“This,” Winston says grandiosely, “formally concludes the first meeting of the Committee to Relationship-ize Nick and Jess.”
“I’m still not sure I support it,” Schmidt says, crossing his arms.
“I’m still not sure that it wouldn’t just be easier to lock them in a closet,” Cece says.
“We were never here,” Winston says. He pauses, ostensibly for dramatic emphasis. “And this meeting never happened.”
Here’s the thing. Jess is not an idiot. Jess is actually pretty far from being an idiot. It’s clear to her that yeah, it’s possible that Nick has had some not-so-platonic feelings for her for quite some time. Because it’s not just his feet pointing at her. It’s how he disliked Paul so much more than the other guys did, and how their eyes meet sometimes. And the whole naked thing, and the way he smiles at her, and how he says her name, like a man from Chicago.
And she doesn’t mind seeing him shirtless. She’s good with hair.
If Nick has been Some Cute Random Guy, someone she had met in a bar? She would have gone home with him (after prodding from Cece, and maybe something pink and alcoholic, or a few somethings pink and alcoholic) and they would have slept together. But then, see, she wouldn’t have had to see him again if she hadn’t wanted to. She wouldn’t have to live with him.
So Jess does not appreciate Schmidt and Winston’s little secret society, thank you very much.
It’s Monday morning. Nick is not a fan of them, overall-- especially when he’s still hungover from the night before and Jess is singing songs from the Rocky Horror Picture Show insensibly loudly and cooking eggs.
The smell of eggs in the morning really gets to him, for some reason. It’s just-- eggy and overpowering, and she’s using peppers, and he has to throw up.
“Top of the morning to you,” Jess says when he staggers back to the kitchen. She’s pouring him a glass of water as she speaks, which is much appreciated. Nick unscrews the Advil bottle he grabbed in the bathroom and swallows four of them.
Jess winces but says nothing.
“I know, I know, it’s bad for my stomach lining,” Nick responds. “Don’t worry, I have the day off.”
“Ah.” She turns back to the eggs. “I’m going on a field trip with my class today. We’re going to the natural history museum! They have awesome t-shirts there, my class is really excited.”
“Okay,” Nick says, putting his head down on the counter. It’s nice and cool against his skin, and also suspiciously sticky. “Have fun, Jess. Don’t let anyone get eaten by lions.”
She looks like she’s going to correct him, maybe to say that there are no lions at the science museum (though there could be, there could be stuffed lions or something at the gift shop) but her phone goes off.
“This is Jess,” she says.
Nick groans. The beeping noise it made went straight to his head in the worst way possible.
Jess’s voice changes and gets much more professional sounding. “Oh, hello Mrs. Savran. How are you?” Her face grows concerned. “Alyssa is sick? I’m sorry to hear that.” She makes freaked out eyes at Nick. “So will you still be able to chaperone? No? Okay-- okay, um, thanks for telling me. Bye.” She hangs up and drops her phone down on the table, scowling.
“Ow,” he says.
“I’m down one chaperone, Nick.”
“If I don’t have enough chaperones, I can’t go on the field trip.”
“What do you want me to-- oh, Jess, oh, okay oh, no no no no no, hell no.”
“Good morning Class 605!” Jess is grinning hugely at her class. “Who’s excited to go to the museum?”
Their shrill cheers send daggers through Nick’s brain, and he glares malevolently at the kids-- who, of course, totally ignore it.
Why couldn’t she have badgered Schmidt into doing this?
“This is Mr. Miller,” she sing-songs, “and he’s going to be our other chaperone, because Alyssa’s mother can’t make it. He’s very kindly volunteered to come, so let’s all be super-nice to him!”
A girl in the front with pigtails and rainbow tights raises her hand. “Miss Day, is Mr. Miller your boyfriend?”
“No,” Jess says, “he’s just my friend. My very very nice friend.” She shoots Nick a look that says be nice or I will watch Dirty Dancing every night for the next two weeks and She’s Like The Win will never, ever stop being stuck in your head.
Silently, he acquiesces.
(schmidt 9:33) omg u will never believe what happened
(winston 9:38) I hope you know the phone buzzed so loudly it woke me up
(winston 9:38) me and my hangover
(schmidt 9:41) no srsly nick gave up his day off 2 go w jess on her field trip
(winston 9:41) schmidt you text like a 13 yr old girl
(schmidt 9:42) he went on her FIELD TRIP man
(winston 9:48) I thought you didn’t fully support CRN&J?
(schmidt 9:50) oh r we havin fun w acronyms now?
(schmidt 9:51) whatevs man mayb if they get 2gether i can have jess’s room and not b stuck in the small room
(schmidt 9:51) and nick will finally get laid
(schmidt 9:51) win 4 all
In the cafeteria for lunch, Jess buys Nick curly fries.
“Thanks for coming,” she says, laying a hand on his arm. “It was really great. The kids love you.”
Nick shrugs. “Okay, so the planetarium was pretty awesome,” he admits. “I liked being able to see how much I’d weigh on Jupiter.”
Jess grins. “Right? That was awesome-- but seriously though, thank you. I owe you one.”
Nick squeezes her hand and squirts ketchup on his fries. Somewhere behind him, an eleven year old goes “wooooo, Mr. Miller!”
"Kyle," Jess says warningly.
"Mr. Miller and Miss Day-ay, sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S--"
"Kyle, that's enough," Jess says. "I hope you can tell me why Pluto isn't a planet anymore."
Kyle can, thanks to the highly informative interactive display Jess made her whole class take notes on. Nick winks at him.
“The natural history museum is totally awesome,” he says after minute. “We should take Schmidt and Winston on a field trip here. They might actually learn something, and I'm not gonna lie, it would liven up dinner conversations, or make them less horrifying.”
“At the very least they’d enjoy the exhibit where you get to see how much snot is in a human body on a normal day as opposed to a sick day,” Jess says.
Nick snorts. She’s totally right.
“Seriously,” Cece says. “We just need to lock them in a closet. Otherwise they’ll never get off their asses and admit anything.”
“Yeah,” Winston says, “but then our secret committee won’t be secret anymore.”
Cece shrugs. Elegantly. “So? Sacrifice for the cause.”
“Come on, man,” Schmidt begs. “I’m really getting tired of sleeping in the small room. No girls ever wanna hook up in there, they’re afraid they’ll bang into the wall during our crazy monkey sex. And then we end up doing it in the shower, which is all cramped and small, and there’s never any time to moisturize after and you know that’s bad for my skin, Winston.”
“What crazy monkey sex?” Winston asks.
Schmidt glares. “Exactly.”
“Good,” Cece says. “Do you guys have a large enough closet?”
“Then we’ll use the bathroom. Let’s do it Friday evening. Today is day t-minus three.”
Winston and Schmidt bump fists.
Jess is taking a shower. It is not a fun shower, where she gets to soap her hair into a Mohawk. It’s the sort of shower where she has to be a contortionist just to shave her legs.
Cece comes in while she’s in the middle of soaping up her calves. “Hey,” Jess says. “You’re still here? I thought that you would have gone to that thing. The party. With the DJ who has a tattoo of a bird on his face and wears Dior heels.”
“That doesn’t start till later,” Cece responds. “Where’s your cucumber-melon hand cream?”
“Uh, I don’t have any?” Jess spikes up her bangs. “I never use that stuff, it smells funky.”
“Right,” Cece says, vaguely. There’s a rustling noise. “Okay, cool, I’m gonna-- go bother Schmidt now?”
“You don’t need to ask me for permission,” Jess says, and grabs blindly for the shampoo.
There’s a banging noise outside, and she pokes her head around the shower curtain. “Hey, hey-- everyone okay? Are you all, like, pretending to be ultimate fighters? I don’t think that’s a very good idea, you could just watch on TV instead--”
“Fuck--” and there’s bang, and a door slams, and Nick is sprawled flat on the tiled bathroom floor.
“Shit,” he says. “My head.”
“Nick?” Jess asks, eyes wide. She grabs blindly for a towel, letting go of the shower curtain in the process. “Oh my god-- okay, this is, okay, can you pass me a towel?”
“There’s only one left,” Nick says, rubbing the back of his head, where a lump is beginning to form. “It’s kinda tiny.”
“It’s the Cece towel?”
Nick’s eyes are squished shut, but he shrugs, unrepentant and kind of embarrassed. “Yeah, just, here, take it.”
Jess shuts off the water and wrings out her hair, wrapping the towel around herself. “Okay,” she says. “Okay. Can you get up?”
“If I go slowly,” Nick says. He sits up, then tentatively leans back against the wall. “Ow, shit.”
“I really hope you didn’t get a concussion, we should get you some ice.” She tests the door handle. It clicks, locked. “Um. Nick? Did you lock the door?”
“No,” Nick says. “No, I did not do that. Why would I lock the door, Jess?”
“I don’t know,” Jess says, turning to look at him. “But it’s locked shut, and I don’t appreciate your tone, and-- okay, this is a safe assumption to make, right? I am assuming it was not you who took my clothes away but left my underwear.”
“Not me,” Nick says. “But I think we have three suspects waiting right outside that door.”
Jess glares really hard, hoping the strength of her anger will make it through two inches of solid wood.
After a minute, a note is slipped under the door. In Schmidt's neat loopy handwriting, it says: talk about your feelings, or we're never letting you out.
"This is ridiculous," Nick says, his voice strained. "We have lives, Schmidt and Winston and Cece! I know you're listening!"
How long could they live in the bathroom? Jess considers it. Food might be a issue, but they would probably convince their friends to like, slide Twizzlers under the door. Clothes are the more pressing problem right now. She's cold. This isn't leaving her a lot of options.
"Why didn't you like Paul, Nick?" Jess asks him. It's as good a place to start as any.
"I just-- didn't."
Her lips twist. "You're making the face."
"No, I'm not."
Jess swallows. "I mean, I think I know why you didn't like Paul."
Nick sits back againt the wall, back slumped. "Yeah, Jess. Me too. But, y'know, it's not--"
"It doesn't have to be," she says at the same time. "Because we're roomates."
He runs a hand through his hair. "Exactly. There's a whole dynamic, it's a thing."
Winston's voice comes through the door. "It is not a thing," he yells. "Me and Schmidt agree that it does not have to be a thing."
Jess tries to turn away, but Nick is looking at her and she can't.
"Jess," he says. "Jess, it's just me."
She looks again and finds that she can.
Schmidt holds a glass up to the door. "Seriously you guys, this always works in movies."
"Maybe we can't hear anything because they're, you know, not talking," Cece says, raising an eyebrow.
Winston slips another note under the door. It says, are you guys finally making out?
He's okay with not getting a response.