I just got back from a cruise. I started re-watching New Girl on the plane ride there. This was the result.
The Grand Romance Package was doing something to her. Or maybe it was just the way that Nick was looking at her with that soft smile he reserved just for her – the one that made his poop-brown eyes shimmer and get all crinkly in the corners like he had just been told the funniest joke in the world.
Either way, the gentle rocking of the boat and the intensity of the moment had her stomach doing flips. The twinkling lights, the shared bottles of wine, the light sea breeze – it all felt so incredibly romantic. The soft sway of the ocean waves hypnotized Jess in a moment of content. She felt light and giddy inside, like a schoolgirl with a crush, not like a heartbroken woman sharing a moment with the very man who had broken her heart. Everything was somehow so easy with Nick, too easy to fall back into their old pattern of flirtatious banter.
After a moment she locked eyes with Nick, who was still looking at her so intently. "You look like you belong here."
"What's that, on a ship?"
Jess nodded, in such a way that implied "yeah, and with me," without actually saying the words.
"Yeah, you too," Nick replied, mirroring her thoughts. Without thinking, he tucked a tendril of hair behind her ear with a tenderness that surprised both of them. Jess' heart was beating wildly, but the smile and color fell from her face. She thought of that old saying about exes – the one about how if they can remain friends they're either still in love or never truly were. She didn't know which possibility scared her more.
Lost in thought, she realized Nick was leaning in to kiss her. Should she let him? For a brief moment, she internally fought with herself. She wanted to kiss him, she really, really did, but at the last second she panicked and turned her head. Jess felt Nick's lips awkwardly nip at her earlobe and inwardly cringed at her own lack of grace.
"Oh, yo," Jess chuckled nervously, "yo, yo, yo. Yo, pal." She crossed her arms across her chest in a way that said, "danger, keep out." She was not a backslider.
"Well that was a mistake," Nick said, with a forced laugh that gave away that he didn't really think it was one, "That was not on purpose."
Once the embarrassment of the moment faded, the two looked into each other's eyes and found only sadness there. They had planned this trip when they were drunk, on the numerous bottles of pink wine that Nick had brought home from his shift at the bar, but also so, so drunk on love.
Now, with a half-finished glass of wine abandoned beside her, growing warm, Jess crossed her arms over her chest, hugging herself tight. The light sea breeze now felt like a cold winter wind, chilling her to the bone. Part of her just wanted to go into her cabin, order every dessert they had for room service, and cozy up to watch Dirty Dancing, but deep down she knew that her normal breakup routine couldn't heal her from this depth of heartbreak. She had been so sure that Nick was the one.
"Jess," she didn't even realize that she had been crying until she felt Nick's hand, warm and reassuring on her shoulder. "Jess, honey, what's wrong?" The affectionate pet name and Nick's gentleness were all too much for her, and the floodgates opened. Nick pulled her into a hug, rubbing her back in soothing, circular motions as she cried. Hiccupping, she looked up into Nick's eyes to find that they too were shining with unshed tears – he was trying so hard to be strong for her. He wiped Jess' eyes with the pads of his thumbs and kissed her forehead, once, twice, before drawing her back in. Her head rested in the crook of his neck while his arms were wrapped around her protectively, shielding her from the wind and the hurt of the world. He would take a bullet for her if it meant that she never had to feel pain.
They stayed wrapped up in each other like this for a few minutes as Jess' breathing calmed down. From across the deck, a gentle melody could be heard from the piano and Jess could feel the steady beat of Nick's heart beneath her cheek.
"Nick," she whispered," he looked up from where his nose was buried in her hair. She placed her hand above his heart, which she could swear just about doubled in pace. "What are we doing?"
He didn't answer, only rested his forehead against hers so that their noses were touching. The world seemed to still around them – it was just Nick, Jess, the piano, and the infinite blue of the ocean. Neither of them knew who started it, but suddenly they were kissing, and it was incredible. It was nothing like their first kiss, all pent up desire and lust, or any of the passionate kisses they had shared during the phase where they just couldn't keep their hands off one another. Those kisses were great, sure, but this kiss – this kiss felt like coming home. It was so warm and deliciously slow. It felt like sunshine, like strong coffee, like being in love.
Jess sighed as Nick cupped her face in his hands and parted her lips with his tongue. It hit her like a ton of bricks that this is what she wanted, her and Nick, for forever. She held him a little tighter, and kissed him back a little harder. As they naturally pulled away with one last soft brush of their lips, Jess nuzzled her nose against Nick's and giggled as she felt his face break into a smile.
"Jessica," he whispered, barely audible, "This is is killing me. I'm so crazy in love with you."
Jess pecked his lips, "Nick, I don't even care if you want to drive a truck and live on Mars. As long as I can be there with you, well, I'll learn to rock a space suit. If being in love is all we have in common, then it's the best damn thing we could ever hope to have in common."
They sat for a few minutes in comfortable silence, still holding each other. Jess was the first to speak, "so what… does this mean?" Her voice broke a little, letting herself be vulnerable. "I can't lose you again, Nick. I just can't. If we're doing this again, this is it for me."
He took her hand and spoke honestly, "I do think about the future, our future." He sighed, a little nervously, "I want it all, Jess. I want to be a husband and a dad and have the house on the lake with the dog and the horse and whatever other animals you adopt with that giant heart of yours." Jess laughed. "I meant what I said that day. I love you more than I've ever loved anyone. I want all of those things as long as they're with you."
For once, Jess was the one stunned into silence. She was so overwhelmed with love for this man. Her eyes widened, and she half expected Nick to get up and panic-moonwalk away from her after his confession. Instead, he simply squeezed her hand and stared at her with a wild look in his eyes, so full of unbridled joy and hope and love. He looked across the water for a moment, as if he were deep in thought, pondering something important.
"Oh fuck it," he said, grabbing Jess' face in both hands and kissing her hard on the mouth, "marry me, Jessica Day."
"Yes." She said calmly, without skipping a beat.
Either Nick didn't hear her, or was so taken aback by her answer, that he began to nervously ramble, "I mean, eventually I would like to see us getting married, not like right now, that would be crazy, I don't have a ring or anything, well I actually do have a ring its just back at the loft in my closet since we broke up, never mind just forget I said – "
"Miller, would you just shut up already," it was Jess' turn to cut him off with a kiss, "I said yes, you clown."
Nick broke into a giant smile, eyes wide with wonder. "You said," he stuttered, "that means… we are," He took her left hand, tracing her empty ring finger in the shape of an imaginary band.
"I do believe that makes you my fiancé, Nicholas," Jess said, eyes shimmering with happy tears.
Nick reached into his pocket, pulling out a straw wrapper from a cocktail he drank by the pool earlier. Tying it into a knot around Jess' finger, he ripped off the excess. "There," he said, kissing her hand in the spot where her makeshift engagement ring sat, "now it's official."
Jess giggled. "Elegant, but understated. I love it. I love you."
They stayed up on that deck all night, once more drunk on love and some champagne they managed to snag from the bar. Jess even convinced Nick to dance with her to the jazzy piano music, and even still once the music died down. This is how the rest of the gang found them, swaying together to only the sounds of the cool ocean breeze under the moonlight. They were so wrapped up in each other that they didn't even notice their friends until Schmidt cleared his throat when they were mid-kiss.
"Well don't you two lovebirds look cozy. Are you back together or –" Jess' left hand was resting on Nick's chest, straw-wrapper ring on full display. Schmidt's eyes widened and he nudged Cece and Winston. "Nick, Jess? Are you –"
"We're engaged." Nick said, remarkably calm. "There's champagne over there, if you want some."
Caught off guard, Schmidt started ranting, "don't you think you're maybe rushing things, think about the loft dynamic! I mean this morning you weren't even together and now –"
"Schmidt," Cece cut him off, pointing at Jess. She was beaming up at Nick with so much love, like there was no one else in the world who could ever make her this happy, and he was staring right back at her, entranced in the depth of her beautiful ocean eyes. They looked perfect together.
Schmidt smiled softly, beside himself. "Actually, never mind. Congratulations, guys." Any changes in the loft dynamic were worth it if it meant seeing his best friend fall in love.
Winston slapped Nick on the back to congratulate him while Cece hugged Jess and laughed at her makeshift ring. "It's an old bartender's trick," Nick said with a wink. "I do promise there is a real ring, though."
The gang hung out on pool deck chairs until the sun came up, drunk on stolen champagne and friendship and love.
"For the record, I knew this would happen," Cece said, making a toast. "To Nick and Jess." Everyone raised their glasses.
"Nicholas," Schmidt started, "please lose a few pounds and let me pick out your wedding suit so Jess doesn't look further out of your league than she already is."
"Jar," Nick mumbled, but only half-interested, because he was too busy staring at his new fiancée, looking radiant under the golden glow of the sunrise.
A year later, they sat up on the deck, drunk on love and champagne, admiring their matching silver wedding bands on their honeymoon cruise.
I know this is sappier than what would have happened on the show, but I'm a sucker for season 3 Nick and Jess.
This is intended to be a one-shot, but I would be open to writing more stories if the fandom is still interested. I need more New Girl content!