I hope with all my heart that you have the most magical Christmas, filled with nothing but food and love and all things merry!
I'm so sorry for being like the worst secret santa ever, and I apologise that this is a very dodgy and rushed fic loooool I'm a mess.
Lots of love
Your secret santa (callmelauramiller) xxxx
"Oh my God, are these real?" Jess scanned everyone's faces to look for any clue as to who was responsible for such a gift.
"Surely not?" Schmidt snatched the tickets from Jess's hand. "I tried for hours to get Katy Perry tickets. I must have had three different laptops refreshing at once. This is impossible. They sold out in minutes!"
Nick looked over at Cece before blushing down at his feet.
Giving presents was definitely not his strong suit. He had usually gotten away with giving a pair of socks or an old cap he found in his wardrobe as his secret Santa gift, but not this year. This year was different to all the other years of 'loft secret Santa' because now Jess was in the picture. And of course, knowing his luck, he would get assigned as her secret Santa.
Cece and Jess were left to clean up the dishes, considering Jess had forced the boys to break the loft tradition of watching football with a couple of pizzas on Christmas eve.
"You know who your secret Santa was, right?" Cece gave Jess a little nudge as she continued drying the plates.
"I mean, I had an itch that had your name all over it. Winston would have kept them for himself, Nick doesn't even know how to use the wifi and well, Schmidt already voiced his opinions on the matter."
"I guess that just proves how hard a man will work for the woman he loves!" Cece laughed.
"What? No way it was Nick?"
"Ha! So you admit it! You know Nick is into you!"
"No! Ugh Cece! That's not what I meant, I mean, I know that you think he is so I just... Ugh Cece!" Jess went bright red as she scrunched up her face.
"Nick came up to me a couple of months ago and begged that I make him your secret Santa. Like, we are talking September here…" Cece raised an eyebrow. "So I said sure, because you know I love a fairytale. And then he told me his plan, you know, the tickets. I pulled some strings and called some of my modelling contacts and we made it happen."
Jess swallowed hard as she processed what Cece had just told her. Stumbling to come up with any excuse in the world as to why he would have gone to such trouble.
"Some people just take secret Santa really seriously, I guess."
"Oh please, Jessica Day, you can't keep denying this! The man is in love with you and you know it! Maybe he doesn't know it, but you sure as hell do!"
"Cece, I've told you already, Nick and I are just good friends. So what, he put in a little effort for my present. Big deal! It hardly means he's in love with me."
Cece rolled her eyes as she began to put away the last few cups.
"For what it's worth, I think you're just scared to accept it because you know the feelings are mutual!"
After scrunching up her face and groaning words of denial, Jess was left alone leaning on the kitchen bench pondering what her best friend had just said. Sure, maybe she had noticed Nick's body language changed every time she sat close to him on the couch. Maybe she'd picked up on his eyes and their inability to focus on her every time she walked out of the bathroom in a towel. And okay, maybe he had begun looking out for her a little more than usual, giving her his jacket every time she complained about being cold and boiling the kettle for her when he saw her leave her room in the morning. Just little things that she was never actually consciously aware of until stupid Cece began this whole 'Nick is in love with you' saga.
"Dammit." She mumbled under her breath, putting her hands to her face as she processed the new information. "Stupid Cece messing with my head. Stupid Nick for giving her a reason to. Stupid Cece. Stupid Nick –"
"Everything okay, Jess?" Nick interrupted her with a chuckle.
"Oh, yeh, absolutely peachy!" Jess gulped, instantly feeling the temperature rise in her cheeks. "Why are you up, Nick? I thought you went to bed like an hour ago?"
"I could say the same for you Miss Day, doesn't Santa see you when you're sleeping and all that crap?" He said sarcastically, wandering over to the kettle and automatically pulling down two mugs, like it was a force of habit.
"Merry Christmas, Nick." She smiled, relaxing instantly at the sound of raspy midnight voice.
"Merry Christmas kid." He winked as he passed her her tea.
Jess's eyes shot open as she felt a body shift beside her.
"Shit, sorry Jess, I didn't wanna wake you, I was just trying to get the remote." Nick turned down the volume as the credits to Love Actually began to play.
"I'm so sorry!" Jess gasped as she realized she had fallen asleep almost on top of him underneath the blanket. "I don't even remember falling asleep, I just –"
"Don't worry about it." He chuckled. "To be fair, I kinda liked having you out here, gave me an excuse to tell Cece when she walked out to get a drink and saw me watching this cheesey romcom."
Jess squeezed her eyes shut. "Cece saw us?"
"Uhh, yeh, I mean, she walked out like an hour ago and started to tease me until she realized you were out here too."
"What did she say? When she saw me?" Jess sat up straight as she began intensely interrogating Nick.
"God Jess, I don't know? She laughed I guess. Joined the dots. Nothing weird. Should she have said something?"
All of a sudden Jess felt a sinking feeling in her stomach. She knew exactly what Cece would have been thinking, seeing Jess all cuddled up on the couch next to her 'good friend'. But she was wrong. Definitely wrong. So what? Jess fell asleep watching a Christmas movie, under a warm blanket, with a cup of tea, it was Christmas eve! It absolutely did not have anything to do with the warm and cuddly man sitting pressed up beside her. Nope, that was simply a coincidence.
Nick could sense the new found tension that filled the room. Dammit, he thought, why did he have to bring up Cece? Or even more so, why did bringing up Cece stress Jess out so much? Everything he did these days was walking on egg shells with Jess. He had to be so careful with what he said. One slip of the tongue and their vibe instantly shifted from Nick and Jess – best friends who love spending time together, to Jess trying to come up with some awkward excuse to leave the room. He really couldn't figure her out. And he especially couldn't figure out why he was so desperate to figure her out.
"Is everything okay, Jess?" He couldn't resist the urge to place a concerned hand on her arm. She looked so deep in thought, he just wanted to see inside her head.
Her eyes shot down to his hand and then back up to his eyes.
"Uh, yeh Nick, everything's fine I just – you know – should get some sleep" She began to stutter as she stood up from the couch. But before she would get too far, his hand tightened on her arm. He wouldn't let her get away with that excuse this time.
"Jess, what's going on? Did I do something?"
It wasn't his fault that she was overthinking everything that happened between them. It was Cece's fault. Everything was Cece's fault. They would just be plain old Nick and Jess if it wasn't for the last few months of Cece in her ear. Forcing her way into Jess's head. But as much as Jess hated falling for Cece's nonsense, she couldn't help finding herself wanting to know if she was right. In her head it was like she needed to prove her wrong, but she secretly knew what her heart wanted. Taking a deep breath, she met his eye.
"Why did you get me the tickets, Nick?" Her face was as serious as her voice and he couldn't help but let out a nervous chuckle.
"I mean, I think this conversation defeats the purpose of a secret Santa."
"It's just, I don't know, you clearly put in a lot of effort. I was surprised."
He began to smile, disguising his blush as he looked down to his feet. She knew that move, it was his go to when he was embarrassed.
"Well, Jess, maybe I don't show it enough," He swallowed deep and met her eyes once again. "But you do mean a lot to me."
"Yeah like Schmidt and Winston mean a lot to you? You know, like in a bro kind of way?" Jess cringed at her awkwardness gently punching his shoulder in the most bro way possible.
He laughed again, raising an eyebrow at how this conversation had quickly become something of a high entertainment value. If that's how she wanted to play it.
"Whatever you want, Jess." He shook his head with a chuckle. "Goodnight 'bro.'' He returned the light push and walked past her to his room.
Three days later and Jess was still the captain of the awkward train. She had done her absolute best to avoid one on one conversations with both Nick AND Cece in spite of the constant thoughts that circulated her head. She just needed to sit down and process why the entire situation was causing her so much stress, but that was the exact thing she was scared of.
Cece was a lot of things but she certainly wasn't dumb. She knew what Jess was doing. Hiding from the reality that Cece was forcing her to face. But she wasn't going to let it last.
Sitting at the bench in a light conversation with Schmidt over breakfast, she smiled at her chance when Nick wandered out to pour his morning coffee.
"So Jess was saying just last night how long it's been since someone took her out to dinner." Cece busted out as if it was already part of her and Schmidt's conversation.
"I just can't understand that woman." Schmidt began to mumble. "One minute she's blaring Destiny's child's women of independence throughout the entire loft and the next she's complaining that she's all forever alone."
Cece watched as Nick's ears perked up at the sound of Jess's name in the conversation.
"So Schmidt, tonight we are taking her out to that new place in the city."
"You got a table at Firefly?"
"No Schmidt, it doesn't –"
"Well it does matter because my good suit is at the dry cleaners are I -"
"Table for four at 71above." Cece interrupted him.
"Ooooh, impressive choice Cecelia. I'll have to get them to fast track my suit."
"Wait, a table for four?" Nick was still following the conversation closely, struggling to do the math in his head.
"Yeah, I booked for four. I guessed Jess wouldn't want to be third wheeling with Schmidt and I. You can come if you want, Nick, but I assumed you probably wouldn't be into a fancy, romantic dinner with the three of us."
"I mean I don't have a suit or any –"
"Schmidt, I was thinking we call Troy, the guy we met at that show we saw in Seattle? I still have his number somewhere. I always thought Jess would love him."
"Oh yeah, Troy, he certainly was a catch." Schmidt mumbled as he continued scrolling through his emails and munching on his toast.
Nick began to get that nervous feeling in his stomach. Why did he hate Troy already? What a dumb name. Troy. Blergh.
"Schmidt, can I borrow a suit?" Nick busted out, immediately regretting it as soon as he saw the look on both Schmidt and Cece's face.
Jess hated Cece. That's all she could think of as she put on the finishing touches to her red halter neck dress ensemble. Fixing up her bun one last time she stared herself hard in the mirror.
"You're strong, Jessica Day. You can have a nice dinner with Nicholas and not think about anything Cece may have said. You're a strong woman who is having a nice dinner with her friends."
"Jessica, are you ready or what?" Schmidt called from the kitchen as she gave herself one last deep breath.
"Hellooooo Miss Day!" Schmidt whistled as he bowed in front of her.
"Doesn't Jess look hot, Nick?" Cece couldn't help but laugh as she watched Nick try to snap out of his Jess induced trance.
"Uh, wow, yeah, Jess, you look –"
"Really hot." Schmidt interrupted while raising an eyebrow at his stuttering friend. "Okay, so now that we have that all sorted out, can we go?"
"I was gonna say beautiful." Nick said quietly as he followed Jess out of the door.
"What?" Jess blushed.
"You look beautiful, Jess."
Jess stopped and turned to face him. He complimented her all the time lately, sure, but this time was different. This time she was overthinking everything.
"I look beautiful?"
Nick let out a laugh as he continued to nod. "For the third time Jessica, you look beautiful."
"Are you coming, Jess?" Cece interrupted from the doorway.
Dammit, Jess thought. She hadn't even noticed Cece was standing there watching the whole moment.
The restaurant was beautiful. Every time someone said that word, Jess got goosebumps.
He thinks I look beautiful? She couldn't help but run the interaction through her head over and over. Nick Miller, out of nowhere, had confidently told her she looked beautiful. She was clearly more affected by this than he was.
They ordered their meals and it was great. Light and easy conversation. Sure Cece was giving Jess a look every time she laughed at one of Nick's jokes or he said something about Jess. Which surprisingly, happened more than she had noticed until now.
"So Cece, any ideas what you're wearing this weekend?" Jess took the opportunity to change the conversation as she felt Nick begin to ramble something that would ultimately end up with another one of those looks from Cece.
"What's this weekend?" Cece asked.
"The Katy Perry concert… dur?"
"Oh, I'm so sorry Jess! I already have plans with the girls from work."
"Schmidt, how about you? You wanted a ticket right?" Jess turned her attention to Schmidt who was sitting beside Nick in front of her.
"Oh my goodness! You're going to take me? Jess, I would DIE if I got to see the queen in the fle-"
"Schmidt can't either." Cece interrupted without a thought.
"Well, I think he can, Cece. He just said he can." Jess turned to Cece. She was getting mad now. She knew exactly where this was headed.
"Hmm nope, he's coming with me to the thing." Cece said with a smirk.
"No, wait, Jess. I'm coming with you. Cece, I'm going with Jess."
"Oh so Jess is your new girlfriend? Congratulations!" Cece smiled at Schmidt in the most intimidating way.
"I'll go?" Nick interrupted. He hated music. All music. Except for the occasional Reggae and maybe the odd ACDC. But he did like to hang out with Jess. Shit. He loved to hang out with Jess.
Realizing how desperate he may have sounded, he cleared his throat and tried again, looking around uncomfortably to all the eyes that were now looking more confused than ever.
"I mean, Jess, if you need someone to drive you there and I don't know, beat up all the perves, I'll come." He began fiddling with the napkin nervously.
"Nicholas, name ONE Katy Perry song." Schmidt couldn't help but burst out into laughter.
"I like that one that she's in with Mila Kunis's husband. What happens in Vegas?"
"Cecelia, don't do this to me. He's getting a Katy Perry HIT SONG mixed up with a Cameron Diaz movie. Do you know how much pain this is causing me?"
"I think that's a great idea, Nick." Cece ignored her pleading boyfriend and smiled. This was way easier than she thought, and it seemed like Nick still had no idea what was going on. Jess on the other hand, was shooting Cece hardcore daggers into the side of her head.
"Hey Cece, will you come with me to the bathroom?" Jess mumbled through her teeth.
"Please Ceec. I'm begging you. Whatever you're up to. Stop it now."
"Not until you admit it, Jess. Admit that he's into you."
"Ugh… I don't…" Jess put her hands to her face. "He called me beautiful, Cece. He makes me tea, he watches stupid romcoms with me in the middle of the night. I don't know what to do. I'm freaking out. But the worst part is, I don't even think he notices how much it affects me. It's like he does all these little things and then I freak out and then he's all confused. I'm in trouble."
Cece wrapped an arm around Jess and pulled her in.
"I hate to say it Jess, but I told you so."
They got home from dinner around 11 o'clock and Jess quickly got changed into her warm pajamas before heading back out into the kitchen. It was becoming a routine, their private goodnight rituals.
"Jess, if you don't want me to go with you to the show, I get it." Nick broke the silence as he sat down on the couch, closely followed by Jess.
She took a deep breath. The air felt a little clearer after she had let it off her chest to Cece. She was allowed to escape her little bubble of denial.
"No, actually Nick, I'd really like you to come." She said quietly, a little too nervous to meet his eye.
"Really? Because I mean, at the restaurant, you didn't seem too happy about the idea. And I get it. I'm the last possible resort. I completely underst –"
"Nick." She looked up at him, a shift in the intensity that he was used to. This time it was a little more confident in comparison to a time where she would run the other way at interaction like this. "I'd really like you to come with me."
"Okay." He said with a chuffed smile. Turning the tv on, they fell back into their usual swing of things.
The weekend came around a little quicker than Nick had expected. And it was definitely a bigger deal to Jess than he had expected. She'd been blaring the lyrics to Katy's album all through the house twenty-four hours a day for the days leading up to it. But what scared him the most was how much preparation she was putting on the actual night.
She had spent the day outfit shopping and even had Cece coming over to do her make up later that afternoon. Which made Nick feel incredibly unprepared.
"Schmidt…" Nick knocked on his door lightly before getting progressively more impatient to the point where he just barged in.
"Wow, Nicholas, I think you may need to reassess your understanding of the knocking process."
"Schmidt, I need your help. Jess is going all crazy getting ready for this concert. I was planning on wearing jeans and a Cubs t-shirt but now I suddenly feel nervous and sweaty and like maybe this is a terrible terrible idea." Nick began talking faster and faster until he dropped back on Schmidt's bed.
"Woah woah woah… I'm confused." Schmidt said suspiciously, raising an eyebrow. "Is Mr i-don't-care-what-people-think-of-me Miller… nervous? To go to a pop concert with his roommate?"
"No. I just don't know what to wear and like, should I take her to dinner first? Oh my God, Schmidt, you go, you take the ticket, I'm moving out." He pulled a pillow to his face as Schmidt sat down next to him.
"I KNEW something was up!" He cheered. "I just knew Jess was acting all weird lately. And not to mention Cecelia! You and Jess are totally boning! Wow, I don't know what to say! I guess I'm proud of you Nick! I can't believe it took me so long to put the pieces together! You've always given her these looks. Winston used to try to convince me how hard you were crushing. And at dinner the other night? Oh boy, the sexual C was straight out of the roof! Mazel tov, my brother! You made it! We made it!"
Nick stared at Schmidt with 100% concentration. "Wait, what are you trying to say, Schmidt? In English?"
"You and Jess? You finally sealed the deal? Now you need old Schmidtty's help to prepare for your big date?"
"Oh my God? Is this a date?" Nick swallowed hard.
"I've always wondered what Jess would be like in bed. She's the boss right? The teachers always are." Schmidt continued, completely oblivious to Nick's brain working a thousand miles an hour in front of him.
"Do you think she knows? I mean, I didn't even know. Until now I guess?" Nick's brain continued to tick over as he began to process the concept that everyone else but him had noticed his feelings for Jess.
"I recommend trying the roof too, Nick, I know it's cold and seems a little unsterile, but Cece and I have really discovered the magic up there."
"Schmidt, would you shut it, please?" Nick grabbed his shoulders. "I think I'm into Jess?"
"Well dur?" Schmidt laughed.
"Jess, now you're the one overthinking this." Cece mumbled as she continued with Jess's make up.
"But Ceec, I can't make a move. I don't think I know how to make a move. Remember what happened with Spencer? Issue one of Jessica Day should never make the move magazine."
"Sit still Jess, for goodness sake."
"I mean, what if we read this whole thing wrong. What if, I'm getting all dolled up and ready for this concert as if it's a big date with the love of my life, just to figure out he's only in it because he likes Katy Perry's eyes and her bangs and her long dark hair."
Cece couldn't help but laugh at that.
"Jess, look in the mirror, if he thinks Katy is hot, he definitely thinks you're hot."
"I'm freaking out, Cece."
"I'm sorry that I got in your head. I just needed you to open your eyes. Even if he doesn't know it yet, as soon as you put it in front of him, the pieces will come together."
"Nearly ready, Jess? I was thinking we could grab a bite to eat first?" Nick interrupted as he knocked on her door, leaving Cece with an unavoidable grin on her face.
"Yeah Nick, that sounds – whoa." She paused as she turned to look at the man leaning on the door.
He was cleanly shaven, wearing a dark navy button down that fit him in the most perfect way imaginable, tucked into a tight pair of dark skinny jeans. Yep, that hit the nail on the head. She was definitely into him.
"You clean up alright, Nick Miller, Nick Miller." Cece interrupted, grin still fastened on her face.
"Oh please, this?" He did a spin as the girls began to chuckle. "Schmidt helped me google Katy Perry, turns out I needed to put in a little bit of work."
Cece gave Jess a wink.
Jess couldn't escape that nervous school girl feeling in her tummy. Here she was, sitting in the passenger seat next to the guy she had a feeling she was pretty close to in love with, on the way to her favorite singer's concert – which the same guy had bought her tickets to. Yep, she was definitely living high school Jess's dream.
Nick on the other hand was feeling strangely confident. Everything had added up, all the way from Jess's random onset awkwardness to Cece's overfriendliness. He was going to give Jess nothing but a perfect night (with a little help and advice from his good pal Schmidt.)
"Is it okay if we eat here?" Nick said, pulling up at a little pancake shop just down the road from the concert venue.
"Umm choc-chip pancakes? I think you already know the answer to that Nicholas." Jess laughed as he opened the door for her.
They both took a deep breath as they sat down to eat. They were Nick and Jess. Best friends. Roommates. And they appeared to remember that almost simultaneously as they looked up from their menus and laughed at the exact same time.
"I'm really glad you let me come with you tonight. I know I've said that a million times. I just wanted you to know. You know how much I love that song you always play. About the hipsters and the numbers."
Jess couldn't help the smile that took over her face. Nick fricken Miller.
"Nick, you're talking about a Taylor Swift song and if you hadn't started that sentence by saying nice stuff I would have ripped your ticket in half by now." She let out a sigh. But a good one. One where all that pent up nervous energy was pushed out alongside the air. "Thank you for coming. Even though you're probably going to hate it."
"Hey guys, are you ready to order?" The waiter turned up at their table looking rather unenthusiastically considering the store was already filled with people dressed in Katy merchandise.
Nick gave Jess a quick chance to object before he began to order.
"Can I get a choc chip stack and a Nutella stack, as well as a coke and a pink wine please?" He spoke so confidently that Jess found her arms were covered in goosebumps. A man that knows her order – tick.
"Pink wine, hey?" She gave him a raised eyebrow.
"I don't know, Jess, I have the feeling you're a little on edge about something." He said smugly.
That put her back in her place in a split second.
"Honestly, I have no idea – I was just – "
"I'm kidding, Jess." He put his hand over hers and the goosebumps were back. "I thought maybe you didn't know how to buy your own alcohol seeing as I've just made it for you for so long."
Dinner came out and sadly that meant Jess had to take her hand back from him. It was kind of a weird concept. She had never really been so aware of his physical contact. And it wasn't like he never touched her. They watched movies snuggled up on the couch all the time. His hand always found her back when they crossed the road. Just the thought made her stomach turn to jelly.
"Cheers." Nick raised his glass. "To Katy Perry and choc chip pancakes. And most importantly, to you, Jess."
She knew her face was blushing but she couldn't help it.
Raising her glass, she had forgotten how to talk. Yep, teenage Jess was certainly making an appearance.
Taking a big, long slug of her drink, Nick couldn't take the smile off his face. He felt so in control compared to the woman in front of him. It was almost as if, with the more confident he got, the less confident she did. If he played his cards right, it was going to be a good night.
After eating their pancakes, Nick trying to score the last few bites of Jess's, of course, with minimal success, Nick stood up in the direction of the bathroom. Jess took this opportunity to shoot Cece a text.
JESS: Doesn't seem like I'll be the one making the moves tonight…
CECE: GO GET HER NICHOLAS
JESS: Schmidt, give Cece her phone back xx
"Okay Jess, all set to see Paty Kerry?"
"Nick, people are going to start throwing stuff at us in a minute… Let's go pay."
"What kind of gentleman would I be if I hadn't already taken care of the bill, Jessica." He laughed, pulling out her chair.
They made it to the concert just in time for the support act.
Nick held it together really well considering it was some boy band who sounded like they were yet to reach puberty. But he continued to bop along and look interested as Jess screamed out each word like there was a gun to her head.
"Don't you love these guys, Nick?" Jess screamed over the music as Nick tried to contain his laughter. Who'd have thought it was possible for him to be smiling while a boy band was in front of him.
Nick grabbed Jess another drink mid set, despite her insisting he wait till intermission.
Nick and Jess quickly made friends with the couple, Ben and Amy, who were seated next to them, when Jess and Amy started bonding over which teenage boy was the hottest.
"How long have you two been together?" Of course that question would come up. Jess sunk down ten foot at the thought, much to Nick's amusement.
"This is actually our first date." Nick said, giving a nudge to Jess in the process. "You know what it's like these days, Ben, if the first date isn't something extravagant, they won't come back for seconds."
Jess couldn't help the sarcastic laugh that came out of her mouth at his words, quickly taking over the conversation, just as Nick knew she would.
"We've been roommates for over a year. Nick got me for his secret Santa. He's using my extra ticket. I guess you could say, I ultimately arranged this entire date."
"Looks like you owe this lady another drink!" Ben and Amy both laughed as Nick stood up to get another round.
JESS: Update: We've both acknowledged that this is a date.
CECE: SEE JESS, I TOLD YOU! (Schmidt also just said he could have told you that like two hours ago) NOW KISS HIM!
Jess was a little drunk and the music was extremely loud, but Nick couldn't complain one bit. Plus, that Katy Perry chick was pretty good, if you asked Nick.
About mid show, Katy announced she was about to do something a little different. Of course it was a kiss cam and of course it landed on Nick and Jess (with no help from Ben and Amy who stood jumping up and down and pointing in their direction.)
"What do you think, Jess?" Nick laughed. Okay, maybe he was a little nervous now. About to kiss the woman he just figured out he was in love with, for the first time, in front of 10,000 people on a big screen.
"I'm a little nervous, if I'm being honest." She was smiling a smile that reached all the way to her eyes, he could see it, despite how close their faces were.
"Jess, if you don't want to –"
"Just kiss me, Miller."