Baby, it's been a long time waiting, such
a long long time, and I can't stop
smiling, oh I can't stop now. Do you
hear my heart beating? Do you hear
that sound? 'Cause I can't stop
crying and I won't look down and then I
looked up at the sun and I could see oh,
the way that gravity turns on you and me.

-Coldplay

Jenny left for Hudson when the sun rose. Her mother still lived there, and although Jenny refused to tell Alison why she was coming to stay, her mother didn't protest. Jenny didn't spend a lot of time with her mom, so there was really no point in Alison objecting -- she was just happy to have her daughter with her for a time. Alison was worried about Jenny's schoolwork, though. Jenny insisted that the next two weeks of school would consist of just reviewing and finals, and that any absences would be taken care of; her mother couldn't help but notice that Jenny gently touched the sparkly headband on her head when saying so. Jenny took the train into the city to take her finals and she'd come right back to Hudson. She refused to speak to anyone, refused to turn on her cell phone, and Alison was deeply worried. Rather than going to Jenny about it, she asked Rufus, and he filled her in on what had happened to Nate; with this information in mind, Alison left Jenny alone, simply keeping a watchful eye on her without interfering.

Rufus called occasionally. Right from the beginning, Jenny told Rufus not to mention Nate. Nobody mentioned him to her at school because they had no reason to link the two together; nobody knew about her visit to his hospital room. On occasion she'd hear the words 'Nate Archibald' linked to 'Ferrari' and 'accident' and that was all she needed to hear. She avoided Gossip Girl as well. She simply didn't want to think about it. The thought of him still hooked up to needles and units scared the shit out of her. She didn't want to know if he had gotten worse, and she didn't want to hear if he was getting better either, because there was always the chance of being let down. Jenny now realized that letdowns were a common factor in her life; she could not escape them. However, she did keep the ring he had given her on her finger at all times. It was the one thing that she felt kept her from going completely insane with the sorrow that overtook her being. It was a numb sort of sorrow, really -- the kind one has but refuses to acknowledge. She simply refused to think about it; she was waiting for something, but she wasn't sure what it was.

She felt as if she were in purgatory, that place between life and death but it wasn't her life or death that she was worried about. And right now, she didn't want to know. She was too afraid to know if Nate was still alive, or...

So the world kept spinning like it always did, and Jenny kept moving and kept breathing. But the world wasn't the same; colors were duller and nothing held her attention for long. She noticed little things like the fraying of the rug in her mother's kitchen and the flowers that grew each day with the arrival of spring, but she was never able to focus on these little details for more than a few seconds. They came and went. Jenny was not numb -- her ice cold facade was gone -- but she was not in tune with her true emotions either. She was simply there, her feelings muted and not as acute as they should have been, simply waiting for something.

Rufus called the day after her last final. Jenny had been curled up in bed, staring out the window at the gentle rain, when her mother came in. Jenny looked at her mother's cellphone, which was outstretched to her, and then cast her mother an unwilling look before taking the call.

"Hey Dad."

"Jen! How were your finals? Dan says hi by the way -- he's right next to me -- you know he moved back in this week, right? He's staying in the loft this summer."

"That's great, Dad," she replied dully. "And they went fine. Aced them all."

There was a silence on her father's end of the phone; Rufus was most likely noting the fact that Jenny hadn't cheered up at all.

"Jen," he said seriously, and Jenny felt her heart quicken. "You know that Nate--"

Before Rufus could go any farther, Jenny made loud sounds of protest as she pulled her ear back from the phone. She thought she heard Dan protesting in the background as well, and she leaned into the phone again to hear the two whispering indistinctly. She heard Rufus say something along the lines of 'oh, really?' before he was back.

"Alright, sorry, sorry. I won't say anything... in fact, maybe I should let you go... I have a feeling you'll be okay in no time. See you soon." Rufus said, sounding strangely cheery. Rufus was terrible at lying to Jenny, and she almost felt the need to probe into what he was so obviously hiding, but she refrained.

It hadn't rained in ages. Jenny simply couldn't resist going outside; she had always loved the rain. There was something so refreshing and cleansing about it that she simply couldn't resist now. She scoured around her room for the only jacket she'd brought, the jacket she'd worn to the hospital and had worn on the train, and threw it on before practically dashing outside. Jenny tilted her head to the sky and felt raindrops hit her face, and she closed her eyes, basking in how it felt. She twirled around, glad that the streets were nearly empty.

When she stopped twirling she stuck her hands in her pockets and felt something folded up in one of them. With a pang in her chest, she realized that the letter was still where she'd left it. Jenny had forced herself to forget about it and actually had. She'd pulled the letter out of its envelope a few times, but had never had the courage to open it. Reading the letter meant facing not only her fears and feelings, but Nate's as well. Jenny stopped walking and leaned against the wall of a building; she slowly pulled the letter out of her pocket, her heart pounding. Why had her father mentioned Nate today? Why had his tone been so odd while doing so? Had something happened to him? Was he out of the hospital, had he recovered, or was there just no hope for him? Jenny felt fear grip her throat like a fist but she ignored it and chose to read the letter.

The letter was many pages long. What was this letter doing on Nate's desk, where his mother had found it, when he'd written it more than a year ago?

'I can't hide the way that I really feel about you. These emotions are too strong for me to pretend that they don't exist...' Did he still feel that way now? Jenny had to close her eyes here and remind herself that this letter was written a long time ago, before things fell apart, before Vanessa came and went.

'I think about you all the time--' Jenny couldn't help but smile bitterly here, a tear escaping one of her eyes as she realized that now, that phrase was true for her. She thought about Nate all the time; he hadn't left her thoughts even once since he'd given her the ring. 'Now that your brother knows about us, I have to stay away from you, but I don't want to. I really care about you. I just don't know what to do.'

The letter came to an end and Jenny folded it up slowly. The light rain pattered on top of her head slowly and gently, and she wiped at her eyes. She began to walk back to her mother's home, her arms wrapped tightly around her body. She turned the corner and her heart stopped at the sight that was before her.

There was a limo parked outside of the building, and Nate Archibald had apparently just gotten out of the car; he had just shut the door behind him when she came into sight, and for the longest time, they just stared at each other before she rushed to him. She took in his face, the stitches on one cheek, and she reached up hesitantly to touch them. Nate sighed and closed his eyes; it felt like ages since she'd touched him so tenderly.

"I'm so sorry," she whispered gently, looking at him with sad eyes. The rain rolled down his cheeks, too light to drench his hair quite yet. Nate smiled at her widely, and she couldn't help but smile too through the tears that collected in her eyes.

"When did you get out of the hospital?"

"Just the other day. I wanted to come to you as soon as I could, but my mother refused to let me head here immediately after I got out." Nate grinned down at her, and she felt her heart begin to piece itself together. "My mother told me she gave you the letter." Jenny nodded slowly. "Every word in that letter's still true, you know." His voice had become a little nervous, as if he were afraid that she would deny him again.

She was silent for a moment, absorbing that in, and then she smiled a little at him. "Even the Dan part?" She asked with a quirk of her eyebrow, and Nate laughed in surprise for a moment before wincing and touching his rib gently. Jenny's smile immediately vanished and she looked at him in concern, her hand leaving his face to touch the same place he had. "What's wrong?"

Nate grimaced. "Broke my ribs in the accident. That's what I get for acting stupid in a Ferrari though, right? Don't worry," Nate added in quickly to dispel the tormented expression on Jenny's face. "I've been healing quickly. I'll be in good condition in no time, they've actually recovered quite rapidly in the past few weeks."

"I'm so sorry," she whispered. "About everything. All the things I've done and said in the past few months..."

"I know. I heard you when you visited me in the hospital." He reached out and wiped her tears away with his rough hands, and then took her hand. He smiled with contagious joy at the right of the ring on her finger, and Jenny had the feeling that he would have pulled her right into him and spun her around if he weren't in such terrible condition. Instead Nate kissed her hand, right beside where the ring rested, and she softly pressed her other hand on one of his cheeks. "At the hospital, you said that you loved me. Did you mean it?"

Jenny sucked in her breath, wiping the rain off his cheekbones absentmindedly. "Yes -- yes, of course..."

Nate smiled down at her. "Good, because I love you, too."

And there on a street in Hudson, New York, with the light May rain rolling along their skin he kissed her, and she kissed him back. Nate pulled her in close and occasionally he'd wince when she'd press too hard against his ribcage, and Jenny would move back and grab at his shirt instead only to eventually gravitate toward his body once more. And for the first time in a long time, there in his arms, Jenny felt her heart begin to piece itself back together.


Epilogue

Several weeks later it was the fourth of July and Nate had hosted a little party on one of his medium-sized boats. There were just six people in attendance including Nate. Fireworks lit up the sky and the music was soft, matching the gentle waves that rocked against the boat. At midnight the most beautiful of songs came on and they slow danced -- all of them -- Blair in Chuck's arms and Serena in Dan's and Jenny in Nate's.

Things were exactly the way they should be.

When Serena and Dan and Blair and Chuck left around two in the morning, Jenny chose to stay. Even after more than a month, Dan was still not accustomed to the fact that Nate and his sister were officially an item; Jenny was glad that he simply cast Nate a long warning look before he got off the boat. Nate and Jenny went out to sea once more, the boat floating lazily in the harbor, and they laid down on the deck. He pulled her into his arms, and she rested her head against his chest. Even weeks after his accident, she still was too afraid to put too much pressure on him. Nate rubbed her shoulder comfortingly and pointed to the sky.

"Your star," he reminded her, and Jenny spotted that one faint dot of light in New York's dirty sky. Jenny couldn't help but smile and murmured her thanks; she was about to lean in to kiss him when she paused.

"Nate -- what do I mean to you?" She asked, running her ringers through his hair once more as she hovered above him. They both recalled the time in the stairwell when he'd asked her that question and she'd said nothing, and then at the hospital when she'd said everything.

Nate breathed her in. "Everything -- for now and forever."

And then he kissed her until she could only see a thousand of those stars, all for her.


Well this is it. The story is done. Thank you so much to everyone who commented, and to the awesome NJers at fanforum who never stopped supporting me with this. I was super disappointed with the lack of reviews for the chapter before this one -- maybe people just didn't see it or didn't like it -- so I didn't have much muse for this, which is why this is so late. As of now I have no plans for an sequel or another NJ story. It depends on the reviews I get for this chapter/story overall and how season 3 goes. Thanks so much once more to those who read this story!