Chapter 23 – The Push

As Nick had predicted, the meal at the reception was, indeed, “Fancy shit.”

And as Brittany had predicted, they were seated at a table with Louis, Eleanor, Zayn, Harry and their dates for the evening.

Awkward was, without a doubt, the word of the day.

They made small talk at the table, but Nick and Brittany mostly kept to themselves, uttering a couple small comments about the food to each other as everyone talked over dinner. They didn’t have much to say, and Brittany felt more out of place than ever. She knew that Danielle had seated her with people she knew so that she wouldn’t feel that way, but quite frankly, she was beginning to feel as though she’d rather be sitting with strangers.

However, every time Nick made a small comment, whether under his breath or directly to her, she smiled. For what seemed like the millionth time that weekend, she really was grateful he was there with her.

The toasts and speeches were also somewhat awkward. Brittany tried her best to not pay much attention to Niall, but it was difficult when he gave his best man speech and kept looking at her. She took a deep breath, but there wasn’t much she could do other than wait out the awkward few minutes. Nick must have picked up on it, because he placed his hand on top of hers in an effort to support her.

Other than that uncomfortable moment, everything else went off without a hitch. Danielle and Liam had their first dance, followed by the rest of the wedding party. The bar and the dance floor were opened up to everyone else, and everyone seemed to scatter.

Louis and Eleanor quickly went to join the others on the dance floor. Zayn and his girlfriend left to go talk to some of the other people. Harry his date left with them, but not before Harry gave Brittany a small eye roll. Which she easily ignored.

Brittany looked over at Nick. “So,” she said, “What should we do?”

“Drink,” Nick said bluntly. “Let’s go drink.”

Brittany laughed, but was in completely agreement with him. They took turns going up to the bar and bringing back beverages. Nick had stuck with beer at first, but as Brittany started bringing him back girlier cocktails, he grinned and downed them, not really caring what anyone thought as he got drunker.

“Remember those fuckin’ fin drinks on the cruise?” he laughed, playing with the little umbrella in his drink as they sat at their table. “They were dope. I want another one. I’d go on another cruise just for another one of those fins.”

“I’m sure we could make one. I even still have my fin cup,” she laughed. “We could find out what’s like… in that drink and put it in the fin drink and pretend we’re back on the cruise.”

“Oh man,” he laughed. “I can’t believe you still have that cup. Fuck. That cruise feels like forever ago. I can’t believe we went on that. I can’t believe I dragged you on that shit!” he laughed a little, then turned slightly serious. “But thanks for coming with me.”

She smiled, chewing on the straw of her drink. “You’re welcome.”

“I fuckin’ mean it,” he said, putting his hand on her thigh. “You made that cruise worth going on. It was so awesome.”

She blushed a little, and electricity ran through her at his touch. “You saved me on that boat,” she said, in all seriousness. “You saved me from something that could have become so much worse. You’re like, my Jack Dawson,” she giggled, amused by her own silly movie reference.

“Ha!” Nick laughed. “It’s perfect. It’s so perfect, because your middle name is Rose. I get it.”

“You never drew me naked though,” she laughed, looking at Nick. He really was a cute drunk. A close talking, touchy-feely drunk, but a cute one nonetheless.

He raised his eyebrow at her suggestively. “I could draw you naked,” he said, leaning in closer to her. “I’m a really good artist.”

Brittany took a deep breath, and suddenly felt scared by how close Nick was getting. She was torn between wishing for him to kiss her, and wanting to push him away. So, she lightly put her hand on his chest. “Hmm,” she said softly. “I could really use another drink.”

“Yeah,” he nodded furiously in agreement. “Me too. Maybe I’ll see if they can make something like the fin,” he said, walking off.

Brittany sighed to herself and turned to face the table. She looked down at her hands. What was she getting herself into?

But before she had the chance to go over what was happening, someone else sat down next to her.

Niall.

“You look like you’re having fun,” he commented, giving her a look.

She didn’t quite know what to say to him and his attitude was already off putting, considering he hadn’t even said hello.

Then again, he’d been good at doing things like that since their breakup. He hadn’t really given her a chance to talk to the media either. He’d just replied to a few fans on twitter, telling them she’d broken up with him and gone on the Backstreet Boys cruise.

Just thinking about the drama he had caused, even though it was years in the past, made her angry with him all over again. Nevermind the fact that she’d sort of egged him on herself by commenting on his twitcam.

But she took a deep breath, determined to keep her cool around him. “I am, thanks.”

“Not surprising that you’re with him,” he said with a sigh, nodding his head in Nick’s direction.

Brittany glanced back at where Nick was standing. He wasn’t paying them any attention, and appeared to be playing around with his phone. “Why?” she asked, but as soon as the question left her mouth she knew she was going to regret asking it.

“Come on Brittany,” he said knowingly. “Everyone’s seen the pictures of you two together.”

Brittany rolled her eyes. Yes, the media did like to speculate that she and Nick were an item. And some time ago, they had made Niall out to be the innocent victim in all of it. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, that much was true. Her following album and tours had sold well, but the drama was something she could have done without. “Uh huh, well you should know better than anyone not to trust what the media says.”

“He was all over you on that boat,” he said harshly. “Days after we broke up. Days.”

She sighed, feeling guilty for a moment, but then snapping back to remembering the reason she’d left him in the first place. “Nick and I aren’t a thing. And you should talk. Remember why I left you? Because you fucked someone else,” she said, keeping her voice low, but firm.

“The whole world didn’t know about that. But everyone saw you and Nick together. It was all over Perez Hilton and Twitter.”

Brittany could help but scoff at that. “Really? That makes it worse? The fact that you cheated on me, and the only people that knew about it were us and the people close to us, and you’re mad because everyone on Twitter saw Nick and I together and thought you were the victim? Everyone felt sorry for you. You! And you were the one who screwed up. I never told anyone you cheated on me. You should be fucking thankful.”

Niall was taken aback a little by Brittany’s words, but he didn’t back down. She may have been right, but he still felt the need to maintain his pride. “Ironic then, isn’t it?” he asked with a slight laugh.

“What?” she asked with annoyance, wishing he would just leave. Or that Nick would hurry it up with the drinks.

“You broke up with me for cheating on you, but you’re here with him, the biggest womanizer on the planet.”

It took all Brittany had not to deck him. She wanted to scream at him that he didn’t know Nick, and that even though he had a poor track record with women, he was a good person. That he was the best friend she’d ever had. That she felt closer to him than she had to anyone else. Instead, she gritted her teeth. “I already told you we’re not together.”

“Yeah,” Niall said, raising his eyebrow. “Maybe not officially. But you pretty much are.”

Brittany had nothing to say to that, considering the feelings she’d been having for Nick lately. She took in a breath to find some kind of words, but nothing came out.

Luckily, Nick chose that time to reappear with their drinks.

“Hey Britt,” he said, wearing a cheerful smile as he glanced over at Niall. “It’s not exactly the same as a fin, but it’ll do.” He set the drinks down on the table, and rested his hand on Niall’s shoulder. “Sorry I didn’t get one for you, buddy, I didn’t know you were going to be sitting over here.”

Niall jerked away from Nick’s touch and stood up. “I was just leaving,” he said, standing up abruptly and exiting the hall.

Brittany took a large sip of her drink, furrowing her eyebrows in frustration. “It does sort of taste like the fin drink,” she commented.

“Yeah,” Nick said, sitting down. “What was that about?” he asked, pretending as though he hadn’t heard the tail end of their conversation.

“Nothing,” Brittany said, playing with the straw. “We were just catching up.”

“Uh huh,” Nick replied, not buying that at all. “You know what, I’ve gotta go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back,” he said, standing up to leave.

“Nick,” Brittany said, looking at him and having an idea of where he was really going. “Don’t,” she pleaded.

Nick shrugged and gave her an innocent look. “I’m just going to the bathroom,” he said, before walking off.

He wasn’t. He walked out of the room and went to stand at the end of the hallway. Wherever Niall had gone, he had to come back eventually.

And he did.

Niall glanced in Nick’s direction, but he attempted to walk right past him. Nick, of course, had other plans.

“Hold on,” he said, tapping Niall on the arm. “I need to talk to you.”

Niall brushed him off. “I don’t have anything to say to you.”

Nick shrugged. “Well I’ve got a few things to say to you.”

Niall rolled his eyes a little, but he stood there and looked at Nick, waiting for him to continue.

“You don’t get to talk to Brittany like that,” Nick said seriously. “You have some nerve.”

“You don’t know what happened between us,” Niall shot back. “You don’t get to just show up and act like you know.”

Nick scoffed. “I do know what happened between you, and I don’t care,” he said, giving him a look. “Actually, nevermind, I do care. I care because what you did to her what bullshit. It was fucking bullshit, and she deserves better.”

Niall raised his eyebrow. “What? You mean she deserves you? Aren’t you the one always in the media, a different girl every night? Yeah, she dumped me for sleeping with someone else, but she’ll gladly be with you.”

Nick gritted his teeth. He and Brittany weren’t even together, and to hear everything that made him insecure about their potential relationship from her ex-boyfriend made him seethe with rage. “We’re not together, but that’s not the point. The point is, she’s my best friend and I love her,” he spat. “I love her. You don’t. Not anymore.” The words were out of Nick’s mouth before he even realized what he was saying.

“I didn’t say I loved her,” Niall retorted.

“Good,” Nick said. “You stay the fuck away. After what you did, you’re lucky she still acknowledges your existence.”

And with that, Nick walked briskly back into the reception hall. He didn’t care that Niall’s infidelity wasn’t the only reason for their breakup. He hated seeing the way that he’d been talking to Brittany, and moreover, he hated the way Niall had made him feel when he’d seen the two of them together.

Jealousy was a powerful instigator. And though Nick knew that Brittany didn’t have any intention of getting back together with Niall, it still bothered him. He was selfish, and wanted her for his own. It should have been so simple. He didn’t want anyone else, in that moment, he only wanted her.

He eyed Brittany standing by their table, talking to Danielle and Liam. She had a smile on her face and seemed to be happy about whatever they were saying. It was a far cry from the look of frustration that she’d worn when Niall had been talking to her. This was what Nick wanted to see – not that distant look she’d had earlier. This smile, and the way it lit up her whole face was one of the many reasons he found himself wanting her.

So, he walked straight over to them and tapped Brittany on the shoulder.

She turned around. “Hey,” she said with a grin.

In one swift movement, before he could psyche himself out of it, he leaned down and kissed her.

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