**Author's Note: Obviously it's been awhile since this story was updated, but inspiration is a little harder to come by these days. I had a couple, more intense chapters planned, but I thought everyone could use a little fluff. A little bit of canon, a little bit of AU. ;-) I also want to note that way back in the beginning of this story, I gave Sadie's son the name Jack, so I did stick with that instead of changing it to Jacob.**
Jess closed the door to the loft and immediately kicked of her shoes with a loud sigh, blowing her bangs out of her face. After dropping her two heavy school bags off her shoulders, she craned her neck from side to side with a moan. It had been such a long day, followed by an unexpected meeting with Dr. Foster and she was looking forward to a relaxing night at home. She knew Schmidt and Winston wouldn't be home, and Nick was probably already on his way to the bar. She was about to go into the kitchen and pour herself a large glass of wine when she heard a muffled banging sound coming from the direction of her room. As she made her way towards the hallway, she noticed the door open a crack and peeked in to find Nick hunched over a large pile of colorful pieces of plastic. She smiled, and shook her head, pushing on the door to open it.
"What's going on in here?"
Nick glanced up at her and the scowl on his face quickly lifted to a smile. "Hey, you stayed late tonight."
Rubbing her temples, Jess nodded as she walked towards him. "I know. Dr. Foster needed to see me after school."
"Oh?" His brow furrowed with worry. "What did he want? I never liked that guy."
"He's not so bad." Laying her hand on his shoulder, she bent to give him a quick peck on the lips before flopping down on the end of the bed. "I'll fill you in later, I just want a minute to relax."
"Yeah," Jess flipped her hand in the air before pulling her feet up on the bed to massage her tired arches. "Just some changes for next year. What's all this?"
Nick scrunched up his face. "Well, I thought this thing would be a piece of cake to put together, but the directions are in German."
"I'm sorry," Jess laughed, staring at the large box next to Nick. "it just looked like so much fun. Jack will love it."
"Yeah, if I can ever get the damn thing together."
"We still have time you know, the party isn't for another 2 weeks."
Nick shrugged. "I know, I was just sitting here alone and thought I'd give it a try. Besides, I probably won't have much time later anyway, the bar's been so crazy."
Jess frowned, sliding herself down over the edge of the bed and onto the floor directly across from Nick. "Really?"
"I'm sorry, I'm trying." Nick reached out to grab her hand, giving it a squeeze. "It's been horrible being down a bartender again."
"No, I understand. I just miss you." She gave him a weak smile, before scooting closer to him and brushing her fingers through his hair. "Our schedules really suck lately."
"Come here." Nick leaned over to push the plastic pieces into a pile to his right, then grabbed Jess around her waist and pulled her towards him. Sitting crosslegged in front of her with their knees touching, his hands rested on her cheeks. "Things will get better, I promise."
"It's not your fault." Jess stretched to kiss him and took a moment to calm herself with a deep intake of breath before opening her eyes again. "I'm just so tired lately. I forgot how exhausting the end of the school year is."
Rubbing his thumbs gently over her cheekbones, he kissed her nose and smiled again. "I can go pick up dinner, are you hungry?"
Jess' hands rested on his wrists and she leaned back for a moment, face contorted in confusion. "You don't have to work tonight?"
"Nope." He shook his head. "Bob wanted an extra shift, so I'm all yours. That's why I got started on this, I know it was stressing you out having it sit here in the box."
Jess laughed. "I am not that bad!"
"Riiiiiight. Sure." Kissing her cheek, he started to stand up and offered her a hand to lift her off the floor. "What would you like for dinner?"
Jess shrugged. "I'm not that hungry actually, I had a late lunch and some snacks while I waited to meet with Foster."
"Okay." Nick brushed his hands on his jeans. "Well, I'm going to go grab something quick and get back to this mess for you."
Nick started to walk past her towards the door when he felt Jess grab his hand. Turning around, he stared into Jess' eyes and froze there momentarily. Slowly tilting her head, Jess stepped closer to him before whispering softly. "Thanks for doing this for me."
"It's no problem, Jess." He squinted his eyes, noticing how she seemed more emotional than normal and squeezed her hand. "That's what I'm here for."
He paused for a moment to hold her gaze just a while longer, before turning and slowly letting go of her hand. Sitting down on the bed with a deep breath, Jess closed her eyes and fell backwards. Crossing her arms over her face, she let herself relax into the mattress and let go of the stress of the day. She had so much to tell Nick, but she was still reeling from the news she had gotten at school today, that she was just trying to organize her thoughts over it all.
She laid there for a few minutes and started to slowly feel herself drifting off to sleep. Taking several more deep breaths, she flopped her arms to the side and forced herself to sit up with a grunt. Blinking as her eyes adjusted once again to the brightness in the room, she took a moment to look around. In the months since Nick had officially moved into her room, his things had gradually mixed with hers until the space was simply a combination of both of them. She stood up and walked over to her desk, running her fingers along the surface and Nick's laptop sitting next to hers. Stepping over the pile of pieces for Jack's toy, she stood in front of the dresser that Nick had built for her so long ago, and smiled at the memory of how stubborn he had been the day she offered him space in it for his things.
They had come so far in almost a year together and she felt good about where they seemed to be headed. They may not have talked about as many things at this point as she desperately hoped they could, but things were good between them. Managing the bar had been something that Nick seemed to enjoy and it had left them with more time together. Biting her lip she stared into the mirror and absentmindedly twisted the necklace Nick had given her. She was so deep in her thoughts that she hadn't heard Nick return. She was startled by his hands winding around her waist and smiled at him in the mirror as he rested his chin on her shoulder. His breath was warm on her neck, whispering in her ear.
"What're you thinking about?"
"Nothing." She sighed. "Everything."
He stared at her silently in the mirror, then slowly turned her at the waist to face him. Her hands rested on his chest and she gazed up at him. "Want to talk about it?"
Jess pursed her lips, thinking of what to say. "It was such a strange day."
"Is that good or bad?"
"I don't know." She looked up at him again, pressing her hands firmly on his chest. "No, good. Definitely good."
Raising his eyebrows, he waited for her to continue. When she didn't right away, he moved a hand to softly run his fingers across her face and kissed her forehead as he pulled her into a tight embrace. Once he felt her relax into his arms, she leaned back and smiled.
"Dr. Foster made me an offer today."
Nick stared in confusion. "Okay..."
"He, um..." She bit her lip nervously, but he could tell she was holding back a smile. "He needs a replacement for Vice Principal next year and he offered me the job."
Nick's face erupted into a huge smile and he hugged her tightly. "Jess! That's incredible." He heard her laugh and pulled back to look at her, his eyes bright. "Wait, that's good right?"
"Yeah," Jess nodded, unable to resist Nick's enthusiasm. "Yeah, it's really good news."
Nick's eyes searched her face and he smoothed his hands over her arms. "What's wrong, Jess?"
Jess bit her lip nervously, her eyes fluttering to meet his gaze. "I don't know. It's good, it's really good. I just..."
Nick took her hand and sat down on the bed, pulling her to stand between his legs. "You'll miss the kids."
Frowning, she nodded and grabbed his hands, swinging their arms nervously back and forth. His thumbs made soothing circles over her hand and she sighed. "I should want this, I should. It's not like I've never thought about it before. Why's this so hard?" Nick's eyes followed her as she stepped to the side and sat down next to him. His arm went around her and her head fell to his shoulder. He rested his chin in her hair.
"Maybe being hard is what makes it good."
Jess froze for a minute before letting out a loud laugh and raising her head. "Did you just quote a movie, Miller?!"
"Whaaaat? Me?" He winked. "I hate that."
Shaking her head, she let out another laugh. "I never thought I'd hear you quote an inspirational movie."
"Jessica, it's a sports movie."
"About the bond between strong women during a war."
"You crazy woman, it's about baseball!"
"Right. okay." Jess laughed again, but it was short lived and the room fell into awkward silence once again. Not knowing what to say, Nick just rubbed her arm calmly. He could tell she was upset, but he wasn't sure why. He thought she would have been bouncing off the walls with excitement over this news. Before he could say another word, she shrugged from his grasp and stood up to walk to her closet. He watched her change out of her red dress and into pajamas. She flashed him a week smile and started to sit down on the floor.
"So what do we do next?"
Nick shook his head and grabbed her hand, momentarily halting her motion. She froze to stare at him, as he stood up and stepped in front of her.
"What aren't you telling me, Jess?"
Chin collapsing to her chest with a sigh, she frowned. Nick pulled her back over to the bed, where she sat down and curled one leg under her. Leaning back on her arm, she looked directly at Nick.
"The problem is that it's not at the school I'm at, it's actually at the High School."
"Oh." Nick spoke slowly. "Is that bad?"
"I guess not. But it's further away and, I don't know, I really like being with Middle School kids. High schoolers are pretty intimidating. I don't know if I'd be good at it."
"But you wouldn't be teaching, right?"
"Well, no but..."
Nick rubbed her arm. "Do you need to decide right now?"
Jess' face lit up a little. "No. He did say I could take some time to think about it."
"Well then there ya go. You don't even need to worry about it."
She sighed, smiling softly. "Yeah, I guess I don't. Do I?"
Leaning over, he kissed her lips and squeezed her knee on the way back down to the floor. "See, you've got this." Turning back to look at her, he saw her hesitate for a moment before shrugging and taking a seat next to him on the floor. Linking her arm through his she reached out for the instructions and held the paper in front of them, leaning her chin on his arm.
"So where are we at with this?"
"I don't know, but I think it looks pretty good so far." He held up a partially assembled structure and raised his eyebrows. "Whadya think?"
"That looks terrible." She laughed uncontrollably, dropping the directions and taking it in her hand. "I don't know, maybe we should just give him a box and call it a day."
Nick joined in her laughter. "You know that's what a 1 year old wants anyway. Maybe we could play it off that we thought they'd want to put it together as a family."
"Good thinking, Miller." She pointed at him before slapping her hand on the floor. "Screw all this plastic."
Grabbing the box, Nick started tossing all the loose pieces inside and shook his head as he cleaned the floor. He chuckled quietly without thinking. "Don't worry, our little guy won't have to wake up to a box of random parts on Christmas. We'll make sure Santa speaks English."
Jess' hand hovered over the open box and she blinked several times as Nick continued to clean up the mess. Not even realizing he had said anything out of the ordinary, he continued on as if nothing had happened. Jess was left smiling and contemplating what it would be like to see Nick as a father someday.