He hadn't been this ridiculously nervous since he was a teenager going on his first date with the prettiest girl in the class.
The pupils of Waterloo Road were to descend upon London for a week, but what Tom was most nervous about was the fact that he and Nicki were in charge. That, for the minimum of four hours they were on the coach, they would be sat together, electricity crackling between them as it always did whenever they were in close proximity, both of them knowing better than to act upon it, however much they wanted to.
It was three o'clock in the morning – far, far too early to be up on a Monday in April. The coaches were due to arrive in ten minutes, the students in twenty. But the person he was waiting for fell into neither category. He checked his watch, and discovered that a mere minute had passed. He was sat on a freezing cold bench underneath Michael's window, wearing his favourite jeans, a thick jumper with a t-shirt, a coat and – much to Josh's embarrassment – a scarf.
Suddenly, headlights lit up the playground, and in an alarming screech of tyres, Nicki arrived. She flung her car door open, hurriedly getting out with a slightly flustered grin spread across her face.
"Sorry I'm late; those bloody traffic lights... I swear, one day I'll take a chainsaw to those things." She complained, pulling a large black suitcase out of the boot of her car and slamming it with more force than she perhaps intended, a resounding crash filling the playground as she winced, with an expression following which suggested that she'd burnt the candle at both ends.
Her shiny dark brown hair was longer now; she'd allowed it to grow to almost shoulder length over the past couple of months, and she wore a baggy black t shirt with battered skinny jeans, further elongating her seemingly never ending legs. Her blue eyes sparkled in the moonlight; with no makeup on, she looked far more innocent and almost vulnerable... but he was convinced that Nicki Boston would never, ever look vulnerable... or innocent, for that matter.
"Well, in about ten hours, London's security will be threatened by the arrival of Waterloo Road. You have informed MI5 I presume?" she asked, smiling as they walked towards the bench underneath the window of Michael's office. The once shiny burgundy paint was cracking and flaking off the iron bench, and they sat down together in awkward silence.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a shiver run through her body – she had clearly overestimated the temperature before getting dressed this morning – and he took his coat off and offered it to her.
Reluctantly, she took it, wrapping it around her lean body and sighing. She rested her head against the wall and looked at him with one bright blue eye, smiling. She always smiled when they were alone. He wondered to himself if he was one of the only people to know the Nicki underneath the hard-as-nails persona, underneath Miss Boston, the real woman who, contrary to popular belief, was kind, funny and caring.
"Can we get into the school?" she asked, interrupting his thoughts and making him jump.
"Er..." he replied, digging in the pocket of his jeans to find the key. Having produced his house, car, shed and back gate keys, he eventually found the ones he was looking for, pulling them out of his pocket, much to Nicki's amusement. He handed her the keys, and she stood up, pausing before she walked off towards the front of the school.
"Coffee?" she asked, which may as well have been rhetorical – at three in the morning, Tom was almost convinced that nobody of sound mind would deny caffeine. Especially when they were preparing to take the pupils of Waterloo Road to London – in fact, by the end of the week, he would probably be prescribed Valium.
They sat in the staff room together, drinking the coffee that Nicki had made. He couldn't deny, as he observed her moving sleepily around the kitchenette, how gorgeous she looked without her makeup, barely awake.
"Tell you what, I needed this." She announced, handing him a mug full of steaming coffee, sitting down next to him, tipping her head back.
"We're taking Year Eleven and the Sixth Form to London, I'm gonna need bloody Amphetamines by the end of the week."
She spluttered a laugh into her coffee, and he smiled as he watched her. After downing her drink in a few unladylike gulps, her blue eyes began to brighten, opening fully and revealing hidden depths. She placed her empty mug on the messy coffee table, yawning and curling her denim-clad legs up into her body.
Tom placed his mug next to hers, and they yawned in unison, laughing as they made eye contact, blue on blue. The sound of the coaches arriving made them both turn in their seats, simultaneously standing up. She looked at him and, for some reason, started sniggering.
"What?" he asked, frowning bemusedly and looking around for the source of her amusement.
"Where did you get that scarf?" she giggled, raising her eyebrows, her eyes sparkling madly. He pushed her towards the door with a laugh,
"Get lost, Coco bloody Chanel!" he shouted after her with a grin.
"Alright Gok, calm down!" she teased, as he chased her out of the staff room, almost catching her t-shirt, the scent of her perfume filling the air as they ran through the school like a pair of children, her screaming girlishly as he caught up with her, grabbing her t-shirt and spinning her around. He started tickling her, and she tried her best to push him off.
"Stop, or the scarf gets it!" she shouted – she had somehow managed to grab the scarf from around his neck, and was now waving it victoriously above her head, holding it hostage.
There was an impatient knock at the doors they were stood by, and they turned to see one of the coach drivers rolling his eyes at them.
"Coming." Tom called, blushing, and Nicki tried to bite back a laugh, sniggering at his expression, reminiscent of a pupil who'd just been caught.
"Shut it, you." He elbowed her in the ribs, his eyes glinting as they walked down the steps at the front of the school, towards the coaches.
Nicki collapsed back down in her uncomfortable seat on the double decker coach. Twenty minutes behind schedule, they were finally on their way – the students had brought with them an inexplicably large stash of all things unhealthy, which they were setting about devouring as her and Tom looked at each other, resigned to the fact that, for the next week, they were probably going to attain five hours sleep between them; if they were lucky.
Grantly, Chalky and Matt, all of whom had arrived later than the students, were sat on the top deck, looking as if they were in need of an enormous dose of caffeine. They had discovered, to their annoyance, that the on board drinks machines didn't work – Grantly had attempted to make himself a cup of tea and been squirted in the face by his drink – prompting a ten-minute tirade about the state of Britain today; although nobody was entirely sure why that was linked to the drinks machines.
"First stop in London; Starbucks." She announced, leaning back and sighing. She'd never liked the taste of coffee, but if it woke her up even a little, then it was worth it. He smiled back at her, and, despite her telling herself that she was as hard as nails and refused to show her feelings, her heart fluttered.
Hope you liked it – reviews are enormously appreciated. I also want to know if I'm the only one who thinks Tom and Nicki should get together! :P