Nick the Knight
Nick stared in confusion at Schmidt as his friend splayed himself dramatically across the doorway into the bar.
"What the hell are you doin', Schmidt?"
"I'm saving you, man." Schmidt said soulfully. He let go of the doorway for a moment to hold the door for two young coeds. "Good afternoon, ladies! Enjoy happy hour. Don't eat the peanuts!" He called after them with a wave.
Nick tried to squeeze in past him and ended up with Schmidt on his back. "Come on, man!" He wrestled his way through the doorway with Schmidt's hands over his eyes. "I just wanna go to work!" He yelled.
"And I just don't want you to get hurt!" Schmidt yelled back.
Nick tripped on the rug inside the entrance and they crashed to the ground. The people at the bar never even looked up. Nick just laid there for a second and called Schmidt every name he could think of...then he remembered, "What do you mean...hurt?"
Schmidt sat up groaning beside him. "Well, Jess is sitting over there with this really hot guy and I know how you...," he started to point and realized that they were still on the bar floor.
Nick winced at the squeal and moved out of the way as Schmidt scrambled to his feet. He grabbed his pants leg before he could dash to the restroom. "Wait! Jess is what?"
Schmidt looked down at his confused friend still sitting on the plague-ridden floor and tried to stifle the need to immediately go burn his clothes and bathe in Clorox. He almost succeeded too, until he saw a mangy biker-type spit on the ground. He gagged, shook Nick off, and pointed to the back of the bar. "She's over there," and ran for it.
Nick sat there for another moment, until someone tripped over him, showering him with peanuts.
"Sorry man," he said as he got to his feet.
He took his time, brushing himself off and not looking up. Jessica and he were fine. Better than fine. The past couple of weeks had been amazing.
He walked to the kitchen without looking at the booths in the back and clocked in. She was a nice a person. The nicest. The sweetest. She would never cheat on him, he assured himself.
That was his mantra as he walked back out to the bar, but he couldn't stop the sick feeling in his gut from forming. She was too nice to string him along.
He paused and closed his eyes. Best to get it over with. "Yeah, Jess?" He called out without turning around.
Jess, looking ridiculously delicious and adorable in a blue dress, popped in front of him. How dare she sit with another guy while she looked this good!
"Hi!" She gave him a hug and leaned up to kiss him, but he turned his head so she got his cheek. She didn't seem to think anything of it, and licked her thumb to wipe off the lipstick. "Stop squirming...there. Hey," She tugged his arm towards the booth. "I have someone I want you to meet."
"I don't know, Jess," he waffled. "I've got to start work."
She laughed and grabbed his hand. "Come on."
He followed her reluctantly, unreasonable annoyed that she seemed so excited.
They got to the table and Nick felt like he'd been sucker punched. A dark haired, handsome, GQ wannabe stuck out his hand and smiled with perfect teeth. "You must be Nick. It's nice to meet you."
Nick shook the proffered hand, clenching his teeth as Jess slid into the booth right next to the guy!
"Nick, this is David, my..."Jess started.
"Miller!" His boss yelled from the bar. "You've got customers over here!"
Feeling both annoyed and relieved at the interruption, he shrugged, "Sorry. Duty calls." He nodded at Mr. Adonis. "See ya."
David smiled. "I understand," he said. "I'll look after your girl for you," and put an arm over Jess' shoulders.
Nick wondered if he'd get fired for punching a customer. He looked at Jess and she just smiled at him with the same innocent, naive, trusting smile as always. She didn't even seem to notice the arm across her shoulders.
He held out his hand. "Jess, can I talk to you for a sec?"
"Sure," she said, all smiles, and went to take his hand when Nick's boss showed up by his side.
"You have ten seconds to go serve that man a Guinness or you're fired," she said evenly, pointing at the bar. She raised her watch and started to count.
"Go to work, sweetie," Jess said and sighed as Nick hot-footed it to the bar. "And that's my little love muffin," she drawled to David.
"Very nice." He saw Nick glare at them from the bar and hid a grin as he took a drink. "Despite the fact that he hates me."
Jess gasped and punched him in the arm. "He does not! Why would you say that?"
"Because, dear Jessica." He gave her shoulders a squeeze and kissed her on the forehead, snorting back a laugh as the Guinness Nick was building overflowed unnoticed onto the floor. "He doesn't know I'm your cousin."
When Nick saw the rat bastard (his new nickname for David) kiss Jess' forehead, he was ready to vault over the bar and rearrange his pretty face. The only thing that stopped him was that Jess did nothing.
He recalled the time she'd thrown a drink on a guy just for touching her hair. Then there was the time she lectured an old man in front of god and the entire bar for giving her butt a little pat as she walked by. She'd had that guy in ashamed tears in less than five minutes.
But this guy. Nothing. No shouting. No drink throwing. No asking him for help. Nothing.
The black hole in his gut got bigger as he watched them. True, it looked like they’re arguing, but it looked almost...playful.
Jess frowned up at David. "What does that have to with anything?"
"You are so sweet!" He laughed and lifted his hand off of her shoulder to pat her head.
She swatted his hand away. "Stop it! What do you mean?" She looked over to the bar. "I want Nick to like my family, so whatever you're doing, just stop it."
David shrugged and grinned. "Too late. Between the botched introduction, the hugs, and that little kiss on the forehead I just dropped on you, I'd say your boyfriend is greener than the fields of Ireland."
He didn't tell her about the clumsy wrestling match he'd witnessed when Nick first came into the bar. She'd pointed out Schmidt as another of her roommates, and given the look he'd shot them, he could just imagine what he'd told Nick.
"First of all, ewww." She poked him in the chest. "And second, I told him you and Christine were coming. And third," she poked him in the chest again, "Ewwww. And fourth, Nick knows me better than that.
"Of course he does, sweetie." He toasted her with his beer. "It's me he wants to punch in the face."
"This is completely ridiculous!" Jess started to scoot out of the booth. "I'm going to fix this right now." She knew Nick was insecure and the thought of messing with him like that made her stomach hurt.
David grabbed her arm and whined, "Pleeease. Please can we just mess with him a little bit more? I haven't had this much fun since I convinced your dad that I was gay and that Christine was my 'beard'."
"No!" She giggled even as tried to pull away.
"Wait!" He kept hold of her arm. "How about this one..."
She shook her head. Her family. "Your poor wife. Let me go!"
"Nick!" He turned as Schmidt jogged up to the bar. His skin was still noticeably pink around his collar where he'd scrubbed it in the shower. "I'm here for ya, buddy." Schmidt motioned to the liquor. "Gimme a lemon drop and then I'll be suitably fortified to help you kick this guy’s perfect ass."
"Shut up, Schmidt." Nick whispered and motioned him to the far side of the bar.
"Not strong enough? Then how about an appletini? I need something, man!" He threw up his hands. "That guy is huge!"
"No! I mean," Nick lowered his voice as he mixed the lemon drop. "Who is that? What did Jess tell you?"
"Jess didn't tell me anything, bro." He pushed a bowl of obviously diseased peanuts away. "I walked in here to get my drink on and there was your girl, jumping up and down as this guy comes in. Then what does she do?" He pointed at Nick then slapped the counter. "I'll tell you what she did. She ran into his arms like he was home from the war."
Nick took a breath and tried to calm the crazy down that Schmidt was unwittingly stirring. "So you're saying that you don't know who this guy is? She said his name was David. Jess didn't introduce you?" he asked as he gave him his drink.
"Da-vid," he mocked. "She saw me and tried to wave me over." He snorted. "She probably wanted to talk her way out it since I'd seen her and her new boy toy" Schmidt took a swig of the lemon drop and then slammed it down, sloshing it on the counter. "Nobody treats my boy like that!" He said adamantly as he reached over the counter for the cleanser bottle and a rag.
Nick found himself nodding as Schmidt ended up cleaning the whole counter. Then he shook his head. "No, no. Jess isn't like that, Schmidt. Hell, she came to get me to introduce him. He's probably just an old friend." An old friend that she let touch her.
Schmidt put the cleanser back, and then lightly slapped Nick upside the head.
"Listen to yourself, Nick!" Schmidt chided, "That's your woman over there, being chatted up by god knows who in a designer suit. Go stake a claim before this 'old friend' shows you up in your own home territory."
Listening to Schmidt's rant made him feel oddly better. "I trust her Schmidt," he admitted with a smile.
"Of course you trust her!" Schmidt rolled his eyes. "You love her." He didn't notice that Nick went absolutely still. "It's him you have to worry about."
Nick opened his suddenly dry mouth to address the 'L' word when he clearly heard Jess yell 'Let me go!’
Turns out he could vault the bar.
Jess hadn't meant to yell that loud, but David wouldn't let go.
She heard gasps behind her and suddenly Nick was there. She yelped as he lifted her up and away, breaking the hold David had on her wrist.
"Are you okay?" He asked calmly. He had a weird look on his face
"Yes, Nick why...oh my god!" She jumped as he turned and punched a smirking David straight in the nose.
She vaguely heard Schmidt yell, "That's my boy!" Into a suddenly quiet bar.
"The lady said let her go," he told the groaning, laughing man as he hauled him out of the booth and towards the front door. He was so mad he didn't even wonder why he was laughing. He passed his boss, who, tough lady that she was, nodded at him as he hauled him out.
Jess was so shocked she just stood there with her eyes wide and her hands over her mouth until Nick pushed David out the front door that Schmidt held open. She ran out after them to find David laughing, holding a napkin to his nose and using the other hand to ward off a menacing Nick, while Schmidt danced like a boxer behind him, egging him on.
"For the love of...everybody stop it right now!" She yelled in her best teacher's voice. They all stopped and looked at her as she put her hands on her hips. "Nick and Schmidt, this is my cousin, the very juvenile David Day from New York."
Nick took a step back as the red began to clear from his vision. "Your cousin?"
"Yes," she hissed. "My cousin. David, you've met Nick and this is another of my roommates, Schmidt."
"Uh," Schmidt looked non-plussed as David reached out and shook his hand. "Nice to meet you, David. Love the suit."
"Thanks. My wife picks them out for me." He slapped a still stunned Nick on the shoulder. "I told her you wanted to punch me in the face, but she didn't believe me." He gingerly touched his nose. "Good hit by the way."
"I heard...I heard...," Nick looked at Jess and what she saw on his face made the rest of her scared anger go away. "I thought you were in trouble."
She walked over and hugged him tight, smiling at how his heart was still racing. She could feel the tremor in his arms as he hugged her right off her feet. "As far as you knew, I was." She reached up and framed his face with her hands. "So, thank you," she said softly, and kissed him.
"You're welcome," he said sheepishly as he set her back on her feet, but close to his side. He turned to David and offered a hand. "Sorry, man."
"No problem. It was my fault; I was having a bit of fun with you two after all." David smiled and winced a little at the movement. "That'll teach me, huh?"
'Um, I'd take you in to get ice for that, but I'm pretty sure you're not welcome in there right now," Nick said apologetically.
"I'll take him to the apartment," Jess said and rose on her toes to kiss him one more time. Then she took his poor bruised hand and kissed that, too. "You were amazing." Another kiss. "And pretty hot." She winked at him as she and David walked away. "See you tonight."
Nick sighed and shook his hand out as he and Schmidt watched as them walked down the block.
"Was that Jessica and David?" Winston asked from behind them, making them jump. "And what's wrong with your hand?" He asked Nick.
"Oh, my friend," Schmidt said with the air of one itching to tell a juicy story. "What you missed...wait. How did you know about David?"
Winston shrugged. "It's her cousin, right. She told us he was coming." He took in their blank faces and sighed. "Cousin from New York, 8 hour layover, nothing?" They shook their heads. "You're both deaf," he told them as he walked into the bar.
Nick came through the door and stopped as everyone clapped and cheered.
Winston looked at him as people slapped his back on his way back behind the bar. "And what the hell was that?"
Nick smiled and shook his head at Schmidt when he went to open his mouth. He jerked his head towards his boss. "I'll tell you when we get home."
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