Create My Paradise
They had come a long way from the Upper East Side where she had been the outsider who had never fit in and he'd always been her white knight. He was always riding in to save her and she had come to expect it from him. The day he walked back into her life she had expected no different. She had thought he was still the same Nate Archibald swooping in to save a damsel in distress, to carry her away from the life she had fallen into. That was when she still believed that he could snap his fingers and magic them both back to a cozy penthouse in New York City, back to the life she had left behind and far away from the life she had built since.
She hadn't been able to see things for what they were from the moment he walked in the door, or for a long time after. She could see everything crystal clear now, when it was too late, that the night he had walked into the club she had been stripping in he had been as lost and broken as she was. They had both wanted somebody to save them but instead they were drowning in each other.
Sometimes they would be okay. Sometimes she could stay clean for weeks at a time and he wouldn't gamble away every penny they brought in, so she could see a glimmer of the people they used to be. She would wake up in his arms and she could pretend that things were the way she had always pictured they would be. That she had made it as a successful fashion designer and he ran his own business or was going into politics like his grandfather had always wanted. If she closed her eyes and curled up against him she could pretend that they were New York City's hottest newest it couple.
It never lasted long. It could never last because the city was always going to be an implosive topic between them. It would always be a bomb because she could never hear him talk about the city, talk about the things he missed there without hearing how much he missed Serena, how she was always going to be his one that got away. She'd start using again when she couldn't cope with the fact that Nate was always going to be her one that got away and it didn't matter that he had been by her side for the last three years. It was a vicious cycle that they couldn't break. It didn't matter how much they would manage straighten their lives out because they were in it too deep.
So she'd be clean, her record was almost six months, and he would start talking about taking them out of here. He would talk about how they could go back to her family, even if they only had to stay with them for a little while, he could get back on his feet and find a job that brought in enough money to support them. She'd be able to stop taking her clothes off in front of complete strangers because he would take care of her. A line would ease her questions about how long it would be before Serena swept in and took it all away and a second would give her the freedom to throw herself into the plans.
He knew her too well. It never took him very long to figure out that she was using again. So he would always launch into Plan B. Plan B was when his hero complex kicked in and he'd be determined to get her into rehab and she always knew what came next even if he seemed to forget how this story always ended; with him making bets they couldn't afford.
They were poison to each others lives.
But that didn't change the fact that she loved him.
And despite her insecurities she believed he loved her too.
Not that any of that mattered now because the end was coming. It wasn't intentional, the overdose she has triggered, she hadn't meant to do too much but Nate was gone and she hadn't seen him in days and maybe this was all for the better. This could put her out of her misery and he could move on, maybe move back to the city and get his life straightened out. She'd always brought him down and wasn't this where she was always bound to end up, collapsed on the bathroom floor with her heart racing so fast she can feel the blackout coming before it does.
It's not necessarily disappointment she feels when the blackness fades away and she becomes aware of of quick, steady beeping, but she can't say she's particularly relieved either. She'd accepted the end, welcomed it even, but now without even opening her eyes she knows that it's only going to get worse. Slowly things are coming into focus, like the fact that past her eyelids the light is bright and she knows when she opens her eyes it will hurt. Or like the fact that Nate has fallen asleep with his hand in hers, his head just barely brushing her finger tips.
The movement to run her fingers through Nate's hair takes more energy then she really expects and she forces herself to face the harsh hospital lighting to glance over at him when he starts to stir. Her heart audibly beats faster as the heart monitor beeps faster when her eyes lock with her brother's. She wonders if her face fully registers the complete panic that's coursing through her body because she knows that if Dan's there the rest of the family can't be far behind.
Her face must register as much panic as she feels because Dan is squeezing her hand and talking to her in an overly calm tone that doesn't really warrant the situation. She can't help but struggled to sit up in the bed her eyes searching the otherwise empty room, "Nate?" Her voice hardly registers as words, her voice hoarse and barely above a whisper. Dan's trying to restrain her and the panic only courses through her body, her heart racing because nothing is going to be okay if he's not here.
"Nate's outside talking with Dad and Lily, I'll go get him you just need to stay calm okay?" She can see the fear in his eyes and it does nothing to calm her down, she's never seen Dan scared about anything before. He was her big brother and before Nate he had been the one she looked to save her, but those years are long past and she's not hurt because she's the girl from Brooklyn and feeling desperately out of place. They're well past that and she needs Nate.
Dan isn't even out of the door before Nate's pushing past him and at her bedside. "Fuck Jenny." He takes her hand and presses her fingers to his lips and with a breath she can feel her body relax. "Thank god you're okay." She can't be sure if she's imagining the tears in his eyes because they only lock for a minute before he's buried his face in her neck and she's clinging to him. "I'm so sorry I wasn't there, so sorry." Nate moves away and cups her face in his hands, his forehead coming to rest on hers. "Thank god you're okay, I don't know what I would have done...it's my fault I shouldn't have left you."
She runs a hand through his hair, she doesn't think she can handle Nate blaming himself for her mistakes again "it's okay, shh, don't apologize. It's okay. I'm okay, right?" She's not completely sure of that fact because she feels like she was hit by a bus, she's been through withdrawal before more times then she can really count but this time she knows it's different.
"You're not okay. You almost died." She had forgotten that Dan had said that her Dad and Lily were outside, or even that Dan was present so her father's words call her back to reality. She hasn't seen them in more then five years and they look older, more worn, but she's not sure how much of that is the hospital setting and how much is the toll life has taken on them since she's left. She wouldn't know, she'd left the city and any news she had of her family was more then three years old and had come with Nate. She missed them sometimes, but she never wanted them to see her life like this. She didn't want their judgment and she sure as hell didn't want their pity and she can see both written across all three of their faces.
"But, I'm going to be okay, right?" She looks away from her dad and her eyes focus back onto Nate, she doesn't need them she just needs him to tell her that she's going to be okay. That they're going to be okay.
"Sorry that took us so long."
"Yeah apparently 4:30 is the prime time to hit up the cafeteria for jello." Her words announce her presence but Jenny doesn't have to see Serena to know she's there. Of course she was there, the whole family had turned up to what? Stage an intervention? Tell Jenny how bad the drugs are? Save her from the life she had built? Instinctively her hand reaches out and grips Nate's tightly in, what she knows is, a desperate attempt to keep him beside her. She doesn't want Serena there, she doesn't need Erik, Dan, Lily or her father, it's just been her and Nate for so long he was the only one she depended on. The only one she wanted. The only one she needed.
"You're up! Good, I'm glad you're okay Jenny." Serena shifts uncomfortably and Jenny takes more enjoyment than she should from her discomfort.
Erik is the only one who moves in the room, crossing from the doorway to her bedside and giving Jenny a tentative hug. "I'm glad you're okay," he murmurs as he pulls away from their awkward half hug, she can't move because she's connected to more wires than she knows what they do and she's not really all the comfortable hugging someone she hasn't seen in years. The intimacy makes her uncomfortable, it's been too long and too much has happened for them to have the brother/sister relationship she'd once relied on. "But.." He looks torn and she knows there's probably a lot that he wants to say to her. She can see him weighing his words before he shakes his head and steps back to stand next to Serena.
It's tense and awkward in the small hospital room and Jenny is starting to feel claustrophobic, wasn't there a limit on the number of people that were allowed to visit one person? "I really appreciate you guys all coming, and I know Nate probably appreciates that he didn't have to wait alone but we've got it covered here. We're all good." She locks eyes with Nate, silently begging him to get rid of them hoping that he understands that she doesn't want them here.
He doesn't let her down. He immediately steps up and she can see a glimmer of the Nate Archibald she remembers from her childhood, the easy going diplomat that could handle any situation with grace and ease. "Yeah, she's right you know I can't thank you enough for coming down here when I called, but we've got things under control here and..."
"Like hell you do." Jenny's heart rate jumps at her father's sharp words and for a moment everyone pauses, the entire room's eyes are focused on her heart monitor and she can feel the pressure to take slow steadying gulps of air. She knows that she needs to show them she's fine, if she can just get her stupid monitor to stop beeping like her heart's about to beat out of her chest then she can convince them that she's fine. If she's fine then things can return to normal and she and Nate will be okay.
"Nathaniel we talked about this and I think you believe that we're right on this," Lily's overly soothing voice is grating on Jenny's already non-existent nerves. Her head is throbbing and her entire body aches and she doesn't want to hear what they've talked Nate into, she has a good idea of what comes next in her father and Lily's perfect Manhattan lives. "Jenny, sweetie you must know that this isn't a healthy life for you. It's just that..."
"It's just that I did not raise a daughter who would accept that coke and stripping was the best way to make it through life." Her father's tone is the opposite of Lily's and he's only getting more worked up the longer he speaks and the longer he goes the more Jenny feels like she's sixteen years old again, completely out of control of her own life. "We've already spoken to a rehab clinic in the city and they have a room for you as soon as you are released from the hospital. Lily has called in a lot of favors and used a lot of connections to get you this room so quickly and you're going."
"I'm fine." She can hear her voice shake even as she says it she knows that the words aren't going to convince anybody. "I know that this is all a shock for you, but we're fine. We are, Nate and I. And it may not be the life you would have chosen for me but...it's my life and-" She can feel the tears slipping down her cheeks as she speaks but she doesn't bother to wipe them away. What's the point? She knows that more will replace them in moments. "Please just go, we're fine. I'm fine."
"Jenny, you are not fine." Erik has crossed the room again but this time he's grabbed a hand held mirror that had been sitting on the tiny dresser by the door. "You look like hell, when was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror?"
To be honest she's not really sure when the last time she's actually taken in her appearance. Obviously she looked in the mirror every day, but a glance here or focusing on one part of her appearance didn't count because she's missed how she looks as a whole. The dark circles that she noticed whenever she put on eye makeup take up more of her face then she though, they're so deep purple that they stand out against the stark white of her skin like two large bruises. She could tell herself that she looks pale because she's in the hospital but she knows the truth, that the white, almost ash, colored tone to her skin has been there under all of her make up for months now, maybe years, she's not really sure.
"I..." Any words of excuse or justification are lost, because she has nothing to say to defend herself. She looks like she's been made up to play some bad Lifetime movie character, on their deathbed waiting to breath out their last few words to their loved ones. Nate looks horrified and when she finally pulls her glance away from the mirror and looks back to him, she wonders if he's really seeing her for the first time too. The fight has faded from her completely, she didn't have the energy to fight with them on anything to start with and now, now she just doesn't have the will to do or say anything in her defense either. Besides, maybe they're right.
"This place that Dad and Lily found," Dan has inched slowly to her beside, across from Nate and he gently takes her hand, "it can help you Jenny." He looks so earnest, so wanting to protect her like he had for so many years that her heart breaks just a little bit more. For her. For him. For all of them in this fucked up situation. This situation that she had created in her life. As much as she liked to place blame on her overprotective father and the oppressive life she had led in the city, no one had forced it on her. "Just let them help you."
"I'm tired." Jenny turns on her side, despite the fact that it's awkward and the IV pulls. She can't deal with them anymore and if there's ever a time to use that excuse it's now. She squeezes her eyes shut, but they don't completely shut the tears in and they squeeze out of the corners of her eyes and the hospital blanket pressed to her lips aren't going to cover the sobs if she can't hold them off. They take a moment to discuss it but when Lily agrees that Jenny needs her rest they all file out silently with the exception of Nate promising to call them all later.
He's crouched in front of her moments later and when Jenny opens her eyes she finds that he's his own eyes look as sad and destroyed as hers do. "I'm so sorry I called them." He's at a loss and she hates to see him like that, hates knowing that she made him feel this way. "I didn't know what else to do. I was in the ER waiting room and they were saying they didn't know what was going to happen and that I should notify your family. Notify your family," he echoes the words again and she can see him turning the words over in his head now, and she can picture him in the middle of a waiting room thinking she was going to die. How could she blame him for calling the only people that could understand what he was feeling.
"Shh," She pressed a finger to his lips and struggled to move over on the hospital bed, "will you lay with me?" She's surprised by the fact that she even has energy to lose on the movement to make room for him beside her, but it's worth it when he's lying on his side on the very edge of the bed facing her. They'd spent hours in bed laying like this when he had come into her life years ago, before they were as broken as they were now, when she could look at him and see all the promises of the future that he spoke about. She can see that boy under there now, under all the shit they'd been through in the last couple of years, she can see the hope hidden under his sadness and guilt. "You think my dad and Lily are right. You want me to go, don't you?"
"You almost died Jenny."
His response isn't an answer and she's not sure if it's the ambiguity of the answer or the hell she's put her body through in the last couple of days, the overdose and the withdrawal,the emotional turmoil but it only pisses her off. "Why can't you ever just tell me what you fucking think?" The words are sharp when they leave her mouth, and somewhere beyond the physical pain and mental fuzziness she knows she feels bad but she pushes past that feeling and embraces the anger. "Not once, in the hell I've put you through have you used with me. But you've cleaned up after me, you've taken care of me without saying a word against it. I can't even fucking ask you if you prefer paper or plastic without you letting me do as I fucking please. So how about you give me a goddamn straight answer Nate?"
Nate looks wounded by her words but he doesn't move and the noise from her heart monitor is the only thing that breaks the silence and it makes her want to rip off the monitor and the IV and everything else keeping her attached to this bed and bolt for the nearest exit. To say screw this shit, find her next fix and make a new life for herself in another shitty city. "I don't know if you've noticed, but you don't really take well to being told what to do." She knows he means for it to be funny and to lighten up the mood a bit but she can see the truth in his words.
"I had screwed everything up so badly when I saw you again." She'd put the pieces of his story together a little bit at a time over the years because it was nothing Nate liked to talk about. Gambling debts that amounted to more money than he could cover and either his family refused to bail him out or he refused to ask them too. A sure thing bet that amounted to him losing more money then she would probably ever know and destroying his relationship with Chuck Bass. "When I saw you that night you were exactly what I needed, this beautiful angel that was going to help me make a new life for myself. I could leave it all behind and start over with you."
"I'm pretty sure that no one has seriously called me an angel since I was five." She tries to force a smile, it's her turn to try and lighten the mood. She's never heard Nate talk about her this way, not this seriously anyway he'd called her his angel on more then one occasion but it was always light and joking. She knows he's completely serious right now.
"I didn't want to lose you," he continues on, a half smile assures her that he's heard her comment but just needs to finish out whatever it is he's trying to say. "I didn't want to force anything on you because I was afraid that one day I was going to wake up and you were going to be gone."
She can picture the image he sees in his head because she had pictured it so many times over the years that she would laugh if the entire thing doesn't make her sob. She wants to tell him that she's not going anywhere but all she can really manage is to bury her face in his chest and cry. She will have to tell him someday that she's spent the last years afraid that Serena would call and he'd be gone before she could even form a good reason for him to stay. She won't tell him now because she doesn't need to burden him with one more thing and to be honest she doesn't think she needs to hear him deny that he'd go running after Serena. For the first time she believes him and she doesn't need to hear him say the words.
"Tell me what you want me to do." The words are simple and she pulls away enough so that she can look him in the eye, she needed to hear him say the words she knows are coming. She knows that if she hears him say it, watches his lips form the words, that she can't deny it. She can't deny him.
A.N. This fic is for my dear Miranda for her birthday, and yes it's waaay late in getting written and posted but I do so hope that you enjoyed it. Love you girlie and happy super belated birthday!