Note: This picks up right where the movie leaves off. Cassie's 13, Nick's 25.
Nick's apartment is out of the question, obviously, because he's supposed to be dead. They've bought themselves some time, but no use in tempting fate and the Division. It's paranoid as hell, but better safe than sorry. So instead, they hail a cab and stop at the first run-down, hole-in-the-wall motel they can find. The rest they'll figure out later.
Cassie's got an arm hooked around Nick's waist, the other steadying the one he has wrapped around her shoulder. He's limping and leaning heavily on her. When they get to the front desk, the clerk looks back and forth between the two of them and asks if they'd like a single, real casual and oily, like he's seen this thing a million times. He probably has. Beside her, Cassie feels Nick stiffen immediately and push away. The guy drags his eyes up her body and finally settles his gaze on Nick. Nick's just bristling, spine ramrod straight.
"A double," he grits.
"You sure about that?" The guy doesn't appear to believe him.
Clerk-guy cranes his neck to look at the set-up of keys on the wall behind him, then looks back at them. "Sorry, no doubles. Only singles," he says.
Cassie tries not to snort when Nick clenches his fists in irritation.
"Let's find some other place," he says to her, already turning to leave.
Oh, no. She was beyond ready to call it a night. "We're here already. And you're in no condition to walk anymore."
"No, no. I can make it."
"It's fine. C'mon. Besides, you're this close to dropping and I can't carry your sorry ass."
He deliberates for a few moments. "Fine." He snatches the keys dangling from the guy's waiting hand and they make their way to the room.
Halfway down the hall, Cassie says, "Ya know, you coulda just told him I was your sister."
She tucks her hair behind her ears. "You know, so it wouldn't look like ... we - " she motions back and forth between the two of them.
Nick looks positively horrified. "What do you even know about that?"
" ... uh." She's torn between reflexively snarking and feigning ignorance. It had never even occurred to her that Nick thought her naive. Strangely, she wants to keep it that way. "Never mind."
"It doesn't look like anything, Cassie."
"Yeah, okay," she snaps her gum and rolls her eyes.
They keep walking and Nick is visibly uncomfortable, his shoulders a tense line and his jaw painfully clenched. Cassie suddenly regrets making that gesture now, because it's as if she wove some invisible tie in that very moment simply by hinting at it, and she can feel it tugging at her now. Unbidden, sporadic flashes of everything the clerk thought they were going to do, everything she herself had insinuated they appeared to be doing, reel through her brain. Cassie's stomach flips and she swallows hard.
They finally reach the door. Nick's slotting the key into the lock when she places her hand upon his forearm; his skin is hot through the fabric of his gray Henley. He's upset and she's not sure why and she just wants it to stop.
"Hey, really though. Don't, don't worry about all that. It's - I'm not - I'm a virgin." The words tumble out before she can stop them and she desperately wants to snatch them back, edit what she just said.
And Nick, well, he couldn't have looked more freaked out if ET had busted through her chest right then, she decides later. "That's ... that's - uh, all righty," he chokes. His eyes are practically popping out at the sockets and he's blinking fast, jaw clenched even harder and twitching spasmodically. Cassie removes her hand from his arm and he pushes the door in so violently it springs open with a loud boom, crashing into the adjoining wall. The room is dark and the empty bed is sitting right there, like some austere, immutable mountain in the middle of miles and miles of nothing.
She immediately barrels through the entrance, dumps her things onto the lone table and declares, "Gonna wash up for bed," before flouncing into the lavatory. Let Nick deal with the sleeping arrangements. She is an innocent young girl and he's going to figure things out and that's that. Yes, sir.
Cassie spends extra time rinsing the temporary dye out of her hair and brushing it until it pools in flaxen blond waves around her shoulders. She does not examine her motivations for doing so too deeply.
When she finally steps into the room and closes the door behind her, Nick is already sitting in the hotel chair with his jacket bunched into a makeshift pillow, planted behind his head. His gaze snaps up when the latch clicks and he stares mutely at her for a few moments, their eyes locked. There's something to his expression.
"So. How're we gonna sleep?" She rocks back on her heels.
"You, there." He points at the bed.
"What about you?"
He slaps the chair's armrest and smiles. "Nice and comfy."
"C'mon. We can share. It's no big deal."
He looks at her like she just asked him to translate a book printed in Swahili and Braille.
"And what if I don't?" She cocks her chin defiantly.
"I'll come over there and make you, that's what." He flicks two fingers and the covers peel back, never once taking his eyes off of her and Cassie can't help the dark thrill that flares down her spine.
She climbs into bed and draws her knees up to her chest, watching as Nick repositions the ball of fabric behind his head and wriggles further down into the chair, crossing his arms over his chest and closing his eyes.
"You don't have any sisters, do you?"
Long silence. "No, I'm an only child." He lifts open one eye to regard her, then closes it again.
"Yeah, me too." Pause. "I've always wanted an older brother."
Nick just responds with a mirthless chuckle.
"You think if you were my brother, we would have taken baths together as kids?" She can't help it. He underestimates her, she can get away with it, and she cannot help it.
There's a sharp intake of breath. Then, after a few beats, "Not after my first drowning attempt, we wouldn't. Go to sleep, Cassie." He clicks off the lamp, plunging the room into darkness.
Cassie just lies back, burrowing under the covers, and smirks in the dark. Eventually her eyes adjust, and she can make out the outline of Nick's figure.
She realizes with a start that this is the first time that they've been completely alone together since she first barged into his apartment that day. And they're going to be alone. The whole night. For the rest of the week. And probably for a very long time. Likely not a soul in the entire country who even knew about them at this point.
She swallows thickly and remembers everything her mother has ever warned her about strange, older men. But looking at Nick sitting there now, folded awkwardly in the rickety old chair, she recalls the sight of his handsome face battered and bruised and the blaze in his eyes as he masterminded their plan of attack earlier that evening, and all she wants to be is closer to him.
"Hey. Come over here. Get in bed," she hears herself saying, breaking the silence.
"I can't sleep with you all uncomfortable like that."
"I already said no."
"Yeah, but I'm not gonna be able to sleep!" She flaps her arms onto the comforter.
"Since when did you get all sensitive?"
"Right around the time you doped yourself up with a condiment. Maybe I just wanna make sure you don't have a seizure. Since when did you turn into a gentleman?"
"I've always been a gentleman, sweetheart."
"Just - look, just get in. Nobody's gonna call Chris Hansen on your ass or anything. I bet no one even knows we're alive."
Nick makes a noise somewhere between a snort, a strangled gasp and a laugh.
"Please?" No response. "I will sit here and yammer all night until you get over here and you know it. In fact, I think I'll be quoting from all twenty seasons of 'The Powerpuff Girls'. Let's start with Mojo Jojo, my favorite character." She clears her throat. "I'm Mo -"
"Okay, okay! Christ. Learning the manipulation thing pretty fast there, aren't we?"
"Learning?" She rolls her eyes and scoffs. "And this ain't manipulation; it's a flat-out threat. Manipulation's a lot more subtle. You'll see." She lets the smile creep into her voice.
It's silent for a long while, Nick nothing more than a still, black silhouette looming against the window, framed by the Hong Kong city lights gently filtering in, and Cassie begins to worry that he's changed his mind until, finally, she hears the chair legs scraping back against the carpet as he rises. Still backlit, the tall, dark figure slowly makes its way towards her bed. Cassie holds her breath.
It's only when Nick gets right up to the side that she can make out the lines of his face. He throws his jacket down and says, "Scoot over." He lifts the covers, air gusting -- every single muscle in Cassie's body coiled tight with anticipation -- then proceeds to lie down at the very edge of the bed, taking up an amusingly little amount of space for someone so big, and folds his arms across his chest a la Dracula in the coffin.
Cassie sighs. "You can come closer. I'm not gonna bite."
"That's not what I'm worr - just... shut it, Cass. Sleep."
Cassie narrows her eyes. He's like a minefield and she wants to pogo stick over each and every trigger, get swept up in the explosion. She opens her mouth to say something, but thinks better of it and snaps shut.
They lie in silence and some minutes tick by.
"Say, Nick. You ever read Lolita?"
A pause, then a loud groan. "Oh my God, Cassie. Do you ever shut up?"
And she can't help it, she starts tittering. And then he joins in chuckling softly. And next thing you know, it starts catching and they're both cracking up - gut-busting, side-splitting howls of laughter - and the whole bed is shaking from the force of it.
He eventually turns on his side, facing her, shaking his head. "I swear, you kids. Grow up way too fast. I'm glad you're not my sister. Real damn glad." He inclines his head meaningfully, dark blond brow raised high.
"Not kids, Nick. Just me," she breathes.
Something in his face softens, just like she knew it would. "Yeah, I know." Pause. "I'm glad you're okay, Cass. I'm glad we made it out, and you - you helped a lot. Thank you."
She lunges forward then, pressing flush up against him fully and slipping one arm underneath his to wrap around his torso, burying her face in his neck. "I'm glad you're okay, too, Nick. Really, I am. And thanks for agreeing to help with my mom."
He gently pats her arm. "Only 'cause I'm still waiting on that cool million," he laughs. She can bodily feel the deep rumbling in his chest and it zings down to her toes. The hand on her arm suddenly tightens, and he's using it to angle her away. "Okay, back to bed."
"But - can't I sleep like this?" She wraps tighter, and notices for the first time how unnaturally warm Nick's body is. How large and thick he is compared to her; tightly muscled, strong.
"No, Cassie. C'mon, get back over there." He pats her waist and wraps his palm around the gentle dip, heat searing skin straight through the fabric, pushing her away gently but firmly.
"Okay, okay." She deadens her weight and allows herself to be handled, musing at how easily he steers her body, like she weighs nothing, then she flops over to her side and turns her back to him, settles in. "Goodnight," she mutters.
Cassie finds it impossible to sleep, feels Nick's heat like a palpable trail of fire, burning straight up and down her spine, but her breathing eventually evens out as her body relaxes.
They lie in silence for what feels like an hour, give or take.
Then, in the dark, there's a rustling of sheets. A warm weight presses into her hair and there's a muffled, barely whispered, "I really am glad," and a long, extended intake of air. She realizes at once that Nick is kissing the top of her head and breathing her in. It's such a loving and paternal gesture that for a moment, her heart clenches viciously and tears threaten to swell.
But she holds them back and wills herself still. Slowly, a sweet, lax warmth spreads through chest as she realizes that this is the first time she's felt safe in a very long time. His palm lights upon her shoulder and he holds her like that for a little while longer, until her heart starts picking up pace when she realizes this is the longest that Nick has continuously had his hands on her. And slowly, bits of their surroundings start to fall into place - the room, the darkness, the bed. He's pressed right up behind her, now.
And then his hand touches her mouth, and Cassie's heart stops.
It's his thumb, she's sure of it. The other fingers lightly cradle her jaw as his thumb begins a slow, agonizing sweep of her bottom lip, corner to corner. It's intimate, tender, loving, and Nick's hand is trembling.
It's the lightest touch -- a tuft of down, breeze-blown across her mouth -- but he does it so achingly slow and thorough she swears if she licked her lips right then, she'd be able to taste the whorls on his skin. But she has to hold herself perfectly motionless, lest he realize she's awake.
Then the finger moves, grazing her top lip, gently splitting the seam between and just, barely, almost, dipping into the wetness inside. His touch is cool but it leaves fire in its wake, every single last nerve ending lighting up and screaming in response. It spreads outwards, heating her whole body until she feels a clenching burn in her belly that trickles lower and lower. It's becoming more and more difficult to lie still.
And then, as quickly as it came, the hand disappears, leaving her mouth practically vibrating. Cassie senses Nick lingering over her for a few moments more, watching her in the dark, and then she hears rustling as he scoots back and curls in on himself, away from her.
It takes a long time for her heart to stop pounding.
When she finally falls asleep -- to the steady rhythm of Nick's breathing -- she dreams of his strong hands, red lips and blue eyes watching her all night.
A/N: 1. This is most likely going to be a one-shot, but I might continue it depending on the reception and the fleeting whims of my muse. This fic idea came out of nowhere and just wouldn't let go!
2. I saw this movie when it first came out, and it's been a few weeks, so I forgot a lot of the details. *eep!* If I messed anything up terribly, please do forgive. A lot of the crucial, Division-related details are lost to me now. All I really remember is the rockin' awesome bond between Nick and Cassie, so I'm going off that. ('cause really, it was pretty awesomely cute)