Her dreams are invaded with hazy, heady thoughts.
"If you ever step foot into Manhattan..."
"Jenny Humphrey was just -"
"Don't say her name!"
She can feel herself twisting, turning, whimpering helplessly in her sleep. She understands it's a nightmare, but she can't escape. She's sitting in the lobby again, watching it all, on repeat. Over and over and over again.
"How could you?"
"No one's forcing you to stay."
She can feel the harsh stares burning into her skull. She can hear their sneers, their angry words. She sees her father's disappointed eyes, Eric's judgment, Blair's hatred, Nate's disbelief. She sees it all. She can't escape it.
"Get out, Jenny."
She screams but there's no one to hear her.
She's awake and it's still dark out, but the sun is coming up the horizon. It bathes the horizon with its glow, warming the earth and lighting up the bus. Everything looks better at sunrise, she realizes. The world looks so fresh, so wonderful.
Her head is resting on Josh's shoulder; she must've fallen asleep like that. He's sleeping, too, lolling his head quietly to the side. They're the only ones left on the bus. It's so perfect she wants to cry.
"I'm happy I found you," she says, but it's too soft, too quiet, and so he doesn't awake. He's fast asleep, dreaming whatever it is that nice guys dream about. Probably puppies and kittens and all that.
She doesn't know if she truly found him, or if he found her, but it seems to work either way around.
"Grab your bags," Josh laughs, rolling his eyes goodnaturedly as he sees what a small load she'd packed. "Geez, you must've splurged."
She scowls at him. "I threw out a lot of things." She burned most of her outfits, each dress and short skirt greedily eaten by the flames. She'd only taken some jeans, a t-shirt or a few, and her laptop. With a lighthearted laugh, she tugs the bag up to her shoulder, turning with a grin. "Come on, hurry up."
They step out of the bus into a station. The air that greets her is cold, and Josh grabs her hand, holding it above their heads with flourish.
"Welcome to Charleston!" he announces. "As close to New York as you can get in Virginia."
She gazes around, at the bustling people, the unfamiliar surroundings.
She realizes that Josh is severely wrong. It's nothing like New York in the slightest. But she listens to him, holding onto his hand as a lifeline, and decides not to say a word. It looks nothing like New York. To Jenny Humphrey, it might as well be paradise.