A/N: I can't stop writing Gossip Girl fic these days – that's definitely due to the lack of my favourite couple on the show. So here's a little insight into what happened between Nate and Serena in the summer, based on the GG blogs that were released and the season two premiere. Lyrics and title courtesy of New Kids on the Block. Normally not my cup of tea, but the song really suits N/S - the lyrics aren't in order, just so you know. Enjoy, and if you review, I'll be eternally grateful. :)
July 8th, 2008
do you remember, or should I rewind? to that summer when you caught my eye
"This is good," she declared, but quietly, as they sat together in the train. They'd fought for the armrest childishly for a while, but had finally given up. They'd managed to fit both their elbows on, and were holding hands, loosely but comfortably.
Nate turned his head toward her and smiled lazily. "What is?"
She shrugged, not wanting to delve too deep. "I don't know. You and me and the summer. It feels like old times."
"It's good…right?" she asked, a wave of uncertainty hitting her full force.
His grip on her hand tightened. "Of course it is."
She was unable to stop the great big smile that lit up her face. Her phone beeped and she used her free hand to dig through her purse. She gasped and laughed before tossing it back in.
"Gossip Girl already has a 'watch' on us. Are they or aren't they?" she quoted.
He smiled and shook his head. "I think…" he said seriously, "that you and I are the only ones who ever need to truly know."
Her breath hitched in her throat, but she gave him her calmest nod before tilting her head, resting it against his shoulder. "Yeah. Sounds good."
July 11th, 2008
been a few years and I can't deny, the thought of you still makes me crazy
"Woo!" she screamed ecstatically, throwing her hands over her head, letting her golf club fall. She laughed at herself, her own over-the-top reaction, and grinned at Nate.
He grinned back, shaking his head, affectionately frustrated. "You're kicking my ass," he laughed, a little bit ashamed.
"I rock at life," she said simply, with an unaffected sigh, teasing him. "Come on, don't pout, I never do well at mini-golf."
Nate chuckled and rolled his eyes. "You do well at everything," he contradicted her.
That calmed her crazy-hyper state of mind to a near standstill, making her blush. Had he forgotten how much, exactly, they had done with one another? She let her eyes drift over to him, orbs meeting nervously.
It was always there, lingering between them.
"Well, congrats on your hole in one," he finally said, a bit too loudly. "C'mere."
She smiled, relaxing, and stepped easily into his embrace. His arms closed around her and her eyes fluttered shut, feeling her whole body pressed against his. She let her eyes flutter closed for a second and whispered, "Thanks."
And before she got out of control, she pulled back, punching his arm lightly. "Come on, there're still ten holes for me to beat you at!" she declared, grabbing her golf club and running off. Giggling, she glanced over her shoulder to make sure he was following her.
Of course he was.
July 22nd, 2008
we were feeling young love and we couldn't get enough
"You are such a baby," she giggled while she whispered; her voice travelled easily through the momentary silence and the darkness in the movie theatre.
Playfully, he held the popcorn out of her reach. "You know I hate it when people talk through movies."
"And that's why I do it," she replied as angelically as she could, trying to keep a straight face.
"Shh!" an elderly man from behind them hissed irritably. "Some of us are actually here to watch the film," he grumbled.
"Sorry, sir," Nate whispered back, flashing the man his nicest, most charming and apologetic smile.
"Don't worry about him, dear," the man's wife replied, immediately lost in Nate's earnest eyes and honest smile. "Lloyd, leave them alone. There's nothing like young love in the summer."
Serena didn't blush very easily, but she could feel heat spreading through her cheeks at those words, and glanced over at Nate. He turned back around to face forward and arched an eyebrow suggestively at her, dispersing all the awkwardness and making her giggle again. It was Nate. Just Nate.
"Give me the popcorn back," she whined in a whisper. "I haven't had anything to eat in hours."
"You had a sundae right before we came!" he shot back.
"Na-tie," she whined pitifully, just like she had when they were kids. And just like when they were kids, he couldn't resist.
"Fine," he said with a melodramatic sigh. "Do you promise not to talk?"
"Of course," she gushed.
They both knew it was a lie, but he handed over the popcorn anyway, and she grinned triumphantly. Without thinking about it, she leaned over and kissed him lightly, right on the tips. When she pulled away she dug into the popcorn and stared at the screen. True to her word, she didn't say another thing for the duration of the movie, and neither did Nate.
It didn't mean anything. It was just a thank you.
She always got a little crazy in the summer.
He knew that.
July 26th, 2008
the water was cool, the feeling was hot
"I don't know…what's a good bet?" he mused.
"Why're you asking me?"
"Well, you have more expertise in the gambling world than I do. Carter Baizen, anyone?"
"Okay, low blow," he protested. "Not my finest moment. How did you even find out about that?"
"Chuck is my step-brother," she said with a roll of her eyes.
"Okay, fine how about…a hundred dollars?"
"Or we could split, I don't know."
Serena shrugged carelessly. "Let's both put in a hundred, why not?" There was something so carefree about her attitude in the summer; if not, she thought about thing she didn't want to think about. Sometimes it got her in trouble, but she definitely had one hundred bucks to spare.
"Okay, now what team?"
"Natie," she sighed. "I know just as much about polo as I do about gambling."
He laughed. "Well then just pick one. You don't have any bias, it might give us a good chance to win."
"Um…okay. Pony Express."
"Why that team?"
"Because I like the name," she said, lifting her chin, just daring him to challenge her.
Nate gave her a look she couldn't quite read, taking a playfully menacing step toward her. She backed up automatically, nervously giggling, "What? What is it?"
"You want a ride?" he asked, blue eyes glittering with mischief.
"What?" she squealed, unsure of exactly how (un)innocent that question was.
In one smooth movement, he playfully tackled her, and before she knew it she was perched on his back, legs wrapped loosely around his waist, arms entwined tightly around his neck, laughing. "Do you think our team will win?" she asked breathlessly, her lips grazing his ear as he spoke.
"Does it really matter?"
She smiled to herself, resting her head against his. "No. It doesn't."
July 29th, 2008
I'm sittin' here with you on my mind, you're my summertime
"So," Serena said as she lounged in her beach chair. She propped herself up on her elbows and slipped her sunglasses back so that they rested atop her head like a hair band. "Tell me about your mystery girl."
He sighed. "You know I don't want to talk about this."
"Well, I do," she huffed. "I'm pretending to be your fucking girlfriend, I think I deserve a bit of an explanation."
He turned to look at her fully, eyebrows high, clearly shocked. "Whoa."
She expelled her breath and broke their eye contact. "Yeah, I…I'm sorry. I didn't mean to come off as such a…" Jealous girlfriend.
"It's okay," he replied with surprising calm. "It's just…she's older…and it's complicated. But you're doing me a huge favour, letting everyone think that we're dating…and I should spend more time with my fake girlfriend, shouldn't I?" he added, grinning sweetly.
Serena nodded, unable to keep from pouting a little.
He got up and extended both hands to her. "Come on. Let's play a game or something."
They'd always been fiercely competitive with each other – Monopoly when they were kids had practically been a bloodbath – and horseshoes on the beach at dusk was no different. They played hard and trash-talked, but in the end it was all just a game, and they collapsed next to each other in the pale pink light, skin glistening with perspiration and eyes bright with laughter.
"You wiped the floor with me," he chuckled.
"Bullshit," she laughed, nudging his shoulder with hers. "You let me win."
Nate winced. "Yeah…maybe."
She stared at the brilliant sunset and sucked in some air. "Hey…Nate? It's…it's not such a huge favour."
He squinted at her in confusion, "Letting you win?"
"No," she giggled, "pretending to be your girlfriend." She looked away from him and doodled a heart in the sand with her index finger. "It's not a favour at all."
August 1st, 2008
with your flip flops, half shirt, short-shorts, mini skirt. walking on the beach, so pretty.
"We've been here for almost fifteen minutes," Nate said with an impatient sigh.
"Yeah, but you know how I love gelato," she replied, giving him her most winning smile.
"Please, please just pick a flavour. I'll do anything."
"Serena," he sighed again. "She's always done this," he informed the person behind the counter.
"Thanks," she said with a roll of her eyes. "Okay, okay, okay. I'm torn between two, help me pick, okay? Coppa San Marco or Portifino?"
He shook his head, clearly thinking that she'd made this into a bigger problem then it had to be. "We'll get both, and we'll share, okay?"
Serena grinned. "You're a genius," she laughed, cupping his chin in her hand for a moment, steadying his face while she leaned in to kiss his cheek.
"Got yourself a good guy, there," the person behind the counter told her with a wink, nodding toward Nate.
She'd always been a good actress, a bit of a drama queen, and she had no problem playing things up. She hooked her arm around Nate's waist and leaned into him, crooning, "Yeah, I do."
She loved the way his arm automatically came around her shoulders, holding her close.
They sat close at one of the tiny table with extra-high, barstool-style chairs. Her flip-flops hung off her feet and the strap of her tank top slid down her shoulder while they ate, talking about nothing, wincing from the sugar rush and the brain freeze.
"Good?" Nate asked her.
"Want a bite of mine?"
He held out the spoon toward her and she closed her mouth around it, letting the flavours tickle her sense. She pulled back and licked her lips slowly, coyly, blushing under his unfaltering gaze. "Yummy," she said softly.
There were times at which being his girlfriend involved absolutely no acting at all.
August 7th, 2008
kicking back, no stress, as long as we were together
"Hey. Serena! Are you ready?"
"Almost!" she called back, twisting the cover back onto her mascara. "Sorry, just hang on one minute, I promise we won't be late!"
"Yeah, I've heard that one before!" he called.
"Shut up!" she laughed, rolling her eyes even though he couldn't see her.
"Now, Miss van der Woodsen, I'll have you know that the Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge is a very serious high-society event, and if we're late…"
She exploded out of her room like a tornado, planting her hands on her hips and glaring at him. "I'm ready, I'm ready. Stop sounding like my mother."
She expected a quick, witty retort, but she didn't get one. Nate was staring at her, eyes wide, clearly struck speechless.
"Nate?" she whispered, shifting her wait self-consciously from one foot to the other.
"You look…amazing," he said reverently.
She bit on her lower lip and looked away shyly as she walked toward him, tugging lightly at his lapels when she got there. "You look pretty handsome yourself. Your mystery girl's going to be all over you."
He shook his head, something secretive in his eyes. "Somehow I doubt that."
Well, she thought. Then maybe that'll have to be my job.
The polo itself would have bored Serena to tears, but Chuck alone was amusing her. His conquests that summer had reached a new high, and while she did find it comical, even admirable at times, she was worried about him, and about Blair.
Besides she had Nate. Nate to sit with, Nate to whisper to, Nate to make stupid jokes with, Nate to freshen her drink, Nate to smile up at their elders with, Nate to hug when the team they'd bet on was royally defeated.
Sitting with him was so good, so peaceful, his hand on her bare knee, her head on his shoulder. She loved that with him talking was so easy, so playful, but also so earnest. She liked that he'd laugh with her when she told him the latest ludicrous gossip. She adored the perfect smile he wore whenever a middle age couple commented that they looked just perfect together. Gods of Olympus, Barbie and Ken, statuesque models, movie stars…they got all kinds of complimentary comparisons, all of which they received with pretty smiles and a glance at each other.
"Maybe we should date," she mused, and before he could take it seriously, added, "It'd do wonders for my self esteem."
"Like you need it," he'd laughed, and they left it at that.
No matter how much she loved Nate, or trusted him, she could never really bring herself to be totally honest with him, because that had been forbidden territory for so, so very long.
"I can't believe they lost," she sighed when it was getting dark. People were leaving, players were accepting congratulations, Chuck had long ago disappeared with twins. Or maybe triplets.
"Aw, I know," Nate said, kindly but with a laugh in his voice.
"I'm tired," she murmured, her head falling against his shoulder.
He lifted his arm so that she could get more comfortable, nestling against his chest. "Thanks," she said softly on an exhale.
He kissed her forehead, a gentle press a lips to skin, and her heart skipped a beat. "Want a ride home?" he asked, still teasing her for her choice of team.
"I can't make it to the car," she said tiredly.
"No problem," he said, sweeping her up into his arms easily. She rested her forehead against his shoulder, eyes still closed, and pressed an emotion-packed kiss to his collarbone. "I love you," she said, very softly and very sleepily, so that they could pretend that it never happened in the morning.
August 11th, 2008
kissing on you while the ocean rocked
"How's the book?"
Serena lowered her copy of How to be Single and looked over at Nate, shielding her eyes from the sun. It was a partially cloudy day, waves thrashing against the beach. She didn't like those summer days – they made her restless. She preferred heat and sunshine. "Kind of depressing," she admitted. "How's yours?"
He tossed his book aside. "Kind of boring." He nodded toward her paperback book. "Why are you reading that, anyway? You have a boyfriend."
"Ha," she said dryly, chucking her empty water bottle at him. He caught it.
"Really, Serena…are you still upset about Dan?"
She shrugged, suddenly feeling very vulnerable. "I just…I don't know. It's weird. I've never had problems with guys before, you know that, it's just…I've never…felt that way…"
"About anyone besides Dan?" he prodded gently.
"Maybe one person besides him," she muttered. "And both times, it hurt. A lot." She bit down hard on her lower lip and glanced over at him.
He was taking deep breaths, surprised, struggling for something to say.
She decided she didn't want to hear it and scrambled to her feet as fast as she could. "Hey, you want some iced coffee?"
She definitely needed to cool down. Nate had a girlfriend. Nate was not hers.
No matter how much it had always felt that way.
August 14th, 2008
in your strapless sundress
"Oh. My. God."
Nate winced. "That bad?"
"Worse than that bad!" she cried, shoving him back into the dressing room. "Take that off right now."
He sighed from behind the door. "Well, you look gorgeous in that, for the record."
She smiled at her reflection in the mirror, pleased. "Thank you," she said simply. She'd be buying this dress, for sure.
She snatched a couple pieces of bright green clothing off a nearby rack and threw them in to Nate. "Try these on, you'll look great."
"Seriously?" he asked sceptically.
"Would I lie to you?" she asked innocently, covering her mouth so that he wouldn't hear her giggles.
She stepped back into her own little room. Done with her clothing choices, now sorted into piles (buy, don't buy, and buy if feeling impulsive), she unzipped the dress and stepped out of it, pulling her denim short-shorts back on over her bikini bottoms and retying the polka-dot scarf in her hair. She loved summer; it made her feel so free, everything from the crash of the waves on the beach right down to her wardrobe choices.
"Serena. I look. Like. A Leprechaun." He separated his words, speaking slowly and clearly, obviously fuming.
She stepped out of her dressing room only to see that he was still enclosed in his. "Aw, Natie, no you don't. Like me see," she begged.
"I look stupid, and you knew I would. I'm not coming out."
Even though he couldn't see her, she planted both hands on her hips and frowned. "Don't make me come in there," she threatened him.
She threw back the curtain and stepped inside without letting him say anything more, enclosing them both in the small room. "Oh my God, Nate," she laughed. "Ohhh, my God."
He sulked at her, in his hideously green clothes. "Yeah. Believe me, I know."
"Oh, no, don't be sad," she said. Sadness was something she wouldn't tolerate this summer, it was the very thing she was looking to avoid. "You look hot," she insisted, trying to keep from smiling.
He scoffed. "I don't." He looked at her, seeing her for the very first time, in her shorts and bikini top that clashed with her silky scarf. "But you do."
She giggled, and then her back was pressed up against the wall, Nate's tongue was slipping into her mouth, and her scarf was out of her hair, falling to the floor, replaced by his hands fisting in her long blonde locks.
Gossip Girl reported that buying clothes together was 'total friends territory'. Serena begged to differ.
August 29th, 2008
I think about you in the summertime, and all the good times we had, baby
"That's my baby brother!" Serena cheered, jumping up and down as she cheered Eric on. She leapt down from the bench she'd been standing on to high-five him. She didn't care how much of a nerd she was being. She was happy.
"You don't do anything low key, do you?" Eric said with his usual kind, muted laugh.
"Hell no!" she laughed. "I missed you," she added, grabbing his hand momentarily. "I'm glad you're here now."
He nodded in understanding, giving her hand a quick squeeze. "I missed you, too. But you two have been having fun together this summer, right?"
Nate's arms wrapped around her waist from behind and she cuddled into him. There was nothing like being with him, nothing like being held by him, even if it was just for show.
Because sometimes she was sure that it wasn't.
"Yeah, we've been having fun," Nate grinned, kissing her bare shoulder. Serena winked at her brother and patted Nate's arm. "Your turn, honey."
"Thanks, babe," he replied in the same tone of voice, releasing her and reaching for a bowling ball.
Eric looked back and forth between the two of them, frowning. "I missed something, didn't I?"
Serena shrugged and grinned at him. "Don't worry about it."
Nate got his another gutter ball – Eric had kept count at first but soon lost track – and groaned.
"Ha!" Serena cried. "Team van der Woodsen for the win, baby."
"Oh, no way are you going to beat me," he laughed, reaching out and tickling her ribcage.
In the end, Nate somehow managed to beat them both, by a few points. He gloated and Serena had to buy greasy French fries and drinks. They ate together in a little group, laughing and talking about Eric's summer and summer in the Hamptons and Serena's silly choice of a polo team to bet on. It was relaxed and comfortable, just like the whole season had been, just like old times.
Eric left after a while and Serena and Nate walked to the beach, holding hands for no specific reason, still with full cups of soda in their hands. Nate produced a flask and she applauded; they spiked their diet soda and sat in the sand, limbs all tangled together and the conversation flowing easily, all night long. They watched the sun rise together, lying on their backs.
And when Nate propped himself up on his elbow and stared at her face, lit up orange and pink and baby blue like the sky, before leaning over to kiss her, it felt like the most natural, perfect thing in the world.
He carried her home by piggyback after she stubbed her toe on a rock in the send, and she never wanted things to change from the way they were right then and there, as she and Nate attempted to sneak into her house and up to her room.
It broke her heart that after he deposited her on her soft mattress, retrieved an ice pack for her foot, and kissed the crown of her head…she couldn't ask him to stay.
September 1st, 2008
summer ended, winter started. it got colder when he parted ways, as the seasons change
She hated September first. It symbolized the end of the one season she truly felt comfortable in.
She laid in bed for more hours than she should have, burying herself in pillows and blankets and trying to pretend that the day didn't exist, trying to go back to yesterday.
Getting up, however, was a necessity. She had a date she didn't want with a cute lifeguard. Blair was coming and would undoubtedly be full of gossip and in need of a Chuck update. The White Party was that night.
With a groan and a tragic sigh, she forced herself out of bed.
Hot Lifeguard irritated her much more than he intrigued her. She looked perfect, she knew, summer chic; hair windswept and pastel-coloured clothes. But it wasn't him she wanted to look perfect for.
And then, on the drive, they almost ran over Nate, and she felt herself come instantly alive, only to sink back down again.
Clothes in hand, nothing more than boxers on, a deer-in-the-headlights expression painted on his beautiful face. She looked to the right and saw a middle-aged woman greeting her husband, turned back to her boyfriend and gave him a stunned, inquisitive look. She'd expected a college girl, not a wife.
"What's his deal?" Hot Lifeguard demanded hotly.
Serena blinked back tears of anger and tried to deny that they were truly of jealousy. "I have no idea," she said flatly. Her fake-boyfriend was going to have hell to pay.
He was at her house when she arrived home, playing cricket with Eric in the lawn. She both hated and loved that he felt so comfortable there, so at home, so right. Still, she was pissed. She'd been blindsided by Cece when she came in, her grandmother commenting how gorgeous she and Nathaniel would look together at the White Party.
She wasn't in the mood for looking gorgeous anymore. She still looked good, in her pale green dress and her long, pretty ponytail, but she was sad, and she didn't feel up to having her appearance assessed.
Her face must have matched her mood, because when she approached her brother and supposed boyfriend, Eric's eyes widened, and he blurted, "I know that face, that face is not your friend!" before dashing away.
"Nate!" she yelled, just as he turned around. "My grandmother just informed me that I'm going to be your date to the White Party this evening?" she demanded, arching her eyebrows.
He sighed, opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off.
"If things are really over with Catherine, then why do I still have to be your girlfriend?" she demanded angrily. She couldn't fake it anymore. It was tearing her apart.
There was a reason that she hated September first.
"Let's walk, okay?" he asked, touching her elbow so tenderly it made her want to cry. She nodded, cooling down immediately, and followed him.
"I know I shouldn't be using you again," he assured her as they walked together, footsteps in sync, and she sighed.
"No, I…I get it. You have feelings for her." That, of all things, she could definitely understand. "But let's just be honest about why you want to go tonight…you want to check out the competition." She understood that, too. She'd seen who she was up against, and it was a gorgeous thirty-something duchess.
"No," he said, so blatant a lie that she chuckled. "I just…I want to see her and her husband together. Just once."
"Yeah," she said, gently but firmly, "that's called checking out the competition. Which is stupid, and potentially dangerous, Nate." Don't do it. Please don't do that to me.
"Yeah," he said after a moment of silence. "You're right."
But he didn't mean it. He looked sad and hurt and broken – much like how she felt – and she heaved a sigh. "But since I've been dangerous and stupid in the past, I'm not one to talk. It…it was probably going to be an uneventful evening anyway," she added teasingly.
She was happy to be going with him, even if it was for the wrong reasons.
He grinned his thanks and she ordered, "Pick me up at five?" She punched him, much like she would her friend or her brother and shook her head at his silliness. She made sure to keep her smile in place until he couldn't see her anymore.
She made a point to talk to other guys at the party, hoping that miraculously, Nate might redirect his jealousy. She kept her arm looped through his the entire time, and he kept his gaze focused on the object of his affection.
When the duchess sniped, "Trying to ruin my marriage?" Nate sighed heavily and requested,
"Get me drunk."
Serena grinned at him and he smiled back as though he could read her mind. She held his hand tightly and pulled him toward the bar. She acted as much like a friend as she could, tapping his arm in an effort to be playful, laughing lightly as she told him to cheer up. He was trying for her, she knew, but he was also genuinely upset.
"What are you still doing here?" the duchess demanded as she breezed by them, and Serena shook her head in disbelief.
"Alright, she's officially uninvited to book club next year," she joked, and wished that she hadn't. Book club may have seemed like an entirely lame idea, but she'd absolutely loved it. It had just been the two of them, Serena and Nate, lots of books and conversation, iced tea and lemonade, curled up together in a wicker chair, Nate's lightweight sweater covering her bare legs and his arms around her, shaded from the heat of the sun. His body heat alone had kept her plenty warm. She hated to lose that. Damn September first.
Nate sighed, and she knew that his mind was still elsewhere.
"Look, don't feel bad, it's her fault for getting things started with you in the first place."
"I know, I know…but it was stupid." She smiled inside but gave him a sympathetic smile before he continued, "I just wish I could make her feel as badly as I feel right now."
The idea popped into her head, perfect and exciting and all too wonderful. She grinned widely at him. "You totally can."
He stared at her in confusion for a moment, and then grinned back just as widely. It wasn't going to be a big deal, just a simple make-someone-jealous kiss, but it wasn't quite that easy. Her heart sped up and her breathing got shallow and his hands moved to her hips gently and her head started to spin.
Her lips met his and fireworks exploded behind her eyelids.
It was supposed to be passionate, it had to be, that was the reasoning behind it, and God, did it feel good to be with him again. His hands and his lips and his tongue and his body in tune with hers. She cupped his cheek in her hand and wished that he could feel exactly like she did, feel the return to something good and something right.
When they broke apart he said "Wow" in this casual way, but the way he looked into her eyes was different, and she knew: she had him back, he'd felt it too.
She lifted her hand to her tingling lips, giggling lightly, as his face moved closer to hers, their foreheads almost touching, and maybe September first wasn't the worst day after all.
And then she saw Dan, and he remembered the reason for the kiss, and it occurred to them both that all of this had all been for show, and that none of it was ever meant to mean anything…certainly not as much as it had.
He was left waiting for his woman to come to him, and she rushed off after her ex-boyfriend, stunned to see him there. She wished that she could have been with him for one more minute, kissed his lips or the hollow of his throat one last time, had one more moment of the summer of Nate and Serena when things were easy and comfortable and he knew her so well.
But real life had come back with a vengeance, and that was the end.
When she cried in front of Dan they were tears meant for Nate, and when he hooked up with Catherine in the bathroom his kisses were meant for Serena, but none of that mattered, because the summer wasn't supposed to mean anything.
And it hadn't, she told herself the next day, standing on the beach with stand between her toes for the last time. It just couldn't.
hey, girl, don't you know I miss it? and I wonder if you miss it, too.
never thought it would end til it did, now I'm here and
I can't stop thinking about you