It would attack her at odd moments, seconds between breaths when the world was flying right by her; the compression of cold hands on her hips, just a shadow of the friction that had been forced upon her several months ago.
Jenny could feel it those hands now while she stood in front of her locker at Constance Billard; the hallways were empty and class was in session. She'd glanced into the mirror within her locker and had caught the sight of familiar brown eyes-- brown eyes she had seen in her nightmares all summer, brown eyes she'd tried so hard to push into the back of her mind-- just over her shoulder, a face caught in the reflection of the mirror. Jenny's blue eyes immediately flashed closed and her heart hammered in her chest, trying to fight the wave of fear that had risen in her chest, but she couldn't. Her hands were shaking, and she let her math book go gently, knowing that her fingers would be too numb to hold on. She shut her locker slowly, buying herself some time.
"Chuck." Her voice was hoarse even now, as if her throat recalled the pain it had felt the morning after from all the screaming and whimpering. She hadn't seen him all summer-- she hadn't wanted to see him all summer. He'd left for the Hamptons the day after he'd cornered her on the street; Jenny remembered feeling afraid even then under the bright light of the streetlamp, when he tried his best to be charming. Jenny had asked him about Blair and how the relationship was going, a mistake on her part, because he'd muttered something about deserting Blair and before Jenny knew it she'd been pulled into his limo. Jenny swallowed a little now at the memory, and she was glad that no tears came; she opened her eyes and turned to face the monster that had repeatedly shown up in her nightmares since that hot summer's night.
He hadn't changed. He hadn't changed from who he was a year ago, when she'd first met him, when he'd first tried to rape her. She had been lucky then-- her brother had saved her-- but apparently her luck could only go so far. Jenny felt a surge of hate as she looked up into the dark-haired boy's face-- but far, far stronger than that was her sense of fear. "What do you want?" She spat out, wishing her legs didn't look so long in the stupid uniform skirt she wore. Jenny wanted to wrap herself up in a hoodie like she had during the first week of the summer, when Dan had been so busy with his internship he wasn't able to notice Jenny's own pain, or throw herself into fashion design, like she had for the rest of those three months.
His smirk was so familiar it left scars on her body. Jenny felt the light grazing of fingertips on her exposed legs and she froze in horror, too terrified to think. "Little J." Chuck looked amused as his fingers trailed up her skirt; Jenny felt herself shrinking and shrinking within the shell of her skin, her heart beating double-time. "Wonder if they'd still call you little if they knew the way you'd wiggled under me in the backseat of my limo. Maybe we should go for another round?" Jenny's throat was stuck and her hand fluttered at his shoulder, pushing him away a little, and Chuck let out a laugh.
"Don't fight it, J; you know you enjoyed that night. You enjoyed me." His voice was like poisonous chocolate, so smooth and bittersweet, and Jenny felt her back smack against the locker as Chuck pressed against her, pushing his lips against the supple skin of her neck. At that Jenny seemed to get some of her strength back, and she struggled against him. She couldn't speak-- all of this was happening too fast, it seemed like a nightmare come true-- and she couldn't find her voice no matter how hard she searched for it.
But then he came; her savior, her knight, the dream that interrupts the nightmare.
"Chuck? Jenny?" There was that voice, sweet as candy to her senses, and Jenny closed her eyes again, pressing her back harder against the locker until she felt the slots pressing through the cloth of her shirt. She wasn't sure what happened next; her heart was beating so hard that all she could hear was her pulse, her breathing was harsh and her knees were shaking so hard that she wasn't sure how much longer she'd be able to stand. Chuck's hands had vanished from her sides and the eerie warmth of his body was no longer radiating around hers, but she hardly noticed-- she could steel feel the shadows of his grip pressing in on her, threatening to take her life away. Jenny pressed her hand against her heart and fought to breathe, and she realized then that there were tears on her cheeks. She wiped the teardrops away before wrapping her arms around her ribcage as if she were holding herself together, and she opened her eyes wearily to see if Chuck was still there.
That was the one thing she had not resorted to that fateful June night. She had not cried-- she had not sunk to that low of a level.
There he was before her, her god of perfection, her fallen angel; Chuck was gone and Nate was here and her heart slowed down rather than sped up. How long had it been since she had seen him this close up? Had he scared Chuck away, or had the other boy simply left? Nate was looking at her with that soft expression in his baby-blue eyes and she was melting, melting, melting, but she was crying too and she couldn't stop. She was completely ashamed of these tears and she tried to speak but she simply couldn't-- and he understood, her Romeo, he understood completely. Nate understood and his arms wrapped around her easily, like they were meant to be there, like her body had been designed to fit so easily into his grasp like a puzzle piece. It was easy, natural to hold him tightly and break down, her knees shuddering so violently that she couldn't even stand. And he held her, like it was natural for him to do so, like he was meant to be her rock.
His features scrunched a little with worry as he pressed the side of his face into Jenny's hair, and she could only respond by shaking her head violently where it was pressed into his shirt. Jenny felt a pair of strong arms enveloping her knees, and she was being lifted and carried. Who knew where she was going and frankly, Jenny didn't care. After that first night she'd cried for a week-- and then she'd stopped, and now it was as if she was letting out several months' worth of tears. It was amazing, the way his scent enveloped her and left her drunk. Jenny clutched to Nate's jacket weakly, she felt the shift from the cold corridors of her school to the lukewarm fall sunshine, she heard a car door opening and felt leather beneath her bottom and Nate's warmth disappearing. Jenny wiped at her eyes with trembling hands and looked around her surroundings; this car was unfamiliar to her and as Nate slid into the driver's seat, a blazing look in his eyes, she realized it was his car.
"Where are we going?" she asked hoarsely as she curled up onto the seat, turning to face him. He was her Prince Charming and she was his friend. It would always be that way and things would never change; at least, that's what she constantly told herself. Jenny was frightened by the angry look on Nate's normally calm features, and he smiled at her in a consoling manner as he started up the car.
"I'm taking you home. Chuck's probably angry and I don't want you there anyway, who knows what he'll do." Nate's lips pressed together and Jenny wanted to smooth them out with her fingertips, make him smile at her again, light up those eyes. Jenny leaned the side of her head against the cool leather seat and watched him drive, her thoughts slow and sluggish. Did he know? Had he figured out what Chuck had done to her? Jenny had tried her best to keep it all a secret but for some reason, confiding in Nate was something every cell in her body longed to do.
The ride with him didn't seem to last very long; before she knew it they were at her apartment building and she was getting out of the car shakily, glad that her dad wasn't home often during the day. Out of nowhere, it seemed, Nate picked her up again, cradling Jenny like a baby, and a weak laugh came out of her.
It was strange how he could read her so easily.
Her dad wasn't home; the apartment was quiet as the ever-thoughtful Nate placed Jenny's purse on the kitchen table. He lowered Jenny gently down, keeping a hand on her waist. "Can you stand?" He asked curiously, his eyes trained on her knees. When they wobbled he laughed his laugh, the one that sent unwanted shivers down her spine, and he picked her up again, nestling Jenny to his chest. "You need to lay down." Jenny caught his eyes glancing around, and they caught onto her room's open door.
When Nate placed her on her bed, Jenny caught sight of her reflection of her face in the mirror, and she wiped at her smudged eyeliner furiously. "I-I look absolutely ridiculous," she said hoarsely, patting the spot beside her as an invitation for Nate to curl up beside her. The vision of Nate sitting beside her on her bed was so completely surreal that she discreetly pinched her elbow to make sure this all wasn't a strange dream. It hurt.
She wanted to lean against him but she couldn't. Nate was looking at her with those concerned blue eyes and Jenny looked down, fixing the blanket beneath them nervously. "Do you want to tell me what happened?" Nate asked gently, in a guarded sort of voice, like he was afraid to make her cry again. Jenny looked at him again and she felt her heart soften a little; no one had ever looked at her like the way he did now. Like he had seen her -- like he actually wanted to see her. Jenny had become so used to being invisible that she now felt utterly exposed.
In a good way. She actually didn't mind being exposed in front of Nate Archibald.
Jenny took a deep breath and focused on those pools of blue eyes; they entranced her and she didn't want to look away. "Chuck raped me." She said softly, and it felt strange to finally say those words out loud. She saw this blue eyes tighten with anger, and she pressed on. "A few months ago, before he went to the Hamptons. I don't even know why he was there, but I'd just come out of my internship and he was right there, standing by his limo. He pulled me in and..." Jenny's throat closed up and she shook her head, unable to speak anymore. She didn't want to cry again, she'd cried enough in front of Nate and now her body was tired from it all. All she wanted to do was sleep-- well, that's what half of her wanted to do-- and the other half of her wanted to stay here with Nate holding her hand the way he was now forever.
He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her into him again, and Jenny nestled her face into his shoulder, closing her eyes. Actions spoke louder than words at this very moment; no words could capture how incomplete she'd felt for the past few months and no words could summarize how terrible he felt that his best friend could do this to her. There was the sound of his soft breathing and the pressing of his hand as it rubbed her back and Jenny was in heaven, even more so when she heard his rumble of a voice tumbling out of his mouth.
"I'm sorry you had to go through that, Jenny. Did you report him? Does anyone know?"
Jenny shook her head a little and her exhausted eyes closed again. "No one knows but you. You know Chuck can bribe his way out of anything, and I just..." She paused and fought back a yawn, her fingers clasping onto the sleeve of his jacket. "Tell me about your summer, or tell me a story, or tell me anything. I like hearing your voice." Her lips curved up into a tiny smile and she wondered if he was smiling, too.
And so he spoke and Jenny tried her best to listen, she really did, but before she knew it Nate's arms were disappearing and he was was covering her up with a blanket. Part of her wanted to call out to him and tell him to stay and the rest of her wanted to rest so badly now that this burden had been lifted off her shoulders. She felt Nate's soft mouth by her ear and his sweet whisper, "Jenny, can you answer something before you go to sleep? Why haven't you told anyone?"
Even in her dreamlike state her fingers were curling around Nate's rough ones. "I didn't have anyone to tell." Jenny mumbled in reply, blunt as she drifted off to sleep.
When she woke up he was gone. Jenny sat up in her bed drowsily, looking at the clock perched beside her bed. It was three in the afternoon, and Dan would come home from school soon. Rubbing at her eyes, Jenny sighed a little, bracing her free hand beside her-- and she heard the crumpling of paper. Looking down in suprise, Jenny caught sight of a sheet of paper, delicately placed on the spot beside where she'd been sleeping. On it Nate's handwriting was sprawled; only a few words, but those words meant the world to her.
You have me.
Author's Note: It's been a long time since I've written a fanfic- I've been so busy with school. This is my first Gossip Girl fic, and I hope you guys enjoyed it. For the record, I guess my other fics are either finished or cancelled- sorry!