When she was six and her dad was home from tour, she'd spend nights sitting on the laps of his band mates while he slept off a hangover or fought with her mother, staring into the eyes of thirty-something year old men while they played perfectly tuned guitars and sang her old almost-one-hit-wonders mixed with nursery rhymes.
Little Red Riding Hood was a groupie named Lily V who was in love with a band called Lincoln Hawk and who fell in lust with the lead singer and loved to dance and eventually died of a coke overdose.
She didn't understand a word- didn't understand anything but the fact that she loved it when the men would favour her over her perfect brother or beautiful mother or talented father and take turns sliding their hands up under her dress or putting her own tiny hands down their pants and making up songs about a girl called Jenny.
She hated it when they'd hastily pull their hands away when her father walked in or Dan got home from Vanessa's or her mum pulled her away so they could go have 'Mummy, Daughter time', hated it almost as much as she loved it that they'd always come back to her, always bring her flowers and headbands and other trinkets and sing her songs about herself and nobody else- and all they ever wanted in return was to see her naked and touching herself and she could give that if it meant they loved her.
But when her father found out and fists were thrown and Lincoln Hawk disbanded and her mother finally stopped crying she realised she wanted more of what it seemed her family couldn't give her.
She made it to High School with more detentions and more rumors surrounding her than anybody else in her grade, half the Juniors knew her purely by reputation only and Blair Waldorf was quoted by Gossip Girl as likening her to somebody called Georgina Sparks though the tech-savvy stalker publicly thought Little J was more like their very own S.
Jenny Humphrey fucking hated being called the new Serena. Fucking hated it.
(Was secretly proud she had more private lessons from teachers after school under her belt than anybody could try and count. She beat Serena at that one.)
Her mother has been gone for a few months when her brother starts falling more in love than obsessed with Serena Van der Woodsen and she's forced to slip out the front door to her loft, dressed in something she made herself and with nothing underneath. She has an invitation in her hand and a head full of memories of old rock stars with heavy hands and lovely words.
It's not one hour into her night when she meets him, a boy with dark eyes and a smirk, dressed in purple. He takes her tiny hand in his and maybe it's the vodka she'd just drank but she thinks for a moment that he smells like old leather and vinyl before shaking her head clear of her thoughts because in reality he smells like cloves and scotch and something else, and she contains a small shiver of both annoyance and lust because he's not what she wants but it's about as close as she can get and she always takes as much as she can get, even if she didn't really want it.
Jenny Humphrey was selfish like that.
He watches her finish her drink and shoves another in her hand and she knows when he takes her up onto the roof just what he wants and how he wants it (and if she cared she'd probably be able to figure out why exactly he wanted it, but she didn't care, did she?) and it's defiantly not the view or the fresh air making him lead her away from civilisation.
But she goes with a fake uneasy laugh and a flip of her hair and she's draws him in like a moth to a flame and then there's wandering hands and she lets him kiss her and touch her and run his hands under her dress. She watches his eyes widen when he realises she's practically naked before he's kissing her and she's wrapping her legs around him and pulling him closer (and at the moment it's all about his pleasure or their pleasure and Jenny doesn't get off on sharing) so she flips her phone open inconspicuously to text her brother an S.O.S. (not because she's scared like he thinks, but because this is perfect. Dan will leave thoughts of Serena behind and it'll be all about Jenny for a few moments.) as she bites and kisses and groans-
- and then she's smiling delightedly because she hears the roof door crash open and her brother yelling, and suddenly it's all about her.
Only Dan brought Serena and there's never any room for anybody else when Serena's there.
Sometimes, on the day's she catches her father laughing happily with his new family over waffles and boardgames and Thai food, she thinks maybe her dad has forgotten all about Lincoln Hawk. Other days she thinks maybe he just hopes she's forgotten it, thinks maybe he just hopes the reason she 'acts out' isn't because she was touched as a child but because, maybe she got it from her mother's side of the family or something.
(She knows he hasn't told his precious new wife a thing about it- figures she wouldn't believe it. Apparently Lily knew Lincoln Hawk.)
Jenny wonders if Lily ever let Serena play guitar with them, and maybe that was why Miss It Girl used to be so- like her. But then she abandons that thought because it's fucking unbearable to think the people she remembers ever loving another.
She never asks though- Jenny Humphrey doesn't ask- and so she sits with her dad's new family (where stepbrother and stepsister shagged and fought in the same hour, and her little stepbrother had realised his sexual preference and tried to kill himself in the same night) eating waffles and playing boardgames and being a perfect little Van der Humphrey in front of everybody else when in secret she shoves her fingers down her throat and coughs up his fucking waffles because she remembers everything- including the fact that her dad sent away the only people to give her undivided attention.
(She'd sit in class Googling the names of her dad's old band mateson her phone under the desk, trying to find out where they lived and thinking maybe she could go around after school in one of Chuck's cars and let them sing to her or something. But then she'd be caught with her phone in class and the teacher would slide his hand up her skirt while she stayed late for more private lessons and for a little while she'd pretend she'd gone and found them- and that she was smelling leather and vinyl and stale beer instead of stale Chanel No. 5 and sweat and was sitting on a lap covered in frayed jeans instead of one of last seasons Armani suits while her English teacher moaned and groaned Jennifer over and over, like it was sexy.)
When she officially becomes Queen her life stops for all of ten minutes. Suddenly it's all about her and she doesn't have to worry about the attention being on anybody else (because Blair conceded her place and Serena was officially off the radar yet again and it was all about Queen J). But then she fucks it up and Blair's back and Serena's back and Jenny is sucked into the same old game of climbing, and after one too many take-downs she decides to fuck them all.
She goes out with a drug dealer for a little while- not long enough to fall for him or anything, but long enough for them both to get used to the novelty of being Bonnie and Clyde, and long enough for them to get over one another. It wasn't meant to last, it was meant to give Jenny the rush. The danger.
After that she goes through boys quickly, Chuck, Nate, Carter, Nate, Damien, Jack, Russell the English 101 teacher, those guys at Victrola that one time. After a while names become something she doesn't give a damn about and it turns into Criminals, Lords, Choir boys.
Each night Jenny spends at a different bar, smoking more cigarettes than she probably should, giving boy after boy, after man after man blowjobs and handjobs and fake names, fake numbers. Dodging her family and her step-family and flirting with the PI Chuck loaned Lily (not because he cared about Jenny of course, because that night on the roof ended badly for him and he kind of never forgave the Humphrey's for the black eye). Each night the thrill wears off quicker and quicker and she'd be sinking deeper and deeper and slowly tobacco leads to pot which leads to coke and then suddenly she's forgetting things she shouldn't, like her address and her age and even her name that one time- but after a while she starts to forget to care.
Sometimes she could swear she cut her arms, could swear that she had dragged something sharp across her skin and watched herself bleed out, watched her own seemingly forever inadequate Brooklyn-ite blood pour over her father's new wife's thousand dollar imported porcelain, but then she'd be at another soirée wrapped tight in another wrapped strapless Stella McCartney, bickering with Blair and her arms perfectly pale and flawless and she'd wonder what she was really doing in those moments when she could have sworn she was being suicidal.
It terrified her more than she could say that she didn't care that she couldn't remember certain parts of her day, scared her more than the idea of chucking an Eric Van der Woodsen.
She'd done too much to be scared of a little self harm.
The first time she has actual sex, she's crying, and he's calling her by somebody else's name.
She doesn't ask where Blair is and he doesn't ask why he found her surrounded by three guys in an upstairs room of Victrola, and she thinks maybe he's talked to that PI a bit more than he lets on. They finish a few lines of blow and suddenly there's just the two of them. Afterwards, Chuck and her kind of ignore it ever happened, and he gets back with Blair and she goes back to her clubs. She remembers her name now, though.
Jenny, Jenny, Jenny.
Suddenly she remembers why she tells people fake names- thinks about how much it hurts to be called Jenny in mid coitus- like she's being loved or something and then it's snatched away and she's alone. And now ssuddenly she's crossed that line- with a little help from Chuck- and now every guy she fucks makes her remember. Every time a cock slams into her or a man whispers a name (Veronica, Tara, Monique, Serena) it's all she can do to hold it to her with all she has. Fake names to protect her because now the only thing she remembers about herself, is-
-Jenny, Jenny, Jenny.)
A few days (weeks?) later she stumbles home shoeless and blinking through mascara stains and Blair and Serena are giggling in the lounge room over bridal magazines and fabric swatches and Jenny doesn't have to pretend she doesn'tsee the looks of pity from Serena and disdain from the future Mrs. Blair Bass because she's seeing spots and pushing past them and slamming her door shut. She's home now, and she remembers her name. She pulls herself onto her bed and slides under the covers because the light is too bright outside and she thinks she's hungover or still drunk or something. She curls into a ball- tries thinking for the first time in days, weeks, months, tries remembering vinyl and leather and songs about a girl named Jenny.