I know I know... I kind of dropped off the grid there for a little while (alright alright almost a year and a half). There have been SO many changes in my life (that I'm not going to bore you with). I stopped writing for awhile, but my friend and I were discussing New Girl the other day and this popped into my head and wouldn't go away until I got it down on paper. I'm not making any promises (I did just start writing again) but I will try and get to my WIP, promise.

N


It's not that she's avoiding the loft, or the people within it, when she leaves early the morning after her disastrous date. It's just, if Jess is really honest with herself, easier than having to deal with than the numbing ache that has settled deep into her bones. After lying in bed most of the night, her eyes focused on the cracks on her ceiling (while her mind is entirely focused on everything else), she just needs fresh air and a quiet place to clear all the cobwebs out of her head.

The problem is, though, that she's not entirely sure where to go to be alone. It's early enough that the roads are fairly empty, but it won't stay that way for long. There is heaviness in the air, an almost thick and palpable heat that curls around her and burns through her lungs. She hops into her car and drives aimlessly, hoping for some sort of sign to give her direction.

Jess drives for quite awhile, never finding any sign of where she should go or what she should do. Instead she finds a small strip of beach that looks pretty much completely deserted. She pulls her car into the empty lot and sits for just a moment, watching the waves crash against the sand, before she hops out and heads down closer to the water.

Her eyes are burning and she's not really sure if it's from the unshed tears she can feel building up behind her eyes or from the fact that she got little to no sleep the night before. Pulling off her shoes and burrowing her feet into the soft sand, she lets out a sigh. There are so many questions, so many worries floating through her brain. One constant thought won't leave her, though, and she finds herself walking closer to the water letting it lap gently at her feet.

She's always been the one to care more, to love effortlessly with little thought. Things are different this time; Nick is her best friend and there is more at stake, more to lose, and she's really not sure what her life would look like without him in it. As hard as she tries, she can't picture it. It's this thought that breaks her out of her numbness.

It shouldn't hurt as much as it does.

She closes her eyes and listens to her heart until the tears stop falling.

There seems to be this misconception about her, that she's all sunshine and daisies, that nothing fazes her, that she doesn't know how to be real. It's absurd really and Jess knows as much. She's far from perfect and as much as it pains her to admit it, she feels just as much as everyone else.

Right now, all she really feels is broken.

Her toes squish through the wet sand, as she swings her shoes back and forth in her hand, and contemplates her next move. Suggesting middle school dance rules had been more of a self preservation technique than anything else. And yes, she knows how silly it sounded. There's really no way for them to forget the things they've said and done. The line between them is so blurred that she finds herself toeing it almost daily not really sure which side she's on.

It's confusing, irritating, and so damn frustrating.

It doesn't take long for the beach to fill up with people and the hum and chatter around her only seems to make her want to draw further into herself. She slips her shoes over her sandy feet, nose scrunching up at the uncomfortable feeling and makes her way back to her car. There are tear tracks lined on her red and blotchy face and she uses her hands to rub them out until they are barely noticeable.

Her phone pings in the cup holder in front of her and she ignores it, her eyes tracing the black bags under her eyelids. Avoidance has never been her strong point, but all she really wants to do is crawl into bed and avoid the world for a little while. Turning the keys in her ignition, Jess finds herself driving back towards the loft. She rolls down her windows, letting the sunshine and warm air swirl around her, and breathes in deeply feeling something shift within her.

The living room is empty, silent, and she finds herself letting out the breath she was holding with a sigh. There's a pot of coffee, half empty, sitting next to the coffee pot and her tea kettle sits waiting for her on the back burner of the stove. She runs her fingers along the countertop, her eyes settling for just a moment on their table before she feels her cheeks flush. Shaking her head in embarrassment, she drops her phone and purse onto the counter before kicking off her shoes. The sand grinds between her toes and she finds herself heading for the bathroom instead of her bedroom.

Turning on the shower, she lets the warm water run over her legs and feet, her fingers brushing the sand away; she watches it swirl down the drain. The front door slams and she hears a muffled voice and then footsteps. The bathroom door whips open and Nick stands before her, his white shirt untucked and wrinkled. His hair is spiked in all different directions and he runs his hand through it, tugging slightly on the ends, and lets out a sigh.

"I found her," he murmurs into his phone before clicking it closed and dropping it into his pants pocket. He watches her for a moment with an unreadable expression on his face and then he grabs her towel off of the rack and holds it out to her. It's like a peace offering being held between them, and as much as she wants to reach out and take it something stops her. She watches him move, for once seeming to understand everything that's not being said. He flicks off the water and wraps the towel around her feet, sopping up the water and brushing the last remnants of sand off.

There are scratches on her skin from the sand and it stings slightly as she flexes her feet. He holds his hand out to her and helps her stand up, his fingers gripping hers tightly; holding her steady. Jess is sure that she looks like a mess; her simple pink dress hanging limply around her, her hair twisted and clipped up of her neck, her face bare of makeup. It makes her feel exposed, vulnerable in some way.

"Are you alright?" he whispers. There's worry lining his face and his brow furrows in concentration as his eyes skim over her. They finally settle on hers and she finds herself unable to speak. He seems to understand, though, his mouth turning down slightly at the sides. Gripping her hand, he gently leads her out of the bathroom and sets her down on the couch.

A sort of shock goes through her like a lightning bolt and she finds herself taking a deep shuddering breath. It's then that she finally knows, understands something that's been flickering on the edges of her consciousness for days. He doesn't have to see her break down to know how broken she is because as much as they fight and bicker, they also know each other (probably better than anyone else ever has).

"I just," her voice breaks and Jess shakes her head, eyes closing. "It hurts." It's probably the first honest thing he's heard her say in days. She lets a few loose strands of her hair cascade over her face as he tries to formulate a response. There's nothing he can really say, though, to make it any better. Not when he knows that he's the one that's causing her pain.

He plops down on the couch next to her, his thigh pressing lightly against the side of hers and she can feel the heat of him permeating through the thick fabric of his pants. She shifts uncomfortably, her hands tugging on the end of her dress, before she finally just relaxes back with a loud sigh.

"Everything is all messed up now," he murmurs. His voice is thick with sadness and she finds herself turning her head to look at him better. He stumbles over his next words and her heart breaks a bit as she watches the fa├žade he builds around himself slowly crumble. "And it's entirely my fault. I just wanted to give us a chance, wanted to see what this was between us."

It's the most Nick's opened up to her in weeks and she feels her breath catching in her throat. Her teeth nibble on her bottom lip and as hard as she tries to look away from him, she can't. "It's not entirely your fault," she murmurs. Their kiss is soft, tentative, and he can feel the heat of her body pressing against him, the warmth radiating between them and searing through his clothes. "Please," she whimpers, "just please Nick." She nips at his bottom lip, her tongue soothing the sting and he jerks back; breaths escaping in a pant.

He clenches his eyes tight listening to the sound of her pleas and as much as it breaks his heart, he can't be that person again. He can't be the one to hurt her. "You're beautiful Jess," his voice is firm, resolute, and he watches her eyes close, rejection flushing across her face. He lets his hand move from her neck to her chin, cupping it gently in his palm. "Look at me," he whispers.

"You're beautiful," his voice breaks on the words and she sits quiet, stunned for just a moment, before the tears begin to tumble down her face. He runs his hand gently down her back, his fingers splaying along her spine. Her nerves are frayed, her breaths shuttered. "You deserve so much," he mumbles, "so much more than I can ever give you." She hears the words that he's not uttering, the truth lurking behind the statement and feels something crack inside of her.

His hand rubs against her back one last time before he gets up off the couch, his shoulders slouched slightly as he shuffles his feet. His hands rub along his face and she sees the tear streaks lining his cheeks. The loft door opens and she hears Winston and Schmidt arguing about who gets first dibs on the phone charger. Nick makes his way quickly down the hall and into his room, the loud click of the door echoing through the open air.

"Don't disappear on us anymore," Winston grumbles, his eyes gazing down the hall towards the closed door. "You get everyone all worked up and worried." It's clear on both of their faces who was really worried and she finds herself running her hands along the hem of her dress, the fabric scraping at her palms.

"Sorry," Jess grumbles, "I just needed some fresh air."

"Then open your bedroom window," Schmidt replies with a shake of his head, "or at least leave us a note. And who doesn't answer their phone when someone calls." He holds his hands up in exasperation, "I mean are we living in the 21rst century or what."

She ignores his frustration at her and finds herself getting up off the couch, wincing slightly at the brief pain that twinges through her feet. Winston heads for the charger and she hears Schmidt make some brusque reply. Ignoring them both, she makes her way down the hall and stops in front of Nick's door, her hand resting against the wood for a moment before she knocks.

"Go away Jess," he grumbles and she can't help the smile that flutters across her face. Pushing the door open, she's unsurprised to find him sprawled out on his bed, his arms resting over his face. "What part of go away do you not understand," he growls dropping his arms to his sides. He looks like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders and she finds herself shrugging her shoulders in response.

"Pretty much all of it," she replies. It's like it's the first time she's really seeing him, all of him, and she can't help the smile that flutters across her face.

"This isn't funny," his voice is angry, upset and he pushes himself off the bed and moves towards her. "This is my space and you need to get out." He steps closer to her, his hands clenching and unclenching as her back brushes up against his door. He's trying to hold himself together, but she can see him falling apart at the seams. It hits her then just how much they need each other. Her hand reaches out and brushes against his shirt, resting just over his heart.

As terrifying and as uncertain as everything is, one of them has to be the one to jump. Clenching her eyes tight and taking a deep breath she thinks about every worry and concern that she has. She picks each one up in her mind and squeezes, crumbling them like sand through her fingers.

"Shut up Miller," and tilting her head to the side, she aligns her lips with his. Her hands cup the back of his head, her fingers curling through his hair drawing him down. He braces himself with a hand against his door, allowing himself to be drawn closer to her. Daintily she uses the moist tip of her tongue to probe at his lips. She feels his muscles tense; his teeth gently nip at her lower lip.

"Nick?"

"Christ, jess."

The hand bracing him against the wall falls away. She feels herself being propelled backwards; absorbing the weight of his body, becoming sandwiched between him and the door. One arm curls hard and tight around her waist while the other captures her jaw holding her in place. He pulls back momentarily, his eyes meeting hers.

She can see so much in the depths of them; lust, frustration, desperation, hope, and above all love.