The Next Evening

Jess stirred awake with a small grunt. She could feel her lower back hurting a little, and tried to straighter herself when she realized where she was. She could see her hand slung over someone's (she knew exactly who) waist and she could feel the certain someone's chin poking the top of her head. Her feet were curled up against him, knees slightly brushing his thighs. She tried to move a little when she felt his hand grazing her waist; it had gone behind her and was holding her to his side.

Holy fudgsicles.

His even breathing, which she could feel, told her that he was still asleep. She stayed very still in the position, breathing slowly, trying to compose herself. Her heart was running a mile a minute and she could feel her cheeks starting warm. She didn't think she'd ever been this close to him before, physically. As she saw the evening light filter into the loft, it felt extremely intimate, being nestled into his side, head on his chest, while sitting on the couch. She found herself smiling slightly, despite the alarm bells going off in her head. She snuggled slightly further into him and closed her eyes, not really drifting off to sleep. She didn't want to break what felt like a rare spell being cast on both of them.

Nick didn't stir when the door clicked open either, but Jess stayed where she was, unsure if she should move. If she did, Nick would wake up; not that there was anything wrong with that, but it would be weird if they both woke up with some of their friends peering over them. Right? Probably. So she did what was best; pretended to be asleep. She heard soft footsteps and the clink of keys in the key bowl. The footsteps approached the couch and she heard a gentle, breathy laugh.

"Aw, look at these two," whispered Cece.

Schmidt grunted in response. "As long as the-"

"I swear if you say "loft dynamic" once more, no sex for a week," Cece hissed.

"Cece!" exclaimed Schmidt in a whisper, genuinely horrified at the idea.

Cece and Schmidt were sleeping together!? What! HOW? When had that happened?!

"Do you think that they... you know?" whispered Schmidt suggestively.

"They will, babe, they will," she said. Jess could hear the smile in her voice.

"Babe?!" The delight was obvious.

"Shut up, it was a slip of tongue!"

"Of course it was, babe," said Schmidt and Jess could hear footsteps fading in the direction of his bedroom.

"Your feet are twitching," whispered Cece, her voice close to her ear now, making Jess's eyes fly open. "I know you're awake, Jess," she laughed.

Jess turned her head slightly, looking sheepish, to find Cece's face peeping out from behind the back of the couch, eyes levelled with hers. She recognised that mischievous glint in Cece's eyes.

"Enjoying the moment, I see," smirked Cece.

"You're enjoying Schmidt, I hear," said Jess, quirking an eyebrow. "Why didn't you tell me!"

"I don't know, really," Cece shrugged, flushing a warm pink. "Let's not talk about that, please. Your voice seems to have-"

Jess's mouth dropped, as it clicked. "You like him! You like Schmidt! Cece!" squeaked Jess.

"Shush," snapped Cece, eyes darting towards Schmidt's room. "If you say anything I will tell him too," she jerked her head in Nick's direction, still fast asleep.

Jess scrunched her nose but knew the warmth in her cheeks were giving her away. "There's nothing to tell."

Cece narrowed her eyes and stood up. Patting Jess's hair, she started to walk towards Schmidt's room. "Uh-huh. Keep telling yourself that, hon."

Jess stuck out her tongue at Cece's back, and then looked at Nick. He had been so gentle with her that it was astounding. She knew she hadn't imagined the tenderness in his eyes from last night. She could still see it and it made her heart feel warm and tingly all over when she thought about how he had taken care of her. She could get used to that. The last time she'd been sick, it was when she'd been with Spencer. He'd called Cece home and stayed out the whole day. It still made her heart hurt sometimes, thinking about all the time she'd given that man and all of the reckless plans for the future she'd made with him. Without realizing it, she hugged Nick tighter, staring into the distance. She wished Nick would be that way more often around her, instead of all the time they spent bickering. She did, of course, enjoy the bickering to some extent, but when he was this way, it made her weak in the knees. She knew he didn't have to take care of her, but he did. She was very tempted to plant a kiss on his chin.

Oh, Jessica Day. There's something to tell after all, isn't there?

That wasn't really surprising, actually. She had wanted to kiss him last night. And so had he, she reasoned. Lost in thought, she didn't feel Nick stirring or him tensing momentarily.

"Hey," he said, voice raspy with sleep, as he brought a hand to rub his eyes.

"Oh, hey, Nick!" she said slowly, deciding to just pretend she'd just woken up and started to straighten on the couch.

"Ha, you can say my name right again," he chuckled.

Jess frowned. "What're you-"

"How're you feeling?" he asked, touching her forehead with the back of his hand.

"I think I'm good," said Jess, staring at him.

This is stupid.

He still looked slightly disoriented from the sleep, eyes still unfocused. But when he looked at her, the warmth in his eyes made her lips part slightly. His hand had now dropped to her cheek and he was staring at her. He swallowed slightly, and his eyes darted to her lips for a fleeting moment and Jess wanted to kiss him. She wanted to take his face between her hands and plant a kiss on his lips.

Oh boy.

She let out an incredulous chuckle, making Nick withdraw in surprise. "What's so funny?" he asked, narrowing his eyes at her.

Oh nothing, I was just thinking about how much I wanted to kiss you.

She shook her head, not knowing what to say but wondered if that would be such a wrong thing to say after all. He did confess last night that he'd wanted to kiss her. Maybe she should do it too. Nick looked at her funnily before standing up to stretch.

"Alright, let's make you some dinner," he said, starting to head towards the kitchen.

Jess sprang to her feet and caught his arm. "Uh, not that's alright, Nick. You don't have to-"

Nick smiled a little and pat her hand assuringly. "I want to."

"I'm alright now, Nick. We'll just get something from outside," she said, crossing her arms.

"Jess, you've just been ill. It's better if I just make you dinner for tonight!" he said insistently, walking over to the kitchen.

She followed him, persistent. If he continued behaving this way she was going to fall for him and fall for him hard. She already knew that she was feeling something for him. Feelings that were more than what a friend was supposed to feel like.

"Nick, I'm serious," she said hurrying after him. "I feel great now. You don't have to be so nice to me anymore."

He turned around when he reached the kitchen table and leaned against it, eyes narrowed and arms crossed. "I wasn't being nice because you were sick."

"Yeah?" she asked stubbornly.

She wasn't hundred percent sure what she was trying to achieve by taking the conversation in this direction. She knew it wasn't just because she'd been sick. He'd made it quite clear that he liked her and that he was glad she was around. But the feelings she'd been having, she wasn't sure how to handle that. Granted, he'd wanted to kiss her. But you could feel like kissing anyone, right? She'd definitely kiss Liam Hemsworth; but would she want more from him? What if he just wanted to kiss her and nothing more?

Ugh, dumb Nick had to get drunk and tell me that. Why couldn't he just tell me when he's sober!?

"Well, yeah!" replied Nick incredulously. "You know me better than that!"

She did.

"Nick, it isn't like you've exactly been nice to me otherwise, you know?" she said slowly, gulping at the anger she could see on his face.

"Oh, Jesus," said Nick, shaking his head. "I told you last night that I liked you, Jess! I really do!" he said insistently.

Jess's mouth dropped open in shock. "You remember?"

"Yeah," said Nick, slowly. "Sort of."

She stepped a little closer to him, worrying her lip. "Um, what else do you remember?"

Nick stared at her, unsure how to answer that. He wasn't sure if he'd said anything. "Is there... er, more?"

"You tell me," she said, staring at him imploringly.

"I was the drunk one, so you should tell me," he said softly, straightening to stand straight now. He'd stuffed his hands in his pocket, starting to feel nervous. He resolved never to ever drink that much again; he'd forgotten what it felt like to forget what he'd said or done.

She nodded once, her mind racing with thoughts. Was this it? Maybe she should just tell him.

Or I could just shrug, laugh and say I was messing around and stare at him while he makes me dinner.

"You'd said you wanted to kiss me," she said evenly, staring at him as his eyes grew wide in surprise.

In that moment, she was sure he was going to deny having said that. She could almost hear his thoughts racing as he stared at her face, eyes flickering over to her lips frequently, lingering longer.

"And what did you say to that?" he said, almost a whisper.

She smiled a little. "I said that I wanted you to."

Nick frowned, looking at her in disbelief. "Yeah, right. I'm sure I would've kissed you the minute you'd said it was okay to. Wouldn't have waited at all," he said, laughing nervously.

Tilting her head slightly, she looked at him with amusement. "You said you wanted to remember it."

Nick turned a furious shade of red. He couldn't believe he'd said that. What a cheesy and stupid thing to say! Although, it did sound like something he would say. He'd been wanting to kiss her for so long now that if he had, he'd rather have done it sober than drunk; he'd definitely want to remember the taste of her lips and what it felt like to kiss her. He scrunched his eyes shut and shook his head at the spiralling thoughts. He took a deep breath to calm himself down, and when he opened his eyes, Jess was a lot closer than she'd been.

Jess wasn't sure what had come over her. It made her feel slightly confident to see him so flustered. She thought it was so because she interpreted his nervousness as a sign that it would mean something to him. Just like it would to her, and she didn't feel like she'd be left vulnerable and hanging. She stepped closer to him, hardly an inch gap between them. Nick's hands fell to his side as Jess stepped in front of him and placed her hands on his chest, looking up at him. He had an anticipatory look in his eyes, and the way he was looking her was making her nervous again. She could feel his hands skimming her sides, and her hands slid upwards and planted themselves on his shoulders.

"I promised I'd remind you," she said quietly.

"Consider me reminded," he said, locking his hands behind her waist and pulling her closer, watching her quietly. Despite the confidence, he could see that she was nervous. Heck, he was too. This would be a big step, if they went through with it. So much would change and there would be potentially so much that could be damaged. But there was all the possibility of things changing for the better. Because frankly, when did something to do with Jessica Day ever change things for the worse.

She stared at him for a few seconds, before frowning in confusion. "Nick?"

"Hm?"

"I've reminded you, just now," she said slowly.

"That you did," he agreed.

"Then why, for fudge's sake, aren't you kissing me yet?" she growled.

"I don't know, I was just-"

"Oh, shut up, Miller," said Jess, cutting him off. She craned her neck to catch his lips as her hands cupped his face to pull him down to her. Chuckling against her lips, Nick pulled her closer to him and kissed her in every way he'd imagined. Her hands went to the spot where his hairline ended on his neck, where she pulled at him harder. He bit her lower lip gently, as she traced the inside of his mouth with her tongue. Frankly, his imagination had nothing on what he was experiencing at that moment. It was like this was the kiss he didn't know he was waiting for all his life. Their lips met perfectly and their tongues danced with a newfound rhythm that'd make you think they'd been doing this forever.

It was a damned fairytale.