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Self-Esteem
Season 3, Episode 9
AdamSE
Air date TBA
Written by JamesonOTP
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Self-Esteem is the ninth episode of Season 3 of Glee: The Next Generation and the fifty-third episode overall.

Lana overhears her parents talking and realize they are hiding something from her. Miles struggles with the decision to get plastic surgery to fix his scar. When Miles' announcement brings out everyone's physical insecurites, Mr. Schue and Sue decide it's time to devote a lesson to self esteem. Miles' friends try to get through to him that he doesn't need plastic surgery, but is it too late? Will Miles go through with it? Meanwhile, it's Adam who personally comes to Nicole's aid over her insecurities and he shocks everyone by revealing his own deep, dark secret.

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Glee: The Next Generation Season 2, Episode #9: "Self-Esteem"Edit

So here’s what you missed on Glee: The Next Generation:

Lana’s been pretty much a rebel here lately. She pretended to date Ana after her mom told her to break up with Hallie and continued to date Hallie in secret. Now she’s been dropping money left and right on her friends. Sure, Lana’s got the cash to drop, but her mom still thinks she should ask first, which she has totally hasn’t been doing. Uh oh! Miles has always struggled with the scar on his face. In fact, when he first joined Glee Club, he was never seen without his sunglasses. But since then, he threw them in the trash, but he’s never fully gotten over how his scar has affected him. Adam has struggled with self-harm in the past, as did Miles’ close friend, John. John paid the ultimate price when he committed suicide just over a year ago. Miles always felt guilty because he knew that John was hurting himself but felt he didn’t try harder to stop John from cutting. Things in Adam’s life are just so complicated and the tip of the iceberg is his crush on Nicole, who hinted to her friend Evan that she may be keeping a secret where her seemingly perfect relationship with Dillon is concerned.

And that’s what you missed on Glee!

____________________________________________________________

Lana sighed as she walked into the living room and dropped her backpack by the sofa.

I don’t care if that’s where it goes or not, Mom. I just don’t care. It’s causing harm to no one. Just let it be, Lana thought.

“Hi mom,” she said as she started toward the kitchen.

As she reached the doorway to the kitchen, she stopped as she saw her mom and dad standing over the kitchen sink, talking with their backs to her. Callie hurriedly shoved some dishes in the dishwasher.

“I know,” Callie said. “Lana has to find out sometime, but now is not the right time. The less she knows about the situation, the better.”

“Lana is a highly intelligent kid, Callie,” Lana’s father said. “She’s gonna know something is up.”

“We don’t have to tell her anything, Wyatt,” Callie said. “The information is voluntary and if we don’t volunteer it—”

“Hi, Mom,” Lana said, acting like she had just arrived at the doorway and started into the kitchen. “And hello, Dad. Surprised to see you here since you know, you’re gone all the time.”

Wyatt Addison, Sr. walked over and kissed Lana on the top of her head. “Don’t get used to it, kiddo. I have a flight first thing tomorrow morning.”

“Like always,” Lana said, disappointed.

“I’ll be back before you know it,” Wyatt Sr. replied.

“For another night and then it’s off to St. Louis, Las Vegas, New York, Hong Kong, or wherever your job takes you next,” Lana said as she sat down. “You’ll bring a big bag of things you bought for me while you were there, hope it keeps me entertained until you get back, and then it’s the same song and dance all over again.”

“Lana,” Callie said sternly.

Wyatt Sr. cut his eyes at Callie. “Callie, she’s just saying how she feels. Not like I can argue, anyway. It’s true.”

He sighed as he took a seat in the chair next to Lana.

“I just miss you, Dad,” Lana said, her head lowered.

“I miss you too, Champ.” Wyatt Sr. said as he put his arm around Lana.

____________________________________________________________

The next day, as Lana slumped out of chemistry, Jaxon chased after her.

“Hey,” Jaxon said. “Why the long face?”

Lana sighed. “I don’t want to bore you with the mundane details of my crappy life.”

Jaxon gave Lana a disapproving look. “I don’t like when you talk like that.”

“It’s my dad,” Lana said “He came back to town last night for the first time since school began and when I woke up this morning, he was already gone again.”

“At least you still have a dad,” Jaxon said.

“Oh,” Lana said “Jaxon, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

“You forgot,” Jaxon said. “Everyone always forgets.”

“Jaxon, I really didn’t mean to upset you,” Lana said.

“It’s fine, Lana,” Jaxon said. “It just takes some adjusting and I’m not used to it yet. Sometimes I sneak into my parent’s room, take one of his shirts, and—”

“Smell it,” Lana and Jaxon said in unison.

“It’s almost like he’s there,” Lana said.

“I sleep with my dad’s shirt sometimes,” Jaxon said. “It makes me feel like he’s there. Like I’m still a little kid and this whole thing was a dream. If I just hold his shirt, smelling his scent, it’s almost like he’s gonna walk into my room the next morning and tell me, ‘see, Slugger? You made it through. Bad dreams don’t last forever.’ But then, he never does.”

Lana stopped, her eyes teary, and grabbed Jaxon. She hugged him tightly, not wanting to let go. Jaxon smiled as he reached up and patted Lana on the back.

“I love you,” Lana said.

“I love you, too,” Jaxon said.

____________________________________________________________

Will and Sue sat quietly in their seats, staring at Miles as Lana and Jaxon entered the choir room, hand-in-hand.

“Oh, don’t you two look a cute little straight couple,” Taylor mused sarcastically.

“It’s called being best friends,” Lana said.

“It’s called bite me,” Taylor said.

“It’s called ‘I don’t wanna catch the dumb,’ just so you know,” Lana said.

Will cut his eyes over at Taylor. “Taylor, that’s enough. Just because you’re upset over what Miles has said, it doesn’t mean you can take it out on everyone else. And Lana, don’t you start, too.”

“I’m waiting for your thoughts, Mr. Schue,” Miles said.

Will sighed. “I feel there is nothing I can say that you will listen to, Miles. I know you all too well. You get your heart and mind set on something, there is no turning you away from your dreams, or in this case, your crazy ideas.”

“Okay,” Lana said, raising her hand. “In case you guys didn’t notice, Jaxon and I are joining a previously scheduled program already in progress due to the fact our arrival was preempted by a best friend moment outside the chemistry classroom. So please excuse me when I say, can we at least get a recap? Or even a Cliff’s Notes version?”

“My very rich and very generous grandmother sent me a rather large check,” Miles said. “For an early graduation, early Christmas, and late birthday present. It was enough to finally do something I have wanted to do for a while.”

“Go to Disney Land?” Kevin asked.

“No,” Miles said.

“Disney World?” Kevin asked.

Miles sighed. “Someone?”

Taylor reached over and slapped Kevin in the back of the head. She examined her nails carefully, making sure she didn’t chip her manicure.

“Thank you,” Miles said. “No, Kevin. Now that I am no longer living with my parents, I finally have the freedom to do what I want and what I wanna do is get surgery to fix my scar.”

“Why?” Rose asked. “Forgive me for saying so, but I think your scar is one of your best features, Miles. It gives you character.”

“I’ve been teased and taunted all my life,” Miles said. “I’ve been called Scar, Scarface, Sub-Zero, Left-Eye, anything you can think of.”

“I love TLC,” Kevin said.

“You think I haven’t been called names?” Rose asked. “I’ve been called Ginger, Red, Firecrotch. I’ve had people tell me I have no soul. Your own girlfriend called me Lindsay Lohan and Cheetara. But you know what? I wouldn’t change who I am for anything in the world, because it makes me unique. It makes me who I am.”

“Sorry that I’m not as confident in my looks as you, Rose,” Miles said.

“You don’t get it, do you?” Rose asked. “You’re handsome, Miles. You are a great singer and rapper. You are a great friend. You’re a star wide receiver on the football team. You have so much going for you in spite of your scar. But, you’re letting it hold you back because you let it.”

“I can't eat anything without shoving my hands down my throat,” Miles sang. “And I refuse to meet the world without smearing on makeup. With my hair blinding my eyes, blinding my eyes. I can't remember the last time I've seen my own eyes or the color of my skin. Do you know what it's like to feel ugly all the time?”

Rose crossed her arms, not amused. She sat back down in her set and shook her head in disbelief as Miles continued to sing.

“I stretch myself across the world, pushing my limits for your entertainment. And you had the nerve to call out my weaknesses and drag me through the dirt. I can't remember the last time I've seen my own eyes or the color of my skin. Do you know what it's like to feel ugly all the time? I'm staring in the mirror, looking back at the person I hate. I'm staring in the mirror, looking back at the person I hate. I'm staring in the mirror, looking back at the person I hate. I'm staring in the mirror, looking back at the person I hate.”

Rose looked over at her other friends, who looked as uncomfortable as she did.

“Do something,” Rose mouthed to Jaxon. Jaxon shrugged.

“I can't remember the last time I've seen my own eyes or the color of my skin. Do you know what it's like? I can't remember the last time I've seen my own eyes or the color of my skin. Do you know what it's like to feel ugly all the time? The color of my skin. Do you know what it's like to feel ugly all the—”

“Miles,” Sue said, standing up. “I am sorry but someone has to say this. Get over it, huh? A scar is a scar. So what, you’re a little insecure. Just do what all insecure young guys with daddy issues do…go into porn.”

Miles’ jaw dropped. “What? I don’t really have daddy issues.”

“Yes you do,” Sue emphasized.

“Sue!” Will said, standing up. “I think you’ve done enough damage.”

“I don’t really care what anyone thinks,” Miles said. “I’m going through with this. Now, pardon my sudden exit but I have an appointment for my pre-surgery evaluation, so I will see you all tomorrow.”

Will buried his face in his hands as Miles walked out of the choir room.

“Why didn’t you do something?” Rose asked, looking at Jaxon. “You’re his best friend!”

“I didn’t know what to do,” Jaxon said. “You know Miles, he’s headstrong.”

“I wanna be Armstrong,” Kevin said. “Stretch Armstrong.”

Rose scoffed in disbelief as she reached over and slapped Kevin on the back of his head.

“How can you be so…so…so…YOU, Kevin?” Rose asked. “Can’t you be supportive?”

“I try,” Kevin said. “But I’m pretty busy being oblivious,” Kevin said. “Or at least that is what my biology teacher said.”

“Aren’t you gonna say anything?” Rose asked, looking at first Lana, then Adam, and lastly Bella. “I mean you’re his other two best friends and his ex-girlfriend.”

“Yeah,” Bella said. “His EX-girlfriend. I try not to talk to him more than I have too. Besides, our split was not very amicable. I don’t think I’ve said more than five things to him all year.”

“But to be fair,” Jaxon said, “our Pride lesson from two years ago really do through to Miles and you were a huge part of that, Bella.”

“So, don’t you see?” Rose asked. “You have to talk to Miles.”

Bella sighed. “That’s not who I am anymore. I’ve spent the better part of the time since Miles dumped me for India trying to move on. Why would I stir up everything that I’ve tried so hard to leave in the past?”

“Because you’re not a vindictive person,” Jaxon said. “Sure, you’ve had your moments, Bella, but for the most part, you’re one of the most unselfish people in New Directions.”

“I think Miles needs all of us right now,” Will said. “He’s at a very confusing point in his life and he needs our support. I think we should do an update of that very pride lesson that first got through to Miles and helped him build the courage to throw away his shades. We can do it on self-esteem this time and hopefully get through to Miles and help him discover that he doesn’t need surgery to feel better about himself.”

“Do you ever stop and think to yourself that you sound like a fortune cookie?” Sue asked Will, who rolled his eyes.

____________________________________________________________

As Lana walked down the hall, headed toward the auditorium, she pulled her hoodie over her head and stuck her ear buds into her ears as she walked.

Sorry if this sounds selfish, but I have bigger fish to fry than stroking Miles’ ego. My parents are keeping a secret from me, my dad totally left without saying goodbye, and I was feeling pretty depressed.

Maybe I just see this as another of Miles’ crazy stunts. Seriously, it all began with him bleaching his hair in what I can only call some harebrained attempt to be more like New Directions’ golden boy, Jaxon. But seriously, I don’t see Miles’ big issue. He has a hot girlfriend, popularity…all in spite of his scar. Why was he so hung up on it? I couldn’t care less about my looks. I just wanted to be happy.

Lana slowly pushed open the auditorium door as the music in her ear began to play.

“Someone once told me that you have to choose what you win or lose,” Lana sang as she walked down the empty aisles. “You can't have everything. Don't you take chances, might feel the pain. Don't you love in vain ‘cause love won't set you free. I can't stand by the side and watch this life pass me by. So unhappy, but safe as could be.”

Lana turned and started to jog up the steps to the balcony as she sang.

“So what if it hurts me? So what if I break down? So what if this world just throws me off the edge, my feet run out of ground? I gotta find my place, I wanna hear my sound. Don't care about all the pain in front of me ‘cause I'm just trying to be happy, yeah. Just wanna be happy, yeah.”

Lana walked the balcony, her hand, running along the railing. She grabbed the railing and vaulted, jumping onto the railing. She stood there, perched over the entire auditorium, feeling the rush of adrenaline.

“Holding on tightly, just can't let it go. Just trying to play my role, slowly disappear, oh. But all these days, they feel like they're the same. Just different faces, different names—get me out of here. I can't stand by your side, oh no, and watch this life pass me by, pass me by.”

Lana jumped off the railing, turning around as she did so, and jogged back down the steps.

“So what if it hurts me? So what if I break down? So what if this world just throws me off the edge, my feet run out of ground? I gotta find my place, I wanna hear my sound. Don't care about all the pain in front of me ‘cause I'm just trying to be happy, oh, happy, oh.”

Lana stepped up onto the stage and walked toward the microphone stand, her eyes closed as she gave herself to the music.

“So any turns that I can't see, like I'm a stranger on this road. But don't say victim, don't say anything. So what if it hurts me? So what if I break down? So what if this world just throws me off the edge, my feet run out of ground? I gotta find my place, I wanna hear my sound. Don't care about all the pain in front of me. I just wanna be happy. Oh, yeah, happy, oh, happy. I just wanna be, oh. I just wanna be happy. Oh, happy.”

As the song ended and Lana pulled her ear buds out of her ear, she heard a single person applauding. She looked toward the door and saw Jaxon there, clapping for her.

____________________________________________________________

The next day during Glee Club, all the guys stood in the front of the choir room, facing the girls, Will, and Sue.

“We prepared a little boy band number for you ladies, and of course you, Mr. Schue,” Evan said.

“Please say it’s Backstreet Boys,” Bella said.

“No way!” Honey said. “N’SYNC for the win!”

Nicole scoffed. “New Kids on the Block is the greatest boy band ever, hands down.”

James shook his head. “Actually, it’s a little more modern than those. Have you guys heard of One Direction?”

Rose let out a loud squeal. “One Direction? Oh my gosh! Zayn, marry me!”

Lana cut her eyes at Rose. “Really? I mean, just…really?”

“I don’t get the appeal of boy bands,” Hallie said. “Perfectly dressed, highly coordinated, harmonizing pretty boys with silly little dance moves?”

Lana snickered.

“Just sit back and enjoy the song, huh?” Aldy asked.

Lana, Hallie, and Natasha didn’t look too impressed as the music started up. Lana looked over at the other girls, who stared at the boys, wide-eyed and on the verge of becoming fangirls.

“You're insecure, don't know what for,” Jaxon said as he stepped forward and winked at Bella. “You're turning heads when you walk through the door. Don't need make-up to cover up. Being the way that you are is enough.”

“Everyone else in the room can see it,” Aldy sang as he took Natasha’s hand and kissed it. “Everyone else but you.”

“Baby you light up my world like nobody else,” the New Directions boys sang as Evan grabbed Ana and began to dance with her. “The way that you flip your hair gets me . when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell you don't know, oh oh. You don't know you're beautiful. If only you saw what I can see, you'll understand why I want you so desperately. Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe you don't know, oh oh. You don't know you're beautiful, oh oh. That's what makes you beautiful.”

“So c-come on,” Kevin sang as he blew Rose a kiss, which she pretended to catch. “You got it wrong. To prove I'm right, I put it in a song, I don't know why you're being shy and turn away when I look into your ey-ey-eyes.”

“Everyone else in the room can see it,” Aldy sang to Natasha. “Everyone else but you,”

“Baby you light up my world like nobody else,” The New Directions boys sang as James walked over and sat on Hallie’s lap, putting his arms around her. “The way that you flip your hair gets me . when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell you don't know, oh oh. You don't know you're beautiful. If only you saw what I can see, you'll understand why I want you so desperately. Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe you don't know, oh oh. You don't know you're beautiful, oh oh. That's what makes you beautiful. Na na na na na na na na na na. Na na na na na na. Na na na na na na na na na na. Na na na na na na.”

“Baby you light up my world like nobody else,” Miles sang as he walked forward and took Taylor’s hand. “The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed. But when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell—”

“You don't know, oh oh,” they all sang as Claude handed a rose to Lana. “You don't know you're beautiful.”

“Baby you light up my world like nobody else,” the New Directions boys sang as Adam smiled at Nicole, who blushed. “The way that you flip your hair gets me . when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell you don't know, oh oh. You don't know you're beautiful. If only you saw what I can see, you'll understand why I want you so desperately. Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe you don't know, oh oh. You don't know you're beautiful, oh oh.

“That's what makes you beautiful,” James sang to Hallie.

As the rest of the boys took their seats, Evan stayed at the front of the classroom.

“I have been working on a song for the assignment with Bella and Hallie,” he said. “If you girls would come on up.”

Bella and Hallie smiled as they got up and walked over to the three stools that sat there. Bella took the one on the right and Hallie the one on the left. Evan grabbed his guitar and took a seat on the one in the middle.

“Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine,” Hallie sang. “Says she wants to look that way but her hair isn't straight, her body isn't fake and she's always felt overweight.”

“Well, little girl fourteen I wish that you could see that beauty is within your heart,” Evan sang as he strummed his guitar. “And you were made with such care, your skin, your body and your hair are perfect just the way they are. There could never be a more beautiful you.”

“Fall in love with beautiful you,” Bella and Hallie sang.

“Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through,” Evan sang.

“Beautiful you,” Bella and Hallie sang.

“You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do. So there could never be a more beautiful you.”

“Little girl twenty one the things that you've already done,” Bella sang. “Anything to get ahead and you say you've got a man but he's got another plan. Only wants what you will do instead.”

“Well, little girl twenty one you never thought that this would come,” Evan sang. “You starve yourself to play the part. But I can promise you there's a man whose love is true and He'll treat you like the jewel you are. There could never be a more beautiful you.”

“Fall in love with beautiful you,” Bella and Hallie sang.

“Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through,” Evan sang.

“Beautiful you,” Bella and Hallie sang.

“You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do,” Evan sang. “So there could never be a more beautiful you. So turn around you're not too far to back away, be who you are. To change your path, go another way. It's not too late, you can be saved. If you feel depressed with past regrets, the shameful nights hope to forget can disappear. They can all be washed away by the one who's strong, can right your wrongs, can rid your fears, dry all your tears and change the way you look at this big world. He will take your dark distorted view and with His light, He will show you truth and again you'll see through the eyes of a little girl.”

“Eyes of a little girl,” Bella and Hallie sang.

“That there could never be a more beautiful you,” Evan sang.

“Fall in love with beautiful you,” Bella and Hallie sang.

“Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through,” Evan sang.

“Beautiful you,” Bella and Hallie sang.

“You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do. So there could never be a more beautiful you.”

Will stood up and applauded. “That was a great song for self-esteem week, Evan.”

“Self-esteem week?” Miles asked. “Oh, I get it now. I see what this is about. It’s really ‘sing songs about how we’re fine and dandy the way we are and maybe Miles won’t go through with the surgery’ week. Well, tough. It’s not gonna work. My surgery is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon after Glee Club and nothing you guys can do is gonna change my mind.”

____________________________________________________________

After Glee Club had dismissed, Jaxon, James, Lana, Hallie, Bella, Evan, Rose, and Kevin all stayed behind to discuss the Miles issue.

“You heard Miles,” Evan said. “There’s nothing we can do to change his mind.”

“I refuse to believe that,” Rose said. “There has to be something we can do to change his mind. Surely Miles is not that shallow.”

“It’s not about being shallow,” Bella replied. “It’s about his self-esteem. Miles, through having his scar, has been conditioned by both society and himself to feel ugly. Poor self-image is a serious problem and it affects most everyone in some no matter how highly you feel they should think of themselves.”

“I think we’re doing the wrong thing here,” Jaxon said. “I think we should support Miles no matter what his decision is. When James joined the Berry clan and had to contemplate the decision of whether to follow Jewish custom and get circumcised—”

“Oh god, this discussion just took the darkest path possible,” Lana said. “Now we’re talking about male genitalia.”

“That’s not the point,” Jaxon said. “The point is, I told him I would stand by his decision no matter what.”

“I decided not to and everyone accepted that,” James added.

“But that has to do with culture and religion,” Rose said. “This is a vanity reason.”

Bella sighed in frustration. “Sorry, Rose, but I have to disagree with you. You’re lucky that you are able to be so comfortable in your skin. The rest of us aren’t. I understand where Miles is going from. I struggled with bulimia the past two years.”

“What?” Hallie asked, shocked.

“Oh, this is too good,” Lana said. “Little Miss Perfect isn’t so perfect.”

“You heard me,” Bella said. “I went to rehab over the summer and finally, I feel like I have this sickness beat.”

“How come you never told me?” Hallie asked. “We’re best friends.”

“Used to be best friends,” Bella corrected. “Since we broke up and I started dating Reece, I’m lucky if you even talk to me. I really didn’t wanna tell you because I know you’d act like nothing changed and that would be selfish of me because I know otherwise and I shouldn’t guilt you into feeling sorry for me and being my best friend again.”

“You wouldn’t,” Hallie said. “I care, Bella.”

Lana looked uncomfortable as she looked at Hallie.

____________________________________________________________

Nicole sat in the empty choir room, not moving, and staring down at the floor. Adam started past the choir room, but upon seeing Nicole, he stopped and walked in to join her.

“Nicole?” Adam asked, sitting his books on the piano and walking over to join her.

“Don’t look at me,” Nicole said, a tear running down her cheek.

Adam frowned as he looked at Nicole. He took her chin and pulled her face to look him directly in the eyes.

“Tell me what’s wrong,” Adam said.

“Things have been rough between me and Dillon,” Nicole said. “The pressures of being a Warbler, his school work, his parent’s divorce…it’s all getting to him.”

“Why are you crying?” Adam asked.

“I know I should feel like I deserve better than the names he calls me, the times he loses his temper a bit and pushes me—”

Nicole stopped halfway, suddenly aware of how much she had just said.

“He puts his hands on you?” Adam asked.

Nicole nodded slowly. “Please, Adam. You can’t tell anyone. The others won’t be too happy and when it comes time for Sectionals, they’ll confront Dillon. If that happens, I know Lana, Miles, or Evan won’t be able to stop themselves from trying to hurt him and we can’t be disqualified from Sectionals. We all worked too hard and this is our last year to win Internationals. I can’t let my team down.”

“At what cost?’ Adam said. “At the cost of causing yourself harm?”

No sooner than he said it, Adam realized how much of a hypocrite he was. He rubbed his arm as he sighed.

“I have to win Internationals,” Nicole said. “No matter the cost.”

“As long as we’re keeping secrets,” Adam said. “Can you keep mine?”

Nicole nodded. “Of course, Adam.”

Adam pulled his sleeve up and showed Nicole his scars. Her mouth feel open as she reached out and gently ran her hand up his arm. Adam winced a bit.

“Adam,” Nicole barely choked out. “You cut yourself?”

“I have a difficult life,” Adam said. “I have lesbian parents, my dad is a sperm donor I will never know. I have a younger brother that seems to be the center of attention at my house now. And I am head over heels in love with the most amazing girl on the face of the planet. But she’s dating a guy who treats her like dirt.”

“It’s the stress,” Nicole said. “He wasn’t always like this.”

“That’s the thing, Nicole. Life is full of stress. He’s never gonna stop and the more he does it, the less reluctant he’ll be. Soon, it won’t matter if he’s stressed or not. He’ll beat you all the time, Nicole, and you may not live to warn other girls of the dangers of putting up with something like this.”

“Before Dillon, I felt like I would never find love,” Nicole said. “I was this super awkward nerd who was too brainy for her own good. I didn’t wanna wear make-up or fix my hair up fancy. I felt comfortable in sneakers, jeans, and t-shirts. And I thought to myself, no guy is ever gonna want me. I’ll just the frumpy female best friend.”

“But guys do want you, Nicole. Didn’t you hear what Taylor read from John’s diary? He was head over heels for you. I am head over heels for you and I don’t care if you come into Glee Club in a tank top, flip-flops, and sweats, with your head shaved and eating potato chips. You are beautiful, Nicole. You’re perfect to me.”

Nicole blushed. “You really think so?”

Adam smiled as he walked over to the piano and took a seat on the bench and began to play.

“Oh, her eyes, her eyes make the stars look like they're not shining,” Adam sang. “Her hair, her hair falls perfectly without her trying. She's so beautiful and I tell her every day, yeah. I know, I know when I compliment her she won't believe me. And it's so, it's so sad to think that she don't see what I see. But every time she asks me ‘do I look okay?’ I say when I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change. ‘cause you're amazing just the way you are. And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while. ‘Cause girl you're amazing just the way you are.”

Nicole blushed as she watched Adam as he played the piano and sang to her.

“Her lips, her lips, I could kiss them all day if she'd let me. Her laugh, her laugh she hates but I think it's so sexy. She's so beautiful and I tell her every day. Oh, you know, you know, you know I'd never ask you to change. If perfect's what you're searching for, then just stay the same. So don't even bother asking if you look okay, you know I'll say. When I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change. 'Cause you're amazing, just the way you are. And when you smile, he whole world stops and stares for a while. 'Cause girl you're amazing, just the way you are.”

Adam smiled as he looked at Nicole.

“The way you are, the way you are. Girl you're amazing, just the way you are. When I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change. ‘Cause you're amazing, just the way you are. And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for awhile. ‘Cause girl you're amazing, just the way you are, yeah.”

“Thanks for keeping my secret,” Nicole said.

“Thanks for keeping mine,” Adam said.

Miles stood in the doorway, watching as Adam pulled his shirt sleeve back down. Angry, he stormed down the hall.

____________________________________________________________

Miles stood under the giant tree, looking down at John’s grave. He choked as he stared at the tombstone.

“I don’t know why I am here,” Miles said. “I don’t know why I am talking to you like you hear me. But all I know is that I failed you, John. I could have worked harder to save you and I didn’t and now you’re gone and I’m talking to a freaking slab of stone with your name carved into it.”

Miles looked up as the wind whistled around him. He looked back down and continued.

“I should have tried harder to save you, John but I was afraid of pushing you as a friend. Because I saw how it pushed us apart when I confronted you over what you did to yourself. And guess what? I lost you as a friend, anyway. I never forgave myself, John. I will carry my guilt to my own grave.”

Miles squatted down, closer to the grave as dead leaves crunched beneath his feet.

“I have a friend and he reminds me of you, John. He hurts himself, too. I promise that I’m not gonna fail him like I failed you. You have my word that I will make up for how I failed you. I’m gonna save Adam, no matter the cost. If I have to walk through fire and flames or jump through hoops, I will. I freaking promise you I will.”

Miles covered his eyes with his hand as he began to cry. He reached down and grabbed his duffle bag, reached in, and pulled out John’s letterman jacket. He stood up and pulled it onto the tombstone as if it was wearing it.

“I promise,” Miles said

____________________________________________________________

Lana sighed as she walked into the kitchen and stood there, waiting for her mother to acknowledge her.

“Lana,” Callie said. “Came to help me with supper?”

“No, actually,” Lana replied. “I’m here to ask you a question. You and Dad were talking about something the other day in the kitchen. What was it about?”

Callie laughed nervously. “Oh, nothing. You know how trivial things can seem like much more sometimes.”

“You’re lying,” Lana said. “You’re keeping something from me. I heard that much.”

“You know,” Callie said. “We’re not the only one lying and keeping things from someone around here. Like you lied about how Ana was your girlfriend. And I know you’ve been seeing that Hallie girl behind my back.”

“I have not,” Lana said quickly.

“I’m not stupid, Lana!” Callie shouted. “I wasn’t born yesterday!”

“You have no idea how much Hallie means to me!” Lana shouted back.

“Look, if you wanna mess up your life and throw away your bright future, that’s fine, Lana. But don’t expect me to pick up the pieces when it happens.”

Callie threw a China plate to the floor, causing Lana to jump. The plate shattered as Callie shakily brought her hand to her head, holding it in frustration.

“Get a broom and clean that up,” Callie said as she walked out, leaving Lana standing there, shocked.

____________________________________________________________

The next day, everyone sat quietly in the choir room. The entire room had a tension in the air. Finally, Rose stood up and broke it.

“Miles, I know you said that we can’t change your mind. But, I that still doesn’t mean I can’t share my opinion, too. So I chose this song. Because although you may not be confident in who you are, I am.”

Miles nodded. “Proceed, Rose.”

“My hair's a wreck, mascara runs,” Rose sang. “My feet get dirty and my skin burns in the sun. My lips, they bleed but I still sing my songs. Takes me a minute to admit it when I'm wrong. Pretty is as pretty does but pretty's not my thing. This is what you get. This is who I am. Take me now or leave me any way you can. Sometimes I trip and fall, but I know where I stand. And if you're thinking about changing my direction, don't mess with imperfection.”

Rose walked over and put her microphone in the microphone stand. She titled it back slowly as she sang into it.

“My back is weak, but my will is true. Got good intentions but I never follow through. I say too much and don't know when to leave. In case you're looking, that's my heart there on my sleeve. Ego trips and stupid slip ups, I'm a mess but this is what you get. This is who I am. Take me now or leave me any way you can. Sometimes I trip and fall, but I know where I stand. And if you're thinking about changing my direction, don't mess with imperfection.”

Rose lifted the microphone stand, holding it horizontally as she sang into it.

“Scratched and bruised, a little used but baby I work fine. You might call me damaged goods, but I'm one of a kind. My hair's a wreck. No I'm not perfect but I'm not the only one. This is what you get. This is who I am. Take me now or leave me any way you can. Sometimes I trip and fall, but I know where I stand. And if you're thinking about changing my direction, don't mess with imperfection. This is who I am. And if you're thinking about changing my direction, don't mess with imperfection.”

The choir room erupted into cheers as Miles joined in, trying not to seem like he still didn’t agree with her.

“That was great,” Will said.

“We have a song too,” Bella said as she got up and joined Rose. “Miles, we’ve been going at this all wrong. We just want you to be happy, no matter if that happiness is found inside yourself by accepting your imperfections or if it’s found by fixing them. No matter what you choose, Miles, you’re perfect to us. We love you a lot.”

The rest of New Directions got up and walked to the front of the room.

“This is for you,” Jaxon said.

“Made a wrong turn once or twice,” Bella sang. “Dug my way out, blood and fire. Bad decisions, that's alright. Welcome to my silly life.”

“Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood,” Hallie sang. “Miss ‘no way, it's all good.’ It didn't slow me down. Mistaken, always second guessing. Underestimated, look I'm still around.”

“Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel like you're less than, less than perfect,” New Directions sang. “Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing, you are perfect to me.”

“You're so mean when you talk about yourself. You were wrong,” Rose sang. “Change the voices in your head. Make them like you instead.”

“So complicated,” Jaxon sang. “Look happy, you'll make it! Filled with so much hatred, such a tired game. It's enough, I've done all I could think of. Chased down all my demons. I've seen you do the same, oh.”

“Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel like you're less than, less than perfect,” New Directions sang. “Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing, you are perfect to me.”

“The whole world's scared, so I swallow the fear,” Aldy sang. “The only thing I should be drinking is an ice cold beer. So cool in line and we try, try, try but we try too hard and it's a waste of my time.”

“Done looking for the critics, cause they're everywhere,” Lana sang. “They don't like my jeans, they don't get my hair. Exchange ourselves and we do it all the time. Why do we do that, why do I do that, why do I do that?”

“Yeah, I'm Pretty, pretty, pretty,” Taylor sang.

“Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel like you're less than, less than perfect,” New Directions sang. “Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing, you are perfect to me. Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel like you're less than, less than perfect. Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing, you are perfect to me.”

Miles smiled, trying to hide the fact that a tear was rolling down his cheek.

____________________________________________________________

Miles shut his locker and exhaled sharply, gathering his courage. Taylor appeared beside him. He looked at her and did a double take.

“Your hair,” Miles said. “You’re a brunette.”

“I figured since you dyed your hair and you’re getting surgery to fix your scar, maybe I should do something to make my life easier.”

Miles raised an eyebrow. “How does this help?”

“No more blonde jokes,” Taylor said. “Anyway, I gotta go. I have to do my homework so I can come see you this afternoon.”

“You don’t believe I’m going through with it, do you?” Miles said. “I’m going through with it, Taylor.”

Taylor nodded. “Then who am I to stop you. I’m your girlfriend and I should support you.”

Miles turned back to his locker as Taylor walked off. When he turned back around, he saw Lana and Adam talking. He started toward them.

“Adam,” Miles said. “I saw you in the choir room yesterday. You promised me that you quit cutting yourself. You promised me! And look at you!”

Miles grabbed Adam’s arm roughly and yanked his sleeve up, examining the scars. Lana looked first at Adam’s arm, then Adam, and finally Miles.

“Miles, you’re scaring him! Let go!” Lana said.

“Don’t you care about him? Miles said. “What he is doing is dangerous, Lana. You may not have known him, but one of my best friends was a cutter and he killed himself. I refuse to let another of my friends kill himself!”

“I’m not suicidal,” Adam insisted. “I do it to help with the pain. The physical pain distracts me from the emotional. It’s a coping device.”

“A dangerous one,” Miles said. “You know what his cause of death was, Lana?”

“Miles, stop it!” Lana said.

“His slit his wrists,” Miles said. “Massive blood loss. That’s what happens to people who cut themselves. Eventually the cuts aren’t enough and you have to cut deeper. Eventually, you slit your wrists—”

Lana grabbed Miles’ hand and pried his fingers lose from Adam’s arm. Miles stared at Lana, taken aback.

“I don’t know what got into me,” Miles said. “I’m so sorry.”

“You scared me, Miles,” Lana said.

“Look, you’re gonna have to pick a side, Lana,” Miles said. “Either help him get well or let him kill himself. I hope you make the right decision because I sure as hell made the wrong one when I let John hurt himself.”

“John’s death was not your fault,” Lana said.

“No,” Miles said. “It was every bit my fault. Now excuse me, I have an appointment to keep.”

Miles turned around and walked off as Lana put her arm around Adam.

____________________________________________________________

As Lana walked into the auditorium where Jaxon awaited her, she sighed loudly. Jaxon looked up at her and smiled.

“Welcome,” Jaxon said.

“Hi,” Lana said. “Hell of a day. On my way here, Miles decided to scare the living hell out of Adam and tried to pull me into the middle.”

“I know you’ve been going through a lot,” Jaxon said. “There’s a song I sing when I am having trouble making it through it all. It really inspires to keep going when times are hard. I thought I would sing it for you and give you a little something to keep you going.”

Lana smiled as she walked up onto the stage and joined Jaxon, sitting on the stool beside him. Jaxon reached down and grabbed his guitar. He smiled at Lana as he began to strum.

“I can almost see it,” Jaxon sang. “That dream I'm dreaming, but there's a voice inside my head saying you'll never reach it. Every step I'm taking, every move I make feels lost with no direction. My faith is shaking but I gotta keep trying. Gotta keep my head held high. There's always gonna be another mountain. I'm always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle, sometimes I'm gonna have to lose. Ain't about how fast I get there, ain't about what's waiting on the other side. It's the climb.”

Lana lowered her head, a tear forming in the corner of her eye.

“The struggles I'm facing, the chances I'm taking. Sometimes might knock me down, but no, I'm not breaking. I may not know it, but these are the moments that I'm gonna remember most. I've just gotta keep going, and I gotta be strong. Just keep pushing on, ‘cause there's always gonna be another mountain. I'm always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle, sometimes I'm gonna have to lose. Ain't about how fast I get there, ain't about what's waiting on the other side. It's the climb.”

Lana closed her eyes, forcing the tears out of her eyes.

“There's always gonna be another mountain. I'm always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle, sometimes I'm gonna have to lose. Ain't about how fast I get there, ain't about what's waitin' on the other side. It's the climb. Keep on moving. Keep climbing. Keep the faith, baby. It's all about, it's all about the climb. Keep the faith, keep your faith, woah.”

Jaxon sat the guitar aside and reached over and put his hand on Lana’s knee. Lana reached down and squeezed Jaxon’s hand as they sat in silence.


THE END

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