I participated in a very fun challenge earlier in the summer, run by some of the best people I know: Sitcomathon 2014! I received two fantastic stories by the amazing fearlessfan, who clearly went above and beyond - Three Weddings (The Mindy Project, Danny/Mindy) and one for my lost little show, Enlisted, Derrick's Birthday. I haven't read any of the fics for the challenge other than these two, but if they're any indication, the quality of the stories is ridiculously high, and you will have a great time meandering through the collection.
I got assigned one of the rockstar mods, my friend blithers, who wanted a New Girl AU featuring girl!Nick, played by Anna Kendrick. I'd honestly never thought of sex-swapping Nick, who seems like a dummy in a very particularly male way, but once the idea took hold, I got going, and ended up with a story blithers seemed to like. So here it is, featuring not just girl!Nick/Jess, but also promiscuous Schmidt and Winston/Cece. Rated PG-13/Teen. Kyra did a lovely beta on this for me.
"You rock a lot of plaid," Jess says one day, friendly as can be, and holds her hand up patiently until Nick gives in and high-fives her. There's so much about Jess that takes getting used to – the way she calls the shrimpy snotrags she teaches "my kids" and swears they're great, the way she sings little nonsense snatches of songs, the way she can't open jars or bottles without a lot of excessive sighing or grunting – but this is the worst, her bright shining face and open heart.
This is why Nick had said, like, a year ago, that Jess couldn't move in, because she could see that Jess would kill them all in an explosion of glitter. But Schmidt had had to think with his dick after seeing Cece, and Winston, still jet-lagged, had just calmly kept on eating nachos during the vote, unmoved by Nick's pleas that abstaining was un-American.
Jess had moved in with actual suitcases and an enormous crocheted tote bag that she seemed to be using like hand luggage, stuffed with what she deemed to be her absolute essentials. There was a Dirty Dancing DVD in there, and that'd been all Nick needed to see to know that she'd been right, this whole thing would end in disaster. She was on her way out the door, three hours early for her shift at the bar, when Jess stopped singing along to the movie and sniffling to say something about Nick's boyfriend. "Wait, what?" Nick asked.
"Schmidt. How long've you guys been together?" Jess repeated, blotting her face with a crumpled tissue.
"We met in college, but we're not – we're not together," Nick said, shaking her head, and Jess's face started to beam sympathy, like she and Nick were girlfriends and gossip buddies, like Nick was forlorn, pining away for a man with a hair-chutney caddy that was taking up valuable real estate in the bathroom.
What made it really embarrassing, though, was that Nick'd always measured her boyfriends by Schmidt and in the back of her mind she thought of him as the guy she was gonna end up with in some weird platonic arrangement, just like the one he thought his mom had with that woman Andrea. If that day came, it wouldn't be like she'd miss sex – it'd never been that great, and even Carl, who'd had three goddamn years to get it right, had been hit or miss when it came to her orgasms. Schmidt would never get into her pants, but judging by the noises she heard from his room, he must be pretty good. Still, she knew how resolutely he kept love and sex separate, and she'd rather stay the one he celebrated anniversaries with than yet another girl he hit and quit.
There's a light in the kitchen that's been flickering for a couple of weeks, and since their landlord's mercifully still ignorant of the fact that they've got four people living in a space that should accommodate only three, they've collectively decided to just live with it.
One night, three beers in, it's too much for Nick to take. She keeps the light on – turning it off would mean that it'd won – and stalks over to the sofa with another bottle of Heisler to stake her claim on the corner seat. There's just skin flicks and Celebrity Poker Showdown reruns on at this time of night, and before she can get even more worked up about how irritating the universe is being, Winston walks out of his room, dressed up all nice in a suit and tie. Like anyone at the radio station cares what he looks like when he's murmuring sweet roundball nothings to the insomniacs.
"Hey," Nick calls, keeping her voice low enough not to wake up Jess and Schmidt and Schmidt's girl of the moment, and gestures for him to meet her in the kitchen. She points up at the flickering light. "That thing's driving me crazy. Give me a boost?"
Winston rolls his eyes at her but makes a step with his hands. Nick gets a firm grip on the top of the cabinets and stretches to tap the light fixture with her free hand. "You have to turn it off before – you know you're not actually fixing anything just by touching it, right?" Winston asks.
"Like a faith healer?" Nick asks, because that episode of Supernatural had just been on last week, and it'd had her riveted.
"I am not getting into this with you," Winston says, trying to turn his wrist to check his watch even though there's a clock on the stove that's probably right.
Her foot slips in his hand. "Hey, watch it!" she hisses, doubling her grip on the cabinet ledge.
"What's going on?" she hears, and – this is her nightmare – there's Jess in a set of little shortie pajamas printed with dancing jars of jam and her hair piled on top of her head in a bun, blinking curiously up at her with those big eyes that look even bigger from behind her dweeb glasses. Nick should probably tell her, girl to girl, that those glasses do nothing to camouflage her hotness.
Winston is the best bro ever, because instead of making some dumb joke at her expense or taking the opportunity to leer at Jess, he just sighs quietly and says, "Nick needed a boost. She's fixing the light."
"Ohhhh!" Jess says. "Can I help?"
Now that she's up here, Nick figures she might as well go whole hog. "My toolkit's in my room."
"Wait!" Winston says, and Jess actually freezes in mid-step like a cartoon character. "No one should go into that danger zone unprepared. Jess, swap with me, and I'll get the kit and then get to work."
"Oh, okay!" Jess says, and Nick is left clinging like a baby monkey to the cabinets while these two jerks do their hand-off. Jess's fingers are cooler than Winston's, and her thumbs start tapping out a really annoying rhythm against Nick's ankle. Nick tells herself firmly that she is not ticklish and that it doesn't matter that Jess can probably see right up her boxers. Winston probably could too, now that she thinks about it.
Winston emerges from Nick's room with the gallon-sized freezer bag that she uses as a toolbox and hands it up to her. Winston pointedly turns off the flickering light, flips another switch on, gives them both a salute, and heads for the door with a banana in his hand. Then it's just her and Jess, who's humming, tapping, and dancing in place, and Nick wishes she'd never had this particular brainwave. More than that, she wishes Jess didn't have so many inches and pounds on her – see if Jess liked being the one in the air, swaying with every beat of Nick's stupid-ass solo dancing.
Nick pops the fixture casing off and peers up at the wires dangling down. One of them looks kinda frayed, and she knew she shouldn't have spit out that gum she'd been chewing, but electrical tape will probably work just as well. She wraps it up as best she can, feeling like she's balancing on stilts. Jess does a pretty good job of staying steady, but it doesn't help that Nick can feel the soft pliancy of boobs against her calf, which has apparently suddenly decided to go all ticklish and prudish. Like, at this point, her calf is basically a Victorian maiden aunt, scandalized by a bosom.
She shoves the casing back up with what might be unnecessary force.
"Done?" Jess asks, and steers her over to the counter; Nick steps on it briefly and hops down, but Jess hasn't moved, so they end up chest-to-chest, well within what Dirty Dancing has informed her is each other's dance space. Instead of backing away like a normal person, Jess leans forward to flip the switch, so Nick's nose is buried in her hair, and the light comes on – steady and unblinking. "Whoo!" Jess says, still sort of quietly, because even she has the sense to avoid whatever tantrum Schmidt would throw at being disturbed at this time of night. "Three cheers for a Nick-fix!" She stops and ducks her head, then pushes her glasses up her nose. "You can probably tell I was never a cheerleader."
"Me neither," Nick says, shrugging instead of saying she's always had a soft spot for spazzes. Jess takes that as a declaration of undying friendship, apparently, because she wraps her arms all the way around Nick and clings like a nice-smelling barnacle.
Schmidt's ragging on Nick about her hair, testing one curl at a time between his fingers, and muttering about jojoba oil. Schmidt is capable of all kinds of underhandedness whenever Nick's beating him at video games.
"And that's just for starters," he says, and Nick, focusing on blowing the heads off zombies, blurts back that she'd rather just cut it all off than have to deal with any more lectures about her own damn hair. Jess's hand shoots into the air so fast that her knitting is up around her head like a flag, and Nick, already pre-traumatized by the thought of having a stranger touching her head, somehow agrees to let Jess cut her hair.
So here she is, a towel draped over her shoulders, sheets of the latest L.A. Weekly on the kitchen floor, and the smell of Jess's cherry-blossom shampoo rising up from her damp hair. Jess is dragging a comb through her hair, and that shampoo must have secret knot-undoing powers, because Nick's head hasn't been jerked by the comb catching on a single snag. Jess is careful but quick, humming some damn thing under her breath, and Nick sternly keeps her eyes open instead of wriggling with pleasure and purring like a damn cat when Jess puts down the comb and rakes her nails against Nick's scalp. It feels obscene.
It's easier, for some reason, to avoid melting into a puddle of goo when Jess switches from humming to talking, babbling about wanting to impress Paul in bed and asking Nick for tips. Like Nick is some shining example of how to please a man. Like Nick has to agree that Paul, fucking Paul, is worth all of this time and energy. Like Nick's supposed to just go about her life now, knowing that Jess wants to ride Paul all the livelong day.
"Just take off your clothes," Nick finally says, wondering if Jess even hears her over the sound of the scissors hacking away at her hair.
"That's it?" Jess asks, still cutting her hair in what feels like haphazard chunks. "You don't have any, like, secret moves to share?"
Nick has moves, moves that would blow Paul's fragile little mind.
"Not really. Being naked is half the battle." That's when she remembers Jess talking about the naked shenanigans that had led to the discovery of Spencer's infidelity, which culminated in Jess moving into the loft. "Trust me, that's all he'll want anyway." There's no reason for her to feel weird about this conversation, she tells herself firmly. There's even less reason to picture all of it happening, except that all she'd had for dinner was a gigantic block of neon-orange cheese, and eating chipless nachos always does funny things to her brain. Her stomach gurgles unhappily.
"Done!" Jess says, whipping the towel off Nick's shoulders with all the showmanship of a magician doing the whisk-the-tablecloth-away trick. Nick shakes her head like her old dog Barkley used to, and Jess squeals in protest while holding up a mirror. Somehow, Jess has managed to give her a cute asymmetrical bob that makes her look less like plain old frizzy-haired Nick and more like a bilingual au pair with sleek, vaguely French curls. It's a very eloquent hairstyle.
"Free rosé for you for a month," Nick says, giving her reflection some hot finger-gun action, and Jess beams and says, "You're welcome."
Things have been tense in the loft for the past month or so, what with Schmidt sulking that Cece's been riding Winston like he's her personal limo to Pleasuretown and retaliating by bringing home noisier and noisier girls. Like the decibels they generated would be all it took to get Cece to reconsider who she was boning. But Jess had proposed a roommate bonding session of True American, giving Nick a completely inscrutable look, and now Nick is kind of enjoying her hangover buzz on this nice, quiet Sunday afternoon.
There's no writing on the wall, and she's thinking, actually, that life is pretty good.
That's when the light she'd fixed pops, shooting off bright arcs of sparks and releasing a stench like burning hair. Winston throws himself over Cece, and Schmidt starts working himself up into a tizzy about how that could have happened when Nick was trying to fix it, and does she want to end up burned to a crisp now that she's finally got a decent haircut, and is she trying to give him a heart attack? Because there's only so much he can take.
In all of the excitement, Nick forgets to worry about where Jess is. Until Jess shows up with their creeper landlord in tow, brightly claiming that these kinds of problems are his responsibility. Cece and Winston have already taken off for his bedroom, and Schmidt, suspiciously wet-eyed, is being way too slow on the uptake, but Nick hopes that if the guy thinks it's just her and Jess and Schmidt living here, they might just get away with it. If Cece and Winston can keep it down for once in their goddamn lives.
They don't, of course, and Nick tries to cover by saying, "Oh, that's mine. Yeah, I was watching porn when you stopped by, sir." The landlord gives her an approving up-and-down look that makes her want to scrub herself for at least a year, but Jess looks confused. Nick sees Jess's mouth open, and she keeps talking, hoping Jess will subside. "Yup, porn. The sport of kings. Good times, you know it." She feels like a prize idiot, but at least the landlord looks unlikely to count noses while he's in the loft.
The minute he leaves to go get his ladder and toolbox, Nick turns on Jess. "The lease says three people, Jess! What the hell did you bring him up here for?"
"How was I supposed to know?" Jess whisper-yells back, like now she's getting the point of discretion. "And, I'm sorry, but I'm not living with a kitchen that's an electrocution danger zone. I bake in here!"
Schmidt puts up his hands like he can't deal with any more drama – which has to be a first for him – and Nick is still glaring at Jess, trying to come up with an answer, when the landlord comes back. Jess seems bound and determined to be his personal cheerleader, and Nick's not leaving her alone with him, and somehow, the guy gets the impression that what they're really after is a threesome. With him in the middle. With her and Jess as the other two. There's no way of putting it that makes sense.
Jess turns panicked eyes on her, and Nick does what she can to hurry the guy out, but he's oblivious to all of her hints. The only thing he's eyeing more than her and Jess is the beer pyramid left over from yesterday's shenanigans, and that's when Nick feels the lightbulb over her head go off. The metaphorical one, not the one the landlord’s supposed to be fixing. If they get him drunk enough, he'll just pass out and that will be that.
Jess cottons on a lot faster than she'd expected, and within an hour, Remy – Jess saw the tattoo and made an educated guess – is snoring away. It's only now that Nick sees the two major defects in her plan. First, that's her pillow that Remy is drooling into. And second, she's got no bed for the night.
She's surprised when Jess offers to share hers. "Fine," Nick says in response, maybe not all that graciously; Jess still hasn't breathed a word of apology for letting Remy into their place.
She can't shake Jess, who follows her right past Winston's room, where there's still some moaning going on, and into the bathroom. They're brushing their teeth side by side when Nick catches a glimpse of Jess in the mirror, smiling at her with a mouth full of toothpaste foam. Nick's appalled to feel herself smiling back.
Jess is taller and bigger than she is, and Nick has no desire to be swimming in a pair of Jess's pajamas, even if she could find one pattern that doesn't inspire her to arson. She strips down to her tank top and boxers and gets into Jess's bed.
It's not until she's pulled up the sheet that she realizes she's face-to-face with her newest roommate. Jess's eyes are crazy blue even in the dimness of the room, her skin smells like vanilla, and one of her long curls is tickling Nick's cheek. The room feels hot and airless but Jess doesn't seem bothered; she scooches in close enough to drop a kiss on Nick's nose and whisper, "Sweet dreams."
It's not bravery. It's some combination of stupidity and lust that has Nick angling her head to catch Jess's sweet mouth with her own. Thirty seconds ago, she'd have sworn that she was straight and Jess was too, and now here she is, sucking on Jess's tongue.
Jess whimpers in the back of her throat, and Nick is drunk on that sound, on the heaviness of Jess's body rolling on top of hers and pressing her down into the mattress. Jess's hair tumbles down, blocking the light on either side of their faces, and Nick can't stop kissing her long enough to lift a hand and push it back.
It's glorious, and it's the first thing she's done in ages that's felt right, so she keeps doing it, again and again, not stopping even when early-morning light starts to pour into the room, making Jess glow above her. The light doesn't make Jess look any different; it makes her look like she's supposed to look, bright and joyous, and Nick keeps kissing her, wanting it to last for as long as she can.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think!
This same entry also appears on Dreamwidth, at http://innie-darling.dreamwidth.org/443966.html.