Author's Note: I have writer's block when it comes to writing more for Seasons of Love, so just have some Niff angst for now. I wrote this for the lovely Gabby. I'd also like to send a big thank you Manda for reading through it for me.

Lie to Me

Falling in love with your best friend was one of those things you only really hear about in movies. It was the kind of thing you roll your eyes at and wave away. Jeff never thought he'd have that problem. After all, when they had just met as little kids, Nick had meant a lot to him, but he never realized quite how much it was until later.

All he had known at the time – and he had been only six – was he liked Nick. It wasn't as if he hadn't noticed as he went through elementary school that he didn't seem to like girls the way other guys did. The others would always go about, calling them pretty. Jeff supposed it was true, but it was more the thing he'd agree with, not notice. Then again, no guys ever stuck out to him either. It had always been him and Nick, and that was perfectly fine with him.

He had been nine the first time he had started to doubt his sexuality. It was the first time he had heard the word 'gay'. He had gone home to his parents to hear the stereotypical, "Well, you know how a guy and a girl sometimes like each other? That can happen with two boys or two girls too" speech. And for the first time in his life, Jeff had asked himself how exactly he liked Nick.

There had been moments where they had gotten into fights over stupid, little things after that. Jeff had tried avoiding him, scared of what he was finding out. The way his heart would flutter sometimes when Nick would lean over and hug him or the small surge of jealousy he felt when Nick would talk about his latest crush – it all seemed suddenly striking. Jeff wasn't sure exactly how to handle it.

Still, he had never told Nick. When asked about his crushes, he had become accustomed to simply lying. Hannah, Ally, Jennifer, Maggie – he'd lose track and list another. His friends would tease him about the way he'd go from one to the next as if flipping through channels. Jeff endured it, managing a smile and a laugh. After all, it made things easier to lie.

He gritted his teeth through Nick's first girlfriend – Lauren – trying to be happy for him. And his second one, Lisa. And his third, Jordan. And even his fourth, Elaine. They had gone to high school at some point in between them, and soon the Warblers started teasing Nick that he was pulling a Jeff the way he went through them.

There was pain and heartbreak involved, as there was with every relationship that was filed under the category of never-going-to-happen. It wasn't until that game of truth or dare that something happened. And after it happened, Jeff knew it would be one of those moments he'd look back to for the rest of his life.


"Oh, Jeff's turn!" Jeff grinned, pulling back the bottle of beer. He grimaced at the bitter taste and leaned back against the wall.

"Alright, I'll go with a dare then." It was one of the Warbler parties. Naturally, that meant an abundance of alcohol and a variety of games.

David bit on his lower lip, his brow furrowing. "I don't know." It took a moment more before he finally decided with a small smirk, "I think you should kiss Nick. Properly, I mean. Or – how about – kiss him for three minutes with tongue."

Jeff suddenly felt as if his chest didn't provide adequate room for him to breathe properly. It wasn't as if the Warblers hadn't pulled this sort of a dare on each other before. At one point he had even had to kiss Wes, an incident both of them pretended to have never happened. Kissing Nick, however, was a completely different matter.

"Well, come on," Thad egged on, laughing.

"These dares aren't fair," Nick complained as Jeff edged himself forward, feeling heat rise at his neck. "I mean, I'm involved in it too, and it isn't – like – my dare." Jeff had imagined kissing Nick before, but never with him complaining this much.

"You two are ridiculous. Just kiss already," Flint said, laughing. "You're like a little girl, Nick." Jeff reached out, his hand shaking, and gently laid it against Nick's cheek before leaning in and closing the final few centimeters. For a moment, everything got drowned out. All he could feel were Nick's lips, decidedly chapped, against his. Tentatively, Jeff opened his mouth, his tongue reaching out. It traced Nick's lower lip, and he groaned quietly as he tasted the alcohol permeate the kiss.

His tongue pushed past, tracing Nick's mouth, mapping it out and memorizing every dip for later on when he knew he'd replay this moment over and over. Shuddering, he felt Nick's tongue, and his hand slipped down to Nick's neck, pushing them slightly closer. He could feel Nick's hair brush against his fingers, and he pulled back slightly, kneading Nick's lower lip between his teeth.

Nick just chuckled, his tongue reaching out, wrestling with Jeff's and pushing back. The kiss was rougher than Jeff would've imagined, and he eventually let himself fall back. Nick's tongue now slowly repeated the same patterns Jeff's had, and it traced Jeff's teeth slowly. A hand slipped upwards into Jeff's hair, and he pulled lightly. For a moment, they lay there, their lips barely touching as they took unsteady breaths.

Then it was over.

Nick drew back, giving a satisfied sound. "You enjoyed that, Jeffy, didn't you?" Jeff knew better than to respond honestly, though his hands were still trembling and his throat still seemed constricted.

"Oh, please. I wasn't the one who grabbed your hair." Nick rolled his eyes at that, and they turned back to see the Warblers' laughing faces.

"We're going to tell Natalie," Wes teased, though there was no threat in his voice.

Oh, right, Natalie. She was Nick's newest girlfriend, and so far the longest. Nick launched himself across the room at Wes, punching him lightly.

"If you do, every embarrassing moment I've ever caught on video will be on Facebook, Wes Montgomery!" They tackled each other and the other Warblers cheered them on and laughed in their alcohol-induced haze. Only Jeff slinked back, unnoticed by the others, his tongue slowly running over his lips.


After that, things were bad. For a while, Nick avoided him. Somehow, he'd always manage to sneak into the room before Jeff, and whenever Jeff would try to talk to him, Nick would pretend that he was asleep. It didn't fool Jeff. Nick's breathing was often too shallow, and Jeff noticed the way he stiffened up slightly whenever he heard his name.

More than that, Nick stopped hopping in his bed and curling up around him. Or messing with his hair. Or even teasing him. Nick seemed determined to make them drift apart. Jeff wasn't sure he could take that. He might not have been able to have Nick as anything more than a friend but he wasn't going to let Nick screw that up either.


"Did I do something wrong?" Nick froze for a moment before shrugging his shoulders and walking towards his bed.

"I'm tired, Jeff. We'll talk about this some other time." He had been hearing that a lot recently. Reaching out, he grabbed Nick's arm, yanking him away towards his bed.

"No. We're going to talk about this now." Nick stumbled backwards, falling against him, and Jeff seemed to stop mid-breath. After glaring for a moment, Nick pulled himself off.

"What is your problem? I'm going to go to bed."

"We've been friends since kindergarten. You really want one stupid kiss we got dared to do to erase that all?" Jeff asked, staying rooted to the ground, his arms crossing over his chest. Of course, to him, it was far more than a stupid kiss, but no matter… Nick seemed to consider it for a moment before he turned around.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Though he attempted a voice of contempt, this time his voice was lighter.

"Oh, really?" Jeff cocked an eyebrow, and Nick collapsed backward on the bed, sighing and curling up.

"I don't know. We actually kissed. Like it wasn't just our lips were touching, but we had our tongues down each others' throats." Jeff didn't need reminding. The thought had been circulating through his mind since it had happened.

"But we were drunk. I mean, that kiss won't redefine our friendship," Jeff muttered, sitting besides Nick and wrapping an arm around him. Nick leaned into him, and Jeff did all he could to keep from sighing. This felt better.

"But the Warblers won't stop teasing me." Jeff had noticed that too. Other than Blaine, they had joked around a bit about it, saying that the two of them seemed too into the kiss. Jeff simply tried to ignore them and push back the weird sort of feeling he'd get in his chest every time they'd say that.

"They're Warblers. What do you expect? The same thing happened when Flint kissed Thad or when Wes and I kissed. It's just silly, and you're giving them a reaction." He reached out, he slowly lay a hand on top of Nick's, trying to keep steady as Nick snuggled in more against his shoulder.

"I know. It's just… you're my friend, and trying to think about you any other way makes me feel all queasy. It just isn't right." Jeff shut his eyes, trying to imagine he hadn't heard that – willing it to fade away from his memories.

"Yeah," he said, his voice hollow. "It just isn't right."


Time passed. Junior and senior year went by fairly eventlessly. Jeff learned to cope with everything. He had his first girlfriend. It wasn't that he was afraid of coming out because of Westerville or ashamed of who he was. He simply couldn't bear to have Nick know. If a simple kiss had managed to put a strain on their relationship, then knowing the truth would only be disastrous.

In any case, the girl, Sarah turned out to be nice. They would kiss and hold hands. But Jeff never felt the same feeling of helplessness and warmth and fear and joy – all the conflicting emotions that had made it so wonderful to kiss Nick. Still, it was nice pretending that things were normal for once. He ended up dating Sarah for five months before one day she confronted him about it, saying how she noticed that he never seemed truly interested in her. She never yelled at him or accused him; she simply told him the truth and broke it off as cleanly as possible. And, for that, Jeff was grateful.

Graduation came by sooner than it should have. He was going to University of Chicago to study biology. Nick was going to Harvard, and he was leaning towards the idea of doing law. Wes and David had already graduated, and Blaine was off to New York with Kurt – off for a bright future as it seemed. It was odd knowing that within a few months, they wouldn't be seeing each other every day and singing. His time for being a Warbler had come to an end finally.


Normally at this age, they would've been ashamed to cry. Yet graduation sort of called for tears; it was a necessary part of the process. Jeff felt the arms around him squeeze, and his chest was crushed. "I'm going to miss you so much, Jeffy." Nick only called him that on occasion now. Jeff nodded, sniffling.

"But we're going to keep in touch, right?" he managed to squeak out, still finding it rather difficult to breath. Nick wasn't letting go anytime soon by the looks of it. Rib-shattering or not, it was nice to feel Nick so close to him. Still, it scared him to think that after this summer, this sort of a thing wasn't going to happen, at least not for a while.

"Of course, you dunderhead," Nick said, ruffling his hair. "As if I'd let a few miles come between us." Jeff felt his eyes prickle, and he pulled back, wiping his sleeve over them.

"But Natalie –" The two of them had finally broken up about a month ago because they felt they couldn't do a long-distance relationship.

"She hasn't known me since I used to draw ducks on my tape because I thought that made it stronger." Jeff laughed through his tears, and pulled back.

"That's what those were? I was always trying to figure it out." Nick's hand reached out, and he entwined his fingers with Jeff's.

"You're my best friend, Six. I couldn't ever forget you." Nick's eyes were puffy and red though he had stopped crying. Jeff held onto Nick's hand more tightly.

"Have you two finally gotten together?" Thad joked, coming up from behind them and resting an arm on either shoulder. Both of them rolled their eyes.

"You guys never know when to drop it," Nick muttered, though he chuckled quietly. Reaching out, he weakly hit Thad on the arm. Flint jogged up to them as well, and Kurt and Blaine came too, hand-in-hand and leaning against each other. Jeff felt a pang or jealousy, and immediately felt guilt. For all the luck the two of them had, there had been some horrible moments as well.

"I asked whether we could sing a final song," Blaine said as Trent walked up as well, and he tried his best to smile. "I was thinking Good Riddance by Green Day. You know, since it's kind of the end." He looked hopeful and terrified at the same time. Murmurs of agreement spread throughout the group. They knew the song and had a routine to it.

"Let's do this," Trent finally muttered, and the group started walking towards the center where a small platform had been built.

"What's wrong?" Jeff heard from behind him, and he turned around to see Blaine looking worriedly at Kurt. Whatever Kurt said, Blaine threw his arms around him, kissing him and laughing. "You're an honorary Warbler, Kurt. If you didn't sing, I think everyone would be upset. Now, let's get out there." A smile spread across Kurt's face, and the both of them ran towards the platform, getting there first.

"Dalton class of 2012!" Blaine screamed into the microphone. "We'd like to sing a song as a final goodbye. It's been amazing and fun." People started cheering, and the rest of the Warblers ran to catch up as Blaine started singing.

They sang it out, all of them repressing tears. And the entire school joined in, students and parents alike crying and hugging each other. Jeff's eyes fell over Nick, and Nick glanced over at him as well. "For what it's worth, it was worth all the while," Jeff sang, trying not to let his voice waver too much.

"I hope you had the time of your life," the final line finally echoed throughout the stadium and was met by a resounding cheer. High school truly was over. Their time as the Warblers was officially done.


Nick and Jeff acted like they were glued together for the rest of the summer. Jeff wasn't sure if he ever got such little sleep. Occasionally they hang out with the other Warblers as well, and all of them would laugh and pretend like it was any other summer – like the beginning of the school year didn't mean something new and different.

When they finally went off to college, Jeff and Nick tried calling or e-mailing each other every day. After a week and a half, that became too much of a hassle. They still managed to talk every once in a while, but mostly they stuck to an occasional Facebook message or text. It wasn't enough to really keep in touch. At times Jeff sat staring at his phone feeling lonely.

On top of that, Jeff's roommate, Ryan, was irritating. He tended to blast music while studying, claiming it helped him concentrate. He also already had his group of friends, and wanted nothing to do with Jeff. Everyone once in w while, Ryan would complain about how he should have just roomed with his friends. Jeff wholeheartedly agreed.

Still, the classes were interesting, and he found himself oftentimes distracted with work until eleven or even midnight. He made new friends, but he still missed Nick. The other boy hadn't come home for Thanksgiving, so it wasn't until winter break that he got to see him again.


"Nick!" Jeff threw himself at Nick, and his eyes closed as he felt two arms wrap around him. Nick's hair was slightly longer than usual, and Jeff felt it tickle his nose as he buried his head in Nick's shoulder. They stayed like that, clutching each other in the Starbucks parking lot. Tiny puffs of white formed above them as they breathed, and finally it became too cold to bear.

"Let's get something to drink," Nick said, and Jeff grinned as a gloved hand slipped into his.

"Sounds good." They walked into Starbucks, sighing happily at the blanket of heat that greeted them as they opened the door. Standing in line, Jeff turned to look at Nick. He looked happy, Jeff couldn't help but notice. A small smile crept on Jeff's face as he stared at him. Nick was looking over at the menu, biting his lower lip and wiggling his nose. Nick must have noticed his glance because his head turned, and he looked at Jeff.


"Nothing. You look good." The lady in front of them in line paid, and Jeff moved up. "What do you want?" he asked Nick.


"I'm buying. What do you want?" Nick shook his head.

"No, don't. I can pay for myself."

"I know you can, but I haven't seen you in months. You should take advantage of it. I doubt I'll be this nice for long." Nick sighed, then looked at the lady behind the cash register.

"Grande hot chocolate, please."

"Whipped cream?" the lady asked. Nick nodded, and she turned to look at Jeff. "And for you?"

"Grande caramel apple spice latte with whipped cream, please."


"Jeff." Jeff paid, and they went to stand around and wait. "So, spill. How's Harvard? Has anything new and exciting happened? Have you replaced me yet?" The last question was asked a a bit of a joke, but Jeff had been worried about that. What if Nick found a new best friend and he was left behind?

"Oh, yeah. First thing I did was replace you," Nick replied blithely. Jeff scowled, and Nick squeezed his shoulder. "Don't worry so much, Jeffy. You're irreplaceable." Of course, Nick meant it platonically, but a small smile stuttered back on Jeff's face. They grabbed their drinks, and Jeff took a sip, feeling warmth that had nothing to do with the liquid.

"Good. You'll be pleased to know that I haven't found anyone irritating enough yet to replace you," Jeff teased, and Nick rolled his eyes. They both took another sip, and Nick jumped slightly, his eyes widening.

"Oh, I actually do have something exciting to tell you! So, I met this girl, and we've been friends for a while…"

"Alex?" Nick had mentioned her before in a message or two. Nick nodded.

"Yeah. I'm kind of obvious, huh?" It was Jeff's turn to nod. "Well, I think I'm going to ask her out after break. I'm pretty sure she likes me too." He smirked, and Jeff managed to put on a stiff sort of look of happiness.

"Congrats!" He'd learned to act by now, and as Nick spent the next half an hour talking about her, Jeff felt himself slowly starting to crumple. No matter how many times he heard this, it hurt. Every single time he was reminded – it would never be him.


It had been amazing to see Nick again. Jeff had almost forgotten that things were different and that in a little while, they would be separated and stuck talking minimally through Facebook. Sure enough, when they finally said goodbye, Jeff felt a certain ache, and he clutched him close. About a week after they had gone back, Jeff received a text, 'SHE SAID YES!' and he gritted his teeth. At least he could break down without having to worry about Nick seeing. Still, a part of him just wished he could be happy for his best friend.

When it came close to spring break, he started counting down the days, barely waiting to see Nick's face. There were times when he'd be reading passages from his books, and realize he had blanked for the past few pages. It had never been this hard before. Yet spring break didn't go exactly as planned.


Jeff hadn't been this drunk in a while. He could barely stand straight, and his head felt detached. Still, after staring at the beer bottle for a moment longer, he shrugged and took another swig. Nick laughed and his head bobbed up and down to the song before he belched and started singing along.

"You're adorable when you do that," Jeff said, laughing. It was true. Nick looked like a puppy with that smile on his face.

"You're ridiculous." Nick still smirked at him before adding, "You know, every time I hear a Katy Perry song, I thing of Blaine." Shaking his head, Jeff took another sip of the beer and winced at the taste.

"I think he'd be honored to hear that. We really should visit him in New York sometime." Kurt had come down to visit his family every so often, and Blaine had come with him, but Blaine had little attaching him to Lima. They often came during three-day weekends or times when it was less crowded. Jeff hadn't had a chance to see them since summer. Although, if their pictures and almost vomit-inducingly adorable Facebook posts on each others' Walls, they were still happily together.

"Yeah, we should." He hummed along to the song until its end before turning to Jeff. He had a weird sort of look on his face. "Remember when we made out that one time?" Jeff stiffened, feeling some of the warmth fade from him as his smile slid off of his face.

"Well, that's an odd thing to bring up." Nick wildly waved his hands in front of him.

"No, don't get me wrong. It's just I think that was last time we were drunk around each other excluding the grad party." Jeff thought that over for a moment, and he pulled his legs closer to him, hoping it wasn't obvious how suddenly nervous he felt. His hands were trembling.

"Yeah. I guess that's true." He licked his lips, remembering how it had tasted to kiss Nick.



"Have you kissed anyone since you and Sarah broke up?" Jeff paused before shaking his head. "Damn. How do you survive?"

"I dunno." Jeff shrugged his shoulders, but his eyes avoided Nick's. This wasn't really a conversational path he wanted to go down. Some unknown song played in the background, filling up the silence for a moment.

"I haven't kissed Alex in a while either. She left for home early." Jeff nodded, though he wasn't really sure where this conversation was leading.

"Oh." Maybe it was best to just say as little as possible. The song continued, and both of them sat, fiddling with their cans of beer.

"Hey, Jeff…" Nick finally broke the silence.


"Can we make out?" Jeff blinked, unsure he had actually heard right. There was no way… He turned to look at Nick, and bit his lip.

"What?" Nick's face fell.

"Nothing – that was stupid. I just thought that we're both drunk and horny, and there's no one else around, and – I dunno. Just ignore me. I'm not making sense. That was stupid. I'm stupid." Jeff shook his head. A part of him screamed that this was a horrible idea, but he shoved that back.

"No, I completely agree," he said, scooting closer. Nick's face pulled back up into a grin as Jeff pressed up against him. A shiver rode through both of them, and Jeff leaned forward, pressing their lips together. It was like three years ago. The taste of alcohol lingered, and as Jeff's tongue pried Nick's open, Nick groaned, his hand wrapping itself in Jeff's hair and tugging lightly. Their tongues pressed together, and Jeff whimpered, letting Nick trace his lower lip. Slowly he bit down on it, and Jeff squirmed, his own hand reaching down to Nick's thigh and squeezing.

Nick pulled back, chuckling darkly before leaning in again, this time his lips on Jeff's neck. His teeth slowly bit down, causing slight pain. Of course, that faded as Nick's tongue lapped at the sensitive skin. It dipped down to Jeff's collar bone, and Jeff let himself fall limply against the way for support. Nick shifted so that he was straddling Jeff, and Jeff's eyes shut. This was heaven.


They hadn't gotten further than kissing, but Jeff lay there awake long after Nick had passed out. It kept on replaying in his head. He could taste Nick, feel the flimsy hands pulling at his hair. The next day had been painful; Jeff was fairly sure Nick remembered, though he never mentioned it once. They still hung out, though every day of vacation, occasionally with some of the other Warblers.

College came back too fast, and summer did as well. They finally saw Kurt and Blaine, and they were as in love as always. It was something Jeff never failed to envy. They days passed by quickly and were filled with bathing suits and ice cream. But, of course, that couldn't last forever either. School went back in session eventually, and Nick and Alex ended up breaking up.

It wasn't until winter break of their sophomore year that anything worth mentioning happened. As always, it started with alcohol. This time it was at a party. The Warblers had a giant get-together at Trent's house, and the night progressed with drunken karaoke and drinking games.


"I'm hungry. You're out of chips," Jeff complained, staring forlornly at the empty bag of BBQ chips.

"There should be some more in the kitchen. Just go up, and you should be able to find them." Jeff stumbled towards the stairs, and Nick tagged behind him.

"I'm hungry too." Jeff nodded, and the two of them pulled themselves up the stairs, giggling. They made it to the kitchen, and Jeff threw open cabinets, trying to find more chips. They seemed to be nowhere; his stomach gave an appropriate growl.

"Where are the damn chips?" Jeff asked, pouting and facing Nick. Nick leaned back against the counter, and Jeff couldn't help but stare at him. The way he was leaning against it so openly was… tempting. Jeff licked his lips, and Nick laughed, winking at him, though only jokingly.

A moment before he kissed Nick, it registered in his head. Nick jerked forward in surprise, but Jeff felt him relax the moment he started kneading the other boy's lower lip between his teeth. He pushed Nick backwards, ignoring the protesting sound from him as he was pressed against a cabinet. Jeff's fingers slipped under Nick's shirt, trailing against the skin. The warmth of the alcohol couple with the intoxicating effect he was having on Nick was enough to make his pants suddenly feel tight.

Nick pressed closer to Jeff, and Jeff gasped as he felt one of Nick's teeth scrape against his lip, cutting it open. Blood seeped in as well, and Jeff pulled back, panting, lifting Nick's shirt. Both of them were beyond reason. The haze in Nick's eyes was unmistakable, and for a moment Jeff hesitated.

"Jeff…" The way Nick moaned his name erased any doubt, and he slid the shirt to the floor, trembling. He stared at the brunet's expression for a moment before leaning forward, kissing his Adam's Apple. It bobbed up and down as Nick's swallowed, and Jeff's lips trailed downward. For a moment he shook before taking a pert nipple into his mouth, his tongue swirling lightly around it. Every sound coming out of Nick's mouth made it worth it, and his hand slid down, taking the other one and tweaking it between his fingers.

Pulling back, he licked his lips and placed a quick kiss on Nick's lips before going down on his knees. The bulge in Nick's pants was noticeable, and Jeff leaned in, wrapping his mouth around it through the rough fabric. Nick moaned, bucking his hips, and Jeff pulled back, unzipping and unbuttoning the jeans. He watched with a sort of satisfaction as he tugged and they fell to the ground. Hooking his fingers around Nick's boxer-briefs, he pulled them to the ground, and stared, his jaw slack as Nick's cock sprang free.

This was the moment he'd been dreaming of for as long as he could remember. Tentatively, afraid it the moment would pop like a bubble, he leaned forward, letting his breath ghost over Nick's cock. "Quit teasing," he heard Nick mutter out from above him. Jeff leaned forward, taking it into his mouth. Nick tensed, and Jeff's hands came up just in time to hold back his hips. He could feel them jerk forward under his hands.

Jeff's tongue ran over the slit, shuddering as he tasted Nick. It didn't matter that it wasn't particularly appealing. What mattered was that it was Nick. He moved downward, willing his throat to relax. He felt the tip brush up against the back of his throat and pulled back, though not without clenching against it, making Nick shudder underneath him. Nick's hands reached out, and they painfully pulled at Jeff's hair. He guided Jeff's mouth back down, letting out a small moan.

As Jeff bobbed up and down, he hallowed his cheeks and sucked, his hands leaving Nick's hips, and his fingers trailed down the insides of his thighs. Nick trembled beneath him, and when one hand went up, cupping Nick's balls, he could tell by how tense he was, that he was close.

Jeff pulled back with a pop, his hand wrapping around the base before he traced a vein on the underside. Nick jerked upward as Jeff's lips wrapped around the tip again. Jeff's eyes shot up as Nick froze, his hand moving back, his fingers clenching the countertop, and his mouth open. His face as he came undone made Jeff moan as he pulled back slightly, tasting the bitter-salty fluid. Though he sputtered, he pulled back, managing to swallow it all, soaking in every moment of Nick leaned back, supporting himself on the counter.

The moment, however, did not last long. Nick's head suddenly snapped up after a minute, and he looked at Jeff, the haze gone. His eyes radiated nothing but panic, fear, and disgust. And it nearly broke Jeff's heart. "Fuck!" Nick stumbled backwards, reaching down and pulling at his boxer-briefs and pants. He leaned down and grabbed his shirt, his eyes wide as he distanced himself. "No, this can't have happened. Fuck." Before Jeff could even pull himself up, he was slipping his shirt over his head and running out the front door.


Nick avoided him after that. Every call went to voicemail, and every text was left ignored. Jeff even went to Nick's house, but his parents told him, their eyes betraying their lie, that Nick was out. When school started again, there was little he could do. Jeff found time to send Nick an e-mail every day, begging him to just listen to him, and he developed the habit of checking his phone to make sure he hadn't missed a texts or message from Nick. Every time he hadn't, he found he still had more room for disappointment.

So, the first three-day weekend he was free, Jeff got in his car and drove down to Cambridge. The drive was painful and took almost an entire day. It also wasted precious gas money, but he knew if he could save his friendship, it would be worth it.

It took a while after he got there even to find Nick, and by the time he did, he was exhausted. But even within exhaustion, he couldn't help but feel something flare up within himself. It took some convincing before they ended up in Nick's dorm room.


"Why did you come here?" Nick's voice was harsh, and he looked at Jeff as if he didn't have the time for this.

"Because I care…"

"Bullshit." Nick glanced down at his watch and continued pacing the room.

"Listen to you! You dumped me, Nick!"

"We were never dating," Nick spat out, rounding on Jeff and looking almost venomous. It wasn't a look that Jeff had ever seen before, and he slunk back against the bed, feeling his eyes prickle.

"We've known each other since we were six. Fourteen years… And now you want to throw it away on some stupid thing that happened." Nick let out a bitter laugh.

"It isn't just some stupid thing. You gave me a blowjob. You actually –" There was an edge of disgust again, and he continued pacing. Jeff barely bit back, 'And you enjoyed it.' Somehow he figured it'd get him in more trouble.

"I'm scared, Nick. I want you to hug me and I want to stay up until four AM watching horror movies and pretending we're not scared. I want to be able to have someone to talk to. I just want my best friend back." His voice was low and desperate. A look of understanding flickered in Nick's eyes before disappearing.

"Too bad. You wasted your money on me. Now go home." Jeff felt tears sting at his eyes, and he looked away from Nick, taking a shuddering breath.

"Did everything we've gone to really mean that little to you?" Nick paused, and Jeff broke down. He had known what they had done was wrong. He had known not to do it, yet he had anyway.

"I –" Nick stared at him helplessly, and Jeff pulled his legs up to his chest, his eyes squeezing shut.

"I can't do this. I can't lose you. You're my best friend." He felt himself go limp, and his head rested on his knees. His throat seemed to be blocked, and each breath came out as a shivering gasp. Jeff felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up. Nick stood there, biting his lower lip, all looks of condescension and disgust wiped off his face. In its place were concern and compassion, and Jeff's heart, which had previously felt as if it had been squeezed into a fist, slowly started to tremble with hope.

"I couldn't read your messages or listen to your voicemails or anything. I knew if I heard you break down, I wouldn't be able to run away," Nick finally admitted before sitting down next to Jeff and pulling him into a hug. "I don't like you like that, Jeffy. You're the best friend I have, and I don't want to ruin everything because we can't stay away from each other when we're drunk."

Jeff nodded, and his breath caught in his throat as Nick reached down, their fingers lacing together.

"My Three," he muttered, sniffling and wiping away his tears with the sleeve of his shirt.

"My Six," Nick agreed.


They managed to work things out after that. For whatever reason, Nick still seemed oblivious to his crush. Of course, Jeff felt like Nick might be repressing the idea. It wasn't as if he hadn't made it painfully obvious already. In any case, they caught up, and Jeff heard about Nick's new girlfriend, Marissa. The weekend seemed to fly by so quickly, and despite the insane amount he had to pay for gas overall, it was definitely worth it.

A couple of weeks after that, Jeff received a call in the middle of the night.


It was two AM when his phone went off. Jeff picked it up, his eyes glancing over to Ryan, who was amazingly still fast asleep. The caller ID said that it was Nick. He opened the phone, but before he could even get an 'I love you' out, Nick was babbling.

"It's been too long since we've kissed." Oh, he was absolutely wasted. That much was obvious from the way his words slurred together. Jeff listened though with a catch in his throat. "I miss you. I – I love you. Am I allowed to say that yet? Because I do. I love you. I love you." He shook, biting his lower lip. What was Nick trying to say? Still, Jeff found he couldn't speak.

"I love your laugh and the tiny crinkle you get between your eyes whenever you smile. You're ridiculous." Jeff was surprised he could still hold the phone properly.

"You're amazing, Marissa." Jeff froze, swallowing thickly. No, it wasn't him. Why would it ever be him Nick was interested in?"

"Nick, it's me." There was a pause followed by a laugh.

"Oh, sorry, Jeff. I forgot I took you off of speed-dial. Well, that's awkward." Jeff couldn't reply in time. After he had heard the laughs of others, there was a dial tone.


Jeff met Tyler his junior year about half-way through. Although, met was used loosely. Apparently they had shared a fair few amount of classes for the past few years. It wasn't until Tyler lost his book in Microbiology that they started talking, though.

Like Jeff, Tyler had a crush that never worked for him. And, like Jeff, he was gay. It took a while, but the more they talked, the more they found in common – a shared love for various movies and books and music. It was basically a love equation written to happen. So, when Tyler asked him out, Jeff said yes.

While Nick was happy that Jeff had someone, there were also things he didn't like about it.


"Why didn't you tell me you were gay?" Jeff could tell that his voice was clipped, and he could imagine that his brow was furrowed. It tended to do that when he got angry.

"I – I never thought it would be this big of an issue." So, that was a lie, but Nick couldn't really know the truth. What was he supposed to say? 'So, hey, actually, I've been pining after you for years. Now, carry on.' Somehow that didn't seem fitting.

"What do you mean? Of course it is! It's part of who you are, Jeff. I don't know why you wouldn't tell me. I'm perfectly fine with it. You know I'd never judge you."

"I know. I know. I just – I don't know what I thought." His thumb played with the creases on the comforter he was sitting on, and he sighed. What if Nick started making correlations between their previous late-night 'adventures' and his sexuality?

"But this is your first boyfriend?" Jeff nodded before realizing Nick couldn't hear him.


"Jesus. How long have you known?" The truth stuck in his throat, and he wished Nick was there next to him so that he could start crying and shaking his head, and Nick would drop it.

"I've had some idea since I was nine," he finally croaked out.

"Nine? Well, fuck, Jeff. That's twelve years. You didn't think to say anything to me once?" Jeff sniffed and pressed his face into the pillow for a second, taking a deep, steadying breath.

"I'm sorry." There was a long pause before Nick spoke, and Jeff checked his phone to make sure the connection hadn't had died.

"Look, Marissa's coming over soon. I'll talk to you later. But I just need some time… okay? I can't believe you – We'll just talk about this later."


A few weeks before graduation, he and Tyler broke up. It turned out that they weren't a match made for each other, as Jeff had hoped. The break-up was mutual, and they both decided that while they did love each other to a certain extent, they weren't in love with each other. Jeff's mind was still Nick-centric, and Tyler still thought about his friend-crush, Caleb, all the time.

Graduation came. Nick had just graduated a few days prior, and was planning on continuing his path at Harvard. He wanted to be a lawyer. By this point, Nick had decided he wanted to teach biology at high school. He was going to UCLA, all across the country. A part of him knew it wouldn't be as easy to go home, and he wouldn't see Nick more often. Still, that was shoved to the back of his mind with graduation.

Nick came for graduation, and the night after, the two of them decided to go to a bar close to the hotel at which Nick was staying. Jeff was careful not to drink too much, unsure what the results would be. Nick, however, didn't seem to hold those fears, and after a few shots, he was dancing wildly to the music, absolutely plastered.


"You look like an electrocuted monkey," Jeff said, laughing at Nick and leaning back against the chair. His friend had his hands up and was waving them about in rhythm to the song. Though he was a fairly good dancer sober, he lacked all capabilities whilst intoxicated.

"Shuddup. As if you could dance better." Jeff put his drink down and got up, moving closer to Nick. He'd always been a good dancer, and he quickly lost himself in the rhythm, his head swaying a bit as he shifted his weight from foot to foot. Though his arms were loose, they didn't sway about dangerously like Nick's did. Nick scanned him up and down before pouting. "Show off."

"You know it." Jeff winked at him.

"Hey, Jeffy…" Nick had really taken an affinity to calling him that while drunk.

"Yeah?" Nick moved closer, his fingers grazing against Jeff's lower back.

"Can I kiss you?" Jeff felt that same little flutter inside of him, and he shook his head.

"No, you can't."

"But Jeffy! I've kissed your face before." The whine in his voice made him sound like a little kid, and it didn't help that as he stopped attempting to dance and faced Jeff, his bangs flopped down in front of his eyes. His lower lip jutted out, and Jeff smiled sadly at him. "Why can't I kiss you?"

"Because if you do, you'll regret it in the morning, and you won't want to talk to me. It's happened before, remember?" Part of him wanted to tell Nick 'never mind' and let the brunet kiss him, but he knew what that would lead to. He'd been down that road before, and it wasn't a place he particularly wanted to go back to.

"But don't you love me?" The question was harmless, but it still made Jeff turn away, swallowing thickly. Nick obliviousness hurt, and as much as he wanted to turn to him and say that he did, that wouldn't ever lead to a happily-ever-after.

"You're my best friend," Jeff finally whispered. Nick scooted forward, and the two of them were pressed together. Underneath the bangs, Jeff could see wide, brown eyes staring at him. As he reached out to push away, Nick grabbed his hands, squeezing. Jeff sighed, and leaned into Nick, though his mind screaming over and over again – this is a bad idea.

Nick leaned forward, and Jeff found himself doing the same. Their lips met, and the music seemed to swell around them. Jeff's eyes closed as he felt Nick's tongue breech through and taste his lower lip. Jeff groaned at the touch, and Nick's arms wrapped around him. One hand reached up, fingers splayed, running through his hair. With Nick pressed that closely against him, he couldn't think, and Jeff let his hand go up, cupping Nick's cheek.

Nick's hips jerked upward, and as he arched into Jeff, Jeff shuddered. His hands dipped down, and he moved back, biting at Nick's neck. Grabbing onto one of Nick's hands, he trailed it downward, and let them both brush against the bulge in his pants. Even if he was the one guiding him, the feel of Nick's hand against him like that was indescribably amazing. Nick chuckled, getting the gist of it, and palmed Jeff through his clothes.

"Fuck…" Jeff mewled and his lips went back to Nick's. Their tongues pressed together, wrestling, and their teeth scraped together.

"Hotel?" Nick asked, pulling back for a second.

"I thought you'd never ask." They ran out of the bar, their hands all over each other. Jeff could feel the adrenaline course through him. A small, nagging part in the back of his mind worried about what was going on, but as Nick laughed and squeezed his ass, those thoughts ebbed away.

Jeff wasn't sure how they managed to make it up to the room, but when the door finally slammed shut behind them, they stumbled backwards onto the bed. Nick was immediately reaching for Jeff's shirt and pulling it over his head. Jeff groaned and reached for Nick's. His fingers trailed down Nick's chest, and he felt a shiver go through him at the sense of déjà vu.

Nick stared at him for a moment before unbuttoning Nick's shorts and pulling them out from underneath him before letting them fall to the ground. Jeff hissed as his boxer-briefs were finally pulled down to the ground as well, and his cock sprung free. Nick, however, drew back, ridding himself of clothing as well. Whimpering at the lack of contact, he instead looked down, biting his lip, his heart thudding against his chest.

"Flip over. On your hands and knees." Jeff wordlessly did as he was told and heard the sound of Nick spitting on his fingers. There was barely enough time to prepare himself before he felt something slowly prodding at him. His muscles clenched, and Nick's hand reached up, soothing drawing circles on his back. It wasn't quite enough, and as the finger slowly eased in, Jeff whimpered into the pillow. Nick paused at the knuckle before sliding his finger the rest of the way in.

Soon a second and a third finger was added. Nick languidly stroked him, and Jeff bit his lip. It hurt like hell. Maybe with lube it would've been manageable, but this was hell. The spit dried out quickly it felt, and it was only Nick's whisper – "Relax for me" – that kept him going. His fingers wrapped around the blanket beneath him, and tears swam down his face. All he could do was be happy that this wasn't his first time and he at least had been stretched out before.

Nick experimentally changed angles, and Jeff felt him graze against his prostate. Warmth bubbled in his stomach again, and he arched upwards, still sniffling, though his fingers relaxed. Nick pulled out, and Jeff was about to complain when he heard Nick spitting again. Something much larger prodded at him. Nick sheathed himself in, and Jeff couldn't help but let out a quiet whimper of pain.

There was a minute to adjust, and then Nick grabbed his shoulders pulling out. Nick let out a small moan. "So fucking tight." He felt on fire, but Nick was quick to change that. He shifted, alternating angles until Jeff suddenly felt it spark inside of him again. He shuddered and moved backwards in time with Nick's thrust.

Nick kept that, his fingers squeezing around Jeff's fingers as he set a quick pace. Each thrust was accompanied by some sort of a small noise, and it filled the stiff, sticky air of the hotel room. Jeff couldn't think. One hand reached up, wrapping itself around his cock, and he stroked in time with each thrust. His stomach clenched and the warmth was starting to spread down him completely.

Nick was the first to come. His fingers suddenly clawed into him, painfully so, and Nick was letting out a choked moan. Jeff felt something warm fill him, and Nick weakly managed to continue thrusting throughout it, milking himself. Jeff's hand sped up, almost fervently, and he felt himself start to clench. It took a minute or two more – at which point Nick was weakly leaning against him – but finally he felt himself come undone as well. He came onto his hand and his chest, biting down on his lower lip.

When he had finally come down, Nick pulled out, falling back on the bed. Jeff curled up next to him, his eyes shutting. For a moment, everything was perfect, and then he fell asleep.


They had a long argument after they had woken up. Jeff had done so first, thankfully, and he was sure Nick would've run away had he been the first. Jeff wasn't sure he had ever yelled that much or been that shaken. Nick knew how he felt. It was finally out in the open, and it scared the hell out of him.


"How long?" Nick demanded, and Jeff turned away, his eyes clenched shut. "How fucking long have you like me?" Nick had never been this harsh with him. But behind the imposing, uncharacteristic demeanor, there was fear in Nick's voice as well.

"Since I've known I was gay," Jeff finally muttered, and Nick let out a bitter laugh.

"You never told me once. Never even… God." Jeff glanced over to see Nick running his fingers through his hair, looking stressed. "How can I trust you? You don't tell me anything."

"I don't know." Jeff had no answer to give him, no magic thing he could say to somehow make this situation better.

"I want to make one thing clear," Nick said, looking Jeff straight in the eyes. His lip curled back in disgust, and Jeff blinked rapidly, wishing his damn tears would go away. "I don't like you like that. We've messed around, yeah? But that's all it is to me. I don't want to send you the wrong impression. Hell, I don't think I'm more than bi-curious." Jeff nodded mutely, feeling himself crystallize and shatter. It was one thing to know it. It was a completely other matter to hear those words coming out of Nick's mouth.

"I know. That's partly why I never told you," Jeff admitted, shivering. He ached, and he wanted things to go back to how they had been yesterday before anything had happened. There was a pause before Nick finally spoke again.

"I love you. But –"

"Don't," Jeff croaked.

"Only like a brother." Jeff sobbed, and pulled himself tighter together wishing he could simply compress like a black hole and fade away.


"No, you need to hear this." Nick's voice was firm, and he walked up to Jeff, glaring down at him. "You're always the one telling me I need to shut up and listen, and now it's your turn. I'm straight. You're not a bad kisser, and I won't deny I haven't enjoyed some of what we've done, but it's never meant anything to me the way it's meant to you." Jeff pulled himself in even more, whimpering as if he had been hit. He couldn't help but think that he was pathetic.


Nick left, and Jeff went back to Westerville for the summer. Nick visited Marissa instead, and a week later Jeff saw on Facebook that they had gotten engaged. Nick hadn't even bothered to tell him face to face. When Jeff attempted to confront him about it, Nick's only response was: "Well, you never told me anything important. Why should I tell you?"

The days seemed to drag by, and there were times where he wouldn't want to pull himself out of bed. The Warblers tried to pry what was wrong out of him at first, but after a while, their texts and messages stopped flowing in, and they didn't try to pull him out of his house. Even his parents gave up eventually, letting him close himself off in his room.

Never had Jeff been happier to leave. Time and distance was surely what he needed, and when he stumbled into UCLA, he was happy when he met Andrew.


Jeff felt someone tap his shoulder, and he jumped. He stumbled a bit, and was glad to find his footing. Falling down the Janass staircase would not only be painful but rather embarrassing. After all, it was absolutely crowded.

"Sorry, you just looked like you knew where you were going. Do you have any clue how to get to the bio building? I have a class on population genetics…" Jeff had already been there for a few days, and he had started to get used to the campus. In fact, he had that class on his schedule as well.

"Yeah, sure thing."

"Sorry, I'm new here. You a sophomore or…"

"Freshman. I just came a few days ago." The other boy blinked at him and then smiled.

"Oh my God, how rude of me. I'm Andrew, by the way. Or Andy or Ands or whatever. Just not Andy-Pooh. Someone gave me that name as a joke, and somehow it stuck, and now I'm just babbling and giving you ideas. I should shut up." He grinned sheepishly and stuck out a hand.

"Jeffrey. Jeff." 'Just not Jeffy…' he almost added.

"Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you too."


They didn't start dating until a few months later. They had eventually found out that both of them were gay, and they hung out more and more. Jeff hadn't felt this relaxed with anyone since a while ago with Nick. They talked constantly, and Jeff had told him everything about Nick.

Things by that point had simmered down with Nick. Their relationship had never been this strained before, but at least one still existed. The first time they saw each other was almost uncomfortable, and shortly after that, Jeff received his letter inviting him to Nick's wedding.

Andrew went as his date, and they had fun. Jeff got a chance to introduce him to all the Warblers, and they all gave their vote of approval. Andrew was witty and sweet, and he had a decent voice on top of it all. Jeff felt like he might have been getting over everything.

That was until Nick drunkenly kissed him.


"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Jeff pulled back, his hand going to his lips. He had helped Nick get up to get some more beer for the bachelor party. Things had seemed normal again. Yet his skin tingled with the kiss.

"Why are you complaining, Jeffy? You know you love me?" He battered his eyelashes before pouting. "Besides, it's my last night of freedom. I'll kiss whoever I damn please."

"Nick, you don't like me like that. I'm getting over you. Why can't you just leave me alone?" Nick's face contorted into a look of anger.

"You didn't seem to mind it last time we kissed. In fact, I remember you moaning quite a bit." Jeff flushed and shoved him.

"Fuck you."

"Been there, done that. Wasn't really all it was said to be, to be honest." He smirked and Jeff pushed away, taking a few paces back before staring out the kitchen. It took a moment, but suddenly he heard footsteps and felt Nick's hand on his shoulder.

"Get off." Jeff's voice was weak, and his attempt to shove Nick off was only half-hearted.

"Jeff, Jeff, I'm sorry." He felt two arms around him, and suddenly he was pressed against Nick's chest, shaking. This time there were no tears, but silence still overtook them as Nick rocked him back and forth.


They managed a fairly normal relationship until about a year after the wedding. Nick and Marissa were about as happy as could be, and Jeff liked her. He also still was with Andrew. Jeff had admitted to kissing Nick, though he never mentioned how it changed his feelings – how he suddenly felt like he was back to square one.

However, almost exactly after a year, they met up again. Jeff should've known it was a bad idea to get drunk. That was how it always started. Still, they had managed to get drunk several times in the meantime without a single incident. Yet this time it was just the two of them in the house, and one thing lead to another.

It didn't end at kissing either. They shed their clothes and fucked like desperate animals. Afterwards, when Nick had fallen asleep, Jeff lay there.


He hadn't felt this empty in a while. A part of him wondered why it hurt so much. He had just had sex with Nick. But that was the problem, wasn't it? No matter what happened, Nick didn't like him like that. Perhaps it was using him – that was what Andrew had suggested.

His stomach churned. Andrew. How could he do this to the other boy? There was no doubt in his mind that Andrew was in love with him. And yet here he was, naked and pressed against Nick. His eyes darted up to the night stand. There was a ring glinting there – Nick's wedding ring.

Jeff felt as if he was going to throw up. This was all wrong. But he still felt something for Nick. He was not going to get over him as easily as he had hoped.

"I'm sorry," he muttered to no one in particular.


They kept it up. Sometimes they'd have sex. They stopped needing alcohol for it. And yet Jeff knew Nick didn't like him like that. And Nick knew that Jeff did like him like that. They both knew about Andrew and Marissa, and yet they did it anyway. Jeff couldn't help but think that they were a prime example of human selfishness.

Time passed. Jeff graduated and began teaching. Andrew worked in a lab on marine biology. Nick was a successful lawyer and made more money than he knew what to do with. The Warblers had identities that replaced that of their high school and college ones. They were responsible adults.

Though late at night when he was lying down, his arms wrapped around Nick, at times he doubted that he was anything more than a teenager. What kind of an adult would understand the consequences and still leap at it?

They were thirty when Nick called him in tears.


"Marissa found out. I don't know how."

"What?" Jeff looked over at Andrew – who now lived with him – and walked out of the room. "How did she… Well, shit." Though inside he felt like screaming and hitting himself, the managed a whisper, afraid of what Andrew would do if he found out.

"That's not all."

"Oh?" His stomach knotted, and suddenly the pasta carbonara Andrew had made seemed unappetizing in his mind.

"She wants a divorce." Shit. They had managed to screw things up worse than they thought possible, hadn't they?

"I'm so sorry," Jeff said, pulling at his shirt and biting his lip. "What are you going to do?"

"I don't know." He could hear the sniffles, and all he wanted to do was hold Nick close to him.

"Jeff, is everything okay?" he heard from the kitchen. Andrew's voice did nothing to calm him down; if anything, he felt more agitated.

"Yeah," he lied. It was always lies, wasn't it?

"Do you need me? I can take a day off work. I have some money saved up. I was going to use it to –" Nick didn't let him finish.

"No. Jeff, I don't want you playing a hero. You're not – You know I don't…" Jeff's heart broke. If Nick at least liked him, this would seem more worth the heartache it would undoubtedly lead to.

"I know," he replied, falling back on the couch.


As it turned out, Andrew broke up with him too. He had known as well, it seemed about what was going on. Jeff had never hurt more than when he saw Andrew break down in front of him. Knowing that he had willingly caused this pain tore him apart. Because while he wasn't in love with Andrew, it was as close as Jeff felt he would ever be. But the way he had hurt Andrew was unforgivable.


"You think I'm an idiot? All those trips you take…" Jeff tried to reach out for him.

"Baby, I didn't mean to –"

"To what? Fuck him?" Jeff bristled up, though he knew he deserved it.

"Please. I'm sorry." He just wanted the pain to go away. He wanted everything to be like it was before Nick had kissed him at the bachelor party. He wanted to be numb, and he wanted to love Andrew like he loved Nick. Most of all, he wanted things to be simple and happy.

How naïve.

"You think sorry's going to cut it? I love you. And every time I had to sit there, knowing you were leaving me for him. Knowing the moment he called you, you'd turned your back on me." He sobbed. "I can't do this anymore, Jeff. I can't." Jeff's hand reached out, and Andrew flinched back.

"I'm sorry." Jeff didn't know what to say to him. There was nothing that could make things right or erase time.

"I love you, Jeff, and every time you don't love me back, it breaks me a little more."

Jeff finally understood that he had done to Andrew what Nick had done to him. He had turned his back on him, used him, played with him, when really he didn't care about him in that way. And it made him sick. How much energy and how many emotions had been spent on Nick? How many times had he wished he'd never kissed him at that one game of truth or dare?

Yet he had pulled the same trick.

"I'm going for a walk. When I get back, I'm packing," was all Andrew said before running out the door and slamming it behind him. Jeff didn't even bother chasing after him.


They were thirty-seven and alone. Of course, alone didn't really apply. They had each other. They still fucked, but it was never anything more. Had someone asked him twenty years ago what he would have given to be like this, he would've said anything. Now he would've given anything to make it stop.


Nick's arm was wrapped around him, yet Jeff leaned as far out of it as he could. The sheets covered them both, though it felt too warm and clung to them – the sweat making it stick. Nick was still awake if his breathing was anything to go by. And by now Jeff had a fairly good gauge on when Nick was sleeping and when he was faking. Though, at the moment, he was doing neither.

Jeff flipped himself over to face Nick, and was met by a sad pair of brown eyes. For a few minutes they simply stared at each other. Nick sighed, and his breath blew in Jeff's face. The two of them would've giggled immaturely at the way Jeff's hair slightly moved with it. Once upon a time things like that were funny. Now it took a lot to make them laugh.

Nick closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. Jeff reached out and grabbed his hand, which he found surprisingly limp. Nick had no drive left in him. His work was what kept him going, and he was still successful. And as much as Jeff loved teaching children, his life outside of that was equally as miserable.

Pulling himself closer, he placed a light kiss on Nick's lips. Nick didn't respond, though he didn't push him back either. He never pushed him back anymore.

"Hey, Nick." Nick's eyes opened, and he stared at Jeff, waiting for him to continue. "Lie to me." For a moment, Nick's face was clouded with confusion. Slowly, however, a look of understanding spread across, and he looked at Jeff through tired eyes.

"I love you."