So Chris sings in the car. Which isn't particularly, whatever, unusual, this is L.A. and if you don't find something to do while driving for the approximately 14 hours a day that you end up doing, you'll probably go crazy.
The thing is that he sings along to every single song that comes on, and he knows the lyrics to all of them. Madonna's "Vogue." Neil Diamond, "Forever In Bluejeans." Coldplay's "Speed of Sound." It starts getting ridiculous when "99 Red Balloons" comes on and Chris has every word down pat.
"What?" he says, glancing over at Zach. He's got his right hand lazy on the wheel, his left arm hooked jauntily over the open window, looking more like one of the truckers from I-80 than a Hollywood baby who leaves California only under protest.
"You know the lyrics?" Zach demands, glaring over his sunglasses. It's an early call, and he appreciates Chris driving him, but there are limits to what Zach should have to endure, and Chris with bedhead and a Berkeley t-shirt and singing is just too much.
"...Yes?" Chris ventures.
"This is the *German* version, you asshole."
"...Ich bin ein Berliner?" Chris tries again, grinning as he flips the blinker, turning left into the studio lot. "I did a couple of semesters of German. Oh, did I ever tell you about the Comp Lit thesis I wrote about the rearticulation of the anti-war message that was propogandized in the English--"
"God, how can I hate you more than I do already? I didn't think it was possible," Zach mutters.
"You love me, man." They roll to a stop in front of the trailers, and Chris grabs his coffee mug before lurching out of his car. Zach climbs out and heads for his trailer; he hears behind him, "Dass es einmal soweit kommt, Wegen 99 Luftballons," sung softly, off-key.
"Shit, shitty shit shitmeister," Chris mutters.
"That is so eloquent," Zach says. He's leaning against the wall in Chris's hallway, watching Chris stumble around his living room like he's drunk.
"My glasses, my fucking shit-ass *glasses,*" Chris says, pawing through a small mountain of scripts and magazines and DVD boxes on his coffee table that has grown exponentially in the past two months, to the point where the lower layer has probably compacted into peat, "Have gone walkabout. When do we have to be at the studio?"
Zach checks his watch. "Twenty minutes ago."
"Fuckity fuck fuck fuck! Seriously, quit James Deaning it up there and help me find them, I'm totally screwed."
"Don't you have contacts or something?" Zach isn't going near the coffee table - he thinks it might be sentient at this point - so he starts rummaging around the kitchen alcove. "Also when are you going to stop living in student housing, Pine? Twenty-seven is too old for a minifridge."
"And thirty is too young to start sounding like my mom," Chris replies, and the fact that he's ignored the first half of Zach's commentary is significant. Zach cranes his head around the wall to glare at Chris, who is blushing while on all fours, peering under the couch. It's quite a combination.
"Chris, I repeat. Don't you have contacts?"
"Uh." Chris pulls what looks like a Yahtzee board game out from under the couch. "I lost them a few days ago."
"Where did you lose them?" he asks.
"I think her name was Beth?"
"You're such a hobag."
"Wow, you're helpful." This time he pulls out a rolled-up sock of dubious provenance. "Also perceptive. Also who the fuck's sock is this?"
Zach checks the oven, because once Chris lost his phone and it was in the cutlery drawer with all his teaspoons. Chris's approach to organization is to search and destroy. "What's the big deal, anyway? I'm driving today. What do you need to read?"
"My script," Chris calls; he sounds like he's gone into the bathroom. "I kind of forgot to memorize the scene for today."
Jesus wept. "Today is the bridge scene," Zach points out.
"I'm sorry! I read the last version! But J.J.'s elves slipped the revised fucking version under my door at, like, eleven o'clock last night and I didn't get around to it!"
Zach gives up. "Where's your tape recorder?"
They end up probably violating a shitton of driving laws as they weave through traffic, Zach driving and reading both, speaking the lines for Kirk and Spock into the tiny recorder Chris keeps close to his mouth. Chris, for his part, is grinning like a lunatic and occasionally yelping, "Watch for the minivan!" like Zach's car has lost its brakes and is careening down Wilshire at 80 instead of 5 mph. By the time they finally get to the parking lot and scramble into makeup, the whole scene has been recorded and Chris disappears behind headphones (because of course he wouldn't lose those), closing his eyes while Sandy dabs bruises and cuts onto his face.
Zach takes off his own glasses and puts them on the counter, bracing himself for his daily eyebrow-wax. Chris opens his eyes and tracks the movement. "Hey," he says after a second. "Can I just borrow yours?"
He's already unfolding them, sliding them onto his face as he pulls out the battered revision pages from his backpack; Zach is about to complain that he went to a lot of trouble to make that recording, and committing petty theft was hardly an appropriate gesture of gratitude. He's prevented by two things: one, Mandy, who grabs his chin with one iron fist and waves an Easy Touch Waxing Strip at him with the other. Two, the realization that Chris looks criminally good in his glasses and anything Zach might try to say about a gesture of gratitude would most likely devolve into a blatant demand for a blowjob. Which Chris, in the grand tradition of straight men, would probably be terrible at anyway.
Instead he says, "You know, I never realized before," and waits for Chris to turn toward him, squinting a little at the unfamiliar prescription.
"What?" he asks after a minute.
"You are really amazingly cross-eyed."
Chris laughs, and Sandy yells at him for the smear of burnt sienna that he's made her smear across his cheek.
The cast and crew party is epic, full to bursting of drinking and shouting and some deeply unpleasant bass thumping that's probably supposed to be trance. Zach drags Kristen along as his date, because she dances like it's a sin and has a crush on Simon. The evening is fun and exciting and J.J. actually throws together a rough cut of the bridge scene, the only thing that's close to done because it's one of the only things without seventy-five special effects per frame.
Chris bumps shoulders with him after the scene ends; Zach didn't even realize he had arrived, hadn't seen him all night. "All thanks to your granny glasses and your beautiful voice," he says.
"I don't think you get to make fun of them, seeing how you bought the exact same pair," Zach points out.
"I'm tired of hiding my love for you, Zacharias," Chris says. Zach burps, covering his mouth belatedly. "Wow," Chris says, "That was like an eight-point-three on the Richter scale."
"I thought you measured farts on the Richter scale."
"Which reminds me, when does the karaoke start?"
"How the fuck does farting remind you of karaoke?"
Zach once dated a Broadway singer, and somebody who sang backup for Billy Joel, and he had a weird intense thing with a singer/songwriter who left L.A. to set up a kibbutz in Nevada. But he's never thought about it, doesn't think he would have ever thought about it until he hears J.J. talk at the con about how every cast member of Star Trek is some kind of musician. He glances over at Chris, who is sitting quietly behind his name badge and his microphone and his brand-new contacts.
He leans over, and Chris dips his head toward him. "What do you play?"
Chris pulls back a little, to catch his eye. "What?"
"Musician," Zach whispers back. "What. Instrument. Do you. Play."
The smile on Chris's face informs Zach that the next statement will be a lame double-entendre. "Well, I'd show you right now, but it's kind of a public place for that. Maybe later in my room."
"You are so gross," Zach mutters.
Chris shows up at Zach's house at irregular intervals between the end of filming and the start of the tour; Zach opens the door in February and cannot stop laughing at Chris's deeply stupid buzz cut for about twenty minutes.
"Seriously, I know you're paranoid about your big-ass head, but this was not the answer, dude," he says, still snorting.
Chris is already halfway through a mug of coffee that Zach had made for himself, and is fiddling with Zach's iPod, hooked up to his stereo system. "I feel like an Army Ranger reject," he agrees. "Beau thought I looked hot, though."
"Well, she was clearly high or blinder than you." Zach pours himself another cup of coffee and collapses on the couch. "What are you doing here? It's like ass o'clock."
"I'm getting mocked by my best friend and looking for music that isn't doucherrific. Seriously. Bright Eyes? Zach, there's gay and then there's just... *gay*."
Zach hits him on the back of the head; the short hair is bristly, oddly rough against his palm.
"Ow. Oh, here we go," Chris says, grinning, and gets up. "Come on, breakfast on me. I've found the three cool songs you own, we'll rock out in the car on the way to that place."
Zach sighs deeply and finishes his coffee. "There'd better be awesome French toast at the end of this journey, otherwise we're listening to Kelly Clarkson all the way home."
"No way, you have Kelly Clarkson on here?" Chris sounds way too enthusiastic as he tries to multitask walking through the front door and scrolling through the iPod. It goes about as well as can be expected.
"Jesus," Zach sighs, as Chris walks into the doorframe, "You should really just walk around with a helmet."
"I love you too," Chris says, absently correcting his angle of exit. They get into the car and Chris spends five minutes hooking up the iPod to his car stereo. "Why didn't you ever tell me you have the complete collection of Simon and Garfunkel?" he demands as "Sound of Silence" starts up.
"Would that make you respect me more, or respect me less?"
"I'm not sure. But I feel like it was important to know right from the get-go."
In Paris, the whole cast and J.J. are huddled around a table in an extremely dubious dive bar that Karl swore made amazing screwdrivers. Bad 80's music is interspersed with incomprehensible French disco music. Zach has a headache the size of East Liberty sitting above his right eye, but he doesn't leave, because Chris is leaning against him singing along to every American song that comes on.
"So what did you buy, anyway?" Karl asks Zoe, who had disappeared about two seconds after they'd finished the French press interviews, dragging Kerri along with her. John had been getting text messages from them all afternoon, looking increasingly alarmed each time.
Zoe slurps on her drink. "One of everything," she says, grinning.
The drums from R.E.M.'s one and only good song start up; Zach realizes a second too late what's about to happen.
"That's great, it starts with an earthquake," Chris sings, "Birds and snakes, an aeroplane, and Lenny Bruce is not afraid--"
"He's so trashed," John sighs.
"Feed it up a knock, speed, grunt, no, strength, the ladder starts to clatter," Chris replies, pausing to finish off his drink.
"What's on the agenda for tomorrow, boss?" Karl says. He's almost asleep, draped across half the table.
J.J. pulls out his Blackberry. "I think we're going to Spain. Or New York. Iceland? I don't know. I'm so jetlagged I'm not sure who any of you are anymore."
"We're your followers, J.J.," Zoe says, very seriously. "We are here to serve you."
"I always wanted minions," J.J. says brightly. "Awesome."
Chris is still singing into Zach's ear; he can't really hear Chris's voice so much as feel the breath on his neck, but he knows the words are matching perfectly. He turns, and Chris's chin falls off his shoulder. From this close, Chris's cross-eyed stare is even more obvious. His eyelashes are pale, as if he bleaches them. His breath smells like pizza and orange juice.
"Uh oh, overflow," Chris murmurs.
Joe finally comes back to the table with the next round of drinks, and Zach manages to wedge his brother between him and Chris, because there's listening to Chris Pine serenade you with R.E. Fucking M. and there's self-control and he's starting to realize that never the twain shall meet.
The conversation dips and spins around them, and Zach doesn't feel like an idiot because everyone at the table - everyone in the bar - yells "Leonard Bernstein!" at the same exact time. But Chris is watching Zach when he does it, and when he smiles, he circles around Joe and leans into Zach's very personal space again.
"You symbiotic, patriotic, slam but neck, right?" he asks.
"Right," Zach answers.
When they get to the hotel in New York, Chris forgoes the obligatory cast night out in favor of, apparently, getting shitfaced on his minifridge. Zach wakes up at three a.m. to a text message buzzing his phone across the bedside stand.
can't keep away from the girl, these two sides of my brain need to have a meeting
Zach shoves his phone into the drawer and goes back to sleep.
They get home and everyone spins off to their own thing; Zach gets a dozen or so new paparazzi that follow him around, which is weird and unpleasant yet also deeply hilarious, and he calls Leonard every time it happens and leaves long, rambling voicemails about the nature and fluidity of fame. Leonard text-messages him back, usually, saying things like, "You are not parlaying this fame into getting laid nearly enough." Leonard's grammatical and properly-punctuated text-messages are sometimes the highlight of Zach's day.
Chris has a very different reaction to the whole thing, which is to wear hoodies wherever he goes and become an asshole. Not in a Hollywood, fame-has-made-me-fuck-everything-with-ti
ts sense, but a I-am-rethinking-that-plan-I-had-at-Berkley-to-move-to-Montana-and-write-novels-in-a-shack kind of way. He doesn't stop by anymore, he doesn't drag Zach off to break bread at random diners, and their phone calls go from twice a day to nothing. Zach sees him dashing out of their coffee place one morning, and doesn't even get his hand up to wave before Chris is in his car, head down, shoulders hunched, his car tires squeaking faintly against the burning asphalt as he peels out of the parking lot. Zach goes inside and orders his own usual coffee, smiles at the barista whose name he thinks is Isabelle, and gets his picture taken on three different phones.
In his car, Zach listens to CDs and music from his iPod, and every once in a while he flips to the radio, but he doesn't hear anything that's very familiar, nothing he can sing along to.
He gets back from a stint of filming Heroes in New York and collects the beasts from his brother. He drives up to his house in the encroaching dusk, and there's a familiar car in his driveway, in the space that he never uses.
Chris is sitting cross-legged on his stoop, leaning against the door. Noah immediately climbs into his lap, and Harold from the cat carrier makes a noise that could be construed as approving.
"Hi," Zach says.
"Your dog is doing his best to ensure that I will never father children," Chris replies, struggling to his feet.
"You breeders and your need for nutsacks," Zach says, and unlocks the door. They manage to get inside somehow, with Noah tangling up their legs; when Zach closes the door behind them, it sounds very loud.
"So," Chris says.
"You want a beer?"
"Sure." Chris looks confused, and suddenly Zach realizes that they were supposed to have some deeply tedious argument about how Chris is sorry he dropped off the face of the planet, and Zach is hurt but understands, and they reaffirm their besties statuses with each other.
Instead, Zach gives him a beer and kicks his ass at Katamari Damancy, and Chris talks about Denzel Washington's amazing nasal hair. They slump on the couch and Zach keeps his hands to himself, but Chris's hair is longer than it was the last time they'd seen each other and when Chris gets up to get another beer, he comes back and settles himself closer on the couch, so that the back of his neck grazes Zach's thumb.
Zach knows Chris is talking, saying things that are probably deeply interesting or entertaining or whatever, but he can't focus anywhere but that square half-inch of skin that's brushing against Chris's hair. It is soft, and he wants to shift, get more comfortable, but he knows that any movement will make Chris move, too. So he nods and frowns at what he guesses are the right moments and lets his thumb trace soft circles against Chris's neck.
Until Chris sighs, deep and aggravated, and says, "You are such a fucking retard," and puts down his bottle on the coffee table.
"I--what? No? What?" Zach says, blinking and instinctively fighting Chris as he tries to take Zach's bottle away from him.
"You," Chris says, finally wrestling the bottle free and setting it down, "Are not as smart as everybody thinks you are." He puts his hands on Zach's shoulders and pushes, until Zach is flat on his back and Chris is perched above him, knees gripping his hips and hands still pressing down on his shoulders.
"Um," Zach starts.
"You didn't call," Chris says. "After New York, I thought--"
Zach frowned. "After what in New York?"
"I sent you that message and you never answered." Chris looks like he's about to pout, something he learned from his model ex-girlfriend and needs to stop using as an offensive weapon, because it is at once pathetic and really really effective.
"You sent me the lyrics from a White Stripes song at three in the morning," Zach says.
"And that was supposed to be. What?"
"A declaration," Chris says. "Or whatever."
Zach considers this. He considers the hands on his shoulders, and the cross-eyed stare pinning him, and the fact that every time he thinks about anything there's some fucking Mnemonic device in his brain connecting it to something Chris has said or done. He bought toothpaste this morning and was reminded of Chris's story about his tragic history with braces.
He smiles, and he can't help it, he's grinning, laughing, something in his chest expanding so that he can't hold it in, and when he pulls Chris down to kiss him, he ends up mouthing his chin. Chris resists, stiff-armed, until Zach slings an arm around his neck and levers himself up on one elbow.
"If you wanted to go steady, Chris," he murmurs, still laughing, "You should've just made me a mix tape like a normal girl."
"Asshole," Chris says, and kisses him.