A/N: Another Taylor Swift OS. Not really one of my best, but I had to get it out of my system. I wrote it in a hurry and didn't proofread it either, sorry.
Jessica Day hated the limelight. She'd had more than enough of that after her "public little affair with Russell" but Cece had said that she needed to be brave; that she had nothing to fear or worry about because she hadn't even known that Russell was married. So after a lot of back and forth an argument, here she was again, for the second time in the same week, at another bar.
"Schmidt's bestfriend is the bartender, so we'll get free drink, Jess! Come on!"
Jess wasn't sure why that had convinced her to go with Cece because she wasn't even much of a drinker. She supposed it was the slight guilt she felt for bringing the mood down. Cece would stay at home with Jess in a heartbeat, but Jess knew that her bestfriend wanted to actually give her relationship with Schmidt a try. Besides, Jess quite liked Schmidt and for once, not one of those weird people Cece dated usually. He had not pried too much about Russell though Jess was certain from the few times they had met that Schmidt was dying to know, and for his effort, Jess was grateful. He was quite nice, except when making really inappropriate jokes about Cece being Indian, but she did not seem to mind.
"He means no harm, Jess!"
So she sat on the barstools with them while they waited for the bartender-bestfriend, forcing laughter and faking smiles at Schmidt's "jokes".
The bar was like any other bar, with nothing particularly striking. She couldn't tell if she was imagining the judgemental looks she was receiving, but she was in no mood to find out. Cece kept trying to get her to talk, but she was just tired. All the looks of either pity or disapproval had made her doubt people's sincerity. She shifted her eyes across the bar vacantly, till they landed on a guy who had just appeared on the other end of the bar from the basement. He was carrying two crates of some drink that she didn't recognize, and she found herself staring at him. He had the faint hint of a stubble covering a well-cut jawline, and over the top of the crates, he caught her eye.
She saw the flicker of recognition in his eyes, and looked away, holding back a sigh. This was probably how it was going to be from now on. Everyone knew her face and would think they knew her story before they'd even met her. When she looked back at him, he had set the crates on the other of the bartop and was making a beeline towards them.
She started twiddling her thumbs nervously in her lap, wondering why he was heading towards them in the first place. Had she stared too long at him?
But he slipped behind the bar and greeted Schmidt first, and she relaxed, remembering that the bartender was Schmidt's best friend.
"Hey, man!" greeted back Schmidt. "Where've you been? I was looking for you!"
"Just the basement," he replied. "Just had to get some crates out."
He turned to greet Cece and then his eyes fell on Jess, who smiled at him a little sheepishly. He looked questioningly at Schmidt, who seemed to have only just remembered that Jess had never met him.
"Nick, this is Jess. Jessica. Cece's bestfriend," he said. "And Jess, this is Nicholas. My bestfriend, roommate and my bro from college."
Nick rolled his eyes. "Schmidt, don't call me bro! This is not high school!"
Schmidt waved at him dismissively as he turned to talk (flirt) with Cece. Nick turned to Jess with a small smile.
"Hi, Jessica, Nick Miller," he said.
"Hey," she said, giving a small smile. "Call me Jess, please."
"Alright, then, Jess," he said. "What can I get ya?"
"Pink wine," she said immediately, and Nick turned around to grab a Sancerre. "With a black straw."
Nick stopped halfway as he reached for the glass and looked at her with amusement. "Straw?"
"Yes, well, I like to sip on my wine through a straw," she said shrugging.
Nick laughed, one of the most genuine she'd heard in a while, as he poured her the wine and combed through the door for a black straw. When he found it, he showed it to her triumphantly and planted it in the glass. As he pushed it towards her, he put his hand on the bartop and leaned against it lightly. "Why black, though?"
Jess looked at him in surprise. No one had ever asked her that, and now she was thinking about it. Why a black straw? "I don't know," she replied with a laugh.
"Next time, maybe try some other colour," he chuckled.
"Maybe I will," she said, slipping slowly through the black one. "Which would you suggest?"
"Blue?" said Nick thoughtfully. "That'd match your eyes."
Once again, Jess was surprised. He'd actually given it a thought! Her hands automatically went to touch her glasses, and smiled at him. "Huh. Blue it is, the next time."
Nick grinned at her as he turned to attend to other customers, and Jess watched him prepare some cocktail that she had never heard of. She found herself thinking of ways to start a conversation with him again, so she bit her lower lip and let her mind wander over different possibilities. Fortunately for her, she didn't have to come to a decision.
He'd turned around and caught her staring at him, and tilted his head at her questioningly. She shook her head and went back to sipping her wine, blushing a little bit. He looked at her for a moment and before asking her if she wanted something else.
"More pink wine, please?"
"What, come on! Try one of the cocktails!" he said. "My treat."
"I don't really drink much else," she admitted sheepishly.
"Why am I not surprised," said Nick laughing, before adding, "But come on, I'll make one up for ya. Just try it. What's the harm, right?"
As she sipped away the last of her pink wine, she put her elbow on the table and rested her chin in her palm. "I don't see why not," she said, smiling.
"Great!" he exclaimed, genuinely excited. "Trust me, I think you'll like it."
She nodded as he turned around and mixed a series of drinks that she didn't really know. Her curiosity was piqued when he finally turned around with a drink that was pretty blue with a yellow straw in it. She took it from him, staring at the swirling blue drink curiously as he watched her, waiting. She took a small sip, and her eyes widened in surprise. "Nick, this is great!"
"What can I say, I have The Bartender Telepathy," he said with mock seriousness, tapping his temple with his index finger.
Taking another long sip, Jess smiled at him happily. They engaged in some mundane conversations, and Jess couldn't help but laugh at some of the things he said seemed so ridiculous that it was hilarious.
"What, I'm serious, Jessica," he said on one occasion. "I'm going to be a trucker in space and my family will live on Mars Landing."
She continued to laugh hysterically, having no idea why she found that so funny. It was the first time in a long time that she was laughing for real, not faking it. She could feel the tears in the corner of her eyes; the first laughter-induced tears that she'd shed in a long time.
What a sparkly night.
She laughed harder at that thought, because seriously, what did that even mean? It felt like she was feeling little bursts of happiness she hadn't felt in a long time. Nick, initially taken by surprise at how hysterically she was laughing, couldn't help but join her in her contagious laugh. She let Nick make her more cocktails, until he himself refused.
"You've had too much to drink."
"Have not," she pouted, and the weird pulsing in her head told her otherwise. "Alright, fine just a little too much."
Nick looked over at Cece and called. "Hey, Cece? I think this one's out for tonight."
Cece looked at a giggling Jess, surprised but happy that her friend was now showing some semblance of emotion. She was planning on giving it another week before marching to Russell and ripping him apart. Looks like she didn't need to do that, and the way Jess was rubbing her foot was grazing her ankle, Cece knew that it was Nick.
What a pleasant surprise.
She turned to Schmidt and kissed him once. "I need to take this one home."
"You really do," laughed Schmidt and then stared at Nick for a few seconds.
Cece stood up and turned to Jess. "Let's call it a night, Jess?"
"Yep," she said nodding rigorously and looked at Nick. "Thank you for the drinks, good sir."
"Milady," he said, as she stood up, slightly unsteady.
"You Mr Miller, are an enchanting man," she giggled, as Cece carefully wrapped an arm around Jess's shoulder, and bidding Nick goodbye and mouthing a thank you (he wasn't yet sure why), she walked towards the exit of the bar.
"Enchanting?" Nick called as he watched them walk away. "Who even says that anymore?"
"Middle school English teachers do!" she hollered over her shoulder as she let Cece take her out of the bar, making Nick laugh again as she walked out.
The minute they were in the Cece's car, Jess sighed. "He's so nice."
"Mhmm," nodded Cece, as she pulled out of the parking lot, waiting for Jess to continue and finish.
"I didn't think about Russell or even all that news nonsense all night, Cece," she said, wonderstruck at the turn of events.
Cece smiled a little, shooting her a side glance. "I'm glad, babe."
"Me too," she said, before falling silent the rest of the way.
Her face felt warm but she couldn't tell if she was blushing or if it was all the alcohol that Enchanting Nick Miller had given her. Made for her. As for as she was concerned, it had been a flawless night. She was quite relieved that he hadn't brought up Russell. Not once. There was no way he hadn't recognised her or if hadn't, at least Schmidt was bound to have told him. She appreciated how he did not seem to judge her one bit; he seemed so normal around her that one would think she hadn't just been accused by everyone of being a homewrecker. She briefly amused herself with the thought that it was probably because he didn't trust the media.
"They never really tell you the whole truth. I mean, we'll never know if it's true, Jess! We just gotta take their word for it! That's just stupid, so I won't take their word for it."
When she lay in bed that night, she was restlessly thinking about how nice he had made her feel. Warm and fuzzy. She hadn't wanted to leave, and she really wished she'd see him again. Since Cece was dating his best friend, she just might. She quite enjoyed his company, she decided. She caught herself wondering if he had a girlfriend.
This is silly. This is me being me again. Feeling too much for people I barely know.
But little did she know that at this time, Nick had had Schmidt procure Jess's number from Cece, and was debating whether or not to call her. She had seemed like such a pleasant change after Caroline, despite what all the news said. Admittedly, he wasn't sure about how serious he would like their relationship to be if at all it ever got to a point where it could be labelled the kind of relationship he wanted it to become. But he sure as hell wanted to try.
He could just see something begin again.
A/N: Yep, this is in the same universe as the OS Delicate, but works as a standalone OS as well. The last line is a hint towards something... any guesses? [A sequel coming up soon]
SEQUEL OS: Begin Again *posted*