Author's Notes: Yeah, that's right. This is some Fired Up fanfiction. And not only that, it's dirty Nick/Poppy Fired Up fanfiction. What are you gonna do about it?

cheat to the camera

The first time it happens he's nineteen. It's the last night of summer and he's headed back to UVA and Shawn's house is a total shit show, everybody falling all over one another and passing out on the floor. Around midnight Shawn and Carly disappear (big surprise) and he's just drunk enough to be pissed about it, out of his element and off balance without his wingman, so he stumbles into the kitchen looking for a beer or a shot or whatever-the-fuck he can find lying around.

And there she is, her back turned to him, and shit she's grown up so much he doesn't even recognize her at first. She's still wearing her cheer uniform, that sinfully short piece of what can barely be called a shirt, standing on her tiptoes as she reaches for a glass above the fridge. Nick puts his hand on her hip and nudges her out of the way, reaching above and handing her the object, and when she gives him that little half-grin he's so used to it almost knocks him off his feet.

"Shit," he slurs. "Poppy?"

She raises her eyebrows and knocks back a gulp of tequila like she's a fucking linebacker and when she breathes her newly formed tits seem to reach for him. She pushes the bottle to his chest and he takes a drink without looking away; she shakes her head at him and spins on her heel, not looking back until she gets to the door. Then she smiles, slow and sure and—shit, he thinks, Poppy—sexy, and he's stumbling after her before he can stop to think.

She throws back three more beers before she starts to feel it, leaning heavily into him as they dance, one hand snaking up around his neck and the other around to his back pocket. "Poppy," he blurts as he presses his mouth to her neck, "Christ, how old are you?"

And she laughs, just a bit too loud to be in control, and turns in his arms so that they're facing one another. She falls onto her tiptoes and then whispers into his ear, "Take what I'm giving you, dick-muncher."

He covers her dirty mouth with his and then she's leading him up the stairs and he's tearing off that uniform before they even get to her bedroom, shedding his clothes with every step. There's someone on her bed when they get there and Poppy snaps, "Get the fuck out," in that no-shit-zone voice of hers and they comply, quickly, scurrying out like rats, and she falls back onto her covers, dragging him with her. He looks down at her, breathing heavily, the back of his mind buzzing.

"This is a bad idea," he says, although every piece of him howls shut the fuck up you retard.

Poppy brings her knees up on either side of him and he can feel her pressed against him as she wiggles, sliding one hand down to remove her panties and then kicking them onto the floor. "What did you say?" she asks in that low voice, and he shakes his head.

"What?" he asks, grinning, leaning down to kiss her. "Did I speak?"

And she laughs.

He wakes up in her bed the next morning and she's gone, his clothes piled neatly on her desk with a note on top: A for effort, B for sloppy delivery. He stumbles downstairs, clutching his head and dizzily thinking that last night could not have happened, that even with the note on his pants it had to all have been some sort of whacked out wet dream due to the alcohol and that painfully small skirt she was wearing. It's not possible that he fucked Poppy, Shawnsie's terrifying little sisterPoppy, ride-to-the-clinic Poppy, cheat-to-the-camera Poppy.

And speaking of, where the fuck did she get off, getting so hot?

Shawn's in the kitchen, Carly wrapped around him, and they both look up for a quick greeting before going back to their reuniting. Fuck Carly. Fuck Carly for going to UCLA when he and Shawnzo went to UVA, fuck Shawn for being suck a nutsack, fuck Poppy for pressing herself against him and murmuring take what I'm giving you, dick-muncher.

"Sleep well?" Shawn asks, and Nick has to fight to contain a startled scream.

"Like a baby," he manages, his voice strangled, and he reaches into the fridge for the orange juice. It's halfway to his mouth when a voice says: "Use a glass, you fucking Neanderthal," and Poppy's hand snatches it from his.

She meets his eyes, maybe a challenge, and pours the liquid into a glass for him. Then she turns to Shawn, dismissing him completely, and says, "I'm going to Joan's for the night. Great to see you. Don't fail out of school because I'm not gonna support your lazy ass." She nods once to Carly and the leaves, without looking back.

He doesn't see her again before he leaves. He tries not to be relieved, but. Well. It's easier this way.

The next time he sees her is Christmas, and he notices for the first time how young she looks—sixteen, maybe, and still smokin' hot even in jeans and a t-shirt. Shawn picks her up in an easy hug when they meet at the airport and she lets him, rolling her eyes and pushing him away as soon as she's back on solid ground. "You can take the boy off the Cheer squad," she laughs, but she's smiling and kisses him quickly on the cheek, "but you can't take the Cheer squad out of the boy."

While Shawn's greeting his parents she turns to Nick, her hands on her hips, looking him up and down. "Hey, Poppy," he greets, and he's—Jesus Christ—actually awkward, like a fucking thirteen-year-old girl, and how is it possible that a sixteen-year-old can make him feel so fucking out of control?

She grins—it's somehow predatory—and simply says, "Hi yourself."

That's it. There's no hug, not even a fucking handshake, and for the rest of the vacation she ignores him, treats him like she always has, doesn't touch him unless absolutely forced to. She's not cold, just unaffected, and meanwhile being in the house with her is killing him. She walks around in her tiny shorts and too-tight shirts like she's trying to drive him nuts, and on Christmas Eve he finally catches her.

She's up late, organizing the presents under the tree, and he finds her with all the lights off, nothing but candles in the living room.

"Can't sleep?" He asks, and immediately thinks: gay, gay, gay.

Poppy turns, looking unsurprised to see him. "I don't sleep on Christmas Eve," she informs him matter-of-factly. "I know Santa isn't real, but if he was I wouldn't want that fat motherfucker wandering around my living room without supervision. There's expensive shit in here."

He blinks at her, momentarily stunned, and then laughs—he knows he doesn't make up the flash of pleasure that slips across her face before she masks it with a coolly raised eyebrow and crossed arms. "You're such a freak," he tells her fondly, stepping forward until they're almost touching. She lets him. "Jesus, Poppy. Do you have any idea what you've been doing to me?"

At that she laughs, openly delighted. "Of course I do, retard."

Her words piss him off, but kind of turn him on too, so he lets it go and kisses her, hard, demanding, determined just this once to have the upper hand. They don't even bother going to her room, just strip down right there in the den, their clothes littering the presents beneath the tree, lit by the flickering candles and flashing Christmas tree. Afterwards, they both get to their feet and dress without fanfare; neither on of them are exactly the cuddling type, and Poppy's too busy freaking out about the stain he's left on the carpet to pay any attention to him.

At around five they both collapse on the couch, and she's drinking coffee while he sleeps, his head lolling onto her shoulder. She chuckles beneath him. "You're such a fucking girl," she whispers, but with his eyes closed he can hear the affection in her tone.

And he thinks: oh, fuck.

She has school two days after Christmas and he's out with Shawnsie and the boys so they don't see each other again. But when he gets back to school he opens his suitcase and resting on the top of his clothes is a bag of German tarts wrapped in a very familiar pair of underwear and he laughs, tucking the ladder under his pillow and the former into his mouth.

He actually almost calls her once, which is just fucking embarrassing, but he manages to restrain himself and there's nothing between Christmas and that summer. He's actually looking forward to going home for once, thinking of seeing her in the airport and then of ripping her clothes off the second they get a second alone.

But she's not there when they get off the plane, and Shawn tells him: duh, dude, she's at fucking Cheer Camp, what do you think? and when she gets back a month later she spends about three seconds in the house before this huge six-foot-infinity, two-hundred-pound asshole crashes in and throws her over his shoulder like she's a fucking parrot.

"Put me down, you douche bucket," she screams, but she's laughing, laughing like an actual human being, and the next words out of her mouth are: "Nick, Shawn, this is my boyfriend, Taylor."

She keeps her eyes pinned to Shawn, and that's how Nick knows that this is serious, that he's not going to be getting any Poppy Colfax this summer, and the thought actually makes him sad. How the fuck did Shawn's little sister, who he's only fucked twice, manage to actually matter?

Taylor sticks out a hand. "Hey, man, nice to meet you," he says, all friendly and football-y with the grip of a fucking Titan.

"So how did you two crazy kids meet?" Nick asks, unable to help himself, smile frozen on his face.

Poppy's grin is somewhat strained as she says, "What the fuck do you think, dumbass? Does it look like we hooked up at the chess club?"

"Well you never know with you, Pops," he shoots back, his voice just a little too hard. "I guess he could have just taken whatever you gave him."

There's a moment of tense silence and then Shawn says, "Uh, yeah, three cheers for the weird tension in the room," and he makes himself laugh and Poppy does a passable impression of someone who's amused.

(Later, Shawn will say what was up with you and Poppy? and he'll say What? Nothing. I was just tired.)

So the rest of the summer is spent with him moping around the house like a fucking puppy while Poppy prances around with her shit-for-brains boyfriend and Shawn and Carly make like newlyweds and coo. At night he can hear everybody getting ass except him and he probably could if he wanted to but, fuck, he's just not in the mood.

Which really scares him, because when the fuck has Nick Brady not been in the mood for tail?

The worst part is that is doesn't end there. She dates that douche bag for like two years, and the whole time it's like Twilight Zone Poppy has replaced Nick's Poppy, like this pep squad captain has possessed the body of the Poppy that used to buy liquor for her older brother, the Poppy that once called Santa a fat motherfucker with sticky fingers. She still calls him names like beaver eater and Lance Bass but it doesn't have the old bite to it.

She ends up at Georgetown, probably because—however secretly—she misses Shawn when he's gone and Georgetown is as easy a place as any to run her black market business that everyone pretends not to know about. It works, for a while; she's in D.C., he's in Charlottesville, and they don't see each other but for the rare instances that she has business on the campus.

And then, the February of her freshman year, she shows up at his and Shawn's door, wearing sweats and a tank top and pale as hell, a bag in one hand and her cell phone in the other. "Poppy?" Shawn asks, frowning. "What are you doing here?"

"Yeah, so, I need a place to stay," she tells him flatly, and her voice isn't shaking but her body is. "Taylor and I broke up, wah wah wah, drama drama, and now I can't step outside my fucking door without some asshat or another asking me if I'm okay or need to talk. What I need is to run this fucking business without all these cunty sorority girls wanting to watch movies and eat ice cream that we all know they're going to throw up later."

In a rare moment of sensitivity, both Nick and Shawn step aside and wordlessly let her in, and she dumps herself on the couch in a gesture of appreciation. "So, this set up isn't going to last long," she tells them, pointing at the futon, "but I thought, since it's your room, you two could battle out who gives me their bed. 'Kay? Kay."

And then she's gone, breezing out with her cell phone already to her ear.

Nick hears himself say, "She can have my bed."

They don't mention Poppy when she's not in the room, go about their business like she isn't there, but Shawn starts bringing back Raisin Bran from the dining hall because it's her favorite cereal, and sometimes Nick cleans his shit off the floor without being asked.

A week after she moves in, Shawn takes the weekend to fly out and see Carly. When Nick gets back to the room, Poppy is waiting for him, and she leaps at him like he's the fucking candy man. Dimly he realizes that she's probably feeling vulnerable and if there was a single woman in the world he did not want to fuck over, it was this one, as much because he liked her as because she could whoop his ass from here to Africa with one hand tied behind her back.

But, fuck. He's only human.

So they fuck on the couch and then again on his bed, and there's a tiny indent where her body usually is. Afterwards, she doesn't kick him immediately out of the bed, and although she curls away from him he stays with his hand on her hip. She's breathing deeply, which means she's trying not to cry, and when he says gently, "Poppy . . ." she scoots away from his touch and hisses, "Leave me alone, Nick."

He does. When he comes back she's sitting on the couch, freshly showered, saying calmly into her cell phone, "No, Juan. What's going to happen is that you're going to give me forty boxes for free and I'm going to promise you two minutes of air time on Lifetime next week when The Fantasia Marino Story airs."

Apparently Juan agrees, because when she hangs up she's smiling. "So, I'm gonna go ahead and go back to school," she informs him cheerfully, and he realizes for the first time that she's packed.

He doesn't know why it stings. "Got what you came for?" he asks, trying to keep his voice light and not pathetically bitter. Fuck Poppy, turning him into such a fucking girl.

But she smiles at him and presses the gentlest kiss to the corner of his mouth. "Yeah," she whispers. "Thanks."

And then she's gone, leaving Shawn a note that says Business done. Thanks for the couch.

But it's different, after that, for whatever reason. She's different. Sometimes she drives down just to visit for the weekend; sometimes she calls just to talk; sometimes when they hang out without Shawn they don't wind up in bed, just kick it on the couch with a movie and a bowl of popcorn.

It's as close as he can get to water without getting wet, and the truly mind-blowing part about it is that Nick doesn't mind.

So when they spend the summer at Carly's beach house, the four of them lounging around like two separate couples, he doesn't say a word. He's pretty sure at this point that Shawn knows that something's up; Poppy certainly doesn't bother trying to hide it, jumping all over him and sitting on his lap whenever the opportunity arises.

And then, mid-July, shit-for-brains Tyler shows up at the door with a bouquet of roses and an expression like a whipped dog.

"What are you doing here?" Poppy snaps, holding the door in front of her like a shield.

"Popsicle," Tyler whines, his voice high-pitched and cracking so much that Nick wants to plunge a pencil into his own ear, "Baby. I'm sorry. It's taken me a long time to figure it out, but—you were right. You were always right. I'm so sorry."

Nick waits eagerly for her snappy retort, her quick and ruthless rejection, but it doesn't come. She hovers behind the door, biting her lip, not quite meeting anyone's eyes. "This isn't the best time," she says at last.

He hears himself asking, alarmed, "You mean there's a good time?"

Poppy turns to him, frowning in what looks like genuine confusion, and says, "What's your deal, gossip girl?"

His jaw drops. He realizes that someone is getting rejected here, but it's not Tyler No-Balls. "Nothing," he mumbles, numb, and walks away to the sound of her voice, lower and gentler, murmuring, "I'll call you later, okay?"

She does, leaving the house and taking—insult to injury—his car, and when she comes back she's got Tyler on her arm and a smile on her face. No one asks, but Shawn's tense for the rest of the week and when it comes time to leave no one offers him a seat in their car.

Poppy corners him in the kitchen as he's grabbing a snack for the road. "Can Tyler ride with you?" she implores, using those puppy eyes on him. "I'd feel bad just sending him back on the bus."

"Nope," he answers smoothly, keeping his face expressionless. "Sorry. No room."

She puts her hands on her hips and cocks an eyebrow at him. "You can piss on my face, but don't tell me it's raining," she says, and he has a flashback to her bedroom. Why am I looking at you? Speak!

So he shrugs, taking a large bite of apple. "All right. That is piss on your face, and I'm not giving your boyfriend a ride because this entire situation is bullshit. I'm not even sure I want to give you a ride, to be honest."

Her eyes widen in surprise and she stutters for a minute before spluttering, "What? Why the fuck not?"

Nick makes himself laugh so that he won't start screaming. "Maybe I just don't like you," he says, his voice hard, and pushes past her before she can say anything else. "Why don't you take the bus with Tyler. That way he won't be all by his widdle self."

He drives from the beach house straight to UVA and crashes on a friend's floor for the rest of the summer. He gets a job at Five Guys serving burgers and fries and casually fucks some blonde whose name is either Jenny or Penny or Leni, but he never remembers which. When school starts Shawn doesn't mention Poppy and Nick doesn't ask.

On Halloween they both get shit-faced on White Russians and Shawn says, "So, you're in love with my sister, huh," and Nick says, "Yeah."

That's the last time either one of them says anything about it and that works just fine for Nick.

Over Christmas he avoids the Colfax house like Herpes and makes Shawn and Carly come to him. He's sort of surprised that they've made it this long, but when Shawn shows up in his bedroom with a diamond ring Nick's genuinely pleased.

Shawn proposes at her graduation in LA and comes back to Charlottesville a fiancé, which is sort of weird for everybody at first but by the end of June Nick's over it and the newly engaged have settled down, not jumping each other at every fucking moment.

In July Shawn announces that he's got to go home for at least a few weeks to see his family, and (of course) takes Carly with him. Nick stays in Charlottesville. One Colfax is enough for him, and the Bradys are so spread out that he wouldn't get much face time if he went back, anyway.

Besides. He's sort of got his shit together, for the first time in—well, okay, ever. So he stays in Charlottesville, takes a managerial position at Five Guys, gets on his feet a little bit. And he's happy, more or less. Jenny or Penny or Leni is all right company, as long as she's not passed out.

And then some time in August there's a knock on his door and Poppy's on the other side.

"Okay," she says as soon as he opens it, "I figured it out. And, frankly, you're kind of a douche bucket for not telling me, I mean, how the fuck was I supposed to know? You're Nick Brady, you asshat. Mister Fear Of Commitment. So I don't think you really have the right to get all Lindsay Lohan on me without warning."

He doesn't say anything, but steps aside to reveal Jenny/Penny/Leni sitting on the couch, frowning. Poppy doesn't bat an eyelash. "Yeah, you should leave," she tells her flatly, and when JPL doesn't move she lowers her voice to a vicious hiss. "I said get out," she snarls, and, well, there isn't a sane person on the planet who wouldn't obey.

Nick sighs. "What do you want, Poppy?" he asks tiredly, running a hand over his eyes. "Didn't you bring your boyfriend with you?"

She waves a hand. "Please. I haven't been dating Tyler for like the past year and a half. We broke up at the end of the same summer we got back together. He was all right, but just a little too slow." She settles her glare on Nick and says again, "You should have told me."

"What for?" he asks, raising his eyebrows. "Poppy, you never gave one hint that you wanted anything past sex, so I figured you were happy with the way things were and hey, I was too. Why ruin a good thing?"

She glares at him. "You aren't that stupid," she says flatly. "I mean, at least, I hope you're not because if you are I have seriously been giving you way too much credit."

Nick frowns. "What the fuck are you talking about?"

"What you think?" she snaps exasperatedly, pushing past him to deposit herself on his couch. "These are some nice digs. Cunty kind of girlfriend that you're toting around, but other than that I'd say your shit is more or less in order."

He blinks at her. Same Poppy Colfax, not bothering to make nice. He shrugs again. "I'm still looking for a real job," he tells her, "and don't change the subject. What are you doing here?"

Poppy rolls her eyes, pushing herself to her feet and walking towards him with a predatory look. "Listen, mother-licker," she says plainly, "Taylor was all right, pretty good as first commitments go, but he was never the real deal. I mean, hello, the dude thought Amsterdam was the capitol of Denmark. Can you really see me doodling his last name in my notebooks?"

He takes a moment to be amused. "I can't really see you doodling anyone's name anywhere, to be honest."

Poppy shrugs, conceding the point. "Yeah, well. The fact remains that you're in love with me and chose to be a little whiny bitch about it instead of just balls-ing up and telling me."

"Whoa there. What makes you think that I'm still—"

She cuts him off by slamming her mouth against his, her tiny hands fisted in his collar, and he doesn't bother resisting. Never could say no, not to her. She wouldn't let him if he tried. His arms go around her middle and she hops up, wrapping her legs around his middle with a strength that's both frightening and arousing.

"—in love with you?"

Poppy rolls her eyes. "Listen, you pile of horse shit, haven't you been listening to a word I've said? It's been you this whole time. From the beginning. Hormones kicked in at like, age twelve and I've been biding my time since."

He blinks, amused. "Biding your time? What the fuck am I, prey?"

She makes a point not to answer, just kisses him again. When she pulls away she growls, "Say it."

He doesn't fight her. What's the point? When has he ever won against the unstoppable storm that is Poppy Colfax? "I love you."

She looks smug, but also somehow gentle, and she kisses him quickly and soft, her hand pressed against his cheek as she lowers herself back onto her feet. "I love you too, gossip girl."

Then she's pulled away and she's walking towards the bedroom, peeling off her clothing as she does. At the doorway she glances over her shoulder and smiles at him. "What the fuck are you waiting for, Lance? A written invitation?"

He's undressed before he even reaches the kitchen.