In which Chris flies to New York and they talk in between matinee and evening shows. Eeee I’ve never written CC before don’t be too harsh.
“Darren, you can’t put empty milk cartons back in the fridge,” complains Chris.
“Huh?” asks Darren from the bathroom, a toothbrush between his molars.
“Stop putting empty things back in the fridge!” shouts Chris.
He peeks his head out of the bathroom and grins at his boyfriend. Chris melts slightly – Darren’s hair, still wet from the shower, is curling over his forehead appealingly – but he holds up the milk carton.
“This,” he says seriously. “There’s only an inch left but since it was still in the fridge, I thought we had milk, and now I can’t make milkshakes.”
“You can still bring all the boys to the yard, though,” replies Darren.
“Oh God…” mumbles Chris.
Darren comes up behind him, holding him close; his toothbrush is still in his hand, curled lightly on Chris’s chest; he places a sloppy, minty kiss behind Chris’s ear.
“I’m so happy you’re coming, it’s going to be amazing,” he says, squeezing.
Chris turns his head over his shoulder to accept a gentle kiss. “I know it is.”
“Aww, the ice is finally melting.”
“If you keep leaving empty cartons in the fridge I’ll freeze right back up.”
“You can’t stop me, Chris. I’m like global warming. You’ll try to resist me, but soon, you’ll have polar bears drowning all over you.” Then he pauses, frowning. “That was uncharacteristically cruel of me.”
“Fuck polar bears,” Chris says severely. “They kill innocent seals.”
Darren kisses him one more time and lets go. Then he rinses his mouth free of toothpaste and plops the toothbrush in the dish drain. Chris takes a deep breath. Darren quietly removes the toothbrush and takes it back to the bathroom.
“Speaking of polar bears,” says Darren, fussing with his hair. “Why is their skin black?”
“To absorb heat,” replies Chris, sniffing some almond milk to check it’s good.
“Oh, that’s so cool!” yells Darren. “I don’t care if they kill seals. Polar bears are fantastic.”
Chris snorts. “Why am I dating you again?”
“I have a big–”
“I was going to say heart!”
Darren looks out from the bathroom, laughing incredulously. “You think about sex, like, 103% of the time.”
Chris smirks, using his teeth to pop some chocolate syrup open. “So do you.”
“What can I say. I’m dating the hottest man alive.”
“Mm,” considers Chris. “I thought you said the hottest man alive was Joe Manganiello.”
“No, it’s you.”
“So you wouldn’t cheat on me if Joe suddenly appeared, slightly sweaty, wrapped in a towel?”
“No. And you wouldn’t cheat on me if Montgomery Clift came back to life?”
“No, of course not, Honey.”
Darren breaks into a laugh. “Glad we cleared that up.”
He goes back to working with his hair – a bit of a moot point given it will be covered with a wig soon, and Chris keeps making dinner. Chris has just sprinkled some pepper on the shrimp he’s sauteeing when he bites his lip.
“Darre…how did last night go?”
He normally doesn’t ask. It’s easier to leave things unsaid and work out their frustration by talking about nonsense; sleeping together; waking up and ordering a sinful amount of blueberry pancakes and coffee.
Darren takes a long time to answer. “Um. It was fine. You know. I’m used to it.”
Chris regrets asking. His chest feels hollow now and he knows Darren is in the bathroom, stiff with sadness.
He turns down the heat on the shrimp and walks down the hall. Then he pulls Darren out of the bathroom and into his arms; he’s unresponsive, eyes fixed on nothing.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it up. It just seemed worse than usual, considering you asked me to come here.”
Darren shrugs. “I guess it was worse than usual. It’s just…it’s not her…I just feel like a huge hypocrite all the time.”
Chris wasn’t expecting that. He pulls away slightly to look in Darren’s eyes, one hand gentle on the back of his head, holding him in place. Darren’s eyes are heavier and darker than usual, and his teeth are tugging on his bottom lip, sad and unsure. Chris doesn’t get to see Darren enough, so when he sees him like this it’s is doubly intense.
“C’mere,” he says softly, pulling him towards the living room and onto the couch.
Darren curls into him automatically, latching his arms around his waist. He presses his face into Chris’s shoulder, and the fabric of his shirt feels nice on his lips.
“I’m supposed to be this great ally, you know?” he goes on without prompting, like Chris knew he would. “I’m always telling people to be themselves, to ignore anyone who doesn’t love them for who they are…and…and I can’t even follow my own advice. I feel like I’m hiding everything and it’s so, so unfair to you and…”
Darren looks up and takes Chris’s hands. “Yes it is. It is unfair. You’re out. You did what you had to to come out, and live without all that…all that fear. And I didn’t.”
“It’s not that simple,” says Chris quietly. “There are million reasons you can’t–”
“But those million reasons….none of them are as important as how I feel about you.”
Chris’s eyes light up and he tightens his hands in Darren’s.
“All that matters is that I know that,” Chris replies. “And if I know, it doesn’t matter how long it takes for the rest of the world to know.”
“I’m just…so afraid that when I do come out, everyone will hate me because of how many years I pretended–”
“Darre, it was never your choice. It was out of your control–”
“I still could have done something,” he says tensely. “I could still do something. Tonight. I could just – do it.”
They’ve talked about this many times and though waiting is excruciating, they’ve always agreed it’s for the best.
“It’s just for a few more months,” Chris says soothingly.
“I know, and I know we’ve talked about this, but even then…what if the damage is done? What if no one ever forgives me for saying I’m straight and doing those bizarre misogynistic interviews and–”
“Listen to me,” says Chris. “You’ve already lost those people. Those people already don’t like you. And those people are not the majority, Darre. The majority of your fans will stick by you because believe me, they see what we want them to see.”
Darren smiles glumly. “How do you stay so calm about this? Jesus, Chris, sometimes I just want to…leave.” The word hangs in the air. Then Darren says, “There should be day care centers for fame. Like, here, take my fame for a few days, I want to go to the Saint-Laurent d'Eze and get re-acquainted with my boyfriend’s dick.”
Chris opens his mouth in a smile. “Ohh, the Saint-Lauren d’Eze…I love being in France with you.”
“It’s magical,” agrees Darren. “Well, until I get too drunk and open Twitter.”
Chris laughs. “No. That’s the best part.” Then he smirks. “You know, we don’t have to go all the way to the Mediterranean Coast for you to get re-acquainted with my dick.”
Darren raises an eyebrow and kisses Chris, laughing against his mouth. Then Chris traces the sides of his face and looks at him earnestly.
“You’re not a hypocrite. You’re the bravest man I know, and these things are complicated, and if someone can’t understand that, they don’t deserve you anyway.”
Darren’s eyebrows fold and he presses against Chris again. “God, I love you.”
“I love you too,” says Chris. “Even though you made me burn the shrimp.”
They both look towards the kitchen where bluish-gray smoke is billowing.
“Well, that’s one way to come out,” jokes Darren. “When the firefighters carry our unconscious bodies out one after the other…”
Chris laughs. “Or, knowing how infatuated you are with the Kardashians, we could leak a sex tape.”
“I’m not infatuated–”
“No. You just know all their birthdays and favorite colors and–”
Darren grins and blushes. Then his eyebrows leap up and he checks his watch.
“Shit, we have to go–”
“You go ahead of me,” says Chris. “I’ll be there.”
Darren pauses, halfway between sitting and standing, overwhelmed.
“You’re the love of my li–”
“Get out of here! You don’t have an understudy!”
Darren grins and runs towards the door.
“Hey!” yells Chris, and he turns. “You’re the love of my life too.”