Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Gossip Girl. It belongs to The CW and author Cecily von Ziegesar.

SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers for the episode "There Might Be Blood" are in this fic.

Summary: AU Crossover – A different take on the end of "There Might Be Blood."

Pairings: Jenny/Nate, Chuck/Blair, Serena/Dan, Eric/Jonathan,

**Author's Note: In this fic Jenny is only a year younger than Dan, which means she's a junior at Constance Billiard when Dan, Serena, Blair, Chuck, Vanessa, and Nate are all seniors. Also, she got the internship with Eleanor Waldorf the summer between her sophomore and junior years of high school.

Rating: K for now, M later

The Taste of Bittersweet Exile

Chapter 1 – Funny Meeting You Here

Nate got to the loft before anyone else. He figured after his fight with Dan, it would be best if he and his stuff were gone before anyone came home. Why do I always have to go and screw things up? Everything had happened so fast he didn't really know how things had ended in the mess they were in. He'd always liked Jenny. She wasn't your typical Constance Billiard bottle-blond bombshell. She was kind, smart, sweet, funny, talented, creative and honest. In fact, her 'no holds barred' frankness was one of the things he loved about her most. She had always been honest with him, especially when no one else was. He'd still be miserable with Blair right now if Jenny hadn't told him the truth about the conversation of Dan and Serena's she'd overheard.

He also loved her passion – the fire that drove her to do what she knew was best in her heart. It was so strong within her that it gave her the guts to put on a guerilla fashion show at a highly exclusive event, making her vulnerable literally – to security – and figuratively – showing off her designs to complete strangers and opening herself up to the most elite Upper East Siders in attendance. He wished he had the guts to go after his dreams the way she did. Maybe that was why he was so drawn to her, why he couldn't help but kiss those pouty pink lips when he gazed into her eyes. He couldn't control himself around her.

He'd never liked a girl so much before. In his heart he knew he'd never loved Blair and his habitual hang out and hook-up relationships, like the one he'd shared with Vanessa, just weren't enough anymore. Jenny was different. He'd known her for over a year and they'd helped each other out a few times. She'd been there for him. Jenny was just so fun to talk to and have a good time with. She wasn't uptight like the Blair that he knew and wasn't as wild as Serena in her heyday. Her personality was right in the middle of the two extremes. She could be serious, mostly about her designs, but she could also be silly and spontaneous, and, oh, how she made him laugh!

Stop thinking about her Nate! Get her out of your head! You can't be with her!

Why, oh, why did he have to fall for Dan's sister? Dan, the guy that had given him a roof over his head when he had none. Dan, the guy who had become, in the last few weeks, his best friend. How could he throw that away?

Staying with the Humphrey's had been enlightening. He'd never been as blatant about it as Chuck, but to a certain degree he was one of those privileged rich kids who thought they deserved any and everything they wanted because of their last names. He was used to luxury, and his current position due to his father's mistakes was like a slap in the face. However, even before his dad had fled the country, Nate had been dissatisfied with his life and the direction it was heading. Being around Rufus, Dan, and Jenny together as a family made him realize what he was sorely lacking, especially on Scattergories Thursdays. He felt he'd finally found his place in the world. He was an Upper West Sider dressed in Upper East Sider clothing. Maybe that was why he was still walking, duffel bag slung over his shoulders, on the sidewalks of Brooklyn at nearly half past six in the morning.

He was so wrapped up in his thoughts; he wasn't paying attention to where he was going until he bumped into someone. Jostled out of his inner musings, he was forced to assess the damage he'd caused from his space cadet tour.

The person he'd bumped into was tiny and blonde. She had a mound of garment bags draped over her arm, which fell to the ground upon impact. She also had a duffel bag slung over her shoulder and wheeled a suitcase behind her.

"Walk much," she sniped, in no mood to be body-checked after the night she'd had. Nate recognized Jenny's voice immediately. He smiled and looked briefly to the heavens, thanking whatever powers that be for answering his unspoken prayer to see her again.

Nate stooped down and swept the garment bags off the ground, smitten, before rasping, "Funny meeting you here."

Jenny squealed as she recognized Nate's deep, sexy voice. She dropped everything and threw her arms around him, "Oh Nate! I'm so happy to see you! I'm so sorry about everything! Dan shouldn't have kicked you out!"

It all came out in a rush and Nate realized that she was flustered, a blush coloring her cheeks that he could only see because of the rising sun. He liked that he made her nervous.

"What are you doing, Jenny?" He asked, curious and concerned.

"I'm hugging you silly," she replied, knowing that that wasn't the answer he was looking for.

He pulled away from their embrace, placed his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eye as he held her at arms length, "Seriously, Jenny. What is this?"

He waved his hand in the direction of the duffel, suitcase, and garment bags, which had fallen to the ground again in his haste to hug her back when she'd practically bounced into his arms. He looked at her again, cocked his head to the side in an expectant manner that reeked of his desire to know the truth. She had always been honest with him; he hoped that wouldn't change now.

Nate gathered up both their duffels and the mound of garment bags, leaving Jenny to deal only with her suitcase, and motioned for her to follow him. They just happened to bump into each other on the sidewalk in front of a park. He silently thanked the powers that be for smiling down on him, yet again, and providing him with the perfect place to have their little heart-to-heart.

"Well?" He demanded, his curiosity and concern multiplying exponentially.

"I moved out of the loft," Jenny answered, sounding annoyed.

He was really hoping that she only had her suitcase and duffel packed to go to an extended sleepover. The truth shocked him, "Why?"

Jenny huffed, causing the punk strands of her bangs to flutter with the expulsion of air. She adjusted herself so her body was angled more toward Nate. It was an attempt to look at him while she explained, "It got . . . messy after you left."

"Messy? What does that mean? What happened Jenny?" Nate was wary of what her answer would be.

"Well . . . for starters, my dad forbade me to have my own fashion line because "I'm too young and I will have plenty of time for that kind of thing later,"" she told him, deepening her voice to sound more like her father. Despite the gravity of the situation, he had to laugh which caused Jenny to smile a little. "When I wasn't the complacent, eager-to-please child he wanted me to be, after I told him I'd do it anyway whether he wanted me to or not, he tried to get me arrested."

"Whoa!" Rufus must have been really angry if he'd tried to get his own daughter thrown in juvenile hall. Nate knew how much Rufus loved Jenny, she was his beloved daughter. It was hard to imagine him in such a state.

"Yeah," Jenny bristled, fresh anger coloring her sweet voice, "and that's not even the half of it."

"What else happened?" Nate put his hand on her shoulder in a gesture of comfort. Without thinking, she reached up and covered his hand with hers. Nate gulped.

"When I decided to move out of Dad's I was going to stay with Agnes; but she tried to steal my sketchbook and my dresses, in the middle of the night no less. She thought I was sleeping and I caught her in the act," Jenny explained. "She made up a seriously lame excuse, but I refused to let her go anywhere with my stuff."

"I guess that worked out well considering you're carting around at least a dozen garment bags," Nate commented, sparing a glance at the plastic-covered pile that lay on the bench next to them.

"I'm not certain 'well' is the right word for it . . ." Jenny confessed, using the fingers of her free hand to twirl a strand of stray hair. "She told me that she was going to take all of my stuff to someone else, someone more talented than me, including the contacts we made from our guerilla fashion show. I stood my ground though. I think that's why she wanted to take my ideas to someone else. She wants to be completely in charge of the fashion line and she knows I'll never be a push-over and let her make all the decisions and take all the credit."

"Good for you, Jenny," Nate complimented, proud of her.

"I wish that was the end of the story," she lamented, sighing. "I stood my ground and she stood hers . . . which ended in a catastrophic cat fight."

Nate took a closer look at her and saw that her right eye was purple and swelling shut quickly. Her lip was split, claw marks were on her left cheek, and a nasty bump with cut to match was apparent on her forehead. She had been gouged with something, leaving a jagged gash underneath her fragile right collar bone. Her shirt was stained red with blood.

"My God, Jenny," Nate exclaimed, worry saturating his voice. "We should get you to a doctor."

"NO!" Jenny boomed, immediately. "If I go to the hospital, my dad will find me and right now I don't want to be found," she said, vehemently. "Besides, you should see Agnes!" She laughed weakly. "Of course, I didn't try to stab her with a letter opener, but it's clear that I'm the victor. I wouldn't have the dresses if I wasn't."

"Stabbed?" He gulped weakly, eyeing the wound on her collar bone again, feeling slightly sick. "With a letter opener?"

"Yep." Her statement was matter-of-fact.

"We really should get you to the hospital," Nate insisted, his face a delicate shade of green.

"I already vetoed that option, Nate," Jenny replied, her tone clearly stating that the subject was no longer up for discussion.

"We have to do something! Those cuts could get infected and we have no idea how deep that stab wound is . . ." He wasn't about to let her health suffer on his watch.

"Wounds," she corrected, indifferently. "We could go back to your old house and live there like you used to. It'll be better this time because you won't be alone, and I'll even agree to Neosporin and butterfly band-aids."

"I've got a better idea," Nate didn't elaborate, but pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number. "Chuck. You staying in your penthouse or are you living with the family?"

"What's it to you, Nathaniel?" Chuck Bass asked, smoothly, his tone only slightly smarmy. He was intrigued.

"Well . . ." Nate paused, prolonging his confession, "I need a place to stay and so does a friend of mine. I was hoping you might consider letting bygones be bygones and let us stay there."

"I don't suppose your friend is Jenny Humphrey," Chuck guessed, starting to play his games.

"Does it really matter who my friend is?" Nate asked, fully aware that Chuck was playing one of his games.

"As a matter of fact, it does," Chuck replied. "Do you want a place to stay or not?"

"Yes, fine, my friend is Jenny Humphrey!" Nate cried in exasperation. "How did you know?"

"Check out Gossip Girl," Chuck responded, genuine amusement in his voice.

Nate pulled up on his phone and saw a picture of Jenny and him kissing the night before. Shit!

"Looks like the cat's out of the bag, Archibald," Chuck purred victoriously. "Dan must have had quite the tantrum when he found out you're pulling petals off his baby sister's delicate flower."

"Are you going to let us stay at your place or not, Chuck?" Nate demanded an answer.

"Anything to piss off Dan Humphrey and get an opportunity to show you who your real friends are," Chuck smiled maniacally. "Where are you? I'll send the limo to pick you up."

"Thanks, but make it quick!"

Jenny had listened to Nate's side of the conversation, uncomfortable that he was going to Chuck for help. At least he didn't call Blair, though, truthfully, she didn't know which one was worse. She listened to Nate give Chuck an address and realized that he must be coming to pick them up.

When Nate turned back to her, she cocked an eyebrow, "Chuck?"

"I don't know anyone else with a fully furnished apartment to spare," he defended himself. He noticed that the wound in Jenny's shoulder was bleeding more freely than it had been before. She looked awfully pale.

"Yeah there's that, but I thought you didn't like him anymore," Jenny expounded, feeling weak from all the walking and bleeding.

"Just because I asked him for help doesn't mean I like him," Nate told her. "I'm doing this for you . . . The Basses have their own personal doctor that makes house calls whenever they need him. It's exactly what you want Jenny. No one will know you ever needed medical attention except me and Chuck."

"But it's Chuck," Jenny whined, her voice childlike and fearful.

Nate noticed the change in her tone and looked at her. She was still bleeding steadily and was even more pale than she was before his conversation with Chuck. He stared into her eyes. There was terror in them, something he'd never seen there before. Just as he was about to ask what was wrong, she swayed dangerously even though she was sitting. He took her in his arms . . . she was barely conscious.

"Nate . . ." she whispered softly before going limp. Her lips were starting acquire a very slight blue hue.

Luckily, Chuck's limo arrived a moment later. Chuck stepped out of the automobile, dressed in one of his ridiculous purple suits and nodding at his former best friend. The driver had exited the vehicle as well and was headed toward Jenny and Nate's things so he could load them in the limo's trunk.

"Morning, Nathaniel," Chuck's smile was indulgent. "Looks like your fashion princess couldn't handle the nightlife and turned into sleeping beauty."

"Call your private doctor and have him meet us at the penthouse," Nate instructed, glowering at Chuck but not wasting any time. "Pull out her Constance Billiard ID, figure out what blood type she is and tell Dr. Crawford to bring plenty with him."

Both Constance Billiard and St. Jude's ID cards had microchips in them, telling all pertinent, and sometimes completely irrelevant, information about the card's owner. If one had the right application on one's cell phone, which Chuck did, one could scan the microchip and access the information stored on it.

"Blood?" Chuck asked, paling, any trace of cockiness gone when he saw the red staining Jenny's shirt. "That's blood?"

"Yes, it's blood!" Nate screeched impatiently. "If we don't get some blood in her soon she's going to bleed out!"

"We're taking her to my private clinic. She might need surgery and there's a don't ask, don't tell policy that works well for those that don't want to be found," Chuck decided.

Taking one look at the girl he was rapidly falling in love with, he made an instant decision, "Do it!"

Chuck barked orders at his driver and the limo sped off toward the private clinic.

Nate clutched Jenny close to him, "You've got to fight this Jenny! Wake up, hun! You can't leave me Jen! Fight damn it!"