FINAL CHAPTER UP! I'll probably post an epilogue in a week or so, but I don't know for sure yet.
Thank you, once again, to all of you who have followed and/or favourited the story. I never expected my first story here to have such a great reception. Thanks to all my reviewers, you have encouraged me to keep writing and updating often. You are amazing!
I want you to know, I am planning on publishing a series of one-shots (What if's...) during the summer, inspired by prompts. So if there's anything you'd like to read, just send me the prompt and I'll turn it into a one (or two) shot. I'll take all ratings, from K to M, and all characters.
Enjoy this last chapter!
Two days later, they were discharged from the hospital, and Nick drove them home. As he opened the door to the apartment, one arm filled with bags and baby gifts and the other pushing a stroller, they noticed their friends gathered together in the couch. Walking inside, he dropped the contents of his arm on the floor and turned around, watching Jess entering the loft with their newborn son. Cheering, their friends got up and greeted them.
"Finally!". Schmidt was the first one to approach the couple, his arms extending in the direction on the baby. "Gimme!", he grinned, as Jess placed the baby in his arms. Smiling, Schmidt started bouncing him up and down slowly. "We thought they would clear you off in the morning!", Winston said, and Jess shrugged.
"Doctor wanted to keep an eye on me for a little longer, he said."
"How are you?", Cece asked, rubbing her friend's arm.
"Tired", Jess smiled, watching Nick trying to pick up everything he had dropped. "But great!"
"It smells amazing here! What is it?", Nick asked from his position on the floor.
"I cooked dinner", Schmidt answered proudly. "But it's not ready yet!"
"Thank you, Schmidt, we're actually starving", Jess said, rubbing her stomach.
"We have a surprise for you guys", Schmidt said, his smile wide and his eyes fixed on Liam.
"Dude!", Coach exclaimed. "Didn't we tell you to shut your mouth?"
"Whatever", he replied. "We do have something. And it's big!", he concluded.
"Schmidt! Just shut up already!", Winston yelled, slapping the back of his head.
Nick joined the group, his arm encircling Jess' waist. "You don't have to give us anything, guys. We already have everything we need", he said, smiling as Jess kissed his cheek lightly.
"So cute", Cece whispered, and then laughed. "But we actually do have something for you. Wanna see it now?"
Looking at each other, Jess and Nick nodded. "Sure, just let me put Liam down to sleep", Nick said, picking up his son and placing him in the stroller carefully. Once he had covered him up with a blanket, he turned to look at their friends. "OK, what is it?", Jess said, excitement in her voice.
"Actually, I was thinking... why don't we tell you in my apartment? Michelle is at work, and no offense, guys, but this place is dangerous right now. You need to clean and tidy up a bit, huh?", Coach said, winking his eye at Winston.
"Yeah, great idea. Jess, we got you some pink wine. Non alcoholic, so it's probably disgusting, but still."
"Thank you, guys, you're so considerate!", Jess laughed.
"Of course we are. It's in my apartment, come on", Coach insisted, heading for the door. Cece and Winston followed him, and Schmidt was next. "OK, then", Nick said, pushing the stroller towards them. Walking outside, they waited for Coach to unlock the door, and they all got inside.
"Wow!", Nick laughed. "You sure know how to keep your place neat, Coach. I can see my face on the floor right now!", he said, pushing the stroller down the loft.
Watching their friends slowly crowding together, all of them smiling mischieviously, Jess raised her eyebrows at them and turned to look at Nick. Smiling, he leveled up with her and glanced at the gang. "What are you doing? What have you done? And why do you have Liam's bassinet here, dude?"
Giggling like a bunch of twelve year olds, Coach was the first to speak. "You see, guys... We have some news!"
"Michelle moved out of the apartment to live with her boyfriend a month ago!", Schmidt blurted out, and was slapped both by Cece and Winston at the same time. "Be quiet!", Cece hissed.
"Oh!", Jess' confused face made it hard for everyone not to laugh. "You mean, you're living alone now, here, all by yourself?"
"Well, you see..." Here it goes, he thought. "I was."
"What do you mean were?", Nick said, as lost as Jess.
"These days you guys have spent at the hospital, we've been preparing your gift", Winston said. "It's on the first room on the left!", he said, as they all started giggling again.
Looking at each other, Nick and Jess started walking towards the room. Reaching it, she opened the door and they took a look inside. Gasping, Jess screamed, "What have you guys done?".
"Surprise!" They all shouted. They had recreated the nursery, but...recreated?. Then their friends started talking all at once.
"We though you might want some privacy, so when Michelle told me she was moving out, it just ocurred to me..."
"We took pictures of all your stuff, and these past two days have been hell..."
"Cause we had to move everything here, and God, do you guys have useless stuff. And why did you get that many stuffed animals?"
"And then Schmidt almost broke the crib,..."
"But we managed to get a few neighbours to help, too."
"We were careful not to break anything,..."
"Even the landlord came, and now it's done!". Cece finished.
Watching Nick and Jess trying to follow, Winston cleared his throat.
"I don't... what?", Jess said.
Cece smiled. "Honey... the apartment is yours. That is our gift. Coach switched places."
"I'm moving back to 4D, you guys need your own space now", Coach said, grinning as he saw their shocked faces.
"What?", Jess repeated. "Are you crazy?"
"You see, this apartment is smaller, so the rent is cheaper..."
"And you're moving just across the hall, so if you need us..."
"Rent for next month is payed, that is our gift", Coach said, approaching Jess and taking her hand in his. Smiling, he placed a set of keys on her palm. "I don't need all of this for myself, you do. It's no big deal."
Realization hitting him, Nick was the first to react.
"Guys, we can't accept this. It's too much."
"No, it isn't. Besides, it's already done. All of your stuff is here now, why don't you open that other door?", Cece smiled, pointing at the second room.
They timidly looked inside, and Jess felt her eyes staring to water. Their room, their old room, was there. Every piece of furniture on its place, their clothes on a closet- bigger than the one they had-, Cece told them. Her books and his folders, her favourite mirror and his nightgown on the pillow...
"Well? Come on, say something! Are you mad we went through your stuff without asking? It's just, we wanted this to be a surprise, and...", Coach interrupted himself as he saw the couple turn to look at them, tears in her eyes and gratitude in his.
"This is amazing. You are amazing", Jess choked on her words, laughing and crying at the same time.
"You are crazy!", Nick said, emotion in his voice.
"Is that a yes?", Schmidt asked. "Not that you have much of a choice, but..."
"It's a thank you so much!", Jess said, throwing herself to their friends. Laughter and cries filled the new loft soon, as Schmidt started lecturing them. "The apartment was renewed less than a year ago, so everything is in its right condition. You have hot water, an air-conditioning system, and I, personally, cleaned up every room. The fridge is full with healthy food, expensive food. You have new pans and everything in that cabinet, the cutlery is there,..."
"And the douchebag jar 2 is over there!", Winston chuckled.
"I can't believe this, guys. This must have cost you..."
"Don't even say it, and not that much. I mean, we consider this as an extension of 4D... an inversion", Schmidt grinned. "It'll be great; you'll come over and we'll come over and one day we'll have breakfast here, but then we'll watch TV there, and we won't even need to knock, because the doors will always be open."
"Dude, you've been watching too much Friends, this is real life. The whole point of this is that they can have their own place, so of course you'll have to knock", Coach chuckled, and they all joined.
"Seriously, we cannot thank you enough", Jess said, wipping her eyes. "I'm going to miss waking up to your ugly faces so much!", she laughed.
"We...we have to do something, to thank you for all of this."
"Well, I don't know about you people, but I'm in the mood for a Manhattan. You think you can skip your 'no bartending at home rule' and fix us some drinks, Nick?", Winston asked.
"You animal! First we have dinner, then we drink!", Schmidt growled. Smiling again, he said. "We're having lamb chops with balsamic reduction. And baked potatoes with truffle oil are the sides. The best in town", he grinned.
"Dude, congratulations! You may now inagurate your gift! JAR!", Coach pointed his finger at it, shaking his head.
The group was interrupted by Liam's demanding cry. "I'll get him", Nick said, and Jess nodded her head. "Dinner time for him", she explained, and watched his faces turning red. Rolling her eyes, she smiled. "Don't worry, I'll go sit over there. You don't have to see anything!"
Scmidt grinned. "Don't get us wrong, Jessica. Any other time, we would all love to see your..."
"Jar!", Nick yelled, handing the baby over to Jess, who was already sitting down on the couch. Turning to look at the guys, he said. "Don't look!"
"Ugh!", Schmidt covered his eyes and blindly reached for the jar, stuffing a bill inside. Turning his back to Jess, he said. "Then, my bros, come help me with dinner. We'll be back soon!", he announced without looking back, dragging Winston and Coach out of the loft.
Cece sat down next to her friend, smiling as she saw the baby feeding. "My God, was he hungry!", she laughed. "He's going to choke!"
Laughing, Nick sat down too. "Nah, he's a Miller. He'll be just fine!"
Smiling, Jess looked up from her son and to Cece. "Cece, this was amazing. Seriously, we have an eternal debt to all of you."
"No, you don't. We're just really good friends, that's all!", she laughed, still amazed at the speed of Liam's feeding. "He's so beautiful, you guys", she said, and smiled at the goofy looks on their faces. "He is, isn't he?", Nick said, slowly caressing his head. The three of them stared at him until he unlatched himself. Nick scooped up the baby and placed him over his shoulder, ready to burp him. Jess rearranged her clothes and got up from the couch. "I have to use the bathroom, be right back."
Cece nodded and turned her attention to Nick, and her heart almost melted at the sight of him softly singing to his son, oblivious to her presence. Lifting his eyes, he smiled at her. "What?", he asked.
"Nothing. You just seem... you're a natural, Nick", Cece said. "I'm so happy you two worked things out."
"Thank you, Cece", he said, and they both laughed as the baby started squirming, making noises and burping lightly. "That means, we have three hours tops before he needs to be fed again."
"Oh, wow!", Cece laughed.
Jess reentered the room. Sitting back down, she stared down at her still-there baby bump. "God, I can't wait to wear my old clothes again. My dresses, my tights, my flats!", she laughed.
"Are you going to exercise?", Cece asked. "Once the doctor gives you the OK, we could start running together again!"
"Yeah, I guess that'd be great. Although I think I would rather exercise home, you know?", she glanced at Liam and smiled.
Before Cece had a chance to reply, the front door opened and Winston came in.
"I have to set the table", he explained, as they laughed. Cece got up and went to help him, and Jess scooted closer to Nick.
"I think he's done!", he announced, just as they both heard a soft snoring sound. Laughing, he got up and placed the baby on his blue bassinet. Jess followed him, as they placed it next to the dinning table.
The front door opened again, and this time it was Coach and Schmidt carrying trays with food.
"God, that looks amazing", Nick breathed, fixing his eyes on the food.
Smiling proudly, Schmidt placed the tray down on the table. "I see, everything's in its place now!", he said, his eyes briefly stopping on Jess' breasts. Glancing up, he was met with Nick's stare. "What?", he shrugged. "I'm still a guy. I have eyes". Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, Nick saw him starting to serve the food, and pushed a chair back for Jess. "Thank you", she whispered, kissing him lightly.
"Did you get the wine, Winston?", Coach asked, trying to reach the fridge. "Yeah, man, everything is ready. Let's just sit down before dinner gets cold".
Soon, all six of them were holding a red glass of wine, pink for Jess, and happily making toasts to Nick, Jess, their new baby and their new home. Keeping their voices down, so as to not wake Liam, they enjoyed dinner and laughed at old anecdotes and memories.
Winston glanced at his watch and looked at the group. "Guys? Let's clean this up, we should get going. These two need to rest". Nodding, Schmidt and Coach stood up, and were followed by Cece and Nick, while Jess checked up on the sleeping baby. In less than five minutes, they had taken care of everything.
Walking over to them, Jess hugged Cece. "Thank you for everything".
"Don't mention it, babe", she said, kissing her cheek. "Anytime."
Jess then hugged Schmidt. "And thank you, too. The food was delicious". Seeing him about to reply, she continued. "As always".Schmidt chuckled lighlty nad kissed her forehead. He then let go of her, determined to hug Nick too. He reluctantly saw himself being smooched by Schmidt. "Back off, man!", Nick said, smiling. "Thanks, buddy", he completed, palming his back. The two men watched Jess as she talked to Coach, thanking him for the hundreth time. Chuckling, the group of four started walking towards the front door.
Nick approached Jess from behind, intertwining their hands together as they looked at their friends. "I owe you home-made drinks, I know", Nick laughed.
"Maybe we can stop by tomorrow, at some point?", a hopeful Schmidt asked.
"Of course. Whenever you guys want. The door will always be open for you, guys", Jess smiled at their friends. Opening the door, the four of them stepped into the hall.
"Drive safe, Cece!", Jess said, from her position on the door frame. Her friend nodded and stepped into the elevator, waving goodbye.
Winston and Coach entered the apartment, and had to force Schmidt inside. Laughing, they closed the door. Nick and Jess stared at each other, and went back into their new loft.
"Wow", Jess breathed. "They really worked on this! Everything is in its right place!"
"Yeah. They're a really cool bunch, actually", Nick laughed, as he encircled her waist with his arms. "Although it feels kinda weird to be here".
"I'm sure we'll get used to it."
"Are you happy, then?", he asked.
"What? Of course! This is amazing", she answered, burying her face in his neck. They stood like that for a few moments, and then she lifted her head to look at him. "You're happy too, right?"
"Yes, of course I'm happy", he laughed, kissing her forehead. Both of them turned to look at their son, peacefully sleeping in his bassinet. "Hey, Nick?"
"I think I'm back to liking you". Nick laughed, remembering her I don't like you at all attitude right after she had given birth.
"Great!", he said. "Hey, Jess?"
"What?", she smiled.
"I think I like you, too."
"Yeah", they both laughed. "And guess what else?", he teased.
"I love you."
"Well, you know what?", she turned back to him. She leaned forward and kissed him slowly. "I love you too, Nick."
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