Jenny walked into the large ballroom and made sure her mask was securely fastened. She looked down in distaste at her dress and then lifted her eyes to look over the other guests.
For this masked ball, Jenny had gone against everything she stood for, against every instinct she had.
First of all, she had gone to the largest department store and asked for their most popular mask instead of making one herself. Her first look around the ballroom revealed three masks exactly like hers and a few other ones that looked similar.
Secondly, she had bought her dress off the rack and only modified it a little. Even though it fit her very well, it was plain for her taste and style.
And finally, she had walked into the ballroom alone, whereas normally she always walked into these events with Nate by her side as a way of showing every woman there that this man was hers. Ever since she and Nate declared their feelings for each other two months ago she felt like women were hitting on him even more than usual, so this was usually a small way to lay her claim on him.
She trusted Nate, she really did. But they had so many mishaps at masked balls before that as soon as she had found out about this event her brain had conducted this little experiment. He didn't know what she looked like: how she would style her hair, what mask she had chosen or which dress she had decided to wear. She had carefully hidden everything away from prying eyes at home so that no one in her family knew either. She faked being late and took a cab instead of riding in the limousine with her family and she told Nate she would meet him there.
But now that she was there she felt foolish. Who cared if he could recognize her amongst a hundred other women? She would still be leaving with him at the end of the night and she was still the one he would text to wish goodnight to before going to bed.
She sighed and walked over to the bar. She had just grabbed one of the flutes of champagne when a large hand landed on her hip and she was hit with the smell of Nate's cologne. She smiled automatically.
"So, did I pass?" Nate asked from behind her, his mouth at level with her ear.
"I'm sorry," Jenny apologized sincerely as she turned around. "I don't know what came over me."
Nate laughed. "Well, considering our history with masked balls, I can't say I blame you." He took the glass from her hand, put it back on the bar then took her hand and walked with her to the dance floor.
When she was finally in his arms and swaying to the music Jenny sighed. "I trust you, you know. I don't want to be this crazy insecure girlfriend."
Nate's shoulder shrugged and he started drawing circles on the top of her hand with his thumb. "This is still new, Jenny. And we're both always going to have insecurities."
Jenny looked up at him in surprise. She hated that she couldn't read his face so she lifted his mask even though they weren't supposed to take them off yet. "What do you have to be insecure about?" she asked softly, confusion evident in her voice.
"It's nothing specific, I just... I wonder if you'll leave me for someone else, someone better," he confessed.
"Nate..." Jenny started, unsure of how to respond to probably the most ridiculous thing she'd ever heard.
"It's okay. When I start feeling that way I just call you and as soon as you answer I know it's stupid." He smiled.
"Just like I knew my plan was stupid as soon as I walked in here." Jenny laughed. "I think we're just the right amount of screwed up for each other."
Nate shook his head and kissed her softly. "No, I'm screwed up. You're perfect."
Jenny swore that she swooned at his total acceptance of her and wrapped her arms tightly around him, laying her head on his chest. After a few seconds she raised her head and looked around the ballroom. Her father and Lily were talking with some people she didn't know. When Lily saw her looking at them she waved to Jenny, recognizing her despite her mask. Jenny smiled and waved back. She was lucky to have a stepmother as understanding as Lily and she was closer to her father than she had been in a long time. He fully approved of her relationship with Nate and she was glad he trusted her. Being with Nate seemed to have fixed all of her problems.
Dan and Serena were dancing a few feet away from her and Nate and they seemed oblivious to the world. Jenny hadn't seen Chuck yet but she knew he would be there; he never missed a masked ball if he could help it. Erik was off to the side, talking to his date. He and Elliott had broken up a few weeks ago and he seemed fine with it as far as Jenny could tell. He had already met someone else, an undergrad from NYU whose father worked at Bass industries. They both knew it wasn't very serious since Erik was going off to Yale in the fall, so it was the perfect rebound for him to have before college.
Jenny looked around once again trying to find Blair. She and Chuck were staying as far away from each other as they could and it seemed to be working. Chuck's hotel had never been more successful and he was already starting to branch out into other ventures and Blair was doing great at Columbia and had even landed herself a high profile internship at W magazine. It was everything she had ever wanted and more and she didn't seem to be too lonely.
Serena opted not to move back in with her and instead stayed half with her family and half at the loft with Dan. The whole Van der Woodsen-Humphrey clan had never been so close and Jenny had never been happier.
Nate had to admit he couldn't complain either. He was doing well in school and he had decided on international politics for his major. He didn't quite know what he would do with that yet but it interested him and it also pleased his family. Anne had been very pleased when Nate had introduced Jenny to her as his girlfriend. She could tell what a good influence she was in Nate's life considering he had been keeping out of trouble. The rest of the family seemed on the fence about her since she wasn't originally from the UES but they hadn't been outwardly antagonistic toward her. He had faith that Jenny would win them over eventually but he didn't really care what they thought about her anyway since he loved her and that was all that mattered.
He wasn't completely the man he wanted to be, but he was getting there. And that was more than enough for now.
A.N.: So, this is it! I hope you liked this story and if you did please leave a little review, it means the world to me! I have a few more ideas for NJ stories but I want to continue the ones I have started already. Thanks to everyone who started reading this from the very beginning, I learned a lot about myself as a writer while I was writing this.