So here it is, as promised. I know it is a bit later than just a week, but work has been crazy these past days. And you know what they say, better late than never, right? This is the epilogue for the story, thank you again to all of you who have been reading and reviewing since the beginning.
I hope you guys enjoyed the ride!
One year later...
"Your turn", Jess mumbled, her face buried in the pillow. Nick kicked the sheets aside and sighed as his feet hit the floor for the second time that night, and looking over his shoulder, he smiled as he saw her lying on the middle of the bed. Standing up, he headed for their son's room, where the infant was crying. Carefully picking him up from his crib, which made the crying stop immediatly, Nick walked over to the rocking chair where Jess used to sit down and sing the baby to sleep, and started to soflty hum a melody. He fixed his tired eyes on Liam's face, and smiled when he saw his son's giant blue eyes staring right back at him.
"Hey, little man", he cooed, tracing his finger over the baby's chubby cheek. "Aren't you tired? Because your mommy and I need to sleep tonight, you know?"
Smiling again as he saw the baby squirming and yawning, he kept talking. "Tomorrow is your first birthday. And mommy and daddy are going to throw you a big, big party with all our friends. You'll get many gifts, you'll see. But we need some rest. You don't want grumpy faces on your birhday, do you?". Seeing his son fighting to keep his eyelids open, he got up slowly and started pacing the room, resuming his previous humming. Not a minute later, the baby was sleeping peacefully in his father's arms. Careful not to wake him, Nick placed him back down on his crib and tiptoed out of the room, trying his best not to make any sound.
He climbed back up onto the bed, and spooned Jess from behind. Nuzzling her neck, he planted a kiss on the back of her head. He heard her sigh and felt her push back against his chest, as she laced their fingers together. "Is he OK?", she whispered, half asleep. "Yeah. Just wanted some attention. Go back to sleep", he answered, and she relaxed into his embrace. "G'night, Nick."
"Get out of my way right now!". Schmidt's voice cracked through the walls. Pushing himself past Nick and inside the apartment, he spotted Jess sitting on the couch with her son on her lap. Quickly approaching them, he grinned as he saw the baby babbling nonsense words while extending his little arms in his godfather's direction.
Rolling her eyes, Jess stood up and handed the squealing baby to Schmidt, who started peppering his cheeks with noisy smooches. Behind him, she saw Coach, Winston and Cece buried in colourful wrappings and balloons.
"Hey, guys!", she cheered, getting muffled screams and frantic movements as answers. Dropping everything they were carrying in their arms, they all started talking at the same time. Nick and Jess, managing to take in words such as "Schmidt", "slavery", and "jar", smiled at each other.
"Where's the birthday boy?", Cece laughed, sitting next to Schmidt and taking the baby from him. "Look at you! Aren't you the cutest little thing in town?", she sang, as the baby kicked his legs in delight, gnawing on his finger.
"Well, this birthday boy", Jess said, lovingly tickling her son's head. "Woke us up three times last night, didn't he?"
"You can't complain. Counting those three times, he must have woken you up at night ten times since he was born. Ain't that right, buddy?", Coach said, waving his fingers in front of the baby. "My nephew would wake up crying three or four times every night until he turned two."
"Yeah. You guys are lucky. Too lucky."
"This outfit is fantastic, Jess", Schmidt interrupted. Both mother and son were wearing matching blue shirts and jeans, although Liam was shoeless and Jess had her flats on. "Blue suits him. And you, too", he smiled. "You look gorgeous."
"Hey! How come I don't get compliments, Schmidt? I'm wearing everything you told me to wear!", Nick chuckled, taking Liam in his arms and balancing him on his hip.
"You look nice, Nicholas. Happy? Now come here and let's give him his presents!"
"Calm down, man!", Jess laughed. "We're waiting for our parents and everyone else to get here!"
Almost an hour later, all the guests had arrived at the apartment, now filled with crawling babies and new toys scattered around the floor. Joan, Bob and Bonnie were playing with their grandkid, whose only interest seemed to be one of the singing teddy bears they'd given him. Jess was chatting with Sadie, trying to keep Schmidt from asking her embarrassing sexual questions. "Not on my son's birthday, Schmidt", she'd hissed. Shrugging his shoulders, he walked over to Nick and Winston and joined their conversation. As they drank down their glasses, Winston went to the kitchen to refill them.
"So, tonight, huh?", Schmidt grinned, lifting his eyebrows and looking at Nick.
"Yeah", was his answer. "Tonight."
"Bye, guys! Thanks for coming!", Jess waved goodbye to their friends and closed the door. Smiling when she heard Nick cursing from the spare room they used to keep their son's toys, she shook her head and opened the door to the nursery, doing a quick check on the sleeping baby and making sure the monitor was on. Then, she headed for the bedroom, where she almost bumped into Nick.
"Hey", he whispered. "I was going to check on Liam".
"He's out like a light. Takes it after you", she joked, gently pushing him back into the room. "I heard you having some trouble on my way to the nursery and I thought you'd be busy for a while."
"Yeah, no. I was trying to put together that thing Schmidt bought him, but it got on my nerves", Nick said, scratching his barely-there beard.
"Don't worry, we can try again tomorrow", she said, chuckling as she removed her earrings and kicked her flats aside. Smiling, she walked up to him and threw her arms around him.
"Can you believe it's already been a year?", she said into his neck, pressing a loving kiss there.
"I know. It's gone so fast", Nick answered, rubbing her back slowly. They stayed like that for a few moments before Jess felt him pulling back from the embrace. Smiling at him, she tried to turn around so she could change into her pajamas, but Nick grabbed her arm gently. "Jess, wait... I have something I want to tell you". Breathing deeply, he tried to control the nerves that were threatening to ruin his next move.
Taking her hands in his, he squeezed lightly. "Do you remember the night Liam was born?". A smile creeping in her face, she nodded her head. "That night I had something for you", he said, as Jess thumbed the beautiful necklace resting against her skin. "So I figured this time, I would get something for the both of us."
"She has no idea what's going on", he thought, while Jess watched him with curiosity. Reaching inside his pocket, he pulled a red box and smiled when he saw her eyes widen. Nick opened it so she could take a look inside and waited for her reaction. A gasp and a shocked expression plastered on her face were his sign to keep going.
"When I met you, Jess... I was pretty close to the bottom of the hill. I was missing out on so many things, emotionally broken because life kept slapping me in the face over and over again... And then it was you. From that very first time I saw you, I knew." Watching her eyes clouding and her lip quivering as realization hit her, he smiled.
"Nick...", she whispered, more to herself than to him. She then bit down on her trembling lip and stared at him.
Taking her hand in his again, he squeezed again and went on with his little speech. "And after all we went through...you gave me the greatest gift a man could ever ask for. This year has been the best of my life. You've given me everything, and I want nothing more than to be by your side and make you happy for the rest of our lives. Jess... Will you marry me?"
"Oh, my God...Nick!", Jess blurted out, throwing herself at him and burying her already teary face in his shoulder. Laughing and sobbing at the same time, she fisted his shirt and hugged him strongly, his arms immediatly going around her. Chuckling, she moved her head so she could look at him.
"That's a yes, right?", Nick said, raising his eyebrows. He lifted his hand and carefully wiped away her tears.
Chuckling again, she nodded her head frantically. "It is a yes, of course it is." Joining her laughter, Nick took the ring from the box and placed it on her finger. Smiling brightly at him, she leaned over and kissed him. "I love you so much", she mumbled, and then she was kissing him again, her lips soft but firm against his. When he felt her pull back for the second time, he grinned at her. "You weren't expecting it."
"No, I wasn't! When you said you had something for the both of us, I thought you had tricked the guys into babysitting for a date night or something!", she said.
"Yeah, I'll try that tomorrow. I mean, we have to celebrate this. We should go out to dinner alone, and I'm sure they won't say no to that."
"Oh, God...we're gonna get married!", Jess exclaimed in delight, and Nick laughed. "I would expect so, yeah!". Locking eyes with him, she smiled and ran her hand through his hair. Mimicking her movements, he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and framed her face with his warm hands, placing a kiss on her nose. Giggling, she playfully squirmed in his arms.
"Come on, woman. Let's try and catch some sleep.", he said, as she disentangled herself from his arms and started unbuttoning her shirt. Quickly getting rid of the rest of her clothes, she smiled and hugged him from behind, as he stepped out of his jeans and threw them, along with his shirt, into the laundry hamper. Turning around, he looked her up and down and felt his throat going dry. No matter how many times he'd seen her in her underwear, she still managed to take his breath away. "You're beautiful", he muttered, as his arms encircled her waist moving her closer to him. Kissing his way down her neck, he heard her sigh and felt her hand pulling on his hair. Lifting his head, he met her darkened piercing eyes and noticed the playful, sexy glint they had.
"Hey, Nick?", she said, tracing lazy circles around his naked chest and biting on her lip. "You think it's too early to start trying for baby number two?"
"Yeah", he chuckled, lowering them down onto the bed and hovering over her. "But not too early to start practicing."