|A Chance to Show Your Weakness
Author: FallAway PM
TV. AU. Five times that ‘almost’ might have counted.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Jenny & Nate - Words: 1,671 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 1 - Published: 01-27-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4823398
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summary: AU. Five times that 'almost' might have counted.
Disclaimer: No ownership, no relation, blah, blah, blah…
A/N: For Susan, long overdue, combining several ideas into one (only not really). Feedback is always appreciated.
He shows her the papers and her eyes widen until they water. She has no idea what to say, what to do, and for some reason her hands feel incredibly big as she reaches for the form. Nate hands it to her calmly, staring at a point just past her shoulder.
Jenny feels like she might be having a panic attack. "You can't be serious."
"Nate! You can't divorce your parents. That's insane," she frets, waving the paper around. He furrows his brow and looks her in the eyes.
"More insane than the way we live now?" She opens her mouth to speak, but words fail her. After a moment he shakes his head and reaches for the papers again. "No. This is for the best. I need to get away from my mom and… just… everything."
"Where are you going to live, then?" A mental pat on the back is her only congratulations for being so practical. The look in Nate's eyes is absolutely murderous. Before he can rail on her she settles her hands on his shoulders and smiles too brightly. "Come stay with us!"
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah! Absolutely. My dad would love to have you and you and Dan could hang out…"
He looks skeptical. Jenny sighs and squeezes his shoulders, moving closer to him on the park bench. "Come on, Nate. It's better than living in your abandoned house, isn't it?"
The smile he gives her is reluctant, but it's good enough.
Eric has been gushing about this guy for weeks by the time he finally sets her up with him. She thanks him laughingly and gathers some material from her closet, tossing it all on the bed in a gigantic heap. The dress she throws together feels last-minute, and it is. She spends eight hours on it the night before her blind date, Eric's voice streaming steadily through the speakerphone.
Nate does not say a word when she greets him at breakfast the next morning.
At first she thinks nothing of it, but as the day wears on and Nate ignores her texts and refuses to look at her even when they sit across from each other at lunch, Jenny feels like there are flames on the side of her face.
"What is your problem?" she snaps. The smirk on his face is hard to miss, but he schools his features before he looks up from his book, and that makes her even angrier.
"I don't know what you mean," he replies. Every bit of his upper east-side heritage leaks into his tone and she hates him.
"You've been ignoring me all day," Jenny argues. "And considering that you live in my house, it's pretty damn noticeable."
He looks surprised, but his eyes are too dark for the expression to be genuine. "I'm sorry. If I was ignoring you, I didn't realize it."
"Bullshit." The curse even shocks her, but she arches an eyebrow and folds her arms across her chest. "I know you, Nate. You're upset with me. Tell me why."
A heavy silence settles over the room and then he sighs, facilitating twice as much tension in a single breath. "What do you know about this guy?"
It takes her a second to register the change in topic. "My date? I don't know. Eric's been gushing about him for weeks. Why do you ask?"
Nate stares at her for a long time, and then he shakes his head almost sadly. "I gave you an answer."
He pushes away from the counter and walks away, bringing his book with him as he leaves the loft. Jenny stares after him, reeling.
She spends too long standing in front of her mirror and she knows it. Her brother is shouting at her to hurry up and Nate is talking on his cell phone, telling someone that they are going to be late in an apologetic tone that she has learned to hate. Jenny smoothes her dress and turns to the side again, running her fingers over the stitching on the pale gray dress.
Nate appears in the reflection behind her and she turns, the necklace in her hand swinging violently. He stops in the doorway; the barest hint of a smile appears before he looks away from her. "We gotta go," he says.
"Yeah," she agrees. "Can you help me with this?"
He nods and approaches her slowly, holding his hand out to take the piece of jewelry. She smiles brightly and hands it to him, turning to face the mirror fully. Reaching behind her to hold her hair up, she meets his eyes in the mirror. Nate licks his lips slowly and a slow shiver travels down her spine; she shakes it off and closes her eyes.
"Your dress is nice," he says quietly. His finger tips brush against her collarbone as he threads the chain of her necklace through her bent elbow. Jenny leans slightly into the touch. "Did you make it?"
She swallows thickly. "Yeah," she whispers. The word catches in her throat and she opens her eyes slowly, hearing a tiny snap as he clasps her necklace in place. Nate carefully lowers his hands, brushing them along her shoulder blades as he does. Their eyes remain locked in the mirror, and she can feel every point of contact burn pleasantly. Just as she gets the courage to turn toward him, Dan barges into the room, waving his cell phone around and ranting about Serena.
He freezes abruptly and raises his eyebrows. "Was I interrupting something?"
She gapes for a second and then clears her throat, shaking her head as she turns to her brother. "Nope. Nate was just helping me with my necklace." She looks to her friend for confirmation and he nods.
Dan nods slowly and then gestures toward the door. "Let's go then. We're late." He leaves and Jenny looks at Nate, smiling sadly.
"After you," he offers. She can hear his footsteps as he walks behind her and she bites her lip to keep from doing something stupid.
It's perfect. She rests her gloved hand against the glass and sighs heavily, frosting the window with warmth. Eric tilts his head to the side and she looks at him forlornly. "Jenny, you promised."
"And I'm sticking to that promise! But you have to admit it would be the perfect gift."
"Yes, but you are not with him. And you don't want to be with him," he says seriously. "We already went through this process, remember?"
Jenny absolutely hates it when he is so reasonable. She rolls her eyes and looks at the Apple display again, narrowing her field of vision to the black Nano at the front. It is surrounded by holly and its base is Santa's sleigh, but none of that negates his need for a new MP3 player. She remembers his disappointment when his old one broke and—
"Snap out of it!" Eric grabs her shoulders and spins her around, looking her dead in the eyes. "Jenny! Stop torturing yourself like this!"
She tilts her head back and rests a hand on her hat to keep it in place, groaning dramatically. "I know! But you don't get it!"
"I do," he replies calmly. Jenny lowers her gaze to his and frowns. "You miss him. I get that," Eric promises.
She nods and turns away, deliberately walking right past the Apple store. She hears her best friend's chuckle behind her and she fights the tears in her eyes with all of her strength.
He buries his face in her shoulder and she breathes heavily into his hair, giggling when it stirs and tickles her nose. Nate traces her collarbone with his tongue, nipping at her skin with his teeth, and Jenny giggles throatily. "Nate," she murmurs.
She can feel his smile, his laugh vibrating against her throat, and she shivers when he runs his hand across her stomach. Her muscles jump to attention, flexing and relaxing as he passes his fingertips over her bellybutton. He dips his index finger into her navel and she arches into the touch, eliciting a harsh groan from him.
"Wait," he begs. "Hold on."
Jenny shakes her head and reaches for him impatiently, gripping his face with both hands and pulling it to her own. She kisses him steadily, running her tongue across his bottom lip until he pushes his hips into hers. The sweet snap of the motion is almost too much to bear. She breaks away from him on a gasp, pushing her head back into her pillows in an attempt to catch her breath.
Just when she is about to reach for him again, Nate rolls onto his back and stares at the ceiling, his hands firmly crossed over his stomach. She frowns. "What are you doing?"
"I can't do this," he says seriously. His tone is dark, but she isn't sure of its implications, and she rolls to prop herself on her elbow. She traces a hand down his arm and sighs heavily.
"No, Jenny." He pushes her hand away and sits up. The burn in her stomach is acidic now; she feels rejection like a knife in her small intestine. Nate stands up and starts searching for his clothes. She turns away and shakes her head, wiping her eyes discreetly with her tank top.
When he gets to her door, he rests his hand against the frame and bows his head. For a moment she feels hope flare in her heart. "I'll see you at school."
And then it dies, along with her feelings for Nate Archibald.