They were drunk the first time, which was actually ridiculously stupid considering they were only high school sophomores.
It was the last Warbler party of the year—Wes and David and Thad were going to be made council members, they were all going to say goodbye to the seniors, and everyone was going to get very, very drunk. Every Warbler—minus the freshmen—was invited. They didn't want to corrupt them too quickly.
Jeff flung himself into a seat, right next to Wes. "Wes—I'm drunk."
"Truth or Dare!" someone shouted, jumping on top of a couch. "Truth! Or! Dare!"
And then they were all in a circle and the departing council members were explaining how every time you refused to answer a question or do a dare, you had to take off a piece of clothing. Unfortunately, due to a ton of boys in one room and loud music causing dancing, a lot of the boys had already stripped to nothing but their trousers and their button-downs in order to cool off. Jeff wasn't worried though—he wasn't a chicken.
Nick, his best friend since middle school, was sitting next to him, both of them swaying happily in their drunken states. The brunette laughed when Blaine—another sophomore like themselves who had instantly made it into the group because of his stunning vocals—refused to do a dare. As punishment, David shouted above the crowd, "Alright, Anderson, give us a show!"
Grinning, Blaine hopped up into the middle of the circle and began unbuttoning his shirt to the rhythmic sounds of the music now coming from the boys. He flung the shirt around over his head for a moment before throwing it and collapsing.
"No fair! Anderson's wearing a T-shirt!"
Jeff rolled his eyes. Boys were such pigs. And yeah sure, Blaine was attractive, but Jeff preferred…a different type.
"Alright, Blaine—your turn."
Blaine turned to Thad, asking him a question that made the rest of the boys cheer, but Jeff was too busy looking into the red cup to see if there was any more alcohol, so he didn't actually hear what it was.
"Thad, you're up!"
The blonde looked up. "Dare!" he shouted. "Dare, dare, dare, dare, dare!"
Thad cleared his throat and nodded at Wes and David, who proceeded into drumming their hands into their thighs to make a drumroll. "I dare you to make out with Nick. For at least three minutes."
Nick blushed all the way up to his hairline, but Jeff simply shrugged and pulled the shorter boy in. Yes, he was really that drunk. Yes, he was really that attracted to Nick. Yes, he was really that stupid. But, wait. Nick was kissing him back. Nick was kissing him back…hard. And then they were twisting fingers in each other's hair, breathing heavily, until Jeff pulled back and peaked up at him through his eyelashes.
"Alright, Jeff!" someone cheered. "Nice."
"Yeah," he whispered. "Nice."
The next time they kissed, it was all Nick's fault.
Some girl had been flirting with him for weeks. She was from Crawford County Day and she just kept calling him and texting him and asking him out—it was getting creepy.
One day, he was whining about her again and Jeff finally said, "Maybe you should just tell her you're not interested."
"I've tried! She doesn't believe me! She thinks I'm playing hard to get."
"Well then lie! Tell her you like someone else. Tell her you have a girlfriend or a boyfriend or—"
"Wait, that's perfect."
Jeff looked up from his homework and across the table. "What?"
Nick grinned. "Do me a favor?"
Jeff cocked his head, thinking. And then, "Oh, no! No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No way in hell am I going to play your stupid boyfriend just to get this girl off your back. Ask David or Wes to do it! Or better yet, ask Blaine! He'll go all out. He's theatric like that."
"I can't ask David or Wes because they're always together. They're heterosexual life partners. They never separate. If I ask them, they'll actually go to the girl and embarrass me." Nick put up a hand when Jeff opened his mouth. "Yes, I'm aware I embarrass myself enough already, thank you. I can't ask Blaine either because he's constantly busy with school—why on Earth would anyone take that many APs—and solos and the new guy."
"Oh, right—Kurt." Jeff grinned. "Ask Kurt!"
"No way in hell. Have you seen how vicious he is? He would rip her a new one. I don't want to be mean to her. I just want her to…go away." Nick sighed, clasping his hands in front of him. "Please, Jeff? Please, please, please be my fake boyfriend for an hour?"
The blonde muttered something under his breath, but nodded. "Yeah, fine, whatever."
The next day, they hadn't been expecting it. The girl from Crawford, Andrea, rushed into the Dalton entrance hall as Nick and Jeff were leaving Warbler practice.
"Nicky!" she screeched, throwing her arms around his neck.
Jeff snickered under his breath as Nick wormed away from her. "Oh, Andrea, hi."
"Nicky," Jeff laughed to him.
"Shut up," he hissed back.
"So, Nicky, I was wondering if you wanted to go to dinner tonight. It's Friday and we can see a movie and—"
"Um, Andrea, listen, I'm really sorry, but actually… I have a boyfriend."
Andrea's jaw dropped slightly. Within seconds though, she was recovered and laughing. "Oh, silly! Why would you have a boyfriend, I mean, you're not… Oh. But I thought you were…joking."
Jeff, in a moment of inspiration, threw an arm over Nick's shoulders, grinning. "He wasn't joking. Tell me, Andrea—have you ever kissed him? Isn't it wonderful? I especially love the thing he does where—ouch!" He rubbed at his side where Nick has just elbowed him. "Pookie, that wasn't very nice."
Nick did a face-palm. "Right, okay. Andrea, this is Jeff. Jeff, this is Andrea."
They didn't shake hands.
"And so we'll be going now—nice to see you again." Nick shook Jeff's arm off of him and grabbed his hand, walking back down the hall the other way. "I think we made it believable enough, but seriously—"
"Wait! Prove it!"
Nick sighed, turning on his heel slowly. "Prove what exactly?"
"That you two are dating. Kiss."
Jeff rolled his eyes. "She doesn't give up, does she?"
"Clearly not," Nick muttered back.
"Go on then," Jeff sighed. "Kiss me."
"We can't just stand here all day. She's not going to leave unless we convince her that we're madly in love, so show me your skills, shorty."
"I'm not that much shorter than you! You're just huge!"
Jeff smacked his shoulder. "Kiss me so she can go away."
Huffing, Nick kissed his cheek softly. "There," he said to Andrea. "Happy?"
"Hardly! A real kiss."
"Now I'm starting to think that you're an idiot and she's a pervert," Jeff told him. "Kiss me like you're in love with me, Nick. I can be Romeo and you can be—mmph."
Nick pulled him down by getting a hand behind his neck and then their lips were pressed together. For a moment they just stood there like that, and then Jeff's lips parted and they were really kissing. And Nick thought this was the greatest thing. Ever.
When they pulled back, they stared at each other.
Finally, Nick cleared his throat and turned to Andrea. "Alright, so we're good?"
She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, fine, whatever."
Jeff cleared his throat, tugging on his tie. "Uh…bye."
The third time they kissed, it was for the sake of their life. Kind of.
They had snuck out in the middle of the night to pull a prank on Blaine. They had the whipped cream, the feathers, and various other items that would ensure the greatest prank in Dalton history. They also had a backpack to steal all of Blaine's underwear and ties. This would be epic.
They snuck out of their dorm at promptly one in the morning, careful to sneak silently pass the dorm head's room.
"Nick, pull up your pants—nobody wants to see your boxers."
"Well I think you do if you're the one staring at my ass to actually notice my boxers."
Jeff refused to let himself blush. Yes, it was true. He wasn't sure when it had all started—he had a weird feeling that it was a long, long time ago—but he'd begun noticing Nick in a…different way. And that noticing had developed. And developed. And developed. To the point where Jeff could say that he was probably, most likely, almost definitely crushing on his best friend.
"Come on—his room is on the other side of the hall. Shut up and follow me."
Jeff shook off his thoughts as he followed after his all-black-clad friend. But the thoughts kept creeping up.
Yes, he was very attracted to Nick. Like…a lot. But it was more than that. They could talk to each other about anything. They'd come out to each other. But Nick was still a little…confused, to say the least. He'd had a girlfriend since coming out, so he was kind of dabbling with the idea of being bisexual and Jeff wasn't judging him—not at all! It was just…hard. If Nick really was into both sexes, that just meant more competition.
Not that he would actually date Nick! No, it would totally ruin their friendship! Besides these feelings were probably just because they'd been friends for so long and Jeff remembered the fact that Nick was a really, really good kisser.
But that was it. It was kind of just that physical attraction kind of mixed in with their friendship. But nothing more than that. So…yeah. No relationship besides friendship. Ever.
Besides, why would Nick be into him anyway?
"Come on, his room is right down—oh, shit. Do you hear that?"
Jeff perked up, standing completely still so that he could listen. "Footsteps?" he whispered.
"Footsteps," Nick said. "Run!"
They both scurried away, turning a corner. Nick practically tore Jeff's shoulder off when he tried to rip the backpack away.
"Give it! They can't get us in trouble if we don't have it! Let's ditch it somewhere—"
Nick nearly fell when he slid to a stop, throwing open a janitor's closet and tossing the pack inside, but Jeff caught his hand instinctually and then they were running again.
"Shit," Jeff hissed, squeaking to a stop on the balls of his converse. "We would run straight for the one hall in this whole dorm that leads to a dead end."
Nick tugged him towards the closet, but the footsteps were deafeningly loud now and the dorm head was going to be upon them in, quite literally, a second—
So Jeff grabbed him, one arm around the waist, the other hand fisting in Nick's dark hair, and pulled their lips together, kissing him softly. Nick made a noise of surprise but his eyes fluttered closed and he moved his hands to hold onto Jeff's T-shirt as he deepened the kiss.
They both pulled away with a 'pop.'
"Uh, you boys…get in bed." Mr. White looked vaguely uncomfortable as he shifted his weight. "I thought… Uh, never mind. Get back to your dorms."
The man began to walk away again and Jeff looked down. Awkwardly, they stepped apart, both of them avoiding eye contact as they brushed imaginary pieces of lint from their clothes or righted un-messy hair.
"So," Nick said.
"I knew he would let us off if he thought we had just snuck out to fool around."
"That was, uh, smart."
"It happens occasionally."
The fourth time was legit as well. They weren't going to risk losing that much money.
"So everyone here is okay with that?" Kurt whispered at lunch as he watched two boys walks into the dining hall hand-in-hand.
"Yeah," Blaine said. "They're Michael and Carson—been together since freshman year. We were taking bets on how long they would last. I'm still in the lead with 'marriage.'"
"Just because you have some freaky gay vibe or something," David muttered. "How were we supposed to know that promise rings could be worn on the right hand?"
"How many gay couples are there here?" Kurt wondered aloud, still watching the boys as they sat down.
"I bet you'll see at least two more in the next week you're here," Wes muttered into his food.
"No way, more than that." Everybody turned to look at Jeff. "What?" The blonde shrugged. "At least five."
"In a week?" Kurt nearly squeaked.
Nick nodded. "Definitely. At least five."
David grinned. "Alright. I'll take that bet. No more than three. 50 bucks."
"Only 50?" Jeff scoffed. "My dear, that's child's play."
"I'm sticking with two," Wes offered. "200 bucks."
"Confident, are you?" Blaine said. He dug out his wallet and flipped through it. "Four couples—300."
Kurt was staring at them wide-eyed. "You guys carry around this much cash?"
They all stared at him. "You don't?" David whispered.
Jeff and Nick were whispering quietly to each other as they looked through their wallets. Finally, they looked across the table and announced, "500 on five couples," simultaneously.
"You can't be serious," Kurt said.
"What?" Blaine asked, tossing his share of the dough into the middle of the table. "They're risking the most with the most unbelievable. Doesn't hurt me—I don't care."
The rest of the week went by too slowly and every day after school, they'd ask Kurt how many couples he'd seen.
Michael and Carson were the first ones on Monday. None on Tuesday. None on Wednesday. Two on Thursday, which automatically pulled Wes out and left the next day's events to determine David's fate. Friday kicked David out of the race when Kurt saw another couple and then it was just Blaine versus Nick and Jeff.
Unfortunately, the bet officially ended on Monday at lunch and Kurt wasn't a boarder, so he didn't stay over the weekend.
"We have to do something," Jeff told his best friend on Saturday night as they played Halo. "500 dollars, Nick."
"I know, I know. But what? How can we be sure that Kurt will see another… Oh."
"What?" Jeff paused the game quickly, turning to the brunette.
"Well…I mean, it's just an idea, but—"
"I don't know about you, but I don't really want to lose 250 bucks that I could spend on video games."
"Are you sure you're gay?"
"What's your idea?"
Nick sighed. "Well…we could find out where Kurt's first period is and wait in front of it until we see him and then act like we're a couple."
"…oh. That could work."
"I'll go sneak into the main office and hack a computer."
"And I'll…stay here."
Monday morning, Nick and Jeff were waiting in front of Kurt's first period French class, shifting awkwardly. Jeff rubbed the back of his neck, avoiding eye contact.
"It's not such a big deal, is it?" Nick muttered. "I mean, we've kissed before and this is just holding hands."
"I know. But never… We've never acted like a couple in front of people. What if somebody else actually thinks we're going out? I didn't think you were ready to admit—"
"I think everyone already suspects, Jeff. Not," he added quickly, "that we're dating. But that I'm…not straight."
The blonde shrugged. "But they're not pushing you so…"
"Yeah. That's good."
"Looks like Kurt's here." He grabbed Nick's hand without hesitation, his heart thumping a little too fast. Relax. We hold hands like… Well, we've held hands before. So no big deal, right?
"He's not looking," Nick muttered. "We need to go bigger."
"Give him a sec."
Kurt was busy chatting with another Warbler just a few feet away and despite the fact that Nick and Jeff had walked past him with their hands clasped, he hadn't noticed.
"We need to go bigger."
"What do you—" Jeff began, but then he couldn't talk anymore because a pair of lips was on his. Not just any pair of lips. Nick's lips. He really should be used to this by now. They'd kissed like…what was it? Three other times? Granted, yes, one of them was while they were very heavily intoxicated, but still. Kissing Nick was just one of those things that made him feel more flustered than it should.
Jeff tried to keep his eyes open to see if Kurt was noticing them, but he kind of got distracted.
When they pulled apart, the hall was empty.
"Uh, so, see you at lunch?"
They won the bet. But only because Kurt had noticed another couple outside of his fourth period. Nick and Jeff weren't sure this was the truth though, because the countertenor winked at them from across the table when Blaine handed over the cash.
"I think Dalton will be okay with that kid around," Nick whispered to him.
"As long as he keeps giving us money."
Their fifth kiss was a product of one of their many non-dates.
The two boys liked sleepovers. They liked them quite a lot actually. Even before they went to Dalton together, they would have sleepovers. Then, when they began boarding at Dalton and even got a room together, they would sometimes curl up on one bed together and watch movies or talk or do homework, just being together.
At first they didn't really think of it much. It was just what they did. They were best friends and it just…made sense that they would want to be together. If girls showed affection by physical contact—hugs, etc—why couldn't they?
It was a Friday afternoon when they went out. They did this a lot too, going out on non-dates. That was what Nick called them in his head anyway. They would see movies or go ice skating or laser tagging, or go to the mall, or go bowling, and then they would come back to Dalton and promptly pass out from exhaustion because they never got back until seconds before curfew, which was midnight on weekends.
Jeff paid for dinner—again—and Nick kept trying to tell him that it was his turn or they could split the bill or anything, but the blonde just gave him a look and told him, "I want to." Nick tried not to read too much into it. Jeff wasn't into him like that. It was just something friends did. He needed to get over this stupid crush… But the thing was, it was almost too confusing to get over. He'd told Jeff that he thought he was bi-sexual, but that wasn't it. He was... Well, he was only into Jeff. No girls, no guys, just Jeff. Nick refused to pin some label on it because he wasn't Jeff-sexual. He was just...Nick. And Nick liked Jeff. A lot.
They had a bit of time before the movie started, so they walked past the theater. Farther down was the street fair, all decked out with pretty lights and music, and the scent of food.
"Come on," Jeff insisted, tugging his arm.
"No way. No stereotypical, clichéd street fair."
"I'll buy you cotton candy."
Nick was about to say no again, but then Jeff pouted and looked at him with those big eyes… "Fine. But I'm paying for the movie."
They strolled past vendor after vendor, until they came to a tent with little boxes of thin roses. Jeff reached for one and found that the petals weren't soft and velvety, but wooden. He picked it up, examining it.
"It's a wooden rose," a feminine voice said. "Hand-crafted. A dollar a pop, in every color you can imagine."
And there was every color. There were even blended colors, like a rose with blue and green, and then some with yellow, orange, and red. Both Jeff and Nick looked up at the woman and she plucked out a red one, spraying it once with some white bottle she had in her hand.
"Here," she said, offering it to them. "Smell."
"It smells like a rose," Nick muttered, peaking at Jeff.
"And they never die."
Nick went to hand the rose back to her, but she held up her hand. "Keep it." She glanced between the two boys and smiled at him softly, like she knew exactly how he felt.
The movie was grossly overrated and involved too many explosions and scantily clad women, but by the time they got back to Dalton, too tired to even walk straight, they weren't thinking about anything but sleep.
Nick hoisted himself out of his own bed, his eyelids heavy, and collapsed next to Jeff, barely touching him.
"I had a lot of fun tonight."
Jeff was asleep within seconds. But Nick couldn't stop thinking about…them. Ever since he'd let himself kiss Jeff to win that stupid bet… It was practically all he could think about. Them. Together. A couple. Where he could kiss Jeff as much as he wanted to and announce to the whole would that Jeff was his and his alone.
And so he leaned over and kissed him. Softly. Barely a brush of lips together.
In a panic, the brunette closed his eyes and evened his breathing, faking sleep.
"Nick?" A hand settled on his chest. Jeff sighed. "Goodnight, Nick," he whispered. And then Nick felt the softness of lips on his temple and he had to force himself to not sigh.
Best. Non-date. Ever.
Nick had barely turned a corner into the physiology section of the research half of the Dalton library when he felt someone tugging on his blazer. He turned, smiling. "Hey, Jeff. What's up?" he asked softly.
"Is something wrong with you?" the blonde whispered, eyes concerned. "Because, I mean…you've been avoiding me. For two weeks. We haven't hung out since the street fair."
Nick blushed slightly. "No. I'm fine. Just…busy. With schoolwork. Regionals coming up and all that."
"Regionals isn't until March."
"Why won't you just talk to me? Come on, Nick, we're best friends!"
Nick glanced around before tugging Jeff farther through the stacks of books, into the most secluded section there was in the whole library. "It's just not something I want to talk about, okay? Can we drop it? Please?"
"Don't you trust me?"
"Of course! I just…" But Nick was sick. Nick was so, so sick of holding it in. He was sick of pretending like he didn't want more. He was sick of every excuse, of every omission. He just wanted Jeff. He'd made up his mind and opened his mouth when he heard it.
"Shit," Jeff whispered, reaching for his buzzing phone in his pocket. He slid it open, pressing a few buttons. "I have to go. But we will continue this later, okay? Text me if you need me."
Jeff almost leaned in to kiss his cheek or something, but his brain snapped to attention quickly. As he stormed away, he ran a hand through his hair, tugging on it almost painfully. No thoughts of kissing. None. Not at all. Never. No more. Yes, Nick was a really awesome kisser—like really, really awesome—but they were friends. Or at least he hoped they still were.
Jeff didn't understand what had been up with his best friend lately. The last real interaction they'd had—"good morning" and "how was your day?" didn't count—was that night when Jeff had kissed his hairline in his sleep.
…oh. Oh no. What if… What if Nick had been awake? What if he realized how Jeff felt about him? Shit. Was that why Nick was avoiding him? Dammit. What if Jeff had totally just screwed this whole thing up? But then again, he couldn't be sure. So tonight, when they saw each other in the dorm room, he was going to find out what was wrong with Nick. And then they'd go from there.
But then…he was tired. He was tired of waiting. He was tired of being alone. He was tired of wanting Nick and not being able to do anything about it. So, on some level, he almost didn't care if he lost Nick. He needed Nick to know. Nick needed to know that Jeff was falling in love with him and had been since…well, since forever, he realized. So he was going to tell him. Tonight.
Nick was the first one back to the dorm room that evening. He was too exhausted to move, left weary by school and Warbler rehearsal, plus studying and catering to every whim of his Chemistry teacher in hopes of extra credit. He just wanted to collapse. He was falling onto his bed and loosening his tie when the door opened and Jeff walked in.
"Hey," the brunette muttered.
"I need to tell you something."
Jeff nodded, licking his lips. "Alright. Go ahead."
Nick shifted, sitting on the side of his bed, with his feet hanging over. For a moment, he just stared at his feet, but then he met Jeff's eyes. "I stress a lot. About everything. And…and I guess I've just always been so comfortable with you that I never had to stress when you were involved. And that's kind of amazing. I never had to worry what you thought of me or if what I did something to upset you… Until now."
The blonde frowned slightly before sitting opposite Nick on his own bed. "What?"
"I'm going to tell you something. But I don't…I'm just…scared."
"Nick, you're scaring me."
"We're best friends. And that's amazing. I don't know what I would do without you, Jeff. But…I think that being best friends just isn't enough. Not for me. I want so much more than that." Jeff didn't speak. "Do you… Do you get what I'm saying?"
Jeff had to force himself to not grin. "Um. Kind of? Maybe? I think?"
"I have all of these feelings. For you. Feelings…that I've had for a while actually. And I can just kind of feel them all reaching their boiling point and that's why I've been avoiding you. Because I want you, Jeff. Let's face it—we hold hands, we've kissed, we've cuddled—we're practically already a couple. So either I'm reading a ton of signs wrong or…or you feel the same way. So…I was wondering if you wanted to go out with me. Tomorrow night." When Jeff didn't do anything but blink, his mouth open slightly, Nick cleared his throat. "On a date."
Jeff blinked rapidly, nodding his head. "Uh, yes! Yes, yeah, of course! I… Yes."
Nick grinned. "Awesome. So what were you going to say?"
"Oh. Well…I was going to tell you that I'm kind of basically head-over-heels for you."
"Yeah. And since you asked me out, I'm now going to ask if you'd like to make things a bit more official and be my boyfriend."
Nick hummed, low in the back of his throat. "Well…now…" He paused a moment before nodding. "I think that's an idea I could get behind."
And then they were kissing.
There was really no way to explain how it had started or who moved first. All they knew was that they were grabbing for each other. They'd had enough slow kisses, enough soft kisses, enough boring I-don't-know-why-the-hell-I'm-doing-this kisses. This was their desperate, passion, eager, thank-god-we're-finally-together kiss.
And they both agreed that it was the best one yet.
A/N: So I've wanted to write Nick/Jeff for a while actually and now I've finally gotten around to doing it! Thanks to Cap'NCupcake for being my cheerleader through this—I hope you like the finished result!
Reviews are very much appreciated!
E. M. Zeray