, at least not for a while. I don't think this is the right way to do it." He turned to Ryan again. "There has to be a forth option, right?"
Chris interrupted him right away. "I would be okay with it, actually," he said with big eyes. "If this could solve your problems with David and keep Jennifer out of the woods, it would be worth it."
Darren bit his lip. "But it wouldn't keep Jen out of the woods. She would still have to answer a lot of stupid questions."
"Yes, but it would prevent David from using her again," Chris explained.
"You think he would do that?" Darren asked.
"I think he would," Ryan jumped in. "I think he has proved beyond shadow of a doubt that he will pull the strings he needs to."
Darren felt torn. He didn't mind going public, but he hated to put this kind of pressure on Chris.
"You obviously have to think this one through and talk about it," Ryan said. "There is no turning back once you're out there, and things will be heated around you as soon as the news hit the media. Just remember, that you decide how much you want to share with the rest of the world. Going public doesn't mean you have to do interviews together, or that you have to tell how your in-laws are. You call the shots completely. It's just important that you know how you want to play it from the start. You can always give more, and the media will be eating out of your hands if you do, but it's nearly impossible to pull back. So, think about it and make a wise decision."
Darren could easily sense that Chris was watching him closely the next couple of days; and he enjoyed the attention and consideration. The things that had been thrown his way were pretty harsh and he really needed Chris to be there, more than ever.
They agreed to postpone the decision and give it a few days rest. Instead they focused on the last episode of the season. A lot of people were brought to tears, and a weird sad feeling, mixed with giddy outbursts dominated the set.
Darren knew he would be working less with some of his best friends in the season to come, but they would always be his friends, and the days and nights with Chris was all that mattered right now; so he sometimes felt the emotional rollercoaster the rest of the cast was experiencing didn't affect him quite as much.
At the end of the week Fox was throwing an after party for the cast and crew. The last scene, which had been between Cory, Chris and Lea had been wrapped, and now people were having a good time.
Darren and Chris were slow dancing in the corner of the dance floor; it was getting late and they were not really interested in sharing their own little private world with anybody.
Darren pressed against Chris' body, nuzzled his neck or stole a few kisses whenever he could get away with it.
The happiness settled between them, but Darren would have to lure this beautiful man home very soon. It was getting harder to keep his hands to himself and Chris was so sweet, and caring, and he smelled like kisses and love.
Chris was on the same page, apparently. "Let's go home, Dee," he whispered and blew cooling air into the damp curls behind Darren's ear. "I need to feel you, and to touch you in places that would be inappropriate as long as we are here," he explained.
Darren hummed and turned them around in the dance. "I'm all yours, baby," he mumbled and laced their hands together between their bodies. "You just say when."
Chris smiled and steadied their bodies as he kissed Darren lightly on the mouth. Then he led them through the crowded dance floor with determined steps. They greeted their friends on the way, but not once did Chris let go of Darren's hand.
They only grabbed what was absolutely necessary from the trailers and headed for Chris' car.
The silence between them was charged with sexual need and Darren had to fight to keep focus on the road ahead, despite the fact that Chris wasn't touching him, or saying anything. He just smiled in the dark and bit his lip, but it was enough to drive Darren crazy.
"God, Chris," Darren moaned. "We need to get home like right now!"
Chris smiled into his hand and started to rub his lips with his fingertips. He was teasing Darren like shit and he knew exactly what he was doing. Chris didn't have to say anything. He could turn Darren on with the smallest of movements and right now Darren could do nothing but tighten the grip around the steering wheel.
When he finally parked the car in front of Chris' house, after driving for what felt like an eternity, it was Darren's turn to push the tension between them. He leaned over, and hidden in the darkness in the car he started to suck lightly on the spot between Chris' jaw line and his ear. Chris responded immediately. That spot was like an entrance to heaven sometimes, and Chris melted in the kisses.
"Look, we better get inside," Chris panted, with a snip of Darren's shirt clutched in his fist. "This is getting out of hand, and I cannot be held responsible for my actions in two minutes."
Darren chuckled with a deep voice. "I guess that would be a bit more out in public than we were aiming for."
"Darren, now," Chris whined and grabbed the keys before he went out of the car.
Darren smirked and followed closely after, making sure that Chris could feel him at all times.
Inside the house they kicked their shoes off, and before Darren could make a move Chris got a hold of his shirt and dragged him along, as he walked backwards. Darren managed to untuck Chris' shirt as they walked, sneaking a hand underneath the fabric. The soft skin was warm and shivering under his fingertips. Before they reached the bedroom Chris had unbuttoned Darren's shirt and dropped it on the floor with a roaming movement over Darren's shoulders.
Darren buried his fingers in Chris' hair and pulled just enough to expose Chris' neck. Then he sucked over the pulse, beating in Chris' vein, and continued up to the jaw line. "I believe I was interrupted in the car," he said and caught Chris on the fall down on the bed.
"I just can't win with you, can I?" Chris whimpered. "I start out believing I'm all in control, and then … I just … shit, Darren." Chris shivered when Darren's hands went further down, stripping him of his pants, cupping him and caressing him. He rolled his eyes. "Can you … um …. Please … Jeez I'm not gonna last that long …"
Darren hummed and let himself drown in the pleasure. "Can you just shut up, baby," he whispered teasingly.
"Mng," Chris sighed.
Heated moments later, when they came together, Darren saw nothing but big blue eyes lingering on his face, with dilated pupils and an expression of awe and love. Chris had pinned Darren's hands down above his head and now he was kissing him deeply with shaky breath.
"How can this be more intense every time we have sex?" Darren asked softly between the kisses.
Chris smiled against his lips before he answered. "Maybe it's because we have to fight so hard for our love," he suggested and stroked Darren's cheek with his fingertips. "Or maybe it's because you're too hot for your own good."
Darren bit his lip and turned them around so they were lying side by side, facing each other. "It's definitely the latter."
"I thought so too," Chris answered with a lopsided smile.
Darren closed his eyes. "You're crazy."
"I know. Look, Darren," Chris roamed his hand down Darren's strong arm and tangled their fingers. "Let's go public."
Darren licked his lips as a warm feeling ran through his body. "And you're sure about that?"
"Yes I am," Chris answered. "But I'm not going to share you with the rest of the world, just because people know."
"You don't have to," Darren reassured with a smile. "What happens between you and me is private. But are we ready? There are so many downfalls to this."
"Maybe," Chris replied, "but think about all the possibilities it will grant us as well."
"Such as?" Darren asked in a haze of love.
Chris got up on one elbow. "Like you could move in with me, for real; and all your stuff could be here; the little that's left in your place, I mean."
Darren's heart was beating loud. He was practically living here already, but there was something really emotional about being asked like that. "I would love that, Chris," he said, unable to stop the huge grin possessing his face.
"Or we could find a place together," Chris suggested. "Something we both agree on."
"We don't have to do that, Chris," Darren answered. "I love it up here in the hills, and I love your balcony, and the view."
They kept talking for a while, trying to stay awake, because life was so full of options, but eventually they had to give in.
The last thing Darren heard Chris say, before they drifted off, was; I'm gonna shout it from the rooftops, Dee.
As soon as Darren and Chris informed Ryan about their decision a lot of things had to be done. Their families were the first to be notified and a lot of text messages were exchanged between their mothers. They prepared each other for whatever might come.
Then Darren called and talked to Jennifer, and with his phone switching between him and Chris they were assured that Jen was ready too.
Finally the main cast was informed. It was their closest friends and they needed to be prepared for what might happen during the interviews.
Within a month, three major press conferences would be perfect for the purpose. It was Comic-Con, Glee Academy Screening and Fox Upfront.
It was hard to tell which one would be the best, but everybody was on board and ready to take the chance, as soon as it showed.
Comic-Con was up first and Chris was a wreck. It all kind of depended on him and suddenly the nerves kicked in. But when nothing came from it, he was hard on himself. Darren had to calm him down back stage and reassure him that they would get there the next time.
The next interview, a week later, was Glee Academy Screening. They were told that the interviewer was pretty new in the game, but she was a huge fan and she would do everything in her power to make it a smooth time.
Darren and Chris decided not to sit next to each other. Chris needed to focus, and asked for Cory and Amber as his wingmen. They were both there to direct things the right way.
The room was already buzzing with excitement before the cast had even showed, and when they entered they were showered with a lot of love. Chris took a deep breath and waved to the smiling faces, along with the rest of the cast.
The interviewer made a heartfelt welcome and introduced herself as Paula; then she presented the cast. Besides Ryan and Brad it was Cory, Lea, Amber, Naya, Heather, Kevin, Jenna, Mark, Chord, Dianna, Harry, and Darren and Chris.
Soon Chris caught up on a more relaxed vibe compared to Comic-Con. Everybody seemed happy and witty, and Paula was doing a great job, even though she wasn't that experienced.
At first the questions were centered on season three. The last two episodes had not been aired yet, so everybody had to be careful not to spoil anything about the wrap of the season. Then the questioned shifted to the more personal stuff.
Paula asked about crazy fan stories and everybody in the cast had funny stories to add.
Now the mic was open for questions from the audience and things stayed light hearted. The third question from the audience came from a girl in her twenties, obviously flustered about her opportunity.
"I have a question for Chris," she said with a shaky breath.
Chris smiled at her and waved encouragingly because she seemed so nervous.
"Do you get a lot of offers because you're single?" The girls face went red like a cherry even before the fans in the room started cheering.
The cast around him giggled and Kevin leaned forward and looked at Chris with a disgruntled face. "Yeah, I would like to know too, Chris, 'cause I'm not getting enough offers. You're hogging my spotlight, I just know it!"
Chris bit his lip and started laughing. "Let me put it like this, I could have been married a couple of times if I had said yes," He smiled to the girl in the audience. She didn't seem fully recovered and Chris was wondering if she just had won a bet between some of her friends.
Paula picked up on the subject though and saved the poor girl.
"Are you saying that you actually receive marriage proposals?" she asked surprised.
"Sure," Chris answered and recalled the last one, offered by a young girl with pigtails and braces.
"Is that from boys or girls?"
"Um … from both actually," Chris stated with his poker face in place.
The crowd was whistling and Kevin hid his eyes behind his hands.
Paula looked puzzled. "Do you think you get more of that because you are single?"
Things got quiet inside of Chris when he realized that this could be his chance, or their chance. He made a funny face to stall the time enough to make eye contact with Ryan. Ryan just nodded; it was barely noticeable, but it was all Chris needed.
He zoomed back to the crowded theater, and to Paula, who looked at him with anticipation. He needed to play her just right, make her pursue the issue even further. He started to charm her. "I believe that's a trick question," he said with a smirk.
Cory and Amber started giggling. They knew exactly how to help him here, because suddenly the subject became really interesting.
Paula narrowed in on their reaction.
"Okay," Chris said and rolled his eyes dramatically. "Maybe I should say that I'm no longer single, so it's only fair that the proposals go to Kevin instead."
There it was, out in the open; and if Paula was just as clever as she looked like, she would recognize a scoop wagging its tail right in her face.
The audience went crazy as soon as the statement settled. Chris couldn't help laughing now and Cory leaned over and covered his mic before whispering, "Now you just go for it Chris."
Chris managed to take a quick glance at Darren before the commotion got under control and to his relief Darren's smile could have melted an ice berg.
Paula opened her mouth and looked at Chris with big eyes. Then it looked like she got a hold on herself again, and the journalist in her kicked in. "Do we know the lucky gay?" she said. "I mean guy … guy." She grinned at Chris a little blushed by now. "Does he work in the industry too?"
Chris smirked and felt his own cheek blush as well, that part he didn't need to play. He still couldn't talk about Darren without getting flustered. "Yes, he works in the industry," Chris answered with a lopsided smile, "but he is not nearly as famous as I am though," he stated with a confident tone of voice.
The statement made Cory crack up, and Amber's chair next to him started shaking as she tried to suppress her laughter.
Chris picked up the flow right away. "I mean, I have more twitter followers than he has, and um …. I think that's the right way to measure these kinds of things."
Now the rest of the cast followed the ones already broken down, and both Ryan and Brad were fighting a smile as well. It was obvious for the audience and Paula that something was going on up stage.
"But he has more chest hairs than I do," Chris then added, "so I think that equals things out."
Amber gave up and so did Mark and Kevin. Chris was on a roll and nothing could stop him now.
Paula's eyes grew even bigger, if that was even possible, when she asked her next question. "How did you guys meet? Was it work related?"
Chris tapped his index finger on his lips in a thoughtful manner. "I would um … yes, I believe you can put it like that," he then answered and leaned back in his chair, crossing his legs with a coy movement. "But I don't kiss and tell, you know." More laughter spread around him. "… unless it's on camera," he then added and tilted his head.
Paula literally bounced in her chair by now, but she had to wait for the crowd to calm down before she could continue. "So you've kissed this guy a lot?" she finally asked.
Chris rolled his eyes and dropped his head backwards. "Yes, you wouldn't even care to know how much."
"On or off camera?" Paula asked squinting.
The room got really quiet and at the same time a buzzing energy loaded everything with anticipation.
"Both," Chris finally said with a smirk.
The fans in the audience went completely crazy after that and the cast started looking at Darren now, who put the tip of his finger between his teeth with a giddy smile, trying to look innocent. Chris laughed and took a long gulp of water from the bottle next to him; using his hand as a fan to cool down a bit.
Ryan and Brad laughed as well now, and did nothing to stop the commotion.
When Paula finally got a word again, she asked the question Chris was sure had been burning on her lips for the last couple of minutes. "Can you tell us who you are dating, or is it like a big secret?"
Chris put on a puzzled expression before answering. "Oh, you want to know his name, silly me, why didn't I get to that right away." He made the leg that was crossed bounce in the air and made a funny face. "Well, I'm dating Darren Criss."
Laughter and cheering and applause filled the room as Darren got up and bowed to the right and the left.
For the first time Paula seemed seriously lost and Chris decided to give her another ride. "Oh don't act like you hadn't guessed it already," he waved her off. "I'm sure the chest hair thing gave it away."
Paula looked at Darren now, obviously amazed by the scene played in front of her. "Darren, do you have anything you want to say?" she asked.
Darren nodded seriously. "Can I please have more twitter followers, because Chris is constantly on my back about that."
Now Paula shook her head slowly, with her breath caught in her chest, "I don't know how to move on from here. Um, we were talking about Glee, right?"
With the giggles still going through the rows Ryan grabbed a bottle of water and offered it to her with a smile. She looked at him with a twitched smile and took a huge gulp of water. "Thank you," she breathed out and browsed through the pages of questions, still all confused and disoriented. "Okay, well, um I ... um," she tried to continue.
This time Brad came to her rescue "Ask about season 4," he prompted with a loud theater whisper. People laughed again.
"Right, um ... excellent idea," she mumbled. "So, is there anything you guys can tell us about next season? She looked all lost at Brad and Ryan.
This time Ryan was the one to pick up the cue. "What an excellent question," he responded and beamed at her.
Chris had never loved Ryan more!
Ryan had not only allowed Chris to make the slip at a big press conference, that was supposed to be all about Glee, but he had also made it less of a deal; and now Ryan and Brad would help the press conference back on its track.
Backstage the atmosphere was intense. Everybody was giddy about how well the slip had worked, but they also knew Darren's publicist would throw a fit. The cast didn't know the details about Darren's problems with David, but they knew something was utterly wrong, and now everybody just waited for Darren's phone to ring.
They would all have a break for 30 minutes and then there would be a signing session in the hallway with everybody from the cast.
It took five excruciating minutes before Darren's phone rang, and by the first sound of it everybody in the room got real quiet. Darren didn't even check caller id, he just knew it had to be David. He grabbed Chris by the hand as they walked away to get some privacy before he answered.
"Hey, David," Darren said and stuck his head together with Chris so they both could hear the conversation.
David didn't have time for small talk and he cut right to the chase, just as they had expected. His voice was stern and at the same time he sounded shaken and thrown off. There was no way he had foreseen this move.
"Darren, I don't know what kind of SHIT you're trying to pull, or what you're trying to prove, but your so called boyfriend has just screwed up every hour of hard work I have EVER done for you the last two years. You are now officially back to square one, and you can forget about the part I was so close getting to you!"
Darren took a deep breath and collected himself before answering. "I don't see how my relationship with Chris can screw up a part, and if it does, I'm not sure I wanted the part in the first place."
"Fuck Darren, you are so naïve at times that it hurts, and if Chris or Alla talked you into this then they don't care shit about you. They just want to hold you down until you're no longer a threat."
"David," Darren snapped. "I'm gonna stop you right there, before you say things you will regret and before you insult people I hold very dear any further."
Darren could hear David hiss. "I don't regret ANYTHING Darren, and if you think that …"
"David, I know who you are networking with." Darren interrupted his publicist with an iced voice. "I know you are closely connected with Jefferson and Marcs, and that they have had some issues with my personality."
David got quiet on the other end of the line and Darren decided to continue. "I also know that you have received a decent amount of money to keep me "straight" in the public's eye, all without consulting me, or asking me what I wanted!"
"Look, Darren," David said, "I don't know what you think you have heard, but I can assure you that it's far from the truth. "
Darren clenched his jaw. "So if I call someone at Jefferson and Marcs right now, they will know nothing about me?"
David didn't say anything.
"I thought so," Darren stated. "As for the money David that is illegal as shit; and it could have damaged both of us forever. Chris hasn't destroyed anything, and Alla isn't even involved in this. You're the one risking EVERYTHING, so don't you dare try for one second to put the blame on me, or on Chris. And for a publicist who knows that reputation is everything, you're for sure shitty at doing your own job!"
David breathed hard, but for the first time he sounded defeated. "You don't know anything about the kind of pressure a publicist has to face every day."
"No, I don't, because you're not telling me anything, and I cannot work like that."
"Who have you been talking to, Darren?"
"I haven't been talking to anybody. Someone close to me cared enough to tell me this, but I'm not gonna take this any further unless you force me to."
David cleared his voice. "What are my options?"
"I refuse to break the contract between us, but I think the best thing would be for us to go our separate ways and release each other from the contract."
"And if I refuse to do that?"
"Then I will finish my two years with you, even though it will be hell for both of us; but if you ever pull any shit, I will take action. It's up to you." Darren pressed lightly against Chris' body right next to him. He was getting tired and he needed this to be over.
"I um, I need to think about this Darren," David stuttered.
"You will have until the end of the day," Darren answered and closed his eyes.
"No," David objected weakly, "I need a couple of days, at least."
"No," Darren replied right away, "I'm done with that."
"Okay," David said with a shaken voice. "I'll let you know."
They both hung up and before Darren had the chance to say anything Chris had wrapped him in his arms and held him real tight. "I love you," Chris whispered and pecked a kiss on Darren's neck.
"I love you too," Darren said, "more than you know."
They held their foreheads together and embraced the moment. "How are you feeling right now?" Chris asked.
Darren had to think about that for a while before knowing for sure. "I actually feel real good considering that I have just threatened to destroy another man's career."
"David did this to himself," Chris said calming, "don't you ever forget that!"
Darren leaned in and caught the beautiful formed, red lips in front of him. He sucked lightly at Chris' bottom lip and dug in to taste more of him. The kiss was slow and seductive and Chris didn't fight it at all. The pleasure coiled together in Darren's abdomen, it was impossible to stay away from Chris. It was not just now, it was always. The need to touch him and kiss him was always there; like a constant tune coloring every feeling.
"I am weirdly turned on right now, Dee," Chris breathed out.
Darren chuckled. "Well your timing sucks, you know that, right?"
"I know," Chris answered with heated cheeks. "I just think I'm so relieved right now, that my blood flows pretty freely, you know."
"Oh," Darren said and waggled his eyebrows. "I can show you the hairs on my chest," he offered. "I have been told I have quite a lot of them."
"I've never said that," Chris objected, "I just said you had more than me, that's all!"
They still chuckled as they joined their friends backstage again. Mark was the first one to lose patience. "So," he said and threw his hands in the air. "What is happening?"
Darren smiled to all the worried faces. "Well, nothing's been settled yet, but it looks promising."
Within a second Darren and Chris was the center of a huge group hug.
Darren and Chris requested not to sit next to each other at the signing. They didn't need to stir things up further more. But right before they entered the hallway, where a long table was set up, and fans were waiting in line, Chris gave Darren a quick kiss and a whispered I love you.
Darren knew he was supposed to play it down, but nothing could remove the big giddy smile Darren felt on his face with all the sweet things the fans were saying to him, as he signed posters, t-shirts, caps and hands or arms. A very shy girl was particularly sweet. "He is really cute," she said and side eyed Chris.
Darren laughed and started to sign her poster. "Yeah, he's the cutest," he admitted with a wink and drew the smiley next to his name.
Ten minutes into the signing he suddenly felt the buzz of his phone in his pocket. He took a quick glance at the text before the next in line was ready. He read it with big eyes and a beating heart. This was almost too good to be true. He quickly scribbled a message down on a small piece of paper and handed it to Mark who was sitting next to him. Mark took the note a bit puzzled and then his face cracked into a huge grin.
"D just released me of the contract" it said.
Mark passed the note on to Amber and returned to the fan standing in front of him. "This is an amazing day, don't you think?" he asked beaming and signed her poster. Darren couldn't help chuckling in his own seat.
When the note reached Chris their eyes met for a moment, and Chris had to blink away a tear. Warmth spread through Darren's body like fire.
God, he loved that man so much!
Somebody, hold me too close,
Somebody, hurt me too deep,
Somebody, sit in my chair
And ruin my sleep
And make me aware
Of being alive,
Somebody, need me too much,
Somebody, know me too well,
Somebody, pull me up short
And put me through hell
And give me support
For being alive,
Make me alive,
Make me alive,
Make me confused,
Mock me with praise,
Let me be used,
Vary my days.
But alone is alone, not alive.
Somebody, crowd me with love,
Somebody, force me to care,
Somebody, let me come through,
I'll always be there,
As frightened as you,
To help us survive
Please leave a last review, and then remember; sometimes untrue rumors are true ;-)
I owe nothing but my imagination.
Melissa MoTown Side 35