There now, steady love, so few come and don't go
Will you won't you, be the one I always know
When I'm losing my control, the city spins around
You're the only one who knows, you slow it down

- The Fray

It felt as if the dark was on fire. It was in the way the cool air around them pressed against the slick sidewalks, in the way the streetlights nearby cast little pools of light on the ground, the cars that occassionally zoomed past, and it was a beautiful feeling, the way her heart pumped faster than it was supposed to, the way his hands felt on the nape of her neck, the small of her back, her hips, her waist, everywhere.

And Jenny had never expected for Nate Archibald to see her this way, to envelop her in his arms like this, and occasionally he'd pull away and look into her eyes with his hands on her lower waist. Those blue eyes would darken a little with worry and his grip would loosen and Jenny would shake her head. She'd make herself push a forced carefree laugh out of her lips and her fingers would, in resistance, tighten their grip in his ruffled golden brown hair, and she'd pull Nate back to her lips again. A chuckle would come out of his lips against her skin and he'd oblige, over and over again until she felt her lips getting sore, and even so this felt absolutely beautiful.

For the longest time Jenny had thought that he'd never kiss her again unless it was an accident just like that first time, at midnight with Serena's jacket and mask and the midnight bells tolling, that he couldn't look at her in the way he looked at Serena and Vanessa and Blair -- You're not like those girls, Jenny.

A car flew by and honked at them. They broke apart, laughing, Nate's hands lingering on her hips like he wanted to keep her there. And he did; his arm wrapped around her middle and pulled her beside him and they began to walk, and Jenny was glad that he was holding on to her so tightly because her knees were wobbling from the lack of air and she was sure she was going to fall. Nate spoke quietly to her, his lips a little above her ear, and he was rambling about something, but Jenny couldn't pay attention. All she could do was wrap her arms tightly around his torso and walk like she was the happiest girl in the world, and she was, all because the way his arms tightened around her felt absolutely beautiful, too.

When they got to the apartment she pulled him in a corner of the stairwell and kissed him again and he pressed her lightly against the wall, his hands tightening around her legs as he lifted her up, because they were afraid that Dan might be inside the home. But when Jenny opened the door to the loft and found the lights dim, Nate several feet behind her, she realized that her family would be at Aaron's opening at the gallery for hours on end. When Jenny turned and looked at him, Nate had already shut and locked the door and had begun moving toward her. Before she knew it she was smiling against his lips and he was laughing as he picked her up again, whispering "Because, because, because," against her lips over and over.

Nate walked with Jenny in his arms to her room and laid her on her bed, hovering over her, his grasp on her body gentle as he kissed her over and over again. Her neck and her lips, the crooks of her elbows and her cheekbones -- nowhere was safe. And Jenny tugged at the open collar of his shirt, and Nate was pulling away, nuzzling his face in the hollow of her jutting collarbone and holding her arms down tight, and Jenny understood that he couldn't. Then he sighed, resting his forehead on her shoulder, and his faintly purple eyelids closed as he breathed against her skin; she held him close, her fingers twisting into his locks of hair, pressing against the back of his neck, making sure that he was real, that he wasn't a spirit that could slip away from her at the bat of an eyelid. The minutes passed in silence and she felt the faint realization that she had kissed him over and over again beginning to sink in, and she held on to Nate more tightly.

And then he was being silly and opening his eyes, his brown eyelashes gently sweeping the skin of her forearm, and he lifted himself up from her side and pulled her blanket over her, grinning. Nate kept repeating "Isn't it time for you to go to bed? Sweet dreams, good night," and he was kissing her again and again after every goodbye, and Jenny laughed at his lightheartedness. She laughed because he wasn't brooding, he was happy, and that was all she could ever want -- to see him smile at her like she was the only girl in the world he'd ever looked at, like there was no Vanessa or Serena or Catherine or Blair. There was no one else in the entire world.

Finally she was pulling him out of her bed, laughing at how ridiculous he was being and pushing him out of her room, and he was smiling down at her still. And in her doorway Jenny grinned at him and he kissed her again, pulling her in close, and it was different this time. The way he tipped her head up by the chin, his rough hands cupping her face delicately -- it was as if he feared something. Jenny clutched at his shirt, and she held on to Nate more tightly, that beautiful feeling slowly diminishing because she could read him far more easily than God must have intended.

There was a jangling at the front door of the loft and he stepped away, and she did too. They looked at each other for a moment before Nate dashed into the bathroom and Jenny hid herself in her room, and Rufus and Dan stepped into the quiet home.

Sometime during the night a dream came to her. It had to be a dream -- or was it real? There was the slight brush of a familiar pair of lips against Jenny's own, the pair of lips she'd been dreaming of all night, again and again and again. And then she was waking -- or was she?-- and she heard that one voice whisper "Because I can't." But when Jenny sat up in her bed and looked at the clock in the far corner which said four fifteen A.M., there was no one there.

Morning came hours later and Jenny awoke feeling afraid. When she came into the kitchen she greeted Dan and Nate, and Dan responded in his usual rambling manner because he was her brother and she loved him for it. But there was silence from Nate; and when she looked at him, his head was bowed, staring at his plate of waffles, and her heart sank in her chest. Because Nate had never acted like this before; he'd always acted cordial and polite. He didn't speak at all to her; rather, he was fixated on Dan and agreed to see a movie with him.

"Is it okay if you wash the plates, Jen? We're gonna be late to the movie if we don't rush." Dan requested, and Jenny nodded slowly, pushing her plate aside as Nate and Dan rose to their feet. Nate's arm brushed past hers as he went to get his coat by the couch and her skin was on fire and she closed her weak eyes for just a moment as she picked up his plate, Dan already outside of the front door, impatient as always. And Jenny opened her eyes, looked down at Nate's plate, winced, and looked up at him.

Nate's eyes met hers for the briefest of moments, and they were sorry blue, blue, bluer-than-the-ocean eyes; he felt so far away, seas and continents away. And Jenny's heart tumbled and spun and broke and she looked down at the words sketched neatly into the remaining waffle syrup on his plate, the words "I'm sorry," and they were the ugliest words Jenny had ever seen.