Brandon let out a loud yawn, walking alongside Neveah to their respective eight am classes. It was way too early in the morning, and their weekend together had been much too short for his liking. He thought to himself why he decided to take a class earlier than noon, and remembered how Neveah roped him into it by batting those beautiful eyelashes and telling him how fun it would be to walk to class together. So far, Brandon had yet to see the fun in this situation.

Neveah sipped at her morning coffee and glanced at Brandon. On top of the underlying issues he was having, sleep was one of them, which was something he never thought he'd struggle with. Sleeping over at each other's dorms in their twin bed was not the definition of best sleep they've had, but unfortunately for Brandon, his sleep issues continued when Neveah wasn't over: lying awake at night, the random wake-ups at strange times, nightmares he refused to talk about.

She noticed he had gotten lost in thought again and reached over to him, taking his hand, intertwining their fingers, "You tired baby?"

Brandon smiled, getting out of his funk, and looked to Neveah, "Always. Kind of my thing, right?" She laughed.

Squeezing her hand, he moved closer as they walked, "The cold weather keeps me awake though. Makes it really hard to fall asleep."

"Well at least it keeps you awake in class, right? It's like trying to wake a sleeping bear when you fall asleep. Though it does make you a good cuddle buddy, not worrying that my constant shifting will wake you up."

Sliding his student ID out of his pocket, Brandon unlocked the door to the Education building, holding the door for them and letting Neveah in first.

He followed behind her and said, "I stay awake, even if it is super tempting. And I try to be. I have to give you a reason to stay with me."

Chuckling, he kissed her head, "Alright love. He's your stop. The O'Connell train is leaving the station, and headed for the Drama department."

Leaning into Brandon, she hugged him tight, "Thank you for walking me to class. I know we don't get to do this often. Heck, we barely even get to eat lunch together." She looked around at the sights of the Education building.

"I'm back into full gear for classes, so I'll probably be staying in my dorm this week, but I'll try to make some time for us later in the week, alright?"

"You're welcome. I'm glad I could walk you." Brandon wrapped his arms around Neveah, and placed his head against hers. He didn't want to let go, so he tightened his embrace. Having Neveah wrapped in his arms made him dread going back to class already, but reluctantly, he pulled away, looking into her beautiful brown eyes.

Leaning down, he kissed her nose, and said, "Love you gorgeous."

"Love you handsome… go kick butt today, okay?" Neveah blushed, while stepping back, readjusting her backpack.

"I always do. I learned from watching you," As he watched Neveah turn the corner to go up the stairs, he saw that she found a friend and stopped for a moment to hug her before walking upstairs together. As soon as he lost sight of her, Brandon walked towards the drama building across campus in the crisp fall air and adjusted his jacket. He let the smile fall from his face, taking his AirPods and connecting them to his music as he just focused on trying to mentally prepare for the day ahead.

This first semester had Monday brought three classes - one eight AM class, one at ten, and one at twelve, then he was done until tomorrow. Preparing for his midterm exams had been difficult, as Brandon was in danger of failing one of his classes, but the first semester had been killer for him besides that. He tried to push through and not let anyone know he was struggling.

He sighed as he entered the hallowed halls of the Drama building, and took a right and entered the fourth door, his Acting 1 class.

He looked around, noticing everyone had been there already, and it was going on 8:05am. His class was in the black box of the first floor, where they did small productions, and the occasional poem slams. The school's freshman drama majors consisted of about 30 students, so his class had a little over half of his freshman class.

The professor had been writing something down on the blackboard, and he turned around to see Brandon unpacking his things and taking off his AirPods.

"Ah, Brandon. Nice of you to join us." He said. He then turned to the rest of the class. "Hope you all had a wonderful fall break."

The professor went right to business. "Now, I would hope you didn't forget about our fall break assignment, your second out of three play reviews. You had two weeks, including your fall break, to watch the play I linked to you all and focus on a specific actor or actress." As the rest of the students took papers out of their folders, Brandon cursed to himself. He had done it for once but hadn't printed it out. He raised his hand sheepishly.

"Professor Diaz? I uh, forgot to print it. But I did it, I swear! Could I email it to you, please?" Professor Diaz held his breath, thinking about what he said.

"Yes. But I want it in my inbox by the end of the day." He sighed, but in the end was just happy to hear he had done his work. A few students began whispering, but Brandon acted like he didn't notice.

Nodding, Brandon made a mental note to send the assignment later, while also frantically writing a note to remind himself in his binder. He had to get himself in gear for this semester, tuning out all distractions and focusing on school, but the more he tried to focus on Professor Diaz, the more everything just got jumbled. He tried to keep up with notes, but he always fell behind. Who knew performing had so many notes, so much studying? It was so easy for him in Total Drama Arts and in his years of participating in school theater, why was it so hard for him all of the sudden? Why did it feel like he was the least talented kid in this class and that he had to try twice as hard as the others to get to the same level? He could feel the judgmental eyes of his peers watching him, picking apart every little thing about him. Whether or not that's what they were actually doing, that's how Brandon felt when his eyes met the other students.

Class ended after a grueling hour and a half, and Professor Diaz cleared his throat as he announced, "Remember everyone, since we're nearing two months, I've sent the rubric for the final exam to your student emails. You must create a monologue about a traumatic event in your life, and perform it in front of the class as if you're going for a real audition. You must also submit a working portfolio and what you would include in it. I will need a rough draft by the listed date in the email. Everyone have a great day, and welcome back to classes."

As Brandon walked out of the classroom to head to his next class, he scrunched his face, fidgeting with his nails as he thought about having to write a traumatic event in his life to perform in front of everyone. The world had already experienced that through a screen two summers ago, and there was something about writing it down and having to relive it himself in front of his classmates that didn't make him feel any less alone.

As he walked to his next class and put his AirPods back in his ears to drown out his sorrows, he opened his phone to text Neveah.

Brandon

Hey! Just checking in. Finished my first class. Hope you're having a great day babe. Love you. :)

He pressed send, and as soon as it sent, he noticed Neveah had read it. He looked as the three dots went up and disappeared, showing she was typing a response, then went back and disappeared again, and came back, but eventually went away for good. He stared at the text message thread for another minute, and realized she wasn't answering back. He sighed, putting his phone away in his pocket as he entered the building for his next class, letting the music drown his worry away.


Brandon's last class ended at two, but he spent some time roaming the streets of New York, stopping by the dining hall to get dinner. Besides getting some food, he really went there to see if Neveah would answer his text and meet him for dinner, or see if he can catch a glance of her grabbing food before going to whichever club or group meeting she went to. After nothing from Neveah and deciding against going to her room to find her in an act of desperation, he decided to head back to his dorm. Zakk and Sami were watching a movie on Zakk's laptop, which was propped onto a footstool as they sat on some beanbags watching.

"Hey, guys," Brandon said as he sat down on his bed, turning on his laptop.

"Hey, Brandon!" Sami said. He looked over to Sami and Zakk.

"What're you guys watching?" He was surprised to see Zakk was even willing to watch what was on the screen right now. All the singing and dancing was not Zakk's first choice in his time of leisure.

"I have an assignment due tonight that I put off. I have to watch a movie with common musical theatre tropes, and I figured La La Land was the perfect movie." Sami paused the movie, writing some notes down in the laptop she had on her lap on what they just watched, then pressed play again. Zakk looked over to Brandon.

"Not the best way to watch a movie." Zakk groaned.

"Zakk agreed to let me watch it here if it meant we could spend time together. Right, baby?" She looked at him, running her hand through his hair and leaning her nose on his.

"Right on, babydoll." He grabbed her jawbone as he gave her a kiss on the lips, and as he watched them, Brandon wished Neveah felt the same way about spending time while getting work done.

"Sami, have you seen Neveah today?" He asked as they pulled apart.

"Nope. I only saw her once. She looked like she was in a hurry and left her phone in her room again, so who knows where she is."

Brandon sighed as he began pulling the file from his desktop into his email, composing a letter to his professor apologizing for not remembering to print it. He pressed send, and decided instead of looking at the rubrik he was given for his finals in Acting 1, he would spend some time with Sami and Zakk and work on it tomorrow. He grabbed his beanbag, scooting closer to them.

"Mind if I join you guys?" Brandon asked.

"Sure!"

"I love this movie." Sami said, leaning over Zakk to tell Brandon. "Not a lot of people liked it, but in my opinion, it has one of the best endings I've ever seen in a movie. We only started twenty minutes ago, so you came at a perfect time."

She leaned off of Zakk, going back to the movie and typing down notes, and all Brandon could think about was hoping Neveah's silence wouldn't go on all week.

A/N: Thanks so much for reading! I hope you like this chapter! I will be posting the next one soon, as it's already ready. :)

~Sami