Author's note: Here I go again! So this one is a little more true to what I ship which is Nicky/Payson and yet I still get my Nicky/Kaylie fix. Oh and hating on Carter because I am not a fan. And it's not just the hair even if the hair is off-putting, but mostly because he's a douche to both Kaylie and Lauren. But anyways, how do I achieve Nicky/Payson love, provide a Nicky/Kaylie fix and anti-Carter??

Read to find out. Enjoy!

Bonding Broken Hearts with Booze

He doesn't understand why she won't answer his calls. What can he do besides assume the worst?

Nicky Russo stumbles out of the little liquor store a block down from the Rock. He's met by an empty parking lot on a dry night. The little bell over his head jingles, bidding him a farewell as the door swings closed. He knows it was a stupid idea, raiding his father's liquor cabinet, draining it dry and then trying to buy more from the liquor store. It was stupid because despite his height and his muscles he's still a minor and has clearly already had too much to drink.

Basically, tonight is an epic fail.


And it just gets worse.

"Princess," he slurs. Nicky doesn't even glance her way. Instead, he sluggishly drags his body that's basically one big muscle to his car and his big hands fumble with the handle. He's in such a hurry to get away from her that it doesn't even register in his head that the door is locked.

"Nicky, are you drunk?"

"No," he firmly replies. As he digs through his pockets in search of his keys, he can feel her eyes scrutinizing him. Nicky Russo isn't one to submit to pressure, but with his current state and Kaylie Cruz staring the way she is, he drops his keys, cursing beneath his breath.

"Whoa there, buddy, should you really be driving?"

Before bending over to retrieve his keys, Nicky stands tall and looks straight over at her. Kaylie is staring straight back and Nicky blinks his eyes several times because he's certain he's seeing things. Kaylie Cruz actually looks concerned for someone other than herself.

"I drove here without needing anyone's help," he tells her quite proudly.

"And you really earned a gold metal for that one," Kaylie laughs. Her dark gaze falls on his car that's parked diagonally across three stalls. She moves as quickly as a cat, bending and claiming his car keys that have fallen to the ground, almost forgotten.

Nicky reaches for his keys, but Kaylie pulls back with a teasing smile.

"Come on, Russo, let's get you home."

"That's my car," he says dumbly.

"Yes, that is your car," Kaylie says slowly. He may be drunk, but he isn't deaf. He hears the way she's speaking to him as if he has a learning disability and Nicky doesn't appreciate it. "If I let you drive your car you'll probably wrap it around a tree. Now, let's go."

"There's no way in hell you're touching my car, Cruz."

"Duh. Like I'd be seen in that," Kaylie says jokingly. It's obvious by his facial expression that Nicky's offended and Kaylie inwardly groans. The last thing she needs right now is to be bitched out by an angry drunk when she's trying to do something nice. "Chill out. It was a joke."

"Well, you aren't funny."

"Alright," she gives in. "Come on. We'll take my car."

"How the hell do you expect me to get my car home?" Nicky demands. A smirk unfolds across his face and he stands tall with those muscular arms crossed over his chest. Kaylie rolls her eyes; the only thing worse than an angry drunk is a self-righteous one.

"I don't know," Kaylie shrugs. "It's only about half a mile from your house and you jog like five every day with your ridiculous workouts. Run down here once you sober up. Call a tow truck. I don't really care, Nicky."

"Then why are you even doing this?"

"God, you're even an arrogant ass when you're drunk," Kaylie scowls. He always has to be so difficult. It's infuriating. "You know what, forget this. You can just walk your ass home."

Kaylie twirls his keys around her finger just to spite him. She flashes him one last classic smile before turning on her heels and walking into the liquor store, a happy little spring in her step.

The nerve of that girl! Nicky grinds his sneakers into the gravel of the parking lot, feeling like a fuming bull out for blood. Who does she think she is? She has no say in how he spends his days, how he spends his life. He's almost certain she's just broken some law by taking his keys like that…grand theft auto or something. He might be able to handle the situation differently if he was in a clearer mindset, but with his head fuzzy and his stomach swimming with alcohol, Nicky has no clue what to do next.

When a minute or two pass and Kaylie still hasn't emerged from the liquor store, Nicky grows tired. He doesn't feel angry or upset or ready to jump into a cage match anymore. He's tired of being here, tired of checking his phone to see that Payson hasn't returned a single one of his phone calls and most of all, he's tired of wondering why.

Nicky almost collapses, sitting on the curb and stretched his legs out in front of him until his toes touch the cinderblock of the parking stall. He stares up at the sky and finds that it's a surprisingly clear night. The stars are twinkling, shining down on him and he wonders if Payson is staring up at the exact same sky.

Breaking his train of though, that little bell above the door jingles. He finds Kaylie with that superficial smile she saves for the press, looking over her shoulder and waving goodbye at someone inside.

"Did you get the right tampons, sweetie?" he sneers just because he feels like being an ass. After all, Kaylie of all people should be used to it by now. "I know how picky you can be."

"Actually, hubby, it was a pregnancy test I went in for," Kaylie hisses sarcastically. Nicky looks over and finds her smile hasn't faded though the annoyance is present in his eyes. He feels momentarily triumphant before his eyes fall to what's in her grasp. Nicky can't help, but chuckle.

"Alert the media!" Nicky nearly shouts, completely amused. "Princess Kaylie Cruz, buying alcohol…I never thought I'd see the day."

The door swings closed and she stops to look at him, a hand on her hip and a glare on her face. "Wow, you think you can say it any louder, Nicky?"

"Probably," Nicky smirks, coolly leaning back on his palms. "I could try if you want."

"Spare me." Kaylie rolls her eyes. "So am I driving you home or what? To tell you the truth you look pretty comfortable there and it isn't too cold out which means you dying of hypothermia and me feeling guilty for leaving you here isn't an option."

"And she lives happily ever after," Nicky adds. He chooses a spot on the ground and stares hard. After a deep sigh, he hears footsteps and the sharp sound of her car unlocking. He keeps himself busy, tangling and untangling his fingers, resisting the temptation of stealing a glance. It feels like a game of chicken and like in every other aspect of his life, Nicky is determined to be the winner.

"Nicky Russo, if you make me drink alone I will kick your ass!"

And he looks up.

Kaylie Cruz is sitting there, behind the wheel of her convertible. The window's down and hand is lazily dangling outside. Her headlights are on, enveloping him in a harsh light that makes his eyes squint. The engine's purring and she's wasting gas. Nicky feels as if his eyesight is failing him once again. It he's really seeing what he's seeing, it seems Kaylie Cruz looks just as tired as he feels.

Before he knows it, he's getting into the passenger side seat of her car.

As he slides in, Nicky wonders, does she lose for calling out to him first or does he for getting up and getting into the car?

Regardless, he shuts the door after him and a split second later, Kaylie reverses like a manic though her face remains calm and collective. Then they're driving off into the night. Nicky doesn't know where she's taking him. All he knows is that the slight breeze coming in through the crack in the window feels nice against his hot face. He isn't much of a drinker. Then again, he isn't much of a normal teenager either.

"I hope you know, if you throw up in my car, you're taking time out of your precious training schedule to clean it."

"Where's the booze you promised me?" he says, stern and straight to the point.

They come to a red light and Kaylie slams her foot on the break. Nicky's head nearly hits the dashboard as he braces himself, grabbing onto anything within reach. His heart is pounding in his chest, the adrenalin is rushing and he looks over at Kaylie to find her smiling like an innocent little angel.

"In my car, Russo, we wear seatbelts."

He mumbles something beneath his breath and reaches for the seatbelt though it takes him a few tries before he's securely strapped in. "Happy?" he growls. "Now, the alcohol?"

"Aww, does the baby want his bottle?" she teases.

"You're such a bitch."

"Oh, excuse me," she continues with the sarcasm. Her expression is mockingly apologetic for a moment before it turns into a true glare. "Just because you're drunk doesn't mean I have to put up with your whiny bullshit, Nicky."

"God," he groans, utterly frustrated. "Fuck me."

"Only in your dreams," she mumbles with a sweet smile. Despite them being the only car on the road, the stoplight seems to be taking forever. It's enough time for Kaylie to lean over into the backseat and snatch up the glass bottle in the way too obvious brown paper bag.

"Happy?" she can't help, but mock him.

"Very," he agrees. It's only when both fall silent and Nicky breaks the seal on the bottle that Kaylie realizes the light has been green for quite some time now. The car jerks forward and Nicky curses, being taken by surprise and almost spilling the hard liquor all over his shirt. He takes a sip and it burns on the way down prompting him to shut his eyes tight and shake his head.

Kaylie laughs, amused. "Hurts so good, right?"

Nicky blinks. Is he that drunk or did Kaylie Cruz just say that?

"How did you score this anyways?" he asks. Both eyebrows are raised and his knees are angled towards her. He's honestly curious. "Was it an autograph? Flirting? Were you servicing the midnight shift cashier boy? Is that why you were in there so long?"

He's smirking as he talks, but then he looks over and Kaylie doesn't look like she's playing around anymore.

"Is that really what you think of me, Nicky?"

He doesn't answer. His eyes simply fall to his hands cupped around the cool glass bottle. A thick silence surrounds them and Nicky simply tilts his head back when his lips meet the rim. He drinks till that warm fuzziness takes control and drowns out the fact that he might have actually hurt Kaylie Cruz with his words and felt horrible about it.

"Servicing the cash register boy might work for some people, but I just do it the old fashioned way," she goes on. His head tilts dumbly to the side and she sighs. Maybe he's a clueless drunk after all. "Fake I.D. Duh."

Nicky leans back comfortably in the seat. "How did Kaylie Cruz get a fake I.D.?"

"I do have an older brother, you know," she reminds him. "An older brother with some pretty major secrets he'd rather mom and dad not find out about."

"Blackmail," Nicky scoffs. "Isn't that more Lauren's department?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Forget it." He takes another sip.

"Why are you even drinking in the first place?" Kaylie wonders aloud. "I thought Nicky Russo, super athlete, near future Olympic silver medalist would condone such a normal teenage thing."

"Well, Nicky Russo also hears it's a descent cure for a broken heart," he rambles. The rim of the bottle meets his lips again in a sip that's more like a gulp. Kaylie looks over at him and his bleary eyes are set forward. He looks just on the edge of spilling out his apparently shattered heart.

Kaylie refuses to sympathize with him. "One, there is no cure for a broken heart. Two, seriously, Russo, you have no idea what a broken heart is."

"And you do?" he laughs a little louder than he should. "Y'know, I know you and Carter─"

"There's nothing going on with me and Carter," she lashes out. "Drop it, Nicky."

"Pshh, like I don't see the way you guys look at each other across the Rock," Nicky mumbles. He reaches a hand out towards her and it's obviously some sort of sloppy drunken gesture, but Kaylie scoffs and shoves him away with one hand before he can even start. "Just because I don't get caught up in all that stupid drama like you guys doesn't mean I don't have ears or eyes."

"He cheated on me. Carter slept with Lauren."

Kaylie doesn't really know why she told him. It sort of sounds like she's talking to herself, saying it aloud so her head can finally catch up and it can start to feel real. Plus, Nicky's so far gone that he won't be remembering this when the sun finally rises. Kaylie's almost afraid to look for his reaction, but she does anyways.

"That girl is a bitch," Nicky says with such conviction. Well, as much conviction as a drunken teenage boy can muster. Even though they're friends again, Kaylie laughs aloud, finding Nicky pretty comical and kinda right. "I mean, seriously, she's just...evil!"

"She's also my friend," Kaylie feels compelled to add.

"I don't get you girls," Nicky shakes his head, absolutely dumbfounded. "Why would you wanna put yourself through this when you know it's just gonna happen again? She's an evil Satan spawn bitch. Cut her off. Move on."

"Says the guy who brought her as his plus one to a Hollywood party," Kaylie reminds him. "Trust me, I've tried. With Lauren, most things are easier said than done."

"Did you really love Carter?" Nicky asks out of the blue. He's drunk and he's stepping over boundaries and he isn't perceptive enough to notice the discomfort that's easily seen on Kaylie's face. Lucky for her, he breathes a sigh before she can respond and continues, "I think I was really in love with Payson…"

Kaylie freezes. "Payson? Wait, was in love?"

"I called her like a billion times!"

She laughs, "Desperate much?"

"Much," Nicky agrees. Yup, he's completely wasted if he's agreeing with Kaylie Cruz. "There's only one reason she wouldn't want to talk to me and that's if the doctor's appointment didn't go well."

"Are you saying you won't love her if her back doesn't heal?"

"I'm saying her dream, our dream is dead," Nicky sadly concludes. He polishes off the bottle and lets it slip from his fingers and land somewhere near his feet. "And now I'm stuck with you, Princess Kaylie Cruz."

Correction, a self-pity drunk is the worst.

"Thanks, Nicky. Now I feel great about myself," she mumbles gruffly. Kaylie purses her lips after a beat of silence, looking at him through the corner of her eyes. "Honestly, Nicky, this isn't a club anyone should be apart of."

Now he's lost. "What club?"

"The Broken Hearted Club," Kaylie laughs bitterly. "Population: you and me. Group therapy meetings outside the liquor store twice a week. Well, at least we have vodka."

"Had," Nicky corrects her, clearing his throat. He shows her his empty hands with an apologetic frown.

"It's alright. I wasn't planning on drinking tonight," Kaylie confesses. Her car finally pulls up in front of Nicky's lavishing home. It even rivals the one belonging to the Cruz family. "I actually went in to buy every issue of those horrible tabloids with the stupid pictures of us before Sasha or even Payson saw them. But then I saw you looking like a sad puppy and I picked up a bottle to bribe you to let me drive you home."

"Wow. Are you that ashamed of being seen with me, Kaylie Cruz?" Nicky asks. There's none of his usual spite or sarcasm. He's smiling, actually smiling, and at her of all people.

"I'll kill you if you tell anyone, but you aren't that bad…when you're drunk," Kaylie admits and they both laugh softly in the quiet night. It's sort of odd how they're sitting in his driveway and there's no trading insults or hateful stare or superiority/inferiority complex. They're actually content in the other's presence. Whoever said alcohol is a bad thing?

It only takes a few moments before their laughter subsides and Nicky struggles with the seatbelt yet again and then has just as much trouble with the door handle. He finally gets out and slams the door behind him, a loud bang that probably wakes a few of the neighbors. Kaylie starts up the engine again when she hears a knock and with the press of a button the glass of the passenger side window lowers.

Nicky leans in with a grin. "Next time─"

"Next time?" Kaylie repeats quizzically. "You're going to need me to save your ass again?"

Nicky seems genuinely hurt. "You interrupted me."

"Well, get used to it if there's going to be a next time," she playfully quips. Nicky's looking at her as if she's grown a second head in the last three seconds. "You were saying, Nicky?"

"I was saying that next time we're going to go back to the liquor store and we are going to get liquor, but we're also going to buy up all those tabloids and I dunno how, but we are going to cram all of em' in Carter's car…and his locker at the Rock. Yeah, that's what we'll do." Nicky's smiling like he's just figured out a cure for cancer and his eyes are sparkling and Kaylie just notices that she's smiling too.

"Sounds like a plan," Kaylie agrees, not wanting to ruin his mood. "Goodnight, Nicky."

"Goodnight, Kaylie," he beams. Kaylie is taken aback for a moment, a feeling akin to her heart skipping a beat. That's the first time he's said her actual name with no venom in his tone. She watches as Nicky takes a staggering step backwards and salutes her. "Laters, drinking buddy."

Nicky starts walking back, awkward and disoriented like a duck with a broken leg.

"Russo!" Kaylie shouts, not caring if she wakes the whole neighborhood. He turns back to meet her gaze as she leaned across the car. "It might take a while, but Payson will call. She will eventually…just try not to drink yourself to death until she does."

Nicky's standing there, looking right at her with a cool smile. "Y' know, you're a cool girl, Kaylie Cruz. You shouldn't let some guy take that away from you. Honestly, you're better off without him."

Neither even thinks to mutter a "thank you." After all, they're still Nicky Russo and Kaylie Cruz. Plus it's already written across their faces with her sweet smile and his toothy grin. She gives him a quick wave before her car takes off and he starts to walk (more like stumble) up his front porch.

What started out as a bout of insomnia and a ridiculous recon mission for Kaylie Cruz ended up as a Good Samaritan reenactment and bonding with Nicky Russo.

Her entire drive home is spent thinking about how, when she actually puts thought into it, they are somewhat alike. For one, they're both gymnasts, dedicated to their art and praised by the gymnastics community for their talent. Sure, he may take his love for gymnastics to an extremist level, but it's a mutual love nonetheless. Then there's their tendency to submerge themselves in alcohol. They're broken-hearted drunks and in the end, they're the poor souls the angry drunks, self-righteous drunks, clueless drunks and even self-pity drunks feel bad for.

There's a part of her that's sure he won't remember a thing in the morning, too preoccupied with the massive hangover and self-chastisement when he realizes he slept through practice. Then there's the other part of her, a much smaller whisper in the back of her mind, assuring her that after a while he will remember and this won't be the last time they bond over broken hearts and booze.

It may be horrible. It may be selfish. Kaylie doesn't care. It's still nice to know she isn't alone.