Jeff looked up from his psychology textbook and over at Nick. He was lying on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. After a moment, he seemed to notice that Jeff was looking at him. His eyes moved over to Jeff's, and he smiled. "Shouldn't you be preparing for that test?"
Jeff bit his lip, pushing the book away and spinning his chair around to face Nick. "I'll do it in a second. Just..." The yearbook page was floating through his mind, and he ran his hand through his hair. Noticing how tentative Jeff was, Nick pulled himself up, his brow furrowing.
"Just what? Is everything okay?" Nick's legs dangled off the side of the bed, and Jeff felt his stomach knot. How was he even supposed to ask it? So, clearly you're dead. How did that happen?
"Never mind." Shaking his head, Jeff started to move back, but Nick's hand reached out. Although it stopped short and wouldn't have been able to physically grab Jeff's anyway, it still caught his attention.
"Wait, wait... You can't just say never mind. What were you going to say?" Nick's head tilted to the side as he wet his lips.
"I shouldn't have brought it up."
"But you barely did."
"Exactly, so let me drop it." Jeff shifted, his eyes dropping to the floor.
"C'mon, Jeff, please?" Nick pleaded, jutting his lower lip out unconsciously. Jeff sighed, wishing he had just kept the thought to himself.
"Fine. Promise you won't get mad?" Jeff asked, his hands twisting in his lap. Now Nick looked genuinely confused.
"Why would I get angry?"
"Okay, fine. I promise." Nodding, Nick gestured for him to continue.
"So..." Jeff paused for a moment before clearing his throat.
"C'mon, spit it out."
"I was looking through some yearbooks..." he started. Nick shifted and cocked an eyebrow. "Not my yearbooks. Yours."
Nick's eyes widened this time as he froze. "Oh..." His mouth stayed put in a slight "o", and he seemed unsure of what to say.
"Yeah." When Nick still didn't say anything, Jeff continued. "I saw the -"
"Memorial page. Yeah."
"That. I figured you died, but I thought that you were younger."
"I'm the same age as you are now."
"In 1943 you were."
"Do I look any different? Being stuck the same age forever isn't quite as romantic as they make it sound," Nick mumbled, his voice taking on a bitter edge.
"What happened?" The question just slipped out, and Nick sighed.
"It's complicated." There was a sharper tone to Nick's words. It was obvious he didn't really want to discuss it, but Jeff's curiosity was piqued, and he wasn't quite ready yet to let it go.
"You promised you wouldn't get angry."
"I'm not angry. Just..." He sighed and shook his head. "I'm not angry."
"Then what happened?" They looked at each other, neither of them saying anything. Finally, Nick sighed.
"It really —" Nick didn't get any further because there was a knock at the door. It opened, and Trent walked in, dressed in full winter clothes.
"You'll never guess what — it's snowing!" Blaine fell into the room a moment later, and Jeff's eyes snapped back to where Nick had been several seconds ago. He wished that he would reappear, but chances of that happening now were slim-to-none. Trent seemed to notice he was looking for something and paused. He seemed to consider the question before asking, "Who were you talking to?"
"Huh? Oh, no, just myself," Jeff lied, offering a small smile. Trent's brow furrowed, though he said nothing. "All right..." Trent said. Blaine ran over, tugging at Jeff's blazer sleeve.
"Take a study break and come outside."
"What are you, five? You've seen snow hundreds of times before. It's not that exciting," Jeff grumbled. All he wanted was for Nick to come back and tell him what had happened. But as Trent and Blaine grinned at him, it was hard to remind himself that it wasn't their fault. It wasn't as if they knew that they were interrupting him, and he couldn't exactly explain.
"You can study for psychology later," Blaine said, and Jeff sighed, letting himself be pulled up.
"Fine." He couldn't help but smile back as Blaine and Trent looked at him so excitedly. "Lemme just grab some warmer clothes. You guys go. I'll be out in a sec." Blaine nodded.
"Sounds good." They hopped out of the room to the hall. Jeff paused, grabbing his hat, gloves, scarf, and coat before pausing. He slung the scarf around his neck and cleared his throat.
"Nick?" he asked quietly, holding his breath. There was no response. Jeff sighed, slipping on his shoes and walked out.
"Ready?" Blaine asked, his voice a whisper as Jeff walked out. Jeff nodded, and the three of them ran quietly down the stairs and to the opening doors. A gust of wind blew over them, and they laughed, wedging a rock the door and the doorframe to keep it from closing and locking them out.
"You guys never used to call on me to come out with you. What happened?" Jeff asked, slipping his hands into his pockets. "Not that I'm complaining... I mean, I guess it's nice out here. Cold, though." He cleared his throat and shut up.
"I don't know. You seemed lonely," Trent replied, shrugging. Jeff looked at them and smiled.
"I seemed lonely?" He hadn't thought anyone had noticed.
"Well, yeah," Blaine said with a shrug. "And that isn't really a fun feeling." A snowflake fell on Blaine's eyelashes, and he laughed, blinking as it melted. They didn't say anything more, and, after a moment, their heads lifted to the sky. They looked up as white blurs fell from high above. Jeff shivered, wrinkling his nose as one fell on it.
"Thanks, you guys," Jeff finally said. After a second, Jeff stuck out his tongue to catch the snow, and he noticed Blaine and Trent doing the same. He was sure that, to an onlooker, they would have looked crazy, but he couldn't find it in him to care. For the first time in a while, Jeff felt happy.
"I heard we got a new Warbler," Thad said, walking with Jeff towards the Dalton practice room. "Or someone who wants to try out, at least."
Jeff made a small humming sound. He hadn't seen Nick since he'd disappeared last night when Blaine and Trent had walk into his room. "Really?" They turned the hall, walking towards the double set of doors. "Heard anything about him?"
"I've heard he's a bit cocky. And he's called… Uh, what's his name?"
"Sebastian Smythe," they heard from behind them. Thad and Jeff turned around to see a tall brunette walking towards them. He slipped a hand out of his pocket, holding it out to shake with them.
"You were in my English class and psychology class," Jeff said, surprised. He'd noticed the boy was new; he just hadn't put two and two together when Thad mentioned a new Warbler.
"Unfortunately, I never got a chance to introduce myself in class. You were out as soon as the bell rang." His eyes shamelessly looked Jeff up and down before he wet his lips. Jeff couldn't help but feel uncomfortable, and he shifted; there was something predatory about the way Sebastian was looking at him.
"Thad Harwood," Thad said, his voice sharp as he held out his hand, stepping between them. His lips pursed into a thin line, and Sebastian scoffed. He grudgingly shook Thad's hand and ran his tongue over the back of his teeth.
"Pleasure," Sebastian said, his voice anything but sincere.
"Might I mention I'm on the Warbler council? Fun little tidbit for you right there," Thad said with a forced laugh. Sebastian's back immediately straightened as his smile became more relaxed.
"Oh really? You don't say? How fascinating – tell me more." He licked his lips, and his face let out a momentarily frustrated look.
"There's really not much to tell. Besides, I'm sure you have it all under control. You have nothing to worry about." Thad raised an eyebrow challengingly, and Sebastian sucked his lips in, his eyes holding Thad's.
"No, you're right. I have no doubt about the fact that I'm getting in. I still behaved rudely though. My apologies." His voice was harsh, and he looked Thad in the eyes as if challenging him to point out his obvious lack of remorse.
"No, no, don't apologize. I'm glad I got to see the real you. Besides, you'd have to be a damn good actor to hide how much of an asshole you are. I don't think you have those skills." Thad tilted his head to the side and smiled up at him. "Oh, good luck with your audition." He got on his tip-toes and reached out, patting Sebastian on the head before walking off. Jeff followed as Thad pushed the doors to the Warbler practice room open. "Asshole," he muttered to Jeff.
Throwing a glance behind his shoulder, he noticed Sebastian glaring after Thad, his jaw clenched. "I don't think he's too happy," Jeff muttered.
"Let him be. He deserves it." Thad seemed pitiless for the guy, but even Jeff had to admit he'd seemed so self-assured with his smirk and wandering eyes. Maybe it was best to teach him a little lesson. Jeff slid in the seat next to Blaine, and Thad walked up to the Warbler council table.
"Did you see the new guy?" Blaine asked, looking over as Sebastian walked into the room.
"Yeah, he seems… interesting."
"That's one way to put it," Blaine muttered. Sebastian's eyes seemed to rest on Thad for a second before he purposefully walked over to Jeff, squeezing in next to him and holding out his hand.
"I never got your name," he said, flashing a bright smile. His eyes rested on Blaine as well, and he smirked. "So, are all the hot guys in Ohio Warblers?"
"Uh, Jeff, and…" He blushed, unsure what to say. His eyes went up to Thad, only to see the boy livid, his eyes wide and one hand clenched into a tight fist. Slowly his gaze went back to Sebastian; it was unnerving how calm that boy could be. He was saved after a moment, though, as Wes rapped his gavel against the table.
"I call this meeting into session," he said. Jeff cleared his throat, pressing back into the cushions and wishing he could disappear as he felt Sebastian's gaze linger on him for a moment longer. "Stand up, please," Wes said, motioning to Sebastian. Sebastian did as he was told. "Sebastian Smythe is going to be trying out. What song have you selected?"
"In The Next Room by Neon Trees," he said, moving out towards the center of the room.
"You have our attention. Proceed." Wes leaned back, and Sebastian went over to the CD player, pressing the on button. He started, his eyes finding their way towards Jeff's.
"There you go, messing with my mind. I am usually better when I lie." His hips moved to the rhythm of the song as he sang along, a wide smirk crossing his face. His hands slid down his sides and rested on his thighs, his fingers tightening for a moment before his head tilted back, his eyes closing for a moment.
"Is he singing that to… you?" Blaine whispered, his eyes wide as he looked between Jeff and Sebastian.
Sebastian's eyes snapped open as he started the chorus. "Oh, I lose control when I hear your body move through the walls in the next room." His lips pulled back for a moment, and he spun around, focusing for a moment at the council, each step forward matching the beat. But after a moment, Sebastian turned back to Jeff.
"You make love to everything you touch. It's a natural reaction; it's sexual attraction," he sang, winking at Jeff. Jeff pressed back against the cushioning of the couch, a low whimper escaping his lips. This was not happening right now. Sebastian shamelessly moved up to Jeff, his hand reaching out, lightly drawing across Jeff's knee before he moved down the row of furniture, singing to each Warbler.
As he moved out toward the middle, Blaine looked over at Jeff. "Hot damn."
"If you only knew how hard it is to handle – how bad I want this scandal…" Sebastian moved across, breaking into the chorus again, his blazer flaring out as he spun around again, falling to his knees for a moment before pulling up.
"He's really getting into that song isn't he?" Trent muttered from next to Blaine.
"Shut up," Jeff choked back through gritted teeth, feeling his cheeks heat up as Sebastian walked along the Warbler council, his finger dragging lightly along the side.
"Oh, my heart you stole. Every time your body moves, I'm dying just to break through to the next room." He made his final walk slowly towards the seat where Jeff sat, his eyes narrowed and focused solely on Jeff. Jeff shivered, pulling against Blaine as Sebastian finished the song, his breathing heavy. He turned to face the council and smiled.
"You certainly have the right stage presence and talent," David said, and Wes hummed in agreement.
"Confident. Perhaps not the best song choice, but it worked well with your voice."
"He has chops," David continued. Their eyes fell to Thad. Thad's lips were pursed.
"No, absolutely not." He crossed his arms over his chest as Sebastian's eyes narrowed. "Fine, he's not completely musically incompetent, but he's not as great as you say he is."
"Thad, you're being unreasonable," Wes tried. Thad's hands unfurled, and they slammed down on the table.
"No, sing to our caliber. I'm not going to let someone like him join."
"Did you hear him sing – he was phenomenal," David said, looking incredulously at Thad.
"Yeah, I was pretty phenomenal," Sebastian said, though he quickly earned another glare from everyone. It effectively shut him up, and Wes and David looked at Thad.
"Fine, if you're that stubborn about it, let's vote on it," Wes said, and Thad's jaw clenched. He looked at Sebastian who had a sickeningly smug look on his face. Thad felt determined to wipe it off.
"Fine. Whatever. I still refuse to perform it, though. We already did Animal." His eyes went elsewhere, and he did his best to tune them out.
"I'm afraid we can't put the song without all three members of the Warbler council's agreement, however, I'd be happy to see you join. You have the talent to lead the Warblers in a solo."
"Agreed," David said, nodding his head. Wes' gavel rapped at the table again, and Wes cleared his throat. Jeff felt his heart sink, and he let out a low groan.
"Sebastian Smythe, welcome to the Warblers."