Title: Kinda, Maybe, Sorta
Warnings: Just don't read if you dislike Nate/Jenny. ._. And somewhat of a bittersweet ending.
Summary: Because I think, somewhere in the deepest places in my heart, I'm kinda... maybe... sorta not over you, just yet. Nate/Jenny, one-shot.
She hadn't expected him to be here.
It was a surprise.
Jenny didn't know how to react in the first few moments. She was aware of how run-down she appeared, her hair disarray, her skin pale. In the first fleeting seconds, she was terrified he would look at her and walk away. She wasn't perfect, and she couldn't aim to be while working in these conditions. Anything to get what she wanted. Jenny could never give that up. Swallowing uneasily, she tucked back a strand of bleach blonde hair, daring to raise a piercing green gaze to him.
Why was Nate Archibald anywhere near her studio?
Actually, it really wasn't her studio, but she could dream, couldn't she? Jenny bit her lip and cast a furtive glance over the room. It was a mess; fabric scattered all over the floor, pins and needles strewn about, papers adorning the carpet. She'd been in here for days, working on dresses that might never see daylight, on outfits that may never be worn. One could say Jenny was obsessed, that it was a cruel, fickle labor, but she wanted this - needed this.
"Hi, Jenny," Nate said quietly, folding his hands together in front of him.
Jenny remembered the last time Nate had spoken to her - merely glanced in her direction, even - at the Snowflake Ball, all those months back. Pain lanced through her at the memory, and she had to remember to breathe, remember that this was now and the past was far, far behind her. Jenny nodded in reply, awkwardly. She couldn't trust her voice right now. There was something, a lump in her throat, that choked back her words.
But, with vehemence, they clawed up on their own. "What are you doing here, Nate?"
It wasn't much of a challenge, and there wasn't anger in her tone. It was just a simple, easy question, one that he should answer. There was no need for Nate to spend any time in Brooklyn now, or any time with her, even. He was going to college. He would be far ahead of her in the world, and that was just find with Jenny. She could forget everything - the warmth of his embrace, his smile, his promises. It would all dissipate and she'd be off on her own. At last.
But life is never that easy.
"I was in the neighborhood," Nate responded simply. It was a lie. Jenny was young, but not stupid.
"Really? 'Cause Manhattan is so close by," she admonished, her tone a bit more biting than intended.
"Well, it all is one big city," Nate pointed out.
"Big being the operative word," Jenny said dryly. "I have work to do. What are you doing here?"
It would have been easier if Nate had just come out and said it. She knew he was leaving for his backpacking trip with Vanessa soon, for it was Jenny that Vanessa ranted on to about it. "Do you think I should bring this? Do you think that's too much? What if he gets bored with me?" It was annoying, but Jenny would never admit that to Vanessa. Regardless of everything, despite the lies and humiliation, they were friends. To a certain extent. Wouldn't an observant friend kinda realize that maybe Jenny sorta isn't over Nate? One would think so. Perhaps Vanessa just wasn't an observant friend.
"I just, uh, wanted to see you," Nate stammered in admittance, blue eyes boring into her green ones. Jenny blinked once and crossed her arms defensively. If he had one word to say to her about the Snowflake Ball, she was throwing him out of her studio. Maybe.
"You saw me," Jenny said simply.
Nate looked her over, his eyes traveling from her frizzy hair to her socks (she wasn't wearing any shoes, naturally). He smiled, and Jenny realized how much she missed that smile. Like when she had run to him after her first attempt at a fashion show, and his arms wrapped warmly around her, his smile so close to hers. Dropping her arms, Jenny pulled them behind her back and fiddled with her hands.
"Yeah," he laughed, voice warm and guttural. "That I did."
"So, say what you want to say," Jenny sighed, tired of this acting routine. She didn't have the script for this, and she was never good at pretending.
That stopped Nate in his tracks, because he probably had this entire scene planned out already, color-coded and organized. Jenny gave a wry smile. She'd had dreams and fantasies about it, of course. Nate running to her, begging down on hand and knee for her forgiveness. He told her just how horrible she was - that she was just as bad as Blair. Then he ran off into the sunset with none other than the Queen B herself. How was that fair? Jenny set her jaw straight, remembering vividly all the reasons why she had vowed to stay away from Nathaniel Archibald.
"I just wanted to... apologize," he confessed, blue eyes innocent and wide. She hated that. How could he look so perfect all the time? Jenny was suddenly extremely aware of how bad she looked, and she stifled a lunacy-induced giggle.
Nate took a step forward, and his shoes crunched over a button or two. Jenny wanted to laugh. It wasn't exactly like in the movies, where the spotlight falls on him and he walks forward smoothly, without any obstacles. But he was too close to laugh at, now, and it was surreal. Like a dream. His hands pulled at hers, tugging them to rest in their warm embrace. Holdings hands with Nate Archibald. Surreal.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, and his face was so close, too close.
Too easy to kiss.
Jenny took a step back, wrenching her hand from his, folding her arms in front of her chest like she was warding him off. His puzzlement was clear, and she even saw a flicker of hurt, though it died in an instant. Jenny set herself at an easy distance from him. She wasn't angry. She just didn't want to be second choice, or hurt Vanessa - again.
"Okay." She nodded decisively. Discussion closed.
Nate looked at her with pain battling guilt in his gaze, and Jenny wanted so much to give in. But it was too much. He was going to college; she was only a junior, and she had a life ahead of her that she didn't need Nate for. She could start a new era of her life. As queen in Blair's leave, Jenny was someone entirely different. But despite herself, she wanted to give in. Jenny wanted Nate in an irrevocable sense, but she would not be the girl he loved for a month and dumped when college came around. She wouldn't be that girl.
"I hope you have fun at college, Nate," Jenny said quietly, sincerely, steady green gaze meeting his eyes.
Nate reached out tentatively, brushing back a wisp of her straggly bleach blonde hair. Jenny's cheek tingled when his touch skidded across it, but then he dropped his hand abruptly and pulled back. "Enjoy junior year, Jenny," he murmured.
Without another word, Nate turned and slammed the door shut. Jenny did not show him her tears.