The Day After
Author's Note: This is my first non-Lost fanfic in a really long time, so bare with me if I don't have these characters completely right yet. I'm really shipping this couple, like hard core, so forgive the sappiness of this story. I really needed to write something after their literal disappearance with no development after THE KISS. And this is what came of it.
For some reason, LJ ate my story breaks, in ALL MY STORIES, but since I see a lot of people are still reading this one, I reuploaded it with the breaks included.
It's one of those moments where you hope that it's voicemail that picks up because you've already got everyone figured out, and if someone is on the other side of the phone, they might mess things up.
Hey, it's Nicole. Can't answer my phone right now, but I'll get back to you.
He inhales. Exhales. Lets the robot-voice tell him about leaving a message like he's never heard it before. He has everything planned out in his mind; he'll just tell her how he feels. That's easy enough, right?
"Hey, it's me," he pauses – should he say Bryce? No, he calls her enough, she'll know. "Listen, I had a great time last night." And let's do it again soon. Also, let's kiss again soon, okay? He can't do this, on voicemail, no less. Suddenly he wishes she'd have picked up. "Uh, and I'm sorry about kissing you." What? Did he just say that? If he keeps going down this road, he'll end up saying, You're great, or something equally lame, like when he'd kissed her. "You know, actually, I'm—I'm not. I'm glad." And now what? "So…okay, well, anyway. Uh, bye."
He presses end and looks at her name blinking on the screen. He drops the phone into his lap. He runs his hand over his face, but it's too late now, he's already left the voicemail, and he has about 3 hours to run errands before he's laid out on the couch for the rest of the day. It can't be that bad, he's already kissed his best friend and left the lamest voicemail better. At least he won't have to see her.
Nicole finishes braiding her hair and makes a face in the mirror. She's about to go to work—well, volunteer, whatever—in a hospital full of people who could care less what she looks like. And, admittedly, she had started her job there not caring what she looked like either, but now the braid looks too plain. She looks too plain.
She shakes her head. She's never been so shallow in her whole life. Was this about the kiss?
Of course it was.
She sighs at the mirror. What does it matter? Bryce won't be there today, she knows. He'll be too sick. And what does it matter…he has the girl in his flashfoward on his mind, and Nicole, well, she's great. What the heck did that mean anyway?
It's not like she'd done any better, though. You can't just kiss me…in Little Tokyo, no less. Actually, Bryce, you can kiss me anywhere, anytime, just, for God's sake, stop talking about this other woman. Yeah, as if that would've gone over well.
She grabs her phone off the edge of her bed and checks for messages. 1 missed call and a voicemail. Bryce. The first thing she feels is a surge of joy, then something like panic. The chemo. Maybe he's sick, maybe he needs her. She dials her voicemail and holds her breath.
"Hey, it's me. Listen, I had a great time last night. Uh, and I'm sorry about kissing you. You know, actually, I'm—I'm not. I'm glad. So…okay, well, anyway. Uh, bye."
She exhales. Inhales. Listens to the robot-voice telling her how to delete messages.
Christ, what is she going to do now?
He's laying on the cool tile of the bathroom floor when he hears his phone vibrate on the nightstand. He makes his way there on his hands and knees, too lazy to get up. Nicole. He swallows. It can't be that bad, right? She'll be gentle, at least, about letting him down, because she knows he's sick.
He clears his throat. "H-Hello?"
"You're sick, I knew it. I'm coming over."
"Wait, what? Nicole, I'm fine. This isn't my first rodeo."
"Well, it's mine. Ease my mind. Can I come over?"
He hesitates. He's not so sure it matters what he tells her because it seems like she already has her mind made up. Plus, at least he knows that in the shape he's in, he won't be trying to kiss her. "I won't be much company."
"But I will be. Is that a yes?"
"Yes. Do you remember how to get—"
His doorbell rings.
"Are you actually standing outside my door right now?"
She laughs. "I actually am. See you soon."
He lays the phone back on the nightstand and pushes himself to his feet. He ducks into the bathroom to look at himself in the mirror, and it seems silly, considering he's just spent the last hour emptying the contents of his stomach into his little porcelain god—and that's exactly how he looks, too. He pulls out his toothbrush and runs it around his mouth.
He trudges through the living room and stops at the door, pinches his cheeks to try to give his face a little bit of life, and throws it open.
"Oh, God," she says. "You look terrible."
He chuckles. "Thanks. You look nice as well. I'd offer to let you come in, but seeing as I look so terrible, I'm not sure you'd want to."
She rolls her eyes, but he catches a hint of concern there, even with her jokes. "I'm coming in anyway." She slides past him. "I brought popsicles."
"Popsicles? I see someone was volunteering in the kid's ward again."
"Actually," she says with a grin, "I was, and I asked some of the latest chemo patients with help on what to bring my friend who wasn't feeling well, and each and every one of them said they liked popsicles. They're loaded with sugar though, so you can only have one, and only once you stop throwing up."
"I have stopped. I think. I kind of fell asleep in the process. And thanks, Mom."
"You're welcome." She's already made it into the kitchen and is storing the popsicles in the freezer. She pulls two out before shutting the door. "Red or blue?"
"Whichever you don't want."
"You're the sick one, remember? I didn't get sushi, so don't expect I'm going to take my favorite popsicle…which just happens to be red." She holds the blue one out to him and begins unwrapping the red one.
He's honestly surprised she brought up last night, but what can he expect? It happened…and so did that voicemail, which will no doubt come up later. Maybe it got lost in transit or something. He takes the blue one. "Spoiled brat, just like I said." But he knows before that he's told her his favorite color is blue.
She's curled up on the edge of the couch with a book, and he's completely wiped and sleeping on the other side. She looks over at him and the sticky blue-tainted popsicle stick laying on the floor beside him. He's almost smiling, and even though he's so pale, he looks like he's happy, maybe.
She wonders what it will be like when he's not here anymore. She's tried not to think about it, like how he may not be there to help her through med school, if she goes through with it, or maybe he'll meet his flashforward girl and never look back at her. But she knows that the flashforward girl, while frustrating, isn't what she's really worried about. Since he'd told her about being sick, not a day has gone by that she hasn't thought about what it would be like to not see him nearly every day.
He stretches out on the couch but when his feet touch hers, pulled up underneath her, he stirs and retracts his feet. "Hey, you're still here."
"You feeling okay?" she asks.
"What, you worried now, Mom?" He shifts and prompts his legs on the top of the couch. She eyes them and then pulls them into her lap and lays her book on top of them. He smiles at her. "Thanks."
"Don't thank me. It's your couch, I'm the one taking it up. You hungry? Need anything?"
"No, I'm fine just like this."
She turns her attention back to the book, or at least pretends. She feels him watching her for a while before she shifts under his gaze and tucks a piece of hair behind her ear self-consciously. "What?"
She takes a breath. He's awake now, might as well say something. Maybe she could try to talk to him about the voicemail, though that seems unfair given the shape he is in. Finally, she opens her mouth. "Listen, I—"
She stops and smiles. "Go ahead."
He raises an eyebrow. "I think I'm more interested in what you have to say."
"Nope? You're not going to tell me now?"
She shakes her head. "No, you tell me first. You're sick. You get to talk first."
He groans. "I should've never used that excuse."
She only smiles and motions for him to continue. Her heart is pounding in her ears, and she doesn't really know what she expects him to say.
"About the voicemail. I mean, I know it was…unexpected. I mean, I guess it was." He pauses. "You did get a voicemail, right?"
She laughs. "Yeah, I got a voicemail."
"Well, I guess what I'm trying to say is, that voicemail…" he trails off, as if gathering his thoughts.
Here it comes, he's going to tell her he didn't really mean it. He's going to tell her that he just worded it wrong and that he can't do this because of his flashforward girl and then maybe he'll tell her she's great again and she'll be trapped her with his feet on her and she will feel too guilty to leave.
"I meant it. I meant what I said. I'm not sorry I kissed you, and I guess if I hadn't spent the last few hours on the bathroom floor or falling asleep on you, I'd kiss you again."
Her mouth literally drops open, and she has to will it to close. She can't believe he's just said that, and her mind is full of questions.
"Hey," he says, concerned, "It's okay. I know. You said I can't kiss you. That's cool."
She bites her lip. "Actually, I said you can't kiss me in Little Tokyo, in front of the place you are going to meet the love of your life."
"Nicole, I don't want to sound like a sappy romantic right now, but I think…I think maybe I already met her."
Her heart skips a beat, and she doesn't know what to say. "You're delusional. It's the medication."
"Oh please," he says, "You could at least do me the favor of accepting or rejecting me and quit pulling me around."
"Bryce, you—you love her."
"I don't know her."
"But you will, you say you will."
"Maybe I felt extreme gratitude toward her. After all, she brought me to you."
"You don't mistake extreme gratitude for love, and I can't spend the next month wondering if you're going to run off with her and I'm going to be drowned."
He reaches down to take her hand, which is still resting on his leg. "Nicole."
She looks at him, eyes wide. "Excuse me?"
He smiles and pushes himself up. "I said shut up. I don't want to spend the next month wondering if you'll drown, or the next year wondering when I'll die, or if the chemo will work, or if we'll all black out again or something like that. So you know what? I'm not going to think about that. I'm thinking about now, and now—the only thing I can think about is you."
Nicole raises an eyebrow. She's not sure what to say, and finally all she get think of is, "Really?"
He smiles, a thin line across his pale face. "Really."
She isn't able to contain the smile that follows, and without even realizing it, she links her fingers with his. "Well, okay," she says, as if she's been put out of her way by all this. Really, it's some sort of acceptance. She's still weary, but she can't deny her feelings.
He laughs. "Well, okay." He runs his thumb over the back of her hand, then says, "I've been really good. Can I have another popsicle?"