A/N: So I honestly could not get this show off of my mind all Thanksgiving and I just had to jump into this realm of fanfiction! This show is incredible and really needs more stories, so write on!
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in this story sans the slightly different events.
He couldn't honestly tell himself when he had started falling for Jess, but Nick was sure it was sometime between watching her flip out over getting her TV back from her ex (the jackass) and having her act as his girlfriend at the wedding in order to make his ex jealous.
Whatever the case, he found himself grinding his teeth and clenching his fists as he watched Jess (in a very flattering salmon colored dress) and Paul make googly eyes at each other as they waited for Schmidt to finish with the food and the turkey to finish cooking (in the dryer—don't ask).
"You know, if you actually talked to her without resorting to sarcasm that'd be you over there," a voice spoke from beside him on the couch.
Looking over, Nick saw CeCe with a smirk on her face, her eyes alight with mischief as she gazed at him, "Not right now CeCe, please? It's bad enough I have to watch her be happy with someone else, I don't need—or want—your condescending bullshit ok?"
The brunette merely smiled at him, "You know…she doesn't talk about him when we go shopping or out to eat. He doesn't help her grade schoolwork every night. And he sure as hell wouldn't chase her down in the middle of traffic if she ran out of the car on him!"
Nick sighed outwardly hoping that his rapidly beating heart wouldn't give away how much CeCe's words were effecting him, "What's your point?"
Rolling her eyes, the model sighed exasperatedly, "Nick, don't be an idiot! She's head over heels for you, not random ass violin boy!"
He felt his heart stop. Jess liked him?
"If she likes me, how come she's fawning over this guy like he's some kind of god?" Nothing made sense if what CeCe was saying was true.
But the answer stopped him cold.
"She thinks you hate her you idiot! Because every time she tries to talk to you or spend time with you, you shoot her down or say something that completely destroys any hope she might have that you like her!"
Guilt tore through him as Nick tried to come up with a defense for his actions and failing miserably, "Well…I guess I've screwed up any chance I might've had with Jess now, huh?"
"Nick," CeCe growled in frustration, "this guy means nothing to her! He's a replacement for you who Jess has built false praises around! Now you listen to me: Jess is my friend—my best friend—and she deserves to be happy, not deluded and miserable, which is what she's going to be when she realizes this guy is just a moron who can't provide for her or take care of her! That's not what she needs, especially after the whole Spencer debacle. She needs someone who's actually going to be there for her when the going gets tough and really love her! Someone like you!"
He couldn't speak, couldn't breathe. Had he really been that much of an ass to Jess? She really thought that he hated her? And when the hell had he become so obvious?
Before he could respond to CeCe's words there was a loud BOOM from the direction of the washroom.
"TURKEY!" Jess shouted from the kitchen, dread filling her voice as she realized dinner might not happen. Nick bolted from his spot on the couch and followed a shrieking Schmidt and laughing Winston into the room.
The building annoyance Nick felt at the situation was only multiplied by the fact that Paul wasn't leaving after the catastrophe. He was actually making a point of staying and Jess…Nick found himself doubting CeCe's words, as the two seemed to be getting even closer.
"Fucking CeCe," he grumbled to himself as he fruitlessly tried to clear the smoke out of the room, "I can't believe I even listened to her."
"You alright there Nick?" Winston asked fighting off a particularly stubborn whiff of smoke out of his face, "Talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity man. And you look like someone just kicked your dog."
"Nah it's nothing," Nick said waving him off, "just a little pissed that dinner's been shot to hell, especially after all the fuss Jess made, you know?"
"Well technically," Schmidt chimed in from the window, "Dinner isn't ruined yet. The turkey isn't what's buring—it's still salvageable," he paused for a minute, looking into the smoky blackness of the fried depth of the dryer, "Our dryer on the other hand…"
The statement hung in the air not needing completion. The three friends traded resigned glances with each other before Nick broke the silence reluctantly, "I guess we're doing Black Friday at Best Buy after all."
Schmidt groaned and slapped a hand to his face while Winston raised a brow in question, "Is there a reason you guys are against Best Buy? I obviously missed something while I was out of the country."
Nick snorted into his hand as his eyes shot toward Schmidt who was glaring determinedly at the floor, "Last year we decided to hit Best Buy to try and get Schmidt an iPad, iPod and pretty much anything else with the Apple logo on it, and I wanted to pick up a new laptop for school. So we get there at ten and the line is nearly around the entire store with more and more people coming from every which way. Two hours of waiting in line got us two more hours when the doors actually opened and I was ready to just get out of there when we got called in."
"And thank God to because he'd been throwing the world's biggest hissy fit for an hour and a half!" Schmidt griped, still avoiding their eyes while picking off pieces of singed turkey skin from the dryer.
"Anyway," Nick picked up again, "I get my laptop within seconds of walking in there so now I've gotta follow this one around and keep him focused on his original goal because he's getting distracted by all the "shiny toys". So we get to the Apple half of the electronics and it's complete pandemonium!"
At this there was a small whimper from within the dryer where Schmidt was currently extracting the actual turkey.
Nick smirked at Winston's curious look and continued, "Schmidt got his iPod but as soon as he went for the iPad—the last iPad mind you—he found himself in an all out tug-of-war with a seven year old girl. And dude," he chuckled, his eyes alight with glee, "that little girl put up a serious fight."
"Little bitch," muttered Schmidt still battling with the turkey, as it seemed to have fused slightly with the hot metal.
Winston's eyes shot open wide at his friend's whispered oath, "What the hell happened?"
"Well they drew a crowd eventually, and you know Schmidt: there was no way he was gonna let anyone take what he thought was rightfully his. Most of the people around them were cheering the little girl on while I was trying to pull Schmidt away but he wouldn't have. Just as security was about to get involved, and probably take Schmidt to jail, the little girl winds up, glares at him and kicks him square in the balls."
A shudder and a disgruntled sigh came from Schmidt as he dropped all pretenses of cleaning the dryer, "It's…not one of my prouder moments. Definitely could have gone better."
"Changed the mood in the whole store though," Nick amended while fighting down a smile, "all of a sudden people were smiling and laughing instead of yelling and trying to bite everyone else's head off. I swear I felt the spirit of Christmas there on that cold Black Friday night!"
Winston's laughter brought the other three occupants to the door of the laundry room.
"Umm," started Jess, her voice and posture unsure and timid as she glanced around the smoke filled room, "how're things in here?" Her eyes locked on to Nick's for a moment before a faint blush lit up her cheeks and she averted her gaze hastily.
All of a sudden the conversation he'd had with CeCe came rushing back and his heart sped up. Maybe…
"I managed to save the turkey but the dryer's fried so we'll have to venture out tonight and risk the crowd at Best Buy. And the smoke isn't cooperating at all so we'll have to find someplace else to have dinner." Schmidt dictated as he walked passed her cradling the turkey in his arms.
"Oh…" Jess mumbled dejectedly, her face falling as she realized she had just ruined Thanksgiving for her friends.
Nick felt his stomach wrench at the crestfallen look on Jess's face and the urge to make her happy and smile again nearly tore him apart until he spoke up, "It's alright Jess, we can use what's-her-name's-apartment next door. She gave you her key, right?"
Her face lit up instantly at his suggestion rendering Nick temporarily speechless as he realized she was practically glowing in joy.
'Note to self: make it a point to keep Jess smiling…she's beautiful.'
"That's right Nick! She's out of town this week!" She beamed at him and again Nick felt his heart skip a beat, "You're a lifesaver!"
He watched her bounce out into the hallway to go find the key, Paul following dutifully after. The other three however stayed, each with a smirk on their faces as they looked at Nick with a knowing glint in their eyes.
'Dammit I have got to work on my poker face!' he screamed at himself as he ran a hand over his face in exasperation, "Not a word out of any of you!" he growled before marching out of the laundry room, staunchly ignoring his friends.
Before he'd made it back to the living room, he head CeCe pipe up, "That boy has got it so bad."
The affirmative grunts from Winston and Schmidt drew another groan from him as he threw himself onto the couch and picked up his beer, taking a long swig as he delved back into his pre-Turkey Dryer Disaster depression. Despite what CeCe said Nick knew that if Jess started dating Paul it would be hard living with her and pretending to be nothing but a friend. He'd swallow his pride and be her friend if that was how she wanted it; it was better than not having her in his life and he'd already told himself to keep making her happy.
Paul came out into the living room and plopped himself down next to Nick, heaving a sigh, "Jess is still looking for that key."
'And you're not helping her?' Nick thought viciously, a low growl making its way passed his lips, "That right?"
"Yeah," Paul nodded as he stared at the television, transfixed by the football game that was on, "Oh the Lions! They play in Des Moines, right?"
Nick looked at him incredulously, refusing to believe that the guy had just asked that question, and he felt his eye twitch involuntarily. An awkward silence lingered in the air for a minute as Nick continued to stare in morbid fascination. "No," he said finally, trying and failing to keep the aggravation out of his voice.
Paul finally looked away from the screen, meeting Nick's gaze and blinking as he caught the slightly disgusted look gracing the other man's features.
As if by some heavenly grace, Jess chose that moment to dance into the living room, the key held high over her head in triumph, "I've got it guys! Let's move this pah-tay next door dudes!"
Paul got up and sauntered over to Jess's side, an easy smile on his face, where he not so subtly whispered, "I don't think Nick likes me very much."
'How astute of you you fucking prick.' Nick blinked, shocked by his continued hostility, 'Jesus I didn't know I could get this pissed off so easily.'
With another groan he forced himself up from the couch, switched off the T.V. and made his way to the kitchen where he grabbed the bowl of mashed potatoes and joined the procession headed toward the neighboring apartment.
He was about to step in when a small hand grabbed his arm gently, stopping him in his tracks, "Jess?"
"Nick," she said, her eyes focused just to the right of his face, "can I talk to you for a second? Really quick."
'Damn you heart!' Nick swore as he felt the organ pick up speed once again, fighting with himself to keep his face impassive, "Uh, sure Jess. What's up?"
The brunette pulled the door closed softly, her fingers lingering on the knob as she seemed to gather herself before turning to face Nick again, this time meeting his eyes.
"Why don't you like Paul?"
Nick blinked, not expecting the blunt question, 'Though I guess I should have been. It is Jess after all.' "What are you talking about?"
"You've been rude to him ever since he got here Nick, that's what I mean!" she all but shouted, putting her hands on her hips in a way that immediately drew Nick's attention to her curves, "He's been trying to be a nice guy and you're completely blowing him off."
Tearing his eyes away from her hips, Nick felt his face heat up as he looked into Jess's bright blue eyes, "I haven't been blowing him off Jess I just—"
She cut him off, "Nick I've been watching you since he got here! You've been broody and distant, though you have been keeping it to yourself, but as soon as he comes over to talk you turn into a frickin' jerk!"
'That actually hurt a lot more than I thought it would,' Nick thought with a frown as he struggled to defend himself, "Jess I—"
Again he was stopped before he could speak, this time though, Jess was getting louder and her eyes were starting to tear up, "I don't exactly ask you guys for much Nick, and Winston and Schmidt are being sociable and nice to Paul. I mean, do you honestly hate me that much that you'd want to screw this up for me?"
He was speechless, his mouth hanging open stupidly as he simply stared at Jess in disbelief.
She really did think that he hated her.
He had to fix this now.
"Jess of course I don't hate you! How could you even think that?" he heard her disbelieving laugh, "I'm serious Jess; I don't room with people I don't like, much less people I hate! And the only reason I've been acting like a jerk is because...because—" any steam that he had built up faded fast as he came dangerously close to revealing his feelings for the petite beauty in front of him.
But now Jess was curious, her eyes bright and shining, "Because what Nick?"
He hesitated again.
Even if he could muster up the courage to tell her how he felt, was now even the right time? With Paul on the other side of the door and most likely wondering where they were?
'Fuck it,' he growled at himself, finally fed up with everything that had happened today, 'if I don't do this now…if I don't tell her and she winds up getting with Paul and being happy I'll never forgive myself.'
"Nick?" Jess asked again, concern now flitting through her eyes.
"It's because…because I like you Jess," he blurted out, his heart pounding in his chest as he finally voiced what had been eating at him for the longest time, "I really like you."
Jess smiled, her eyes lighting up as she clapped her hands, "Good! I like you too Nick!"
At any other time, the smile on Jess's face would have brought nothing but joy to Nick's heart. Now however he felt his stomach plummet and his heart stop; she hadn't understood. And now she was going to go back to her new guy and fall in love and forget all about him.
"What's wrong Nick?" Jess queried, a puzzled look on her face, "What's with the turtle face? I just said that I like you too!"
"Yeah…yeah I know Jess," Nick answered, desperately trying to put a smile on his face, "it's just...I…nevermind."
He turned to open the door but Jess's hand caught his arm again, "No, no "nevermind" Nick, tell me."
Heaving a sigh, Nick relinquished, "I just think you misunderstood me Jess, that's all. I like you. I mean really really like you. As in I want to hug you whenever I want, kiss you whenever I want and just hold you whenever I want! I want to—"
This time the feel of Jess's lips on his cut him off. He blinked in astonishment at first before he finally shut his eyes and enjoyed the pleasant sensations coursing through his body. Tingles ran up and down his spine as he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her close to him.
She pulled away slightly and smiled softly at Nick's groaned protest, "I knew what you meant genius, I just wanted to see if you'd catch on to my meaning."
Nick chuckled, "Clever girl." And then proceeded to pull her back in for another kiss.
It was incredible.
It was indescribable.
It was interrupted.
"I so totally called this," Schmidt said from the doorway as he, CeCe, Winston and Paul took in the scene before them, "like, from day one I mean. I knew this was gonna happen."
Nick and Jess blushed bright red as they pulled away from each other, though they kept their hands entwined.
"Amen to that man," Winston chimed in as he shook his head in relief.
CeCe smirked at the couple in the hall before turning to Paul, "I guess this just got a little awkward for you, huh?"
"Just a bit," Paul admitted with a smile as he scratched the back of his head, "though I can't say this is the first time I've been the cause of an epic realization so it's all good."
CeCe quirked a delicate brow, "Really?" she asked as she led him out the door and down the hall, presumably towards the exit, "Do tell."
The couple in the hallway could only stare in bewilderment before they turned to each other clearly trying to decide how to go about things.
"So," Nick ventured, "you wanna help Schmidt finish things up inside and then get to the eating?"
With a thousand-watt smile in place, Jess nodded, "You bet! But can…can I kiss you again first?"
"You don't even have to ask Jess," Nick smiled as he leaned forward, "never again."
A shrill screech came from inside the apartment that stopped the couple in their tracks, "What the hell happened to the mashed potatoes?"
Looking down at the now discarded and spilled bowl of mashed potatoes, Nick groaned, "Uh…oops?"
Jess's laughter echoed down the hall as she helped him pick up their mess.
A/N: There you have it ladies and gentlemen! This is what should have happened, end of story. I love Justin Long, but come on! Anyway, read, review, read again, it's all good! I hope you enjoyed the story and I encourage you all to write your own! Til next time!