Disclaimer: I own nothing. Nothing, nada, zilch, zip.

Timeline: Set during 2x9, "There Might Be Blood."

Big Brother Watching

As Nate gets into the van to drive Jenny to her guerrilla fashion show, he is pretty sure that what he's doing ranks up there with the top ten stupidest things he's ever done. Not quite as high as the time he got mixed up in that poker thing with Carter Baizen that Chuck had to bail him out of, but definitely higher than the time he pretended to be Dan Humphrey. However, when Nate has the majority of his "Archibald Moments" (as Chuck used to call them), he tends to not realize until later. This time, though, Nate knows right off the bat that what he's doing is completely idiotic.

But then, Nate wonders, why is he doing it?

That's a pretty good question, but Nate knows he's not going to be able to answer it honestly unless that answer contains the two words, "Jenny Humphrey." And since Nate is still preoccupied with pretending that Jenny is nothing more to him than a little-sister figure and doesn't have the most enticing body and the most innocently seductive smile on the Upper East Side, Nate opts to also pretend that he is simply doing this out of pity for Jenny. You know, Jenny Humphrey—the girl he thinks of as his sister.

Nate can practically hear Chuck lazily drawling "Riiiiiiiight."

Sometimes Nate wishes that Chuck hadn't been such a damn good friend. If Chuck had been blinded by the rest of his life, Nate wouldn't have had to distance himself from his best friend since kindergarten. But Chuck Bass, Nate Archibald has learned long ago, was nobody's fool. Nobody puts anything past Chuck Bass and survived. Nate Archibald was not the first to try, and certainly not the last to fail. Sometimes he wonders if Chuck truly did sell his soul to the devil for his enviable powers of intuition, but then Chuck does things like sell his burlesque club to save Nate's home from bank seizure.

So basically, on yet another topic Nate is torn.

But back to the point.

Why is he currently hopping into a van containing a dozen couture dresses by Jenny Humphrey, again?

Right. Her eyes. Her goddamn eyes. Lately Jenny has been wearing pounds of eye makeup, Nate has noticed, and even though he can't deny that she looks sexy as hell with her new style, he would also be hard-pressed to deny that he finds Jenny even more sexy when she's fresh-faced and plainly dressed. He likes seeing the softer, more vulnerable side of his (little sister) Jenny Humphrey.

But whenever Nate mentions this to her (in a roundabout way), Jenny always brushes aside his opinion.

"Don't I look fabulous, Nate?" Jenny had asked the day after he moved into the Humphrey loft. Nate remembers longing to touch her soft locks as Jenny ran her fingers through her newly shaggy hair before grasping her mascara wand and preparing to apply another coat on her lashes.

Nate had shaken himself out of his trance. "You do look good," he had complimented her (in a big-brother kind of way). He had felt his pants tighten a little bit, with the object of his nighttime fantasies standing in front of him wearing a very low-cut tank top, and he hated himself a little bit more. Thank goodness Jenny Humphrey was too naïve to notice. Not only had it saved Nate some embarrassment, but privately Nate had known that he'd be beyond angry (angry, not jealous) if he found out that any guy had taken away any vestige of Jenny's innocence.

Jenny had taken a step back from the mirror, admiring her handiwork. "Is it too much?" She asked anxiously.

Years of dating Blair had ingrained the correct answer to this question in him, yet Nate had still felt compelled to tell the truth to this strange, bewitching young girl (little-sister age, Nate always had to remind himself). "A little," he had told her honestly. "I mean, it doesn't look bad," he had explained, hoping to keep her from feeling hurt, "it looks good. It's just that you look better with less makeup, you know? You're naturally beautiful, not like all those fakes at your work."

"Nate," Jenny had whined. "Stop. I know you're just saying to make me feel better and it's not working. I've got to go, see you later!" And with that, she had swept out of the apartment, leaving Nate to yet another morning featuring an ice-cold shower. Hey, never let it be said that Nate Archibald wasn't doing his part to save the environment.

Nate sighs, remembering all of the compliments he has given Jenny over the year they have known each other. Every single one had slipped out accidentally, as Nate had tried very hard to keep Gossip Girl from romantically linking himself and (his little sister) Jenny Humphrey. The compliments lit up Jenny's pale, smooth complexion and if possible, made her even more beautiful. But she never accepted them graciously, and Nate knows she never will. Instead, she always chooses to brush off the truest compliments she'll ever hear. God, Nate reflects, how can Jenny be so capable of ignoring their connection, while he in all his maturity cannot? It's been a physical battle with himself to stay away from Jenny since their kiss one week ago, and Jenny seems to have brushed it off like nothing ever happened.

And god, what a kiss.

"Okay, you are not my father and you are not my brother," Jenny had informed him as he dragged her out of that scumbag's apartment, and all Nate could think was how much he had wished Jenny's words weren't true. How much easier it would be if he could be content to be just Jenny Humphrey's older brother. "So why do you care so much?" Jenny had spat at him, angrily, sadly.

But what she had really meant was, Nate knows, is why can't we just be easy? Why can't we just be friends like Eric and I or siblings like Dan and I? What is so different about our relationship that you alternately flirt and protect me, but never make a move like you do with every other fucking girl on the Upper East Side—scratch that, you dated Vanessa—planet?

And once that question, filled with miles of meaning despite its deceptively brief phrasing, was out there in the cool evening air, hanging above their heads, they were set on a track that they could have predicted. Jenny's million-dollar question forced movement, they could no longer exist in a vacuum of Humphrey apartments and park benches.

Standing dumbstruck on the sidewalk of a rainy street, Nate had been forced to answer the only way he truthfully could: "Because," he had breathed before kissing Jenny like he'd wanted to ever since he ran into her outside of Blair's seventeenth birthday party nearly a year ago. At first, he had been nervous (he should be, there're definitely laws against incest, he knows)—and Nate Archibald was never nervous—what if she rebuffed him? But she had softly, innocently, beautifully made him forget about all of his fears during the most passionate kiss of his promiscuous life.

"Nate?" The present-day Jenny's voice cut into his reflection. "Nate, are you going to do this or what?"

Nate presses his fingers gently against his temples. This is the moment of truth.

How is he to know what to do, he wonders. Is it worth being kicked out of the generous, welcoming Humphrey household just to drive a sure-to-be ungrateful Jenny to a charity gala where she will embarrass many people he also likes?

But if there is one thing that Nate Archibald knows, it is that he does not just like Jenny Humphrey. The word like fails to encompass the vast spread of things about Jenny Humphrey that make him feel all the warm fuzzies that he's sure Blair wanted him to feel last year. It does not cover the way that Jenny wrinkles her forehead when she's confused, or the way she nibbles her fingernails childishly when she's stressed. It does not cover the quirky-yet-cute clothes she's always sporting or the bright, bubbly blonde hair that Nate longs to tuck behind her ear before he kisses her again. It doesn't cover the glow she gets when she talks about her passion for style and fashion. It doesn't cover her dry wit or her endless fount of empathy. Most importantly, it doesn't cover the feeling that Nate gets when he is lucky enough to be around to witness the things he likes about Jenny Humphrey (because, you know, big brothers like their younger sisters to be happy. Right?).

Nate thinks about what this could be. But how is Nate to know that in two years from that day, he'll be on a train coming back from New Haven to Manhattan to visit his girlfriend for the tenth time since the semester started? How is he supposed to know that he will be forced to switch his cell phone plan to unlimited minutes and texting because he can't stand to spend an afternoon without hearing his girlfriend's voice? How is he supposed to be able to picture the beautiful reunion scene that will ensue when he gets off the train at Grand Central Station, where Nate will do the following, in no particular order:

1. Sweep his beautiful, blonde girlfriend into his arms.

2. Kiss her until neither of them can breathe any longer.

3. Hug her until her father comes up behind him and coughs loudly.

4. Slip his arm around her too-skinny shoulders (she really should eat more, the big brother comments) and not let go until her brother 'accidentally' runs into them, knocking them apart.

5. Press another quick kiss to her lips, just in case she has forgotten how much he has missed her.

And really, how is Nate to know that said girlfriend will be Jenny Humphrey?

The answer is, Nate doesn't know any of that. At the moment, Nate has no idea what the future will bring. But, it occurs to him as he looks into Jenny's shining eyes, that's okay with him for now.

Nate doesn't answer Jenny's question. Instead, he slides the van's key into the ignition and starts the engine, shifting the car into drive. The van pulls out, leaving Rufus and Dan Humphrey reflecting angrily in the rearview mirror. Skillfully maneuvering the van through the city streets with his left hand , Nate's right hand tentatively, softly slips over to cover Jenny's smaller hand, the entwined limbs resting lightly on the center gearshift.

Nate can't see it (his eyes are on the road, after all), but he's pretty sure he can feel the full force of Jenny's smile from his seat. He hears Abby's wolf whistle from the backseat and grins.

That's right, he's no longer the big brother anymore. He's Jenny's boyfriend, and he has definitely made the right choice. That is the one thing that Nate Archibald knows for damn sure.

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Yeah, I know, I usually post C/B fics, but I got a request (actually, several) for another Nate/Jenny, and I dunno, I just needed a break from NaNo (speaking of which, I'm all kinds of pissed--somebody had already picked this username on NaNo! How common is the name 'supergirlscafe'? Clearly I'm not original enough).

Anyway, reviews would make me SO happy! So please review!