Title: Across the Room
Pairing: Chuck/Jenny, references to C/B
Word Count: 2773
Summary: Once upon a time Chuck didn't believe in that "catch her eyes from across a crowded room" deal, but now he can't help but to believe.
Recommended Listening: Smother Me by The Used, and Don't Stop Believing by Journey.
Warnings: Tiny, tiny references to recent episodes. But if you haven't seen them, you're not going to be spoiled. They're really miniscule.
Notes: Yeah, yeah. Unusual pairing. I know. But there's so much Blair/Chuck out there these days. I needed a change. Plus, has anyone else ever noticed how Chuck always got distracted when he saw Jenny at a party in early season 1? Just saying…
Once upon a time Chuck didn't believe in that "catch her eyes from across a crowded room" bullshit. It never played a bearing factor in any of his conquests, probably because most of the time it wasn't their eyes he was staring at. For the longest time, he was convinced that it was a myth that Cassanovas like himself had invented to get women into bed. After all, that made perfect sense to him. If you stalk your prey for long enough, they're bound to catch you watching them, so you should have some sort of excuse as to why you've been watching them. It made sense to him. It wasn't until the first time it happened that he found himself believing in the bullshit.
The Kiss on the Lips party hadn't been his finest hour, but it didn't make what happened there any less real. For the first time in his life, Chuck Bass had accidentally locked eyes with someone from across a crowded room. It was as if the whole world had stopped. For a brief splash of time, the only person he could see was this cute little blonde girl that radiated innocence. He'd never been attracted to innocence before. The kind of girls he tended to fall for were the Georginas and the Serenas (well before her little reformation). He liked the girls that were a little insane. So when he found himself unable to stop staring at Little Jenny Humphrey, he wasn't sure what it meant.
Things like this didn't happen to men like him, and he was convinced that it was just some strange fluke, and he really hadn't just fallen for a girl he randomly spotted from across the room. Still, despite his better judgment, he moved over to her, wanting to know what possibly was so interesting about this girl that it called for his complete and utter attention. He wasn't one for relationships or love, so he pulled all his usual moves on her. After all, wasn't that what Chuck Bass was supposed to do?
He shouldn't have told her that he was into her. That was a completely unexpected move. Why the words have even left his lips was beyond him. He hadn't meant to say them. Chuck Bass didn't say things like that. So when she asked if they could go back down to the party, of course he tried to distract her instead. He couldn't have her going down to the party and telling people that he was sweet on her. Sweet was not something he was supposed to be. He figured that was why he tried to force himself on her. It made her forget that he said something completely unlike him, didn't it? Besides, she was worth the black eye, and being assaulted at his father's brunch. A black eye was always better than a broken heart.
When it happened again at the Masquerade Ball, he should have known that it was Jenny Humphrey wearing that mask. After all, she'd been the only person who'd managed to catch his attention the first time around, and he should have known when suddenly he was oblivious to the fact that he was standing next to the ravishing Blair Waldorf. She didn't matter at the moment. The only person who mattered in the room was the "hot bitch from Chapin." That should have been a tip off right there that it was Jenny Humphrey. He couldn't take his eyes off her.
That night was like a fantasy for him. She was his perfect women. Of course, it had been too good to be true. Chuck Bass wasn't meant to have a perfect woman. He was meant to be a relationship screw up just like his father was. Or at least that was the life he'd resigned himself to. So he wasn't completely surprised when he was left stranded on the roof. Oh, he was incredibly turned on that he'd managed to find someone that clever, but by the end of the evening, he was still reeling from the fact that he'd considered little Jenny Humphrey his perfect woman. Was he surprised? Not really, but he still couldn't figure out why the fates would stick him with Jenny Humphrey. It didn't make sense to him.
So when his life turned around, and he found himself in the world of Blair Waldorf, he was fully convinced that the fates had changed their minds. He was meant to be a king after all, not spend his free time in Brooklyn. And when Blair fully captivated his attention on that stage, he thought his Jenny curse had been lifted: No longer would he always be able to pick her out of a crowd at a party. Obviously that would be Blair now.
Except it wasn't. Aside from her routine from Victrola, Blair Waldorf wasn't able to catch his attention from across a room. When he walked into a party, his gaze wasn't immediately drawn to her, like she was his own personal beacon. No. He had to search for her for a little while first, and he wasn't exactly sure how he felt about that.
It wasn't until after the entire debacle with Blair and his uncle Jack that he managed to see Jenny at a party again. Since it had been over a year since her love beacon had worked on him, he was convinced that it had just been a phase. It had never even occurred to him that Jenny had simply been avoiding any party that he would be attending. But here he was at Penelope's "Breaking Free" graduation party, and there she was. Standing on the complete opposite side of the room talking to Eric. Within moments of arriving, he'd already spotted her.
He didn't know why he did it, but he found himself walking over to Eric and Jenny, despite the fact that he'd been reckless and suicidal lately, and despite the fact that he'd been a complete ass to his step-brother. But in his defense, he had been working in the past couple of weeks to mend all the fences he'd broken down at the funeral, so he didn't think it would end too badly… "Brother." He greeted casually with a nod of his head before dragging his eyes over Jenny's form. "Jennifer." Before he could stop himself, he found himself asking, "May I have this dance?"
She didn't move for a while, just stared at him as though she was trying to figure out what kind of game he was playing at. It was as though she was waiting for his punch line. When he didn't say anything witty or crude, she glanced at Eric, who just shot her a shrug. "I don't think that's a very good idea, Chuck." The words finally came out of her mouth and it was obvious she was remembering the last time he asked her to dance.
"What if I promised to behave myself? And I promise we'll both stay in our clothes this time." He shot her a smirk. "Unless you have ideas for stripping games again." When she suddenly looked unsure, he sighed exasperatedly. "I'm kidding. Would you just dance with me?"
Jenny studied him for a long while before finally turning to Eric, and handing him her glass. "Hold my drink." She then slipped her hand into Chuck's. "One dance. That's it."
But of course it wasn't it. One dance led to another one and then another one. And for that entire summer, every time Chuck went to a party, he found her immediately, usually with Eric and Jonathan, sometimes with Nelly or one of Blair's old girls, and once by herself, and always asked her to dance. It became a tradition that was repeated at every event they both attended. By the end of the summer, every one, including Gossip Girl, was convinced they were dating. They were always together. At parties. In the Hamptons. They were even spotted coming out of a movie theater together once. But they both knew better. He was off for Princeton, and she would be staying at Constance. Besides, having tradition didn't mean anything.
He was surprised though when she was there the morning he left for New Jersey, sitting on the hood of his limo. "You could still go to NYU." She reminded him with a bright smile as she slid off the car and walked over to him.
"Yeah, well, I've always had my mind set on those tigers." He said with an impassive shrug, and neither were sure if he was actually talking about the school or the women there.
Her arms were suddenly wrapped around his neck. "I'll miss you." She whispered against his skin.
"It's Jersey. Not Iraq." He shook his head. "Besides," He slipped out of her grasp. "You're not my girlfriend. We're not doing this teary goodbye thing that you seem so fond of right now."
She nodded, but pressed her lips against his anyway. "I'll miss you."
"No you won't." And with that he got into the limo, not trusting himself to say anything else.
Growing up with people like Blair, made him very spoiled when it came to the parties he attended. Upper East Side parties always had a theme, and a guest list and expensive alcohol. College parties were quite different, and quite frankly not up to par with the parties he'd hosted back home. So most of the time, he actually studied for his classes, and only graced a select few with his presence. Because even as a freshman, everyone knew who Chuck Bass was. It had been a very big deal when he'd decided to get his business degree before actually acting as CEO of Bass Industries, and he was treated like a God by his professors. Especially his Economics professor who liked talking about Big Bart Bass quite a bit.
It had been a good change for him, but he still missed the Upper East Side, which was why he was throwing a rather large party the weekend that would have been the end of Jenny and Eric's Ivy week. Although, it was definitely a change from the parties he'd been forcing himself to attend, it seemed weird throwing an extravagant party with no one he really knew there. He smiled politely at a couple of guests before a strange sensation washed over him; a strange and very familiar sensation. Immediately he spun around and found himself locking eyes with little Jenny Humphrey. Frowning, he pushed through the crowd until he was standing face to face with her. "What are you doing here?" He all but snapped out.
"It's Ivy Week." She pointed out casually as she grinned at him. "And I'm trying to get into Princeton."
He regarded her coolly, his eyes dragging over her form. "You're going to stalk your boyfriend to Princeton?" The words were out of his mouth before he could stop himself.
A laugh escaped Jenny's lips and she raised an eyebrow at him. "I thought I wasn't your girlfriend." She pointed out with a grin.
"You know, when I said that… I mean… We are friends and I am a boy." He tried desperately to save himself, but ended up sounding even worse than the night that Blair had called him out on his case of the butterflies. What was it about women and admitting his actual feelings that made him so ridiculously tongue-tied? He had no problem making up lies, but when he was completely called out on something, he ended up sounding like an idiot.
Jenny merely laughed again, and shook her head at him. "You are the strangest person that I know… Stranger than Dan even." A smirk lit up her features.
He couldn't help but to stare at her for a long while. "Comparing me to your brother, Humphrey?" He leaned in close to her. "And Blair always said that you didn't know how to play dirty."
Before she could respond, a guy that Chuck didn't recognize tapped Jenny on the shoulder. "Do you wanna dance?" He asked, sounding like he didn't care in the slightest that he'd interrupted their conversation.
Chuck shot him the look of death. "She's not interested. She's going to dance with her boyfriend." And with that, he took her hand and led her away from the guy.
Jenny didn't say anything for a long while once they were out on the dance floor. She just wrapped her arms around him, and studied him thoughtfully as though she was trying to figure something out. "Are you serious?" She finally asked him.
"About what exactly?" The confusion was more than evident in his voice.
She sighed. "I can't keep track of you. One minute you don't want anything to do with me, and the next you're telling strangers I'm your girlfriend. It's hard enough when you're the first person I see every time I walk into a crowded room."
Instantly, they stopped moving in the middle of the mass of people, and Chuck stared at her. He stared at her like he always did when she walked into a crowded room, like she was the only person he could see. "What did you just say?" He asked very slowly.
"Nothing. Just forget I said it, okay?" She immediately tried to pull away from him, but Chuck held on tightly to her.
His lips instantly crashed down on hers. "I always knew you had me on supernatural LoJack." He murmured against her lips.
Jenny stared at him in confusion before laughing and shaking her head at him. "What do you want, Chuck?"
A smirk slowly crawled onto his features. "You."
Chuck never believed in that "catch her eyes from across a crowded room" bullshit. He never believed in fairytales. His father had helped him realize from a very young age that he wasn't worth anyone's love. And Blair had helped him realize that he wasn't meant to be a husband. He never believed in romance. He was a skeptic who longed to be a romantic, but was always better at playing the part than really feeling it. He wasn't meant to be the fairytale prince. But he was slowly learning that what everyone else in his life had taught him wasn't always the complete truth. When you lived in the Upper East Side, nothing ever was.
But at Princeton, he learned a couple of things. He learned that sometimes things happened for a reason. Sure, he never could understand why his father treated him the way that he had, or why Blair only seemed to want him when he was unobtainable, but he learned other more important things. He learned that sometimes when you keep catching a girl's eyes like she's the most important person in the room; it often means that she's supposed to be the most important person in your life. He learned that Brooklyn wasn't as bad as he was raised to believe. And Little Jenny Humphrey? She wasn't exactly so little any more.
He never thought he would be the type to get married. He'd made a point of stressing that he wasn't time and time again when Blair got too clingy. But it had never fully dawned on him that he wasn't entirely cut out for the Upper East Side. He was not made to have a prescription drug problem or to raise perfect spawn that followed in his footsteps and attended Constance St. Jude's. No. That was never the life he was fully meant to live.
Leaving New York had taught him that he actually liked hanging out with people that didn't have as much money as he did. He liked doing ridiculous things like drinking beer and eating pizza. Sure, he still kept up with his colorful outfits, and resumed wearing purple again, but he also did things like eat in restaurants that had items all under thirty dollars, and once Jenny had talked him into rollerblading, but that didn't end well. He was more like his father than he ever realized, and not just in the bad ways. Bart Bass went from being poor to being rich. Chuck went from being rich to liking to act like he was poor. Jersey had helped him grow up.
Marriage wasn't something he'd ever really considered, but when he stood up at the altar and locked eyes with her from across the room, he suddenly believed in all that sentimental bullshit. Not only was Chuck Bass a romantic, but when it came to Jenny Humphrey—No, Jenny Bass, He was a believer.