I have no idea why I would start this given Nick is no longer on the show and Chelsea is soon to be gone. But since Philip and Stephanie are falling flat with me, it’s just been in my head for a little while. Keep in mind that this Stephanie and Nick aren’t really friends, and Stephanie still views Nick as asexual. Though she learned some lessons from dating a “jerk” like Jeremy, she still has a long way to know about love.
Nick was packing, trying to keep the tears out of his eyes. The news he received not three hours ago was of the most devastating: His dad was dead and he had to fly to Germany to help take care of arrangements as well as help his mom through this difficult process.
Glancing in the mirror, Nick wondered what his dad thought of him in his last hours of his life. He wasn’t expecting to be hit by the drunk driver, but had he thought about Nick lately? Being a military man, he was always disappointed his son didn’t exactly follow in his footsteps. He was always supportive of Nick’s choices in life, but lab scientist wasn’t what he envisioned when Nick first started going to college and after having to resign from the lab in disgrace last year made Nick feel even more of an disappointing son.
He suspected that’s probably why they cancelled their planned Christmas trip last year, as Nick had wanted them to come to Salem so badly. Not just to see Grandma Alice and Aunt Maggie, but to finally meet Chelsea. Maybe that was for the best though, since things with Chelsea didn’t work out, as their conversation this afternoon was made crystal clear.
Nick heard a knock at the door and opened it, surprised to see Chelsea standing there with tears in her eyes. Seems like she finally stopped chasing Dr. Jonas long enough to hear the news.
“Nick, Max told me. I’m so sorry, I had no idea…”
Nick cut her off, he was done with her, especially after today. “I don’t have time to talk to you, Chelsea. Or to make you feel better about yourself. I have to be at the airport in only a few hours and I’ve got to pack and make sure everything is set for my job here with me leaving.”
Chelsea walked in anyway, “Nick, wait, let me help you. I wish I could go with you.”
Nick flinched at hearing Chelsea say that. If she meant it, she had a funny way of showing it. “An hour ago you accused me of trying to guilt you into taking me back so don’t act like you want to sit on a plane with me all night to head to a funeral of my dad.”
He could see Chelsea reel back from his harsh words but she quickly rebounded, “I never should have said that. I didn’t mean it, I just…I misread what was wrong with you and thought…”
“You thought wrong. I might have acted pathetic when you broke up with me for Jett, but this time I walked away and accepted it.”
“Nick…why don’t we calm down. The important thing is your family is hurting, you’re hurting and what to do. I’ve lost my parents before, the Bensons, suddenly, and I think it would be good to talk out…”
Nick laughed but more out of frustration. She was clearly changing tactics, she had come hear to talk to him, and whether he wanted to see her was of no consequence. “That’s why I wanted to see you this afternoon. I thought the only person I know here who might understand what I was feeling would be willing to listen to me, and forget she was my ex-girlfriend. You didn’t, that’s fine, the time has passed and I now have to go. So if you don’t mind…”
He opened the door for her but she shook her head, pleading with him to let her at least drive him to the airport and sit with him until the flight.
“Chelsea, I’ve asked you several times to leave, don’t make me push you out the door.”
He saw her lips quiver and for one brief moment, Nick’s heart warmed and he wanted to say he was sorry. But then the earlier memory of Chelsea misreading his heartache and cruelly telling him they were no longer a couple reappeared and he steeled himself. For several moments they stared, but Chelsea finally left. Nick couldn’t slam the door hard enough.
“Max, I’ve got a few weeks between semesters. Why can’t we take time off and head down to Florida to…”
“BECAUSE STEPHANIE, I HAVE TO WORK HERE!”
Stephanie knew she had been pushing too hard, but she didn’t think even Max with his recent moods would go so far as to scream like a lunatic in the Brady pub. Everyone stopped and stared with Max heading back into the kitchen with a grunt. Stephanie took her head in her hands, rubbing her eyes. Things had been going on like this with her boyfriend for awhile now, and the strain on their relationship was increasing. She needed to talk to someone, really talk to the person, but her own parents were having a hard time since returning from being imprisoned by Ava and her mom’s pregnancy was very sensitive. She didn’t want to make matters worse and Stephanie didn’t feel like she could open up with anyone else.
“There you are!”
Stephanie turned and saw Chelsea taking the stool next to hers by the bar. She quickly launched into whatever was bothering her at the moment and for a few selfish moments, she wished Chelsea would take the time to notice her best friend was unhappy. Then she heard Chelsea’s problem and felt a twinge of guilt. Nick had lost his father recently, very recently. Max had been with Nick when he heard the news and Nick had ran out so quickly Max didn’t know what to do.
Try following him, was Stephanie’s first thought but she wondered if maybe this wasn’t the case of her boyfriend’s earlier outburst. Maybe Mr. Fallon’s death was having Max remember Grandpa’s Shawn’s death.
“He can’t go alone.”
“What?” Stephanie asked, remembering Chelsea was still speaking.
“He can’t go to Germany alone. Max needs to go with him.”
Stephanie bit back a smile, Max clearly was in no mood to take off from work. “He won’t go.”
“Both of you could go, you are Nick’s best friends.”
“Max his is best friend, I’m his best friend’s girlfriend, and your friend. I don’t know Nick really all that well.”
She saw her friend roll her eyes, “Right, I know you’ve never been that crazy about Nick, but he’s a good guy.”
Stephanie nodded. She knew that. She really did. She just never had much of a relationship with him. Stephanie did learn quite quickly after the disaster that was Jeremy Horton that dating a hunk was not everything, but she thought Chelsea and Nick were ill fitted for each other. To be fair, she still did, otherwise she wouldn’t have supported Chelsea dumping Nick to go after Daniel Jonas.
“Hi Max!” Chelsea said, cheerfully. Too cheerfully, you could tell she was angling for something.
“What do you want?” Max grunted.
“Nick is leaving the country tonight and I think you and Stephanie should go with him. For his father’s funeral.”
Stephanie prepared herself for Max’s reaction, but evidently he was in control again as he just shook his head no. “I know the guy’s hurting, but flying to Germany is expensive, and…”
“Oh, I’ll pay. I have Kate’s money from last year. Just don’t tell Nick where you got the money.”
This surprised Stephanie, was Chelsea really over Nick? Maybe things weren’t going well with Daniel and she was reconsidering letting Nick go.
“It’s not just about the money, I can’t afford to take time off from the pub or the Heart. Everyone’s counting on me.”
Chelsea and Max argued a bit as Stephanie half listened. She didn’t feel comfortable getting involved. Since Chelsea dumped Nick, Stephanie avoided Nick’s company. She was worried he would ask about her, or look somber like he did the last time they broke up. Really, the last REAL convesatioon she had with Nick was when she reluctantly thanked him for pushing Chelsea to come forward about Ford Decker’s death. She was so mad and angry with him at the time, but he wound up being right and they didn’t have to live with the guilt anymore. To his credit, he never showed any signs of validation in his acceptance and was just as warm and friendly as he usually was.
“Your boyfriend is a real selfish bastard, you know that?”
Stephanie realized now Max had walked away and she was there alone with Chelsea. Though she was angry at Max herself, she didn’t like hearing Chelsea talk about him like that, “C’mon, Chelsea. It’s not that Max doesn’t care for Nick, if the Fallons had lived closer, but dropping everything to fly half way around the world is difficult for just about anyone.”
“I know. It’s just Nick shouldn’t have to deal with this alone. He’s such a good guy…” Chelsea’s voice broke a bit, “he doesn’t want my help at all and I can’t blame him. But I can try to help him. Nick is going to need some help through this, his family is small with no siblings. He shouldn’t have to try to take control of everything.”
Probably because he isn’t strong enough, Stephanie thought. “Nick will be ok. I do feel bad, but he has many memories of his father over the years and I’m sure once the pain goes away…” I wish I had known my dad when I was growing up.
“Nick carries his heart on his sleeve.” Stephanie looked at Chelsea which prompted the brunette to go on, “Oh stop it. There is nothing wrong with Nick being sensitive and I think at least now he has a right to be.”
Feeling guilty, Stephanie nodded. She shouldn’t think such things. The poor guy not just had gotten dumped by his girlfriend, now his father suddenly died. It’s a lot for any person to take. “You’re right. I wish he wasn’t alone either. I wish I could go with him.”
There was a brief pause, then Stephanie heard, “That’s a great idea.”
“Go with Nick. Do you have a passport? What time is it? I bet we could get you to the airport in no time.”
“Are you serious? I can’t go with Nick to Germany, alone…”
“Why not? He needs a friend. I bet Max will be fine.”
Max popped out just then and before Stephanie could stop her, Chelsea asked Max if he minded. Max shrugged, and said it was fine by him. He was going to be working double shifts all week anyway.
“See? Let’s go and pack.”
“Hang on, I’m not going to Germany. First, I barely know Nick. He wouldn’t want me going with him.”
“I bet you he would be touched.”
Rolling her eyes, Stephanie said, “I wouldn’t know what to do, how would it look, it would look like you were sending me.”
Chelsea shook her head, “No, it wouldn’t. He would understand Max has commitments here at his jobs so he can’t go but you don’t have a job and we are actually out of classes now. And it might do you some good to get away from Max who seems a bit on edge.”
Now the last thing Chelsea said made Stephanie reconsider. Lately she’d been so fed up with Max’s moods she wondered if she should call for a break. Given them both some space. This actually would do it, and God knows spending time with geeky Nick Fallon would have her begin appreciating Max Brady all over again. Maybe this was something she should do.