Title: It Never Takes Too Long

Author: Meaning Scene

A/N: Got this idea from the Sara Bareilles Challenge on Pure Horace Mantis. Gravity is my favorite Sara Bareilles song, and I wrote this while listening to the SONOS a capella version. Simply beautiful!

Hope I'm doing this challenge thing right... If not, tell me suburbs!

This is my first NickXMacy, and it is, as per my usual, a little sad. Please review!

Special thanks to everyone who has reviewed my work so far!!! I am so grateful for each of you, and when I have a little more time (I'm heading out as we speak), I'll give you each a shout out, I promise.

~Meaning Scene

"You're neither friend nor foe, though I can't seem to let you go."

Sara Bareilles, "Gravity"

This wasn't going to happen to her. Not again.

Please. Not again.

Macy had promised herself that she would never think of Nick. Not like... that, anyway. Not like the way she really wanted to. Which was more than the polite friendship he'd limited her to.

That should have made it easier. Knowing that they would be nothing more than buddies should have brought her some sort of... relief. Freedom, even. But it didn't. It only hurt. It was like salt in an already infected wound; sure, the rest of her surface seemed all right, but there was still the aching, aching, aching of a secret pain she was too ashamed to share with anyone.

A traitorous tear tried to sneak down her cheek; she brushed it away briskly, turning towards her locker. Since when did she cry in school? She should have been stronger. She used to be stronger. Why, then, did she come entirely undone the moment Nick entered her thoughts, however briefly?

She was certain he noticed the change between them, one that was her fault entirely; though her fangirl days had long since passed, she knew he was surprised by her totally uncharacteristic silence whenever he approached. It wasn't out of rudeness; she just needed to bite her tongue, knowing it would betray her given one chance. She didn't want to burden Nick with her feelings, knowing full well they would not be reciprocated.

Besides, she recalled with an embarrassing amount of sadness, Nick was off limits, in more ways than one. She knew it would only have been a matter of time, so when Nick met the sweetest girl and fell in real love, she wasn't surprised at all. While fangirl Macy might have reacted with bitter jealousy, friend Macy was genuinely happy for him. He deserved to have someone to share his beautiful heart with, to tell his still unfulfilled dreams to. Nick deserved that.

And he deserved to not have her interfere.

"Macy," a voice she knew said from behind her. Turning quickly, she was horrified to find NIck standing behind her, waiting. As his eyes scanned her face, his eyebrow lifted. "Are you crying?"

She wiped at her cheeks with the palms of her hands. "No, I'm not. It's... allergies," she lied.

He gave her a look, but didn't press the issue. "Right... Um, I was just wondering if you wanted to sit with me at lunch today."

Her brow furrowed. "What about Grace? Won't she be expecting to sit with you?"

"She's going to put in some extra credit in the chem lab, so... I'm actually available." He replied.

She snorted; oh, the irony. "Right... well..." Say no, Misa. Be strong. Eye of the tiger. Her head demanded. "Ok. Yeah, sure." Stupid heart would answer for her in every moment of weakness.

He smiled, and she felt certain warmth physically radiated from him when he did. "Great." He started walking, implying that she follow. When she didn't immediately match his stride, he turned. "You coming?"

She nodded slowly. "Yeah... Yeah, just a second." She grabbed her lunch and shut her locker, managing a small smile at Nick as they began to walk together.

"This is nice," Nick commented, taking a bite out of his sandwich.

"It is," she agreed from beside him on the bench they shared. The sun was shining, the air warm, but not too hot; a perfect spring day. It felt good to sit under the trees in the atrium and listen to the birds.

She tried not to remember the countless times they'd shared lunch in this exact way, but of course, she slipped often.

They finished their sandwiches at the same time; Nick carried their trash to the bin, then again took his seat beside Macy. They still had a few minutes before next period, and he cleared his throat.

Great; he wanted to talk. She didn't know if she was prepared for this.

"Macy, what's wrong?" He asked.

Well, at least he didn't play games.

But she did. "Nothing," she replied, though her eyes were lowered bashfully.

"You know I don't believe that," he whispered.

She shrugged. He didn't have to. She wasn't going to say anything more.

Nick's hand covered hers; the touch raised goosebumps up her entire arm, though she knew the contact was only casual.

Casual, at least, for him.

"Please, Macy. What happened? We used to be so close; you were one of my best girls, and then..." His voice trailed off, thinking back on three months ago, when it all changed. "If this is about Grace-"

"-It's not about Grace," she interrupted quickly, not wanting to let him go down that road. This was about them. "Grace... Grace is great. She's great and you're great with her... and the two of you are... really great..." Great, great, so freakin' great.

He cocked an eyebrow, obviously suspicious. "Then, what's wrong?"

"Nothing." She repeated, and he groaned in frustration.

"Macy, don't do this to me. I..." He sighed, trying to find words.

When he didn't begin again, Macy asked, "What?"

He swallowed. "I don't want to lose you."

The statement made her blink in disbelief. How could he think that would ever happen?

Her thoughts became her words. "Nick, you're never going to... lose me." She whispered, meaning it with all her heart.

He smiled softly. "You promise you'll always be my friend?" The request was heartfelt and sweet.

She'd always be his friend. Just his friend, of course.

She nodded, her throat feeling thick, as though the tears of her eyes had nested inside it. "Mmhmm," she murmered.

He hugged her then, his arms tight around her shoulders before she had time to react. She didn't bother to say she was afraid of losing him, too. She was pretty sure she already had.

The embrace ended just in time, because who should enter but pretty, perky, perfect Grace, showing off her extra credit A plus. Nick's arms surrounded her shoulders, his affection returning to its rightful owner. A careless goodbye called over his shoulder was how Nick ended their lunch.

The bell rang, and Macy stood, feeling more alone than ever. Everytime she tried to let her love for Nick go, something reeled her back in, like a stupid fish stuck on a lure.

Maybe she couldn't fight it; maybe the vicious cycle would repeat until her heart could love no more.

She watched the happy couple as they passed the atrium window. Something always brought her back to Nick; it never took long.