Author's Note: I know, I know... Pretty much the last thing on earth I should be doing at this point is writing a new fic instead of working on one of my numerous WIPs. But that's the weird thing about writing, sometimes you just have to go where the inspiration takes you. This came out of my struggles in writing the next chapter of "If You Fall, I Will Catch You." And after Chapter 4 of "Our Time is Short" which was pretty much angst city, I was in the mood to write something focused on Darren that was a little lighter and allowed Darren to be well...fun Darren for a change while still having some hurt/comfort and CrissColfer-y relationship stuff. This fic is what emerged. Think of it as an angst palette cleanser that will hopefully have a little something for everyone. Lots of CrissColfer friendship with some hints of developing romance, a little hurt/comfort (but less intense than most of my other fics), and lots of Darren/Criss banter and humor. Also fluff. Oh god, the fluff will be everywhere. This fic is mostly written (6,000 words or so) so I plan to update frequently. I'll definitely post Ch. 2 tomorrow. In fact, it's already queued to post. Hope you enjoy! If you like it, please feel free to reblog, like, and rec the hell out of it. Nothing would make me happier. If you do rec it, please tag me on the post so that I can see it and flail happily.
"Mhhmm..." Chris groaned at the sound of his phone's muffled ringtone. He cracked one eye open and peered at a pile of laundry on a chair near his bed the appeared to be vibrating, the faint glow of the screen shining through a pile of white undershirts. A glance at the alarm clock confirmed what Chris already knew. It was late. Much too late. 3:06 am late. And clearly not an appropriate time for making or receiving phone calls.
Chris had gotten into bed only minutes ago, determined to bang out at least ten pages of his newest screenplay before sleeping in order to keep up with the (only slightly ridiculous) timeline he'd created for himself months earlier. He'd snuck into his bed and been out like a light in mere seconds, already dreading the 6:15 am alarm clock wake-up that was necessitated by his 7 am call time on set.
Chris momentarily considered letting the call go to voicemail and ignoring it until morning, but given that Chris had a younger sister who ended up in the hospital far too often, not answering the phone in the middle of the night was simply a luxury he couldn't afford. "I swear to god, if Dianna or Lea are drunk dialing me again, I'm going to kill them," he mumbled under his breath as he reluctantly dragged himself from the warmth of his duvet in order to retrieve his iPhone. After rooting around in the pile of laundry for a few seconds and untangling the phone from a pair of grey cotton boxer briefs, Chris could finally make out the glow of the screen and the sound of the ringtone. Before his eyes adjusted to the brightness of the screen that now lit the dim room, he recognized the ringtone. Teenage Dream. Chris frowned in confusion. That was Darren's ringtone. Why was Darren calling him at 3:00 am when they both had a 7 AM call?
Chris swiped his thumb across the screen to answer the call, chuckling at the goofy picture of Darren on the display screen. Darren had a habit of stealing Chris' phone while they were on set, taking lots of silly pictures, and leaving them for Chris to find. Once Darren had replaced every contact photo in Chris' phone with pictures of himself so that no matter who called Chris, a picture of Darren appeared. Chris' mom was calling? A picture of Darren wearing a wig and apron and cradling a baby doll popped up. Lea called? That would be accompanied by a shot of Darren doing his best "Lea Michele posing on the red carpet" impression. For Chord's picture, Darren had put on an awful Justin Bieber wig and was doing some sort of complicated-looking boy band dance move. Chris' favorite was probably the picture that popped up for Mark. Darren had carefully sculpted his hair into an overly gelled, very curly mohawk and was wearing a white sleeveless undershirt and a classic Mark scowl. He'd never admit to it, but Chris had actually saved the picture before he forced Darren to change back all of his contact pictures. Why? Well, if anyone asked, it was because of how ridiculous Darren's hair looked, but in reality it had more to do with just how well Darren wore the bad boy look. Not that Chris had noticed or anything.
Chris brought the phone to his ear, his curiosity piqued at what would cause Darren to call at such an odd hour. "Hello?" Chris answered sleepily. "Darren?"
"Hey, uh hey Chris," Darren started sheepishly, his own voice sounding rough and sleepy as well. "Sorry to call so late..."
"It's okay," Chris answered automatically. "So what's up? Is everything okay?" Chris trailed off. His stomach flipped slightly at the long sigh that Darren answered with. He sounded...off somehow, but in a way that Chris couldn't quite pin down. At least not yet.
"Uh yeah, I mean...sort of...I think so, but I'm not sure...that's kind of why I'm calling." Darren rambled cryptically.
"Okay Darren? You aren't making any sense and it's 3 AM. Not really the time for speaking in code. Start at the beginning, go to the end, and don't leave out the middle. Got it?"
Darren let out a soft chuckle at Chris' response, his sleep hoarsened voice rumbling quite sexily as he laughed low and deep. Despite the hour, Chris couldn't help but smile at the sound, magnified in the silence of the early morning air. Then Darren's chuckle ended abruptly, replaced by a sharp intake of breath that caused Chris' skin to prickle. And immediately, Chris was sitting forward, flipping on a bedside lamp and rooting around for a pair a semi-clean jeans on the floor. Because that one sound told Chris everything he needed to know about the situation. Something was wrong with Darren. And he needed Chris, whether he was ready to admit it or not.
"Darren?" Chris called out questioningly, his voice softer, worried. "Dare, are you okay?"
There was another pause that seemed to stretch on for far too long, causing Chris' stomach to flip with anxiety. Then Darren was back, his voice sounding tighter and more strained than it had been only seconds earlier, doing nothing to quell Chris' fears.
"Yeah...sorry, just needed...a minute. Um, so I'm sick. And it's probably not a big deal at all, but I was feeling pretty miserable, so I called my friend who's a resident in med school, and she said it sounded like appendicitis and that I needed to go to the ER now. And I hate to ask you to come out at this time of night...but Joey's still gone on the Starkid tour...and I wasn't sure if I could...or should drive...and I just..." Darren blurted out in a rush.
"Darren!" Chris shouted firmly, silencing him. "Stop...just breathe, okay? It's fine. I'm glad you called. I'm on my way."
There was a protracted moment of silence over the line during which the only sound Chris could hear was the sound of Darren's slightly ragged breathing. Each moment of silence brought another pinprick of fear and Chris found himself holding his breath while he waited for a response from Darren.
Finally, he couldn't stand the anxiety any longer and spoke up. "Darren? You okay? You still with me?"
"Yeah...yeah," Darren whispered into the phone. "That's...it's really cool of you to do this, Chris. I appreciate it...more than you know."
"Of course, Dare," Chris responded, unlocking his car door and revving the engine with one hand while he held his cell phone tightly pressed to his ear with the other.
"Okay...so," Darren spoke tiredly, sounded utterly drained by the short conversation. "I guess I'll just see you in a few minutes. You can just come in. There's a key under my mat."
"Nuh-uh," Chris answered while swinging his car onto the freeway. "Where do you think you're going? You aren't hanging up on me. You're going to stay on the line and talk to me until I get there, okay?"
Darren let out a muted groan. "I'm fine, Chris. I'm not like, going to die if I hang up the phone. It's probably just something I ate."
"Yeah, you clearly sound fine. That's why we are going to the ER at 3 in the morning," Chris replied snarkily, his anxiety making the words come out harsher than he'd intended.
There was only silence on Darren's end of the phone, but Chris could hear him breathing.
"Dare? I'm sorry. I just...I'll feel better if you talk to me until I get there. Besides, I need you to keep me awake while I drive. Deal?" Chris asked hopefully, needing to break the tension and hear Darren's voice once more.
"Deal," Darren said softly, sounding distant. "Shit," thought Chris worriedly. He really didn't like the way Darren seemed to be sounding weaker and more miserable by the second. Chris took a quick glance around the mostly deserted freeway and decided now was the time to start speeding. A lot.
As Chris sped up, he noticed that Darren had gone quiet on his end of the phone again. He needed to do something to keep Darren talking. "So Darren, where are you right now? Are you in bed?"
"Mmhm, no. I'm lying on the floor in the bathroom," Darren answered slowly.
"That doesn't sound very comfortable. Did you throw up?" Chris asked.
"Uggh," Darren moaned. "Don't remind me. I'm never eating again."
"Never ever, huh? That bad?" Chris asked.
"Nnngg...Chris," Darren whined.
"Okay, okay...new topic of conversation then. Hmm, let's see. Read any good books lately?"
Darren let out a surprised chuckle that quickly turned into gasp. This time he didn't even attempt to keep his groans of pain silent.
"Darren? Shit...Darren?" Chris called, panicking. "You okay?"
"Mmm'yeah," Darren managed eventually. "Don't make me laugh though..."
"Hurts?" Chris asked sympathetically.
"Yeah...a lot," Darren muttered.
"Sorry..." Chris started. "I'm almost to your place though. I'll be there soon, okay?"
"Okay," Darren sighed.
Chris' relief was palpable as he finally pulled into Darren's driveway. It had become increasingly difficult to get Darren to talk which was doing nothing to ease Chris' fears. Chris was out of the car in a flash, almost locking his keys in his SUV in his haste to get to Darren. He knelt at the front door, retrieving Darren's key, and quickly opened the front door to Darren's spacious home. Unlike Chris' immaculate and modern town home, Darren's place was all boy. There was an empty Diet Coke can and pizza box lying on the coffee table. Chris saw a guitar resting against an overstuffed chair, an opened notebook scrawled with Darren's distinctive hand lying next to it. Darren's grey cotton hoodie was slung over the back of another chair and Chris nearly tripped over a pair of Darren's shoes tossed haphazardly in the entry way.
"Darren?" Chris called. "Hey, I'm here." Chris could barely make out the reply from Darren but he was pretty sure the sound was coming from upstairs so he climbed the steps and traveled down a short hallway that led to Darren's bedroom and private bathroom.
Chris pushed open Darren's bedroom door and walked around the bed and towards the bathroom, stopping suddenly at the sight before him. Darren was slumped in a pile on the floor, shirtless and wearing a pair of worn flannel pajama pants. Chris was in the bathroom in an instant, kneeling next to Darren and beginning to look him over carefully.
"Hey Dare," Chris said tenderly, his worry evident all over his face. "How you doing?" He brought a gentle hand to Darren's bare shoulder and gave it a squeeze as his eyes searched Darren's face, taking in the flushed cheeks and fever glazed eyes, clammy forehead, and tensed brow.
"Oh awesome," Darren mumbled feebly. "Never better. You?"
"Better than you, apparently. You look like shit," Chris replied, his tone light, but concern obviously showing through in his face.
"Ouch, you wound me, Colfer," Darren shot back jokingly. He managed a weak smile at Chris as he spoke, though Chris could see that even that was a struggle.
"Sorry," Chris started. "Allow me to rephrase. You look like you feel like shit. Fair enough?"
Darren merely nodded, chewing on the inside of his lower lip as he started to sit forward, shifting his weight from against the bathtub and towards Chris, his movements slow and halting.
Chris reached out an arm, his hand hovering midair for a moment as he tried to decide on a safe place to touch Darren. He looked back to Darren, perplexed, before speaking,"Here, let me help you up."
Darren bit down on his lip, wincing slightly as he drew his right arm protectively against his side. He shifted forward a tiny bit more before finally extending his left hand, allowing Chris to take it in his. After a moment's hesitation, Chris slid his other arm around Darren's bare back, noticing with growing alarm that despite the coolness of the room, Darren's body was radiating an unnatural heat. "You ready?" asked Chris softly and he waited until he felt Darren nod against him before slowly rising to his feet, pulling Darren along with him as he stood.
Chris was nearly standing at his full height when he felt Darren begin to crumple, listing slightly to the right as his body curled instinctively against the pain. Immediately, Chris looped his arm around Darren's waist, bending his knees slightly to take on more of Darren's weight. "Shit. Darren? You okay? Don't pass out on me, alright?"
Darren let out a groan before replying, his body swaying slightly, anchored only to Chris. "Yeah,...'m fine," he started tightly. "Not gonna pass out. Just dizzy."
Chris let out a breath that he didn't know he'd been holding. "Oh okay...good. Just...just lean against me, okay? I got you. I'm going to bring you to your bed, 'kay? Then you can sit for a second while I get your stuff together. Ready?"
Darren's head had drooped until it was resting against Chris' shoulder so he settled for nodding into it, too spent to respond verbally. He focused all his attentions on not throwing up or passing out and allowed himself to be slowly led towards his bed. Darren sighed with relief as Chris carefully sat him down on the edge of the mattress, pressing his hand against the sore spot on his right side in an attempt to numb the pain.
Seconds later, Chris was on his knees in front of Darren, looking him over searchingly. And worriedly. Darren allowed his eyes to flutter closed momentarily, taking a steadying breath before opening his eyes again and giving Chris a reassuring smile. "I'm not dying, Chris."
"I never said you were," Chris feigning confusion, though the worried look never left his eyes.
"You are looking at me like you think I'm on death's door. It's unnerving," Darren responded wearily, feigning nonchalance.
"No, I'm looking at you like 'Darren, you idiot. Why didn't you call me sooner when you've obviously been feeling like shit for hours?'" Chris replied, slightly exasperated. He continued, his voice gentler this time. "Seriously though Darren, how long have you been like this?"
"Mmhm, I don't know. Since 7 maybe? But I just figured that I had a stomach virus or something and went to bed early, thinking I'd feel better in the morning. Then I woke up and the puking started and the fever, so...I called you," Darren finished lamely.
Chris nodded, his hand instinctively going to Darren's forehead at the mention of a fever. Darren flinched minutely before his eyes fluttered shut and he let out a sigh, leaning into Chris' touch slightly. "Your hands are freezing," Darren remarked absently.
"No, you're just really hot," Chris replied.
"Always dreamed that you would call me hot," Darren mumbled. "Not exactly what I had in mind, though."
Chris rolled his eyes, looking at his feverish friend fondly. "Only Darren," Chris thought to himself. Before Chris had a chance to reply aloud, Darren shifted slightly and his face fell for a half second too long, reminding Chris of the urgency of the current situation.
"Right, we should...get you to the ER, yeah? Chris rose to his feet, looking around Darren's bedroom. "Here, let me grab you something to wear. Where are your t-shirts?"
"Second drawer," Darren replied. "Just grab whatever's on top."
Chris was back in a second holding a well-worn University of Michigan t-shirt. He silently handed it over to Darren before turning back to the dresser. "Socks? Shoes?" he asked.
"New Balance sneakers in my closet. Socks...in the top drawer," came Darren's muffled reply. Chris bent down, scooping up Darren's sneakers, before grabbing a pair of athletic socks from the top drawer and making his way back to Darren.
Darren had managed to slide his head through the neck of his t-shirt and his left arm into the arm hole without incident. As Chris looked on, Darren started to raise his right arm, stopping suddenly and drawing in a surprised gasp before curling his right arm against his side, the t-shirt momentarily forgotten. Without a word, Chris stooped in front of Darren once again, feeding his hand through the arm hole before slowly easing it over Darren's right arm and side, all the while taking care to jolt Darren's right side as little as possible. He smoothed the t-shirt over Darren's torso before sittting back on his heels and picking up Darren's socks and shoes in turn, quickly sliding them on and tying them securely.
"Thanks," Darren said sincerely. "God, this is embarrassing. I can't even get myself dressed."
"Nothing to be embarrassed about," Chris reassured, squeezing his shoulder gently. "You can't help that you're sick. Besides, you'd do it for me in a heartbeat."
"Yeah, guess so," Darren replied gratefully, nodding.
"Alright..so hospital?" Chris asked.
"I guess..." Darren sighed. "Let's get this over with."
End Chapter Note: Hope you enjoyed the fic so far! If you wanted to review and let me know what you think, that would be lovely.
Coming up tomorrow: Darren charms the nurses and gets a little trippy with Legos