Title: Time After Time
Summary: Five times Macy thinks Nick might have kind of–sort of–maybe 'liked' her back.
Note: Uh so this is…well I'm sure you've seen this format before.
Here's how it usually plays out.
All the girls rush into the English class suspiciously enough a few minutes (five minutes exactly) before the class even starts and sit down in their respective seats, giggling with hands over their mouths and the boys beside them roll their eyes at their childish behavior because at this stage of the school year, they shouldn't be so obvious about what they're waiting for. To be fair, at one point, you would have been as much a part of this girly giggle fest as any of the other females in the room, except now you aren't.
Or more accurately, you've tried not to be in these last couple of months because you are after all, a friend now to not only Stella but also Kevin, Joe and Nick — or well sort of with Nick Lucas .
Just like always you hear the sound of the chattering girls filing into their rows, followed by the prim heeled step of a certain Ms. Darrow and you hunch over a little more over the desk, keeping meticulous focus on the picture you're drawing into the side of your spiral notebook – a picture of a volleyball with an intricately patterned design that most don't actually have.
You try not to pay attention as the door opens again and the sound of familiar solid steps (you'd recognize those steps in a heartbeat) echoes against the chitter-chatter of the conversations around you and there is a couple of intake of breaths, a couple of sighs and you still aren't looking up because you are not Macy Misa, crazy number one JONAS fan – you are the witty, charming, bubbly girl-next-door that in the movies the cute guy with curly brown hair and soulful brown eyes would fall for eventually.
You're trying so hard to prove that to (someone) yourself.
You color the volleyball with rainbow colored pencils and you smile to yourself because you are the witty, charming, bubbly girl-next-door and you don't have to look up just because you can sense a pair of eyes on you.
You are strong, you can resist, and you will not — look up.
He's staring at you and it's sort of unreadable but it makes your breath hitch midway in your throat so you can't really think straight. But if you could, you'd think the way he looks at you is kind of like the way he looks at all the other girls he's had potential crushes on.
He looks away fluidly, eyes scanning the class in mild disinterest and it's over like it never even happend
Or maybe that's just you being far-fetched like usual. You look back down to see the initials N and L inked into the middle of the volleyball.
"So I have an idea." Stella says casually – too casually.
You narrow your eyes, giving her a quizzical look. She just gives you an innocent smile in return, fluttering her eyes a little more than necessary and yes, something is definitely going on in that devious mind of hers you conclude.
Joe turns to her, cocking his head a bit in curiosity and waiting for her to continue and it all seems so natural that it can't be natural. You study everyone in the group. Everyone seems to be a part of this except you – and Nick, who's the only one peering at Stella and the others in wary scrutiny with you.
So they've all plotted something concerning Nick and you is the conclusion you're coming to.
"There's an even amount of us and since the photo booth only has room for two people, we can just go in two people at a time. Joe and me first, Kevin and Clara second," she turns towards you and Nick (who's now glaring at her like she's the most evil girl he's ever come across in his life. Everyone, including the object of your affections, knows about your crush it seems) , "and last but certainly not least, Macy and Nick."
She claps her hands energetically, eyes twinkling. "Doesn't that work out perfectly, guys?" Everyone (except you and Nick) nods their head enthusiastically and some people seriously need to take a couple of acting classes or something because this is just plain pathetic.
"Or we could not." You quip in quietly, taking a quick nervous glance towards Nick who's standing near the left of you. He doesn't notice your glance. He just remains stonily silent.
Stella turns her eyes sharply towards you, "Why not? You guys are friends, right?" she asks in a fake-sweet and confused voice and you wish you could sigh dramatically because you know she only wants to play match-maker because your her best friend and he's a childhood friend and you two are the odd ones out and it should make sense but still.
There's just a line you can't cross, especially with boys like Nick. He already seems more wary of you as it is, and he's not like his brothers when it comes to interacting with new people. He judges too quickly during first meetings and doesn't share his true feelings like he shares his songs with the world and this could potentially break everything you've worked so hard to accomplish when it comes to befriending him.
You hesitate and she doesn't wait for you to finish. "Of course you guys are. They are right, Joe?"
He smiles, "Yeah, of course they are. Right, Nick?"
Nick finally nods his head, giving everyone a strange look.
"Alright well since there's obviously no problem, why don't the two of you go first?" Stella offers and suddenly you're being pushed into the booth and you try to open your mouth and tell Stella and Kevin and everyone else that this really isn't a good idea but nothing is coming out of your mouth and instead you find yourself sitting in the booth with Nick Lucas next to you, all alone, the curtain closed and the light from the sides blaring on your head way too brightly.
"I'm sorry!" You blurt out. "I was not involved with this stupid idea whatsoever and I just want you to know—"
"It's alright. I don't mind. " He cuts in and he seems so calm. For a second you think your heartbeat might have quickened out of some crazy little thing called hope. "I knew they were up to something when Stella just suddenly had an urge to take photos at the mall photo booth of all places."
"Yeah," you spit out, just barely, and you take some shallow breaths as he gives you a smile and he doesn't smile often at you but when he does – gosh, when he does.
"We're friends. I mean sure it's taken me a little longer to become friends with you than my brothers but I'm just slower at stuff like this." He says slowly, taking in your reaction and suddenly everything feels like it's crumbling away, "But I mean I guess if they think taking a picture together will make us closer, we should just go with it and let them be happy, right?"
You straighten your posture abruptly, forcing a weak smile, "Yeah, exactly." You agree, the laughter suddenly dying at your lips, "Friends."
There is a minute of silence and then you turn to the front. "So let's do this and get it over with then," you press some buttons on the screen as he watches quietly, "Should we take the four-photo one or the three-photo one?"
"Four." He says simply and you do as he tells you to because right now you really want to be done with this as quickly as possible and you hate the feeling of forcing him into a pity photo-session. It's humiliating for you and awkward for him and when it's over you're going to kill Stella and then run for the hills.
"Ready?" You ask informally, not looking at him but at the spot where the camera lenses should be.
The countdown starts.
You feel an arm sling around your back and drape onto your shoulder closer to the wall and half of you wants to involuntarily flinch and the other half wants to involuntarily shiver.
You instinctively turn around, eyes locking with his and he's obviously noticed how tense you are because he smiles. "Yes, Nick?"
He leans closer to you, lips a whisper away from your ear and your skin prickles, moist and flushed.
"Say cheese." He mumbles nimbly into it and it rings in your eardrum even after the snap of the shot can be heard.
"cheese." You murmur a little too late.
When the pictures come out of the slot, the one that catches your eyes immediately is the first one. It's almost like taking a glimpse into a private moment shared between a girl and a boy that might possibly be more than just friends and your heart skips a beat yet again because in some deluded way, the way he's looking at you in the shot makes you wonder if…
"They came out nice, didn't they?" He comments, taking them from you, "especially this one." He points to the first one, before carefully ripping it off the top.
You look up in shock, "What are you doing—"
"Our little secret." He interjects, brown eyes obscure and you simply nod your head numbly just as the curtain is pushed aside by a certain blonde.
"Alright, you two have been in there for way too long. Honestly, it's a photo booth in a suburban mall. It's not that hard to figure out or pose for—"
"I love this sport, especially from this close. Everything seems even more intense and climatic." You beam happily, looking around the private box and then towards the tennis court in front of you where a bright, yellow, fuzzy ball whizzes from one side of the court to the other. You turn to the youngest Lucas brother, giving him a cheerful smile. "Don't you just love this sport?"
He shrugs, pulling his baseball cap closer to his forehead to keep the sun's rays out of his face, "I suppose."
"I'm scaring you, aren't I?" You finally say hesitantly, feeling defeated.
He gives you a small half-smile and sometimes you think if Joe and Kevin are the extroverted pair in the four brothers then it only makes sense that Nick and Frankie would make up the introverted pair.
"You're not scaring me," he informs you and your shoulders relax, "it's just well…coming here is sort of either a family event or in most cases just me and Nick's thing to do together at home."
"And me being here just ruined that brother bonding time, didn't it?" You reply, feeling guilty, shoulders drooping once again.
He shakes his head. "At least you play and appreciate the matches." He changes his gaze towards Joe and Stella who are too busy flirting shamelessly with each other to be bothered by the ace the player closer to their side just made.
You can't help laughing. "Oh don't worry about them. They're just being typical teenagers with raging hormones and UST."
He looks confused. "What's UST?"
You pat his shoulder reassuredly, "You'll find out when you get older."
He shrugs his shoulder in acceptance, a perplexed look on his face, before turning back towards the tennis court. "Whatever you say."
"But hey, if it makes you feel any better I am totally into the match so we'll savor the awesome moments together...or I can just sit a few seats away so you and your brother can have some time to yourself. I really don't mind." You offer kindly and he gives you the first real smile you've seen from him today.
"You're really cool. I never noticed before." He tells you.
Your eyes brighten and you giggle. "Aw thanks Frankie, that really means a lot to me."
He nods his head. "Yeah, I can see now why Nick likes you too."
You blink, before returning a polite smile. "Yeah well Nick and I are friends so—"
He shakes his head. "No silly. I mean like like."
You think you almost forgot how to breathe. But then you remind yourself that the little boy in front of you who's insinuating that his older brother might 'like' you is ten years old and probably doesn't have enough experience to be considered a qualified judge for that sort of thing. "Um well I don't think your brother exactly likes me like that to be honest and that's fine with me so—"
He scoffs. "Please. I'm not blind. Anyone from a mile away can see the UST between you too."
It feels like ice cold water has just been splashed across your face – hard. "Wait—I thought you said you didn't know what UST meant—"
He gives her a dead-panned look. "Please. I have three older teenage brothers and I'm not clueless either."
You mouth hangs open for a second and you stare at him in newfound awe before clearing your throat. "Frankie I'm being serious. There is absolutely no—"
"Absolutely no what, Macy?" A familiar curly haired boy sits down beside you and you instantly stiffen up, heart pounding against your chest.
He waits for a second, gazing at you intently before leaning over you to pass the bottle of ice cold water he got for Frankie into his hands, his bare wrist brushing against the material covering your stomach and a surge of chemicals shoots through your body and explodes like scattered moths and you unintentionally try to jerk away from his touch, trying to melt into the back of the seat instead for dear life.
He snaps his head towards you. "What's wrong?" He asks quietly, looking up at you through big brown eyes and you fight the urge to pull him closer and kiss his eyes shut.
You give him a nervous laugh, pushing a little off the seat, "Nothing. I think the heat's just getting to my head. It's fine."
He doesn't seem to believe you. "Sure?" And then he puts his fingers on your forehead, rubbing them across the soft, warm skin of your temple and something in his eyes makes you think he's just doing it more for his own reasons than for concern about your health. It's probably all in your head though.
He takes a quick glance between Frankie and you before pulling away and nodding.
"Here," He hands you his bottle of water. "Drink some of this. I took some sips while coming from the food stand but it's still pretty cold so hopefully you don't mind too much. If you do we can always get you another—"
"No." You cut in and he stops short. You wish he'd stop staring at you like that. "It's fine," You give him a big smile. "Drinking out of the same bottle a JONAS drank out of. My dreams are finally coming true!" You try to lighten the mood with something you would have said a year ago at the offer.
He catches on, smiling aloofly. "Well then by all means, drink up."
You nod. Taking the cap off and slowly taking a sip. It tastes like spearmint and apples and – Nick Lucas. You wonder when this morphed from a simple celebrity infatuation to a complicated real-life crush.
He stares at you in amusement. "So, feel better?" He questions, a hint of formality in his tone.
His eyes roam around your coin-colored irises and you feel almost possessed with something bigger than yourself, something begging to be ripped out of your heart and set free instead and maybe, just maybe he feels the same way–
Suddenly there's an eruption of clapping around you and everyone is standing up and you exchange an uneasy look with Nick as the two of you break out of the moment and follow the crowd up onto your feet.
Beside you, you hear Frankie scoff in a bored tone, "Yep. Totally UST."
"What?" You finally hiss back and this better good, considering you guys are losing pretty badly and need to pick up the pace pretty soon or else. You turn to your teammate, Emily, who has a playful smirk on her face.
"Your rockstar boyfriend just came in. Guess we won't be losing any longer, will we?"
Your mouth twitches in confusion as you take a secretive glance to the side of the bleachers where sure enough, a certain JONAS band member is sitting. You whirl around quickly. "What are you talking about?"
She rolls her eyes. "Nick Lucas isn't exactly big on school spirit. Everyone knows that. He only comes for you, duh." She grins, "And that's fine with us considering somehow we always seem to win when he's around. Guess that boyfriend of yours is a good luck charm for you - and us."
"He doesn't like me like that." You reply defensively, voice coming out a little harsher than you'd like, more at the fact that for a second the blonde next to you instills a flame of wistfulness for her words to be true and it's awful - how easily you let people convince you into a nonexistent possibility between you and Nick. "Sometimes my parents or Stella can't pick me up so I ask Kevin or Joe or Nick to—"
She doesn't seem a bit bothered, raising an eyebrow. "His eyes are always on you, never on anyone else. It's like you're the only person here. Last time I checked, Joe and Kevin don't do that—"
"You know I'm beginning to think the reason we're losing is because everyone on this team seems to be paying attention more to the spectators than on our opponents' game and strategy." You pipe in, swiping some of the sweat off of your forehead and trying to divert the topic because you don't want to think about it; you don't want to do this anymore, especially right now. You face the net again, keeping your eyes trained on the opponent team huddled near the wall going over their next plan.
Emily's right. Somehow, the team gets back on track and ends up winning the game and everyone's jumping around because this was a home game after all and your team members clap you on the back but you feel nothing.
Emily comes up as you're walking away to the locker rooms and you refuse to look at her or towards the bleachers. "Didn't I tell you?" She laughs, taking your hands in hers and bouncing around and you gulp down the humid air and it feels disgusting.
Another teammate comes by, "Didn't you tell her what?"
The blonde's eyes twinkle impishly, "Looks like Macy got herself a new good luck charm to help us win some games this season."
"Oh, what's that?"
"More like who."
Suddenly, you're not trudging towards the locker room, you're running and you take off your clothes in a rush, jumping into the shower and gasping for breath. He doesn't like you like that. People are just blowing this friendship way out of proportion.
You repeat it to yourself over and over again, even after you've gotten out and put your clothes on and the other girls on the team tease you as you walk quickly out of the locker room to find Nick sitting on the bench nearby.
He looks up at the sound of the door shutting behind you and he does not like you like that.
"Hey," He greets you calmly, with a half-smile. "Great job out there. The way you guys came back was really awesome, Macy."
He takes the sports bag out of your hands like a boyfriend waiting to take his girlfriend home after a post-match would and if you close your eyes, you could almost imagine it perfectly. Your eyes are open though and you take note of the distance he keeps from you and this is exactly what you mean. "Thanks."
The two of you start walking down the hallway towards the front entrance and suddenly you can't stand the awkward silence anymore. It feels more unbearable than usual and you wonder why Nick can never be comfortable around you like Joe and Kevin.
Why can't the two of you just be normal?
"It's weird how the team always seems to win when you come to watch." You comment casually and he turns to you.
"Yeah? I didn't notice." He remarks and you nod your head.
"I know; me neither. My teammates did though." You hesitate before continuing, "They think you're some sort of good-luck charm for me."
He averts his eyes from the show case glass to you. "That's…interesting."
You nod your head again, swallowing hard and you don't know why you feel so emotional. This is a lost cause. "Yeah, I guess so." You chide wispily.
"…is there anything else you'd like to tell me." He asks you and you think he's way too mature and capable of handling these sort of situations for his own good.
"They think—" You stop suddenly, "they think that we're—"
"It shouldn't matter what people think we are. We know what we are and there's nothing else to say about it, is there?" He intervenes resolutely and you wish you could chirp a good-natured reply and play along like a good little fan-girl or friend or whatever you are to him - because you don't know anymore what you are to be honest - but you can't.
"No. There's nothing." You start walking again, picking up speed with each step.
"Macy, you don't understand—"
"Let's go Nick."
He grabs your wrist, fingers, callous from playing the guitar so much, wrapping around it, and they are just a flesh away from your throbbing pulse and it's sort of painful. "Macy—"
"I get it. I'm not an idiot. I get you're not interested and I get you never will be."
His hold on your wrist becomes tighter. "Don't do this, Macy. We were getting along so well." You wish your heart wouldn't jump around so much.
"I'm not doing anything. Really. I haven't done anything or said anything up until now. It's always been you. It's your choice. Everything is your choice."
Your last sentence echoes against the corridor walls and it almost feels like you've revealed a little secret, a little secret only the two you have shared up until now and now the whole entire world will know if they listen closely enough.
He stares at you as if he's never seen you before and it feels like everything seems to lie exposed in the space between the two of you and you're only able to understand half of it. Gravity is pulling down and makes you feel like sinking away.
You sigh, feeling exhausted and old and you wish you could just go back and be that happy, oblivious, hopeful number one fan of JONAS but the past can't unravel for you, especially after everything that's been said and done. "You know I think I could get a ride from Emily." You look up, genuinely apologetic, "I'm sorry for making you come here to pick me up but maybe it's better I go with someone else." You give him a small smile, before taking your bag from him and starting to walk away.
"I'll see you on Monday or something and we'll pretend none of this ever happened, okay?" You don't look back as you make the promise and you don't wait for his answer either. He doesn't stop you. You feel sort of stupid for thinking he ever would.
You open the door to find him standing there with his hands in his pockets and a baseball cap covering his curly hair.
"Hi." You greet him, unsure of what's going on or why he's here.
He takes out something from his pocket and hands it to you. It's a folded piece of paper and you look up confused when you open it to find it blank.
"In my seventeen years of being a lovesick kid and falling hard for girls, writing love songs has become so common for me, it's almost sad." He pauses. "And then you happen and I don't even notice or I choose not to and now here I am standing at your doorstep with an empty piece of paper in my hands. No girl has ever left me speechless."
"Where exactly is this going?" You ask slowly, waiting for him to elaborate.
"Exactly." He replies calmly. "Where is this going? Where are we going?"
You try to smile encouragingly. "Wherever you want it to go, Nick. We could be friends, that's fine with me—"
"Or we could be more—" He takes a step closer and all you can suddenly smell is spearmint and apples and once upon a time you used to think maybe he was too perfect for you, too far in the distance and you would never be able to catch up or be enough, "Most girls I fall for so fast, it's almost too easy to be right. But you—"
"This is so different. Falling slowly and not even being aware of it but feeling it happening around me—"
"You don't have to like me just because—"
"You're right I don't have to. I don't have to choose to like you either. It just happens. It's just happening. That's what makes it – you different, right? That's what makes this worth taking a chance for—"
Everything is going in slow-motion and for once you can maybe-kind of-sort of keep up, maybe-kind of-sort of he could like you the way you've liked him for far too long. And maybe, just maybe he's kissing you, a finger or two sweeping across your jaw, so he can compose an unwritten love song into the cracks of your chapped lips with the breaths he takes.
For some reason you taste a simple permanence, a step forward, a breakthrough instead of only just a simple mix of spearmint and apples when your tongues meets his somewhere in the middle.
This was the original piece I was writing for suburbs but it felt tacky and just too ordinary so it isn't anymore. Sigh. So I think I'm going to have to take a short break from fanfic after I post this because reality – she's likes to riot on my life sometimes. I just wanted to post something for the sake of leaving for a little while on a good note. Oh and I think people already know this but just in case, UST stands for Unresolved Sexual Tension. I would love to know how you thought my first attempt at the 'five times' style one-shot was.