A/N: Okay, so I recently did a poll to decide what fic I posted next. It had three options and ten votes. 2 for Jaitlyn, 4 for Natella, and 4 for Smitchie. So I'm posting both the Smitchie story and Natella story. Also, there's a new poll on my profile for the next fic I post. Go vote!
"I know a girl.
She puts the color inside of my world
But she's just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I've done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I'm starting to see
Maybe it's got nothing to do with me…"
Ella groaned when she walked into her office and spotted a flower arrangement on her desk. She turned around and attempted to leave but the door closed before she could. Nate smirked at her from his spot by the door.
"Good morning," Nate said brightly as he leaned against the closed door.
"I told you to stop this," Ella said with a sigh.
"Yes, you did," Nate said with a nod.
"So, why haven't you?" She asked as she made sure to keep her distance.
"Because," He said as he gave her a pointed look. "I'm just not buying it, Ells. You know you want to give us a try."
She bit her bottom lip and shook her head. "No, Nate."
He stepped away from the door and she took a step back. "Liar."
Nate took quicker steps and eventually had her literally cornered. Ella refused to look him in the eye. She was currently focusing on the buttons on his shirt.
"Why are you fighting this?" Nate asked her softly as his face hovered close to hers.
He saw her bottom lip quiver before she answered. "I—I can't."
Nate brought a hand up and caressed her cheek. "You can."
He tilted her face toward his and then dipped his lips to hers. He kissed her slowly, and he felt her gradually give in and relax against his chest. His arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her closer, and that's when he felt her tense. She pulled back from the kiss and then pushed against his shoulders. "Nate, stop. We can't do this."
"Ella, please, I love you, and I know you love me too—"
"Don't say that. Don't."
"It's how I feel, Ells. I'm not going to lie about it."
"I'm not asking you to lie. I'm asking you to keep it to yourself," Ella said quietly. "I can't deal with this right now, Nate."
"Ella, we have to talk about this," Nate said desperately. "I'm going out of town tonight and if we don't talk about it now—"
"I don't want to talk about this anymore. We're not a good idea. It'll end badly. These things always do when it comes to me," Ella told him sternly. "Please leave."
"Please," Ella begged. "You have to trust me, Nate. You're better off finding someone else."
"I don't want someone else—"
"Go, Nate. Please, go," She said as she squirmed out of his arms. She sat down at her desk and opened her sketch book. He watched her for a few more minutes and then sighed sadly when it was clear the conversation was over.
He started to leave but turned in the doorway to face her. "I'm not giving up, Ella. This isn't over."
He knew she heard him, but she didn't respond. He shook his head as he left and closed the door behind him. He didn't understand what was going on here. He and Ella were fine…until things got serious. He'd scared her away when he admitted he loved her, but he couldn't figure out why. He knew Ella felt the same way. And now he and his brothers were headed to New York for a mandatory appearance at a party their record company was having. He was going to have to put off fixing this until he got back. He didn't want to do that. He didn't like leaving things unresolved, but there wasn't much left that he could do.
He'd basically offered up all of himself to her, and she turned him down every time. He didn't want to give up, but he didn't know what else to do. He headed down to the town car that was waiting for him on the curb. He stepped inside and was met with questioning stares from Jason and Shane.
"So?" Jason asked. "How'd it go?"
"Did she give in to your irresistible charm?" Shane asked with a smirk.
Nate sighed and glared at both of them. "No. She did not."
There was an awkward pause before Jason spoke up again. "Did she tell you why this time?"
"She just said that she couldn't, and she said something about 'these things' never ending well for her. I don't really know what that means. I mean, she's only seriously dated two guys that we know of right?" Nate asked worriedly. "Was she talking about them? I'm just…confused. None of this is making sense in my head right now."
"Well, maybe a little time away will be good for you," Shane suggested as the car pulled away from the curb. "You might have a breakthrough or something, man."
"Yeah," He said with a sigh. "Maybe."
"She'll come to her senses, dude," Jason told him. "She will."
He wasn't so sure anymore, but he didn't dare say that out loud. He wasn't quite ready to say that for certain. He was quiet for the rest of the drive and for the entire flight. He just didn't feel like talking nor did he really know what to say. They had just enough time when they landed to go to the hotel and change…
Into the outfits Ella put together for them. She wasn't even physically there and yet he just knew it would feel like she was with him all night long. He could even smell a little bit of her perfume on the clothes. This was going to be torture.
They made it through the press to the party and Nate immediately groaned at the sight of the crowd inside. This was going to be a night full of pointless small talk. He could tell. He, Jason, and Shane made their rounds greeting people. They got to the back of the room and Nate spotted someone he vaguely recognized. He nudged Shane's shoulder and discretely motioned to the long haired ragged looking man in the corner. He was clearly a rocker, and Nate thought he knew who it was.
"Dude, is that Van Pador?" Nate asked his brother.
Shane nodded. "Yeah, I think it is, man."
Jason put a hand on Nate's shoulder and joined the conversation. "Isn't that Ella's dad?"
Nate nodded and stared thoughtfully at the man.
"You should go talk to him," Jason suggested. "If you get on his good side then maybe you'll get back on Ella's as well."
"You think?" Nate asked.
Shane shrugged. "It can't hurt."
Nate took a fortifying breath and made his way toward Ella's dad. When he was a couple of feet away he cleared his throat loudly. Van Pador looked up and grinned at Nate.
"I know you, kid. You're one of those Connect Three dudes, right?"
Nate smiled thinly. "That's me. I'm Nate."
"Van Pador, good to meet you, kid."
"I, um, I know. I went to camp with your daughter," Nate told him.
Van quirked a brow at him. "Oh yeah? You know my little Ellie?"
Nate chuckled. "Yeah, but she's not exactly little anymore."
"You met her at camp? What camp?"
Nate's brow furrowed. That was an odd question. Ella had gone to Camp Rock for years and even after she aged out of being a camper she ended up working there. How did her father not know about Camp Rock? "Um, Camp Rock. My uncle's the director."
He chuckled and a small proud smile appeared on his face. "My little girl went to Camp Rock. Who'd have thought? I can't believe her mother let her. So, what's she like now that she's all grown up? Is she beautiful? I bet she looks like her mother."
Nate gave Van a confused look. Why didn't Van already know these things? Did he and Ella never talk? "I'm sorry, but when was the last time you actually saw Ella?"
Guilt overcame Van's face and he sighed. "Trust me, she's better off without a guy like me around. I would have probably screwed her up, you know? A little girl should have a stable dad. Not somebody reckless like myself."
Nate didn't like the sound of that. He opened his mouth to ask another question, but Van beat him to it.
"It was nice to meet you, Nate. You seem like a bright kid. Tell my little girl I said hello, and that I hope she's happy. I trust you're taking good care of her?" Van asked with a small smile.
"I—I'm trying to," Nate said in confusion. He was still trying to make sense of this conversation.
"Good, well, if you'll excuse me my manager's motioning me over. Apparently there's someone I need to meet. Keep your head on straight, kid. Don't turn into me," Van told Nate with a smirk as he walked away.
Nate stared at the man's back as he left and tried to put together the pieces of their conversation. Van didn't know Ella had attended Camp Rock, and Nate knew that Ella had been a Junior Rocker. She was 11 during her first summer at camp which meant Van Pador hadn't seen Ella since she was, at most, 10. Why hadn't Ella told him about this? Why hadn't she told anyone about this?
Nate rejoined Shane and Jason with a bewildered expression on his face.
"What happened?" Shane asked.
"Was that Van?" Jason asked.
Nate nodded. "Yeah, that was Van, but…well, I think I might have figured out what's going on with Ella."
Nate spent the rest of the party deep in thought. He just had to make it through an interview tomorrow morning and then he'd be on his way home, and as soon as he was back in L.A. he would certainly be having a in depth conversation with Ella.
The town car pulled up outside of Ella's office building and Jason and Shane gave Nate questioning looks.
"Are you sure you don't want to do this later? I mean, maybe go home and get settled back in first?" Shane asked.
Nate shook his head. "No, I need to do this now. I'll lose my nerve if I put it off."
"Good luck," Jason said as Nate opened the door and stepped outside.
He nodded before he shut the door. "Thanks."
Nate waited until the car drove off before heading into the building and up to Ella's office. Her assistant told him he needed an appointment but he ignored her and kept walking as usual. He knocked lightly on the door and slowly the door opened. Ella tensed when she saw him and glared.
"We need to talk."
"We have nothing to talk abou—"
"I ran into your dad this weekend."
Her eyes immediately met his and she quickly pulled him inside of her office and shut the door.
"You what?" She asked in surprise.
"He was at that party I had to go to."
She bit her bottom lip and hesitated before she spoke up again. "Did you—did you talk to him?"
"If I didn't would I have a reason to tell you about it?" Nate asked her.
"What did you talk about? Did…he mention me?" Ella asked with a nervous gulp.
"No," Nate told her. "At least not until I mentioned you first. He was very surprised to learn your mother let you attend Camp Rock."
Ella's breathing became heavy and rushed and her eyes watered as she walked away from him to stand behind her desk. He could tell she was trying not to cry. She avoided looking at him and said nothing. She busied herself by rearranging a few items on her desk.
"Ella, why didn't you tell me that you and your father don't talk?" Nate asked softly as he approached the desk.
"The fact that my father doesn't want me isn't something I like to advertise, Nate," Ella said with a sniffle. "It's not even really something I like to think about."
"Do you talk about it to anyone?" He asked.
"No, my mother stopped trying to talk to me about it years ago, and my brother and I don't even acknowledge it," Ella told him. "I don't see how talking about it will change anything. It won't make him come back, and to be honest I'm not sure I really want him to come back."
"If he didn't know you attended Camp Rock then the last time he saw you was—"
"Can we not talk about this?" Ella asked.
"I need to know, Ella," Nate told her.
"No, you don't," Ella said sternly. "It has nothing to do with you."
"It has everything to do with me," He said. "You said that 'these things' never work out for you. That it would end badly and that I was better off finding someone else. Is he the reason you think that?"
She gulped and sat down in her desk chair. "It's not just him. Jared and Zack certainly didn't help."
Nate rolled his eyes. "Your exes were jerks."
"That's not the point, Nate. The point is that when it comes to the men in my life…they usually don't stick. They always leave. Even my brother is sort of missing in action. I haven't heard from him in over a year and a half, and that's not including the bits I hear about him from mom," Ella said with a shaky sigh. "It would happen with you too. Only I wouldn't be the only one that ended up hurt this time. Our entire circle of friends would be involved. I can't take another person leaving, Nate, and I certainly can't take being the one to cause any awkwardness in the group. I won't let it happen."
"And neither will I," Nate promised. "I'm not going anywhere, Ells. I love you, and that's not changing. Now or ever."
This time he knew he saw a tear sliding down her cheek. "I've heard that before."
"Then everyone who came before me didn't actually mean it," Nate said as he walked around the desk and turned her chair toward him.
"Tell me you don't love me. Tell me you don't feel the same and I'll leave," Nate said as he kneeled in front of the chair.
Her chin quivered and her lips formed a thin tight line as she caught his eyes. "I—I can't."
"And why is that? Why can't you say that to me?"
She didn't answer and he reached out and held both of her hands.
"You can't say that to me because you love me. You know you do. Ella, I'm not going away. Even if you can never admit that you love me I will be here when you need me. No questions asked," He told her. "But I wish…I wish you would talk to someone about your dad. It might really help to get it out."
He leaned forward and kissed her cheek slowly before standing up and heading for the door. His hand reached for the door knob as Ella finally spoke. "Don't go, please."
He turned and looked at her expectantly.
"Christmas Day, 2001," She said as she exhaled slowly. "I was nine. He brought us all of these expensive gifts and then the next day…he left and never came back."
She stood up and walked toward Nate. She stopped in front of him and bit her bottom lip. Her eyes were already slightly red and she rubbed at them with the heels of her hands.
"I only went to Camp Rock that first summer in the hopes of getting his attention. I thought that somehow he'd hear about it and be so proud and excited that he'd…come back. But he never did. I never even got a post card or a letter."
He'd reached out and wrapped his arms around her shoulders before he could stop himself. He held her tightly and kissed the top of her head. "You deserve better than what you've had, Ells. I hope you realize that. None of this had anything to do with you. It was all Van Pador. He acted selfishly and not at all the way a father is supposed to act. A father should be someone you can depend on, and he took that away from you. I'm sorry for that. I really am."
Her arms wrapped around his torso and she buried her head into his chest. He could tell she was crying. He could feel a wet spot growing on the front of his shirt, and she was shaking very lightly. But she was completely silent. He almost wished she would whimper or make some sort of noise. The silence was killing him. She stopped shaking after a few minutes and he heard her sniffle lightly.
"Yes?" He asked as he swallowed thickly.
"I—you promise you're not going to leave?"
"I promise I'm never leaving. You're it for me," He said softly as he slowly kissed her temple.
She looked up at him and smiled weakly. "Then…I—I love you too."
He smiled brighter than she'd ever seen him smile before and he gently placed a hand under her chin. He slowly lowered his lips to hers, and moved his hand from her chin to her cheek. He absently ran his thumb across her cheek as he continued to softly kiss Ella. He deepened the kiss as her arms tightened around him and she relaxed in his arms. He pulled away and smiled brightly at her again.
His smile faltered after a moment. "You're not going to take it back are you?"
Ella grinned softly at him. "As long as you don't take it back then I won't take it back."
"Good," he told her with a contented sigh. "Because I'm never taking it back. Ever, Ells."
"…Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too."
-John Mayer, "Daughters"