Hey everyone! How's it goin'?

Apologies for the time it's taken to get this up. Also, apologies for how long the next one's going to take. I'm starting Tafe this year (I don't know what an equivalent for that would be; it's like school) and even if I wasn't going to be busy with that, I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to write the next chapter - the auditions for the new Warblers. This is supposed to be a Niff fic at heart, but I want to get a little into the auditons of the newbies. But then it'll be super long (considering how I've set up the audition process...) and I don't know whether to just shove it all in the one JF chapter, or write one for JF and then one more focused on the newbies and post it as a separate story. Any ideas? What do you guys want?

Anyway, I swear to absolute God that someone prompted this, but I couldn't find the prompt anywhere. I remember it because I was really excited to get to it. But at any rate, the prompt was one of the boys struggling in a subject and the other helping them out. If it was yours, let me know!

I mentioned in an earlier chapter (more than one, I believe ;P) that Jeff had the tendency to burst into tears when stressed, and we've seen angsty, upset Jeff, but this gave me a chance to explore stressed out Jeff a little more. You've been warned - lots of tears! But lots of sweet Nick too :)

(Oh my God, I'm so sorry if you actually read all of my weird-ass author's notes. That one was huge.)

Enjoy!


As much as Jeff loved being at Dalton – it was the best place he could possibly be – he absolutely hated it at the moment.

They'd only been back at school for two days after the most amazing summer ever, and already the teachers were loading everyone up with homework. Most of it was due early the next week, and that didn't leave a whole lot of time to actually work on it. Jeff was sure the teachers conspired with each other and planned all summer how they were going to torture the students when they returned to school. Especially his History teacher – he knew the guy disliked his relationship with Nick and was generally a mean old bastard, and he'd just gotten a load of work from him that would probably take a good two or three days to complete – on top of everything else he had to do. Math, English, Physics, Biology – he had essays, assignments, questions and a million other things to do in a short amount of time. Even his Drama teacher had given him homework, but at least she'd had the decency to look slightly ashamed at the pages of work she'd given them all to finish.

Jeff sighed and leaned back, running a hand through his hair in frustration. He'd already completed some of the work, but it was the History work that was giving him trouble. He was supposed to be writing an essay on how the development of nuclear weapons affected the world after the Second World War, but his brain, confused and tired, had apparently decided to take a good long break and nothing he was reading made any sense.

He was sure he'd just read the same sentence at least four times, but it still wasn't sinking in. In his frustration, he glared at the textbook in front of him and threw his pen down on the desk, muttering to himself. All the stress was getting to him. He had so many things to remember and do and think of. And then there was the Warblers' meeting he was supposed to be going to in half an hour; the first of the year. They'd all be finding out who'd been chosen for the Council and it was mandatory attendance. But there was no way he'd be going anywhere if he couldn't get this stupid essay at least started.

He was distracted yet again from his work by the door opening. He glanced up and tried to smile as Nick walked in, bag over his shoulder and arms full of papers and books. But he couldn't quite manage it through his annoyance and Nick noticed. The brunette dumped his stuff on his bed and walked over, leaning on the back of Jeff's chair and resting his head on the blonde's shoulder.

"What's up?" he asked.

Jeff sighed. "Nothing. Just homework. How'd you go?"

"The library was pretty full but it was still like it was dead – it was that quiet. Everyone was working so hard." Nick laughed. "I managed to get quite a lot of that work done. I've just got two more essays to do and a report to write up for Chem."

Jeff stared at his desk, strewn with paper, books, scribbled notes and bits and pieces all over the place. He'd barely made a dent in his own pile of work. How the hell had Nick managed it so easily?

Because you're stupid.

Jeff shook his head slightly, barely enough for Nick to notice. He wasn't stupid. He was just tired. And stressed out. But now that the thought had popped up, it refused to back down, repeating in his mind in his mind's taunting, tormenting voice.

You're just stupid. Nick's always been smarter than you. He had to help you all through almost all your school work because you were too dumb. And now you're going to cry because you're pathetic too.

Tears were building up behind his eyes, and he registered that Nick was talking to him now, spinning the chair around so they were facing each other. He rested his head in his hand, trying to look casual about it and hide the fact he was probably about to burst into tears over nothing more than homework. But Nick wasn't buying it.

"What's wrong?" he asked, leaning on the chair's arms with one hand and the other reaching up to brush Jeff's fringe aside. The blonde tried to push him away but Nick was persistent.

"Jeff, what's wrong?"

"I'm fine," he coughed out.

"No, you're not. You're crying. Talk to me."

A few tears had finally managed to break free and slip down his cheeks. Jeff rubbed them away and took a shuddering breath. "I'm sorry, I'm okay, really."

Nick gave him a small half-smile and leaned back, taking his hands and pulling him up from the chair. "Come on," he said gently, leading him over to one of the beds and making him sit. As soon as he was settled next to him, Nick wrapped an arm around Jeff's shoulder and looked over at him with a concerned expression.

"Is it the homework?"

As soon as he spoke, Jeff broke down. He couldn't hold back the tears anymore as he nodded. He tried to talk but it just came out as breathy gasps and choked sobs. He hated himself. He hated that he couldn't be a normal human being that could deal with stress in a normal way. No, he had to start crying as soon as things started to get overwhelming, like some pathetic, stupid baby. He hated that he was crying in front of Nick, but at the same time he was glad that he was boyfriend was there. Nick hugged him close, rubbing his side and muttering soothing things in his ear. He made everything feel at least a little better.

It was all over in about a minute. Jeff managed to get control of himself fairly quickly and his tears slowed from continuous streams to just a few stray drops, his breathing evened out a little and he was able to talk better. Nick didn't let go of him and after a moment's pause, he said softly, "It's okay. You're allowed to cry."

"It's… stupid," Jeff mumbled as he took shaky breaths.

Nick shushed him and the blonde sighed, resting his head on his boyfriend's shoulder. "It is though," he said miserably.

"No, it's not stupid. You're allowed to cry if you need to. And you're not stupid either," Nick said softly.

"You're almost finished," Jeff said, almost accusingly. As if that was all the proof he needed. Nick pressed a gentle kiss into the blonde's hair. "I had help from all the guys down in the library. Everyone else is loaded up with work too. Maybe you should come with me tomorrow?"

Jeff made a noise of disapproval. He hadn't gone with Nick to the library because he'd known everyone would be down there. And he'd known that the stress would eventually get to him. He didn't want an audience to his breakdown. Tomorrow would be no different.

"Why?" The question wasn't angry, or frustrated, or annoyed. It was spoken with genuine concern and care. Jeff didn't want to answer, but after a moment of silence he said reluctantly, "I don't want to… to do the same thing."

Nick smiled. "You'll be fine. Everything'll be easier when you've got help from some of the guys. I would never have been able to finish my History essay if Mason hadn't helped me."

Jeff lifted his head and glanced at him. The brunette leaned in, kissing his cheek and nudging his nose against Jeff's. The gesture made the blonde smile.

"I thought this might happen," Nick said "Especially when you didn't want to come study with me. I think you should just relax until the Warblers' meeting. You're being too hard on yourself."

"I can't!" Jeff dropped his head into his hands "I have way too much to do!"

"Alright," Nick said "Then I'll help you." He stood up, gesturing for Jeff to do the same. The blonde sighed and got to his feet, wandered towards his desk and dropped back down into the chair. His boyfriend grabbed a pile of books and papers from the desk and dumped them on the bed, leaving a clear space for him to sit on.

"What were you stuck on?" Nick asked, looking down at the textbook still lying open.

"The History essay," Jeff admitted.

Nick gave him a small smirk that Jeff wasn't sure he liked the look of – until the brunette spoke. "How about this? Let's throw all this out." On 'throw', Nick grabbed the textbook and tossed it onto the bed. "And we'll focus on something a little less intimidating." He shuffled around the papers and notes until he found something that caught his eye. Jeff was now sure he didn't like this idea as Nick handed him the paper he'd chosen – it was the Math questions he was supposed to finish.

"Less intimidating?" he asked sarcastically.

Nick smiled. "When your History teacher is Mr Phillips, everything is less intimidating. Plus, there's something in it for you. A reward, of sorts."

Jeff raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

The smirk Nick gave him now was devilish. "For every step of an equation you get right, you get a kiss. And for every question you finish, you get a little more."

Suddenly this idea sounded a lot more interesting.


Forty minutes – and much kissing – later, the pair realised they were already late for the Warbler meeting. They gladly left the homework and raced from the room, hand in hand, down the hallways and stairs towards the Warblers' Hall. As they neared the room, they slowed down to catch their breath and now that the noise of their feet as they ran weren't echoing throughout the corridor, they could hear something that sounded distinctly like music and singing. Carefully, Nick pushed open the door and both boys smiled at the sight in front of them.

Hey, boy you never had much game
Thought I needed to upgrade
So I went and walked away way way
Uh
Now, I see you've been hanging out
With that other girl in town
Looking like a pair of clowns clowns clowns
Uh

Trent was standing on one of the tables, hands on his hips as he sang out. Around him on the couches were the other remaining Warblers – Liam, Mason, Lachlan and Cameron. They were laughing and clapping along to the beat as Trent, sassy as ever, walked along the table with a note of defiance in his tone. None of them seemed to notice Jeff and Nick arriving and the two boys just stood in the doorway to watch.

Remember all the things that you and I did first?
And now you're doing them with her
Remember all the things that you and I did first?
You got me, got me like this
Uh
And now you're taking her to every restaurant
And everywhere we went, come on!
And now you're taking her to every restaurant
You got me, got me like this
Uh

Boy you can say anything you wanna
I don't give a shh, no one else can have ya
I want you back
I want you back
Wa-want you, want you back
Uh
I broke it off thinking you'd be cryin'
Now I feel like shh looking at you flyin'
I want you back
I want you back
Wa-want you, want you back
Uh

Trent, in a move that surprised the rest of the guys, climbed up onto the Council's table and stood on it, finally noticing the two in the doorway. He winked at them as he continued to sing, looking for all the world like a superstar on stage.

Please, this ain't even jealousy
She ain't got a thing on me
Tryin' to rock them ugly jeans jeans jeans
Uh

At this, Trent turned and shook his ass, patting it before spinning back around with a devilish smirk. Half the boys laughed – Cameron wasn't prepared and suddenly couldn't breathe as he both choked and laughed at the same time.

You clearly didn't think this through
If what I've been told is true
You'll be crawling back like boo hoo hoo
Uh

Remember all the things that you and I did first?
And now you're doing them with her
Remember all the things that you and I did first?
You got me, got me like this
Uh
And now you're taking her to every restaurant
And everywhere we went, come on!
And now you're taking her to every restaurant
You got me, got me like this
Uh

The boy jumped down from the Council's table and rejoined the other Warblers, gesturing for Nick and Jeff to come in. It was only then that the other guys realised they were there, and some rolled their eyes at them as they shut the door and sat down on one of the couches. Trent ignored it all, still singing.

Boy you can say anything you wanna
I don't give a shh, no one else can have ya
I want you back
I want you back
Wa-want you, want you back
Uh
I broke it off thinking you'd be cryin'
Now I feel like shh looking at you flyin'
I want you back
I want you back
Wa-want you, want you back
Uh

Ohhh, I thought you'd still be mine
When I kissed you goodbye uh oh uh oh
Ohhh, and you might be with her
But I still had you first uh oh uh oh

Trent had everyone's full attention as he danced and sang like a true diva, walking along the top of the table in front of the others and tossing his head. Everyone was still clapping along and Mason grabbed Lachlan's arm, dragged him up onto the table as well and they both started dancing with Trent. But they let him have his song – and sing he did.

Boy you can say anything you wanna
I don't give a shh, no one else can have ya
I want you back
I want you back
Wa-want you, want you back
Uh

I broke it off thinking you'd be cryin'
Now I feel like shh looking at you flyin'
I want you back
I want you back
Wa-want you, want you back
Uh

Ohhh, I want you back
I want you back
Wa-want you, want you back
Uh

Ohhh, I want you back
I want you back
Wa-want you, want you back
Uh

When Trent trailed off, the boys congratulated him and laughed as he ran to grab his iPod before it started playing the next song. Nick smiled at how proud Trent looked – he was beaming as everyone told him how good the performance had been. They all knew there'd been a certain few who'd been mostly overlooked by the past Councils' in terms of solos and competition performances – but Nick was sure that whoever ended up on the Council this year would make sure it didn't happen again. Everyone's voice had been heard, even if it was just in auditions and tryouts for solos, and it was clear that all the Warblers had a lot of talent. It was really only Blaine who'd stood in their way.

"So what brought that on?" Jeff asked as he snuggled more closely into Nick's side. "It was great, don't get me wrong, but why the sudden show?"

Trent raised an eyebrow and gave him a look that was a sharp reminder of Kurt. "You were late. We got bored."

They all laughed. But the light atmosphere didn't last long. Soon enough all eyes were drawn to the empty Council's table, where they knew, waiting for them, were the names of this year's new members. It was the reason they were all there. The room fell silent slowly, and it stretched on until finally Mason cleared his throat.

"We're all just going to sit here like idiots if I don't do something," he sighed and walked over to the table. He opened the drawer and pulled out the envelope that lay inside it. He paused for a moment.

"Okay, we all know who the seniors are who are up for this. Trent, Cam, Nick, Jeff and Liam. And we all know that only three of you are getting it. So I'm just going to get on and tell you all who the lucky guys are."

"Who died and made you king?" Lachlan muttered under his breath, but no one else argued as Mason opened the envelope and pulled out the first piece of paper inside it. He smiled as soon as he read the name on it, but didn't say anything.

"Well?" Liam demanded.

Mason grinned. "Nick."

There was a short silence as Nick stared at Mason blankly. And then Jeff hugged him, bringing him out of his daze, and he heard the other guys congratulating him. Liam said something about how he'd expected it, Trent smiled from his seat across from him, and Jeff just kissed his cheek.

"What did I tell you?" he whispered "I knew you'd get it."

Nick smiled. He certainly hadn't thought he'd be the one the guys had voted for. But apparently the Warblers had spoken. Mason called for quiet so he could read the next name. But the moment he pulled the paper out, his grin faded away.

"Blaine," he said quietly.

The silence was a little awkward this time. They'd all been pretty sure Blaine would get a place, but now he'd transferred over to McKinley. At least they had a back-up plan – every year, the vote was for the top four favourites for the Council instead of three, just in case of situations like this, or someone chosen decided to opt out. Quickly Mason went for the next name. The look on his face betrayed his slight surprise.

"Cameron," he said.

"Are you serious?" Cameron asked, jaw slack. Mason nodded and held up the paper. There, in bold black letters, was 'Cameron McKinnon', plain as day. There was no denying it. No one had quite thought Cameron would get the place – he'd never shown a lot of interest in being on the Council, and Nick hadn't voted for him. But if the graduated boys had done so, that would have been all it took to secure him a place.

"Do you want it?" Lachlan asked. Everyone looked at Cameron expectantly. The blonde thought for a moment, then nodded. "Yeah. I'll take it."

Mason sighed in relief. "Good. Otherwise we'd have to take another vote. Anyway, on to the third and final Council member…"

He paused for dramatic effect, smiling again as he pulled out the last name. Nick felt his boyfriend tense up beside him and he gripped his hand, running his thumb over Jeff's palm comfortingly. He hoped with everything he had that Jeff had made it through as well – he'd voted for him, and he knew for a fact Trent and Mason had as well. He'd also managed to pry out of Liam that he had voted for Jeff too. If Jeff didn't have a place, Nick knew it would crush him. He knew it would be awful for Jeff to watch his boyfriend get something that he didn't, that he deserved more than anyone else; especially today, when he was already emotional and upset.

Nick caught the wink Mason sent Trent's way, saw the boy frown for a second before apparently catching on to whatever the midget was trying to tell him – or not caring – and shrugging. And then Mason spoke.

"The last Council member is Trent."

The room was absolutely dead. The boys congratulated Trent awkwardly, but all eyes were fixed on the blonde curled into Nick's side, who was staring blankly at the floor. Nick twisted and tried to pull him into his arms, but Jeff pushed him away.

"I'm fine," he snapped, surprising the brunette and making him flinch away from him. Jeff got to his feet. "Stop looking at me like that," he said harshly, glaring at everyone, before heading for the door. He slammed it behind him, and all the remaining boys jumped.

"That's real funny, Mason," Trent said as he turned a perfect bitch glare on the midget, who'd gone white.

Nick frowned as he stood to go after Jeff. "What?"

Trent sighed. "It wasn't me, was it? At least, that was what I thought you were going for."

He directed most of his comment at Mason, who didn't answer at first. Finally he stammered, "I-It was just a joke… I was about to say… you know, that Jeff actually did get it… it was supposed to be funny!"

"You really need to let me plan our pranks, Mace," Liam sighed "You're no good at it."

Nick could hardly believe it. He knew none of the others knew what Jeff had been going through not an hour ago, but it made him mad all the same. He ran a hand through his hair and tried not to sound too angry as he said, "Jeff wasn't feeling too great about himself earlier. I… I have to go find him."

He left the Warblers' alone and went to find his boyfriend. He hoped he'd only gone up to their room – and he was right. But as he opened the door, he was surprised at what he saw. He'd never known Jeff to get angry. At least, not like this. He was muttering to himself, tears streaming down his face as he threw things at the walls (mostly pillows).

"Jeff?"

The blonde turned on him. He opened his mouth to say something but all of a sudden he just collapsed into a heap on the floor, crying. Nick ran to him and sat down beside him, pulling his boyfriend into a tight hug.

"I'm s-sorry," Jeff hiccupped "I'm so stupid! I actually thought… I was good enough… for once I thought… and… I'm sorry!"

"Shh," Nick whispered, holding him close "You're not…"

"I'm not good enough!" Jeff gripped his boyfriend's blazer, shaking "…never good enough. I shouldn't… I shouldn't be this upset… so stupid…"

"Baby," Nick brushed the hair out of Jeff's eyes as he spoke "Mason was being an ass, trying to be funny. You made the Council."

Jeff stared at him with red, puffy eyes. "I-I did?"

The brunette nodded. "Yeah. You did."

The smile that fell into place on Jeff's face was uncertain, as if he wasn't quite sure thiswasn't all a joke. Nick carefully got up, bringing Jeff with him, and pulled him over to the bed. Once they were free of shoes, blazers and ties, Nick dropped down onto the bed and brought Jeff with him. They settled quickly, on their sides facing each other, and Nick draped an arm over Jeff's waist.

"Are you okay?"

Jeff nodded. Nick pulled him a little closer and kissed away a stray tear that still remained on his boyfriend's cheek.

"You are good enough, Jeff. You always are. I don't know why you think you're not," he said honestly.

The blonde sniffed. "I never h-have been. Not for anyone. You were the fir-first person who thought I was actually good enough to be y-your friend, and didn't laugh at me."

He took a deep breath as he tried to sneak closer still, clinging onto whatever he could of his boyfriend. Nick smiled sadly at him. "I don't care what anyone else says. You're perfect. Even if you hadn't gotten the place on the Council, you would still be perfect."

"But…"

Nick pressed a finger to Jeff's lips. "No buts. You are."

When Jeff opened his mouth to speak again, Nick thought about stopping him, but the expression on his boyfriend's face stopped him. He let him speak.

"Not for my p-parents," the blonde said, his voice hitching "Or f-for anyone at school. Really, I-I'm not good enough for y…you."

Nick shifted the arm he was laying on to slide under Jeff's head and he propped himself up on his elbow. Pulling the other's lower half closer with the arm around his waist, Nick tilted the blonde's head up and kissed him. Jeff wrapped his arms around him and kissed back, making small noises in the back of his throat as Nick slid his hand further up his back.

He broke away from Jeff's lips for a moment, and though he tried to chase them and bring him back, Nick didn't let him. He said quietly, "I love you. I love everything about you. Everything you do, and everything you say, it makes you who you are, and it's perfect, and I love all of that. You're more than good enough for anyone, and if someone says otherwise, they're wrong. I-I'm not sure if I'm explaining this very well…"

Jeff smiled slightly for a short moment then replied, "I get what you're saying. But… what about the… the bad stuff? I-I do a lot of bad stuff; I mean, I'm awful to you sometimes, I left you, I-"

Nick quieted him again with a gentle kiss and then, against his lips, he said, "I love all of you. No matter what. And there is nothing about you that makes you any less than perfect to me."

Jeff looked away for a second, blushing, then glanced back and bit his lip with another small smile. Nick chuckled. "Do you have any idea how cute you look when you do that?"

Jeff laughed a little before returning to seriousness. "I… I really did get the place?"

"Yeah," Nick smiled.

"Do you think… do you think I can do it?" the other asked "I can't even handle the homework… I shouldn't really take it… I should give it to Trent or Liam…"

Nick moved his hand from Jeff's back to his hair, running his fingers through it. "You can do it. I know you can. You just have to give yourself a chance."

The blonde nodded. "I will."

Nick moved to drop back down onto the bed next to him, but Jeff stopped him with a hand on his chest.

"Kiss me some more?" he asked hopefully. Nick shook his head with a smile. "How can I say no?"


When Jeff eventually fell asleep, curled up into Nick's side, the brunette slipped his phone from his pocket and sent out a text to the Warblers.

Jeffs ok. Really tired from today so hes asleep now.

The replies came fairly quickly.

Mason: did u tell him im sorry?

Nick: he knows

Trent: I'm glad he's okay. Is he mad at me?

Nick: not at all. Hes not mad at anyone.

Liam: hes cool with everything? I dont have to smack my brother upside the head?

Nick: only if u really want to :P jeffs ok.

The texts eventually stopped coming, and Nick settled down besides his boyfriend. His thoughts began to drift as he cuddled up to him. They were both on the Council. It both signaled the start of a new year for the Warblers – they were going to get to Nationals this year – and meant a whole new set of problems would now present themselves. Nick hoped he, Jeff and Cameron would be up to the challenge.

The first of those problems would be recruiting the next generation of Warblers.


CHAPTER 36 OH YEAH!

Ahem...

So, I just wanted to say that I find it perfectly reasonable for Jeff to react the way he did to everything that happened. I know it's not a 'guy' thing to cry, but that's kind of the point of this. I cry under pressure and stress. I have also cried (more than once) about how I'm not good enough, never have been, and never will be for anyone. And Jeff was already upset from the stress of homework when he started crying over not getting the Council place, so it was really kind of a normal reaction; at least, in my book. I know there will be people who think 'why is he just crying all over the place, it's kind of stupid and unrealistic, no one cries that much' and I'm sorry to say that unfortunately yes, some people do cry that much.

(This was originally going to have a happier ending, where Mason didn't try to be funny, but it kind of ended up as this... D:)

The next generation are (finally) going to show up next chapter! I think you'll love them :D Seriously though, one huge chapter or split it? (That's if you read the huge monster of an AN at the top, and now this is kind of turning into another monster of an AN...)

I'm sorry. I'll stop rambling now. I'm off to bed!

(Song was Want U Back by Cher Lloyd)