Darren sat in his cold dorm, getting the sudden onslaught of sorrow he was now burdened to carry with him always. He was no longer able to arrange and unpack. It just felt wrong. All of this. Why had he come here?
Darren kicked the nearest box, tears falling afresh down his cheeks. The tear tracks were painful, rutting their familiar red rash path down his face and onto his jeans, leaving tiny stains. Darren sucked in a shaky breath and held it so he wouldn’t arouse concern in any of his dorm-mates.
He had cried the whole drive to LAX. He had cried the entire plane ride. His mother looked reluctant to let him go as she helped escort him to the terminal, completely at a loss of how to help her son. But she realized this was his decision, and he was coming to terms with it in his own way. All she could do was give Darren her unyielding support, for which he was eternally grateful.
It was only a matter of time before Chris knew where he went. That he had abandoned him. Although Darren’s heart wracked with shockwaves of the most awful pain the world, his brain told him that this is where he should be. But why couldn’t he move from this spot anymore?
“Hey, man you alright,” a voice asked, startling Darren as he hastily wiped his cheeks and sniffled. “Yeah, fine.”
The boy, probably a freshmen like Darren sat down next to him and rubbed his back tentatively. “Whatever’s bothering you, I’m sure it’ll pass,” he offered helpfully.
Darren attempted to smile. “I really appreciate it thank you. I’m just really far away from.. home.” My heart. My love. My liveliness.
The boy nodded, “I’m Joey by the way. Joey Richter.”
Darren shook his hand formally, the angle slightly awkward since Darren didn’t want to touch Joey with his snotty hand. “I’m Darren Criss.”
Joey smiled in a crooked way, and Darren found it adorable. “Well it looks like we’re going to be roommates, huh? What you studying?”
“I’m a theater geek,” Darren admitted sheepishly. “I hope this means we can still be friends.”
“The best of!” Joey exclaimed, jumping to his feet. “C’mon, let’s nerd up our room!”
As the two boys chatted excitedly about their lives, their aspirations and their dreams, Darren nearly forgot the anguish of earlier, just for long enough he was able to feel content. Maybe he could survive here, with his new friend.
Darren woke up with his head pounding horribly with each dull thunk of his heartbeat. He shifted his deathly sore body and noticed his cheek was pressed against something wet on top of a cold porcelain surface. Darren groaned out loud, wiping the hopefully just drool from his cheek, and pushed himself away from the toilet, his spine colliding roughly with the hard bathtub.
Darren had an inkling he hit rock bottom, because never in his life had he felt so terrible, and had drank so much by himself, especially by means of self-medication. And the worst part was that nothing came from it except his tortured body and a foul-reeking bathroom. He still had to go to work today.
Like a terrifying reminder, Chris’ name drifted lazily over his consciousness despite the fact his brain was fighting his very long stretched out blackout. The last thing he could remember was the pain, and the sweet glorious burn in his throat as he downed his whole bottle of vodka.
Darren had succumbed to this path once in college, and it was a very dark time. Darren was utterly terrified of going to that place again, so he really had no choice. He needed that one person who always brought him back from the brink of depression. The one person who had saved him from crushing hold Chris had over him last time.
He needed Joey.