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Fallen Soldier

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Things were going fairly smoothly at dance rehearsals that day, which was better than the usual, honestly. Everyone seemed to be nailing their choreography without too many adjustments, and this was really a number that Chris felt pleased with, especially considering he got to be the (kind of) lead for once.

It was a faster number, one with turns and quick steps and kicks as they shifted back and forth, but it was a lot of fun, and everyone was genuinely enjoying themselves.

Even Kevin was having fun with his wheelchair bits, which was nice to see, and he hopped up a few times to help Jenna nail a weird kick-turn-thing, smacking her hand with a high-five and a, "Damn girl, you got moves!" when she finally mastered it.

They had officially put it together after a couple grueling hours, and were running through it with the CD when Chris had a bit of an... accident.

He was meant to turn on his heel and do a quick two-step move, which he was damn near positive he had down, but he wound up stumbling halfway through the fancy footwork.

Basically, his right foot got caught around his left and he tripped, right ankle rolling uncomfortably and setting him off balance.

Because of the sudden loss of balance, he flailed his arms and windmilled pathetically for a moment or two, then his right ankle completely shifted onto its side and he collapsed heavily on top of it.

At first, he just kind of sat there, wincing as he used his upper body strength to lift himself off of his foot, which was tingling unpleasantly inside his old tennis shoe. He figured he was probably okay, but then the pain hit him and he furrowed his brow, clutching the spot where his calf met his upper ankle.

Everyone had stopped as soon as he thumped against the dance studio floor, waiting to see what exactly would happen from there. Chris was known to take a tumble now and then, and he usually just laughed it off when he tripped over his feet during rehearsal, but he wasn't getting up and giggling in that self-deprecating fashion they were all so used to hearing.

That's when a distinct feeling of worry and concern settled over the entire room.

"Hey, you alright?" Darren asked, ever the loving boyfriend, even if he was a bit slow and more than a bit of a doofus. He waited for Ryan to pause the CD before he knelt down beside his fallen little soldier, leaning in to press a quick kiss to Chris's temple, "That looked like it hurt."

At that, Chris snapped back to reality, forcing a smile as he tried to ignore the pain and unpleasant tingles in his foot and ankle.

"Me? Oh, yeah, I'm fine! Sorry, I just... you know, fell. I just tripped. I'm cool. I'm basically a cucumber."

Chris pushed himself up, desperate to stop his rambling, grimacing a bit and holding his right leg up just enough that he didn't need to put pressure on it just yet, "Let's get back to work."

A few moments of silence passed, followed by Lea mumbling something about his ankle not looking good, and Chris just rolled his eyes, starting to insist that he was perfectly okay as he set his right foot down against the wooden floor to walk...

Then he collapsed again, his ankle giving out and, this time around, his tailbone hit the ground with an incredibly painful bump, followed by a muttered curse escaping his lips.

"Yeah, you aren't okay," Ryan shook his head, gently taking Chris's injured foot in his hand and giving it a worried look, "It's swelling up and starting to bruise. I can see the color getting weird all the way above your sock. You need to get that checked."

Chris started to argue, wanting to grumble and roll his eyes and repeat that he was okay, that it was just a twisted ankle and if he sat for a minute, they could get back to dancing. But then Ryan pulled a total dick move and gently pressed his thumb against the bruise forming just below the line of his sock and tears sprang to his eyes.

"Oh, shit," Chris hissed, pulling his foot back and setting it down gently, "Okay, yeah, it's not good."

Ryan bobbed his head in agreement, stepping back a few feet and grabbing his phone from one of the back pockets of his loose jeans. "Let me call the medics and we'll get an ambulance going."

Anxiety immediately rising, Chris shook his head, holding his foot in the most gentle-but-protective manner he could manage, staring up desperately at the choreographer.

"No! No, Ryan, I'm not going to the hospital, and I'm definitely not going in an ambulance."

Ryan insisted, searching for the contact as he gave Chris a worried look, and Chris's eyes began to water even more. How pathetic and embarrassing.

As if falling on his ass wasn't bad enough.

"You're not stopping rehearsal AND making me get in an ambulance! I won't!" Chris exclaimed dramatically, shaking his head, "I'm not going."

Sensing that an argument would just result in a headache for everyone, and knowing that Chris's ankle definitely needed attention, Darren held up his hands and cleared his throat, repeating the action louder and louder until the two feuding parties shut up and looked at him.

"Look, Ry, I'll just drive him," Darren sighed, pushing himself up to his feet, "I'll get him to my car and drive him to the ER. That'll be faster than tracking down all the medics and calling an ambulance, anyway."

Chris shot Darren a look that clearly showed he thought his boyfriend was a total traitor, holding onto his foot even tighter than before, despite the fact that it ached.

"I'm not going to the hospital!" Chris squawked, his free arm gesturing wildly, vaguely, "If you're going to drive me anywhere, you're going to drive me home. I've got plenty of ice packs and ibuprofen there."

Rolling his eyes and rubbing his towel through his sweaty hair once more before he tossed it onto his chair, Darren shoved his phone in the pocket of his sweat pants, "Don't argue with me on this, babe. That thing might be broken, for all we know... Anyway, Kev, Ry, you wanna help me get him on my back? I gotta carry him to my car."

"Yeah, man, sure," Kevin smiled sadly, getting to his feet while Ryan nodded his agreement.

Ignoring Chris's protests and curses and full-on threats, Kevin and Ryan helped Darren get Chris settled, piggyback style, his swollen ankle cradled in the crook of Darren's arm.

And, tired of fighting and submitting to the fact that he had been out voted-even though he was a grown fucking man and he could make his own choices, thank you-, Chris leaned heavily against Darren's back, his chin hooked over Darren's shoulder and their duffle bags slung over his own arm as Darren carried him out of the studio.

At least it was better than all the fuss of medics and an ambulance... even though Darren had sweated through his shirt in the back and it was sticking uncomfortably to Chris's chest, feeling moist and too warm as Darren's heavy steps caused him to bounce a bit as they moved across the lot.

Maybe he should have taken the damn ambulance.

~

Chris sat in the hospital bed, his foot propped up on the opposite end with a spare pillow, and he glared down at his phone. He wasn't really doing much, just absently scrolling through his Twitter feed, but it was better than having to talk to his total and complete traitor of a so-called significant other.

Not only had Darren made him smack his bad foot against the car door, both when he was getting in and when he was getting out, but he had to have x-rays taken and the nurse made him roll and shift his ankle in the most painful ways he could imagine.

Chris was, like, ninety-five percent sure she was some kind of sadist.

Now, lying under a scratchy blanket because the too-light robes he was in, one covering his front and one covering his back, made him feel unpleasantly chilly and weirdly exposed, Chris was brooding.

"You're gonna get hardcore wrinkles if you keep making faces like that," Darren supplied oh-so helpfully, wearing that stupid grin and scratching at the two days worth of stubble covering his chin and jawline, "You're too young for frown lines."

Chris rolled his eyes, opening a text when his phone pinged with the notification. He sighed after reading it, quickly typing back a reply before he set the phone on his chest, looking over at Darren with a sour expression.

"Lea just told me Ryan cancelled rehearsals. They were going to wait for us and finish up, but this is taking too long," Chris grumbled, furrowing his brow, "We're going to get behind."

Darren shrugged, fingers carding through his curls, no longer soaked with sweat but a hot mess regardless.

"Ryan knows what he's doing. It's better for you to rest, anyway."

Overwhelmed with the desire to chuck something at Darren's head, because it was completely unfair for him to be so calm and nonchalant about the whole thing, damn it, Chris clenched his hands into fists and let out an angry puff of air through his nose.

When he didn't offer any further response, Darren just smiled, shifting his chair closer to the bed, his elbows on his knees, chin resting in his hands.

"You're adorable when you're pouting," he laughed softly, dragging his fingers through Chris's sleek, swooping locks, the rough pads of the long digits scraping against Chris's scalp gently, "You can't be too mad at someone who saved you from the medics and an ambulance, far as I know."

"Oh?" Chris asked, sarcasm adding a stinging bite to his voice as he opened his eyes to stare at Darren, having closed them for a few brief moments, "That's an interesting statement, you know, because I'm pretty pissed at you right now. You could have just taken me home, but no, you had to drag me here, to this wonderful, glorious land of white walls and that gross cleaning product smell that barely, BARELY masks the stench of death and sadness."

Darren patiently waited for Chris's little tirade to finish, then offered his boyfriend the sweetest smile he could muster, leaning forward to brush his lips against Chris's forehead, right between his expressive eyebrows.

"You know I only did it out of love," Darren smiled again, this one considerably more toned down and sadder than the first, knowing that it was just the pain and Chris's hatred-slash-fear of hospitals talking. Soon enough, his precious, silly, goofy boyfriend would be back to his normal self, but that would clearly take a bit of time.

"You're the most exacerbating human on the entirety of this Earth," Chris stated, his eyes locked with Darren's, his voice a bit quieter and not nearly as aggravated as he wanted it to sound, "Actually, you may be the most exacerbating creature in the universe. And I hear aliens can be annoying little shits."

Darren just smirked, rolling his eyes and pressing a kiss to Chris's cheek as he got to his feet, "You do, huh? Well, would an alien offer to get you something from the vending machine?"

Chris sighed, muttering that he could definitely use a Diet Coke before he closed his eyes again, listening to the sound of Darren pulling the curtain back and stepping out of his little cubicle, then shuffling back in for a moment.

"Hey, baby?"

"Mm?"

"Don't go anywhere," Darren smirked devilishly, glancing down at Chris's ankle and winking before he turned on his heel.

"Asshole..." Chris hissed under his breath, grabbing his phone for the sole purpose of texting Lea and whining about how much of a dick Darren was.

And, of course, to make a vague threat about what kind of voodoo curse he would put on the hospital if the doctor didn't give him the x-ray results before Taco Bell's happy hour was over for the day.

After all, he did have his priorities, didn't he?

~

There was a bang, and a thump, and another bang, followed by a litany of excessive curses.

"Damn it! Darren, I can do it myself!"

With that, the front door of Chris's house swung open and he stumbled in, crutches digging into his armpits as he swung them along in front of him, not stopping until he was standing behind his kitchen island.

God, that clip-clop noise was going to get old fast...

"Okay, fine," Darren sighed heavily, stuffing his hands in the front pockets of his sweats, "Fine, you just... you do your thing and text me later."

Darren had been there when Chris got the news that his upper ankle was horribly sprained and he managed a hairline fracture in the spot where his foot met the lowest part of his leg. He had been nothing but a grumpy mess since then, and Darren was clearly getting nowhere with trying to cheer him up a bit.

And it seriously didn't help Darren's case when he had to break the news that they had missed Taco Bell's happy hour by less than three minutes, causing Chris to let out an indignant grunt and a quiet curse, lips jutting out in a ridiculous pout.

...Maybe it was time to just give up and let Chris have his space.

Darren was about to leave, his keys being twirled around his right index finger as he edged his way closer to the door, when he heard it.

Chris, who hadn't done anything more than stare up at the ceiling with wet, teary eyes, was letting out little, gasping sobs, his palms resting on the smooth top of the island and the tops of the crutches digging into the space under his arms even further.

"Darren..." Chris whispered, turning his head to the side to stare at the other man for a moment, tears starting to streak down his pale face, the tip of his nose a rosy red, "D-don't leave me here..."

Sighing slowly, Darren tossed his keys onto Chris's kitchen counter before he made his way over to the island, slipping his arms around Chris's thin waist and holding him close.

"Alright. I'm here."

It sounded frustrated, and Darren kind of was, but he hoped Chris didn't think too hard about the harshness of his tone.

Chris broke down at that point, spinning around clumsily and stumbling into Darren's arms, desperate for Darren to just hold him and make it all better.

"I-I'm sorry... sorry I'm such a dick.. ." Chris hissed out through clenched teeth, his tears soaking through the shoulder of Darren's threadbare t-shirt, "Just... just hurts, hurts a lot, and I h-hate being hurt and hate hospitals..."

Arms tightening around Chris, Darren pressed a careful kiss into Chris's hair, whispering that it was okay, that he wasn't angry with him, that he didn't need to cry.

When Chris just pawed at his torso desperately, shaking with each sob that wracked his lithe body, Darren bent his knees and lifted the other man into his arms easily, holding him close as he followed the familiar path from Chris's kitchen to the stairs, then following the stairs up to Chris's bedroom.

Chris was taller than Darren, but Darren had a more solid, more muscular frame, so it was fairly easy for Darren to just swing Chris around like it was nothing.

Not that this was a time that called for unnecessary swinging, but still.

When they finally made it to Chris's room, Darren carefully set him down on the bed, pressing a quick little kiss to Chris's cheek as he silently encouraged Chris to lean back on the mattress, easily tugging the covers over him.

"Don't leave me," Chris begged, voice still clogged with tears, but his proper sobs less frequent, "Stay with me."

Darren smiled, decidedly happy that Chris was finally calming down a little, "Sure, baby... I'm here."

He stretched out beside Chris, allowing the other man to cuddle up to him, Chris's arms circling around his waist.

Chris settled his hands on Darren's stomach, feeling the slight softness masking his muscular abdomen, letting his long, pale fingers knead into the t-shirt covered flesh.

"I'm sorry..."

Shaking his head, Darren curled himself around Chris, minding his bad ankle when their legs tangled up a bit, "No need to be sorry. I know it was just the pain talking. That pain pill you took on the way home should be kicking in soon."

Chris nodded, allowing his eyes to flutter closed as he inhaled the scent of Darren, the scent of fading deodorant and sweat and musky aftershave...

Somehow, some way, the soft little intakes of breath made his exhaustion come to a peak and hit him like a ton of bricks.

"Can I go to sleep now?" Chris asked, blinking his eyes open for a moment or two, pressing a little kiss to the spot just above Darren's collarbone, "Promise not to leave if I sleep?"

Darren just smiled softly, carding his rough, callused fingers through Chris's soft hair a few times, chuckling when his boyfriend arched into the touch and practically purred at the feeling.

"I promise. And, when you wake up, I'll make you some dinner."

Chris hummed, not feeling the need to offer any other response until he was nearly asleep and whispered, "I love you..."

"Love you, too, baby... I'll always love you."

In his head, Darren added on 'even when you're a total bitch,' but didn't dare say that aloud.

Still, the thought made him giggle silently before he settled down beside Chris, letting his honey-brown eyes slip closed, arms tightening further around Chris.

Really, to be fair, he needed his rest to take care of his fallen little soldier.

~