CLAIR DE LUNE

Summary: 'Twas the night after Dan and Serena's wedding, and all through Chuck and Blair's house, not a creature was stirring, especially not Eric, Nate, and Jenny! After the singletons of the group go out for a wild night on the town, Nate and Jenny must fake a relationship in order to save his mayoral run. But when does the acting stop, and the loving begin? Rated T for now, may change to M later. A Nate and Jenny story, with lots of married Chuck and Blair, matchmaking little Henry, and wisecracking Eric.

Disclaimer: I own nothing in the Gossip Girl universe, not even (sadly) Chuck or Nate. Major props to Cecily von Ziegesar, the CW, the producers, actors, and crew, and everyone involved with bringing these amazing characters to life.

Chapter 1 - Snaps for the Kids

December 2017.

Five hours after Dan and Serena's wedding.

No matter what else in her life was a mess, Jenny Humphrey's sewing and design implements were always neatly ordered. Whether she was in the atelier or at home, backstage at Fashion Week, or on the go, she liked knowing where everything was. Everyone at Waldorf Designs knew this about the famous young designer, and although she didn't flare up like CEO Blair (whom everyone loved and feared), her cool critiques chilled even the most arrogant of young interns from the local design schools.

But this day – and this evening – had been different. As much as Jenny loved designing couture, she also greatly enjoyed sewing for her family. Lily and Eleanor had both been married in her designs, and although she hadn't been around for either of Blair's, she'd designed Serena's dress. It was very Serena – a confection of gold and tulle that was revealing but romantic, that made a statement and demanded notice.

Shutting her box of thread, Jenny's mind raced ahead to the proverbial fire she'd left behind in Paris, which if unattended to, would lead to a sticky situation at the London store. Blair, for now, was oblivious... and as Jenny often said around EWD, what Blair didn't know wouldn't hurt her... or get the person responsible fired!

So she needed to get back to Paris in forty-eight hours or less, then hop over to London by the end of the week. And then...

...and then she'd have to head back over to Rome to give Marco the answer he'd been demanding since February.

Jenny always hated this. She wasn't into one-night stands, but she did enjoy the company of men, especially when they didn't mind keeping things light and easy. But then came the jealousy, the demands... and now, her third proposal.

Maybe men were more trouble than they were worth.

There was a knock on the open door. Blair, still wearing her splendid ecru Zuhair Murad dress, was carrying a half-asleep Henry.

"Someone wants to say good night to you," she said, bringing the sleepy little boy over to her head designer.

Jenny smiled, melting as she ruffled the top of his head affectionately. "Good night, kiddo."

"G'night, J," Henry's yawn was wide, and he didn't bother covering it. "I liked Auntie S's dress! She was pretty."

"Thank you," Jenny replied, leaning forward to press her lips to the child's cheek. "And I didn't forget, hold on..."

Henry perked up when he heard that. "Ooh, a gold one, J?"

Jenny didn't say anything. Instead she pulled the small bowtie out of the side pocket of one of her cases.

"YAY!" said Henry, grabbing it. "Mommy, can I wear it tomorrow?"

"Perhaps," was Blair's reply. "Now what do you say to Miss Jenny, baby?"

"THANKS!"

Shrug. "No problem. You know that's our deal, Hen, right?"

A smile of recognition passed between the small boy and the tall, fashionable young lady. Henry Bass had grown up between his mother's ateliers and his father's offices, and at almost four, was comfortable in either setting. J was his favorite because whenever he oohed or ahhed over a fabric swatch, she would stop whatever she was working on, and less than a few minutes later, Henry would have a brand new bowtie. ("I'm gonna have more than Daddy!" he'd tell anyone who asked.)

"Right! Bye, J!"

"Bye, kid..."

Blair pulled her son's head down to her shoulder as he shut his eyes. "Chuck and I will be downstairs in a bit. Join us for a nightcap?"

"Actually, Blair, I thought I'd get out of here," said Jenny. "Have Dad and Lisa gone back to Brooklyn yet?"

"Yes, they were the last to go. They said they were waiting on you, but I told them there was no need. You might as well stay the night, Jenny. We've got that eight am meeting with the buyers, then we should probably Skype with Hong Kong. It makes no sense for you to head back to DUMBO."

"Williamsburg."

"Wherever. Besides, Eric and Nate are still here, and they're staying over. Now no more of this, I insist that you stay... and I'm not taking no for an answer."

Before Jenny could reply, Blair left the room. Sighing, she finished packing up her sewing things and walked down the stairs.

XOXOXOXOXOXO

"So Eric," said Nate as their beer bottles clinked in a toast. "How's med school?"

"Grueling," replied the younger man. "As the ninth circle of hell. I have no life, man... none at all. I just study, eat, and stress. But I'm glad there's only one more year. Hopefully I can get the residency I want."

Nate took a swig of the microbrew. "Still thinking about psychiatry?"

"That or neurology. But yeah, I'm going to be a head doctor even if it kills me..."

"It won't kill you."

Setting his bottle down on the side table, Nate looked up at the tall, leggy blonde descending the stairs. Not for the first time, he felt as if Jenny Humphrey was someone he really didn't know these days. When she was younger, before she left New York, she was an open book that could be read with a single glance.

But these days, Jenny was like a stranger that he'd only see in passing at random social events... running a new dress into Henry's christening... on the arm of a random Knicks player at a society ball... breezing out of Thanksgiving dinner at Serena's just as he was coming in late from a journalism conference, saying she had a plane to catch.

A stranger... but one who was very easy on the eyes. Nate had enjoyed the company of all kinds of women, but he was partial to blondes. And Jennifer Tallulah Humphrey had grown up into a blond bombshell.

Nate thought about all this in the few seconds that it took for Jenny to finish descending the stairs, plunge down next to Eric on the couch, and slip off her stilettos. Her head fell back on the sofa and she sighed.

"You look the way I feel," said Eric. "This morning I was taking exams in Cambridge."

"Oh yeah? And this morning, I was ripping hems in the sixth arrondissement. Doesn't matter. Dan and Serena are finally married and off our hands. Hope they enjoy their time in Hawaii."

"Mom said she never thought it would happen."

"Your mother isn't exactly the world's foremost expert on love and marriage."

"Jenny..."

"Okay, that was mean."

Nate interrupted. "But true."

Eric and Jenny both looked over at Nate, who'd been watching their easy banter. Here, away from the cameras and the demands of public life, he could take off his jacket, roll up his shirt sleeves, and swig his beer.

He could even fit in a little teasing...

Until Jenny smiled at him, that is. And suddenly, he felt like he'd already won his election.

"So," she said. "Mayor of New York."

"Not for another four years," he said quickly. "I can't run till I'm at least thirty."

"But there are some in city government who are thinking about changing that rule," said Chuck, coming down the stairs with Blair. "Nate says he wants to wait, but..."

"We don't think that's the best idea," Blair finished. (Nate marveled at how the two of them always did that.) "We think the time is now. Nate could easily win this thing if everyone does their part."

Nate listened to his best friends talk about his political future as the Basses' butler came and served everyone their favorite drinks (another round of beers for himself and Eric, gin martinis for Blair and Jenny, and Scotch for Chuck). He knew that Chuck had been in conversation with his grandfather, William Vanderbilt. Nate had reconciled with his mother's famous family a few years before, but after his cousin's jealousy led to Tripp attempting murder (and actually taking the life of Blair's unborn child), Nate made it clear to his relatives that if he were to enter politics, it would be done on his terms.

"...which is why the state convention dinner that Nate is keynoting will be a critical event," said Blair. "It's in February, just two months from now, and Chuck and I are major patrons. Eric, I think you should be there if you can spare the time from your studies, and Jenny, you should come along too because I could use another pair of eyes at the event. Image is everything. The only problem is that Nate... needs a date."

At that, Nate had to speak up. "I do not."

"The gay rumors..."

"I don't care, Blair. Might help me shore up another key constituency. In fact, if you want me to have a fake date... Eric, what are you doing on the evening of February 17th?" And, just to annoy Blair more, Nate punctuated his remark with a brazen wink at the youngest Van der Woodsen (who snorted and shook his head).

"Nate, while I am as openminded as any New Yorker," Chuck drawled, "the problem is that you are not, in fact, gay. And being outed as a fake gay these days is worse than any gay rumor that even I could devise."

"Whatever, man. So... who's the lucky lady this time?" He was used to his best friends trying to fix him up.

Blair announced her choice as if it were a coup. "Brittany Astor..."

"Has a face like a horse."

Jenny shrugged and spoke up after being silent, sipping on her martini. "You're not choosing her for her looks, Nate. The Astors are a powerful political family..."

"No."

"...who will help you win over New York," Jenny finished.

"A Vanderbilt and an Astor?" Blair chirped. "Why, it's practically the Gilded Age all over again!"

"Yes, just your idea of a great time, isn't it, sis?" Eric quipped dryly.

"Eric, shh, I'm trying to get Nate elected... see, Nate, it's perfect!"

"Blair," said Nate warningly. "Have you already called this girl?"

Four pairs of eyes rested on the petite, fiery brunette sitting at Chuck's side. At first, Blair was defiant. And then...

"Well, I may have had tea with her the other day. And I may have mentioned, along with many other items of important society business, that perhaps my old friend Nate Archibald would be..."

"Blair!"

"What?" she blinked. "I didn't do anything wrong, did I? Chuck doesn't think so... Chuck, my love, do you think I was wrong?"

His answer was a brief, tender kiss dropped on her full lips. "My wife is never wrong."

"Man, you're whipped," said Nate.

"So you tell me every time you see me," Chuck returned. "I'm surprised you haven't run it as a feature in that magazine of yours... Nate, just call the girl and parade her around for a few hours. It'll make her happy and it will make your campaign, whether you choose to run next year or in '22..."

"I'm not taking Brittany Astor anywhere, Blair. That's just not happening. And I've just been invited to give the keynote at the state convention... I haven't said that I would do it for sure. If I go, I choose my own date..."

"Nate! I spent valuable time setting up things with Brittany! And..."

"And? Blair, next time just ask me before you waste your 'valuable time.'"

Blair stood up abruptly. "Well! I can tell when my gifts and talents are not being adequately appreciated. We're going to bed. Good night, Jenny and Eric. Breakfast will be served at six-thirty sharp."

Nate shook his head, laughing as Chuck said goodbye and followed his wife. Just as they disappeared out of sight, they could hear him murmur, "Oh, but I can't wait to appreciate you... and all your gifts... and all your... talents."

"Those two are impossible sometimes," Nate muttered darkly, setting his beer bottle down heavily.

"They're Blair and Chuck, Chuck and Blair," quipped Eric, repeating the mantra used within their inner circle sardonically. "The whole house just emanates Bassness, and Waldorfness, and as much as I love being here..."

"You feel as if you're being suffocated," laughed Jenny. "So let's not be here, at least, not for a while. Is Silk City still open? It's been forever."

Eric blushed and looked embarrassed. "I... I wouldn't know."

Nate looked from Jenny to Eric. "What's going on?"

Jenny's eyes danced. "Oh, it's the BEST story! You see, senior year of college, when we were both home for break, Eric... mmph!"

For Eric had clapped his hand over his stepsister's mouth. "Eric was dragged to the wildest spot in Midtown by his unsuspecting evil friend Jennifer Humphrey, where I was then accosted and propositioned repeatedly by the World's Scariest Queen!"

"Ha! We had a fabulous time, Eric, don't even try it!"

"Yeah, you had a fabulous time, Jen." He turned to Nate. "This girl is the biggest hag in the universe! She loves cruising the bars more than I do!"

"I'm not cruising, E! Those boys aren't interested in fish! But when you're in my line of work, you get to know the places." She stood up, suddenly animated again. "Besides, Eric, you owe me a dance!"

"You can't dance, Jen!"

"So what? I'm a girl... any girl can shake her ass and look cute, even with the kids!"

Eric sighed, but there was a grin on his face. He turned to glance at Nate.

"Guess we'll get out of your hair, then. You're probably exhausted."

Nate didn't say anything. Instead, he glanced at Eric putting on his jacket, and then...

He watched Jenny Humphrey put her shoes back on.

It was a devil of a thing, being a man attracted to beautiful women. Because there were things about what a woman did that drove a man crazy that a woman would never know. His last serious girlfriend, Sage Spence, had been into Fifty Shades of Grey, but had been totally confused by how turned on Christian would get when Ana bit her lip. It annoyed her, and she complained to him as she read the trilogy.

Nate, whose kink wasn't really that (his first girlfriend had the same mannerism, and it hadn't done a whole lot for him, when all was said and done), had to explain to her.

You girls just don't get it. You think about sex some of the time. But men... men can start thinking about sex anytime. And every man has his trigger.

Well, Nate Archibald loved the ladies. Although he hadn't had a real girlfriend since young Sage five years before, he'd entertained many more over the years. And what Nate really liked about a lady was a nice pair of legs.

Jenny was long-limbed, limber, and moved with incredible grace. Nate watched, fascinated, as long, bleached-blonde hair swept over one shoulder to cover her slight frame as she leaned forward to slip on first one nude stiletto pump, then the other. She stood up, and stretched, thrusting her chest slightly forward...

And all of a sudden, all of the blood that was in Nate's body threatened to rush to one single spot. He was fast becoming aroused and that just wouldn't do.

Control yourself, Archibald, he thought. You're being openly vetted for the next Mayor of New York... it's crazy to act like you're sixteen again around a girl who you friendzoned back in high school, who's clearly moved on, and who dates athletes and European counts these days. Stop this or you'll ruin your friendship with her.

Friendship...

"Actually," Nate heard himself say, startling both Jenny and Eric a little as he broke the silence, "I think I'll come with you guys."

Jenny and Eric looked at each other and frowned.

"What if you're recognized?" Eric asked.

"I don't care..."

"Look, Nate, you should care. You have to," said Jenny firmly. "Being at Silk City is the opposite of what you need to do in order to be the next mayor."

"I'll keep my dark shades on," he said.

Neither Eric nor Jenny said anything.

"Alright," said Eric. "But I'd stay out of the spotlight. You just don't want to... I mean, people are a little more openminded these days, but it's probably better not to draw attention to yourself for a whole number of reasons..."

"Aw, you mean, we're not going to hold him down and spray-paint 'HOT STAG' on his forehead in sparkly glitter?"

"Jenny..."

She pursed her lips, and Nate had to talk to his body again, to calm it down.

"Okay, I'll be good. Promise."

XOXOXOXOXOXO

There was something about a nightclub that Jenny Humphrey just loved. The lights. The crowd. The pulsating beat. The music. The atmosphere. The ambiance. She'd always loved a good party, and since her Constance days, there were few things she enjoyed more than clubbing.

While Serena van der Woodsen (well, Humphrey as of a few hours ago) enjoyed partying because she was usually the center of attention, it wasn't what Jenny loved most. Jenny loved clubbing because she liked blending into the crowd of people enjoying themselves, getting lost in the music, letting go and being free. As a teen, her desire to be accepted on the Upper East Side meant that she could never completely be herself. That changed when she moved to London, and definitely was the case now that she lived between London, New York, and Paris.

The DJ was spinning the wonderful sounds of European dance music, a little hip-hop, then K-pop and a little bit of Afrobeat. Eric and Jenny enjoyed this particular place because it was classy, the camp wasn't too over the top, and it wasn't just a meat market. Jenny also liked it because she didn't have to deal with pushy male attention that she didn't want. She could dance, and drink, and was generally looked after. It was just a fun time.

They all got their drinks, and soon found a booth. Eric was (as usual) asked to dance right away. So Jenny sipped her Sapphire martini delicately, tapping her fingers to the beat, while Nate, obscured behind a pair of sunglasses, watched her, leaving his own Manhattan untouched.

"So talk to me, Nate," said Jenny, feeling a tiny bit unnerved. She always emitted a nervous laugh whenever someone was looking at her, and she didn't really want the scrutiny. Especially now that Nate had removed his tie, and had left the top three buttons of his shirt open. Wow... she tried to think about Mario... no, Marlon... no, no, Marco who was waiting for her across the pond... waiting for her answer.

"How are you feeling after... well, after what happened today?"

He blinked. "What's that?"

"Well, Nate, everyone knows that you're still a bachelor because you never got over Serena," was her breezy reply. "It must have been hard losing her to one of your best friends."

Nate looked away, turning toward the dance floor. "I lost Serena a long time ago."

"Yeah, but..."

"Hey, sexy, you want to dance?"

The man who approached the table was impossibly handsome and well built, with grey eyes that could cut ice, and bright red hair. Nate shook his head.

"Nah, man, I'm good. I'm here with someone."

"Her?" said the stranger. "Wrong crowd for you two, yeah?"

"No, we're here with a friend," said Nate. "Besides, you're not my type."

Jenny laughed as the man stalked away, clearly annoyed by the very pretty, very straight, and therefore very unavailable boy intruding in what should have been fair pickings.

"And what exactly is your type, Nate Archibald?" Jenny couldn't help but ask, still laughing.

"What does that mean?"

"I'm being serious. Was your... reputation... a strategy to get the female vote someday? Because seriously, you've dated everyone I know..."

"Everyone except you."

Nate pushed his sunglasses up on his forehead. Jenny stopped her mirth.

She looked away. Then, after a long, uncomfortable silence:

"C'mon, you were right. I'm glad we didn't date when we were kids. I would have been just another number between the times you tried to make it work with Serena. It's better this way. This way, we'll always be friends."

She didn't look at him as she said this. Jenny Humphrey had learned a long time before that Nate Archibald's eyes were dangerous. Although it was eleven years since they'd met, and Jenny was worldly, sophisticated, and certainly not innocent, she knew better than to tempt fate.

But that was the great thing about being at the club. The music always saved you. You couldn't be awkward at the club! So when Rihanna's "Please Don't Stop the Music" started pounding through the speakers, Jenny stood up.

"Now, this song reminds me of old times! C'mon, handsome, let's get you out on the dance floor before we're interrupted again. I'm not done catching up with you."

XOXOXOXOXO

She was a fantastic dancer.

That was Nate Archibald's realization as he danced the night away with Jenny Humphrey. She was almost his height in her sky-high stilettos, but her slim, lithe figure was perfect in his arms.

He seriously couldn't remember if Jenny was a good dancer back when they were in school together. Most of the parties that he'd been to that she'd attended had been stuffy Upper East Side events with parents present, not the wild house parties and overseas shindigs he'd found himself in as Chuck Bass' best friend. He'd heard rumors of her various exploits, including back during her freshman year when she'd gone to the club with Blair and the minions, who were all juniors.

But just as he'd suspected earlier, he didn't know much about this new Jenny, the adult Jenny who socialized, partied, and danced all over London and the Continent long after he'd decided he needed to tone things down. That was the thing about growing up the way that he did... on the Upper East Side, your teen years were for partying, and by the time you were in your early 20s, it was all old news. He supposed that other people who actually had to wait to be free of their parents and earn their own cash did spend their 20s getting their partying out of their system.

Some people never did, though. And the way that Jenny came alive reminded him of the way that Serena would... but there was a difference. When Serena lit up, the entire world took notice.

When Jenny came alive, she made a man feel like he was the only one in the world. The look in her eyes... the way she touched him...

"Hey, you two!" yelled a tipsy Eric as they were grinding, dancing by with the nerdy, friendly looking guy who he'd been hanging out with most of the night. "This is Ron! Ron, this is my sister-in-law Jenny, and our friend Nate."

"Hi, Ron!" Jenny shouted back. Then singing along with Eric, "Don't stop, keep it moving, put your drinks up! It's getting ill, it's getting sick on the floor!"

"We never quit, we never rest on the floor!" sang Ron and dozens of others. "If I ain't wrong, we'll probably die on the floor!"

Then everyone in the club sang as the beat pounded the walls and the floors:

"Brazil! Morocco! London to Ibiza! Straight to LA, New York, Vegas to Africa!"

Jenny grinned happily when the song ended and Nate led her to the backlit, sleek bar.

"I'm so glad we came! Look at how much fun Eric's having... he needed this, med school's getting to him. Having fun yet?"

"Yeah, just trying not to think about the incredible hangover I'm going to have in the morning."

"Oh?" said Jenny, leaning over the bar. "Well, Mr. Mayor-to-be, if it's too much for you, I'm sure we can arrange a ride home before the clock strikes midnight and your carriage... oh, I mean your cab... turns into a pumpkin."

Nate didn't smile. Instead, his fingers ran down her spine, along the zipper of her dress (which he was not imagining sliding down, no, not with his friend, he was a perfect gentleman these days with women, especially her)...

...and was that imagination, or did she shiver?

"I think that's you, Cinderella. Midnight was more than two hours ago... or don't you have work in the morning?"

Jenny frowned at him, then shouted at the bartender, "Hey, what time is it?"

"Two-fifteen..."

"Shit," Jenny swore, straightening up and almost stumbling into Nate's arms. "I have to go."

"We all do. Let's go find Eric and get out of here."

XOXOXOXOXOXO

They were efficient, slipping quietly back into the Bass townhouse less than an hour later. Eric disappeared into his usual guest suite on the first floor, texting fervently (likely with his new friend). Jenny and Nate crept quietly up the stairs...

"HI J! UNCLE NATE! WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING DOWN THERE?"

It was like a burglar alarm was sounding. Nate took the stairs two at a time to pick his little nephew up.

"Hen, you should be sleeping!" whispered Jenny, looking up and down the hallway. The last thing she needed was a fight with Blair about her lack of responsibility.

"I was but I heard something, and I thought it was monsters! So I wanted to go see."

Jenny and Nate shared a look. What kind of kid ran toward the monsters, instead of away from them? Apparently, Chuck and Blair's...

"Here, man, I'll tuck you back in and sit with you til you're asleep..."

"Ooh, YAY! Can J come too? J, you gotta come with us, Uncle Nate tells good stories!"

Before Jenny could say anything, Nate tried to save the day. "I think J's kind of tired. She has to get up in a couple of hours."

"Please? J, if you get sleepy... you can just fall asleep next to me while Uncle Natie reads! Mommy does that sometimes when Daddy reads!"

"Henry..."

"J, pleeeeeeeeease?"

"Okay," sighed Jenny. "But only one story."

XOXOXOXOXOXO

The next thing Nate knew, an irate Blair Waldorf Bass was shaking him awake.

"NATE! JENNY! What are you doing, draped over my child, smelling like a distillery?"

Nate cracked open his eyes. He felt like his eyelids were sandpaper, his mouth was filled with cotton, and someone had taken a sledgehammer and whacked his body over and over again. Across the pillow, perhaps three or four feet away was Jenny, makeup smeared and one side of her hair plastered to her face.

Between them, little Henry Bass sat up, rubbing his eyes.

"Mommy, why are you yelling?" he yawned, reaching up for his mother. "Uncle Natie and J saved me from the monsters."

Blair plucked her son out from between her two friends, her lips set in a firm line.

"Someone tell me something."

"Eric, Nate and I went out for a little while last night, Blair," Jenny rasped tiredly. "Then when we came home, Henry must have heard us. We were planning to sit with him until he got back to sleep, but..."

"We went to sleep first," Nate finished drowsily, swinging his legs over the side of Henry's full-sized castle bed. "Couldn't believe he outlasted both of us."

"I can," came Chuck's voice from the doorway. "He's a Bass... that's my boy."

"Daddy, Daddy!" said Henry, as Blair transferred the small boy from her arms to her husband's. "Can we go shave now?"

"Of course we can," was Chuck's answer. Over Henry's head, he quirked an eyebrow toward Jenny and Nate (who were still sprawled a little dazedly on the bed), turned around, and walked into Henry's bathroom.

Blair wasn't finished. "Breakfast. In fifteen minutes sharp. Jenny, the limo leaves in forty-five, and unless you know how to fly, that's the only way you're going to make the directors' meeting on time."

She marched out of the room.

Nate and Jenny didn't look at each other... at least, not at first.

Then they sneaked glances at the same time.

And ended up laughing their asses off.

XOXOXOXOXO

They both arrived in the dining room around the same time, showered, dressed, but still tired, and five minutes late. Blair, Chuck, and Henry were eating already. There was no sign of Eric, but then, unlike them he didn't have to head to work this morning.

Each elegantly set place had its own Web-enabled tablet. Henry was watching cartoons on his, crunching on some colorful cereal, earbuds in his little ears. Blair was perusing the New York Times on hers, and of course, Chuck was reading the stocks page of the Wall Street Journal on his.

Uncharacteristically, Chuck spoke first as Jenny and Nate sat down.

"Morning, Nathaniel, Jennifer." Then, to Blair: "Today's headline was very... interesting, wasn't it?"

"I'd say more enlightening myself," came his wife's reply.

"Blair, Chuck," said Nate, a lack of sleep making his voice more gruff than usual. "Just come out and say it."

"Why don't you touch your screens?" cooed Blair. "We've left them up for you."

And Nate and Jenny did. What they saw made Jenny blush with embarrassment, and Nate turn white from anger.

HOW YOUNG IS TOO YOUNG?

Mayoral hopeful Nate Archibald's hedonistic night out on the town fuels debate

And there, among the top stories of the New York Times that morning was a snapshot of Nate, sunglasses having somehow slipped to the top of his head (when did that happen?), being not-so-mayoral as he slow-grinded with Jenny Humphrey.

"I-I," stammered Jenny, "I'm just amazed at how fast news gets out there these days. It's even worse than Gossip Girl back when we were in school."

"You mean, back when you and Dan were Gossip Girl?" Blair sing-songed, scooping up a small spoonful of parfait.

"Whatever, who cares?" snapped Nate.

"My people on the Council care," Chuck cut back. "They're hoping to overturn the ordinance that restricted candidates to those over thirty. Thanks to this story, they're now concerned. I've already received three emails and it's not even seven o' clock."

"So what, Chuck?" said Nate.

"So plenty, Nathaniel. You keep making these silly excuses about not running yet because you're scared. You don't think you're ready. You don't see that you're not the same Nate from our school days, that it's time. This is your time. There isn't another viable candidate from our side, and you need experience as mayor if you're serious about running for governor in a few years."

"Maybe it's not for me," Nate said grumpily. "Have you ever thought about that?"

"Nonsense, we've just got to do some damage control," Blair said matter-of-factly. "In fact, it's already done."

"What? Blair, I'll handle it when I get to the Spectator this morning..."

"No need. I've already contacted my friend Olivia down in DC, Nathaniel," said Chuck between sips of coffee. "She's so good that it was taken care of in a few quick text messages."

"The full story will be in tomorrow's Times," Blair continued. "The blog should be up within the next half hour... Jenny, you and I can read it over on the way to the atelier."

"Look, Blair, Nate's already told you he's not sure he's interested in running," said Jenny. "Why should I read anything about this?"

"Oh, because it's all about you."

Two pairs of blue eyes flew upwards... and met Blair's best Queen B bitchmode face.

"Haven't you two heard? Confirmed bachelor Nathaniel Archibald's heart has been captured by none other than the cultured, London-educated, and preternaturally beautiful head designer at Eleanor Waldorf Designs..."

"Blair," warned Nate.

"...the youngest head designer of any major fashion house in the world, none other than Brooklyn native Jennifer 'J for Waldorf' Humphrey. She has stolen his heart, and swept away by love, he wanted to show her a good time the evening after her brother was married to one of his very best friends. We – as in me, Jennifer's boss, and Charles, my husband and Nathaniel's very best friend - think it's quite serious."

Jenny's mouth dropped open.

"So that means for the time being, until the state convention? Nate and Jenny, you're an item."

Chuck's smirk said it all. "Congratulations."

~to be continued~

A/N – Don't mind me, I'm just working out my post-finale, Nenny feels! We've had endgame Chair and Derena, and I ship both, but I can't help but wish we'd had more time to explore how all of the other relationships developed. This fic is my opportunity to explore just that. Nate and Jenny will be the primary viewpoint characters, although I may slip into the others' heads from time to time.

If there's interest, I'll continue this. I said I wouldn't do another multipart story for Gossip Girl, but this is the first time that I've shipped canon endgame in any fandom, so I'm making an exception in this case. Just know that this story isn't primarily about Chair (although they're going to be in every chapter), and Derena are off honeymooning until the very end. Don't know how many parts this will run to, but the state convention dinner in question is in February. So we've got Christmas, New Year's, and likely Valentine's Day to go through.

Can't wait to hear what you think!

XOXO, Dr. Holland