54. Nick

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Nick arrives at the Rogers' and sees that every light in the house is on. Bailey must be here alone.

He tries to be quiet as he rushes up the stairs towards her room. If she's sleeping, he doesn't want to wake her, but he needs to see her. He knows she's okay, but he needs to see it with his own eyes. He hears her raspy voice as he approaches the open bedroom door.

"Thank you. Goodbye, Evan."

Shit. He shouldn't be here. She's going to think he was eavesdropping. He begins to back away quietly, but runs directly into a little table of trinkets along the wall. "Fuck."

"Nick?"

He slowly opens her door and peaks in. She's turned around to look at him. "Yeah. Sorry, I wasn't listening, I swear. I'm just here to make sure you're okay. Ian told me what happened."

Her eyes are red, from smoke or tears, Nick doesn't know. Her face is dry. "Come in," she says softly.

She stands up and walks towards him. Her hair is wet and she's wearing clothes that are at least three sizes too big, like she just grabbed what she could from a laundry basket.

"That was Evan on the phone."

He understands. "Okay. Is he coming here? To be with you? Do you want me to leave?"

"No." She grabs his wrist. "Nick, I just broke up with him."

His mouth is suddenly very dry. "Wh—Why?"

She takes another step toward him, her chin up, sure of herself. "Because, when I was sitting here, the saddest I've ever been in my life, I only wanted one person here with me. And it wasn't him."

She cups her hand along his cheek. "Nick, I need you. I need you take my pain away. I need you to help me forget, even if it's temporary. Please, Nick."

He starts to shake his head, but she stops him before he can speak. "Don't say no, Nick, please." She's crying now and fists his shirt with both hands. "Please don't reject me again. Don't turn me away. Please. You told me the other night that you needed me. Now I need you."

In the end, it was the tears that was his undoing. He had made her cry once before, and it haunted him. He couldn't do that again. Consequences be damned.

He does what he has done in his dreams ever since the morning after the blackout. He takes her face in both hands, and kisses one cheek, and then the other, tasting her tracks of tears on his lips, kissing them away. She gives a relieved sigh.

He hates that she felt like he was rejecting her, or that he didn't want her. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was doing it for her, or, at least, he thought he was.

He shuts the door behind him without taking his eyes from her. Then he places one hand behind her back, and one behind her knees before carrying her to the bed.

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