The next week passed in a blur as another round of Dalton's infamous finals bore down upon its students with an irresistible and inescapable pressure. Most of the Warblers became temporary caffeine addicts at this time of year, and Lima Bean coffee cups joined ties and blazers as requisite pieces of the school uniform. The singers and their peers seemed to polarize their personalities as a result of the stress, reduced sleep, and increased latte intake: Wes' beloved Gavel was with him during every waking moment (rumor had it that he had purchased a small shower cap for her to "preserve the traditional Warbler varnish" during his morning ablutions), while Trent accused the librarian of running a kangaroo court after she banished him for excessively loud pencil-tapping. Kurt and Blaine struggled too, with Kurt occasionally lapsing into a tirade of French profanity and Blaine earning the wrath of his hallmates with 2 A.M. shower renditions of Katy Perry songs.

In the midst of all this craziness, Jeff and Nick were, for once, the normal ones. An astute observer might notice that they were even giddier around each other than before, and perhaps a bit more touchy-feely, but fortunately for them, their classmates were too distracted to pay much attention. Jeff and Nick were able to spend their evenings in the crowded library or in a study hall without attracting much suspicion—in fact, either appearing alone was generally more suspicious than the two being found together—so they made the best of their situation and studied together as much as possible.

One night in particular, the boys were sitting across from one another at a table in a remote corner of the library. They had arrived early to claim this valuable territory, partially secluded from the palpable tension and innumerable minor yet irritating noises inevitably generated by a room full of teenage boys. Jeff was reading desperately from his history book, while Nick slugged through another calculus practice test. Some subconscious part of Nick's brain registered that he had not heard a page turn in an unusually long period of time, and he looked up to see what Jeff was doing. His eyes were met by Jeff's own, glinting hazel through his fine golden bangs, and he noticed Jeff was smiling broadly. Nick couldn't help but grin and chuckle to himself upon seeing this adorable, incredible guy smiling because of him. Just then he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket, and he opened it to read the message:

From: Jeff

You make me happy when you smile :-)

Nick blushed slightly and caught Jeff grinning at him again. Nick ducked his head down to type back a reply:

From: Nick

What a coincidence, bc you make me smile in the first place :-)

Jeff's face lit up as he read the message. He scooted his chair back, rose, and fairly skipped to hug his boyfriend from behind. Nick was still seated in his chair when Jeff wrapped his arms around him and planted a chaste kiss on his lips. Jeff pulled back, smiling at Nick as he squeezed gently. "Thanks for studying with me, Three," he said quietly.

"Anytime, Six," winked Nick. "Now let's try to finish for tonight so we can get in some cuddle time before bed."

"I always knew you had the brains in this relationship," quipped Jeff, signalling his approval of the plan with another brief kiss before reluctantly returning to his work. Another hour or so passed, and when they were too tired to concentrate on studying anymore, they quietly gathered their books and notes and hurried off to their room.

The boys quickly got out of their uniforms and into comfortable sleeping clothes. Nick was glad to see that Jeff had chosen one of his older pairs of pajama pants; they were so soft from being worn, but also just a bit too small for Jeff now and hugged his hips and ass perfectly. Nick turned on the television and lightly patted his hand on the bed, indicating that Jeff should sit down beside him. Jeff crawled up and kissed Nick before settling next to him. Nick leaned his head on the taller boy's shoulder, and Jeff looped his arm around Nick to pull him in closer.

"How are you?" asked Nick softly, looking up at the blonde.

"Better now that I'm relaxing with you," whispered Jeff. Then he let out a long yawn. "I will be so happy when these exams are over and I don't have to study all the time."

Nick yawned in response. "I know what you mean. But I'm glad I have you as a study buddy."

"So am I," replied Jeff, snuggling up closer to Nick.

The two turned their attention to the TV as the theme music to The Daily Show came on. They laughed along with the show, which they agreed was an excellent way to de-stress from all of their recent studying. As the show ended, Nick yawned again.

"Jeff," he said as the yawn faded, "I think I need to go to sleep soon."

"Yea, same here" answered Jeff, stifling a yawn himself. "Let's get ready for bed and get some rest. I don't want you to get sick or anything."

Nick chuckled at his boyfriend's concern. "I'll be ok, Mom," he said in a teasing voice.

"Sure, make fun of me for caring," began Jeff in mock indignation, making Nick grin. Then he grew more serious. "You do know I care about you a lot, though, right?"

Nick looked into the deep, thoughtful eyes of his boyfriend. "Of course I know that, Jeff. You mean the world to me, too."

The two hugged tightly for a moment, and then yawned simultaneously. "I think that's a sign," said Nick. "Let's clean up." They washed up for bed and slipped under the covers; sleep came upon them quickly as each basked in the comfortable presence of the boy he loved.

One night later that week, the boys decided to study in the comfort of their own room for a change. It was easier to work in shorts and a t-shirt instead of the stoic tie and blazer; of course, it was also easier to steal the occasional hug or kiss in the privacy of their room. The downside of this arrangement, as Jeff soon realized, was how inviting Nick looked in his slightly too-fitted red gym shorts. Nick was studying for AP Biology, oblivious to the effect he was having on his boyfriend who was attempting to concentrate on his English paper. Jeff decided that he wasn't going to get anything done until he did something about the uncomfortable tension in his groin.

"Hey Nick…," he began innocently. "Whatcha reading now?"

"Hmm?" said Nick, only half-paying attention to the taller boy.

"I said, what are you working on?" repeated Jeff.

"I'm trying to plan an essay for one of the potential exam questions. I'm supposed to explain what flightless birds tell us about evolution," replied Nick with a slight sigh.

Jeff paused for a moment. "Nick," he said coyly, "the birds are flightless?"

"Yes, Jeff, these birds are indeed flightless, God help them," Nick grumbled.

"Well, then they're not going anywhere!" exclaimed Jeff with a grin as he practically tackled the dark-haired boy back onto the bed and began kissing him playfully.

Nick laughed along with him. "Jeff, I'd love to, really, but I need to finish this…," he protested weakly.

"I promise we'll be quick and you'll feel much better afterward," assured Jeff as he flashed his smile and indicated his tented shorts.

"I guess a little break won't hurt…," said Nick, rolling over a bit to kiss Jeff as his hands wandered down and hooked in the other boy's shorts, sliding them off. Jeff quickly copied the move, and the boys were soon jerking each other while they made out. This new technique had both boys squirming, and before either really wanted to, they were ready to blow. Jeff pulled away from the kiss and gave a deep moan as Nick brought him to his climax, and seconds later, inspired by the sight of his boyfriend, Nick came too. They lay panting side by side for a moment before cleaning up.

"Well?" inquired Jeff a bit breathlessly.

"You're a man of your word, Jeff. I feel much, much better now," said Nick, giving Jeff a quick hug before the two returned to complete their work for the night.

On the eve of exams, Nick and Jeff were cramming in the study hall. It was getting late, and they were both ready to call it quits and accept their fate on the morrow as the first round of exams began. Nick was packing up when he looked out the window and noticed the moon was full, blazing with silver light and dominating the sky. As he and Jeff left the study hall to return to their room, Nick tugged Jeff along and out the door into the courtyard.

"Where are we going?" giggled Jeff as Nick towed him along.

"You'll see," said Nick, picking up pace. They crossed the courtyard and dipped below a gray stone arch into the gardens. The flowers were already in bloom, and they gave the cool night air a delicious soft scent of spring. Nick led them to a wood and iron park bench near a willow tree and sat down beside Jeff. The two nestled against each other, enjoying the quiet sounds of the evening and the warm presence of the other as they stared off into the heavens.

Finally, Jeff spoke, his quiet voice seemingly booming in the peaceful garden. "I wonder what it'd be like to be out there," he pondered.

"In space? Boldly going where no human has gone before?" questioned Nick.

"Yeah man. Just think, someday there could be a school on the moon!" said Jeff, suddenly intrigued by the idea.

"Or on Mars!" laughed Nick.

"You couldn't just go to a school on Mars," Jeff said decisively. "You'd need a rocket ship to get there."

"What, have you got a rocket ship, Jeff?" quipped Nick. "NASA's retiring the shuttle, you could ask your parents to buy it for you."

"If I did, I wouldn't be wasting time here with you!" teased Jeff.

"Right, you poor thing, stuck with me all the time. If we were in space, I'd open a docking bay door and put you out," responded Nick with a chuckle.

"That's why you have to wear your spacesuit at all times," said Jeff, the gravity in his voice contradicted by his broad grin. Both boys laughed together, and then held hands as they returned their eyes to the stars. They chatted quietly about the view, the meaning of the universe, the Warblers, and things to do together over the summer. Then, in the distance, they heard the bell from the old tower chiming the hour, and realized they had been out so long that it was already curfew. They scrambled up from the bench, nearly tripping over their own feet, and dashed off to their hall. They made it just in time.

"Impeccable timing as always, Agent Three," said Jeff with a grin as he slipped through the door.

"Another successful mission indeed, Agent Six," added Nick. "Now let's get back to base, er, our room before anyone finds us out here."

They hurriedly snuck back up the stairs to their door, turned the lock, and crept inside. It was late and they had exams the next day, so they got ready for bed right away. Cradling the lithe boy with his strong arm, Nick whispered "Good night, Jeff."

"Good night, Nick," came the mumbled reply. "Sweet dreams."

Author's note: I thought I'd try something a little different with this chapter and cover more time through a series of vignettes. I hope you liked it! I know nothing about AP biology, so I apologize to the science majors if I misrepresented it, but I wanted a set-up for those lines from Master and Commander. And disclaimer—some lines are paraphrased from A Very Potter Musical and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The rights to those works belong to their respective owners (i.e., not to me). Other parts are loosely autobiographical; the credit for those goes to my boyfriend

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