Between his spats with Leo and Griffin, the always entertaining and frustrating drama caused by Billie Jean’s temper, and somehow being dragged into Leo’s drama, Nicholas wasn’t a stranger to unfortunate circumstances. He always knew how to improvise when he needed to. That was something he thought he excelled at. Of the two, he was the twin who used his brain more.
So why was it, as the smart one, did he find himself maintaining his composure as a drunk Tyler Jane dragged her feet -- which he wasn’t sure if that was all she could do physically or if she was doing it to trigger his nerves. Regardless which it was, consider his nerves triggered.
“Just remember that you’re the patient one.” Nicholas repeated to himself as a sort of mantra.
Now maybe Nicholas was being overdramatic. Billie often reminded he got high strung for no logical reason. And it’s not like Tyler Jane’s dorm was that far from where the party was at. She was on the first floor and not even at the end of the hall. Her room was in the middle, but her consistent moving was making it almost not worth it, but Nicholas just couldn’t leave her, not when it was TJ and especially not in her current state.
But finally, they reached her dorm and Nicholas, thankfully, had secured her keys before she got too draggy. As he put the keys into the doorknob, Tyler Jane began to move again. “Tyler Jane, can you stop that! I just gotta--TJ, I mean it!” It was obvious Nicholas’ frustration was building.
The redhead, almost more intoxicated by the minute, was indignant about being independent at this moment in time. Sure, Nicholas “accompanied” her on her way back to her dorm much to her drunken dismay, but Tyler Jane was a strong woman and was more than capable of making it to her room herself. Or so she thought.
That’s why as soon as the boy tried to unlock her door, she reached out and tried to grasp the keys he was holding- her keys. How and when did he get those? Depth perception was at an all time low, so she shifted her body and stuck her hands out in the general direction of where his arm was and made a sad attempt to snag them. “You don’t know how to do it, give them to me,” Tyler Jane lazily stated, a small little alcohol induced smile relaxing the features on her face.
“No!” Nicholas flat-out denied her request. “You’ll probably stab yourself in the gut if you tried it in your condition.” As he spoke, he went for attempt number two, purposely positioning himself in front of the keyhole so she couldn’t stop him this time.
She rolled her eyes, a laugh escaping her lips. “Noooo I won’t.” Tyler Jane let each syllable of the words she spoke ring out, too careless to enunciate and make them crisp. Something about alcohol made the world feel like it was in slow motion... The redheads lips pouted as she looked up at Nicholas through her eyelashes, eyebrows furrowed. “I don’t know why you’re doing this-I’m fineee I pinky promise.” She lifted up her right arm and with her wrist slacked, raised her little pinky finger and offered it to him in childlike fashion.
He expelled a defeated sigh. There was no way he could allow himself to deny her the keys now — not after she gave him the pout, at least. “Fine,” he said, handing her the keys as carefully as he could.
Tyler Jane gleefully reached out to get the keys, missing the first time but grasping them successfully the next, and moved her body to be directly in front of the lock on her door. The closer she was to the keyhole, the easier it would be. Her first attempt landed her key directly to the right of where it should have been, the second attempt brought her to the left, and the third just wasn’t even remotely close. But, she persisted, and nearly a minute later, the drunk redhead lined it up perfectly, key easily sliding into the lock, and her door clicked open. Ta-da! With a triumphant smile, Tyler Jane looked back at Nicholas, sticking her tongue out at him playfully before walking into her room “See! I told you I could do it.”
Watching her unsuccessfully get the key inside the knob three times in a row was, at the very least, the visual equivalent of rusty cat nails on a blackboard that went decades without a proper cleaning. And the fact she had a sense of pride on her face after finally doing it was...endearing to see. Despite her current drunk state, NIcholas was impressed that her resiliency remained intact (albeit without her usual grace). Still, he was genuinely proud of her.
As he clapped for the girl and smiled, he followed her suit, taking in the fact he was in her room. He wished the reason that got him to this point wasn’t because of her inability to know left from right and she wasn’t so utterly done with him, but such was life. He wasn’t going to sit on the regrets. He just wanted to make sure she got to bed without hitting her head along the way.
Nicholas closed the door behind him and took in the sights. It was only after scanning her room did it really don on him just what kind of person TJ was. He remembered hearing somewhere about how a person’s room was like getting a glimpse into their soul. He had always watched her from afar, spying on her almost when she was dancing or just noticing her without getting to know her enough, but seeing how clean her room was and a plant in the corner and all of the pillows, Nicholas was just now realizing that he didn’t truly know her. He had no idea she liked plants or that she needed that many pillows.
As he was lost in his own thoughts, his priorities were realigned when he heard a loud thud and Tyler Jane whine. So he went to her side and found her face-first on her floor. As he was about to ask what happened, he noticed a pointe shoe underneath her foot. “TJ, are you okay?” He asked her, concerned and a hand outstretched for her to grab onto.
For a dancer, Tyler Jane was an awfully clumsy drunk. “I was soooo close to my bed and then that stupid fucking pointe shoe had to come out of nowhere!” She explained, muffled slightly by the cushioned rug she had tumbled down onto. It was true- one moment she was standing up and the next the shoe had magically appeared and blocked her path. Pressing her palms onto the ground, the girl slowly pushed herself up to a sitting position, taking Nicholas’ hand that he so generously offered. He sure was being nice to her as she made a complete idiot of herself… so much so that she had seemed to momentarily forget how angry and frustrated she was with him to begin with.
Continuing on her path, the redhead flopped down onto her bed, legs sprawled out as she landed on the massive pile of pillows. She had the comfiest bed in all of San Agustin, or so she liked to think. Tyler Jane could have just fallen asleep like that, but the (fleeting) sober voice in the back of the girls’ mind reminded her that she was still wearing shoes, still in her party clothes, and had all of her makeup on. With a grumble, she spoke, unsure if Nicholas would understand her dilemma. “Fuuuuck, I can’t go to sleep yet.”
“Is it because you still have all of that makeup on?” He ventured a guess. With as much time as he spent around girls in general, he felt it was the only thing she could be referring to.
Another groan, “Yessss, if I don’t take it all off I’ll get ugly pimples. And my shoes are still on.” The redhead wiggled her toes inside her black heels, trying to see if they would just miraculously fall off, but sadly they did not. With all of the energy she had left, Tyler Jane sat up and looked at Nicholas as he stood there, almost amused. “You don’t have to stay, you know, I’m sure you have other things to do or other people to be with…”
A light chuckle escaped through his lips as he watched TJ fail in wiggling her shoes off her feet and he gently waved away her question. He took a seat at the edge of the bed, lifting her leg up with one hand securing the back of her ankle and used his other to slide off her shoe. “Everyone I want to be with is in this room,” he confessed with a smile, repeating the same act with her other foot.
“Yeah right,” She shrugged off his statement as her feet were freed from the uncomfortable shoes she had been wearing, highly doubting that was the case. “That can't be true- there has to be someone else who you’d rather be with right now.”
“Nope!” He reaffirmed his previous statement firmly and stood up. “Now where do you keep your make-up removal kit?” He asked, looking at Tyler Jane.
The redhead didn’t fully process the fact he was helping her, so without questioning it, the girl pointed to her desk turned vanity in the corner of the room. “Second drawer on the right, it’s a blue box that has makeup wipes in it.” When realization hit a few seconds later, the girl protested, “You better not go snooping in my stuff though Nicholas Grey.” Tyler Jane warned, another drunken laugh slipping from her lips seconds later.
He lightly scowled at her insinuation and promptly made the conscious decision to not respond. He went to the desk and looked back at her, almost as if taunting her as he purposely went for the first drawer on her right. “First one you said?” His hand proceeded to open it.
“Noooo, I said the second one, you’re not listening.” Tyler Jane whined.
It was probably cruel of him but he couldn’t resist having his fun. Regardless, he didn’t want to push his luck so he grabbed the wipes from the second drawer and raised it up to prove she was wrong. “See! I’m listening!”
Nicholas walked back to her bed and took a seat on the edge, but he was understandably a lot closer to her face than he was earlier. He set the kit on a space on the bed beside them and opened it up. “So which does what?” He asked like a deer in headlights. As far as experiences went, this was the first time he found himself in a position where he was helping someone take off their makeup.
The redhead couldn’t help but laugh again, finding Nicholas’ naive-ness about the intricacies of makeup removal somewhat endearing. Tyler Jane wrapped one hand around the container, popping it open to reveal a pack of makeup wipes, some q-tips, cotton rounds, and a few hair elastics. “It’s not that complicated, silly.” She expressed, tying back her long red hair with the band and then opening the package to take out a makeup wipe. Muscle memory did most of the work as she moved the towelette around her face and the makeup she was wearing seemed to disappear magically, revealing her fair skin and freckles underneath. The entire evening vanished from her features. After a minute or so, the girl tossed the now used wipe towards the trash bin next to her bed, thinking she was good to go. “Did I miss a spot?” She asked Nicholas, as normally she would have done this in front of a mirror to check her handiwork.
And in a surprising and welcoming-to-see turn of events, she had gotten it all. The same red-headed girl who had failed to walk on her own and had terrible hand-eye coordination with a key (of all things), had managed to wipe away the thickest layers of her makeup. Another shocking thing? She was even more stunning now than she was with it on. Or maybe it was Nicholas’ own feelings making him see her. Either way, he just smiled at her, confirming with a nod. “It does appear you got all of it.” To confirm himself of this, Nicholas placed his left hand on her cheek and gently caressed it.
Tyler Jane smiled- a genuine one, not just alcohol induced, as he gazed into her eyes. The Grey boy always had a unique way of giving her butterflies even when he didn’t intend to, and feeling his touch on her cheek did just that. But, the redhead remembered in that moment that she was supposed to be mad at him. He had played games with her all night, avoided her at all costs and made her jealous in the worst of ways… but then again, she had done the same, almost tenfold. A laugh escaped her lips, the drunk kind, and the girl’s eyes squinted as she spoke, “Why are you being so nice to me?”
Without hesitation, Nicholas said, “Because I was a fool and an idiot. Because it took me seeing you kiss Griffin and me almost doing something I knew I was going to regret to realize that I’ve played with your heart long enough.” As he spoke, his heart was pounding so hard that it was like a wild stampede was happening inside him.
There was nothing quite as sobering as the boy of the redhead’s desires calling out his mistakes, and Tyler Jane heard him loud and clear through her drunken fog. She had not expected him to do so in a million years- he was Nicholas Grey for crying out loud, his reputation preceded him and the girl knew that it was rare for him to take ownership of his faults. Instead of immediately caving, TJ smirked and pressed on, “You’re not wrong,” she replied with a small giggle.
He let out a soft chuckle. “I’m trying to be a better person. And, you know, part of that is being honest.” Ah yes, honesty -- the one girl that he could never tame.
The redhead sighed, letting her neck relax and loosen, tilting her head further into Nicholas’ palm. “Being honest is good. I like honesty.” The girl drunkenly mused, picking that word out of the bunch to focus on, and for good reason. Tyler Jane’s lips curved upwards as she began to speak again, in the spirit of honesty and being blunt. “And if I’m being honest, it’s your fault that I’m this drunk.” The girl laughed, hoping that Nicholas would see the comment not as blame, but as explanation to her current state.
“My fault?” He said promptly, “how is this my fault? Weren’t you the one who put the alcohol in your system?” He asked, laughing and looking at her with a somewhat dismayed expression.
Closing her eyes, Tyler Jane let out another intoxicated laugh. The worst thing about being drunk was getting the spins, and that’s what happened to the redhead as soon as she took her eyes off of Nicholas. It felt like she was on a merry go round or doing pirouettes even though she was sitting completely still. “You tried to make me jealous, and it worked too well, and I drank everything in sight to deal with it…” The girl trailed off, mind growing foggy once more as she explained the reasoning behind her previous statement. And then, a complete non-sequitur. “Is the room spinning or is it just me?”
Nicholas laughed at her completely different topic change. “Someone’s feeling the effects of her booze binge, isn’t she?” He teased her, showing a rare lighthearted side.
“Noooo, don’t laugh at me.” She whined, forcing her lids to open and look at Nicholas once more. Tyler Jane paused as she gazed into his blue eyes, completely getting lost in them. She didn’t realize she was complimenting him until the words practically fell out of her mouth. “You have nice eyes.” A sigh, reflecting on her complete inability to hold her tongue and the truth to his previous statement. “Fine, I guess I am suffering the consequences of my actions. Remind me next time not to drink as a coping mechanism.”
“Next time?” The fact she had said that was both interesting and amusing to him. “So you see us being alone like this again, huh?”
Tyler Jane gave him a look, the look. The look that said it all without saying anything, the one that asked if he was serious, the one that said ‘we would have already found our way here if you hadn’t been a player’. But instead of elaborating, she only muttered three words. “If you’re lucky.”
It was unlike him to hesitate, especially when he noticed certain hints being thrown out there, but Nicholas did and he didn’t know why. No, that wasn’t completely accurate. He knew exactly why he hadn’t done anything and it was the same reason he had played with her instead of being truthful with her. It was the same reason why whenever he felt real feelings, he reverted to old habits. But her eyes and the way they were locked on him made Nicholas smile (of all things).
As he leaned forward and pressed his lips against hers, for a few seconds, he felt such a raw surge of adrenaline course through his body like it was on fire. It was exhilarating and terrifying and a completely new experience for him. And in the middle of a breath, regardless of what everything in him wanted, he rebelled and pulled back slowly, just looking at Tyler Jane and her perfect face.
Tyler Jane would be lying if she said she wasn’t expecting this to happen, but she certainly was surprised in the moment when Nicholas kissed her. It definitely wasn’t how she had pictured it happening in the beginning of the evening when she tried to plan for the perfect night, but then again everything that could have gone wrong tonight did. Their first interaction was sour, they tried to one up each other the entire party, and she was drunker than a sailor. But something about the way it felt when their lips connected was electric and raw and it was exactly how it needed to be. She wanted to bring him closer, but as soon as she reached for him, he pulled away, his lips disappearing from hers. The redhead paused, taking a breath before stating the obvious with a smirk. “That was… whoa.”
Still reeling from the electricity of the kiss, Nicholas had to take a moment for himself which had him take a few slow breaths. As he did, he couldn’t stop thinking about how much he wanted to continue kissing her lips. It wasn’t like how he had kissed others in the past but maybe that was because TJ wasn’t like the others. She wasn’t someone like Dwayne who he knew was attracted to him and used that to have a good night nor was it like Alexis or any of the other countless girls who had made their way into his bed. Tyler Jane had always stood out above the rest.
But that wasn’t why he hesitated. He wanted to take her right now but just the thought of that made him feel guilty because he didn’t want to take advantage of her in the drunken state she currently found herself in. “So, is the room still spinning?” He asked, knowing he needed to say something.
Not thinking that was what he was going to say, the redhead couldn’t help but dissolve into another giggle, nodding her head. “Yes,” Tyler Jane replied, “Yes, it is. No kiss will be able to fix that, unfortunately.”
Nicholas was somewhere between disappointed and relieved when she said that. “I think this is the universe’s way of saying it’s bedtime.”
The redhead sighed, but silently acknowledged the fact he was probably right. Only minutes earlier she was practically pushing him away, but now, she didn’t want him to leave. They had finally found some semblance of resolution, an indicator that they were finally on the same page, but of course her drunkenness very well had to ruin what could have been a very interesting evening. Go figure. Tyler Jane pouted, leaning back and relaxing into her mountain of pillows. “I’m going to have the worst hangover in the world tomorrow, aren’t I.”
“You might, but with hangovers comes hangover cures and I happen to know that the best cure to any head pain is the greasiest burger you’ll ever eat.” He would say as he pulled Tyler Jane’s covers over her, stopping just above her chest. “So when you’re conscious and if you still remember, give me a call and I’ll get you the biggest one I can find.” He leaned over and tenderly kissed her on the forehead.
The drunk redhead smirked, eyes seeming to close out of instinct as the cozy sheets were wrapped around her. The giddy feeling in her chest still hadn’t gone away, but her brain knew that she was going to need as much rest as possible to sleep this incoming hangover off. “You’ve got yourself a deal.”
Nicholas couldn’t help but smile down at Tyler Jane as her words faded into silence. She looked so peaceful in how she slept. It was like the entire hour of her dancing on tables and wiggling around in his arms as he carried her felt like a distant nightmare. And maybe that’s because it was.
As he allowed himself to watch her peacefully sleep, eyes gazing at her fondly, he carefully left, leaving her dorm as quietly as he could. He had no idea if she was a heavy or a light sleeper, so he didn’t want to risk it. After the night she had -- most of which was his fault -- Tyler Jane deserved to have as much rest as she could. Lord knew the hangover she was going to have in the morning would be a killer.
He pressed his uninjured hand against the closed door and smiled. “Rest well,” he said and left, taking the scenic route to his dorm. It felt like one of those nights where he wanted to just be with his thoughts.