“What’s it like being a leading man?” Bruce Greenwood asks, slapping him heartedly on the back and then pulling Chris in for a hug. It’s nice. Like a physical manifestation of rejoining the fold.
This isn’t the movie set. Crafts services has a few more days of reprieve before Starfleet personnel invade their tables. Bruce has just arrived at the quaint place just outside of LA first, Chris second. Of course the paparazzi never clocks out. Since the golden announcement of filming dates, they’ve flit around, taking prelim snaps through the windows as if the label on Chris’s water bottle holds all of JJ’s secrets.
Chris’ll never understand the appeal of fame. But it’s a lifestyle thing. He just can’t get a real job. Being himself is overwhelming enough. It doesn’t help that he still can’t wrap his brain around the idea of having fans who care what shade blond his hair is for Captain Kirk.
“I saw the one with Denzel. It was great Chris, I’m hearing great things.”
“What? What!” Chris grins, pushing thoughts of pap shots away and feeling the blush burning through his skin more than anything else. There’s a weird wobbly feeling that starts pouring into his stomach. Usually happens when other actors out of his league do the opposite of casting aspersions on his talent.
“Don’t say that. I’m not the next Brad Pitt.”
“Not yet.” The sides of Bruce’s eyes crinkle as he pulls back and rests easy in the seat at the café table. A coffee pot is already set out and Chris feels like he’s intruding even though this cosy get-together thing is by invitation. Command yellow-shirts only.
Chris is fervently hoping he won’t have to wear those shirts for the entire film. He hopes the other option isn’t skins.
Bruce waves at the setting across from him and Chris takes the seat not bothering to turn over his coffee cup. He hates to think of himself as Hollywood, but the fact of the matter is that no one will ever get his coffee right. Plus, he’s very much Hollywood.
“You have no idea how glad I am you’re back on the team.” Chris says. Takes a gulp from the water glass instead. “You look really good, man.”
Bruce’s forehead wrinkles as his eyebrows lift. But they’re dapper wrinkles, not like the premature lines on his own face. Chris wants to looks like Greenwood when he’s older, which is coming much too fast. It’s been so long since the first movie. And everyone knows the longer you have to wait for the sequel the worse it’s gonna be.
“I mean,” Chris clears his throat. “How’re things?”
Bruce puts down his cuppa and gives him ye old head tilt. As if he’s seeing a tiny thing in the zoo who just did something cute but dumb.
“Gentlemen!” A familiar voice exclaims, punctuated by a friendly thump on Chris’s shoulder. John Cho drops into another chair in the table beside them. He takes one look at Bruce, at Chris, and there it goes— ye old head tilt.
John thinks he’s so funny. It’s not Chris’s fault Cho gets the middle finger salute so often. They grin at each other.
“Wunderkind still coming?” Bruce asks and John pours himself coffee.
“Last I heard the chess set was being packed.”
So somewhere between the time from stepping into the shoes of Mr. Shatner and walking back on set for the sequel, it becomes pretty obvious that things are different.
It’s not so much that the script has everyone going to training sessions or wirework prep and costume fittings at 5 in the morning. It’s not even because Chris has got press junkets and a premiere in London to get to and scenes that are going to run well into the night. The problem lies more in the fact that their once family-esque cast resembles a fucking high school reunion.
Life is kind of divided into five-year intervals. But this is show business, Hollywood, and since they’re actors the things that go on their report cards are superfluous in terms of knowledge. It’s all got to do with relationships more than the numbers. People want to know how well you’ve navigated the network; how many people more famous than you know your name? Who’re you dating, what gossiper is writing about you and are there any unflattering photos on the internet?
For Chris, people want to know his opinions on beautiful people. Also, no one ever asks about the model girlfriends. (Four and a half. He’ll make it a solid five if London turns out).
There’ll be a couple more Brits than Simon Pegg this time around but not all of them have touched down in LA yet. Fresh meat and all that jazz. The shooting schedule is insane, curling around people’s commitments like fine tangled hairs. He thinks back to Bruce’s observation. There aren’t enough hours in the day for a leading man.
Anyway, in between Zoe Saldana’s ex-engagement and Zachary Quinto coming out—well, Chris Pine knows that while he’s not the last guy on the list, he’s definitely the not the first. At least that’s how it reads on IMDB.
“I really felt it was my time, you know?” Zach is wearing a serious look behind large framed glasses while using his hands to get this heartfelt point across to an equally serious Zoe.
Things are bustling. They’ve got to film on the bridge set today. The lights are achingly bright. JJ loves his flares, and it’s torture on Chris’s sensitive eyes. Also, awkward.
They’ve got a lighting dude laying on the floor between his legs holding the largest reflector in stock. Chris knows that shining light on his face is supposed to burn away all shadows, including the awful bags under his eyes, but it just makes him feel that much more exposed. He’s not ready for his close-up.
One of the flatscreens mounted into the top of the consoles has malfunctioned so it’s break time while JJ watches playback. Chris can’t leave set like the others because of the positioning and so he watches quietly out the corner of his eye, trying not to blink too much, lest anyone think he’s fluttering his eyes.
Zoe touches Zach’s arm. “The Trevor Project is so important. I know you made the right decision.”
He hates how thick his contacts are, hates having to wear them lest he wants to act blind. The sets are just way too precarious for that and let’s face it, he’s liable to trip over his own stunt double in this studio. It feels like everyone making the ending credits are packed inside at any given time.
“I hope this doesn’t affect our work relationship.” Zach jokes, his voice just a little bit higher pitch, his lips just a bit more thin because a grin is threatening to break free.
“Of course not.” Zoe punches him in answering mirth. “I still wear the pants.”
Chris wants to squirt a whole bottle of ReNu into his right eye.
Zach has been doing the rounds. Pulling the main cast and production members into cosy conversations, each one tailored specifically to each person. He’s been doing the Right Thing. Coming out individually to his co-workers and giving the poor bastards a chance to voice any concerns they may have. As if. At this rate, everyone in the whole of Hollywood is going to have a personal insight on Zachary Quinto’s sexuality and it’s all going to be gold.
Chris personally thinks it’s all a waste of time. Not that he feels annoyed by the spread of Zach’s gayness. Only that everyone already knew. Chris knew. Zach knew Chris knew. No one cared. But all of a sudden everyone is entitled to the personal abridged version of an article in People and Zach feels entitled to give it.
Now Chris dreads the moment when Zach will finally look at him seriously, carefully not touch him, and use sensitive words like ‘organic’ and ‘hope’ and ‘rewarding’ while he gives Chris the talk. It’s not awkward, just belittling. Like Chris really needs a disclaimer to achieve improved sexual feng shui in the workplace or something utterly pointless like that.
This is Quinto’s yoga of the mind. Showing everyone how much he can stretch and contort himself without breaking because that’s what Hollywood expects him to do. An exercise in homosexual fame.
Whatever. Fame is fame and Chris doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. Doesn’t want Zach to need to explain to him—The Kirk to his Spock—doesn’t want to hear him say it.
And then is furious when Zach never does.
“Okay. Great, Chris. Off again.”
Once JJ starts micromanaging his sentences you know he’s on a roll.
Chris grimaces as he pulls off the shirt once more, hand covering up an annoying mole just above his right nipple for a second. Never getting used to these types of scenes. Ever.
Someone from make-up materializes next to him and liberally spritzes something that looks and feels like olive oil. It’s a BP spill of fake glistening sexiness.
Karl Urban just looks like this is all one damned funny joke.
“Wet enough for you?” Karl asks sans American inflection because film’s not rolling. With hands on hips and ye old head tilted to the right, his grin is infectious which is wonderfully ironic since Chris has to call him doctor.
Chris crosses his arms, laughing and legs swinging uselessly as he sits atop the Sick Bay set up. He’s seen some of the old series, before the whole watching-Shatner-thing began freaking him out, and he knows JJ has tried something new with having privacy curtains between each bio-bed. It’s more personal, or something. Functional vulnerability.
“Resistance is futile, Urban. But move me one inch and I’m gonna slide right to the floor.”
“You’re right, this could get messy.” Karl pokes him with the blunt end of a hypospray prop right under his collarbone.
Chris rubs the spot absently, mouth twisted into a smirk. He loves Karl. Sometimes it feels like he’s the only one Chris has got on his side in this new cliquey too-busy-for-each-other cast, even though a large part of that could be due to character residue.
It isn’t any secret Karl knows his Trek, and everyone knows that Leonard McCoy had a soft spot for his Captain. Still, Chris is of the opinion that every scene should just be the two of them. It would make everything so much easier. These days he tries not to think so much about the small stab he feels every time the script and character dynamics give Zachary Quinto an excuse to forget they used to be friends. Spock is like a stranger all over again.
And Mr. Nimoy isn’t here to bridge the gap.
Chris has gotta call Zach on it at some point, since he’d like to be over the radio silence before they start in on the big finally-working-together scene. He’s going to do it too. Just when he’s not so busy.
“You should know I like it when things get messy.”
Karl raises an eyebrow, salaciously grimacing as if he’s a fucking model. “I know I always get to clean you up. Jim.”
“Hot mess.” An extra’s voice adds happily from behind.
JJ takes a loud slurp of Diet Coke before the call for quiet on set.
Chris lays back and thinks of acting.
Elevated cameras mounted on a track suspended overtop their heads carefully catches Chris’s reaction shot (mouth slightly open, eyes half-lidded, chest glistening as he breaths in deep. It’s sexy getting shirtless injections ‘n all). Karl looms close overtop him with grumpy concern.
The beehive hairdos on set are particularly impressive. A blond costumed in a short blue medical uniform passes by and that’s Kirk’s cue to watch her eye-level hips, smiling wanly as she whips the adjoined curtain back and— This is the scene—
There, in the bed beside him, is the bright-eyed stare of Benedict Cumberbatch.
The thing is, this Cumberbatch guy plays Kirk’s new BFF.
Chris only finds the situation extremely daunting. Apparently, dude’s got hoards of fans back in Britain, and makes a habit of acting in the types of films that scream “Oscar!” Also, weird-named man has the oddest looking face Chris has ever seen. It’s kind of awkward, but when you watch the playback he’s a freakishly perfect study in porcelain. Everyone’s a goddamned model.
Chris is going to look like an absolute tool.
Cumberbatch is discussing chemistry between the characters, rattling off something about how there’s no such thing as being too pedantic with one’s actions. Craft services table sucks today. There’s only the forgotten branches to a bunch of grapes left, one measly reject not bothered with. John Cho does it the favour of plucking it off and squishing.
Chris wants to contribute to the convo, he really does. But the only thing he knows solid is that Kirk and Spock are supposed to Spork it out in a high definition we’ll-always-have-Paris kind of way and that’s actually Not Happening.
“I’ve done some research,” The tall Brit rubs at a thick eyebrow. “Negligible though. Not nearly prepared. Though it’s refreshing to do a completely new character, despite the franchise. I rather think I’m over qualified at emulation.”
No one bothered to mention Mr. Cumberbatch’s voice would be fucking distracting.
“There is a resemblance. I mean, kind of. I’m seeing your character as the sort of Gary Mitchell of the crew…” Karl explains patiently, as if that makes any sense to anyone. His hands are waving in the air as he heads out the panel; Original Trek for Intense Method Actors.
“He and Kirk were friends at Starfleet. Got some crazy psychic powers and went out of control but Kirk didn’t want to accept it. Oh!” Karl grins, “Spock wanted him killed. Was kind of weird. Vulcans are pacifists.”
“No-ope,” Zach interjects as he waltzes up to their little group, costume wrapped up by American Apparel hoodie and sipping from a Starbucks cup. “We just let you think we are.”
Karl chuckles, humouring him. “So jealous of the fight scene.”
“Terrified.” Cumberbatch chimes in.
Chris grins, throwing an arm around Karl’s shoulders. Safe territory. “So basically, these two are fighting over me.”
“This Means War!” Zach shakes a fist, smiling through that pursed pseudo growl face he’s so good at.
It’s the first thing Zach has said since filming’s commencement that shows fucks were given about what Chris has been up to. He grins, feeling pretty giddy all of sudden. Looks like someone’s been Keeping up with the Kardashians after all.
“I just, don’t mean to brag, but—” Chris smirks, licks his lip, then squints. “I’m exemplary at giving bromance.”
Cho and Pegg snort as Karl, Zach, and Cumberbatch all raise an eyebrow or two. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of man-sass.
Anyway, Zach hates that word. It offends his sensibilities or something. As if it’s the legitimate gay man’s prerogative to not let them have this one thing. So unfair. Having fun with your male co-star and not being afraid to over-emote is so much better than having to take three steps, turn, and produce one tear. Just one, and make sure it’s three steps.
Naturally, Zach’s rolling his eyes, shaking his head. “Bromance. This guy.”
Like that says it all. Only Chris remembers when Zach wasn’t so dismissive over the idea. Paris, indeed.
“It’s prolific, isn’t it?” Cumberbatch says calmly, so professional. “That the fans can turn something as superfluous as two men being friends into entire genres of entertainment.”
“But they love it!” Pegg grins raucously, looking a slightly bit mad. Simon Pegg is all over this. You’d think he invented the concept, since he knows everything about everything and that includes having a sexy friendship with your co-star. “It’s got its own charm, eh? Adds a whole new element. Not in front of the Klingons.”
Karl lets loose a snicker and Chris figures there’s a joke that just went over all their heads.
“Hey! You should hear Benedict’s Alan Rickman.”
Cumberbatch looks a bit singled out but smiles good naturedly. Not that Chris can blame him. Getting stuck doing impressions must be the most embarrassing thing. He doesn’t think there’s much worse than being compared.
It’s just that… Cumberbatch’s normal voice is actually loads better. And it’s strange, because before now, no one’s really topped Rickman for Chris. Except maybe James Earl Jones. No one beats the king.
Chris can’t help but envy people who have extensive vocabulary they actually know how to use. It’s something he and Zach used to one-up each other with and Chris kind of wants that back. Wants to freaking pop out from behind the make-up chair one day, while Spock’s getting his ears on, and shout “The quondam Quinto!”
Alliteration could be their next new thing.
Chris is chuckling just thinking about it.
“Why the laughter?” Cumberbatch smiles as if he knows the joke. “Am I awful? Perhaps I need a wand to complete the act on this side of the pond.”
“Not a chance. You’re fucking perfect!” Pegg explains in sincere altruism, “I’ve been Cumberbatched.”
Then weirdly Benedict Cumberbatch stares right at Chris with those otherworldly eyes, expression unreadable for just a moment before turning completely away, addressing the rest of the group. “The hard bit is to avoid sounding like a complete arse with a put on American accent.”
They all grumble and laugh. Pegg agrees, and naturally includes Chris in the horror. “The real treat is if you’ve heard Chris’s Leeds accent. Actually inspires a pint.”
Chris groans as a cheshire grin claws itself across Karl’s face. Chris takes a silent moment to curse all their international cohorts for having perfected the American way. It’s not exactly fair. Beside Karl, Chris sees a small tight smile pull on the corners of Zach’s mouth.
Zach looks perpetually upset with his eyebrows plucked and waxed like that. Not so much because of the shape, more because they’ve been plucked and waxed. Chris used to like making him laugh just to see the juxtaposition of frowny skinny Spock brows against Zach’s outrageously large smile. It seems like forever since he’s done it. Doesn’t really know if he wants to do it again just to watch it all fall apart.
He’s not sure he can handle the dichotomy. The romanticized imitation of real life as seen on movie sets.
Their friendship is the leftovers of a really fine meal. Somewhere along the line they got packed away, went sour, and it’s getting unappetizing to think of looking each other in the eye. Open that shit back up again and who knows what they’ll find?
Chris is afraid that’s exactly how it’s going down no matter what he or Captain James T. Kirk does.
So he doesn’t do anything.
And he’s pretty sure the writers are to blame.
And after seeing Tom Hardy? Beards.
Chris is starting to get the feeling he likes the idea of Prada shoes more than actually being with them.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s eyes are enigmatic. Which makes it that much more difficult to stare into them.
Luckily there’s kind of a movie cheat for this. It looks better when you capture someone looking slightly off angle. But staring at his ear isn’t much easier. Chris is having a hard time with all this. He feels an acute sense of loss for not having immediate chemistry with the other man. It just ends up with him channelling about as much sincerity as he could in 103 minutes with Lindsay Lohan.
Which is to say, not much.
Just his luck.
Chris bursts out into nervous snickers yet again and JJ doesn’t even bother to call out for resets this time. The production crew is on ball, flooding the set all around the actors. Rewinding time.
“Sorry,” Chris wipes at his eyes and then the side of his mouth with the back of his hand. “Oooh, man.” He takes a deep breath. “Sorry.”
“Need some Prozac, Chris?” JJ is smiling, leaning against some dangerously large camera equipment probably only having one ridiculous function like capturing awful close-ups upside down.
“Mh? Ugh, yes. Fresh out.”
“Loosen up, relax. You two are friends.”
“Yes,” Cumberbatch laughs. Melodiously. Fuck. “I don’t bite. Unless directed.”
JJ pouts while adjusting his glasses, then clicks his tongue.
Chris shakes his hands out, rolls his neck until there’s an audible pop. Cumberbatch is rocking back and forth on his heels, dark hair combed impeccably neat and so costume straight-laced that you’d never mistake him for a turn-coat. Or maybe that’s the point. Of that crazy silver coat, hanging back in wardrobe.
Now Chris wants a coat. These Starfleet pants keep getting tighter and tighter.
The Brit hops once, twice. It kind of reminds Chris of Zach, and Chris frowns, sober.
Cumberbatch improvises, touching Chris’s chin appraisingly for the briefest of moments while mid-line. The anchor of it catches Chris, exorcises all the laughter and feelings of being overwhelmed.
When the other man introduces his beautiful blond friend, as a sort of temptation for Kirk no doubt, Chris is kind of speechless. Enter Anton, who gets to flutter his eyes and generally act twitterpated. It’s fucking hilarious and buys him time.
And for the record, Alice Eve is adorable. You know, in the hawk-like precision line delivery sort of way. Also, tits. Anton looks like he concurs.
There’s a break in scene here where the camera crew have to switch out equipment. Chris staunchly does not think of close-ups.
“I am taking ze one on the left.” Wunderkind says, not breaking character as he whispers conspiratorially in Chris’s ear. It’s funny because it’s kind of accurate. Chekov is going to have a raging crush on the evil little blond side-kick to Kirk’s new BFF.
“Yeah. Yeah. Does anyone see anything wrong with this?” Chris jokes. “Kirk is getting played again! Leaving me with tall, dark and brooding. Completely uncool. I’ve already got two like that back aboard the ship.”
Off-set, Zach is hanging out with Zoe in their little secret movie boyfriend/girlfriend clique (which makes complete sense, you know, in some universe). He lifts one Spock eyebrow and toasts with a water bottle.
Ode to Chris’s moribund acting. Temptress.
Suddenly Chris is parched.
Zach brings a date to set.
Now, to be fair, this isn’t exactly against the rules. And Chris isn’t closed-minded. But it’s just plain weird.
“Uh, yeah. Hey.” Chris greets, face deliberately neutral as he walks into the fold.
The group is all together today, hanging out in the studio lounge. It’s cool outside, but for LA that’s still decent. Still, everyone’s all cosied up together doing read-throughs on the re-write which showed up bright and early underneath their noses. Cumberbatch is across the ocean, recording lines for The-freaking-Hobbit. Of course.
It’s the usual suspects. A textbook no-nonsense boring day. Which is probably why Zach’s initiated show n’ tell lunchtime.
Zach’s not a very impulsive person. He’s always thinking, always very intentional. Chris knows this because Zach can be completely and unbearably bitchy when things don’t happen the way he wants.
As a result, not many people try to throw wrenches into his plans. Zach’s awesome, really. You know. When he’s on your side.
And who’d have thought that an official switching of teams would make them so at odds?
“That’s Chris.” Zach rolls his eyes, a planned move, of course. “Contrary Chris.”
It’s the perfect opportunity to scream alliterated 10 dollar words but Chris is 98% sure he will be verbally flogged, or worse, misunderstood.
This was bound to happen. The result of being gay, he guesses, is that you get to date guys.
“Jonathan Groff.” The young man introduces himself before Zach can. Gets up from the couches and extends a hand which Chris gives a firm shake. Just how old is this guy? The lines on Chris’s forehead suddenly feel that extra inch deeper.
“I’m so excited to see this thing in theatres. The first movie was great! Ever watch Glee?” The kid asks.
Zach smiles elfishly, hands clasped at his knees. Chris squints at him. He looks like Pee-Wee Herman, Chris thinks vindictively. This isn’t bring your child guest star to set day.
“Yeah, that show’s awesome.” Cho drawls, reclining. He’s turned the pages of his red script without Sulu lines into airplanes. That’s a lot of paper planes. There’s also an origami joke in there that Chris wishes he could make, but the balance of the group is gone.
The high school reunion has just turned into a musical.
“—Such a wonderful accent, Dominique! Can’t place it.” Alice Eve is smiling widely, grasping hands with Chris’s girlfriend. Just flown into LA to see the set, meet his friends, before she’s off to Zurich. Modelling.
“South African actually!” She replies, cheerful, proud and gorgeous. Exchanges Twitter names with everyone who’s got one and Chris is glad if not a little perturbed by the convenient little things people have in common nowadays. Still prefers walking around with a notebook and pen though.
He watches silently as Zach and Cumberbatch are hustled out of hair and make-up to join the convoy on route to the stadium. Spock’s gonna get his ass handed to him and the Kirk in Chris is viciously pleased.
Knock that Vulcan off his pedestal. The script has taken away Zach and turned him into something untouchable.
Pegg whistles under his breath. “That’s not right mate. You’re making me re-think bringing my sis over instead of the lovely Mr. Frost.”
Chris laughs loudly and smiles, tilting his head as he watches Domi. He licks his lips. There’s a severe lack of high heels in Starfleet.
The weird thing about that Trek photo is we weren’t even shooting. Quinto just really hates Cumberbatch. #IHateLeaks
And then in the flash of an eye, the writing team and JJ explode.
“What did it say?” Karl asks.
Zach is blatantly surly as he quotes Lindelof and the internet, “Quinto just really hates Cumberbatch.”
Said Cumberbatch lets out a short burst of laughter and scratches the side of his nose. “Which is utter rubbish.”
The two share a look and laugh.
Chris wants to tear his sandwich in half. So he does. With his teeth.
“Mffhfmhm.” He growls into the bread.
Karl shines a finger on his uniform shirt before sticking it in his ear, acting as if he’s cleaning it out. The other couple of brunettes don’t pay them any mind.
“What’s that darling?” Karl grins.
Chris glares and shiftily chews.
It’s not that he’s jealous. Only that Zach needs to back off. That’s Kirk’s new best buddy, and Chris doesn’t care that his character is going to get terribly backstabbed in the final reel. He’s feeling that same pain right this moment.
Cumberbatch is supposed to be on his side. And Zach refuses to remember the time before the switch.
It seems cosmically unfair that both of them decided to be brilliant together while leaving him in the dust.
Chris swallows bitter-like and looks down at the sad mastication of a perfectly good chicken salad on rye.
Sure, after a week of getting to kick and punch and throw around Zachary Quinto, maybe it’s easy to get along. Chris licks his lips and presses back to the sandwich. Takes a small nibble. He watches Zach mime a Vulcan neck pinch on Cumberbatch’s shoulder and sees red.
“Hey—uh,” That comes out awkwardly loud. Urban, Quinto, and Cumberbatch all look up from their paper plates to him.
“Benedict, um. God, I like, I mean,” Fuck! Articulation! Go! “Want to do some read-throughs on the weekend? You’ll still be in town, right?”
A sordid sort of satisfaction fills his stomach as he watches Zach out of the corner of his eye, chewing slowly.
Benedict Cumberbatch smiles. “I will. Yes. Let’s, Chris.”
Celebratory fireworks start going off in his chest.
“You actually know what you’re doing. Unlike the rest of us.” Chris makes a wide open-armed gesture and then abruptly realizes this comes off as completely and awfully self-depreciative. Also? Rude.
Zach rolls his eyes, but Benedict’s smile just quirks up to the side. “I see flattery gets you everywhere.”
And does Chris have a line, or what?
“But does it get you to my trailer on Sunday?— Say 2PM?”
Someone snorts, but Chris pays no attention, smiling slowly coupled with a beautiful slow blink.
Benedict tilts his head as if intending to be coy. But they both know his answer. Flattery gets Pine to places no man has gone before.
“I’ll bring my script.” The Brit agrees.
See? He is hardcore bromantic.
As if hearing a siren call, Simon Pegg walks over from set, completely soaking wet and shit-eating grin in place. He pauses, studies Chris, and ye old head tilt takes its cameo before he says:
“Looks like us Cumberbitches are startin’ up an LA chapter.”
And that’s how it all starts.
Now, Chris lives in LA and doesn’t necessarily stick around on movie sets for longer than he needs to, but he’s also Captain Kirk of JJ Abrams’s Star Trek. And even though he thinks it’s honestly more liable to get his ass kicked than make him legendary, all this boils down to– Chris Pine getting a mighty fine trailer on set.
Benedict shows up at the studio looking squinty but wearing a large sunlight-soaked smile.
Chris has kind of made a big deal of this. He’s not messy by nature, but double-checks the state of the mobile living quarters. He’s even gone to LAMILL to start the day off right. Hell, he has picked up tea for Benedict. Englishmen prefer tea, don’t they? Chris didn’t even know his favourite coffee place served tea.
“I’m glad you suggested this, Chris,” Benedict says as he steps inside from the harsh afternoon light. There are handshakes and Chris hopes he doesn’t come off as unprofessional by friendly placing his hand on Benedict’s shoulder blade, giving him the short tour.
He gets a handful of Benedict’s jacket and awkwardly realizes he has no place to hang a guest’s coat.
Chris coughs into his hand, carefully placing the smart jacket on the back of a chair. “Yeah—well. I know we’ve done some scenes, but. Hey, reaction shots. What?” He grins roguishly. “Fluff. There’s still meat to chew through.”
That makes Chris frown. Confused for just a second as to whether the Brit is joking or not. Doesn’t matter.
Quickly, he snaps up the script waiting for them on the narrow coffee table and gestures for Benedict to have a seat on the small but very comfortable couch.
“Drink?” Chris asks, distracted. Suddenly preoccupied with internally wondering why he thought going one-on-one with a classically trained actor would be a good idea.
“Water, yes. Thanks.”
And Chris barely has the water bottle and glass down on the table before Benedict is staring at him, intensive, and delivering the first line of their next scheduled scene;
“Youngest Captain in the history of Starfleet.”
Benedict’s seafoam eyes skitter away from Chris’s for just a moment, and when the gaze returns in there’s something softer, kinder, and all too deliciously deceptive. “I wonder how long you’ll have to live.”
Chris scrambles to find his footing, tries to center himself and act.
“You make it sound like you know.”
He could kick himself, hates his inflection and overall delivery. Clears his throat and rustles the script papers in hopes the other man keeps going.
“Not know.” Benedict is fighting back a maniacal grin and it’s terrifying and his low voice is enviable to high hell. “Hope, maybe.”
Chris lets out a burst of laughter with a feathery touch of hysteria. The next instant he is all business, a Captain. “Today’s not the day.” He squints and the side of his lips curl up like smoke from a flame.
“I’ve always known I’ll die alone.”
“James,” Benedict says, and reaches out to touch his chin in a mirror of when their characters first met. “I’m right here. Let me help…with that.”
It’s just natural that they end up grabbing dinner together. Chris calls in for his favourite take-out, and then abuses his Hollywood power by getting his assistant to pick it up. Security on site is as tight as those leather pants from Details.
The interesting thing about the British film industry is that they’ve literally only got like, 12 actors. Everyone’s acted with everyone else. It’s a movie set love in.
It’s interesting. And Benedict is as good at sharing side-stitching tales of behind the scenes as he is with delivering lines of badassery with stoic English charm.
“Tom Hardy, man he was so good. I always felt like such a jerk, like. I mean, obviously, I’m everyone’s first pick–” Chris hopes his false bravado isn’t as transparent as it sounds, “But yeah. It worked for him, you know? And he’s not even a rom-com casualty like me.”
“Rom-com. Oh,” Benedict looks genuinely interested in what Chris is saying and that’s the mark of a startlingly good actor. No one’s ever that interested in what he says between the ‘likes’ ‘ums’ and lip licks.
“That’s a good one. That’s charming actually. I like it. Rom-com.” He says again, letting it roll off his tongue and seem like something with substance instead of your standard fare of guy meets girl, girl doesn’t like guy, blah blah, shirtless scene, kiss.
“No way!” Chris grins, talking faster, hands making movements straight out of Westside Story. “It’s the worst. Always getting asked to take your clothes off, always have to have the perfect kiss. Getting compared. Tom’s got these great lips— it’s not fair.”
“Oh, definitely not fair.” Benedict says in a low voice, eyes scanning around the trailer. “Making a woman choose between the two of you. Absolutely perish the thought.”
The patch of longer dark hair Cumberbatch sports care of team Star Trek make-up (Oscar, bitches!) falls into his face and Chris is momentarily struck. The other man is probably just humouring him, probably annoyed, and then on top of that, has to hear Chris complain about showing a bit of skin. If Simon Pegg is to be believed, every man in Britain has taken his clothes off more than once for the camera.
“You’ve got great big lips too.” Chris says abruptly.
Benedict looks amused.
“Like my girlfriend.”
And just like that, Benedict leans back, pauses, and… there’s ye old head tilt. “You have a girlfriend?” He says in that amazing voice, which makes the question sound infinitely less offensive than it could have been.
“Yeah,” Chris frowns, deliberately ignoring the implication that he’s not good enough to date. He knows puberty left its marks. “It’s not all over the tabloids. I mean, I like my private life.”
Benedict is still doing that wonderfully frustrating head-tilt and, what the hell. They’re likely to never work together again after this. Everyone knows the villain never returns. Especially the ones with delicious accents.
“Okay. What’s that?”
Chris watches Benedict actually smirk. He simmers impatiently, needing to know. “That look. That—” Chris waves his hands close to Benedict’s head. “That tilt. Gimme the low-down.”
Benedict finally lays the script down in his lap. “I’m caught between wondering whether this is genuine interest or a request for the Sherlock gag.”
Seems the other man takes this as Chris being offended.
“Forgive me, Chris. I meant no negative connotations towards you or your girlfr--”
“Dominique. Piek.” Chris supplies helpfully, suddenly hoping the other is the type of guy who Googles people just so he can see how exemplary a girlfriend Domi is. Hell, Twitter works too.
“Dominique.” Benedict raises his left eyebrow and tilts his head even more. Chris bites his lip in agitation. What the hell do people see when they look at him like that?
“All the same, I apologize.” And Benedict seems as if on the verge of looking at his wrist to indicate how late it is. Chris pushes on because he just wants to hear an honest observation about himself not related to Perez or JustJared.
“Nah, you’re not off the hook yet.” Chris cautiously pinches the edge of the script papers balancing on Benedict’s legs to slip it away, dropping it on the table. He licks his lips. Looks at the other man with his sharp-angled jaw clenched.
Benedict takes note of the absence of the script with deliberate pause, which makes Chris a little wary, nervous, like he’s asked for too much. That is, until the Brit is leaning forward, peering at him with piercing, deductive eyes.
Chris irrationally holds his breath.
“Your pupils are dilated.” That deep melodious voice begins. It’s like Benedict has slipped into a premeditated character. “And you’ve got the beginnings of a flush.”
Chris feels it as his stomach plummets, realizing Cumberbatch is just going to point out the horrifyingly obvious. He waits for the comments on the scars.
Benedict just frowns as though confused. “You’re using fake tanner. It’s not obvious but you always forget the ears.”
That startles a laugh out of Chris, and Benedict smiles. Spurred on.
“You lick your lips,” Those eyes survey Chris’s mouth for a moment. “Out of nervous habit or clever stalling device. You think before your talk. All the time.”
A pause. Benedict turns more on the couch so their knees touch. “Relax, Chris. It’s a good thing.”
Chris has to mentally struggle in order to let go of the inseams of his jeans. Forces himself to take a deep breath, smile disarmingly. Blinks fast. Wishes he’d worn his glasses instead of trying to impress someone who can obviously see right through him.
“From the way you mentioned your girlfriend’s name, I can garner two things; one, you want me to look her up, probably online. Meaning; two, you want me to see her picture. She’s guaranteed to be beautiful. Exquisite. Model?”
Fuck. Him. No wonder Cumberbatch gets all the brilliant roles. He’s got intelligence in spades.
“An irresistible confident woman, most likely exceedingly confident in her body and sexuality. She excuses the fact that you have a lingering eye for other men.”
Chris freezes. Straight up goes stone cold in horror. Realizes his tongue is paused mid curl over his bottom lip.
Wants to bang his head on the wall for opening the gates of hell. Wants to run. The whole world is tight now. Tight. Tight, tight, tight.
The head tilt goes deeper, Benedict’s strong featured face almost alien in the low light, and Chris hasn’t seen much BBC, but he can imagine this is what you get when you ask for full-blown deduction.
“Calm down, Chris.” Benedict looks apologetic but determined. And Chris asked for this so he should not freak out. That’s just uncouth.
“Not to be alarmed. It isn’t overtly sexual, just—Comparative. You compare yourself to other successful or talented men.”
Benedict catches his gaze. “Surely you know how exemplary you are, Chris.”
Chris can’t speak. Kind of chews the air for a second probably looking beyond foolish and – guilty.
“Uhhh—” Oh, such brilliance of the mind there.
“Though, to answer your question. The mannerism. It’s actually very simple—a baser movement most people do when— Well. I imagine the recipients of your comparisons think themselves as being…”
And Chris can fill in that gap, tone flat and face purposely expressionless. “Checked out.”
Benedict laughs, almost brazenly, “Yes. I admit. Wasn’t going to put it quite like…that.”
Suddenly the meaning of ye old head tilt is making his whole world go a kilter.
“Do… Did you study me or something?”
“Unsettling?” Benedict asks and Chris refuses to agree but figures it’s a rhetorical question. Anyone with eyes like those could see. “I’m here to act like a good guy. To take your mistress the Enterprise away. I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the role for weeks. There’s no better option to observe than you, Chris.”
“And,” Chris clears his throat, tries not to feel like he’s being pressed in on all sides. “You got all that,” he waves a hand arbitrarily, “from being on set together just the few times?”
“I did watch the first film, you know.” Benedict folds his hands together and reclines. At least one of them feels relaxed. “Zach offered great insight about you, as well. Brilliant stuff, really.”
At the mention of the other actor, the nerves bouncing around in Chris’s stomach grow cold and detached.
What do you say to something like that? There’s a nauseatingly anticipatory swirl of feelings in his gut. Like he knows where the yellow brick road leads to but would much rather be taken out by a flying monkey. You know, just so he doesn’t have to watch. Because, really? Things have gone from heteronormal to insane. Definitely not in Kansas anymore.
“Sorry. I don’t expect I’m right. Observations can be highly biased prerogatives after all.” Benedict replies.
And, he hopes he’s not being stupid here, but. Benedict Cumberbatch has pretty much admitted to being checked out. By Chris Pine. And doesn’t seem to mind.
Chris has lost his mind.
“Uh,” Chris clears his throat once more. “Maybe, yeah. But I mean—yeah, it’s just. I don’t fake tan by choice.”
Okay. Being Thoroughly Deduced in the space of 10 minutes puts Chris’s whole life into completely new perspective.
He goes a week or two just coasting by, ignoring the team and generally being a crappy individual. At least Mr. Cumberbatch has the decency to never comment on it.
Chris can’t even enjoy getting text photos of his girlfriend’s naked chest without thinking about how outrageously confident she is. It’s not like he would ever send her a pic of his junk.
And, pre-deduction, he would have said, you know, it’s because he values privacy and the idea of proper relationships found straight out of classic American cinema. Enjoys purporting himself as a man who doesn’t do ironic dates. A complete romantic.
Only, ironically, he stoically reads Domi’s tweets about wanting to make out with gorgeous actresses in between fighting off mind-numbing conversations about Oscar night at a party with Karl.
He should be filled with glee at the mental images. But all he thinks about is how someone who exists so exceptionally free can make him feel that much more boxed in. The only way he can think of ever matching her (and he wants to be like her, it’s why he’s had a string of girlfriends just the same, he knows this now) is to make out with gorgeous actors, and, well, fuck.
He is ruined. For life.
He is also irrationally upset when Margin Call does not win the Oscar. And downright pissed the next time he sees Zachary Quinto on set.
“Dammit, Jim!” Karl screams for the 17th time.
Chris groans and scrubs at his face. Even Karl is getting tired of it. And he loves a good chance to shout.
Anton keeps pulling at the curls in his hair, making a member of team Star Trek make-up bite her lip and jitter her leg from the sidelines. Damn, since when had Wunderkind gotten so tall?
Cho has pretty much zoned out. He may legitimately be drunk. No one is the wiser. Chris wishes that were him.
Even the bridge extras are hovering around, restless. But most likely hungry.
Only Zoe is still truly focused, though a slight strain in her neck makes her look super tense when she’s the only one who has to actually act with elation on her face.
Zach? Well, he keeps having to feign a limp coming through the sliding doors. It was funny the first few times, but now Chris has got a headache from the incessant light in his eye and the slump-slump-thump of Zach dragging a bum leg.
JJ actually has to call for a stop.
“Guys, this is looking really depressing.”
No one corrects him. A few actually groan to better emote their pain.
JJ looks pensive. “Should we make this run-through a gag reel? Get everyone loosened up again?”
There are various sounds of agreement. Chris isn’t feeling in a very funny mood so he doesn’t actually care. He just wants this scene to be over and done with. Wants to go home and suffocate for a minute or two in his pillow.
“How about in song!” Lead sound-grip suggests.
Anddddd, descent. Descent into madness.
“Cap-tain!” Cho sings out, at full volume. Off-tune. Like he’s stoned. “I am get-ting! Interfe-rence!”
“N’et, n’et!” Anton intones, sounding kind of like a cat meowing.
Cho’s eyes are wide and round and he gesticulates wildly, “I cannot fly! This thing! Around! That other thing!”
“You…must!” Chris replies, not nearly as musical as he should. He knows this makes him look like a spoilsport, or worse yet, a diva who can’t sing.
“Dammit, Jiiiiiiiim!” Karl fucking belts it like this is the Sydney Opera house. It goes on and on until Zoe snorts. Like a man.
“Cap-taaaain! Commander Spock is—”
The door hisses open and Zach slides –fucking actually slides— in as if he’s got a top hat and cane for props. “RIIIIIGHT HEEEEERE!”
Chris can’t help it. The sour mood that pervaded him evaporates in a burst of sharp elongated laughter and a sweet simple feeling in his chest.
He clamps his lips shut, suddenly energized, and gets up with dramatic flair just shy of being Shatnerian. It’s definitely not Kirk’s action, but he doesn’t get the red light. JJ approves of just about any type of flare, he’s a freaking flare whore, sipping dangerously deep of his Diet Coke.
And Chris runs straight to Zach, who looks ridiculous, mouth twitching violently to try and save Vulcan face and arms stretched out like this is your standard cabaret. Chris grabs Zach around the middle, and the other man rolls with it, poses like a boss, and they’re in a beautiful freaking twirl.
Modern interpretive dance of the 23rd century, people. Look forward to it. This is the finale to Dancing in the Stars.
“Spock!” Chris bellows. “You are aliiiiiiiiiiiiiive! I thought we had lost—but I had—”
“Hope! Captain?” Chris lowers Zach to his feet and they grip each other by the upper arms. “How human of you!”
Holy hell. Zach. Chris hates him. Can’t stop grinning. Loves that Zach has lost the ability to keep a straight face ages ago.
Oh, hello, accidental gay joke. Chris is beaming. Which is so weird after being in such a funk for so long. It’s just what the doctor ordered.
And then Pegg jumps through the doors to the bridge, soaking wet, a personal bottle of scotch in hand and screeches at the top of his lungs:
“I LIKE THIS SHIT. IT’S EXCITING.”
What the actual fuck. It’s brilliant.
Simon Pegg. The flare-est one of them all.
JJ’s smile is gold after they finally get the take (number 24), one hand narrating almost fast as his words as he calls over a lighting assistant or two.
They’re all lounging around on set. He and Zach commandeering a prime spot of bridge railing all to themselves, watching as people poke and prod things. The thing about being actors is that you get paid to professionally wait. The real magic is in the crew who can take their meagre crumbs and make sumptuous spreads that at the end of the day somehow all fits on the Blu-ray.
And this is it. It’s only taken half their time of filming to actually get back to this point, this place, where the two of them are standing side by side again. Chris feels satisfied now, more ready and accepting than he was before.
Because Zachary Quinto is going to do it. He’s going to give him the talk. About being gay. And Chris wants to say ‘Stop. Don’t worry. Way ahead of you.’ But that would throw a wrench in Zach’s plans.
He looks pensive. Nebulous. At a loss almost, but it’s a nonsensical observation on Chris’s part. Zach is circumspect when it comes to this by now.
“About fucking time.” Chris sighs roughly, grin curving his lips.
One Spock eyebrow flies up. “Hmn?” Zach tilts his head.
Chris simmers, chews on his bottom lip. Feels young. “This is where you explain to me about your secret escapades in night cabaret.”
Zach actually snorts. It’s daintier than Zoe’s take on it.
“Night…Caba—Chris, did someone take your Prozac again?”
“Don’t change the subject.” Chris chuckles and elbows Zach in the side. He wants Zach back. He really does. And if that means he’s got to brave the gymnastics of Hollywood sexuality, well, he’s going to go for gold.
“Feels like we haven’t talked since the divorce.” Chris jokes wildly and swallows. It feels a little sharp.
“How’s Jon… Jonathon?”
Zach looks away, nods a few times into the reflection of his Starbucks as if answering an unspoken question and actually looks genuinely hurt. Chris bites his lip, hard.
“Uh, Chris. Just because we’re both gay and seen in public together, doesn’t mean we’re dating,” are Zach’s quiet words.
“And what about in private?” Chris asks, bitter. Shit! Insensitive. None of his goddamned business. He makes an irritated sound of frustration. “No, sorry. Forget that. I just—”
Zach tilts his head, watching.
Chris feels crazy.
Zach has the decency as a fellow human being to mock him. Straight to the core. “Mr. Pine… are you jealous?”
“Uh.” Mild freak out. “Nooo—” Chris cuts himself off with the depreciating truth. “Yes.”
At Zach’s minutely alarmed look Chris ploughs on, heart suddenly trying to leap into his mouth. He swallows it back down.
What the hell? Where is this coming from? He has no idea. Clears his throat inappropriately loud. The extra with hardcore alien prosthetics looks at him with a twisted mouth.
“I’ll have you know I suffer from a lingering eye.”
Of course. It’s all Cumberbatch’s fault. All.
Even worse, Zach seems to understand. This explains everything.
Zach’s mouth is pursing up as if he’s going to smile. And Chris realizes he wants him to. So. Much.
The moment ticks by inordinately slow. Zach smiles. Even snickers for a second.
Chris pulls back from his existential crisis, deflates from relief and can’t think of anything else to do except smile back. He laughs nervously, and bites a thumbnail. Irrationally feels like scrolling through shit on his phone just to distract himself. Starfleet regulation pants are tight as all hell.
“Lingering eye, huh? Is that a medical condition?” Zach is amused now, looking off to the side and biting the rim of his paper Starbucks cup as he takes sips. “Have you been properly checked out?”
Chris leans back against the railing, head tilted back just a little to look at Zach over his shoulder. They’re facing opposite ways. Apart but still together. Fitting.
“Yeah. Totally incurable.”
“Pfft. You know what you are?” Zach grins, “Incorrigible.”
“Uh, you misspoke. It’s pronounced: In-cre-di-ble.”
“Four syllables. Darn. Impressive.”
“I try. And don’t say ‘darn.’ It just extends the mental image I have of you dressed as Alfalfa a little too far.”
Zach’s jaw drops and immediately he’s smoothing down the back of his bowl cut, hoping to tame any sprouts that may have cropped up. Then he punches Chris. “That’s fucking… Impugnable! Besmirching my image!”
Chris gasps between his snickers and rubs his collarbone.
“Injured?” Zach inquires.
Chris holds up a finger at each intonation. “In-sig-ni-fi-cant.” He licks his lips. “Impugn, though? Mhrngg. Yes!”
They just look at each other for a charged moment. Zach crushes the now-empty coffee cup in his hand. Chin drops down and crow’s feet crinkle into the skin by his eyes. Chris grips the bars of the railing in tight fingers that suddenly feel oversized.
“Chris, I…” Zach stops. Punches him once more and smiles, bites his lip, then smiles again. “Like I said. Impossible.”
“Right. Perfect! Stay right there. Set up is going to take some time, but we need you two for reference.”
JJ obviously does not realize how awkward it is to stand so intimately close to a man who knows your innermost secrets and pretend to be at ease.
“Soooo….” Chris drags out the word, hoping to make completely casual conversation while being pressed face-to-face uncomfortably close with Benedict Cumberbatch on set.
Someone jabs Chris in the back of the ribs with a piece of camera equipment and he grits his teeth.
And crap. Benedict looks stupidly calm.
A flash of intense light goes off.
Wonderful. Production shots while they wait.
Chris tries to school his features. Probably ends up looking constipated. Chews the inside of his cheek to refrain from groaning. Does it anyway.
Benedict is watching him closely (figuratively and literally speaking).
“James.” The Brit drawls, in character, improvisation. “When you sound like that. It’s difficult not to think about… what it would be like to… take you apart. Just like your crew.”
Jesus, that’s suggestive.
In-character conversation? Such a bad plan. But Chris is immediately predisposed to comply when Benedict uses articulation like a beautiful weapon.
“It’s getting…” He clears his throat. Licks his lips. Benedict inclines his head in a way that suddenly blocks out that bothersome light. “Ugh, it’s difficult to think about, uh, anything. Right now.”
Chris immediately rethinks every single word he’s said. Ever.
Benedict raises his eyebrows looking very smug as he says, in elementary fashion:
“Do you know your first gay kiss without pretense? It was with an Englishman.”
Chris’s eyebrows knit together. “Uh. I’ve never—”
Benedict cups the back of his head and kisses him.
Chris stares, flabbergasted, (aroused) as he feels the luscious pull of soft suction on his bottom lip. The heat in between their mouths is an explosion of sensation, making him feel as if he’s freezing everywhere else. Benedict puts his other hand on Chris’s hip and squeezes. Deliberate. Delicious. Chris can feel himself trembling.
They are on set. Being watched. By everyone.
This is the vital confrontation scene. When Spock comes to warn Kirk about the resident turncoat and they’ve got an army of redshirts all lined up along the side of the set, ready to enter on cue. Also? Zach in the front row.
Benedict pulls off Chris’s mouth with a short, slick, perfect kiss sound and a hot breath escapes Chris in stupefaction.
“Just releasing the tension.” Benedict announces matter-of-factly. It’s terrifying how simply perfect this explanation is. Chris can do no more than gape. Gormless.
JJ just pouts and adjusts the thick framed glasses balanced precariously on his nose. “Ooookay, I think we’ve got the shot and lighting all set up. I want two more flares though. Break. Be back in 15 minutes.”
Zach, in all his Spock glory, is standing stock-photo still on the side of the movie set. Zero expression on his stony face.
Huh, figures. This is, like, practically the one time Zach has been able to keep a straight face all day.
Chris bolts from set so fast you’d have to run to catch him.
His trailer feels stuffy and hot. Costume feels even more so. Chris feels like his brain is trying to crawl out through the ears he forgets to self-tan.
There’s a knock.
“Chris, you’re forgetting the most important point of the plot.” Says that damning melodious voice through the door.
He holds back a groan. Scrubs hands over his face so much team make-up is going to have an aneurism. Possibly clock him with old Oscar and conceal the evidence using MAC. The perfect cover-up. No one would ever suspect a thing.
Chris opens the door and rests his entire body weight against the frame, hand clamped tight around the largest bottled water he could find.
“It’s not really me.” Benedict Cumberbatch’s eyes are the brightest Chris has ever seen. He makes Chris fade in comparison. “The real question is who I’m truly playing. I’m not Kirk’s best friend. I’m not even the villain.”
The bright LA sun catches in Chris’s sky blue eyes. He’s trying so hard not to get blindsided.
Cumberbatch’s next words reverberate in the empty space inside his head. “I’m the replacement, Chris.”
His thoughts go unspoken.
They are so fucking loud.
“Okay.” Chris says, voice low and rough. He squints off to the side, realizes his assistant and a couple of other crew members are rallying to stage an attack. He is acting like a diva. This is the worst of it all.
He is so Hollywood it hurts sometimes. “See, the thing is? You are one damn hard act to follow.”
“Stop thinking.” Benedict’s bright smile skims across his face. Bright as a blade. “It’s going to be so much better than you know. Wait for the final cut.”
Writers really, really are to blame.
“So, like, you know how every rumour has a certain amount of truth to it?” John Cho starts off dramatically. He wheels around in the helmsman chair, like he’s Dr. Evil or something, stroking one of JJ’s precious external flashes.
Chris is sitting knees apart, feet firmly planted on the floor. Head supported by a pensive yet determined hand. It’s all very purposeful, considering lighting department is paying overtime for a dude to hold the large foil reflector at the perfect angle. Which happens to be right in Captain Kirk’s eye.
“Yeah?” Chris grunts.
“Turns out Quinto really does hate Cumberbatch. You know, maybe. If I believed in rumours.”
This piece of gossip does nothing to assuage Chris’s mood. Domi has stopped texting him. Or maybe he’s the one who’s stopped. This is crappy news to become aware of when in the middle of having issues with, um. Feng shui. Of the licentious mind.
And holy shit. Somehow the prowess of gay men involving interior decorating is making a lot of horrifying sense.
Filming in the corner, Alice Eve gets to slap Anton silly for the camera, over and over again.
“Mmrghhhgh.” Chris has an A for inarticulate transliteration. There’s a paper to prove it. He keeps it next to the pile of lawsuit documents his previous agency keeps sending. “Listen Cho. I understand you write for the Enquirer part-time, but I’m not an editor. I just correct people for free.”
John Cho is excellent at flipping people off. “Think about it.”
Chris doesn’t know whether to do that or stop thinking altogether. Both options? Too dangerous.
Except it’s plain to see that Zachary Quinto’s fucking pissed.
“Uhhh, okay there Spock.” Chris says after another failed line during a read-through. The others are all silently mouthing ‘what the fucks’ to each other whenever Zach looks down at his paper to read.
Simon and Alice sit on either side of Benedict, but he doesn’t even seem to notice what’s going on. Whatever. Chris knows he knows exactly what’s happening inside everyone’s head and just doesn’t care. Precisely professional exactly when it counts. The man is paramount.
And a helluva kisser. Shit. Fuck. Crap. Shit, again.
It’s a good thing JJ isn’t present. No one wants to see what happens when a short myopic man with too much Diet Coke in his system hoarding your confidentiality contracts finally loses it.
Chris feels like he’s been dropped into some alternate universe. Considering, well, shouldn’t he be the one who’s upset? Chris is not a fan of PDA, but now he’s the one trying to get the unflappable ZQ back to warp speed. Or, you know. However that goes.
Zach just grimaces and angrily pushes the Spock hair off his forehead. Everyone knows Zach hates how it looks and feels to have hair hanging in his face. But he’s always been super respectful of the image. Now he just doesn’t give a fuck.
“Woah.” Chris tries the cocky and entitled approach. “Put bitch face back in the cupboard.”
“What.” Zach glares at him. That’s… actually frightening.
“Come on. What’s got you in a dick mood?” The rest of the table is utterly silent. And it’s super obvious.
“Is that supposed to be a joke?” He can hear it when Zach’s teeth click together. “Because I don’t find it very funny.”
Okay. Wrong choice of words.
The sound of Zach grinding his teeth together trumps the A/C. So, better option. Appeal to their usual camaraderie.
“Pack up the tiny violin, Zach! Which, by the way, sounds off-tune. The last three pieces were like listening to Noah sing. A duet. With you.”
Simon Pegg does an awful job of covering up an amused snort.
“You’re so—” Frustration clogs up Zach’s mouth for a second as he looks up, probably can’t believe Chris remembers his dog’s name, and then it all froths over. “Intensely inconceivable.”
Karl just rolls his eyes. “Guys. Put a Spork in it. You’re done.”
“No, we’re not.” And Zach is out of the chair, grabbing Chris by the shoulder. “Come with me.”
“Chris,” Zach says in utter seriousness once they are tucked away in another lounge. If Zach wants to have it out with no witnesses then so be it. It’s getting to the point where Chris is past being jealous, envious, comparative—whatever—and just wants Zach to go back to being happy.
Even if this means being a wingman instead of the leading man. He thinks he could get behind that. Less hours to put in, more of Zach. Not a bad trade.
Zach looks down, eyes nearly vacant and completely lost. He’s picking at the string on his usual striped hoodie. “This is all my fault.”
Well. That’s perfectly stumping.
“Chris, I know you. I know you respect your privacy. Ben’ wanted to know more about you.”
The fact that Zach can call Cumberbatch by short form makes Chris scowl.
“So… I thought I was killing two birds with one stone, you know? Helping you and him at the same time. I never expected…” Zach actually clenches his fists. “Maybe I led him on. About you.”
That whole spiel is weird.
“If this is about the other day…” And Chris is glad he doesn’t have to explain by the sheer blaze of irritation that passes through Zach’s eyes.
“It’s okay.” He says slowly. More for his sake than Zach’s. He’s unsure about what he wants to say but has to say something. “He kind of got his own answers.”
I kind of gave them to him. He doesn’t say.
“Doesn’t matter. I don’t like that he did that. To you! Chris! What if something like another leak happens. And it’s photos of you locking lips with another man spread far and wide across the internet? It would affect your personal and work life in the most devastating way.”
Chris is positive that this is already the case. And it had happened long before Cumberbatch decided to lay one on him for the good of unresolved sexual tension victims everywhere. He hasn’t texted model girlfriend number five in weeks. He’s wearing more and more plaid. Things are regressing.
It’s about time for a fresh start to another five years.
“Uh, pretty sure that’s already happened. You know. If anyone has seen a 2006 TV movie by the name of—Mhnnrg. Never mind. Also, photoshop.”
Zach isn’t even listening.
“What. Does he think this is the UK?” Zach has worked himself into a generous lather. “You can’t just go around doing that in Hollywood!”
“Well, don’t you think… don’t you wish you could?”
Zach freezes. “What? You mean—kiss...?” He makes a vague motion between the two of them with his hand and Chris backpedals.
“No! Jesus! I don’t mean me-THAT. I mean, anyone! Gay dudes! In public!”
Mental images. Freak out commence.
“Oh.” Zach blinks. “Sure, but. Chris. Reality and movie sets are completely different things.”
After that, Zachary Quinto becomes slightly protective.
And by ‘slightly’ Chris actually means attached at the hip.
Zach’s hand is constantly on Chris’s back, in between the shoulder blades, whenever they walk together. He takes the seat next to Chris whenever there’s sitting or waiting around (and come on, they’re actors. That’s commitment). He gets plates of sandwiches from crafts services for both of them. He even brings Chris some heavenly LAMILL one morning.
This is all exactly like before, when they’d just finished filming the first movie. When they went on tour and interviewed together ‘til the small hours of the morning. They are a streamlined tag team of 10 dollar words bromance.
It’s fucking awesome.
“This is all very cloak and dagger.” Chris complains.
Karl shrugs, adjusting the thin strap of the tricorder hanging against his hip. “Clichés never grow old.”
“I am tied up like a regular damsel in distress.” Chris is not sure his point is getting across. Karl is just rocking back and forth on his heels, looking more interested in the prop gadget than any grown man ought to be. “Even Zoe gets a phaser. Why don’t I get a phaser?”
“Because you’re a dame, Captain.” Karl replies and Chris makes a face. “A dirtied up, shirtless dame.”
Karl looks down at him then and tilts his head as if checking to make sure his description is still accurate.
Well. Chris licks his lips.
A member of team make-up comes and unceremoniously kicks more dirt onto Chris’s tight pants.
Karl coughs in order to hide a snicker.
It may be winter time, but that doesn’t make sitting out in a desert movie set under the noon sun and about a billion stage lights any less unbearable. There is an annoying smattering of red and brown dust across half his face and he’s pretty sure that some has gotten into his eye. He has an unattractive squint.
Chris longs for water.
And it comes in the form of Spock-Zach and a plastic bottle.
“Hey.” Zach kneels in the dirt. He’s sweating, and flushed in the face from having to run and jump and act. “How’re you guys doing?”
“Sunbathing.” Karl jokes. “Might have to flip Chris over, his front’s almost done.”
“Hah. Hah.” Chris feels inordinately embarrassed when Zach actually inspects him, dragging one finger through the artful dirt splayed against his chest. Shit. Non-comedic shirtless scenes designed to be enticing are so damn awkward to act through. Take deep breaths, clench. Rub self if hands are free.
He’ll be happy to explain to everyone that this is a sunburn (not a full body blush) if asked.
“Here.” Zach passes him and Karl the cool refreshing bottles. It feels perfect in Chris’s hands. His wrists are bound together but he’s able to hold it and drink anyway.
“My hero.” Chris simpers. Blinks rapidly against the particles stuck to one contact lens.
It’s hard not to notice that Zach is damned attentive. You know, when he’s on your side. Not one assistant has thought to bring Chris water. Though it could be due to the fact that JJ cut at least sixty percent of non-vital crew when they’re forced to film on-location instead of in the studio.
Suddenly, Zach’s face is right there. Chris doesn’t even have a chance to swallow the gulp of water filling his mouth before Zach puckers up and. Blows.
In his eye.
“Affsssthppfft.” Chris sputters.
“Did I get it?” Zach asks innocently.
JJ’s voice carries across the set through a megaphone. “Places. Take in 2!”
Spock face is back on and Zach dusts his hands off, pats Chris on the thigh, and is gone.
There’s a handprint shape of water and dirt left on his pants that Chris hopes no one notices. Except Karl totally does. Because, well. Shit. Karl is a smirking profile against the sun, spinning the dials on that stupid prop.
Everyone’s a goddamned detective.
“Chris, I have a confession.”
They’re all still on the desert set, ready for the long day to be over. The sun has lowered to the point where it’s magic hour.
Zach is kneeling beside Chris who is flat on his back (a lot in this movie. There seems to be a running theme here. Like how JJ loved to have him dangle off high places in the first one.)
“That bird nest is annoying the hell out of me.”
“Frizziness is a part of my lineage. Don’t judge me for being born this way.”
Zach snorts, but still looks antsy.
“Go ahead,” Chris peers out from underneath the messy, barely long-enough tendrils of hair falling onto his forehead. “I am kind of tied up at the moment.”
Zach smirks, bites his lip, immediately brushes the strands back and Chris finds his fingers curled behind one un-tanned ear.
His heart thumps. Loud. Oh, no. Wait. That’s JJ with the megaphone.
“Karl I need you over—There. Great. Take 8, camera 3 zoom in.” JJ directs and Chris lets the tension in his face bleed away into…
“Spock.” He intones, inwardly pleased with himself for throwing a little Shatner in there.
It’s the way the original Kirk says it. Like he knows Spock cares. Cares a lot. Cares too much. And Kirk’s reassuring him in some way, by not immediately giving him an order. By caring too. It’s an important scene, anyway. Quiet. Comforting.
“Jim.” Zach replies, uses one quick unassumingly strong hand to rip away the bonds on Chris’s wrists.
This is classic cinema.
The sky is purple overhead. Pink behind them. Chris goes this once without hating reflector dude because it highlights the roundness of Zach’s bowl cut and pointy ears in the most endearingly funny way.
Karl is somewhere off to the side but Chris can’t take his eyes off Zach. This is how it’s got to go.
“Enterprise. McCoy here. Three to beam up.”
They are so un-divorced.
The scene which comes after that is filmed on the transporter room set inside the studio.
The drive back in covert, unmarked Paramount vans is a calm one for Chris. He’s been ordered not to move by team make-up lest he disturb their important dirt arrangement.
Zach is sitting beside him in the back seat. Chris puts an arm around him, face deliberately set into a mask of nonchalance. He plucks at Zach’s pointy ear before massaging the angry red line where prosthetic meets actual skin.
Zach has a pinched look on his face that Chris can’t differentiate as being pain or annoyance. Doesn’t matter. He does it until his arm gets tired and has no choice to flop against Zach’s shoulders.
In reciprocity, Zach reaches up and lightly circles his thumb around the rawness of Chris’s wrist.
On set they get coffee and JJ is already crunching a can of Diet Coke in his fist as they hurry to get rolling. They are revitalised.
Extras swarm the transporter pad in a frenzy that gets Chris’s blood pumping. The crowd of enemies and Starfleet crew is supposed to reveal Spock holding up Captain Kirk, who looks ready to kick final bad guy ass.
Because, wow. Benedict is looking menacing, huge scar running down his face showing glowing circuitry underneath. Team Star Trek make-up now you’re just being greedy.
He’s holding twin phaser canons to both Zoe and Simon’s heads from behind the console.
This is where the magic of movie-making comes in, post-production, so Chris just acts strained and determined as he pulls the phaser from Zach’s belt and fires it, face screwing up in a pained expression while Benedict lets out an angry, agonized yell.
Zoe and Simon have to do a few takes of ‘falling’ from different angles. Mostly it’s Pegg diving and flailing and Zoe fighting with her hemline’s decency.
They’re rolling on the floor together, and when JJ calls a wrap, Pegg keeps Zoe penned underneath him.
“Dae ye smoke?” God, that accent is fantastic.
“What?” Zoe’s eyes shift. She always gets adorably flustered with improv. It’s hilarious.
“After sex, I mean.”
“What.” Zoe deadpans.
Pegg. The man is a comedic genius. Chris compares himself, wishes he wasn’t such a tool. Zach makes a hilarious little face and murmurs “whaaaaat?” under his breath.
Chris realizes maybe he should just stop worrying.
And now Simon’s being thrown off and crawls after Zoe on his knees. “You’re bloody hot, Uhura! I been wanting to use tha’ line on ye fo’ a while. Don’t care who knows it!”
Zoe drops and gets him into a headlock.
Pegg has everyone on set in stitches when he whisks Zoe up into his arms, tries to make off with her as she shrieks for Spock. Chris turns to look at Zach and the guy just shrugs. Spock ain’t buying it.
Somehow, just like that, with everyone curled in on themselves and roaring with laughter, their family is absolutely unwaveringly whole again, balance restored. Coming to a theatre near you; Star Trek Awesome.
Also? Thank Roddenberry for short skirts.
Across from them, Benedict is smiling at their antics.
Zach snickers loudly and bows over, nose buried in Chris’s shoulder. His heart races, panicky swell of warmth and suddenly his face is a study of Intense. Method. Acting.
Chris Pine is newly defined.
There is a cast party at Bruce Greenwood’s house.
These workdays, filming is wrapping up, sets being torn down. Only Chris and a few others still have work to do. Voiceovers and things like that. The script’s been fluid all this while and he’s got no clue how it’ll all end. Maybe even JJ won’t, not until it all comes together in the only way it can.
But Chris feels good. Better than ever.
Bruce’s wife ushers him inside and the taxi he arrived in drives away. She smiles and thanks him while examining the label of wine he’s brought. The house is packed full, not just with Trek people but also many from the business. For an unassuming kind of guy Bruce has got loads of industry friends.
He overhears someone squealing that even Spielberg is hanging out.
He’s not sure he believes it, but maybe it’s true.
“You people have broadband and wireless everywhere!” Pegg complains with a huge smile on his face, fingers rapidly scrolling through his phone.
Chris grins, waving when he spots Bruce in the den. The older man is pumping his hand in a hearty handshake while simultaneously reeling back with joy over the bottle of wine Susan shows him.
“No problem,” Chris holds his hands up in defence. “This is perfect. Thanks for having me. I wish we’d got to film more scenes together!”
“I heard Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch is back across the pond?” Bruce asks. Obviously the British actor isn’t in attendance. “Mouthful of a name, isn’t it?”
Chris bites his lip. “Yeah. Amazing actor. So talented! I was really grateful to work with—everyone’s going to love him. Did you get a chance to…?”
“Not so much. My reaction shots and the one scene at the academy set were over relatively fast.” Bruce’s eyes have an attractive latticework of crow’s feet framing them and a smile inside that you just can’t help but love.
“I can’t wait to see the final cut. You’re going to blow everyone away, Chris.”
Chris licks his lips and looks away, suddenly feeling bashful. Knows he’s blushing, but determined not to say anything depreciative about himself tonight. They’re all in a celebratory mood.
“You blow me away, Bruce.”
Aw, hell. Bruce tilts his head and the side of his lips quirk up like he’s trying not to laugh. Suddenly he’s speaking with that trademark deep voice, just shy of sinister. “I’m too old for you kid.”
Zoe enters the scene, wineglass full. “Code red, Captains! I spotted Anton by the chess set and he’s tearing everyone apart!”
Bruce laughs, then gets an intense challenging look and goes to investigate. Chris sighs in relief and tucks a hand behind his head to pull at one of his favourite hats.
Zoe affixes him with a stare. “What in the world are you wearing?”
But, seriously? Even the nicest people can join the fashion police.
“Geeze,” Chris complains, self conscious. “I thought this was a relaxing evening amongst friends. Not a photoshoot!”
“Don’t give me that, Chris.” Zoe is grinning. “You know very well you’d show up exactly like that to a photoshoot.”
Guilty as charged.
“He’s wearing socks this time though.” Zach points out, appearing at her side and gesturing with the hand that also holds a glass of wine.
“Oh. Hah, hah.”
The thing about it is that Chris is intuitive.
Defines himself by self study; it’s a side effect of psychologists in the family. Takes himself way too seriously. Meticulous, all while putting on a cool front. He gets modestly shy and flustered when having to share his opinions on the fly. Is well-read but never required to demonstrate. Values perfection so much that, let’s face it—he becomes kind of lazy and harshly overcritical of himself. As a result, he drops back into an average Joe type of character.
He’s got a simplistic boyish veneer overtop the colourful personality inside.
And Zach is the opposite. Will take a stance and make you think he’s going to say something important but it’s just hella ridiculous. Doesn’t get intimidated in showing what he’s all about. Can wear his heart on a sleeve like it’s Armani layered over American Apparel stripes. He’s two-sided, yeah, but both sides are equally interesting, equally versatile and intelligent. It’s not exactly hard to understand why people think Zach’s brilliant.
Especially in show business, in acting, the most important thing is to look better than you really are.
If anything, Chris Pine dumbs down.
It makes him wonder why Benedict did what he did. Why him? It’s obvious who the better choice is. You know, like, anyone else.
No wonder Chris always makes sure he’s got someone outstandingly beautiful by his side. And hell, he’s not picky. He likes it just as much when that person’s a man. The ever growing list of bromance and mancrushes is making a startling amount of sense.
Obviously, anyone amazing and confident will do.
Damn, freaking Cumberbatch.
“I want a picture of this for posterity. The posterity of bad hats.”
Chris rolls his eyes at the phone held aloft in his face. John Cho thinks he’s a fashionista. Zoe and Zach are chuckling behind their wine glasses.
Chris makes an exasperated sound and takes the hat off anyway. “Cho, I’m hurt. We never made jokes (to your face) when both you and Karl arrived on set, wearing the same thing…”
“Uh, we were all wearing the same uniform in that scene, if you recall.”
“He’s talking about that grossly metrosexual scarf and jacket combo you showed up in, Sulu!” Zach butts in spectacularly. Bumps hips with Chris, in fact, to make room in order to stand side by side.
John pauses at that. “Oh. Yeah. Never mind.”
Zach nods. “By the way. We’re still on for my place after, right?”
There’s a chorus of agreements.
Zach’s eyelashes skirt his cheeks as he looks down into his wine and takes a sip. He’s wearing vintage glasses with the most perfectly hideous frames to hide the Spock brows.
“Just admit you’ve committed a crime.” Zoe says even as she pats Chris’s hair down and straightens the collar of his shirt. She can be so wonderfully mothering when she wants to be.
Honestly, it makes no sense why Chris is the one who gets chewed out. It’s like they expect him to do different by now. Unless this is proof they love him more when he’s adorably floundering for a comeback.
“Whatever, whatever.” Cho crows happily, “Punishment! Drop and give me 20!”
“You just enjoy watching me suffer.”
“Correction; I enjoy watching you do push ups. And how do you know what I meant? I could have been ready to start stripping. My usual rate’s 20 per dance.”
Chris snorts and then smirks. “You’re cheap.”
“Quantity over quality. How much do you go for?”
“With those baby blues? At least a nice dinner first.” Karl answers for him as he appears with a beer in hand. Toasts and drinks through laughter while he smacks Chris on the shoulder.
“Now, now, now.” Zach admonishes the other men. “This isn’t celebrity auction.”
Karl raises an eyebrow. Tilts his head. Has the absolute gall to look anticipatory. “Oh, so what—Now you have dibs? Rethinking your stance on the Pine Experience?”
Chris feels like he’s got a firework in his chest that keeps exploding, each time burning a different colour than the last.
Everyone’s got deep indulgent grins plastered over their faces and Chris lets out a little laugh, realizing Zach’s face is going pink.
Zach resolutely stares at none of them. “Eternal dibs.”
That sets off another chain reaction. Makes Chris’s brain fizzle and smoke like a sparkler set afire in an unknown dark place. He knows this conversation is all very satirical, but it does nothing to stop the sudden influx of feelings for Zach. Feelings which previously had no name or place.
It’s not like he’s never thought about it. Or playfully found himself drawn outside the lines of society’s little box. Just never thought of himself as actually wanting it. Before.
“Sorry Karl. Looks like the last rose goes to…”
And Chris never gets to finish that line as everyone in the vicinity starts to groan and bash The Bachelor in perfect splendour.
They’re all just the tiniest tipsy.
It’s not that Chris isn’t afraid of acting like a complete idiot or doing something he’ll regret in the morning. They’re all much too old for that sort of thing. But it’s just the four of them now; Chris, Zach, Karl and Zoe.
This is what happens when you’ve got a kid at home like Cho, or you still are a kid and have better things to do like Anton. Pegg is getting on a plane like, tomorrow, or is that today? Karl leaves at the end of the week and thus it is the absolute perfect time to be silly. Soon they’re all going to be alone again.
This is why Zoe is up on her toes, trying to show Karl how to be a ballerina. If a ballerina wanted to dance around in jeans and a beer in hand, yeah. Chris supposes the guy is living it large before having to head home to Auckland and face reality.
“No. No! Nooo,” Zach is cringing at every dance move executed in the middle of his small living room. Noah barks a few times in agreement.
“The peanut gallery can keep their mouths shut!” Zoe quips.
“Hey!” Chris makes an inarticulate sound of betrayal from the second cushion on Zach’s loveseat. “I didn’t say a word!”
“You were thinking it.” Karl’s eyebrows can do more graceful movements at the moment.
It feels good to be here. Hell, it’s an honest gathering of friends where there aren’t gigantic cameras being pointed at their faces.
Okay, so ignore the fact that Zach is busy tweeting a cell phone pic of himself and Noah and this is as real as it’s going to get.
Zach gets up and tugs at his jeans, brushes off errant dog hair from his lap.
“I’m making coffee. Otherwise the end is nigh. Next there’ll be charades.”
Chris grins and jumps up to help him. “Or,” He lowers his voice, “Night cabaret.”
“Chris?” Zach sends a sort of amused look over his shoulder. “Ignoramus.”
Chris can’t help but suck in a breath, feign being struck right in the chest.
Of course, when they return to the room with four small coffee cups in hand, Zoe is stretched out on the loveseat, softly snoring, and Karl is sitting in one of the armchairs, looking about ready to fall asleep himself. The wild shenanigans actors get up to. Riveting stuff.
Chris laughs, shakes his head and downs one cup.
Zach swings into the only other chair in a quick fluid motion. Only a second of awkward pause before Chris shrugs and sits on the arm. There are no qualms about it when Zach curls an arm around him for just a moment and then pats his hip.
“I’m going to miss you two.”
Oh hell. Karl is getting maudlin.
Zach nods. “Yeah. I’m so—thankful, for all of this, you know?” And then he looks up at Chris, chocolate brown eyes deep in the low light of the room.
“I love you, buddy.”
Chris looks away, blinks rapidly. He scratches at the inseam of one thigh. Wow, all right. Perhaps the training has put more weight on than he thought. All of these jeans have got to go. Sweatpants forever.
He feels the hand on the small of his back, fingers curling back and forth so gently, cautious. It’s just so much easier to slide straight into Zach’s lap. Tight.
He’s used to seeing other people do things like this, mostly out of jest, but uh. At this point? Pretense is right out the window, past the second star to the right and straight on 'til morning.
Chris bites his lip. It comes away wet. He can tell because when Zach speaks, low and rough, his breath across Chris’s mouth feels cool, tingling. Conduction.
“I think Karl finally bit the dust.”
Chris realizes it’s true, snorts and then covers his mouth, not wanting to disturb their two sleeping beauties. Fucking Star Trek cast. Bunch of models. He loves each and every one of them so much.
The man he’s sitting on makes an inpatient sound.
“You’re heavy.” Zach gives him a pointed look.
“Sorry,” Chris quickly moves off.
Zach gets up and retreats up the stairs.
Chris watches his back, tension obvious in the sharp posture. He flops into the vacant chair, and then is up lightning fast, nearly taking out a lamp when his arms flail outward. He rearranges the armchair to point in a new direction and, as an afterthought, switches around some books on the main shelf. Just, a little bit of feng shui justice and all.
Life on movie sets can make reality seem like the fucked up thing. After a while you come to expect someone to be able to give you direction, be there to pat your back or feed you the next line. It’s all very planned. A method to the madness of movie-making. The hard part is making sure the audience believes in magic instead.
The everyday person can go around expecting their favourite stars are like those in the sky; untouchable. Bright spots only.
Chris is guilty of not thinking seriously about the spaces in between, and who’s going to be there to fill them.
Because what do you do when your reality is everyone else’s fantasy?
He climbs the stairs.
Zach is just standing at the top of the stairs, admiring a collage of photos set inside a simple frame which hangs on the adjacent wall.
“So, Benedict deduce you too?” Chris asks straight up.
Zach has a moment where he looks like he’s going to spray whatever beverage is in his mouth all over the art.
He sputters, and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and sets down a coffee cup on the hallway table which hosts a jumble of books. Looks at Chris like he’s crazy. Not that Chris would disagree at the moment.
“Deduc—Is that what you’re calling—”
Zach stops and clears his throat. “We had excellent conversations and a compelling time working on our scenes together. We pretended to hate each other and he kicked the crap out of me, if that’s what you mean.”
It’s obvious this is not what Chris meant.
“So you were only angry at him on my behalf? Really?”
That’s a little bit more difficult to imagine.
“I wasn’t angry.”
“Annoyed? Bitchy?” Zach raises what’s left of his eyebrows at Chris’s suggestions. Chris grins and tries again.
“No comment.” Zach says with what he thinks is a serious face, usually full lips pressed together in a thin line.
Chris cocks his head to examine it.
“Look, man.” Chris puts a hand on Zach’s shoulder and rubs his thumb in deep, draws one small circle. “I should have told you. The lingering eye is contagious. Don’t be afraid if you start feeling all these weird things…”
“Pfft.” Zach looks away but is loosening up under the touch.
Things go silent for a while. Chris can faintly hear Zoe’s snores and the occasional pitter-patter of pet feet against the floor. He moves to place both hands on Zach’s shoulders to give a proper kneading but the other man turns to face him. Ends up holding Zach by the upper arms and unable to keep the concern off his face.
“Chris. I’m just finding it very difficult.” Zach takes a deep breath and releases it through his nose. “To deal with the fact that everyone you work with ends up wanting to kiss you.”
That baffles Chris.
“Uh. First of all, completely untrue.” He shrugs and twitches his nose, trying to seem proud whilst covering up the mortifying modesty that unfolds across his face in a blush.
“Secondly?” Zach prompts.
Chris licks his lips and can’t stop his fingers from twisting into the soft fabric of Zach’s sleeves. Pulls him close so they are nose to nose.
“Not everyone has tried.”
Chris kisses him.
He watches, as close as he dares, the feelings dancing in Zach’s eyes. Then pulls back just enough so he can lick his lips again.
Zach’s fingers suddenly dig hard through his hair. For just a second it’s shocking, the feel of it. Zach has always only been cautious and gentle. It sets Chris off.
He groans deep in the back of his throat. “Keep going.”
“Shut up.” Zach says breathlessly. “You’re not even ga—”
Chris kisses him again, licks inside Zach’s open mouth. Their tongues slide together and the heat explodes like a sudden viciously sweet thing in his mouth. Things feel like they’re unravelling the more Zach’s hands mould deeply into him, touch protective and attentive in a way Zach has never ever been with him before. He grabs fistfuls of Chris’s shirt to press their bodies together and then squeezes fingers lusciously into the backs of his thighs.
Chris can feel himself losing it, excitement vibrating straight through his body and making everything thrum and throb.
Being with Zach makes him feel like a real person. Doesn’t have to compare himself because the two of them are so alike in so many ways. Zach’s confidence in body and existence lends credibility to Chris’s own. Confidence by proxy, Chris closes his eyes.
They’re the same height and the feel of solid muscle and flesh underneath his hands sends a shiver through him. Touching Zach, roughly twisting the shirt tails free of those tight jeans making him gasp, sounds delicious. Makes the fireworks inside Chris burst and coalesce to form the most perfect white light. A full spectrum experience in high def.
It’s so good that Chris feels parched, needs more when their mouths part and Zach’s hot breath huffs across his lips. They stare at each other, Chris deeply drinking in the look within Zach’s brown eyes.
Zach closes them and his nose skims down the dip just in between Chris’s own nose and cheek. It’s nearly ticklish. Chris lets out a breath of bright, startled laughter.
Zach schools his features, looking far too solemn for someone who only has half their eyebrows. Leans their foreheads against each other.
“So…” Zach’s voice is low. “What are we calling this— A bromance?”
“If you have to call it one, you can.”
He can’t take his eyes off Zach. Knows he’s trembling because the hands on his upper thighs are holding him tighter.
Tight, tight, tight. Chris licks his lips.
Zach’s lips curve into an almost smile before he sucks in a breath and his mouth falls slightly open as he puts a thumb on Chris’s chin. Pushes down so Chris’s excited hot pant of the name “Zach” can escape for the second just before he presses their lips together once more.
They’re all over each other so fast, it’s frantic and unplanned and completely perfect.
“What do you wanna do?” Zach’s words are a hot whisper in the air.
“Mrgh,” Chris’s forehead drops to rest on Zach’s exposed collarbone. “I don’t know. This? Uh. No, wait. Everything.”
And Zach’s popping the button on the top of Chris’s jeans open and—there goes the fly. That feels so much better.
They manage to make it to Zach’s bedroom before he loses his boxer briefs with the jeans. Goddamn, they’re tight. Never again. And, shit, he knocks off Zach’s stupid glasses while trying to get his shirt up and, well. It’s too late to even try to save them.
It’s dark, no light, and Chris blinks out his contacts from sheer frustration because it’s so good that his eyes start to water.
They are both lost in dark, dark space.
Zach doesn’t seem to mind much. And Chris doesn’t care.
Zach’s voice is quiet, calm. The hand he has on Chris’s arm is just as gentle. They’re at LAMILL, getting coffee. You know, because it seems like the best thing to do. And Chris is so Hollywood.
The cast has disbanded and the movie sets are all gone. JJ’s Trek sequel is now up for post-production and all evidence of the lives they’ve all lived for the past few months has been whisked away in favour of the next scheduled blockbuster.
“Chris, thank you.”
This is where Chris’s throat prickles, gigantic lump forming. Knows Zach is talking about before, when they were together but far apart. Ignoring each other on set, not on each other’s side. Not here.
“You’re—” Zach says, “I didn’t want anything to change with us. Like, you already knew that I... I knew you knew.”
“Of course I knew.” Chris smiles to himself, filled to the brim with satisfaction and the perfect morning brew. “Idiot.”
Zach rubs at his mouth with the cuff of his hoodie sleeve, trying to hide a smile. Fails.
“You know, I’m glad you’re back in LA. You belong here, man.” Chris says, squints against the sun.
Zach’s grip tightens for just a second. “For realsies.”
Chris snorts, laughs. Stupid contacts, making his eyes just that much more blurry. “Realsies. What the fu— okay, stop. What is this scene? Take three steps and tilt your head.”
“Three steps.” Zach says like Chris’s whims are inane but does it anyway. Lets go and walks forward—and, yep, there it goes. Ye old head tilt to the left.
“Not bad, Quinto.”
It’s not Chris’s fault the name Quinto totally sounds like ‘asshole’ sometimes.
“You’d make an awful director Mr. Pine.” Zach is smiling now, tilting to the right.
“It’s my movie and I’ll cry if I want to.” He is so totally not crying.
He is not going to cry. Zach is pretty much already crying, with a flush stealing his features and watery sounding words. Chris will not. That’s a single contact lens-induced tear. A side effect of lingering eye syndrome. Also? Glee.
“Okay, okay.” Zach takes a deep breath and finally gets a hold of himself. Chris hopes someone got a shot of the disgustingly mushy look on Zach’s face. Only probably not. Because those sunglasses and bucket hat hide a lot.
“FYI. Just because we’re out in public together, doesn’t mean we’re dating.”
The amusement bubbles up inside Chris. “No offense Zach, but why else would we?”
“Uh, because we’ve finished filming Star Trek Awesome. And are riding the glow of fame?”
Zach reaches out and swipes his thumb across Chris’s cheekbone.
Chris clears his throat and pulls his own hat further down. Hates PDA, but it’s okay though. They’re family. Friends. Lovers.
Maybe being a leading man isn’t so bad.
“Fame? Hope not.” And Chris can’t help but smile, feeling boneless, heart thumping fast, voice so, so low. He can’t wait for the next movie. Waiting is going to kill him. Lucky thing he’s got Zach to fill in the gaps.
“Everyone knows the sequel always sucks.”