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Author's Chapter Notes:

It was five forty-five when Nick began talking about having to leave soon and six thirty by the time he actually left the bed. In the process of getting up, in between kisses, he mentioned how much he hated having to stop kissing her. She nodded and her nose brushed against his, a piece of his hair drifted across her forehead and it made her spine tingle.

“Go.” She finally said quietly as he nuzzled his face in her neck.

He smiled at her as he left the bed, taking a lot of the warmth with him.

She slid into a sitting position and messed with her hair nervously as she watched him move around the suite before disappearing into the bathroom for a few minutes. She sat there quietly reeling in her emotions, mindlessly twirling a piece of hair around her fingers and smiling to herself for a few minutes before he re-emerged.

“My lips are puffy.” He laughed lightly as he crawled back into the bed with her briefly.

Suddenly her face dropped and her hand went to her own mouth, “oh my god.”

He laughed, “It’s okay.” He shook his head, “it was worth it.”

She blushed more than she wanted to as he leaned in to kiss her again. His hand on her cheek, his lips on her lips … it was still unfamiliar in the best way even after hours of experiencing it.

Her brain felt fuzzy as he pulled away and he slipped back out of the bed and got dressed quickly.

“Are you going to be okay? You didn’t sleep at all.”

“I’m going to be fine.” He said with a smirk. “Probably better than fine.”

She didn’t know what to say. It didn’t even feel real. There had been no sleeping. They spent the entire night kissing each other, looking at each other and feeling immediate confidence in where they placed their hands on each other. His hands on her neck, back and shoulders, her hands in his hair, on his arms … nothing was awkward even in the uncertainty. They laughed, they flirted, and they smiled so much it made their faces hurt. There was barely any speaking, only a few stray, memorable sentences. It was pure fantasy, but it had actually happened.

“I’ll see you later, at soundcheck or dinner or wherever.”

“Okay.” She said as he leaned in and kissed her again. They looked at each other, neither knowing what to say, but knowing that what they had started was too good to disrupt with anything heavy. “I’ll see you there.” She confirmed.

His eyes were bright and giving her chills. “Bye.” He said softly.

“Bye.” She said and watched him leave.

Protecting herself was out. She was in uncharted waters with him but she felt safe. He was the safe spot. She couldn’t protect herself from the thing that made her feel safe. She knew she had no idea what to do next, and she was still unsure how or when to broach the scope of the situation - to tell him how she felt. The prospect of kissing him again was all that really mattered at the moment. It didn’t even feel wrong - it didn’t feel like a betrayal to herself in his interest - it felt like doing something she wanted to do with someone she trusted. And she trusted that for him this was something he wanted at least in part the same way she did. She didn’t have to know more than that to enjoy it for a while.

She laid there for an hour contemplating it all. Remembering the feeling of his lips of her jaw, his warm breath on her cheeks, his lips on hers… the feeling right before he kissed her, knowing he was going to, the tingling sensation she felt through her entire body. Perfect.

There was more disappointment in leaving her than he anticipated. He ran through a series of the memories from the night before as he made his way to the lobby.

“Do you have to sleep?” She had asked him around three-thirty in the morning. He remembered it hadn’t even crossed his mind until she asked. She was looking at him like she was concerned but also like she was hoping he would say no. Which he did. “Why would I sleep?” He remembered the look on her face, he wasn’t sure how to describe it, but she looked happy - in a way, she looked like she couldn’t even believe how happy she was. It could have been a look that conveyed any number of amazing things and that made him feel heavy in a thousand exciting ways. There was so much more to find out about her and he wanted to know it all. Infinite possibilities.

A smile spread across his face.

“You’re amazing.” She had whispered it as his mouth explored the curve between her ear and her cheek. He recalled that it made him feel so weak he almost fell deeper into her. She had no idea what she was doing to him - and neither did he.

He had kissed her so much and for so long, but it still wasn’t long enough. She had let him kiss her lips, her cheeks, all along her jaw... he hadn’t tried to do anything else, there was enough goodness in that. He hadn’t even had enough of those things yet.

She was so beautiful and he wanted to indulge in everything that meant, piece by piece. He wanted more, but he didn’t want it yet. For the first time, it was good enough to cherish, there was no reason to have it all at once.

He knew she was unlike anyone he had ever been with but actually being with her made that even clearer. Simply kissing her was satisfying in itself and having her limbs tangled up with his was comforting. It was an unfamiliar feeling - but it felt right. It consumed him and he was okay with it.

He spent the day in a tired, distracted state looking forward to seeing her again. He couldn’t remember the last time - or any time - he wanted to see someone again like that.

In between interview questions, and sometimes even during, he kept going back to the moment before he kissed her when he looked at her and he saw it. He saw her the way he was meant to see her. With his defenses now fully compromised and completely broken down he was able to see her clearly: gorgeous, perfect, reliable, happy, attentive, smart ... challenging him in a way he never knew he wanted to be challenged. He looked at her and he saw her. He saw everything. She was it. How did I miss it before?

Below the surface, the simmering fears were bubbling up. He barely trusted himself to believe what he saw, and he certainly didn’t trust himself with her. And why should she trust me? She knew his history, and despite everything she had said - everything she had implied - he didn’t trust himself to believe she’d want him to be the one for her and he wasn’t sure he could be. She was so pure and he was tainted. She was perfect and he would corrupt her. She was precious and he didn’t know how to hold something like that without breaking it. He was reckless and he didn’t want to wreck her, but he felt the very real fear that he might. Maybe you CAN mess it up.