A/N: I'm so ridiculously sorry I've abandoned this for five months. But I'm not giving up on it! This will be completed.
Warnings: Talk about really sensitive things including self-harm, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts.
Chapter 9: We Sleep Until the Sun Goes Down
Jeff pulled Nick into the Warblers' practice room. Nick's eyes immediately focused on the boys already in the room. David was sitting on one of the couches, Blaine and Kurt to his left. Thad stood behind them, pacing back and forth and clearly lost in thought. As soon as the two walked into the room, all boys looked up at them with concern on their faces.
"Jeff, what's going on?" David asked. "We all got your text. What's the emergency? You're okay, right? You're not…" He trailed off, eyes roaming down and scanning Jeff's arms, as if looking for cuts through Jeff's shirt.
"No, I'm okay," Jeff responded. "It's not about me. It's—" Jeff swallowed the lump in his throat. "It's Nick."
All eyes flashed to the dark-haired boy, though most held some sort of confusion. Jeff sighed and turned to face Nick. "Do you want me to tell them? Because I can if this is too hard for you to say." Nick considered Jeff's words before nodding—this was just too hard to admit to the group of boys.
Jeff nodded and faced the room. "Blaine, could you take him into the hall for a minute?"
"Of course." Blaine immediately stood and wrapped an arm around Nick's shoulders, leading him into the hall and shutting the door behind them. The sudden surge of voices was heard, and Nick knew the boys were demanding answers from Jeff.
"So, are you going to tell me what all this is about?" Blaine asked as he lead Nick to the wall across from the door and sat down on the floor.
"How much do you know?" Nick questioned.
"Only what you told me, about not eating. That was only a few hours ago though, Nick. What just happened that freaked Jeff out so much?" Blaine's concerned eyes looked onto Nick's.
"Probably exactly what you're thinking," Nick answered miserably. Blaine's eyes widened at that.
"You're not.. Did you cut yourself?" Blaine's voice broke on the last word, and Nick flinched.
"Yeah, I did." Tears found their way to Nick's eyes and he couldn't hold them back. They streaked down Nick's cheeks and dripped off his chin. Blaine was frozen for several seconds at the confession.
"How did I miss this?" He asked. "How did we all miss this? Jeff went through this. We all helped him and learned to recognize the signs. How did I miss this?!"
"Blaine, please, just stop," Nick started. "I hid it. I knew you guys would worry, and I didn't want that. It's my fault, this whole damn thing is my fault. Jeff is better, these problems should be behind us. But I fucked it up, I'm doing it too, and I have no damn reason to be doing this to myself."
Blaine tugged him closer. "You're obviously hurting. You wouldn't do this for no reason." Blaine paused for a few seconds. "You're not doing this because you're gay, right? When you told us all at lunch that you were, you made us promise not to tell anyone else. And I get that, I do, that sometimes you're not ready to tell your parents. But if you didn't want us to tell other people because you're ashamed of yourself, that's a problem, Nick."
"I don't know why I'm doing this, Blaine." Nick pushed the palms of his hands to his eyes and tried to stem the flow of tears. "I don't fucking know, Blaine."
"Hey hey, it's ok, we'll just sit here for a bit and then when Jeff comes out to get us we'll see what everyone else thinks, ok?"
"He's hurting himself?" Thad's mouth dropped in horror.
"Really badly," Jeff responded and sighed. "I don't know how to help him. I think we need to tell someone. I've tried to help him, but he's just getting worse."
"I agree," Kurt said. "Jeff did all he can, and Nick's apparently in really bad shape. So tomorrow we'll go and talk to the counselor about it, agreed?" Everyone nodded. "Great. I don't mean to be mean, but I have some early classes tomorrow. We should go to bed, it's late." People nodded and began to stand, but Jeff stopped them.
"We can't leave him alone, not tonight. We'll talk to the counselor tomorrow and do whatever we need to do, but he can't be on his own tonight."
"Does someone want to stay with him? Jeff, or maybe Blaine?"
"He needs more than one of us," Jeff insisted.
"Why? We don't want him to hurt himself, but he won't when he's sleeping."
Jeff sighed. "He told me he wants to die."
A heavy weight settled over the room, and all the boys froze. "He said he wants to die, and I'm afraid if I fall asleep when I'm with him, he'll sneak into the bathroom and—" Jeff didn't finish the sentence. He didn't need to.
Kurt's eyes look down and Jeff could see the tears welling up in them. "So we'll sleep in here tonight. Everyone okay with that?" Everyone nodded and left the room to get pillows and blankets from their rooms.
Jeff opened the door Blaine and Nick had gone out and got their attention.
"Hey, what's going on?" Blaine asked.
"We're all sleeping in here tonight, going to keep Nick company. If you want to go grab a pillow and blanket from your room, everyone is doing that now." Blaine nodded and left with the promise to be back within a few minutes.
"What's going on, Jeff? Why are we sleeping here?"
"Because if you kill yourself tonight, none of us would ever forgive ourselves," Jeff responded, eyes locked on Nick's. Nick blushed and looked away.
"I'm not going to kill myself, Jeff."
"You told me you wanted to."
"Yeah, I do. But that doesn't mean I will. I won't, I promise."
"Well sorry, but I don't believe that promise. I promised that too, but I did it anyway. We're not leaving you alone tonight, Nick."
"Okay, but what about tomorrow night? Or the night after that?"
"We'll deal with tomorrow tomorrow. Don't worry about it tonight, ok?" Jeff leaned in and gave Nick a small peck on the lips, though he didn't pull back. The boys stood like that, breathing in each other's breath until the rest of the Warblers could be heard entering the room behind them.
"Okay," Nick agreed. "Just worry about tonight."
The boys arranged their sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows around Nick, who was in the middle. Jeff was on his right, Blaine and Kurt on his left. The lights were out and the talk had died down as one by one the boys fell asleep. Nick could see the gentle motion of Blaine's back rising and falling with slumbered breaths.
"Nick?" He felt the breath more than heard the word come from behind him. He craned his neck back to see Jeff staring at him. "What are you thinking about?"
Nick rolled to face Jeff and gathered his words. "I just don't understand it."
"What don't you understand?"
Nick gave him a sad smile. "You guys really care about me. You're sleeping here tonight, on a hard floor, to make sure I'm okay. I don't get it."
Jeff returned his smile, though his was also plagued with sadness. He reached a hand out and gently ran the back of his fingers down Nick's face. "We love you. We love you so damn much. And we're going to help you, Nick. No matter what."
Nick's smile had more warmth in it, and Jeff smiled back. The boys moved closer together and Jeff wrapped his arm tightly around Nick.
Nick drifted to sleep, though Jeff remained awake to keep a watchful eye over him.
"I will help you."