Beta’d by: Slynn
Summary: Upon hearing the details of John’s accident, Chelsea heads to see Nick.
Chelsea reached up to knock on his door but stopped herself. She knew she shouldn’t be here, she had promised herself after their near kiss it was just too dangerous to run to Nick every time she was feeling lonely or sad or in need of anything. It wasn’t fair to him or her for that matter. They were better off as friends but that could only happen if they saw each other in public rather than private.
At least Jeremy is here, he should help with that, Chelsea thought as she finally knocked. She checked her watch, it wasn’t too late but the boys would be in bed and she hoped she hadn’t awoken them. The door opened and Nick stood there, looking confused in his adorable way.
“Chelsea?” he asked, perplexed.
Just hearing his voice allowed the tears to come through and Chelsea just let go. Not surprising, Nick quickly took her in his arms and held her. For a few minutes she cried letting the anguish come out. Feeling Nick’s arms around her, Chelsea immediately let them take effect and the weight on her was starting to lift. How did he do that?
Nick was content holding Chelsea no matter what the circumstances. He knew that she took advantage of his feelings for her at such times, but he didn’t care. Maybe it was a fantasy he clung to, but Nick believed Chelsea needed him and he wasn’t going to let her down. Truth be told, he needed her too and if this is the only way he could have her, it was enough…for now.
However, curiosity got the better of him and he stepped back some and asked her what was wrong. He was a bit nervous…could it be Jett? He didn’t want her dating the former agent but if Jett had hurt her feelings…
“He’s gone!” was all Chelsea could get out.
Now even more confused, Nick jumped to the obvious conclusion. Jeremy had left only an hour ago but how did Chelsea learn about it? Maybe Jeremy said goodbye to her? Had he gone searching for Stephanie and ran into Chelsea?
“He left an hour ago,” Nick said matter of factly. “Why are you so upset…”
“What?” Chelsea asked not knowing what Nick was talking about. “I’m talking about John.”
“John? John who?”
Chelsea snapped, “John Black! He was hit by a car tonight and died!”
Nick felt the air leave his lungs. He didn’t know John that well, hardly at all actually, but it was startling to hear such news so quickly. He started to ask what happened but couldn’t find the words.
Immediately, Chelsea chastised herself for talking to Nick that way. “Nick, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you…I just…I shouldn’t be here. I just needed…”
She was about to say I just needed you but caught herself in time. She needed a buffer between her and Nick; it was obvious the boys were in bed but where was Jeremy? She realized Nick was talking, telling her she was fine and not to be upset.
Nick closed his mouth and waited a beat. Sighing, he explained quickly what happened that very night and how Jeremy had left again.
Anger emerged through Chelsea which overrode her grief. “He left you? He just…left? After all that you have done for him? I thought he cared about those boys! He was supposed to watch and protect you if that Umar guy…”
“Chelsea, it’s okay. Let’s not talk about Jeremy. Tell me about John.”
Chelsea stopped, gazing into Nick’s eyes. Her mouth suddenly dry, she swallowed and asked for a glass of water. Nick jumped up and got her one. Chelsea looked around, realizing she was taking advantage of Nick again. This was wrong, especially if Jeremy wasn’t here to…distract them.
She got up and headed for the door, saying “I’ve got to go.”
“Whoa,” Nick said, catching her. He turned her around to face him. “Chelsea, this is really getting to you. I didn’t think you were that close to John.”
“I’m not, I wasn’t.” Chelsea said flinching at her mistake. “My mom knew him better and grandma Kate had been involved with him. That’s where I was at first, with my mom. I called her when hearing the news and she and I went over to see Kate. However, Mom got paged back at work to the school, some emergency. And Kate…”
Nick waited, Chelsea had tears in her eyes again. “Kate?” he repeated.
“Kate wanted to head up to the hospital to see him. I offered to go, I knew Dad would be there but she wanted to go alone. I waited at her place…alone and she called to say John had died and I hung up and realized I was alone and didn’t want to bug Mom with her job and…”
Nick’s heart swelled. Those tears were affecting her words and she was now crying again. He brought her back to the couch; he gave her the glass of water, and watched while she drank. Trying to understand, he knew there was more to this than Chelsea feeling bad about a man’s death. Thinking back, Nick remembered the words Chelsea used to describe what happened.
“Chelsea…did you say that John was hit by a car?” Her eyes snapped up to his and he didn’t need to hear verbal confirmation to understand what was wrong. He knew. “You’re thinking about Zack’s death aren’t you?”
Chelsea had to smile a little, Nick knew her better than anyone else did. She blushed, regretting her own feelings at such a time. “That’s why I really didn’t go with Kate…I was afraid I would do what I always do and that’s so wrong…”
Chelsea took a breath, admitting out loud for the first time, “Make it all about me.”
“Oh, Chelsea.” Nick then pulled her back into his arms and Chelsea softened. She closed her eyes and breathed in.
“I don’t want to think about Zack, at least not the accident but hearing that John was killed by a hit-and-run driver it was…it was like Deja Vu.”
Nick nodded but didn’t let go. He was gently massaging the back of her head and whispered, “Don’t feel bad that his death brought it back to you…it’s natural to be feeling this way.”
Chelsea smiled but the tears welled up again. She also felt her heart swell at Nick’s words but chose to ignore it, she just needed to be held and Nick was the best person to do that. “Thank you…thank you for holding me.”
Nick’s heart raced as he felt Chelsea’s arms tightening around him. He was glad to make her feel better but it was hell being this close and unable to kiss her. But she was vulnerable and now wasn’t the time to try to push for more. He was content with her needing him. She just needed him. That was enough.
Chelsea woke up feeling disoriented. She knew she wasn’t at home in her bed. It didn’t take long for Chelsea to remember where she was and how she got there. Looking down, she stared at the man she always ran to when she needed someone. He was holding her, just like he simply held her last night as she cried and sobbed about Zack. John’s death had brought it all back.
Trying to find the time in his living room, Chelsea shifted herself while attempting not to wake Nick. Turning her head towards him, she couldn’t help but smile at his sleeping form. He looked so peaceful and endearing. Without realizing, her left hand reached up and caressed his cheek so she could feel the stubble. He looked a lot different with it, a bit older and his face was fuller. Forgetting herself, she studied him intently now, it was rare to be this close with him unawares. Her eyes roamed around his cheeks, his eyes, and his skin while her other hand reached up to feel his hair. It was so soft. Nick made a sound and her eyes went straight to his mouth and those luscious lips of his. It wasn’t until she felt the familiar tingle of electricity shooting through her body that she realized she was kissing him.
Jerking up, Chelsea threw herself back and landed at his feet. The momentum she left behind helped send Nick in an unconscious direction as well which meant off the couch and onto the floor.
“Ow!” Nick said, wondering what the hell was going on.
Flinching at the shocking way he woke up, Chelsea quickly got to her feet and looked for her shoes and purse. Her cheeks completely flushed, Chelsea prayed that Nick didn’t catch on to what she had been doing.
Now awake, Nick watched as Chelsea was getting her stuff together. “What’s your hurry?”
“Nothing, I just…I’ve got to get to class. I don’t want to be late…I have to…”
“It’s Saturday, there is no class.” He said but knew that wouldn’t stop her. He shook his head trying to shake off the sluggishness he felt. Chelsea was obviously in back-pedaling mode, he’d seen it enough times to recognize it. The fact was she spent the night, leaning on him for emotional support which now was scaring her so she had to get away from him to regain her composure.
“Right but…I need to go find Mom and head to the pub. They are having a gathering there…they pushed the funeral for late this afternoon…”
Nick nodded. He glanced at the bedroom door, glad the kids were still asleep. If there was one thing about Artemis and Demarquette, they were late sleepers and he was very glad of that now. Not that he and Chelsea should be ashamed of what happened, nothing did…but you wouldn’t know it by Chelsea’s present actions.
Opening the door, she started to walk out but realized this was a terrible way to treat him after how wonderful he had been. How wonderful he always is. Turning around, she had to steel herself…his morning appearance of disheveled hair and 5 o’clock shadow wore really well on him and it was all she could do not to resume kissing him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry for just running out on you like this. I do need to get to see my Mom though, she’ll wonder where I am and…”
He shook his head, he wanted to argue with her but there was no point and he knew it. “Go, I have to get breakfast for the boys anyway. And don’t ever feel bad for coming here; I’m always here for you.”
Nick’s voice cracked at the last comment which made Chelsea want to smile and cry at the same time. She rubbed her face, blaming the lack of sleep and John’s accident on her conflicting emotions. She looked down at her feet and said, “Well, I’ll call you about what time the funeral is…I have to…”
“Please call me, of course, but,” Nick felt the disappointment wash over him as he continued, “I can’t go. With Jeremy gone I will have to watch the kids and since I hardly knew John that well…”
Chelsea’s eyes darted up to meet Nick’s. She had planned on Nick being there…to sit next to her at the funeral. The fact he wouldn’t be disappointed her too.
“Well, that’s too bad, but I guess…that makes sense, I hadn’t thought of the kids…and with Jeremy gone,” Chelsea stammered, cursing Jeremy under her breath. He could have watched the kids while Nick attended with her.
“Chelsea,” Nick said, and walked towards her.
Chelsea took a step back, “I’ve got to go, like I said. I’m sorry, I’ll see you later, okay? Thank you so much for last night, I don’t…I can’t thank you…”
“You don’t have to thank me, Chelsea,” Nick responded. Chelsea held his gaze for a beat, and then ran down the hall saying another good-bye behind her. Closing the door, Nick leaned up against it, feeling a wide range of emotions. She needs you, he thought. She might not realize she does, but she needs you. Saying a small prayer that some day Chelsea would realize it, he went about making breakfast for the boys while trying to ignore the knot in his stomach.