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Secrets
Season 1, Episode 3
TylerE3
Air date November 17, 2013
Written by JamesonOTP
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Secrets is the third episode of Season 1 of the Glee: The Next Generation spin-off, Glee: The Next Generation presents The NYADA Years

Following Breezy's return and Miles finding out the truth about Chord, it causes him to to re-examine his life. India and Evan begin to compete for Tyler's attention and affections. Lana and Camryn begin to grow much closer, causing Hallie to get even more jealous. Things may change when Hallie meets a young guy with a dark secret that he seems to be hiding and she befriends him. Shayne begins to groom Jaxon for a possible performance at the Winter Showcase. Feeling like his life is over, Miles looks for one last adventure, meeting a new group of friends who may lead him down a wrong path. Meanwhile, Tyler, Chuck, and India show off their skills in the Round Room.

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Reader Discretion Is Advised.
The following episode may contain adult language, adult situations, sexuality, adult dialog, violence, and/or drug and alcohol use and references.
Glee: The Next Generation presents The NYADA Years has matured, a lot like its characters. We realize that our readers have matured as well and that's why we're working to change with the times and with our readers. The NYADA Years features more mature content than Glee: The Next Generation. This is in part to being a more honest depiction of adults in a college environment. We ask that if might offend you, please precede with caution. Don't worry, it's still Glee. It's just Glee if it aired on cable.

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Tyler sighed as he made his way over to the impatient customer, who had been tapping her four for about five minutes. When he finally arrived, she rolled her eyes.

“About time!” the customer exclaimed. “I’m glad that you think just because I’m old that I have all day to wait around you.”

“I’m sorry,” Tyler replied. “It’s a very busy time because all the college students and high school students are getting their summer reading lists and they’re coming here to find everything. Did you know that we’ve sold over sixty copies of To Kill a Mockingbird in one week?”

“No, and I don’t care,” the customer replied. “Look, I left my reading glasses at home and I need you to help me out. I can’t read the summaries on the back of these books. I need you to read them for me.”

“Read them for you?” Tyler asked. “Well, why not buy both? They both look really good.”

“I don’t have a lot of time to read and one of them will just be setting on my shelf collecting dust, so what is the point in buying it?” The customer asked. “Now, quit stalling and read the back of the books for me. That is what you get paid for, right?”

“Actually, I’m mainly just a barista,” Tyler answered.

“I don’t care what fancy title they gave you, just read,” the customer said.

Tyler took books in his hand and looked over the cover. Sadly, he only recognized one of them.

“This first one is Twilight,” Tyler said. “It’s all the rage with the teenage, tween, and college crowd, especially women. It’s the beginning of a series that is four books long. Five, if you count the Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, which takes place during the events of Eclipse—”

“That’s really nice,” the customer said. “Now stop boring me with the details and read what it says on the back.”

Tyler gulped, knowing that his dyslexia would be an issue here. It wouldn’t mix well with an already irate and impatient customer, who would likely tell Mr. Garson. Mr. Garson was pretty strict and he wouldn’t be very tolerant of an employee at a coffee-slash-bookstore who had trouble reading.

“Hello, son, anyone home?” The customer asked. “I asked you to read the back of these books three times already, now. This is the fourth time and there won’t be a fifth—”

“Tyler, go on break,” Lana said, taking the books and nodding her head toward the back area with a wink only Tyler could see.

“Got it,” Tyler said, nodding, as he pretended to go on break, ducking between two shelves as Lana dealt with the customer.

“Oh, thank you for your help,” the customer said. “I will be sure to put in a good word next time I’m in here. What was your name again?”

“Camryn,” Lana said, scrambling to cover. “And I hope you enjoy Twilight, ma’am.”

Tyler peeked around the bookshelf and once he realized it was safe, he walked out and hurried over to Lana, who handed him the other book.

“Tyler, you know eventually your secret is going to come on,” Lana said. “Camryn and I won’t always be here to help you. You’re lucky I showed up when I did. What happens when Mr. Garson finds out?”

“I guess I’ll have to deal with it,” Tyler said. “But seriously, I need this job. My parents can only pay half of my tuition at NYADA. I have to pay the other half and this job is my only means of staying at NYADA. Thankfully, Evan and India are gracious enough to let me stay there rent free if I help with all the housework and chores. You know, since India doesn’t do manual labor.”

“Well, Camryn and I will cover for you as long as we can, but the day is gonna come when we’re not going to be here at the right time to help,” Lana replied.

“I know and I appreciate all you guys do,” Tyler replied. “At least it buys me a little time. So, what brings you here today, anyway?”

“I came to buy a new book,” Lana said.

“That makes your third this week,” Tyler said, surprised.

“Yeah, well, I read fast,” Lana said. “I’m all out of Christopher Rice novels. Do you have any suggestions?”

Geography Club,” Tyler said. “I saw the movie and it was really good. I wish I could say that I’ve read the book. Does listening to the audiobook count?”

Lana nodded with a smile. “I do think that counts. I’ll tell you what, I’ll go find a copy of it and I will read it. Thanks, Tyler.”

Lana went to look through the shelves as Tyler watched her, unable to shake the feeling that she was there for another reason. As Lana returned, book in hand, she looked up from the back of the book with a nostalgic smile on her face.

“This book, it reminds me of Glee Club,” Lana said, obviously longing for those days. “I miss it a lot.”

“Lana, is that’s what’s bothering you?” Tyler asked. “I don’t mean to be nosy or intrude, but you seem a bit…worried I guess.”

“It’s nothing big,” Lana said. “I just asked Camryn about taking the next step and meeting each other’s parents, but she didn’t seem to like the idea. I know she loves me, but I can’t help but thinking there’s something she’s not telling me. And it’s not that I don’t understand, because I do; I have a few secrets of my own as far as my parents go.”

“So, what if to thank you for what you’ve done, I tried to find out what it is that she’s not telling you?” Tyler asked.

“Would you?” Lana asked, throwing her arms around Tyler tightly, catching him off guard. “Thank you, Ty! I love you!”

“Okay, I wasn’t expecting that,” Tyler said, smiling.

Lana let go of Tyler and brushed the wrinkles out of her hoodie as she tried to regain her composure and act cool.

“Sorry about that,” Lana said.

“No problem,” Tyler said with a crooked smile. “Camryn is in the back doing inventory and she is about to go on break if you wanna see her.”

“Thanks,” Lana said. “See you later and again, thank you.”

Lana stuck her hands in the pocket of her hoodie and made her way to the back. As she past, Mr. Garson waved at her. Lana nodded her head at him and smiled warmly as she passed. She pushed open the back door and smiled in return as Camryn looked up at her and smiled.

“Afternoon, gorgeous,” Lana said. “I don’t have a shift at the diner tonight, so I thought after you get off, we can go see that Nicholas Sparks movie you wanted to go see.”

“Sure,” Camryn said. “On my break, I’m going to the sub place down the street. Wanna come with me?”

“You mean Das Bread, that little sub shop on the corner?” Lana asked. “Yeah, I’m down.”

“Great,” Camryn said as she stood up and kissed Lana on the lips.

“Wow,” Lana said. “Let me guess what flavor you’re wearing today. Is it black cherry?”

“Black Currant and blackberry,” Camryn said. “A little tube I picked up at Bath and Body Works.”

“Well, I like it,” Lana said, biting her lower lip. “It’s exotic.”

“Well, thank you,” Camryn said. “Alright, I’m going to go clock out and then we can go get a sub.”

“Uh, Cammie, I was thinking about what we talked about last night,” Lana said. “I really am ready to take the next stage with you. I think we should meet each other’s parents. And before you protest, there is nothing you can say about them or your life back home that would scare me away.”

“And I am ready to take every step I can with you, but my parents…that is just too complicated right now, Lana,” Camryn said. “But I promise that as soon as possible, when it’s less complicated, it will happen.”

Lana nodded. “I guess I have to respect that and I completely understand.”

“So what book are you reading?” Camryn asked, nodding at the book in Lana’s hand.

“Oh,” Lana said, forgetting about the book. “It’s Geography Club. Tyler recommended it to me.”

“That’s a great book,” Camryn said. “Alright I’m going to go clock out.”

____________________________________________________________

Glee: The Next Generation presents The NYADA Years

____________________________________________________________

Miles stood all alone in the empty apartment, looking at all the pictures hanging on the wall. He slowly walked over to the couch and slumped down, looking at the phone. He clasped his hands together and sighed loudly.

I’m a father, Miles thought to himself. I’m eighteen years old and I’m a father.  I have no idea how I’m going to handle this. I have dreams; that’s why I’m at NYADA. Just what does having a kid mean for me?

Miles stood up and walked over to his stereo. He turned it on and began pacing the floor as the music began to play.

“All he could think about was I'm too young for this,” Miles sang as he paced back and forth. “Got my whole life ahead, hell, I'm just a kid myself. How am I gonna raise one? All he could see were his dreams going up in smoke—so much for ditching this town and hanging out on the coast. Oh well, those plans are long gone. And he said there goes my life. There goes my future, my everything, might as well kiss it all good-bye. There goes my life.”

Miles walked over to the refrigerator and faced it, propped up on it, his forehead against it as he sang.

“A couple years of up all night and a few thousand diapers later, that mistake he thought he made covers up the refrigerator,” Miles sang. “Oh yeah, he loves that little girl. Momma's waiting to tuck her in as she fumbles up those stairs. She smiles back at him, dragging that teddy bear. Sleep tight, blue eyes and bouncing curls. He smiles, there goes my life. There goes my future, my everything. I love you, daddy, goodnight. There goes my life.”

Miles turned around and put his back to the cold refrigerator and slumped to the floor. He ran his hand through his hair and slowly fumbled with the gold cross hanging around his neck.

“She had that Honda loaded down with Abercrombie clothes and fifteen pairs of shoes and his American Express,” Miles sang. “He checked the oil and slammed the hood, said you're good to go. She hugged them both and headed off to the West Coast and he cried. There goes my life. There goes my future, my everything. I love you, baby, goodbye. There goes my life. There goes my life, baby, good-bye.”

The scene faded as Miles stood outside Breezy’s modest apartment. He sighed as he reached up and banged the door knocker. The door opened pretty quickly after that and Breezy looked surprised to see Miles standing there.

“Miles?” Breezy asked.

“Can I come in?” Miles asked.

“Actually, I don’t know,” Breezy said.

“Please,” Miles begged. “It will only take a second.”

Finally Breezy relented, nodding. “Make it quick.”

Miles nodded as he made his way through the door, which Breezy was holding open for him. He turned to face her as they entered the living room and Breezy wondered to herself what Miles was here for.

“I want to be a part of Chord’s life,” Miles said.

“Actually, I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Breezy said, crossing her arms. “After all, the last time you were here, you had an outburst that quite frankly, scared me. Then, I heard what happened with Hallie—you shoved her, Miles. I don’t want my son around you—”

“Our son,” Miles corrected.

“To be honest, until you are serious about being his father instead of just the sperm donor, go to anger management classes, and clean up your act, he is my son,” Breezy replied. “He is not yours when you’re like this, Miles.”

“I am his biological father,” Miles said. “I deserve to be a part of his life.”

“There is a lot more than being his dad than knocking me up, Miles,” Breezy replied. “So far, you’ve demonstrated none of it. If you want to be in his life, you have to earn it. Be a dad, not just a father.”

“Breezy, I admit at first I was scared shitless of the idea, but now I’ve come to embrace it,” Miles protested.

“But you’ve yet to grow up, Miles,” Breezy said. “You’ve yet to evolve into something more than that insecure, scared bully. It’s time to be the father you’ve never had. And, until then, I am afraid that I can’t let you see Chord.”

“I will press my rights as his father,” Miles said.

“That’s fine with me,” Breezy replied. “But if you think it’s going to be as simple as that, you’re wrong. You will soon see that I’m right. As we speak, you’re not fit to be his father. I’m sorry, but that’s how it is. Now, please show yourself out so I can get ready for work.”

“Can I at least see him really quickly before I go?” Miles asked.

“He’s already at his babysitter’s,” Breezy said. “Bye, Miles.”

Miles felt as if the wind had been knocked out of him as he forced himself to nod in response to Breezy. He made his way to the door and showed himself out. He felt as if he was going to collapse as he walked toward his car. Unable to walk another step, he grabbed onto the street light for support as he began to cry. Slowly, he slumped to the ground, hugging the post tightly. From Breezy’s apartment window, Breezy watched as her heart wrenched. Ultimately, as hard as this was to see, she knew she did the right thing for Chord’s sake.

____________________________________________________________

Shayne walked back and forth at the front of the classroom as she spoke, making sure to look directly at each of her students.

“Once you’ve mastered the melody and the stanza, you can write a great song,” Shayne said. “Once the technical aspects are out of the way, it’s all about projecting your thoughts, feelings, and ideas onto paper and crafting them into song form. Tomorrow, we will be working on pre-choruses and choruses, class.”

The bell rang and all the students began to talk amongst themselves as they scrambled to gather their things.

“And Jaxon,” Shayne said, eying Jaxon. “I hope you don’t have your heart set on watching the Round Room solos. I really need you to stay after class.”

“Sure, Miss Perez,” Jaxon said, slinging his duffle bag over his shoulder.

“Looks like NYADA’s golden boy is in trouble,” Krystal said, laughing.

“May I remind you, Miss Graham, that your father may have bought your way into NYADA, but he cannot buy your way out of detail duty after school tomorrow,” Shayne replied. “I have cleaning supplies in my closet and it looks like you will have to wipe the desks off and scrape the crusty gum off the undersides as well tomorrow. But don’t worry, I will be here to keep you company. I understand that you might get lonely without your loyal followers to worship the ground you so undeservedly walk on.”

“Say, Krystal, would you like some aloe vera for that burn?” Camryn said as she picked up her backpack and joined Lana.

Krystal glared at Camryn. “I wouldn’t accept anything you hand me. I don’t know where your fingers have been—oh wait, I do. I just wouldn’t want to catch Lana’s pootie tang cooties.”

“You want to add sentences, too?” Shayne asked. “I have some new chalk you can break in for me.”

“You’re dead meat,” Lana whispered as she leaned in to Krystal.

Krystal gulped as Lana took Camryn’s hand and they walked through the door. Slowly, everyone else followed until it was just Jaxon and Shayne left. Jaxon shoved his hands in his jean pockets and walked nervously forward.

“So, what’s going on, Miss Perez?” Jaxon asked.

“Call me Shayne,” Shayne replied. “After all, I’m taking it on myself to mentor you, Jaxon. I think we should have a pretty comfortable and casual relationship outside of class.”

“Mentor me for what?” Jaxon asked.

“As you may or may not know, Winter Showcase at NYADA is the week after Christmas break this year,” Shayne said. “A handful of lucky students will be hand-picked by Carmen to participate and if you win, it is the ultimate status symbol here at NYADA. If you win, you get glory and recognition. However, that comes at a price: you also get jealousy and hatred from some of the other students—like Krystal, for example. I want you to be recognized for the tremendous talent you are. I not only want you to be chosen for Winter Showcase, but to win it. That, Jaxon, is what I am going to help you do.”

“You’re going to do that for me?” Jaxon asked. “May I ask why?”

“Because you’re extremely talented, bold, charismatic, and you’re a star, Jaxon,” Shayne replied. “I want to help the rest of the world see what I see.”

“What’s in it for you?” Jaxon asked.

“No ulterior motives,” Shayne said. “I get the satisfaction of knowing I helped a star find his place in the sky. I’ve gotten my own taste of that. I’ve written numerous hit singles. I just want to help you become great and not just NYADA great. I wanna help you become legendary.”

“Really?” Jaxon asked. “What do you want me to do?”

“Starting today, we’re going to be working together,” Shayne said. “I want you to prepare a song for me, which you will be singing tomorrow. I want to see you emotionally stripped down and vulnerable. What I saw in your Round Room performance was only a fraction of that. I need to see it full-force. Find a song to sing that exposes your innermost secrets or any demons you have faced and we’ll start from there.”

Jaxon nodded as he thought about what he would be singing the next day. Suddenly, it hit him and he wondered if he could really reveal that much to Shayne and what she would think about him if he did.

____________________________________________________________

Tyler looked around the Round Room as the music played, feeling a bit insecure as he stood up front, on the spot. He thought about Evan and how much he liked him, giving himself the confidence to push through.

“I traded fame for love without a second thought,” Tyler sang. “It all became a silly a game; some things cannot be bought. I got exactly what I asked for, wanted it so badly. Running, rushing back for more, I suffered fools so gladly. And now I find I've changed my mind. The face of you, my substitute for love, my substitute for love. Should I wait for you, my substitute for love, my substitute for love?”

Tyler closed his eyes, picturing Evan in his head. Evan watched, intrigued, as he watched Tyler sing. He was enthralled, watching Tyler singing, connecting deeply to the song.

“I traveled round the world, looking for a home,” Tyler sang. “I found myself in crowded rooms, feeling so alone. I had so many lovers who settled for the thrill of basking in my spotlight. I never felt so happy. The face of you, my substitute for love, my substitute for love. Should I wait for you, my substitute for love.”

“Who do you think he’s singing about?” Evan asked India, who was fanning herself with a fancy paper Chinese fan.

“Me, of course,” India said. “He’s liked me since day one; it’s obvious.”

“I don’t know,” Evan replied. “It’s like we have this connection and every time our eyes meet, it’s like electricity surges through my veins.”

“I would have that checked out,” India replied.

“Famous faces, far off places, trinkets I can buy,” Tyler sang. “No handsome stranger, heady danger, drug that I can try. No Ferris wheel, no heart to steal, no laughter in the dark. No one-night stand, no far-off land, no fire that I can spark. The face of you, my substitute for love, my substitute for love. Should I wait for you, my substitute for love, my substitute for love. Now I find I've changed my mind. This is my religion.”

As the song ended, every one stood up and applauded. Tyler smiled his crooked smile and took his bow.

“Such an empowering song, Mr. St. Patrick,” Carmen said. “I am very impressed. Thank you. And now, up next, Miss India Wilson.”

“Anyway, the game’s over,” India said. “I am about to bag Tyler with my song.”

“Does she mean the India Wilson?” A girl asked. “As in, India Wilson, the British socialite?”

India smiled to herself as she stood up and walked down the aisle. As she passed the girl, she turned to face her, took her hand, and smiled at her.

“It’s always nice to meet a fan,” India said.

“Oh my god!” the girl said. “India just touched my hand and spoke to me. I’m never going to wash my hand!”

India smiled as she walked to the front of the Round Room, passing Krystal, who glared at her, obviously jealous.

“I’m India Wilson,” India said. “Yes, the India Wilson and I will be singing a special song to a special someone. Evan, dear, watch and learn.”

“Oh, I’m sure,” Evan said just under his breath as he crossed his arms and leaned back, watching India with a look of annoyance on his face.

“You set my soul at ease, chased darkness out of view, left your desperate spell on me,” India sang. “Say you feel it, too. I know you do. I've got so much more to give. This can't die, I yearn to live. Pour yourself all over me and I'll cherish every drop here on my knees. I wanna love you forever and this is all I'm asking of you. Ten thousand lifetimes together. Is that so much for you to do? ‘Cause from the moment that I saw your face and felt the fire in your sweet embrace, I swear I knew. I'm gonna love you forever.”

“I can’t stand her,” Krystal said to Madison.

“She’s alright,” Madison said. “She’s one of us in a way.”

“She’s a spoiled, rich, British socialite,” Krystal said. “That’s nothing like us.”

“Actually, it is,” Greg said from behind Madison as Madison stifled a laugh. “Just change out British socialite for American socialite and bingo.”

“No one asked you, Craig!” Krystal said as she turned to glare at him.

“It’s Greg,” Greg said. “G-R-E-G.”

“I don’t C-A-R-E,” Krystal replied. “Just shut up. You’re so annoying.”

“My mind fails to understand what my heart tells me to do and I'd give up all I have just to be with you and that would do,” India sang. “I've always been taught to win and I never thought I'd fall, be at the mercy of a man. I've never been, now I only want to be right where you are. I wanna love you forever and this is all I'm asking of you. Ten thousand lifetimes together. Is that so much for you to do? ‘Cause from the moment that I saw your face and felt the fire in your sweet embrace, I swear I knew. I'm gonna love you forever.”

India watched Tyler, gauging his reaction, but he didn’t seem very interested. He seemed to be in a dreamy state, glancing at Evan. Did he think this song was for Evan? India felt her heart sink a bit. Perhaps, she was wrong and Tyler liked Evan. No way, he was too cute to be gay!

“In my life I've learned that heaven never waits, no,” India sang. “Let’s take this now before it's gone like yesterday. ‘Cause when I'm with you there's nowhere else that I would ever wanna be, no. I'm breathing for the next second I can feel you loving me. I'm gonna love, oh, and this is all I'm asking of you, my love. Is that so much for you to do? ‘Cause from the moment that I saw your face and felt the fire in your sweet embrace, I swear I knew. I'm gonna love you forever, forever, oh.”

As the song ended and everyone but Krystal stood up and applauded, India glared in Krystal’s direction. Krystal faked a yawn, looking bored. Scorned, India’s glare toward Krystal became more intense.

“Very good, India,” Carmen said. “That was such a beautiful interpretation. Alright, everyone, you are now free to leave. I will see you here tomorrow for the final round of Round Room solos.”

As everyone gathered up their stuff and shuffled toward the door, Tyler hung back, watching Evan.

“That was a good song,” Krystal said, approaching Tyler. “Too bad you infused it with all of the sex appeal of a wet Kleenex. What are you, a virgin? Or are you just asexual?”

“Out of your league,” Tyler replied as he grabbed his duffle bag and hurried to the door, his head tucked toward his chest.

Krystal smiled wickedly to herself as she watched Tyler regroup with Evan and India. She pranced happily toward the door, hugging her books tightly to her chest.

How did she know? Tyler thought as he looked back one last time, a worried look on his face.

____________________________________________________________

As Miles exited the Round Room, he felt someone touch him on the shoulder. Now, his normal reaction would be to clock someone, but he instead turned around to see his Broadway 101 teacher, Chase Atkins.

“Miles, can we talk?” Chase asked.

“About?” Miles asked.

“Miles, I’m a bit concerned about you,” Chase said. “I have heard some things which, quite frankly, concern me. Could we maybe take this back to my classroom? I fear it might be a bit…personal.”

“Yeah, sure,” Miles said. “I guess.”

Chase nodded as he lead Miles to his classroom. As they walked inside, Chase shut the door behind him and turned to face Miles.

“Miles, I’ve noticed you’ve been a bit distant in my class,” Chase said. “I don’t get it. Is my class boring you? I thought you wanted to do Broadway—”

“I do,” Miles said. “Broadway is my dream. It’s my passion.”

“If it’s your passion, Miles, then show me,” Chase said. “I want to see it. You have been yourself and I understand you’re going through a lot. NYADA is a pretty small school by attendance standards. You do understand that people talk and things get around quickly, right?”

“I do,” Miles said.

“I know your entire personal life since you came to NYADA and you know how much of it I’ve heard from you?” Chase asked, lifting his coffee mug to his mouth. “None. Why is that?”

“Why is what?” Miles asked. “That you’ve heard things about me or that I haven’t told you myself?”

“I don’t want to hear your very personal struggles from the ‘Gossip Girls,’ Miles,” Chase said. “From day one, I’ve told you that if you needed to talk about anything—anything at all— that you could come to me. Why haven’t you? Don’t you trust me?”

“I have a hard time trusting anyone,” Miles said.

“But I’m not your alcoholic step-father nor am I a finicky high school girl, Miles,” Chase said, setting his coffee cup down. “I’m your teacher and a confidant. I want to be your mentor, if you’d let me.”

“You want to mentor me?” Miles asked.

“I see a bright, talented, driven young man buried beneath all the drama, issues, and poor life choices, Miles,” Chase said. “Now, I’m up for the challenge of digging that young man out but you have to be willing to let me help. Are you up for what it’s gonna require?”

“I am,” Miles said. “Trust me, Mr. Atkins, I am.”

“What that means is, you’re gonna have to start changing a lot of things, Miles,” Chase said. “You’re going to have to let go of the past and move forward. Let of the childish things, the drama, and do what it takes to achieve what it is you want. I know you want to be a part of your son’s life. Do you know what that is going to take?”

Miles shook his head, unsure of what to say.

“It means that you have to let go of your wild child ways,” Chase continued. “No more bullying, immaturity, or partying. It’s time to be the man that your father wasn’t. I’m going to help you, Miles. You’re going to do something for me, too.”

“Anything,” Miles said.

“I need a student director for our annual musical,” Chase replied. “I’ve recruited a couple of your friends to help us out. Jaxon Pierce will be choreographing it and Chuck Salvatore will be a vocal coach. It will be right before Thanksgiving, so we don’t have a lot of time to work on it. However, I suspect it’s something you and your friends know well. NYADA has finally secured the rights to do a production of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical, Once More With Feeling.”

“I’ll do it,” Miles said quickly. “This is a dream come true for me.”

“Good,” Chase said. “But before you commit to work on that and before I can begin our sessions, I want you to do yourself a favor: have one last adventure. Get our need to be wild out of our system so you can settle down and focus on you and your son. Can you do that for me?”

Miles nodded. “I will.”

“Great,” Chase said. “Alright, well, our talk is over. You’re free to go.”

“You literally know so much about me that it scares me,” Miles said.

“I told you that everything gets around here,” Chase replied. “There is no such thing as secrets. If you’re not careful, NYADA will eat you alive.”

“Noted,” Miles said as he smiled and made his way to the door.

____________________________________________________________

Evan walked into the living room of the penthouse and sat a bowl of fresh fruit in front of India.

“Here you go,” Evan said, clutching his own bowl of fruit.

“So,” India said, popping a grape into her mouth. “Who do you think Tyler likes: me or you?”

Evan laughed as he shook his head. “No, I’m not doing this with you.”

“Why not?” India asked. “It’s obvious that he likes one of us. I’m just curious who it is.”

“What if he likes both of us?” Evan asked.

“Unlikely,” India said, taking a bite of strawberry.

“Or what if he likes neither of us?” Evan asked, forking a piece of pineapple.

“Oh please,” India said. “That’s even more unlikely. Why don’t you try thinking inside the box? I understand it’s hard for you. It’s even harder for me as I live outside the box—and a very glamorous box at that.”

“I think this might be an obsession for you,” Evan teased. “You are obsessed with knowing who it is he likes.”

“No,” India replied. “I know who he likes. I’m obsessed with him. He’s gorgeous. Those eyes alone, are you kidding me?”

“Obsessed,” Evan said, throwing a grape into his mouth.

“Oh, like you don’t sit around and wonder if maybe, just maybe, he likes you, too?” India asked.

“I am so over love,” Evan said. “My last love drove me to an accidental overdose. I’m afraid that if I get my heart broken again, I will hail a cab and then pay the cabbie to run over me and spin his fires on my face. It seems to be less painful than heartbreak.”

“Oh, Evan, you sure are depressing,” India said. “Who knows, there might be a great guy out there for you. It’s just not Tyler. He loves me. I can tell.”

“Because he does chores and runs errands?” Evan asked. “He does that because we let him stay here without paying rent. The whole point of having Tyler around was to have another man around the house. It’s not like we need the money. It’s hardly a sign that he likes you.”

“Well he doesn’t like you,” India said. “He’s not gay.”

“He’s bisexual,” Evan said.

“Whatever,” India replied. “Bisexual is just a label gay guys give themselves to make coming out easier. It’s a transitory label; other than that, it’s meaningless.”

“You know I’m bisexual, right?” Evan said. “I dated you, after all.”

“And that baby factory known as Breezy,” India said. “But, if we review the guys column of your relationships, we have that you fucked Jaxon, dated Lucas, dated Claude, dated that Skylar guy, and kissed Miles—”

“Miles kissed me,” Evan corrected. “It wasn’t exactly consensual and he only did it to drive Claude out of McKinley.”

“I don’t care if in his sleep, you sucked his—”

“India!” Evan exclaimed.

“What?” India asked. “It still counts, Evan.”

“You’re just so casual with these things,” Evan said, blushing.

“Oh, loosen up,” India said. “But like I’m saying, sexuality is a preference. You prefer guys, so don’t you think that makes you gay?”

“I don’t think it’s that black and white, India,” Evan said. “I do still have emotional and sexual attraction to girls.”

“Well, I’ve kissed a girl or two during my time in boarding school, but that doesn’t mean that I am ready to go buy a bunch of flannel and—Lord forbid—Birkenstocks and start listening to the Indigo Girls.”

“Precisely,” Evan said. “And I’m not going to parade around in rainbow while listening to Bette Midler. I am who I am and that’s not who I am.”

“But I prefer guys, so once again it comes down to preference,” India replied.

Evan buried his head in his hands. “This is going nowhere.”

As Evan sighed to himself, the door opened and Tyler walked in. India looked up, her face lighting up.

“Just the person we need to help us settle this debate,” India said.

Tyler raised an eyebrow. “Okay, what debate?”

“Oh no, don’t you dare, India,” Evan said.

“My dear Evan and I were discussing sexuality and somehow, you came up,” India said, smiling innocently. “And it made us wonder, which of us you like?”

“I like you both,” Tyler said, nonchalantly. “You’re both great people and I love staying here.”

“Silly boy,” India said. “That’s not what I mean. Which of us do you like-like?”

“Like-like?” Tyler asked.

“You know, like have a crush on?” India asked. “Go ahead and say it’s me.”

Tyler was silent as he looked back and forth between India and Evan. He bit his lower lip, unsure of what to say. India slowly got up and flashed Tyler a seductive eye as she began to circle around him.

“Hey Stephen, I know looks can be deceiving but I know I saw a light in you,” India sang as she circled Tyler, who looked very confused. “And as we walked, we were talking; I didn't say half the things I wanted to. Of all the girls tossing rocks at your window, I'll be the one waiting there even when it's cold. Hey Stephen, boy, you might have me believing I don't always have to be alone.”

India walked over and grabbed Evan, pulling him off the couch to join her as they danced around a speechless Tyler.

“’Cause I can't help it if you look like an angel, can't help it if I wanna kiss you in the rain,” India and Evan sang. “So come feel this magic I've been feeling since I met you. Can't help it if there's no one else, mmm, I can't help myself.”

“Hey Stephen, I've been holding back this feeling,” Evan sang. “So I've got some things to say to you, ha. I’ve seen it all, so I thought, but I never seen nobody shine the way you do. The way you walk, way you talk, way you say my name –it's beautiful, wonderful, don't you ever change. Hey Stephen, why are people always leaving? I think you and I should stay the same.”

“’Cause I can't help it if you look like an angel, can't help it if I wanna kiss you in the rain,” India and Evan sang. “So come feel this magic I've been feeling since I met you. Can't help it if there's no one else, mmm, I can't help myself.”

“They're dimming the street lights,” India sang. “You're perfect for me, why aren't you here tonight?”

“I'm waiting alone now, so come on and come out and pull me near to shine, shine, shine,” Evan sang.

“Hey Stephen, I could give you fifty reasons why I should be the one you choose,” India sang. “All those other girls, well, they're beautiful but would they write a song for you?”

“I can't help it if you look like an angel, can't help it if I wanna kiss you in the rain,” India and Evan sang. “So come feel this magic I've been feeling since I met you. Can't help it if there's no one else, mmm, I can't help myself if you look like an angel, can't help it if I wanna kiss you in the rain. So come feel this magic I've been feeling since I met you. Can't help it if there's no one else, mmm, I can't help myself, myself. Can't help myself, I can't help myself.”

As the song ended, Tyler took a deep breath as he looked first at India, then at Evan.

“I don’t think I can say,” Tyler said. “I don’t wanna hurt any feelings.”

“We’re grown adults,” India said. “We can handle it. Come on, tell us.”

Tyler nodded his head in response as he thought for a second.

“I like you, Evan,” Tyler said, facing Evan. “I was just so scared because I’ve never dated a guy before and I have no idea what I’m doing. I just know I like you and I’ve been kind of unlucky in love. Girls have come and gone and broke my heart. It just makes me wonder if you know, maybe love isn’t for me.”

“I’ve felt the same way, too,” Evan said. “Well, except I’ve had my heart broken by guys, too.”

“Oh great, it’s the Rainbow Connection,” India said, slumping down into her chair.

So, I had finally come to terms with my feelings for Evan and they were out in the open, Tyler narrated. I still didn’t come out and tell Evan that was a virgin. It was clear from his conversations that he was a bit more experienced and I know a virgin can be overwhelming. I didn’t wanna scare him away. I was already pretty lucky in my opinion that I didn’t scare him away with my confession that I had a crush on him.

____________________________________________________________

The next day, as Chuck hung up his cellphone, he jogged over to join Lana, Jaxon, Tyler, Camryn, and Johanna.

“Hey guys,” Chuck greeted.

“Hey,” Jaxon said. “What’s up, Chuck?”

“I got a call from Dalton and it seems two of the members of the Warbler’s committee are feuding, which is tearing them apart,” Chuck said. “It’s bad and if they don’t put their differences aside, then it may cause Dalton to forfeit Regionals, which means no National title, which means the Warblers are no more.”

“I’m sorry, Chuck,” Lana said, giving Chuck a hug. “I know you’re hoping for the best. After all, Dalton is your home away from home.”

“The Warblers are my other family, besides you guys,” Chuck said. “I don’t know, I feel bad for trying to help Dalton win when their competition is New Directions, but if I don’t, everything I know is gone.”

“Don’t feel bad,” Jaxon said. “I understand, Chuck, and I’m sure New Directions understands.”

“I’m already depressed because today is the last day of Round Room solos and as I am in the group who have yet to perform, that means I will be called today. I just don’t think I’m ready.”

“You’ve been practicing and doing warm-ups every day,” Johanna said.

Lana and Jaxon looked at Johanna, giving her a look that meant they wanted to know what was going on.

“He’s gotten Wyatt to help him with a few things after school,” Johanna said.

Lana raised an eyebrow as the corners of her mouth began to raise slowly into a smile.

“It’s not like that,” Johanna said. “I don’t like Wyatt like that. I just, you know—Chuck invited me to come watch and I was there to support Chuck.”

“The denial is strong with this one,” Lana joked, nudging Jaxon with her elbow.

“If you’ve been practicing, what’s wrong?” Jaxon asked.

“I’m scared, Jaxon,” Chuck said. “It’s different here than with the Warblers. One bad note and you never live that down. Your reputation at NYADA is tarnished forever and that stuff follows you in life. I don’t want my stage-fright to get the best of me.”

“But you’ve performed for Carmen before and you’ve performed at Regionals,” Lana said. “This is no biggie, Chuck. Just believe in yourself.”

“I didn’t perform for Carmen, I performed for Ryan,” Chuck said. “And the Round Room, it’s intimidating.”

“Well, we believe in you,” Johanna said as Camryn nodded.

“You can do this,” Jaxon said. “Just go out there and shake off the fear.”

“I wish you could be there,” Chuck said. “I could use you to talk me up and give me some of your ‘stage magic’ before I perform.”

Jaxon frowned. “I’m sorry, Chuck. I have to meet Shayne to present my homework assignment. But I’ll be there in spirit and I will send some magic your way.”

Chuck smiled as he hugged Jaxon. “Thank you.”

____________________________________________________________

Chuck stood front and center, looking out into the crowd. To calm himself down, he used something that Wyatt had taught him during his first year in the Warblers.

As Chuck stood backstage during Sectionals, he pulled the curtain open slightly and took a look at the crowd. It was huge. He took a deep breath and felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up and saw Wyatt.

“Your first big solo,” Wyatt said. “Good luck out there and break a leg, Charlie.”

“C-could you call me Chuck?” Chuck asked. “I mean, I think I’m outgrown Charlie.”

“Well, break a leg then, Chuck,” Wyatt said with a smile.

“B-break my leg?” Chuck asked.

Wyatt laughed. “It means good luck.”

“I’m nervous, Wyatt,” Chuck said. “There are a lot more people out there then at school.”

“You wanna know a little secret?” Wyatt asked. “If you look at each one of those people out there and you imagine them naked, then you are no longer the most exposed, vulnerable person out there. That, my friend, will give you the confidence needed to perform.”

“What happens if I get a boner?” Chuck asked.

Wyatt laughed again. “Then imagine them in funny underwear. Just go out there, believe in yourself, and do your best.”

Slowly, the crowd at Regionals faded into the crowd inside the Round Room as slowly, Chuck began to imagine each one of them in funny underwear.

“I sit and wait,” Chuck sang. “Does an angel contemplate my fate? And do they know the places where we go when we're grey and old? ‘Cause I have been told that salvation lets their wings unfold. So when I'm lying in my bed, thoughts running through my head and I feel that love is dead, I'm loving angels instead. And through it all, she offers me protection, a lot of love and affection, whether I'm right or wrong. And down the waterfall, wherever it may take me, I know that life won't break me. When I come to call, she won't forsake me. I'm loving angels instead.”

Chuck looked out at Monique, their eyes meeting. Monique smiled warmly, causing Chuck to smile. All of a sudden, Chuck’s fear was gone and slowly, everyone started to look normal as he no longer had to imagine them in funny underwear.

“When I'm feeling weak and my pain walks down a one way street, I look above and I know I'll always be blessed with love,” Chuck sang. “And as the feeling grows, she breathes flesh to my bones. And when love is dead, I'm loving angels instead. And through it all, she offers me protection, a lot of love and affection, whether I'm right or wrong. And down the waterfall, wherever it may take me, I know that life won't break me. When I come to call, she won't forsake me. I'm loving angels instead. And through it all, she offers me protection, a lot of love and affection, whether I'm right or wrong. And down the waterfall, wherever it may take me, I know that life won't break me. When I come to call, she won't forsake me. I'm loving angels instead.”

The song ended and Monique was the first to her feet, applauding enthusiastically to him. As Chuck looked at her and smiled shyly, Monique flashed him a thumbs-up.

“That was nothing short of spectacular, Mr. Salvatore,” Carmen said. “I was moved.”

____________________________________________________________     

Shayne was sitting in her chair as Jaxon walked into the Dance 101 studio, his backpack over his shoulder. Shayne smiled, sitting up.

“You didn’t get scared and chicken out,” Shayne said.

“I don’t back down from a challenge,” Jaxon replied.

“That’s what I expected to hear,” Shayne said as she stood up. “Alright, Jaxon, have you prepared a song for me?”

“I have,” Jaxon said. “My biggest insecurity in my life is temptation. When I was a sophomore, I met my now husband—”

“Oh, you’re married?” Shayne asked. “He’s a lucky guy.”

Jaxon smiled as he took out his iPhone and found a picture of James. He showed it to Shayne who smiled as she looked at it.

“He’s a cutie,” Shayne said. “He didn’t get into NYADA?”

“He’s still in high school,” Jaxon replied. “His sophomore year, between all the things that happened including the return of his emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend, coming out to his abusive father, who kicked him out, being adopted, and my infidelity, he was failed all his classes that year.”

“That sounds rough,” Shayne said. “He’s a true warrior to have come through it alive. I’ve seen so many LGBT students in similar situations that weren’t so lucky.”

“My infidelity is my greatest shame and my biggest insecurity,” Jaxon said. “I was drunk and this boy who I just to be in a feud with made a move on me during my sophomore year. It was New Year’s Eve and James was downstairs at the time with his emotionally abusive ex, so I let the alcohol cloud my judgment. I had sex with Evan, my friend. It nearly broke James and me up for good. Since then, I have always been afraid I might cheat again if the right guy came along. I love James and I would never hurt him again, but sometimes it gets lonely with him back in Ohio and I wonder, ‘what if I’m not strong enough to resist temptation the next time?’ I just miss him so much, but I also miss that bond, that connection, that human interaction.”

“Your demon is temptation?” Shayne asked. “Mine is drinking and smoking. I haven’t had a drink in years, but I’ve replaced alcohol with cigarettes. I smoke and I know it’s bad for me; I know that I shouldn’t, but I was raised in a very Italian and Mexican household that was overbearing at times. I turned to drinking to numb the pressures of being a perfect daughter, which I obviously wasn’t.”

“Sometimes, I’m afraid that people won’t get me and I’ll be a big joke,” Jaxon added. “I fear that I will get on stage to perform and I’ll mess up and be a laughing stock.”

“I think we all subconsciously have that fear,” Shayne replied. “Your issues with temptation and infidelity—those are much more interesting and where you are obviously more vulnerable.”

“It is,” Jaxon said. “I don’t like talking about it.”

“Then sing about it,” Shayne said. “That is what you’re going to sing about, right?”

Jaxon nodded. “That’s what the song I prepared is about.”

Shayne smiled as she took her seat. “The floor is yours, Jaxon. Impress me. Show me that strikingly vulnerable side.”

“It’s crazy,” Jaxon sang as he stood with his back to Shayne. “You kept me on this pedestal no matter how much I let you down too long, too long, too long. Now you trapped—ain't going nowhere, nowhere. Only you, only. He told me I'm dying, I’m trying to survive. Never be enough if it’s just, just for you. Now he question if it’s real when I say I, I love you, you.”

Jaxon turned to face Shayne and looked surprised to see James sitting beside Shayne, watching him, wide-eyed. Jaxon looked up and saw Evan walking slowly toward him. Slowly Evan walked behind Jaxon and whispered something in his ear.

“I guess it’s hard to feel when I'm never even there,” Jaxon sang. “Actions speak louder than words and they say I don't care. But I know it’s in my heart if you can hold it right now you see its only beating cause you hold a brother down. Think about that for a second now, baby. I can’t say its right when I'm running through the night. You're my shining star, can’t afford to lose your light. So busy doing wrong. Will I ever get it right for you?”

Evan slowly ran his hands down Jaxon’s chest and began to lift his shirt up, exposing his abs. Jaxon fought it, but Evan wasn’t having it. He shoved Jaxon away and then used his belt to spin Jaxon back, pulling him close.

“He deserves something better and he know he does but I'm never gonna let him cause he knows my love,” Jaxon sang. “You can never find another man, ‘cause I ain't never gonna understand if it ain't me for you, me for you. Even though I'm doing wrong, boy, you can never move along, boy, ‘cause it’s just me for you. Me for you and you for me, that's the way it’s gotta be even though I'm in the streets, fucking with these fucking freaks. Stupidly, truthfully, I know you been so thru with me. You put up with my foolery. I guess you got so used to me and my infidelity. And thru the bad, you saw the better man in me. You picked me up every time they put me down. You try to leave me, I’mma tie you to the ground. Baby, look what you've allowed. Baby, look what you've allowed. Baby, look what you've allowed and I never find no brother in my house.”

As Jaxon sang, Evan ran his hands down to grope Jaxon’s crotch. Jaxon winced, trying to pull away, but he couldn’t. It was like he was being held in place by an unknown, unseen force.

“He deserves something better and he know he does but I’ll never gonna let him,” Jaxon sang. “Kill a brother dead, that's just my love for you. You can never find another man, just me for you. ‘Cause I ain't never gonna understand if it ain't me for you, just me for you, you. Even though I'm doing wrong, boy, you can never move along, boy, ‘cause it’s just, just me for you.”

James stood up, tears streaming down his face. Shayne didn’t look in his direction as her eyes stayed locked on Jaxon.

“It meant nothing,” Jaxon said. “I was helping him, that’s all.”

“The way you helped me?” James asked.

“I thought he was your friend,” Jaxon replied.

“So you wouldn't fuck him?” James asked, glaring at Evan.

“That language does not become you,” Jaxon said.

“Yes,” James said. “You'd rather I be demure.”

“I'd rather you be rational,” Jaxon corrected.

“Meaning what?” James asked. “That I say nothing about what I see what I hear?”

“What have you heard?” Jaxon asked.

“That you're capable of anything,” James spat.

“Well if you didn't tell me about it, then it couldn't have been very upsetting,” Jaxon replied.

“You make me sick to my stomach,” James said. “This whole arrangement of—”

“What arrangement?” Jaxon asked.

“That I do accept what you tell me and there's nothing more,” James replied. “That I aid you in the business you conduct and pretend I don't know what that business is.”

“I don't recall you ever saying no to anything I put in front of you,” Jaxon said. “You make a little noise every now and then to remind me what a good person you are, but a good person wouldn't be here right now.”

The song ended and Jaxon snapped back to reality, revealing that Evan and James had been figments of his imagination.

“That felt so real,” Shayne said. “Jaxon, you’re going to win Winter Showcase if you continue to let yourself be that vulnerable.”

“I don’t think I can,” Jaxon said, feeling shaken to the core by what he had imagined.

“Jaxon, all artists have to get vulnerable if they want people to connect to it,” Shayne replied. “You just have to get used to and learn how to pull it back in. I’ll tell you what. How about we both address our demons and write a song about it that we can then perform as a duet?”

“Just one thing,” Jaxon said. “I don’t think that I can do that again. Can’t I address other insecurities?”

Shayne stood up and walked over to Jaxon, putting her arm around him. “Deal.”

____________________________________________________________

Lana smiled happily as she put her arm around Camryn and left the Round Room. Hallie stood back, watching them as they walked away.

It’s like a knife in the gut every single time, Hallie thought.

Hallie exhaled as she made her way into the hall, weaving through the various students. She came to a stop as she saw Johanna hanging up flyers. Hallie slowly walked over and started to read the flyer Johanna was pinning to the bulletin board.

“I was inspired by Jaxon, Camryn, Tyler, and Lana to start a NYADA chapter of Survivors of Sexual Abuse,” Johanna said as she turned to face Hallie. “It’s a support group for people who’ve been sexually abused.”

“Do you have another flyer?” Hallie asked.

Johanna nodded as she took a flyer out of her side bag and handed it to Hallie.

“It’s a safe haven, free of judgment,” Johanna said. “I don’t know your story, but if you’ve been sexually abused, you’re free to come. We’re having meetings every Tuesday night, starting tonight.”

“Thank you,” Hallie said with a smile. “I’ll be there.”

Johanna smiled at Hallie before turning back to the bulletin board and sticking the last pin in. She let out an elated breath as she admired her hard work.

____________________________________________________________

Miles made his way over to Krystal and Madison, who were propped against the wall outside the women’s restroom. Miles cleared his throat, causing Krystal to look up at him.

“What do you want?” Krystal asked.

“I came to tell you that I’ve reconsidered your offer,” Miles said. “I wanna get this whole bad boy phase out of my system and figured that I came to the right place.”

Krystal smiled. “Once we bring out your inner bad boy, you’re not going to want to leave that phase behind. Can you handle that, Miles?”

Miles nodded. “I want adventure.”

“Oh, we’ve got adventure,” Krystal said. “You’re gonna find out just what life is like when you live in the fast lane, Miles.”

“Here you go,” Greg said as he returned, thrusting a bottle of water toward both Madison and Krystal.

“What is this?” Krystal asked, eyeing the bottle of water. “I asked for Evian and this is Aquafina.”

“It’s all I could find in the vending machines,” Greg said. “I thought that it wouldn’t matter.”

“It does matter!” Krystal shouted, snatching the bottle of water violently from Greg’s hand and throwing it against the wall with a resounding thud. Greg ducked as the bottle bounced off and rolled to a stop.

“It’s fine for me,” Madison said, opening her water. “And it’s flavored, too.”

“Well, Craig knows that I simply cannot drink anything less than Evian when it comes to water,” Krystal replied. “At least, he knows now.”

“Y-yes,” Greg said, pulling the hem of his shirt down. “My apologies, Krystal.”

“You had better be sorry,” Krystal said before she turned to face Miles. “So, Miles, shall we go?”

“Yeah, let’s go,” Miles said.

Miles looked up as another blonde girl made her way over to join Krystal and Madison. She handed them each a joint and then extended one to Miles, who looked surprised.

“Wanna join us?” the blonde asked.

“I don’t think Miles is bad enough for that yet, Joelle,” Krystal said glancing seductively at Miles.

“Yeah, I am,” Miles said, taking the joint from Joelle. “Let’s go.”

____________________________________________________________

Hallie walked cautiously through the door leading to NYADA’s Community Room, a room that NYADA rented out to various groups to use. It was being rented out every Tuesday to Survivors of Sexual Abuse, which Johanna had formed a new chapter of at NYADA.

“Thanks for coming, Hallie,” Johanna said as she grabbed Hallie’s arm and escorted her to the chairs.

“So, who wants to tell their story next?” Johanna asked.

Slowly, a college-aged boy raised his hand. Hallie looked at him and instantly recognized him from some of her classes.

“Christian,” Johanna said, pointing at him.

“I was molested by my neighbor when I was seven,” Christian said. “I never told anyone because I was ashamed. As I came to terms with being bisexual, I thought people would say that I asked for it; I wanted it. There is a lot of shame involved for male victims of sexual abuse.”

“It’s shameful no matter who you are,” Hallie said. “But I can’t even imagine how it emasculates and humiliates guys who have been through it.”

“What’s your story?” Johanna asked, looking at Hallie.

“When I was fourteen, I snuck out to a party being thrown by some high school kids,” Hallie said. “I had befriended a guy named Chris and he invited me. So, I’m there and I’m drinking. I feel…legendary, grown up. The more I drink, the more the room spins, so I nearly fall down the stairs and Chris comes to my rescue and leads me upstairs. He helps me to a bed and gets me to lay down and ‘rest it off.’ But then, he starts touching me and kissing me. I pushed him off and I told him I don’t think I like guys. He keeps telling me how he can change that and how I will love it. I tell him no and he seemed upset at me. So, I say that I have a headache and he hands me a couple of pills and says that they will take my head ache away. I took them without a second thought. I think they were roofies because the last thing I remember is he put a song on repeat on his phone—‘Blurred Lines.’ I woke up the next day and there was blood and I could tell that I had been raped. I was sick and the morning sickness never went away. My mom took me to the doctor and I found out I was pregnant. I now have twins; a boy and a girl named Eva and Ethan.”

“That is terrible,” Johanna said.

“He’s a sick person,” Christian said. “To take what he wanted from you, not even caring about your health or well-being. He should be buried under the jail.”

“He got out of serving jail time,” Hallie said. “It’s a long story, but it involves my parents thinking that shoving it under the rug after he skipped town was what was best for my mental state. I spent two years thinking he died.”

“He would have been better off dead,” Christian said.

“I don’t wish him dead,” Hallie said. “I just wish some of the pain and depression he made me feel upon him. If he could only feel a fraction of what I’ve felt, then I knew he would be suffering for what he’s done.”

After everyone had shared their stories and eat cookies and drank milk, the meeting was called to an end and everyone started to pile out of the Community Room. Hallie threw her jacket over her arm and started out the door when she was stopped by Christian.

“I was wondering if maybe you’d like to hang out and grab a bite to eat,” Christian said. “I can tell we’ve both got so much more to share. We’re a lot alike.”

Hallie thought for a second and then she smiled. “Sure. Wanna go to the Spotlight Diner?”

____________________________________________________________

As Hallie and Christian walked arm-in-arm down the hall, Lana shook her head in disbelief. She slung her duffel bag over her shoulder and decided to cut off Hallie and Christian.

“What is going on with you?” Lana asked Hallie.

“What do you mean, Lana?” Hallie asked.

“Showing up at the Spotlight Diner with Mr. Boy Band Wannabe over there and now you two are walking down the hall together like you’re some hot new couple when I know better.”

“You don’t know me anymore, Lana,” Hallie said. “A lot of things have changed.”

“Well, unless you’ve managed to develop an out-of-nowhere-craving for dick, then nothing has changed, Hallie,” Lana said. “What is this? You can’t be serious.”

“I’m serious, Lana,” Hallie said. “I think that you would have understood. Didn’t you decide to question your sexuality with Chuck? I’m shocked that you would be so hypocritical.”

“I think maybe I should go,” Christian said.

“Oh no,” Lana said, looking at Christian. “You’re staying.”

“I’m in love,” Hallie said.

“No, you’re not in love,” Lana said. “Hallie, I know you better than almost anyone. You’re trying to make me jealous. I can see right through you and your little act. But it’s not going to work. I have Camryn now. The best thing for you is to let me go. We’re over, Hallie. I loved you, but I realized that we weren’t meant to be like I once thought we were. And for his sake, don’t drag him along as you chase after me. He doesn’t deserve that.”

“You really don’t know how I feel, do you” Hallie asked.

“I know what it’s like to feel alone,” Lana said. “But you have to let me go, Hallie, for both of us.”

“Love that once hung on the wall used to mean something, but now it means nothing,” Hallie sang. “The echoes are gone in the hall, but I still remember, the pain of December.”

“Oh, there isn't one thing left you could say,” Lana sang. “I'm sorry it's too late.”

“I'm breaking free from these memories,” Hallie and Lana sang as they looked at one another. “Gotta let it go, just let it go. I've said goodbye, set it all on fire. Gotta let it go, just let it go.”

“You came back to find I was gone and that place is empty,” Lana sang. “Like the hole that was left in me, like we were nothing at all. It's not what you meant to me, thought we were meant to be.”

“Oh, there isn't one thing left you could say,” Hallie sang. “I'm sorry it's too late.”

“This is awkward,” Christian said as he stood there between Lana and Hallie.

“I'm breaking free from these memories,” Lana and Hallie sang. “Gotta let it go, just let it go. I've said goodbye, set it all on fire. Gotta let it go, just let it go.”

“I let it go and now I know a brand new life is down this road,” Lana sang.

“And when it's right, you always know, so this time I won't let go,” Hallie sang. “There's only one thing left here to say: love's never too late.”

“I've broken free from those memories,” Lana sang. “I've let it go, I've let it go and two goodbyes led to this new life.”

“Don't let me go, don't let me go,” Hallie sang. “Don't let me go, don't let me go, don't let me go. Won't let you go, don't let me go. Won't let you go, don't let me go.”

As the song ended, Hallie and Lana didn’t say a word as they stood there, the entire hallway silent. Christian looked on with a confused look, wondering what was going on. Slowly, the sound of high heels clicked down the hallway toward them and Lana instinctively knew who it was.

“What’s going on here?” Camryn asked.

“You know, I really did expect you to be more supportive,” Hallie said. “I guess after all the times that I was there for you and understood where you were coming from, I can’t get the same consideration. Does your girlfriend know that you cheated on me with that bitch, Erica? Or does she know about your secret tattoo? What about Chuck, huh? Does she know that you slept with him, too?”

“Hallie, that’s enough!” Lana said. “And need I remind you that I was drunk during all three?”

“Oh, she doesn’t know, does she?” Hallie asked. “Have fun explaining it to her, then. And in the meantime, I never wanna see you again!”

As Hallie stormed off, Christian gave Lana a sympathetic look before turning to chase after Hallie. Lana stood there, looking at the ground as Camryn walked up to her and put her arm around her.

“I heard everything,” Camryn said.

“Yeah, well, guess I’m a laughing stock now, huh?” Lana asked, fighting back tears.

“Look, Lana, what happened between you two is none of my business,” Camryn replied. “I already know it all, thanks you to. I mean, I guess I should worry that maybe you would cheat on me, but I trust you. Past mistakes do not define you. And, so what if you had sex with a guy? I did too once. It was my sophomore year and I went back to my old summer camp as a counselor. He made a move on me and I thought ‘what the hell?’ So, we did it right there. I got the worst case of poison ivy on my lower back and ass.”

Lana laughed. “Did you like it?”

“Hell no,” Camryn said. “It was awkward and gross. The whole time it didn’t feel right. But, you know, experimenting is normal, no matter what your sexuality is.”

“I guess maybe I should chalk it up to experimenting,” Lana said. “It’s so much simpler than what really happened.”

Camryn laughed. “Nothing you say will change how I feel about you, Lana.”

“Camryn, I don’t want any secrets between us,” Lana said. “That’s why I’ve told you all this. But, there’s something I haven’t told you. It’s something that I’ve been ashamed about for a long time.”

“You can tell me,” Camryn said. “You know that you trust me.”

“I want you to trust me, too,” Lana said.

“I do, Lana, with my life,” Camryn said.

“If I tell you my secret, will you tell me why you don’t want me to meet your parents?” Lana asked.

Camryn nodded. “Okay, I’ll tell you. Like you said, no secrets.”

“I hate my birth mother,” Lana said. “I know that she gave birth to me and all and that I should love her, but in my opinion, she hasn’t earned my love. My real father was killed and Alysia thought I looked too much like him, so she abandoned me. My aunt raised me as her own child and then, when my birth mother came back into my life, she proved to be a royal bitch. So, yeah, I hate her.”

“That’s normal,” Camryn said. “It’s normal to hate someone who wants nothing to do with you.”

“Then why do I feel so ashamed of myself for it?” Lana asked.

“Because she made you feel like you have a reason to be ashamed,” Camryn said. “She was ashamed of you.”

“I guess,” Lana said. “So, what’s the deal with your parents?”

“My parents are very traditional,” Camryn said. “They have all these dreams for me: meet a guy, get married, have kids. They want grandchildren and they think I will be the one to give them that gift.”

“Your parents think you’re straight?” Lana asked.

“Well, not only that,” Camryn replied. “You remember how I used to live with Tyler? Well, they don’t think a man and woman should live together, so I kind of told them that Tyler and I were engaged.”

“Oh snap,” Lana said. “I see why it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to show up at Thanksgiving.”

“But it changes nothing,” Camryn said. “Between us, that is. It just means I will need a little time to wean them off the whole idea of little Camryn-Tyler babies.”

“That’s a scary thought,” Lana said.

“But, you know, I think you made the right decision as far as how you handled that fight with Hallie,” Camryn said as she hugged Lana. “Besides, if Hallie really cares about you as a friend, she will come around. Just give it time. Who knows? She may need to do a little soul searching in the meantime.”

“With a guy?” Lana asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Loneliness is a very confusing and muddling emotion,” Camryn replied. “She just has to find her own way, even if the path she takes is rocky.”

Lana nodded. “I just feel like I’m losing a friend.”

Camryn reached down and took Lana’s hand, holding it tightly. “You’ll always have me, my Mana, you’ll always have me.”

“Mana?” Lana asked, smiling.

“Mana is magic,” Camryn said. “Like you. You are my magic.”

____________________________________________________________

Shayne smiled as she made the last finishing touches on the song that they had written together. Shayne handed it to Jaxon, who looked it over, smiling.

“This is great,” Jaxon said. “This is amazing.”

“We make a great team, Jaxon,” Shayne said. “I have always believed in you and your talent. You know, I was the one who first saw your videos on YouTube. That’s why I showed them to Carmen. Because I knew that you were a star, and not just any garden variety star. You had that something special, Jaxon. I knew that coming here should be your destiny.”

“I’m nothing great,” Jaxon said.

“You are,” Shayne said. “I don’t understand what it was that Ryan failed to see when you auditioned. I couldn’t believe he would turn you down. I went to Carmen and I decided to talk her into reversing your acceptance. But, New Directions won at Internationals, so it didn’t matter. You’re here, that’s what matters.”

“Can we sing our song?” Jaxon asked, looking away with a pained look on his face.

“Yeah, sure,” Shayne said, picking up on the fact that something was troubling Jaxon. “You wanna grab your guitar?”

Jaxon nodded as he reached down and picked up his guitar. Shayne adjusted her microphone stand as Jaxon pulled his chair up beside her.

“I drink a lot,” Shayne sang as she sat down behind her microphone. “Gin and whiskey get me off. And I smoke too much. Some days I can't talk. I need a vice. You could help me past the time. Roll me a smoke, pass me the booze, let me put myself on you. I drink a lot. Keep them coming, shot by shot. And I smoke too much, never can inhale enough.

“I need a vice,” Jaxon sang as he played his guitar. “Fill this emptiness inside. I'm hooked on you. Don't let it stop, kiss me down into your love.”

“Got bruises on my face,” Jaxon and Shayne sang. “Don't recognize these places I'm in when I'm awake. Please, tell me what is happening. Am I a joke?”

“’Cause everybody's laughing,” Jaxon sang.

“Am I a joke?” Shayne and Jaxon sang.

“’Cause everybody's laughing at me,” Jaxon sang.

“I drink a lot,” Shyane sang. “Since you left, it just don't stop. And I smoke a chain. Send them poison to my veins.”

“Need you, my vice,” Jaxon sang. “Cracks is showing in my life.”

“I smoke, I drink, I get fucked up,” Jaxon and Shayne sang.

“Since you left it just don't stop,” Shayne sang.

“There's bruises on my face,” Jaxon and Shayne sang. “Don't recognize these places I'm in when I'm awake. Please, tell me what is happening. Am I a joke?”

“’Cause everybody's laughing,” Jaxon sang.

“Am I a joke?” Jaxon and Shayne sang.

“Everybody's laughing,” Jaxon sang.

“Am I a joke?” Jaxon and Shayne sang.

“Everybody's laughing,” Jaxon sang. “If I choke, wouldn't you be happy? Am I a joke? Everybody's laughing and if I choked, I bet you would be happy.”

As Jaxon sang, he looked up, noticing Ryan standing in the doorway, peering down at him with a glare.

“Got bruises on my face,” Jaxon and Shayne sang. “Don't recognize these places I'm in when I'm awake. Please, tell me what is happening. Am I a joke?”

“’Cause everybody's laughing,” Jaxon sang. “Guess I'm a joke ‘cause all of you are laughing at me.”

As the song ended, Jaxon set his guitar aside and jumped up. He walked toward the wall of mirrors, shielding his face as he cried. Slowly, Shayne stood up, seeing in the mirrors that he was crying. She walked over and put her hand on Jaxon’s shoulder.

“Jaxon, what’s wrong?” Shayne asked. “You can tell me.”

“This place kills me every day,” Jaxon said. “I look at these mirrors and I don’t like who I see in them. I don’t like that there is a person here who shouldn’t be here and he seems unfazed—”

“Jaxon, what are you talking about?” Shayne asked. “You deserve to be here. You earned it.”

“He doesn’t want me here!” Jaxon said, slumping forward onto the mirror.

Shayne looked concerned as Jaxon began to sob uncontrollably. She wrapped her arm around Jaxon, holding him tightly.

“Jaxon, who doesn’t want you here?” Shayne asked.

“Every time I look at him, I feel dirty,” Jaxon said. “I feel cheap, I feel worthless.”

“Jaxon, please,” Shayne pleaded, her voice stern. “You have to tell me.”

Jaxon turned around, his lower lip quivering as he looked at Shayne and the genuine concern on her face as her eyes met Jaxon’s.

____________________________________________________________

As Jaxon hurried out of the Dance 101 studio, he bumped into Lana, Camryn, Tyler, and Evan. As he bumped into them, he nearly knocked Tyler to his feet. Tyler grabbed Jaxon, stopping his momentum, saving both of them from falling.

“Jaxon, what’s wrong?” Tyler asked.

“I think it’s you-know-who again,” Lana said, looking up and seeing Ryan fade into the distance ahead of them.

“I really don’t wanna talk about it,” Jaxon said.

“Look, we ran into Evan and Tyler on our way home,” Camryn said. “We’re all going to eat at the Spotlight Diner. You wanna come?”

Jaxon nodded. “I need to get out of here.”

As the five friends started to leave, they heard a commotion coming down the halls. They stopped in their tracks and looked up to see Miles, Krystal, Greg, Madison, Joelle, and a guy whom none of them recognized running down the hall, acting crazy.

“Can you believe that?” Lana asked.

“I can,” Evan replied. “He’s never going to change.”

“Hey!” Chase said as he made his way into the hallway. “No running in the hall, guys. You know the rules!”

Miles stopped for a minute, looking at Chase, who gave him a questioning look. Miles looked back at his new friends, who were waiting patiently.

“Are you coming, Miles?” Krystal asked. “Or are you past that ‘phase’ now?”

Miles looked back at Chase for a moment before he turned to face Krystal.

“I’m coming,” Miles said, following Krystal as he looked back at Chase one last time.

Chase shook his head, a disappointed look on his face. He nodded at Jaxon and the others before he made his way back to his room. Jaxon turned to watch Miles get in the back of Krystal’s expensive convertible. Greg tried to join him, but Krystal shook her head. Greg hung his head down as Madison looked at him, shrugging.

“Some new friends Miles has,” Camryn said, looking at Greg. “Can we invite him with us?”

Lana nodded. “Tell him he’s coming with us.”

As Greg slumped back inside, Tyler put his fingers in his mouth and whistled at Greg. Greg looked up at the group of friends, confused.

“You’re coming with us,” Lana said. “And it’s my treat, okay?”

Greg smiled as he walked over to join the others. Tyler put his arm around Greg and pulled him to join the group.

“I have something to say, but I can't tell I swore I wouldn't let it go,” Jaxon sang, looking at his friends one-by-one.

“But you can’t say just that,” Lana sang as they began walking. “Now you gotta let me know.”

“Come a little closer, I'll whisper in your ear,” Camryn sang. “Promise me you won't repeat anything you hear.”

“She can't keep a secret,” all six of them sang. “He can't keep one either. Crossing hearts and mother's grave won't help human nature. I can't keep a secret if you can't keep one either. No, when you tell a secret, hush, hush. You're screaming, tell me, tell me! Tell me, tell me, baby, just tell me. And you can tell me, tell me. Tell me, tell your secret, just tell me.”

“So easy to turn around, forget the vow,” Evan sang. “Attempted by the high of staying here.”

“It's just a little secret, what's the big deal?” Tyler sang. “Couldn't be so bad, never seemed so real.”

“Poor thing, your life is so boring,” Camryn sang.

“You have to talk about somebody else,” Lana sang.

“Just pop a new twist and that's your secret,” Jaxon sang.

“She can't keep a secret,” they all sang. “He can't keep one either. Crossing hearts and mother's grave won't help human nature. I can't keep a secret if you can't keep one either. No, when you tell a secret, hush, hush. You're screaming, tell me, tell me! Tell me, tell me, baby, just tell me. And you can tell me, tell me. Tell me, tell your secret, just tell me.”

“Tsk-tsk, hit on me,” Greg sang. “You're bad, you know it. Kiss-kiss, hit on me. You're bad, you know it.”

“I have something to say but I can't tell I swore, I swore,” Evan sang.

“You have something to say but you can't tell you swore, you swore,” Tyler sang.

“She can't keep a secret,” Jaxon, Tyler, Evan, and Greg sang. “I won't keep one either.”

“No, no, no,” Lana and Camryn sang. “No, no, no.”

As the song came to end, everyone looked up to see that they were at their destination. They turned around as they heard the sound of loud music and the roar of the engine of a sports car behind them. As the car passed, it was almost in slow motion as Miles looked indifferent as he looked directly at his former friends.

 

THE END

Song CoversEdit

VideosEdit

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