Disclaimer: New Girl is not mine. Not for profit.
A/N: This is a companion piece to Small Gestures. It would probably help to read that first, but is not completely necessary.
Nick is smiling so hard his cheeks are hurting. He's never been this happy. It's like it's bursting out of him, making him want to dance and cry and laugh all at once. All the colours seem brighter than usual. Everything is shiny and vibrant and almost unreal. And there she is, with white flowers in the dark waves of her hair, unable to stop herself skipping as she walks down the aisle. She's radiating joy, and Nick can feel her love wrapping itself around him.
Then he realises she's not looking at him. She's looking past him. Nick follows her gaze, and sees him standing there, waiting for her. The nerdy little IT for Beginners guy, Greg or whatever his name was. Okay, so Nick knows his name. It's ingrained into his brain, because Jess keeps singing it as she dances around the house before every date. Greg's standing there, in his boring black tux, waiting for Jess to make it down the aisle.
Nick looks down, and sees that he's wearing a dress. It's pink, with polka dots, and he's standing between Cece and Sadie, holding flowers.
Huh. Weird dream. Nick rolled over, groaning, and pressed his pillow over his head so he wouldn't have to hear Jess and her new boyfriend laughing in the kitchen. Who got up at this time of day anyway? He banged his head on his mattress and scowled. Jess's laugh carried from the kitchen, piercing his brain. He usually liked the sound, but this morning it made him hate things. He crawled out of bed and didn't bother putting on pants before he went to get coffee.
Nick sat beside the absurdly cheerful Greg and tried his hardest not to hate him. They didn't talk. Nick didn't know what to say to him. They had nothing in common. The guy was weirdly into board games and computers, and the only thing he and Nick had to talk about was Jess. Nick didn't want to talk to him about Jess. Particularly after that super weird dream last night. It wasn't like Nick actually wanted to marry Jess or anything. Sleeping Nick was a totally different person. And yet…
"I don't need you to make me breakfast," he growled at Jess when she offered it. He tried really hard to believe he was annoyed at her for being too perky in the morning, and not for anything else. Especially not for marrying someone else last night.
"I picked the blueberries out," she said, looking at him with big blue eyes.
He caved and ate it, because he was weak, and because he could see he was hurting her feelings, and because he had no right to be mad at her for something she hadn't actually done. And even if she had done it, he would have no reason to be mad at her, because him and Jess, they weren't a thing.
He ate as fast as he could, and then disappeared back to his room to give the lovebirds some private time, and also to bang his head on the wall until the image of them making goo-goo eyes at each other was no longer burned into his brain.
"Are you mad at me?" Jess asked him one night before Greg came over.
"No, Jess, I'm not mad at you," he lied, because she looked hurt, and he had absolutely no right to be mad at her.
"Then why are you acting like this?" she snapped. "I really like this guy, Nick, why do you have to be such a jerk?"
"I'm not being a jerk," he snapped back, even though he knew he was. "I'm just giving you guys some privacy."
"Well, we want to hang out with you, Nick, so tonight you're hanging out with us and not being rude to him."
"Fine, whatever," Nick said.
He sat on the sofa beside Jess and watched football and concentrated on not bludgeoning Greg to death when he cheered for the wrong team.
Greg didn't seem to like him much either, even when he was trying his best to be nice, for Jess's sake.
This guy was really into public displays of affection. It was creepy. In Nick's opinion, kissing, nuzzling, snuggling, in fact pretty much any touching at all should be done in private. Especially hand holding.
And that totally wasn't because it made him feel kind of nauseous every time he had to watch Greg and Jess doing their weirdo version of flirting.
He just left the room when he saw it starting because that kind of stuff was private.
"Hey, Jess, you're a girl, right?"
"An astute observation, Nicholas," she said, scooping eggs onto his plate.
He grinned at her. This was nice. He'd missed hanging out with her in the mornings. "Wanna help me choose my Ma a birthday present?" He nonchalantly took a bite of eggs, because it really wasn't a big deal if she didn't want to hang out with him.
"I think that sounds like a fantastic idea," she announced, doing a little twirl around the kitchen, "I am a great present chooser."
"An elephant?" He chuckled at her, later at the mall. "You think I should give my Ma a stuffed elephant for her birthday."
"Yes," she insisted. "Who wouldn't want a stuffed elephant?"
He attacked her with it, laughing.
She named it Elvis, and made it trumpet at passers-by while they ate lunch.
Nick kept the elephant. He hid it in his closet and sent his mother chocolates. He didn't know why.
"Aubergine is not a colour, Jess!" he shouted. She could be so infuriating sometimes.
"It is a colour," she insisted, "Schmidt, tell him it's a colour."
"It's a colour," Schmidt confirmed.
"That shirt is purple!" Nick told her, "And I'm not wearing it."
"It's not purple, it's aubergine, and you are wearing it, because you need a shirt that doesn't make you look like a grumpy old man."
"For the last time, Jess, I don't wear old man clothes, and aubergine is not a colour, it's just another word for purple."
"It is a colour. There are different kinds of purple, Nick. Aubergine is not the same as lavender or violet or heliotrope or magenta—"
"See, you just admitted it was purple. And heliotrope? That is not a real thing."
"You can't just pick the phone up on the first ring, Jess! It takes the person by surprise."
"People like it when you pick up straight away. You think I should just leave it ringing until they almost give up?"
"Three rings, Jess. Or ten seconds, whichever comes first. Give them a little time to prepare."
"Why would they need time to prepare? They're calling me. They already know what they're going to say."
Nick pulled his hood up over his eyes to hide his face. He'd thought this was just going to be a nice, normal trip to the supermarket, but there she was, dancing in front of the instant noodles.
"Remember how we talked about appropriate times and places for tap-dancing, Jess?" He lowered his hood and marched over to her. Someone had to stop the insanity, and good ol' Greg was examining the pasta sauce and pretending not to know her. "This is not one of them."
"I was just breaking the tension," she said pitifully. "You're not even trying to like him."
Well, that just wasn't true. Nick was trying so hard to like him. Or at least seem like he liked him. But Greg just got on his nerves. And jumped up and down and twisted them. It wasn't like there was even a legitimate reason for Nick to dislike him, and that annoyed him even more. Objectively, Greg was a perfectly nice guy, if a little boring. It made it so much harder for Nick to pretend that the reason he didn't like him was nothing to do with being crazy jealous. "What, are you going to parent trap us next? Lock us in the bathroom together?"
He mentally kicked himself as her eyes lit up. Note to self: Do not give Jess ideas.
He helped Jess decorate the Christmas tree, complaining and laughing at her enthusiasm the whole time. For a while that day, he forgot all about Greg, and it was just like old times. Nick and Jess, hanging out, bickering and disagreeing and having more fun than either of them had with anyone else. Nick would take it. He would take best friends over nothing at all.
As long as he could spend time with her, and have her be herself.
He started spending more time with her again, giving her advice, and asking her opinion, and just talking about nothing. She stopped trying to make him come when she did things with Greg.
He bought her a blue ukulele for Christmas because he saw it in the window and immediately thought of her.
He missed his flight home because he misjudged the traffic. It wasn't on purpose, no matter what Schmidt or his mother said.
He could feel Greg looking at him all Christmas Day, but couldn't quite seem to care. Jess was Nick's best friend. There was no reason why they shouldn't enjoy each other's company. So he put the zombie she knitted him into his shirt pocket, peering out at the room, and let her try to teach him some ukulele.
When he left on Boxing Day, he took the zombie home to show his Ma. She knitted sometimes. She would appreciate the effort that had gone into it.
When Nick arrived back from Chicago, Jess, Winston, Cece and Schmidt were sitting on the sofas, watching Dirty Dancing.
"Greg broke up with me," Jess said, looking surprisingly okay with it.
Nick pulled her into a one-armed hug. "I'm sorry," he said.
Jess rested her head on his shoulder. "It's okay," she said, "I think we both knew we weren't right together."
"I'm sorry anyway," said Nick. And it was true.
Everything went back to normal after that, except that Jess had a blue ukulele, and Nick had a zombie in his pocket and an elephant in his room.