*A/N - When we first saw video of the loft rooftop being set up for a Nick/Jess wedding, I had an idea in my head that I was desperate to write. I starting this the week before the Season 7 finale aired but i've had a bit of a crisis of confidence, so it's taken me a while to finish...*
Up On The Roof:
"On the roof, the only place I know.
Where you just have to wish to make it so.
Let's go up on the roof (up on the roof).
At night the stars put on a show for free.
And, darling, you can share it all with me..."
The door to the loft flies open with a bang and Cece bustles inside, her arms laden with a multitude of different sized bags. After a few furtive glances over her shoulder to check the coast is clear, she turns back to the entrance with a maniacal grin on her face as Jess trudges in behind, struggling to balance the extra materials she was asked to carry.
"So, you need my help because...?" Jess puffs, dumping the largest of the bags unceremoniously at her feet. She'd kind of hoped to have a couple hours to herself so she could start prepping for the awesome meal she was going to cook for Nick tonight, but Cece had other plans. Her feet were tired after traipsing half way across town and, honestly, she would kill for a cup of chamomile tea right about now.
"I told you already!" Cece exclaims "Schmidt's cousin overbooked herself with seamstress jobs, so being the wonderful human that I am, I volunteered to help her with some of the alterations to ease her load."
"Yeah, but you don't know anything about that kind of stuff." Jess stands with her hands on her hips, a frown beginning to form along her brow.
"This one is just a simple job, plus she showed me the basics..." Cece waves a hand, and turns to place the tote of accessories down on the couch "...besides - that's where you come in!"
"You want me help with the sewing? Well sure, I'm always happy to get my hands dirty i guess."
Cece sucks her lips over her teeth and spins back to Jess with her arms extended.
"I actually need you to be my mannequin!"
"I don't have an actual mannequin and, well, turns out you're exactly the size of the dress owner."
"Okay..." Jess says, the word being strung out slowly as she looks increasingly bemused "that seems...convenient."
"Yeah - I know, right? What are the chances?!" Cece laughs forcefully before bundling together some bags and quickly ushering Jess towards her bedroom before she could ask any more questions.
"Ow!" Squawks Jess, squirming under Cece's less than careful needlework.
"Sorry, babe." She mumbles, pins held between her lips "Misjudged it...but I'm almost done - I swear!"
Removing the last pin from her mouth and taking a large gulp from her wine glass, Cece cricks her neck to one side and tries again, very slowly, to finish the final stitch.
"There...perfect!" She glances up to catch Jess's eye in the mirror. Cece sees her head is tilted, taking in her own reflection with a rueful look on her face "Oh, honey. I'm sorry. I didn't think...this dress is too similar to the one in your idea notebook, right? And what with you and Nick postponing the wedding after the eviction notices, I just...damn, i feel such a fool!"
"It's okay, Ceec." Jess waves a hand and gives a sad smile "It's actually quite nice to see what I might look like on the big day, I suppose. Whenever that might end up being."
"Well, in that case, let's go the whole hog and do your hair and make up, too!"
"No!" She gasps "That's really not...I can't!"
"You can..." says Cece with a glint in her eye, leaving her side to rummage in Jess's closet, returning a few moments later holding up her own Maid of Honour dress "...and I'm going to join you!"
"Come on, no one else is ever going to know. It's just you and me having a little fun to cheer you up! Besides, I know you've already got your shoes and accessories all hidden away. Jessica Day is nothing if not super organised..."
Jess laughs as she allows herself to give in. She'd be lying if she said she wasn't a tiny bit curious about what everything would look like tried on together. Delaying her wedding to Nick was absolutely the right thing to do, what with everything going on that needed sorting out now that they had to move and Nick had to find a new publisher, but she hadn't been able to hide her disappointment about it quite as well as she'd hoped.
"It's all in there, second shelf on the left..."
"I can't find it!" Yells Cece, voice muffled.
"They're hidden in the box labelled 'tampons and sanitary napkins'..." Jess giggles as Cece pokes her head back out of the closet looking completely baffled, and feels compelled to explain "...Nick gets uncomfortable about 'lady items', so I figured it was the easiest way to stop him from seeing it all."
"Bizarrely, that all makes perfect sense. Okay, found it! Let's do this!"
Cece and Jess cackle so hard that tears fall from their eyes, twirling and prancing around like a pair of teenagers in their pretend wedding ceremony, music blaring in the background.
"Oh, Cece, stop...I'm laughing so much I can hardly breathe!"
"This was fun though, right?"
"So much fun. Just what I needed!"
"Good, but now we need to stop as I think I've made my mascara run! And if you'll excuse me, I need to use the little girls room anyway. All that wine, you know?"
"I love how much you feel the need to share." Laughs Jess, fixing the little white flowers in her hair.
As Cece's heels click down the hallway, Jess sighs and stands alone in front of the floor length mirror, looking at herself intently and allowing her mind to drift away to the day when she could finally wear something like this for real. It felt like every time her and Nick got close to being able to take this final step, something always went wrong. She was starting to think they were cursed...maybe they should have just eloped that night when they reunited in the elevator all those years ago. Jess had even suggested going to city hall, but Nick was adamant it was not happening that way - which was sweet, but she was starting to lose hope of it ever happening at all. Reaching over to switch off the music, Jess hears her phone bleep loudly and walks over to the bed to pick it up. She was expecting to see her Dad's name - he was flying down to visit and was meant to let her know when the plane had landed safely (she always got super paranoid and panic called him a million times otherwise) but instead finds herself smiling at the screen when Nick's name comes up.
(1) New Message
Swiping her phone to read it, the message from Nick pops up on the screen and consists of just one word:
Jess begins to grin, instantly transported back to the night before Cece's almost-wedding to Shivrang.
The night when Nick tried to make her breakfast on the rooftop when neither one of them knew what crazy whirlwind lay ahead of them.
The night when they were so frustratingly interrupted by Schmidt (of course), but not before she'd seen the smile on Nick's face and the look in his eyes that told her whatever was happening between them was far bigger than they had realised.
The night before they called it.
The night before they uncalled it.
The night before she drove them both to Mexico.
"Hey, Jess..." Cece yells from down the hall, footsteps approaching hurriedly until she appears in the doorway, phone in hand "...did you get one of these?"
"Yeah, what do you think they want?" Jess answers, confused "We were specifically told not to interrupt their 'boys afternoon'!"
"I don't know, but it sounds pretty urgent."
"Well, I can't say I'm surprised they've gotten themselves into trouble..." Jess shakes her head "When will they learn that an adult should always be present to supervise their antics?!"
"It's Nick, Schmidt, and Winston - they're never going to figure that out..."
"Okay, we should probably go check on them now - Schmidt's just text me again saying 'come quick!'
"I can't go up there like this!" Jess looks horrified "He'll think I'm a crazy person!"
Cece regards her with an amused look, brow quirking upwards.
"Fine...even more of a crazy person! Besides, it's bad luck!"
"Honey, you make your own luck. And that's not even your dress - but if it makes you feel better, I'll just go out first and tell Miller to close his eyes!" Cece chuckles.
As they approach the top of the stairs, Jess reaches for her phone and sees four missed calls from Bob, stopping so fast in her tracks that Cece bumps into her and nearly drops the enormous handbag she insisted on bringing up with them.
"Oh my god, my phone! I must have accidentally put it on silent in the rush up here - my Dad has been trying to call me!"
"Oh..." Cece's eyes get noticeably bigger "Oh! Uh, you know what - it's probably just ill timed pocket dials, you can call him back later!"
"Do you think he's okay? What if he missed his flight, or they lost his luggage again, or he gets in the wrong cab like last time?" Jess's eyes glaze over slightly as she pictures all of the ridiculous, very unlikely scenarios her Dad could have gotten into "I'd better call to make sure he's alright."
"No!" squeals Cece, immediately trying to plaster a smile on her face "I mean...no, I can do that for you!" She makes a desperate grab for the phone, anxiously glancing over Jess's shoulder.
"Woah!" Jess recoils, clutching the handset to her chest and laughing "What are you doing?"
"It's just...we should probably go check in on the guys first, you know." Cece insists, pointing in the direction of the roof and speaking three times her usual speed "Lord knows what they've gotten themselves into, it sounded like they needed rescuing - besides, I haven't spoken to Bob in a while. I'll make sure he's fine once we're out there. Lemme do it!"
With a suspicious look, Jess takes a step closer to the door leading to the roof while keeping a tight grip on her phone.
"It's okay. I got it...and no more wine for you. You're off the rails today Parekh-Schmidt!"
Jess dials her Dad's number quickly, but frowns when she hears a faint noise on other side of the door. Confusion slowly clouds her features.
"What the...?" Her brow furrows "You hear that, Ceec?"
"What?" Cece straightens up and boldly lies straight to Jess's face "No, I don't hear anything..."
"That's...that's my Dad's ringtone." Her head tilts closer to the direction of the noise.
"Nah, it's probably just a radio somewhere!"
"It's definitely his ringtone Cece. The Drifters - 'Up on the Roof'. It's his favourite song." She turns with phone in hand and narrows her gaze pointedly at her best friend "Okay - what's going on?"
"Don't look at me..." Cece tries to look innocent with a little shrug, her hands turned palm side up, but she was fooling no one.
Jess keeps glaring at her friend as she hangs up. The ringing behind the door stops immediately, and her eyes go wide when she realises something is most definitely afoot. Her hand reaches behind them for the door handle.
"Cece, is my Dad here? Why is...why is my Dad here?"
"I don't_" she gets no time to try and make up an excuse, instead finding herself cut off as Jess starts to turn the handle.
"What is Nick up to?" She mutters.
Pushing the entrance to the roof open, Jess gasps and immediately stops still. Bob is standing in his suit before her, adjusting his tie - eyes sparkling with happiness. His white beard is trimmed to perfection and he's looking at her like the proudest parent alive. She blinks at him dumbfounded, then notices he's not alone. Jess lets the door swing back and sucks a deep breath of air in as a crowd of their friends and family is revealed.
"Dad?" she whispers.
"Hi, sweetheart." he smiles at her like a crazy person. "Are you ready?"
"Ready for what?" she manages to ask, her head still spinning as she takes in the sight of everyone waiting for her under a canopy of fairy lights strung up high - twinkling in the evening light and covering everything in a soft, golden, dream-like glow.
Cece's left hand lands on her shoulder, head leaning forward to rest her cheek against Jess's, right hand coming round to press a small, delicate posey of simple white and yellow roses into her grasp.
"Let's get you married, babe..."
Jess spins quickly to look at Cece, disbelief written all over her face. Despite the way her heart is hammering in her chest, she feels instantly calmed by the knowing smile and encouraging nod she gets in return, then looks back to face Bob, not daring to hope it was true, feeling happy tears swell behind her eyes.
Nick's palms are sweaty, and he feels sick to his stomach with anxiety. What if Jess hates this? What if this isn't what she wanted at all? It seemed such a good plan at the time, but now he was dreading the thought of having let her down. The three whiskeys he'd drunk to try and calm his nerves were making his head swim a little. He's standing in the open air of the rooftop but his lungs are burning as if there is no oxygen. Squeezing his eyes shut and trying not to hyperventilate, Nick feels a nudge on his arm. Turning to his right, his whole body relaxes as Tran smiles at him.
"Thank god, you made it! I was getting worried for a second...listen, you really think I can do this? Because, honestly? I gotta tell ya - I'm terrified right now."
Tran nods his head and grins.
"That's a very sweet thing to say. And I can't take credit for the suit, because Schmidt dressed me - but I hope Jess thinks I look handsome in it too."
Reaching out, Tran gives Nick a pat on the shoulder and one last, knowing glance.
"Thanks, man. I can't believe I finally did it either - but hey, that's down to you for convincing me that this idea of mine wasn't completely nuts."
A quirk of the head from Tran has Nick laughing.
"Okay, alright - now you're just fishing for compliments! Get outta here you dreamboat!"
Tran backs away with a smile and heads to take his seat behind Bonnie.
Nick catches his mother's eye and she's smiling at him in that way that makes him feel like a little kid again. Full of hope and happiness. He winks at her and nods his head - he doesn't have it in him to say anything more to her at this point, it took everything he had not to sob into her blouse when she arrived earlier that afternoon.
It had been far too long since they had visited her, and he was still feeling guilty about it when she'd pulled him aside for a stolen mother/son moment.
She'd brushed down the front of his suit and straightened his tie while holding back tears that they both knew would fall at some point.
"You look so smart. You always have scrubbed up so nice when you aren't wearing those darn flannel shirts."
Nick had rolled his eyes good naturedly, earning himself a dig in the ribs before she adjusted his button hole and looked up at him with a watery smile.
"Your Dad would have been so proud of you..."
"I know he wasn't the best role model growing up - but he wasn't a bad man. He had a kind heart, and I see a lot of his good traits in you. You've made your own life here and you earned this success, sweetheart. I'm so happy that you're happy."
"Well, it's true."
"No, I mean thanks - for everything you did for me when we were growing up. I know I don't say it enough, but it can't have been easy doing it by yourself."
"Oh, I wasn't by myself..." Her tears trickled their way down her cheeks "I had you, Nicky - and you never let me down, not once."
She'd tugged him in for one of those hugs he would never be able to describe properly. They were warm and snug and soft, making everything else in the background fade away as the familiar scent of the same perfume she'd been wearing since he was a kid filled his nostrils.
It smelled like Vanilla and spice. Like Apple pie. Like Pot Roast. Like trips to the park. Like Birthday mornings. Like...Love.
A lump formed in his throat that was the size of a kiwi, and his eyes were damp with tears he didn't want to set free. So he'd cleared his throat loudly - and his Mom, knowing him so well, had shoved him backwards gently before patting his cheek and dabbing her eyes with a hanky.
"I should go check in on your brother, Lord knows what mischief he's trying to get in to..."
A sudden hush of the guests signals a change in atmosphere, bringing Nick back to the here and now as goosebumps ripple down the skin on the back of his neck. He glances across to Schmidt, who looks to Winston, who gives a thumbs up to indicate that Jess has just arrived, and suddenly Nick feels like his legs are about to go from under him. He sees just the top of her head before she turns and waits at the end of the aisle and when his eyes land on her, Nick simply forgets how to breathe.
*PART TWO TO FOLLOW IN THE NEXT DAY OR TWO - I really hope you like it so far*