It's 2am and I'm cursing your name
I'm so in love that I acted insane and
that's the way I loved you, breaking down
and coming undone it's a roller coaster kinda
rush and I never knew I could feel that much
and that's the way I loved you.
- Taylor Swift
It's August. His relationship with Bree is fun, and it's amusing trying to hide their relationship from their families. Nate likes the adrenaline rush of kissing her on a street corner, always glancing over their shoulders to see if a family member has spotted them, because their families can't stand each other.
He wants her to meet Chuck; they go to the Vanderbass-Humphrey apartment, where Chuck has just begun to pack his things. They were planning to share an apartment together, but then they realized things might get a bit awkward when Blair comes over. So now Chuck's planning to move into the same building as Nate, and he's so excited that his best friend's going to live in the same building that he forgets that Jenny is in Chuck's family now, too.
So when he comes to the apartment and sees a mannequin right there in the living room wearing what must be a J. Humphrey design, he gets nervous. He doesn't see the blonde anywhere in sight and he manages to breathe a little; even now, after months of not speaking, Jenny still takes his breath away and she's not even in the room yet. He introduces Bree to Chuck and they get along just fine. He likes Bree because she's grounded and sweet and smart and although things are dramatic at times, she's usually very simple, which he thinks is good for him.
Bree walks up to the mannequin and Nate hears footsteps on the stairs.
"This dress is hideous," Bree states bluntly -- he likes her because she doesn't lie -- and he hears the footsteps get louder, more hurried.
"I don't think anyone asked you for your opinion on it," Nate hears a calm voice and he turns to see Jenny Humphrey, her light blonde hair much longer than it was in May, and she's not wearing much makeup. It pains him to think that she looks even more beautiful than before, but the thought won't leave his mind; he's not supposed to think she's beautiful, they don't even talk anymore. They're strangers and that was his choice.
"I'm so sorry," Bree apologizes, spinning around to meet Jenny's eyes, and Chuck snickers a little.
"This is Jenny," he introduces, clapping a hand on his somewhat-sister's shoulder. "Our little fashion designer."
There's a tense silence and Chuck takes Bree to the kitchen; when Jenny realizes she'll be alone with Nate she turns to leave. He stops her.
"That wasn't very nice of you - she didn't have bad intentions, you know. And she apologized," Nate says, and Jenny shoots a glare at him.
"Spare me the saintlike act, Nate," she replies with an eye roll, and Jenny's never really treated him like this before. That and the fact that they haven't talked in ages gets his blood pumping, and he can't hold back.
"What's your problem?" He snaps, narrowing his eyes.
"What's my problem?" She scoffs incredulously. "You bring your girlfriend to my place -- don't even object, Nate, I live here, it doesn't matter how recently I moved in-- and she criticizes one of my designs."
"Sounds to me that you're jealous." He shoots back, the word 'girlfriend' ringing in his mind -- what Bree had become so easily, what Jenny had been so close to being.
"Sounds to me that you're fooling yourself." There's a ghost of a smirk on her face, and she juts her chin in Bree's direction before disappearing.
And so it begins.
He kisses Bree everywhere he can, every street, every restaurant, every event, and he makes sure Gossip Girl gets the pictures.
Jenny's with a different boy every other night, and the pictures get on to Gossip Girl just hours after the pictures of Nate and Bree come out, each and every time.
They don't speak, but it's a battle of a thousand words.
Jenny enjoys tormenting him. One of the latest of her boy toys, Andres-- he's lasted for a two weeks and you'd have to be blind to see that he's totally besotted with Jenny-- slides a ring on her finger right in front of Nate at some party, and his stomach churns.
Mid-September at a charity auction Jenny spots Nate slipping his mother's engagement ring onto Bree's finger with poorly attempted discretion, and Bree throws her arms around his neck.
Before they kiss Nate spots the hurt in Jenny's eyes, and he hurts too, more than he thought he would. He doesn't know why they want to hurt each other so badly but now they're in too deep, and he hates it. But it's also a sick form of contact with Jenny and he's afraid that if this war stops, it'll go back to like it was before -- at least now they're enemies instead of strangers, at least now there's some meaning to his name when it crosses her mind, even if it has a negative connotation.
He finds Jenny on a balcony a few minutes later; she's alone and she's crying and there's no ring on her finger. He calls her name softly and apologizes. She doesn't respond. He reaches out to hug her and he's surprised when she pushes him away.
"I don't want your pity," she whispers coldly, and he steps away, raising his hands up to shoulder level like she's got a gun pointed at him.
She leaves, and the war doesn't stop.
He gets high one night soon after. He knows he did because there are pictures; with alcohol combined everything became a blur.
He's sure that Jenny kissed him, sure that she tore at his heartstrings every time she tugged on his shirt as she pressed him against a wall in that dark nightclub. He knows she sucked the breath right out of him, sure she had her fingers pulling his hair, positive that she bit his bottom lip until she left that tender spot below his lip. He's sure it happened because the next morning he wakes up in Chuck's apartment with hickeys on his neck that don't belong to Bree, and Chuck just shoots an amused expression in his direction when he asks what happened last night. There are bruises on his shoulder blades where he must have been pushed against the wall too hard but Chuck won't say a word.
He calls Jenny and asks her what they did last night. Jenny wants to know what the hell he's talking about, and he tells her everything he remembers, and she denies it, says he's imagining things.
"I know I'm not imagining things, Jenny!" He exclaims in frustration, and he notices Chuck sneering in the corner.
"Sounds like you're desperate for it to be real. Why is that, Nate? Are you waving your white flag? Admitting that you need me more than you thought?"
He hangs up and wonders how the hell he's going to cover up the dark hickeys that melt into hiding beneath his shirt, and he's almost afraid to peek under and see how low they go.
The next day Rufus finds out about all the boy toys, every single one, and he refuses to tell Jenny his source. He grounds her and although he's refusing to tell her his source, he's forgetting something: Eric is her best friend, and Eric can find out anything. After five minutes of probing Eric comes flying into her room and all he has to say is Nate's name.
She doesn't know what to do because she's grounded and she can't report him to his family -- they'd kill him. She's never even met any of his family members before.
Jenny decides to text Bree and tells her to stop by Nate's apartment -- lies and says she's left a dress there as a sort of peace offering. She then sits back and lets things take their course.
Bree stops by his apartment, sees the hickeys on his neck and collarbone and breaks up with him on the spot. But Jenny hasn't won because Nate doesn't feel a thing; he accepts the termination of the relationship and moves on.
His cousin Tripp finds out about Bree on the first day of October, a week after the breakup. He tells Grandfather and he explodes, tells Nate not to come by the Vanderbilt house again, and Nate feels fear as he remembers how his family alienated him last year. He picks up a pack of alcohol on the way home and before he knows it he's drunk as fuck and outside of the Van der Bass-Humphrey apartment, yelling Jenny's name at the top of his lungs and calling up to her window, taking a swig of his drink occasionally.
"Jenny! Jenny!" He yells, and her window opens and he sees her face peering down at him sleepily. He realizes it's two in the morning and he doesn't care.
"Are you happy now?" Nate laughs hoarsely, holding his arms out wide open, as if it'll show that he's got nothing on him. "I've lost everything, are you happy? Are you happy now? You've destroyed me." His voice cracks and he finishes the rest of his bottle before throwing it down on the ground. It shatters into too many pieces to count.
He leaves, and Jenny breaks down and comes undone, too.
Their war doesn't exist anymore. The Vanderbilts come around more easily than Nate expected; all he does is tell them that he and Bree broke up, and the family accepts him once more. October becomes November and there's a fancy ball of sorts; Nate goes with a random blonde from school, and Jenny goes with Andres, who still looks at her like she's the world. It makes Nate feel inferior-- does he look at Jenny the exact same way as Andres does? -- and as the couples dance, Jenny and her dark-haired partner breeze past Nate and his date on more than one occasion. Jenny looks beautiful in her elaborate dark purple dress, and her hair's curled and pinned up, and Nate can't take his eyes off her. Eventually Jenny and Andres pull over to a table to catch their breath and drink water. When Andres leans in to kiss Jenny and gets her cheek Nate feels something burn inside of him, and he acts on impulse. In a few strides he crosses over to the other side of the room, his date a distant memory, and he stops in front of Jenny.
She peers up at him curiously, almost fearfully, and he holds out his hand to her. She smiles when he does. She understands and slips her tiny hand into his and he whisks her away. They fall into place at once, merging with the music and other dancers like a perfectly constructed puzzle piece. He places on her lips the most tender and delicate kiss ever given, one that doesn't leave bruises.
And so the war ends.