A/N: Thank you for your feedback! This oneshot follows 3x15.
March 22, 2010: completely unaware, nothing can compare to where you send me
Nate's heart is jumping around the way he imagines it would if he ever jumped off a cliff, or something else equally adrenaline-boosting and awe-inspiring.
He needs to calm down. So Serena van der Woodsen loves him. It's not a big deal.
He grins, forehead pressed to hers. She smiles back at him (softer, gentler) and leans in to capture his lips in a kiss.
It is a big fucking deal.
"Maybe we could," he mumbles between kisses, pulls her close as she wraps her arms around his neck.
She blinks slowly, her fingers slipping into her hair. "We could what?"
"Go back to that night. And relive it...knowing the things..." He can't stop smiling. "Knowing the things that we know now."
Serena beams back, impossibly pretty in the firelight. Her nose nuzzles against his. "Like what?"
He laughs, kisses her cheek. "You tell me."
And she nods, accepts that it's her turn to say things. "Like how you loved me?"
"Love you," he corrects her, hurriedly and a little fiercely. "Love you." He kisses her quickly, pulls back much too soon, but he needs to hear more from her. "And what else?"
"I love you." It's adorable, the way it makes her shy to say it, the pink tinge to her cheeks and the way she bites her lip. She giggles. "I love you too."
"Yeah, you do," he mutters (it's still sinking in, he's still letting himself believe it) as he pulls her into another kiss, lets it linger this time.
It's Serena, this time, that breaks their kiss, her hands on his shoulders. "Nate."
"Uh-huh?" He takes a moment to look at her, comments, "This dress, I like this dress..."
She laughs, pushes at him just enough to be scolding, not hard enough to really get him to move away. "Hey, you – "
His fingers trace along her back slowly, moving from one side to the other. He doesn't encounter the zipper of her dress until his hand is at her side; it's tucked right under her arm, at a point that lets him feel the under-wire of her bra, the swell of her her breast. "Would look even better on the floor, though," he says softly, pressing a kiss to her neck as he gives the zipper a sharp tug downward.
"Natie," she whispers, laughter in her voice. "Listen."
He groans (over-dramatically, probably) and lifts his head. "Yes?" he sighs.
Her fingers press against his cheeks, and it's then that he notices the deep, serious blue of her eyes.
"What is it?"
"I just...I want you to know that it meant more, with you. More than it did with anybody else, any of those guys..."
He shakes his head, kisses her to silence her. "I don't want to hear about any other guys."
"Let me – " She doesn't finish her protest, simply goes back to the subject at hand and says, "It meant more. It meant more and it scared me and there was Blair and...and I think maybe, because it meant more...it was easier to run away than to deal with what that meant." Her eyes roam over his face. "Do you forgive me?"
Nate frowns. "I didn't have a right to – "
"No, you did. You have no right to make assumptions or even comments about the people I've slept with, class whore..." She pokes him in the chest; that, along with the glimmer in her eyes, let's him know that she's just teasing. It fades away, that glimmer, is replaced but something deeper and heavier when she says, "But you did have a right to get mad at me for leaving. You had a right to do that." She takes a deep breath. "So. Do you forgive me?"
"I forgave you a long time ago. It was just that..." He shrugs, glances down at the floor. "I loved you, and we had sex and then you just disappeared, but I...I couldn't stop. Loving you," he clarifies. "I don't know how to stop."
Her lips curl upward into a smirk he knows well, this coy one that makes him wish for the end of this serious conversation so he can show her how much he loves her.
"Good," she says lightly, eyebrows arched, and then pulls him into a bruising kiss.
She is the one to pull back again, the two of them breathless and clinging to each other. "I forgive you, too. For calling me a slut tonight."
"I didn't – " He starts to protest, but she cuts him off by pressing her lips to his, and he feels her smile against his mouth. He relaxes into the kiss, laughs a bit; their teeth bump together.
Serena nudges him backward a few steps, until the backs of his legs run into a nearby chair, and after he falls into it she climbs onto his lap, legs on either of his waist. He smiles, leans back and pulls her close as he kisses her.
"Wait, wait," he mutters a moment later, while she's kissing his neck and slowly unbuttoning his shirt.
"Mm?" she barely moves, just bites at his skin a little. "Thought you said something about reliving..."
"Yeah..." He finds the zipper at the side of her dress and tugs it again, this time upward, his fingers lingering against her skin. He sighs into her hair.
Serena sits up, lips red and hair wild."What is it?"
"Come on, get up." He grins at the sight of her like that, he can't help it. There is a very real possibility that he will always grin at the sight of her like that.
"Nate – "
"Reliving," he reminds her very seriously, redoing the buttons on his shirt before offering her his hand. "C'mon, let's go."
"You are being very mysterious," Serena laughs, but she follows him willingly. (Follows him, trusts him, wants to be where he goes – and he loves it, loves her, so much he could burst from it.)
Nate calls a car. He asks the driver to go to the nearest liquor store. They run in together, he and Serena, dressed to the nines but messily so: her hair is falling over her shoulders, untamed, and she doesn't have any shoes; Nate's collar is half-popped and one of his sleeves is rolled up. They look – and feel – like they're two years younger, laughing as they dash in and examine the champagne selection as if they're making a decision that affects the fate of the entire human race or something. Serena wraps herself around him, tucks herself into his arms as they debate, and he doesn't complain. She is giggling madly when they arrive at the counter to pay, a blush painted over her collarbone, creeping up her neck as Nate whispers in her ear, one of his arms snaked securely around her waist. Nate slides over a credit card, and they are not asked for IDs.
"Where're we going?" she hisses as he guides her back to the car. He kisses her by the door, pushes her back against the body of the car. The city spins around them, noise and light, but all he can feel is her.
"Surprise," he tells her, makes her promise to cover her ears and close her eyes while he quietly directs the driver to their destination.
He kisses her eyelids when he settles back in next to her, then her nose, finally her lips. "You peeked, didn't you?"
"No way," she whispers, her smile bright, and they both know she's lying.
Ten minutes later he's slipping out of the car and offering her his hand, waving the driver away with a smile. They stand side-by-side on the city sidewalk, busy even at night, staring at the building for a moment as if it is monumental, and Nate thinks maybe it is, just a little bit.
He's holding a bottle of champagne in one hand and Serena's hand in the other. He looks over at her and she looks content, smiling a little. She glances at him, says quietly, "You're ridiculous, Nate."
And he pulls her into his arms, wraps her up and tries to make sure the bottle isn't digging into her back anywhere. "You," he says, looking right into her eyes, "are a mess."
Serena gives him a look, like you are so corny, this can't be a serious thing but he sees what's beneath it, a flash of the way that she and Blair used to look at George Peppard at the end of Tiffany's: that momentary, daring hope for a romance you never think you'll really have.
He wants to give it to her; wants to give her everything and then some.
It starts to rain, then; lightning splits the sky and it starts to pour, and Nate grins at her hesitantly because the turn this night has taken, the way it has lead them to this moment, he couldn't have scripted it for her – and maybe that's the whole point.
She laughs, breathlessly, glances up at the sky and Nate can see the droplets of water caught in her eyelashes, peppered everywhere over her skin. She smooths a hand through his damp hair, hooks an arm around his neck, and her mouth jumps into a sunny smile that fights against the night and the rain, lights up everything around him. Her lips a breath away from his, she says on a whisper, "So are you."
They kiss and kiss and kiss on the street; a car honks as it glides by and a drunk boy in an NYU sweater sticks his head out the back window and yells, "Get a room, guys!"
Nate laughs as they pull apart, smiles at how completely unashamed she looks, her wet hair sticking to her cheeks. "Or a bar," he suggests with a wiggle of his eyebrows, pulling her inside.
"Shh," Serena whispers as they sneak in, it's dark inside by the navigate around with a strange sort of familiarity. She bumps into him and they both burst out laughing, clapping their hands over one another's mouths. "Do you think anyone's here?"
He glances around, sees no signs of life. He shrugs. "It's gonna be awkward if they are."
"Nate!" she squeals.
"Oh please." He holds his hands out to his sides so she can get a good look at him and makes his best I mean, c'mon face. "Class whore, remember? Sex in a public place is not a stretch."
"Don't be so proud," she laughs, stepping on his toes, her bare feet on top of his shoes.
He pulls her close, lifts her up so that she's sitting on a stool; she wraps her legs around his waist. "You know, there are advantages to dating someone as shameless as myself..."
She tugs off his belt. "Don't make promises you can't keep, Archibald."
"I knew it. My skanky ways turn you on," he teases.
"I will show you skanky, mister," Serena giggles. She tilts her chin up, looks him in the eye for one quiet moment. "We're messed up, you and me."
"Messed up together, though. I like our mess."
"Mutual mess?" She's giggling again.
"Mutual mess," Nate agrees, kisses her nose. "No clean-up necessary."
She looks at him like he's just given her some kind of gift, but she says silent, just tightens her arms around his neck the slightest bit.
(He loves her, she loves him, and this is a big deal.)
He holds up the bottle of champagne, watches the way rainwater drips from her hair. "Think your bottle-opening skills have improved?"
"You sucked last time!" she protests, taking it from him. After a moment of struggle she relents, handing it over.
"What were you saying?"
She slips all of the buttons on his shirt undone, pushes it off his shoulders. "Open it."
He obliges her, and they drink straight from the bottle, guzzling most of it down within about twenty minutes, laughing quietly and undressing each other in between sips.
"I love you," she whispers to him, mouth right by his ear, and he can hear the tremor in her voice, the way she means it. He knows that this is different, for both of them, that sex is one thing but this – this is another altogether.
She's on his lap now, and they're not clawing at each other, but just touching, slow and savouring. "I love you, too," he promises her, kisses her sweetly.
"No stopping," she breathes, a reminder with a touch of something more slipped in, a request for reassurance.
Nate nuzzles his nose against hers, slips one of his hands into her hair, and grants it. "No stopping."