I still need to put up a post about the wonders of New Girl - coming soon, I promise - but in the meantime, have one of the three stories that I've had in my head since the second glorious season ended. It picks up exactly where the last episode (2x25, "Elaine's Big Day") left off. No season 3 spoilers, because I don't know any. Thank you to the inestimable htbthomas, who graciously agreed to beta this for me even after I popped up out of nowhere to beg for a favor, and then did a lovely job. The title is, of course, from the Talking Heads song, one of my all-time favorites.
Two quick announcements: (1) Don't forget to check out the Help Syria fandom auction and offer up some fandom treats and/or bid on someone else! (2) Jake Johnson's new film, Drinking Buddies, is playing in Brooklyn on Thursday. I've got my ticket - anyone want to join me?
And now, on to the fic!
"This Must Be the Place"
They didn't drive off into the night. He made the first right turn and Jess started giggling, sounding giddy and exhausted, like she'd be doing cartwheels if she had the energy and wasn't buckled in like a good girl. After the second right turn, Jess slid across the front seat and tucked herself up, warm and soft, against his side, her head resting on his shoulder like that was the only place for it, and as he took the third right, Nick caught a whiff of her hair and immediately thought home.
So he aimed her clunker of a car in the direction of the loft and felt her smile against his shoulder.
It didn't hit him until he was unpinning her sari from her blouse how much brighter her room was than his — and that he'd followed her in there like he had every right. This was what he'd so nearly walked away from, the chance to see the way she bit her lip as she took her earrings out, the curve of her cheek as she turned her head to put the safety pin into her jewelry box along with the earrings. He was such a fucking idiot.
No, but maybe he wasn't, because the numbers just didn't add up. Jess had told him once that she always loved more, and there just wasn't room in the world for something larger than what he felt for her. This went past infinity, and he could still lose it all if he stayed silent like a dumbass while she was unwinding sparkling cloth from around her body, the silver threads in the blue catching the light —
"What is that?" he blurted out. There had been a floor-length ugly-ass skirt with a drawstring waist held together by like thick, primary-school yarn under her sari the whole time. "Is that like training wheels for this thing?" he asked, hefting the blue fabric.
"It's a petticoat," she said, untying it. "You wear it to have someplace to tuck in the folds of the sari. Pro tip from me to you." She stepped out of the puddle of cloth.
"Makes sense," he said, mouth going dry at the sight of her in tiny cotton panties and her tight sari blouse.
"Like I need training wheels," she scoffed, her fingers suddenly nimble as they undid every fastening on his pants and shirt in record time, and holy god, she was basically Wonder Woman and she had begged him — him! — not to give up on her.
"Jess," he said desperately, fumbling for the words that he needed to say, whether she needed to hear them or not. "I'm gonna try not to be stupid anymore."
"As long as your stupid's all for me, mister," she said, her hands diving past his boxers to get a firm, two-handed grip on his ass, pulling him close enough to kiss, and he really couldn't stand upright anymore.
He drifted awake, his back cold without a blanket or even a sheet, and promptly choked himself into full consciousness. Jess's back was plastered against his front, which meant that his face was full-on pressed into the dark cloud of her hair, and it was getting everywhere: eyes, nose, and mouth. Sleeping Nick was clearly smarter than Awake Nick — look how much sooner he'd figured out Jess was the girl he not only wanted to go to bed with but also wake up with — because Sleeping Nick'd figured out how to still get oxygen into his lungs despite the tentacled creature Jess's hair became when no one was watching. He grabbed it in one big bundle and pushed it up and out of the way. He kissed the soft nape of her neck and drew the blanket up like a cocoon, falling asleep once more.
And in the morning, with the sunlight hitting his eyes, Jess rolled over, tucked her face against his throat, and murmured thank you into his neck.
"For what?" he asked, finger-combing the knots out of her hair.
But she was too busy kissing his neck, his shoulders, anywhere she could reach, to answer him, and it wasn't like he was above that, but he was too unaccustomed to her room to know where she kept condoms. He stroked down her sides gently, finding heat and sliding his fingers inside her, feeling her slick against his fingertips. Her kisses turned to bites — no complaints there — and she fumbled for his dick, shifting to ride his thigh. He was always quick to go off in the mornings, and the sight of her, dark hair tumbling down her bare back, muscles moving under her skin as she jerked him off so sweetly, was enough to set him on a hair-trigger. His fingers plunged up sharply as he came, and she gasped and quivered around them.
She was sprawled half across him, still panting, rocking like a boat tossed by the sea because hell, it wasn't like he had his breathing under control and she was right on top of his rib cage, when she said, "Ugh, and I just washed these sheets."
"I'll throw them in with mine," he offered. "Now that I know where the soap lives."
She laughed then, and rolled out of bed.
"Oh my god, my dad!" she said when she'd pulled on a robe and opened her door.
Nick felt his chest go tight, picturing Bob brandishing any number of weapons, but manned up enough to find his boxers and stand by her side. All he saw was their air mattress, stuffed into a corner next to her door.
"I'll call him after I check on Cece," Jess said, picking it up and bringing it inside her room.
"Shit, I need to check on Winston," Nick said, remembering his friend's bloodied arm.
They squeezed hands and then went their separate ways.
Up close, Bucky's bite was grosser than anything he'd ever seen in a video game, even the ones with the spurting blood and gushing pus. "But they said no rabies?" he asked, because Winston was still looking a little grey, and his eyes had that reddish edge that meant he hadn't slept enough, but Winston needed a lot of sleep.
"Yeah, they said Bucky had had all of his shots since birth, so there was no danger of that, but it's not like they recommend getting bitten by a damn badger." Maybe Winston's fixation on badgers would finally die a merciful death. A whole lot had changed yesterday.
"Yeah," he said, unable to stop looking at the mess of Winston's arm. He caught a glimpse, out of the corner of his eye, of Winston examining his face. "What?" He wondered if Winston could see marks from Jess's mouth on his neck.
"So you went after her," Winston said, smiling, and Nick just knew he was going to try to take all the credit.
"Stop smiling at me, you weirdo. Yeah, we uncalled it."
"I'll be honest with you; I don't think the couch cushions could have taken much more of you going to your dark place over Jess."
"Oh, what, it's somehow different when it's about her?" he asked, unsure if he should be offended.
"Considering she's been making new pillows every time your massive forehead busts one of the old ones wide open and gets stuffing everywhere," Winston said, pausing for dramatic effect, "I'd say, yeah, there's a correlation."
Really? Jess had been making new cushions? And since when had Winston been the observant one?
"Girl's been putting a lot of untapped energy into her crafts corner lately," Winston drawled.
"Well, now she's tapping me instead," he said, laughing at the look that crossed Winston's face. "Hey, you asked." He clapped Winston's good shoulder.
"No shared showers in our bathroom!" Winston shouted as Nick closed the door behind him and set off to find Schmidt.
There was no answer when he knocked on Schmidt's door and he knew better than to open the door uninvited; Schmidt's sexual jungle shouldn't be allowed to colonize any more of his brain than it already, unfortunately, had.
He just wished he knew if Schmidt was even in there, or if he'd run off somewhere to recover from the repercussions of his sabo. Not that Schmidt had a lot of places he could go when his chips were down, but at least if he were here he'd see that not every dream ended up going down the toilet, because Jess had said yes, had been brave enough to say it first, and Nick suddenly felt the need to think through every possibility of what Winston had expressly forbidden.
He'd expected Cece to show up at the loft wearing next to nothing and determined to seduce Schmidt until the cows came home — if Jess was stubborn, Cece was a damn mule — but she clearly lived by some weird samurai code of honor. It couldn't have been any fun for her at her place, with her mom and like half of Mumbai camped out there, but she gave Schmidt plenty of space. He couldn't figure out if Jess was worried about her, mostly 'cause Jess smiled whenever she saw him, which was, no lie, just about the greatest ego-boost ever invented. Bottle that stuff and they'd all be kajillionaires in a week flat.
"Jess," he said, not sure if now was the time to broach the subject, not when she was wearing his shirt and his boxers and had her hair in a low knot against the back of her neck and he just wanted to bite her all over. That was when Schmidt's door opened — finally! after three days! — and Jess zoomed over like the Road Runner. She was about to go in for a hug, but Schmidt was already flinching, so he stopped her before that could get too far. "Hey, Jess, let him have a bathroom break first."
"Yeah," she said, nodding and shooting him a look like he was a damn genius. "Right! I can make tea for now and whatever kind of cookie you want later, Schmidt."
Schmidt just nodded and shuffled dispiritedly off to the bathroom without even a fistbump. Nick had never seen his hair so flat.
"Did you see?" Jess asked in a whisper, pointing to the top of her head, and Nick nodded in answer. "He clearly needs some Tangerine Zinger."
A lot sooner than he'd expected, Schmidt returned from the bathroom, and Jess went to work, putting the mug on the coffee table and settling next to him on the couch. "Schmidt," she said, "I love you."
It was weird, hearing her say it in that smoky voice that had gotten him going from minute one, to someone else while he was in the same room. But she wasn't looking at him now, and Nick admonished himself to straighten up and fly right; this was about Schmidt. Schmidt, who'd crumpled and put his ungroomed head in Jess's lap. "You do?" Schmidt said. "For realsies?"
"Yeah, I do. I love you like a sister," she said earnestly, and Nick watched her hand pet through Schmidt's hair. "But the thing is, there are a couple of ladies out there who love you in a whole other way, and they need you to let them know what you're feeling. When you've worked it out." Her hand was beckoning to him now, so Nick followed her lead and came to sit on the cushion next to Schmidt's feet, dropping a hand to Schmidt's spine.
"Come on, buddy," he said. "You got two great girls wantin' ya —" he started before looking down at Schmidt's pinched, miserable face. This wasn't just the comeuppance of Schmidt the Player. This was Schmidt, who'd never felt loved enough in his whole life — small wonder, with a dick for a dad and a self-involved mom, plus clowns like him and Winston and Coach as his bros — petrified by fear because two women he'd loved were reciprocating. What Schmidt needed now was man-talk. He mimed to Jess that she should push Schmidt his way, stand, and make a graceful exit, but Jess seemed to get confused by his third signal. I got this, he mouthed, and she gave him her best smile yet before she eased out from under Schmidt and closed the door of her room behind her. "Let's go, dude. We'll kill zombies and talk."
There was a loud sniff from Schmidt's general vicinity. "You're volunteering to talk?"
"Only for my turtle, man. We'll have it all figured out like that." Damn it, he'd thought maybe this one time he'd be able to snap, but of course he couldn't.
Schmidt sat up and eyed him, looking a little amused. "It's really not that hard to snap, Nick. I can show you —"
"I don't need snaps to kill zombies!" Nick interrupted, getting up to turn on the game and grab two controllers, and Schmidt laughed.
"And you don't need to be afraid," he continued. "Or, you know, not afraid, but second-guessing or whatever." He held his wireless controller up to Schmidt's temple. "Gun to your head, who do you want to be with tomorrow, or next week, or next year?" Schmidt had stuck by him for ten years, so no way was he gonna be able to pull a douchebag move and say something like three questions get three answers, Nicholas. "Just think about it, and get that zombie on your six."
Jess walked into the bar a week later looking like a million bucks, and he spent the whole time she was walking from the door all the way to the bar trying to figure out what was different. She beamed at him and leaned over — quite possibly giving Sid a clear view straight up the skirt of that little yellow dress — to give him a kiss and he grinned back and leaned forward to meet her halfway. "Sweet Lady J," he heard himself say, wondering where the hell that came from, and then if his brain could come up with anything else along the same lines because she lit up even more, basically a firecracker in oversize glasses at that point.
"So what's the occasion?" he asked. She must have been out in the city all day, since she had knitting needles in her bag — the ones she'd told him were a girl's best friend if she needed to defend herself, with or without yarn.
"I got the job!" she said. "Peg got me the job! She said Dr. Al really liked me!"
"Yeah!" he cheered, putting up a hand for her enthusiastic high-five. "Wait, Peg and Al?"
"Yeah, they have a whole Married ... with Children thing going on. And maybe something with baby goats. No, not like that! Well, maybe like that, I don't know him very well, but Peg wouldn't —"
"C'mere, Ms. Day," he said, cupping her head and pulling her close for a better kiss.
Jess's hands scrabbled along his shoulders to draw him in even closer, and Nick found he missed having her pull him forward by the ass. Not that he was complaining, even though her glasses were digging into his cheek and he was getting a little bit of a crick in the neck from the awkward angle.
"Gold star for you, Mr. Miller," she said when at last she pulled away, just about purring like a damn cat, and he couldn't help giving her the dopiest grin in return.
Jess was sitting at the bar and knitting something that he hoped might be a sweater for him — what, it looked really comfortable and stretchy and soft, and why else was she smiling like that and looking at him out of the corner of her eye every once in a while? She was terrible at the stealth thing — when Schmidt and Winston showed up.
Jess must have recruited Winston as a decoy because she said, "Oh, you're here! Let me see how this looks," and held up the yarn she'd been knitting against Winston's chest.
"Perfect," Winston said, without any notable enthusiasm, but it was a little early for him. Out of pity, Nick made him a virgin version of the tropical punch he craved; when he looked up, both Jess and Schmidt were shaking their heads disapprovingly at him.
"There's no rum in it," he said, knowing Winston wouldn't be able to hear him over his own pleased humming. "And it's fruit — you know, vitamins and stuff. What, it's part of a complete breakfast!"
"Oh, that reminds me!" Jess said, leaning across Schmidt to address Winston, who was already off in his own happy world thanks to the placebo effect. "If you buy extra bananas, I'll make you banana bread you can take to work for your breakfasts."
Winston refused to pull his lips from the swirly straw, but he nodded eagerly. "I'll add it to the list," Schmidt said. "Anything else?"
"Something to celebrate Jess —" Nick said, waiting for her to finish.
"Starting in September, I'll be teaching Language Arts and Social Studies at Coolidge Middle School!" she announced, throwing up victory arms plus devil-horns.
"Whaaaaat?" Winston said in his "naughty" voice, and Schmidt said, "Named after Calvin Coolidge, born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, our only president born on Independence Day?"
"Why do you even know that, Schmidt?" Nick asked, then tried to stop the weird response before it started: "You know what, never mind."
But Schmidt had already started with, "That's the Fourth, son. The Fourth!" It was actually reassuring to hear him slip back into his old speech patterns and not stay silent like he had been. Maybe Schmidt needed more time to figure out his future, and all they could do in the meantime was let him be the trivia master of the loft crew; Schmidt didn't cope very well with change.
"Congratulations, Jess," Winston said. "Hug ball!"
"This is a really important Crochet Time," Jess said, wide-eyed and sincere. "Sadie's baby is due any day now, and we want him to have everything."
Nick couldn't help messing with her just a little bit. She was clearly looking for a solemn nod, but he was rocking his yellow tracksuit and anyway he had an actual question. "Hey, how does an OB/GYN not have more specific timing for the birth of her child than sometime in June?"
Jess's lips twitched. "I can't," she said. "It's so hard to look at you in that thing."
"Oh, so you're saying you want me to take. It. Off?" he said, all slow and sexy, and she just started honking a huge laugh.
"You are ridiculous," she said between giggles.
"What? This is real velour, Jessica!" It was a piece of shit, yes, but it was so comfortable.
"Mmm, yeah, feel the quality," she said, launching herself at him and rubbing against him with her whole body. They were going to die in a static-electricity explosion, and it would be all her fault.
"When is Cece coming?" he asked, feeling her cool hands get up under the top.
"Before you, buster," he heard, and he had to admit that it took balls of steel to rattle off a line like that, considering where his mouth was. No, maybe balls of platinum — when the knock at his bedroom door came, she just sat up and called "Come in!"
Cece peeked around the door, her face lit up by the large bunch of flowers she was carrying, bright yellow with a couple of red ones here and there, and it was really ridiculous how beautiful she was. It was flat-out insane how beautiful she and Jess were together, and where had he and Schmidt ever gotten the nerve? Small wonder Schmidt was scared shitless, knowing that saying yes to her might mean a lifetime of chances to screw it all up. There were so many ways for Schmidt to hurt Cece, for him to hurt Jess, and they couldn't just dumb-luck their way out of all of them, not the way their lives had been up to that point.
But Jess had made clear what would hurt her most was him saying no in the first place. He would have loved her for that alone.
Cece handed the bouquet to Jess. "Congratulations on the job!" she said, then succumbed to a monster yawn. "Sorry, still not back on L.A. time."
Nick took a look at her face, at the dark circles under her eyes, and wondered whether, exhausted as she was, Cece was still a better boyfriend than he was. Why hadn't he thought of flowers?
"I'll just put these in water, and we can go into my room," Jess said.
There was a silence after she left, and Nick patted the bed where he was still lounging, casually, like the tracksuit didn't give away the fact that he had like a plank in his pants. "You doing okay?" he asked.
Cece smiled at him and sat down. She had eyes as big as Jess's, so he doubted she missed his dick standing at attention, but she was nice enough to pretend she hadn't seen a thing. "My family finally went away, so that's been good. I've just been traveling a lot for work." She picked at a loose thread on his sleeping bag. "It looks like you two are good, right? I don't need to give you the talk?"
"I believe you could kill me, Cece," he promised, "but let's not forget Jess put me in the hospital by herself last year, so I doubt you'd even get the chance to finish me off."
"Lucky for you, because I'd make it real slow, Miller," Cece said, standing to go.
The pistachios in his Frisbee weren't enough to take the edge off his hunger, so he went into the kitchen to make himself a sandwich. On his way back, he heard from behind Jess's door, which was open just a crack, Cece saying, "I'm living vicariously here, Jess. I've seen the picture, but does he know how to use it?"
This was his nightmare, waiting to hear that he was "nice" or that he "tried really hard" like he was in it for a damn Participant ribbon. But Jess said, in a deeply satisfied voice, "Oh, yeah."
Clicking his heels was about as realistic as freeze-framing, so he fist-pumped instead, nearly losing his sandwich and beer.
"Really?" Cece sounded more curious than skeptical, so he'd forgive her. Plus, he wanted to know, too.
"I just want to sit on his face, like 24/7. He is good. And his skin, like right here, is so soft, and he lets me spoon him and just stick my face there when we fall asleep."
Hey, so that's what that was all about, because he would never in a million years have thought he'd be the little spoon. Go, skin between his shoulder blades! At least it had solved the problem of her tentacular hair smothering him to death.
"Kudos, Miller," Cece muttered, so Nick took a bow behind the door and retreated into his room before they heard him doing any and the crowd goes wild! noises.
Oh, right — that's why flowers were a bad idea. They made Winston sneeze, and his pogo livelier than ever. It was a little traumatic, honestly, and Nick made sure he explained the situation to Jess and Schmidt with enough detail that no bouquet would ever cross the threshold of 4D again.
And good for Winston for figuring it out and turning it into personalized Viagra. He'd seen Daisy taking the stairs to the roof, wearing a cheerleader uniform and holding a rose between her teeth.
Schmidt came into the bar looking like a weight had been taken off his shoulders and waving away the Heisler that Nick held up. "I can see my way forward now," Schmidt said, "and I need to see Elizabeth and Cece tonight to let them know. I just wanted to say thank you, Nick."
He really should have seen it coming, but he didn't in time; he ended up shrugging and relaxing into Schmidt's earnest kiss, hopefully for the last time.
He closed up the bar, headed home, and got straight into the shower; there'd been an idiot with zero hand-eye coordination at the bar who'd kept signaling for a new drink with a full one in his hand, which meant that the liquor he was paying for kept ending up on the oak instead of in his belly.
He flicked the switch in his room and jumped a little, his back hitting the door, when he saw Jess in his bed, squinting against the light. "What're you doing here?" he asked. "I thought you'd be with Cece in case —"
"She said she'd need me tomorrow, and that she wanted to be alone tonight no matter what Schmidt decided," Jess said. "And I didn't want to sleep tonight without you." She kicked the sheets down and he could see she was wearing his second-oldest Cubs shirt and a pair of striped panties. Her face was soft and hopeful, like he was going to say not tonight.
He dropped the towel. She opened her arms, making grabby hands like he wasn't reaching her fast enough, and he felt her legs go around his waist as soon as he settled down to kissing her. He pushed her shirt up, up, up as he kissed her, the softness of her chest warming away the last drops of water left on his, and ducked his head down to her breasts. That wasn't what she wanted, though, and he knew it, had heard it from her own lips, so he kept shifting down, pulling at her waistband with his teeth.
She shivered, and he couldn't tell if it was his wet hair against one thigh or his beard against the other that set her off. All he knew was that he was dying to do this, to be the guy that did this for her, and he set to work, stripping her bare and then kissing her feather-light on her downy thighs.
At her choked moan, he looked all the way up her body to her face; she had her arm thrown over her eyes like the light he'd forgotten to turn off was blinding her. She looked electric. She tasted it too, that tang of her too much to be contained by his mouth, so that she plastered her juices all over his face and goddamn but that was satisfying, hearing the way she panted and gasped when he pushed her legs apart, thumbs against the hardness of bone, and made a meal of the softness between. He knew enough to keep his mouth slack, more suction than force, and let her ride the bump in his nose — thank god it got broken to fit her just right. She skidded her heels up his back and screamed like he was pulling her into tiny shreds with his mouth.
It took a long time — a gratifyingly long time, which he lengthened by keeping his mouth on her, soft and undemanding — for her to come back to him and release her death-grip on his hair. "I think you've found your calling," she said, doing her best to haul him up; he knew what she was doing and went, letting her kiss him for uncounted moments. "But I thought tonight was my night to really get to know the girls."
He lifted his head from her neck to try to figure out what the hell she was talking about from the look in her eyes. She was giving him a significant glance, with lots of eyebrow-wiggling, but that was her signal for all kinds of things, so he was stumped, and maybe a little distracted by how her skin'd gone from soft and tender to sleek with sweat and burnished with pleasure; he had done that to her, had made her sharp and hungry and satisfied. "What girls?"
He just about swallowed his tongue when she rolled them over and slithered down the bed, stopping only when her chin was hovering above his dick. "These two," she said, with a wicked smile he could've seen even if the room had been pitch-black. "Sharon Sinister and Sharon Dexter," she said, dropping a kiss on each. "Hello, ladies. I believe I already know the big man between you."
Goddamn, she was friendly.
When they woke up, he turned over to get his arms around her. "Nick," she whispered into his chest, "I don't think I can walk. You basically broke me."
"'S okay," he said, pulling her on top of him so the sunshine would hit her back. "You don't have anywhere to be. We're home."
As always, I'd love to hear what you think!
This same entry also appears on Dreamwidth, at http://innie-darling.dreamwidth.org/428523.html.