Disclaimer:Glee, the world and its characters all belong to Fox. I own nothing, and make no profit, no copyright infringement is intended.
For the first time in his life, Jeffrey Sterling is scared-okay, so maybe it's not the first time. After all, there was that one time when he was seven and went through his first haunted house (by himself, no less) or when he was ten and he rode his bike into the neighbour's pool (even to this day, no one's quite sure how that happened). But this is bigger—bigger than when he came out to his family, and even bigger than when he came out to his friends by singing "I Kissed a Boy" in a way that was completely and utterly Jeff. This new thing leaves his stomach in knots and makes his palms sweat and his brain overload.
Jeff thinks he is in love.
Jeff and Nick are best friends, no doubt about that. And whenever anyone asks if they're anything more than that, they'll laugh it off or change the subject. No one ever notices that they've never actually answered the question.
In truth, Jeff doesn't know what they are, but he would give anything to be more. He loves the way Nick is so heartfelt, so genuine in everything he does. He loves hearing him sing and (try to) play the guitar, and offers to teach him, loving the way Nick's face lights up when he plays a chord right and feeling his stomach flip when he adjusts Nick's fingers. He wonders what it'd be like to kiss Nick, but then stops and nearly starts to cry when he remembers that Nick's straight. Jeff's been doing a lot of that lately.
When Jordan asks Jeff out, it comes as a total surprise to the blonde.
"I-I don't know," he stammers out. The other boy is completely fine with it, telling Jeff to take his time and to let him know. All Jeff can think about is Nick.
Jeff tells Nick about Jordan that afternoon, and had the blonde been paying attention, he would've seen the way Nick's smile fell, before he pasted it back on, or how he seemed to look anywhere and at anything but at Jeff. Maybe if he'd been paying attention, he would've noticed the way Nick had grown quieter over the past few weeks, more thoughtful and introverted than he normally was. Maybe he would've seen how Nick was trying to figure out his feelings for a certain blonde.
Jeff asks for advice and Nick, being the guy that he is, tells Jeff he should go for it. "I want you to be happy," Nick tries to say, even though it makes him sad. He can't fight the ache in his chest, or the pain he feels from losing something that was never really his to begin with.
You're just friends, Nick's brain taunts him, that's all you'll ever be.
Jeff smiles, but it doesn't quite reach his eyes. Nick is too busy fighting with himself to notice. "Thanks, Nicky," the blonde whispers when he leans in to hug him.
Nick sighs softly. "Anything for my Jeff," he nearly blurts out, replacing it with "my best friend" just in time. "W-what're friends for?" he adds, internally wincing at the words as he says them.
Jeff withdraws slightly. "Yeah…what're friends for," the blonde echoes quietly, the statement reminding him that that's all they'll ever be.
Sometimes Jeff wishes he wasn't such a coward.
If anyone were to look closely, they would see that Nick and Jeff are in love, only both of them are too oblivious to see it. Jeff knows that they're best friends, and that they're closer to each other than they've ever to anyone else, but he dreads the day when he isn't the most important thing in Nick's life. He doesn't think he'll be able to take seeing him with someone else, anyone who isn't him. He's always been terribly afraid of getting replaced.
Nick is caught up in his own insecurities, torn between telling Jeff and keeping their friendship intact. Why would he want you, his brain asks, are you stupid enough to believe that you've actually got a chance? Nick still hasn't officially come out of the closet. In fact, if it wasn't for Jeff, he suspects he'd still be straight.
They have roommate bonding time every week. Sometimes they'll play video games or watch a movie. Tonight, they're just talking. It's nice. Jeff feels safer with Nick than he does Jordan, who he's been dating for nearly four months. Nick tries to be happy for them—really, he does—but there are some nights when all he can think about are where they are and what they're doing and what Jeff could possibly see in him. Nick knows it's probably not healthy, but he does it anyways.
It's worst at night when he's lying awake in bed, and Jeff has yet to return from his date. Nick wants to wait up, but he doesn't want to seem like a creep, so he feigns sleep when Jeff finally returns to their dorm. Jeff can't help but feel hurt when he comes home to find Nick asleep. Jordan's great and all, but Nick is his everything. Jeff doesn't have that connection with Jordan; he doesn't get the same butterflies that he does when he sees Nick. Jeff's afraid of bothering the brunette, so he lies in bed and stares up at the ceiling, thinking about anything and everything. He wonders if he'll ever look back and wonder "what if?" or think about what could've been.
One day, Jeff finally decides that he's had enough. He doesn't want to look back and wonder "what if?"—he wants to be able to know.
Jeff gets up from his desk and goes over to Nick. The brunette quirks an eyebrow upwards curiously. "What's up?" he starts to say. He's taken by surprise as he feels Jeff's lips collide with his, soft and warm and inviting, letting out a small, breathy gasp as Jeff's hands tangle through his hair, tugging ever-so-slightly.
When Jeff pulls back, the first thing Nick sees are the tears that are streaming down the blonde's face. Kissing Nick was a confirmation of what Jeff already knew—what he was too scared to admit—only now the greatest twenty seconds of his life are over and Nick probably hates him.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," Jeff whispers, before turning to run.
He would've been out the door were it not for the hand that caught his wrist and pulled him back. Jeff's eyes fly open in surprise, then flutter shut as a pair of lips press against his own.
"Don't be," Nick murmurs between kisses.
Suddenly, Jeff's not so afraid anymore.