Dear MyFictionalFavourites,

OneShot#1! Okay so I know 'Pepperwood' is your favourite episode, so what changes could I possibly make to that? It's not as much of a change as it is a mere extension/unseen scene (of sorts) because I always marvelled at the fact this episode was right before 'Cooler', you know? So a little something playing on that.

Prompt: 'Pepperwood' is your favourite episode!

Set in Season 2

I probably got the parts about the meat wrong, sorry about that. I'm a vegetarian and I have no idea how cooking meat works. And yeah, I watched 'Pepperwood' for the purpose of writing this fic, and yes, I got emotional towards the end again. They're all such good friends, I can't.. And I'm not 100% if the last scene was in the morning, but for convenience sake, I'll assume it is, ha ha ha.

Without further ado, do not forget to review, this fic number two. (Huehueueh, I'm lame, yeah.)

Hope you enjoy!

Your NotSoSecretAnymore,
Santa.


Pepperwood


Nick Miller was facing a conflict. It was too early in the morning to be facing a conflict, but there he was, staring at sizzling pieces of meat that were supposed to be his breakfast. He prodded them slightly with a spatula, frowning when he realized that the meat was sticking to the pan. He grimaced as he tried to poke the meat into unsticking itself from the pan.

What good was a non-stick pan if things got stuck to it!

Whatever the supposed functionality of a "non-stick" pan, he realized that that particular functionality was failing. He had to find a solution. How could he possibly make sure that the meat didn't stick!?

He glared at the pan for a few seconds, before his eyes darted over to his laptop, sitting on the kitchen island. He looked at the pan again, glaring at it this time.

"I'll come back for you later," he muttered, turning on his heels and going over to his laptop.

Instead of sitting on a stool, he stood in front of it, staring at the screen. Supporting himself on his elbows, he bent forward and narrowed his eyes at the Word Doc open on his laptop. He'd gotten what seemed like a ridiculous idea when he was close to falling asleep last night. The realization that he might be onto something was what had made him jump out of bed that morning. The document had, at the moment, only the words "Julius Pepperwood: Zombie Detective". But he had a plan. A plan he hoped none of his friends would ever find out. Especially not her. It would be embarrassing, and so would the questions it would raise. He shuddered involuntarily at the thought of that, musing about what an awkward conversation that would be and starting to daydream about what explanation he could possibly give if the book were ever to be published.

Chuckling at himself, he shook his head.

One chapter at a time, Nick. One chapter at a time.

He threw a cautious glance over his shoulder before his hands went to the keyboard to start typing.

The night was inky hot. She strode into his office with a sense of purpose, place... plucky? pyjamas? punchy? pebbly?... Ah, screw it... Another word here (?). She had zombie legs that went on for miles. They were the kind of legs you could sink your teeth into.

That sounds weird, he decided. "Saving that for later..." he muttered, as he continued to type.

Pepperwood had two friends - one, if you count his hat. The other was his gal Friday, Jessica... Night. She was small in stature, but not in spunk. And a super annoying know-it-all. Despite that there was something about her that Pepperwood liked. He liked having her around. He had had his doubts when he'd first met her, but it was probably because he was a little afraid of her. How could anyone be that optimistic? It raised suspicions in him about her genuity, but he'd known somewhere even then, deep down, that the woman was one of a kind. Maybe it was how she could still smile in the middle of the goddamn zombie apocalypse. Or just the sincerity with which she looked at him, her big, blue eyes that reeked of innocence in this death-ridden world.

Or maybe it was just her.

He stopped at that, hesitating to type further. That felt too weird. Too real, rather. He worried his lower lip, as he tried to pour into words what he was feeling. Well, finding the words wasn't really a problem, actually. He knew exactly what he wanted to type, but seeing those words on his laptop screen would make them manifest into a reality he wasn't yet sure he was willing to accept. Those words felt safer tucked away in the back of his mind, where no one could possibly see them. At least for now.

Shaking his head, he walked back over to the stove, focusing on keeping the bacon from sticking to the darned pan. Greasing would probably reduce the adhesion, right? He looked around the kitchen for a little bit, opening the cupboards, drawers and the refrigerator. Finally, his eyes fell on the cup of butter. He took it out carefully and uncapped it, digging a spoon into it thoughtfully after turning the stove back on.

He wasn't sure if adding more butter to the bacon would be a good idea, but he was on a roll today - if "roll" could be defined as waking up a tad earlier than usual and writing a hundred odd words of a novel he someday hoped to complete - and refused to let something as stupid as dilemma over using butter dampen his spirits. Shrugging to himself, he added a giant slob of butter to the sizzling meat in the pan. Butter was supposed to make everything taste better anyway.

"Hey, Nick," said Jess, appearing with a mug of what was surely green tea.

"Hey."

"What are you doing up?"

Well, well. No need to sound so surprised.

"Just taking care of myself," he said proudly.

"Are you putting butter on bacon?" she asked incredulously.

"I don't want it to stick to the pan," he explained with a shrug.

"Okay, did you..." she trailed away, staring as he continued to add more butter to the pan. "Great. It's just what bacon needs, more fat. And salt."

She started to sit down, and almost at the same time as him, her attention was drawn to his open laptop.

"What's this?" she asked curiously, peering at the screen as she took a seat.

"Don't read that. I'm not finished!" he said, frantic.

"Julius Pepperwood: Zombie Detective!?" she read out loud, the excitement already seeping into her voice.

"All his murder victims are already dead, so they obviously don't need a detective," he muttered. "I'm working on it."

That was honestly the least of his concerns at that moment. I'm not ready! I'm NOT ready!

"The night was inky hot," she started.

"Don't do this," he murmured softly.

But paying no heed to him, she continued. "She strode into his office with a sense of purpose, place, another word here, question mark?"

She looked up at him curiously.

"I'm looking for another "P" word there," he said again, looking at her apprehensively.

"She had zombie legs that went on for miles. They were the kind of legs you could sink your teeth into," she paused here, and Nick flinched.

Wow. Definitely, need to reword that part.

"Pepperwood had two friends - one, if you count his hat. The other was his gal Friday... Jessica Night," she stopped again, looking at him with those pleasantly surprised blue eyes.

"It's not you, Jess," he lied.

Right. Might as well have told her that my name's not Nick Miller.

"She was small in stature, but not in spunk," she continued skeptically and finishing with a slight high pitch. "And a super annoying know-it-all!?"

Frankly, there was no time to even deal with the fact that she was mad at being called a know-it-all. He had bigger problems in the form of the words he had written next. He waited with bated breath, wondering if this was it. Maybe he would have to look for a new place to live. Schmidt would be so mad because he'd have ruined the precious "loft dynamic."

"Good evening," said Winston appearing out of nowhere, much to Nick's gratitude. Probably the first time Nick was ever thankful for Winston's "adjusted schedule" or whatever.

Jess wasn't an idiot. She'd seen the look of relief on his face when Winston had interrupted, which only served to fuel her curiosity. Yesterday had been a rollercoaster for sure. Her heartstrings had pulled at his concern for her and even going to the extent of investigating someone who could potentially have been a murderer. It made her feel warm that he cared that much for her, and she thought it was one of the sweetest things someone had ever done for her; it would've been a different matter altogether of course if Nick had been right. She shuddered inwardly.

But he wasn't, and here they were.

She would never admit it to him or anyone else for that matter, but she had enjoyed their little shenanigan and wished they could hang out more - just the two of them. And there was also Pepperwood's gal Friday - Jessica Night. Before she could ask him anything further, Schmidt had walked in looking ridiculous with only half his eyebrows and then the bacon was on fire. And when Winston's new pogo had been discovered, all was forgotten. At least for a couple of days.

Because a couple of days later, she was standing in the hallway, reeling from probably the best kiss of her life, as she watched Nick walk into his bedroom after murmuring, "I meant something like that."