Chris hates Valentine’s Day. Yes, he is bitter and single, but putting that aside, V-day conjures up bad memories of, like, not getting an acceptable number of stupid paper rectangles with superheroes or Care Bears or Barbies on them in elementary school, or all those times he’d seen Valentine’s Day episodes of TV shows and thought, but my love doesn’t look like that. Even a Golden Globe can’t erase the sting of eighteen years of ostracization in Clovis, and it’s not like any of it was even that long ago.
For once he’s glad for his punishing shooting schedule. At least work gives him something to do other than watching The Notebook and eating himself into a chocolate-induced coma. The roses he gets from the crew are lovely, as are the hugs from Lea and Dianna, but he still feels slightly murderous. Screw Valentine’s Day and its unreasonably inflated expectations.
About mid-day, he decides that Darren is the problem. Darren apparently loves Valentine’s Day. He gives all the ladies on set single roses and leaves boxes of chocolate for Ryan and Ian and Brad. Even Ryan looks touched. Darren is wearing red socks and he looks adorable, and sometimes Chris thinks that as much as Darren’s a musician and a crusader for gay rights, he’s also a prep school kid raised in a rainbow and glitter-painted city, and he’s not exactly used to people telling him no.
“So, yeah, the Grammys,” Darren says as they’re waiting around in their dressing room for Ryan to wrap some Sue scene. “Those were pretty rad.”
The Grammys were rad, even if they didn’t win anything, but Chris is not in the mood.
“You have lipstick on your chin,” Chris says.
Darren whirls around to look in the mirror and uses his sleeve to rub away the pink marks.
“Thanks,” Darren says.
He’s so bouncy and breathless today, Chris sort of wants to tie him down to something. Which - that sounds wrong. Just because Chris got tingles when Darren sang that damn Robin Thicke song - just because Darren’s smile makes Chris want to kill someone, it’s so cute - Chris can control himself, okay? He’s glad Darren doesn’t have mind-reading powers, though.
“Are you okay?” Darren asks, and shit, now Chris is worried.
“Um,” Chris says.
“You’re kind of...staring?” Darren says. “Do I have more lipstick on my face?”
“You’re fine,” Chris says.
“You seem down,” Darren observes. “I can sing you something. I might have to make it up, though. Like--”
“You don’t have to sing me anything,” Chris says. “Relax.”
“I can’t relax, I’m filled with song!” Darren says. “I can show you the world...shining shimmering splendidddd...”
“Oh my gosh,” Chris says. “I have to go...eat something.”
“Does Darren seem weird to you?” Chris asks Lea as he attempts to hover inconspicuously by craft services. He was a little worried Darren might try to follow him.
“In general?” Lea says. She’s buttering a bagel, spreading it in every crevice. “He’s remarkably well-adjusted for a Catholic.”
“I mean today.”
“Darren’s been very sweet today,” Lea says. “He left Hershey’s kisses spelling out my name in my trailer.”
“You seem weird,” Lea says. “Less...bright.”
“I seem dumb?”
“No, I mean, like your inner light has been extinguished.” Lea presses a hand to his cheek. “It’s okay to shine, Chris.”
“Now you’re being weird,” Chris says.
“Have we met?” Lea asks, hands on her hips.
“Darren wrote me a song,” Mark says as he ties his shoelaces. “It had a really nice melody. And he rhymed something with ‘douchebag.’”
“Nice,” Cory says. “He gave me a scarf.”
“A scarf?” Chris asks.
“It’s cold in Canada,” Cory shrugs. “It matches my eyes.”
“I think I’m actually the least gay person in this room right now,” Chris says.
“Savor it, dude,” Mark advises.
By the time they get around to shooting his one scene of the day it’s late afternoon, and Chris wants to stab someone. He counts to ten and pictures his warm bed with lots of pillows and chocolate and Ryan Gosling shirtless for good measure. Oooh. He didn’t mean to imagine Ryan Gosling shirtless in Chris’s bed, but that works too.
“I don’t really want to do this scene,” Darren says.
“Why?” Chris asks.
“Because you’re mad at me,” Darren says, and it takes Chris a second to realize Darren means in the scene, when Blaine and Kurt are fighting.
“I’m not actually mad at you,” Chris says.
“Could’ve fooled me,” Darren mutters, and before Chris can protest, Ryan is calling them onto set.
Acting with Darren is strange, because Darren’s not really an actor, he’s a musician. Which is not to say he’s bad at it, because he does just fine, but it’s clear to Chris that Darren’s more natural when he’s sitting at the piano or strumming a guitar. Blaine is essentially constructed from parts of Darren, filtered through dialogue he didn’t write. Darren’s funnier.
“I’m not mad at you,” Chris hisses between takes, and Darren raises his eyebrows as if to say, Then why are you being such a pissy little bitch?
“It’s impossible to be mad at you,” Chris says. “That’s like hating the muppets.”
“I’m like the muppets?”
“No, you’re like a really charming guy who’s never had to convince anyone he’s cool, ever.” Chris says. “And you’ve probably never been shoved into a locker or called a fag or beat up because you’re so damn likeable that’s the only thing people might not like you for.”
Chris did not mean to say that out loud. He closes his eyes and prays that he only thought it loudly.
“Chris,” Darren says. His voice sounds heavy, and okay, that is the last thing Chris needs, sympathy from the pretty, perfect straight boy.
“Let’s just do the scene,” Chris mumbles, and when Darren looks up at him Chris is sure they’ve got this fake fight in the bag.
Chris escapes to his trailer after they shoot the scene, and he hopes to God that Darren will just let it go, but no such luck. He’s just finished putting on jeans and a t-shirt when a knock comes at his door.
“Who is it?” he trills.
“You know who it is,” Darren says, and he sounds angry, which is…hot.
“Come in,” Chris says, a bit deflated, and Darren pushes his way in.
He’s still wearing his Dalton jacket, but he doesn’t look like Blaine, somehow. He’s too disheveled.
“I don’t like when you’re sad,” Darren says. “It throws my whole day off, like the universe isn’t aligned right or something. Bear with me, I have a point. You shouldn’t be sad, because you have nothing to be sad about. Or maybe you do, in which case you should share, so you’re less sad.”
Darren is really, really cute when he’s mussed. Chris wants to fix his hair.
“It’s not your responsibility to make me feel better,” Chris says. “I’m just being lame.”
“Hey, I’m good at lame,” Darren says. “I’m lame approximately 75% of the time.”
“You’re really not,” Chris says.
“Do you have fun Valentine’s Day plans?” Darren asks.
“I have a date with Ryan Gosling,” Chris says, because Darren’s wide eyes apparently make him want to tell the truth always.
Darren’s eyes get even wider.
“Not for real, jeez,” Chris says. “I forgot that is a sort-of possibility now.”
“Are you going to watch Blue Valentine?” Darren says. “Because I saw that last week, and let me tell you, that is not a feel-good romantic film.”
“I was thinking more along the lines of The Notebook,” Chris says.
He wants to bury his head in the sand, if there were sand anywhere nearby.
“I love The Notebook,” Darren says. “It makes me cry.”
“You’re not a very convincing straight man,” Chris tells him.
“I suppose that’s why I’m playing a gay dude,” Darren says, and sometimes it amazes Chris how cavalier Darren is. San Francisco must be the most magical place to grow up in the world.
“You know, Blaine might be bi,” Chris informs him.
“Blaine is deluded,” Darren says. “Blaine only has the hots for Kurt.”
Chris can feel a flush heating his cheeks. “You know this, do you?”
“I do,” Darren says. “It’s one of those actor choices, and I made it.”
“You should probably talk to Ryan about your actor choices.”
“Blaine is waiting until sweeps to figure this all out,” Darren says. “He’s considerate like that.”
It is impossible to be mad at Darren. Being mad at Darren is like being mad that there is sunshine where there once was darkness.
“You should hang out with me tonight,” Darren says.
Chris’s heart does a little flip. His palms feel suddenly sweaty.
“I mean,” Darren says slowly, “I think us single ladies have a duty to support each other.”
Chris didn’t really think Darren was proposing they have a romantic evening for two. Or – only for a second. Seriously.
“I would be okay with that,” Chris says, because he would. All Darren time is good time. Even when he’s trying to serenade you with Disney.
“Sweet, let’s go to your place,” Darren says. “You have a better TV.”
“How do you not have a date on Valentine’s Day?” Chris asks. “You are apparently the most romantic guy ever. You had half the cast swooning. Mark and Cory were swooning, Darren.”
Darren’s mouth turns up at the corners. “I bet you own The Notebook on DVD.”
“Of course I do,” Chris says. “It’s required by the gay man’s handbook.”
“You’d think I would have acquired a copy of that by now,” Darren says. “Like – as an honorary gay.”
“Only true gays get copies,” Chris says. “It’s full of secrets.”
“You know, I own The Notebook on DVD too,” Darren says suddenly, and Chris bursts out laughing. “I do, okay.”
“I believe you,” Chris says, wiping a tear away from his eye.
“You know how I know you’re gay?” Darren says.
Chris gives him a dead-on bitchface.
“Because you, my friend,” Darren says, and threads his arm through Chris’s, “own it on Blu-ray.”
“Is this your Valentine’s Day gift to me?” Chris says.
“You bet your ass, buddy,” Darren says. “I’ll even pay for pizza.”
“Why’d it take you so long to tell me this?” Chris says. “My Valentine’s Day would have been less hateful if I’d known I had company this evening.”
Darren colors slightly, but doesn’t let go of Chris’s arm.
“I don’t know,” he says. “I was working up to it.”