One day, Chris was lying morosely on his couch, watching daytime television and sulking about, you know, manly stuff, when Zach barged in.
“I bought you a kitten,” said Zach abruptly, because saying ‘hello’ was far too mainstream and would ruin his hipster cred. Or something like that anyway, Chris usually tuned out when Zach started hipster-ranting at him, because Chris was the sort of guy who unironically watched Saturday morning cartoons and genuinely liked Coldplay.
“Why would you do that?” Chris said, staring at the spherical black fuzz with, ow, claws, that Zach had unceremoniously dumped on his chest.“Where have you been? How did you get in here?”
“Reasons,” Zach looked shifty. “I bought you a kitten because of reasons.”
“Harold hates it, doesn’t he?” Chris said.
“No, no. Maybe.” Zach avoided all eye contact. “Maybe Harold hates it. Maybe Jonathan is deathly allergic. Maybe Zoe is not at a point in her life where a kitten is a good idea. Maybe I’m afraid of John’s wife so I wouldn’t even ask in the first place. Maybe Anton is too little for all the responsibility that comes with pet ownership. Maybe I wouldn’t offer Karl a kitten because I’d be afraid he’d accidentally eat it while drunk. Who knows? Not you. You don’t know. You don’t need to know. All you need to know is that I have brought you a kitten. Now I must immediately leave to go to yoga or pilates or whichever class I take that helps me stay all limber and nimble and bendy so that I can keep that special someone in my life savagely happy.” and with that, Zach was gone, slamming the door behind him.
“Fuck my life,” Chris said to the black fuzzy lump, and in response it swiped at his nose.
Chris had had the kitten about a week when he met up with Karl to hang out and just generally be manly, and pretend he wasn’t pining over a certain someone with outrageous eyebrows and deplorable taste in twinks. Chris brought the kitten with him, partly because he thought it was probably still too little to be left alone, and partly because he was afraid it might burn his house down for laughs while he was gone. The kitten was completely evil.
“I don’t care how evil you think it is,” Karl told him, “or how many times you say it’s tried to force-choke you to death while you sleep - you can’t name it Darth Vader. You cannot. Every overweight Klingon-speaking basement dweller will take it as a personal insult that Captain Kirk has named his pet after a rival franchise, and they will kill you. You will start World War Three, and you will die. Then JJ will overdose on diet coke, Zach will be inconsolable and bitchy for forever, and I will somehow get stuck with a kitten. Chris, I do not want a kitten.”
“Everybody wants a kitten,” said Chris, “or so I hear. But you’re right, I can’t name it Vader. Vader doesn’t quite suit, even with this thing being easily the most evil creature alive and rocking a black suit to boot.”
“Maybe encourage it to be a better person or whatever. Give it a name that has good associations, and tell it you believe in it every day or something, and one day you might avert the apocalypse.”
“Hmm...maybe,” Chris watched while the kitten shredded Karl’s shoelaces maliciously, and pondered.
Chris spent a long time staring at the kitten. The kitten spent an equally long time staring back, only with the added expression on its tiny face like it was planning his drawn out and incredibly painful death in meticulous detail.
“I’m going to call you Batman,” Chris said at last.
The kitten narrowed its eyes ever so slightly.
“Because,” Chris hastened to add, “because Batman looks dashing in all black, much like yourself, he has some serious anger issues, and he too was separated from his parents at an early age. But! He grew up to become a good person, apparently, although I personally find his prediliction for young boys in lycra a bit worrisome. So follow his example, oh tiny angry one, only hopefully without exploding my house at any point or being arrested for trafficking.”
The kitten stared at Chris coldly for a moment longer, and then began grooming itself. Chris took that as a good sign: Batman it was, then.
Batman went everywhere with Chris, riding along in the manbag that he used to cart around his scripts, wallet, spare reading books, and his special magical baseball hat of +3 paparazzi-warding that didn’t really work. But not because Chris had been called ‘Princess’ so many times that he was now morphing into one, no. No, Batman rode around in Chris’ manbag because Batman hated Chris and wanted him to get into as much trouble as possible. At least, that was Chris’ theory. Certainly it would explain why he was now on his knees, trying to coax a yowling, terrified Batman out from underneath a piece of the set.
“Why did you bring your cat?” Zoe demanded.
“Can I see it?!” Anton asked, practically bouncing with excitement.
“Dude, you owe me fifty bucks,” John said to Simon.
“One cat is not proof that he’ll end up a crazy cat lady,” Simon retorted, “I owe you nothing.”
“Why did you call her BATMAN?” Zach yelled shrilly in Chris’ ear. “Oh my God, did I hear that right? Did you really name her BATMAN? Is that a thing that has happened, Christopher, can I trust you with nothing?”
“Well I didn’t know it was a girl cat!” Chris hissed as Batman swiped at his fingers.
“Maybe we can lure it out,” Karl suggested, “what does it eat?”
“Babies souls,” Chris swore and batted away Sara, the costume girl who was fussing over the state of the knees on his dress uniform.
“The gender of the kitten makes no difference to the travesty you have committed against this poor, defenseless creature.” Zach had his arms crossed. Chris could see him out of the corner of his eye, glaring down hipstery death upon Chris’ person.
“Karl wouldn’t let me name it Darth Vader, even though it tried to choke me to death,” Chris offered, because in for a penny in for a pound, right? Zach’s face turned purple for a moment before he pinched the bridge of his nose and collected himself.
“I know you’re only saying that to vex me,” Zach said. Karl returned from craft services with a donut and a handful of ham slices, so Chris left him to it.
“You don’t get any points for ‘vex’, just so you know” Chris turned to Zach.
“I can’t trust you with anything,” Zach continued, ignoring him, “I bet you don’t even feed her properly - listen to that crying! Our kitten is probably wandering about, fading away, and all you - “
“Wait,” Chris interrupted, “Our kitten? Our? As in, you and I together?”
“Yes, of course,” Zach said. “This is our kitten.”
“I was not aware that we were sharing custody here,” Chris said. “I must have missed that discussion. Tell me, did it take place before or after you physically threw Batman at me and then disappeared and ignored us both for weeks?” Out of the corner of his eye, Chris could see Karl had succeeded in luring Batman out and was currently trying to shield Anton from her tiny, angry claws.
“Are you suggesting I abandoned our kitten?” Zach demanded incredulously.
“I’m suggesting that you’ve gone insane,” Chris said. “I am the single parent to Batman. Even if we had gone kitten shopping together, I would still be a single parent. Not once have you shown any interest in her, not once. You’re too busy gadding about being wild and young and carefree, which is just plain ridiculous because you are the older one here.”
“Is this still about the kitten?” Karl asked.
“I don’t think it was ever about the kitten,” Zoe replied.
“Are Mom and Dad going to get a divorce? “Anton asked, because he was a little shit like that. “If they do, can I keep Batman?”
“Mom and Dad can’t divorce if they were never together in the first place, Anton,” Chris snapped. “Never forget, you are a child of sin. And no, you cannot keep my kitten. Why would I let you keep my kitten? She’s my kitten. That is the entire point of this entirely ridiculous conversation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take Batman back to my trailer in case she gets any ideas about hiding up a Jefferies tube.” He grabbed a protesting Batman from Anton’s arms and stalked off.
“He does know we don’t really have an engine, right?” John asked, “That the ship isn’t real?”
“You shut your mouth, Cho,” Simon threatened. “She might hear you!”
“You two stopped being funny about four years ago,” Zoe said, then turned to a still spluttering Zach. “You need to FIX THIS. NOW.” She levelled him with a terrifyingly Uhura-esque glare.
“Fix what? How is this my fault?” Zach protested. “I am not responsible for Chris’ clearly precarious mental state.”
Karl groaned. “Zach, every sad face that boy has made in the last few years is directly attributable to you.”
Zach continued to look incredibly confused.
“Oh come on,” Anton said. “Even I know what they’re talking about, and I’m completely left out of every loop because you all seem to think I’m five years old or something.”
“Look,” Zoe said. “Chris is a grown up, and he’d be fine if you didn’t keep playing with him like this. To be honest, he’s handling everything much better than I would, but you have got to stop messing him around. It’s just cruel, and frankly I expected a lot more from you.”
“I honestly have no idea what you are saying,” Zach blinked.
“My understanding,” Benedict piped up from behind Zach in a seriously intimidating manner, “is that you don’t generally adopt a kitten with one man when you’re savagely fucking another.”
“Okay, which one of you arseholes told him about that blind item?” Zach demanded. Nobody answered him, and Benedict just smirked.
“Go.” Zoe ordered. “Fix this.”
“If I were you, I’d do what the good lady says,” Benedict suggested helpfully. “She can be rather scary, can’t she?”
“Lindelof was right, I really do hate you.” Zach said, and reluctantly headed off in the direction of Chris’ trailer.
Chris was lying despondently on the tiny couch with Batman curled up asleep on his chest when Zach knocked timidly on the trailer door.
“You may only enter if you are here to apologise to Batman for giving her a complex about her name.” Chris said flatly.
“She looks incredibly distressed,” Zach said drily, and Chris sniffed.
“How would you know what her distressed face looks like?” he asked, “You’re never around to see it.”
“Zach sat down on the arm of the couch by Chris’ feet. “I will admit it - Batman is kind of a cool name for a kitten. And I’m sorry that I wasn’t more explicit about kitten ownership and gender.”
“Those are not the only things you need to be more explicit about,” Chris said. “What happened? One day we’re best friends, who see - or at least talk to each other every day, and then all of a sudden you’re gone. You’re off the radar. I don’t hear from you ever, I don’t see you for what feels like a lifetime, and then you break into my house - “
“I did not break in,” Zach protested. “I still have your spare key.”
Chris glared at him. “You break into my house and throw cats at me. Then you disappear again and the next time I see you, you tell me I’ve actually been an honest woman this entire time because you are, in fact, Batman’s other parent.”
“I can see how that may be confusing,” Zach admitted.
“Tell me why we stopped being friends. Tell me why we never hang out anymore. Tell me why I now have a kitten and why I have to share that kitten with you.” Chris said, a little sadly. “I have my suspicions about the first part, but the cat? I have no idea about the cat. Mostly I want you to explain the cat.”
Zach didn’t speak for a moment.
“I broke up with Jonathan,” he said eventually. “A while ago now, actually.”
“Because of Batman.” Chris looked decidedly non-plussed.
“Because of Batman,” Zach agreed slowly, “but I wouldn’t tell her that to her face in case she blamed herself.”
“Still not making any sense, Quinto.”
Zach sighed. “Jonathan was hinting and hinting that he wanted a pet, wanted to get one with me, you know, all that ‘next level of the relationship’ bullshit. Who goes through that? You and I never went through that!”
“Zach,” Chris said slowly, “we were never together.”
“Well maybe we should have been,” Zach said. “Maybe we should never have broken up.”
“I just explained this to Anton not five minutes ago,” Chris said slowly and carefully, as though he were talking to somebody seriously lacking in the mind department. “You cannot break up if you were never together.”
“But we did,” Zach insisted earnestly. “Just because our special places hadn’t yet touched doesn’t mean that I wasn’t a giant douchewad for dropping you the moment somebody small, lithe, and easy came along.”
“Hadn’t yet...?” Chris was stunned. “What?”
“Well it’s what you wanted, isn’t it?” Zach asked, picking at a non-existent loose thread on his sleeve. “And for the record I was - am - pretty much the polar opposite of against that idea, myself.”
“So why - ” Chris spluttered. His brain was going to break.
“I don’t know!” Zach was actually wringing his hands. Chris had never seen anybody actually wring their hands, he didn’t think anybody actually did, outside of books. “If I’d had time to prepare I would have had a proper explanation for you, but I didn’t realise that today was going to be Share Your Feelings Day with Zach and Chris, until Zoe and Cumberbatch ganged up and terrified me into coming in here. All I can tell you now, because I don’t have the words to be more eloquent about it, is that I realised I’d made a huge mistake and the kitten was me trying to offer a heartfelt apology, while also trying to see if I still had a chance to maybe win you back.
He looked terrified. Terrified and vulnerable and truly, truly, in that moment Zachary Quinto was a creature to be pitied. So Chris did the only thing that a best friend and pseudo-boyfriend could do in that sort of situation - he laughed.
Zach threw his arms up in the air. “I give up! I quit! I try to have a mature, emotional discussion with you on pain of death from Zoe, but also because I respect you as a person, and all you can do is laugh at me!”
“You are such an idiot, oh my God,” Chris gasped, and he sat up abruptly, dislodging Batman in the process, much to her disgust. Chris figured she could just deal with it though, because right now he had more important things to worry about.
“You are such an idiot,” he said again, putting one hand on Zach’s arm. “And because you’re such an idiot, I’m going to say this very clearly. Pay attention now.”
“Your apology by way of small and fluffy kitten is accepted,” Chris said. Zach’s face broke out in a smile. “However,” Chris continued, “as a way of winning me back, giving me a small demonic creature who likes nothing more than to shred my books, pee in my shoes, and try to suffocate me in my sleep? Not the best idea.” He grinned lopsidedly.
Zach narrowed his eyes and stared down at Chris, realisation dawning on him. “I don’t have to win you back, do I?” he said. “I never actually lost you.”
Chris grinned even wider. “Not really,” he admitted, “but don’t let that stop you from trying anyway.”