"I'll never let this go
But I can't find the words to tell you
I don't want to be alone
But now I feel like I don't know you."
Jenny saw him twice before he left. He went far away, a thousand miles away, so far away an ocean was between them. Each run-in with him haunted her mind for days, each fragment of his voice and face sped around her mind like water that just couldn't be caught. She tried to forget any memory she had of him. She'd shove the occurrence into a bottle and cast it out into her mental sea, ready to be forgotten forever and ever. But then he'd come back into her life, the bottles would shatter, and a million painful memories would explode in her mind like terrible fireworks.
The first time was some hours after graduation at a bar. Jenny could clearly remember the large crowd present; every one of them had shown up because of a mass invitation from Gossip Girl. She could remember Vanessa beside her and Dan on Vanessa's other side and then Nate beside Dan, just around the corner of the bar; he was at such an angle that it was far too easy to look into his eyes. And it was Jenny's foolishness to look away from Vanessa and Dan as they talked about some foreign movie they'd seen together recently. It was Jenny's mistake to look directly up and into oh-so-familiar blue eyes that she hadn't looked into in ages, and for a moment she was absolutely knocked breathless because he was actually looking at her with that boyish curiosity he used to gaze at her with. And then she smiled at him feebly, and he smiled too.
"Excited for summer?" She found herself asking him this in the same manner she had spoken to him at the play months ago: shyly, almost as if she were afraid of him.
"I actually really am. I'm interning at the mayor's office, and at the very least, the political field will be interesting to explore."
Jenny's eyes lit up enthusiastically. "Nate, that's so great! I'm so happy for you." She had known him for a little more than a year now, ever since that kiss at midnight at the masquerade -- one of those strangely beautiful but painful memories that she would never forget -- and she understood that Nate had been a lost soul for a long time. He constantly just went with the flow; he hardly ever took charge of the direction his life was going in. Her eyes flickered around the bar for a moment and she caught sight of Blair in front of Serena, gazing out the window at something. "My internship at Eleanor's was such a great experience. I'm sure your internship will be great for you too. I mean, at the very least, it'll be more productive than a lot of other things you could do this summer." She was grinning at him and he was grinning at her and things felt perfect for a moment.
And then she realized what she said, and she felt it, she felt the motivated conversation dying just like that because Vanessa and Dan had gotten quiet. Jenny had forgotten that Nate was supposed to spend the summer with Vanessa in Europe, and her heart wrenched a little as she looked back at Nate, whose eyes were serious again. She hated that expression in his eyes so much that she turned around and grabbed Eric's arm as if she had to speak to him, and he understood. Eric understood because he was her best friend.
There were too many memories tied with such a solemn, expectant expression.
A week passed. She became Queen of the UES. She was able to package her memories of Nate once more and ship them away.
But then he came again, just after she'd started a new stage of her life, just after her silly coronation. Jenny had laid out the rules for next year and left the restaurant ten minutes after Blair had; there was no need for her to stay any longer with the girls who had made her high school career hell. And although they at first were determined to follow her when she got up, Jenny ordered them to stay. And they had listened! The lost puppy expressions on their faces made Jenny break into hysterical giggles as soon as she stepped out of the restaurant; she tipped her face up to the sun, its warmth kissing her cheeks, and she closed her eyes for just a moment. A familiar male voice washed her smile away as the pain broke out of its cage and ravaged her body.
She opened her eyes and looked upon the form of Nate Archibald and her heart did that sad rattle in her chest like it always did these days when she saw him. She managed to say hello in response, and his eyes eyes focused on the sparkly black headband on her head.
"You're one of them again?" he asked, his blue eyes wide with shock. Before Jenny could even think he'd stepped closer to her and gestured her to the side of the street so that they were no longer in people's way.
The hysterical giggles that had died so prematurely were now back in full force. Jenny could hardly breathe as she laughed, and she had to lean against the brick wall of the restaurant. "Nate... what's with you lately? First you think that Blair and I are Gossip Girl -- a team, if I recall correctly. Now you think I'm a Mean Girl?" She giggled again, and he was laughing too. "No, I'm Queen now. Think of it as my tiara." She grinned at him and she felt like it was old times; Jenny then noticed that he was dressed up quite nicely. "Oh, what's this? You're dressed pretty nicely, aren't you?"
"Yeah, I had to wear it for the internship at the Mayor's office. But I quit today. I'm going with Vanessa to Europe this summer instead."
Jenny blinked in suprise. "Wow. That's..." She smiled weakly at him. "Why'd you quit?"
"One of the older women had hit on me, and I just wasn't interested in another cougar. I wanted to prove that what Gossip Girl said was wrong." His eyes had narrowed, the happy expression replaced by that angry expression that reminded her of the look he'd given her at the Snowflake Ball so many months ago. "I was expecting you to be happy for me." This reminded her so much of the conversation they'd had at Aaron Rose's art show so many months ago, hours before he'd kissed her, when Jenny had told Nate that she'd quit Eleanor's. But this was different.
"It's just that... Nate, you've only been there a week. Couldn't you have just said no and kept working?" She took a deep breath here, not looking at his face but at her hands as she said quietly, "And isn't this still proving what Gossip Girl said is right? You and Blair broke up recently, and now you're going to Europe with your ex, and you'll probably hook up. Wouldn't it be better to pursue something that isn't a girl to prove Gossip Girl wrong?"
"What the hell? Maybe I'm just tired of doing what my family wants me to do, maybe I want to see the world. Do you seriously still have something against Vanessa after all this time?" He paused for a moment, crossing his arms. "What are you going to do this time to get even with her?"
Jenny sucked in her breath and looked at Nate straight in the eyes, pulling herself together. His words from the Ball replayed in her head, her insides were shaking, and this time he wasn't going to walk away from her. "Hold on now," she stated, a hint of fury seeping through her otherwise calm voice. "You have no right to speak to me like that. None. What happened at the Ball was a long time ago and I've changed since then - but obviously, you haven't. And I never got to speak up for myself that night. So I'll say it now: I tried to stop things, okay? She's gotten over that night, so why haven't you? At the charity gala when I went after her, you held me back; why is it then that you are so quick to defend her now? Why is it that whenever a girl makes a mistake, be it me or Blair, you flip out? Why can't you handle it, when in fact you're no saint? How could you write that letter and then throw it in my face when you've done far worse things than I?" Her heart twisted as she recalled the letter she'd never read. "You hurt me that night, Nate. You hurt me far worse than Vanessa could have because you made it black and white; she was the victim, I was the oppressor when in fact it worked both ways. She and I both did terrible things. You said I wasn't the girl you thought I was, but you're not who I thought you were, either."
She looked at him a last time, into those blue eyes she had loved, the blue eyes that had controlled her heart, and she realized that she was still angry at him. In fact, her frustration and hurt toward Nate Archibald had increased tenfold with every word she'd just spoken. And then it was fading, receding like ocean waves, ebbing back and forth. "Do you know how many nights I cried after that, because you'd hurt me?" Jenny paused, looking into Nate's tense blue eyes unflinchingly. "Too many."
This time she was the one who walked away, and Nate was the one who stared silently after her.
Hope you guys enjoyed! Please comment and stay tuned.