ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE
Summary: A funny thing happened to Jenny on the way to the train station at the end of "Easy J"… instead of heading straight to Grand Central, she stops for a burger and fries and runs into someone unexpected… Nate, confused by Juliet's web of lies, worried about his parents, and wrestling with unresolved feelings for Serena. Another road to N/J. Goes AU after 4x06.
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 – The Butterfly Effect
"We hear Little J gave Chuck and Blair a goodbye kiss… of death."
Jenny Humphrey sank back into the cracked vinyl backseat of the cab Dan had called for her, watching the familiar lights of Upper East Side through the window. Soon, very soon, she'd be back in her room in Hudson, with nothing to worry about except art and design school applications, her sketchbook, and the fact that she was the undisputed Queen of Hudson High School.
But that fact gave Jenny little satisfaction. The local kids were just too… easy. There was no satisfaction in conquering some upstate It Girl's clique. Even Little J from Brooklyn could have done that easily.
Honestly, she'd expected to face at least some hostility up there. After all, many of these kids had gone to school together since kindergarten. But no other girl had wintered in Aspen, summered in the Hamptons, and owned the newest Hermes bag. Jenny swept into school on her first day of senior year and had the girls eating out of her hand… and the boys falling at her feet.
…just so amazing! She's met everyone, even Olivia Burke! They even say that her brother dated…
….love her hair. I'm going to try for that shade of blonde…
…at the New York première of Fleur! She's dated some of the richest boys in the country! Her stepmom owns Bass Industries! And I heard that…
…if she'd give me tips on her eye makeup? She's so original...
...designs her own clothes, too! They say she had her own line sophomore year, and she's even worked for Eleanor Waldorf herself? Can you imagine?...
It was a performance, Jenny reflected. In order to be Queen, you have to be cool. Unbidden, her former mentor and current nemesis' advice rang in her ears. And Jenny Humphrey was cool to the students at Hudson. Mean? No… she'd meangirled enough for a lifetime. Besides, it wasn't really necessary here, was it?
Queen was her natural position at her new school. It's not as if she had to work for it. She came, she saw, and the conquering was over before third period on the first day.
The real rush had come from becoming queen of Constance. She'd earned that. And then being paid respect as queen of queens even after she was years behind in the ballroom dance training, even after her best friend-turned-stepbrother-turned-traitor and Blair and Kira tried to sabotage her…
Jenny, really? Was it really your quick thinking that saved you that time?
Or was it…
Jenny pressed her eyelids together, shaking her head to herself. No. I won't think about him. Not now. Not ever again.
She closed her eyes and reflected on the day she'd had in the city. It had been a day of ups and downs. When she received the call from Parsons, Jenny had been excited but suspicious. Yes, she'd worked for Eleanor and her guerilla fashion show had been talked about for like five minutes. But the design world had a short attention span… how on earth hadn't she suspected Bassian machinations? Had she been gone that long?
Of course, when Parsons first called and got her mother all excited about her chances, Jenny suspected Chuck and Blair immediately. She hadn't gone out of her way to check Gossip Girl, especially after the horrible events in the spring that culminated in her leaving. However, at first, she'd smelled a rat. Jenny closed her eyes, remembering the conversation that had brought her back to the city.
Excuse me, but who did you say referred me to Mr. Gunn again?
Well, the note doesn't say, but this is just one of a number of interviews Tim has granted to the most talented seniors around the city. You know, I'd be willing to bet it was your art teacher at Constance. A fair number of her former students have been very successful at Parsons. I'm surprised she didn't give you a heads up.
Perhaps she did, but I wouldn't have known. I… I'm no longer attending Constance. My… father recently remarried, and it was decided that I should go live with my mother.
Pause. I'm sorry to hear that, Jenny. Linda was probably very sorry to lose you.
At least someone was, Jenny thought, pressing her face against the glass of the cab window and closing her eyes. Someone other than Dad, Lily, Dan, and Eric, that is. In the end, the very people she'd given the hardest time had been overjoyed that she'd come home... even Lily, who wouldn't let her go for a while when they came to greet her at Grand Central.
"Lily, I'm so glad to see you!" she'd told her stepmother, genuinely meaning it.
The wealthy heiress smelled of expensive perfume, a new fragrance Jenny didn't recognize. "Not nearly as glad as I am to see you. You've been missed, you know."
Rufus kissed the top of his daughter's head. "Your mother tells me you're doing very well at your new school. Still, New York doesn't feel the same without you."
"It sure doesn't," Dan assured her, who'd met them all at the train station for the happy occasion. "Once you knock this Parsons interview out of the ballpark, you'll be back in the city. Of course, Brooklyn's much closer to Lower Manhattan than the Upper East Side…"
"In whose universe?" Eric had said, walking side by side with his stepsister and best friend. "Her old bedroom is waiting for her. Or maybe she and I will find a place of our own and be roommates!"
It had been wonderful to walk back into her old room, she reflected. Lily even had asked for an extra clothing rack so that she could steam the dresses she'd brought up from Hudson…
A perfect day, Jenny thought. If only Chuck and Blair would disappear…
Squeezing her eyelids together again, Jenny felt all the triumph she'd felt from besting Chuck and Blair that evening dissipate. In its place was a hollow, horrible feeling she'd had at the center of her heart ever since that awful May night when she'd returned to the Empire after she'd sent Gossip Girl the picture of Dan and Serena sleeping together, and Blair had confronted her.
Over and over again, the same taunting voice rang in her mind.
When are you gonna get it? For three years, you've tried to worm your way into our world, but you will never be a part of it no matter what you do! This isn't copycat dressing at Constance or dumping dairy on your best friend to prove a point. Nate and Serena? That's mythic. You don't mess with that and survive. You're hurting people I love. You're hurting people you love.
Unbidden, tears filled her eyes as she remembered that horrible day. Suddenly, she didn't feel like the girl who had beaten Chuck and Blair at their own game anymore. Zen Jenny was gone. She felt like…
Nate loves Serena, Dan loves Vanessa… God knows why… and Chuck loves me. But, you, Jenny? No one loves you, except your daddy. And after what you pulled yesterday, who knows if that's even true anymore?
As she blinked, her tears spilled over. Six months later, Jenny felt the same rush of hot, angry shame that she'd felt as she'd made her way back to Manhattan later that night. She'd thought Nate would be right back where he was, twenty-four hours before, drowning his Serena-shaped heartbreak in a bottle of Chuck's finest Scotch.
Maybe I can't make Nate love me, she'd thought as she walked into the lobby of the Empire on that fateful evening. Maybe he'll always love Serena. But I can make him at least take what Damien wanted so much… he didn't turn me away last night. And after what Serena pulled with Dan? Tonight, I'm going to make it count.
Well, Nate hadn't been there. No such luck. But Chuck Bass was there, drunk, upset that something happened between him and Blair. He'd actually invited her to drink with him.
And all Jenny wanted to do in that moment was to not feel so empty and worthless…
Sleeping with Chuck was the worst decision of my life, Jenny thought on that October night. Five awful minutes of fumbling, discomfort, and reaching for something, wanting it all to mean something.
But it meant nothing to either of us. There was no magic. Apparently it's not anything like they say in the songs or the movies. It wasn't like Dirty Dancing. All I felt in the end was… was…
It was her own voice, coming out in a whisper. She was ashamed when she heard the sound of it. Used? Who'd used her? Chuck Bass? Blair Waldorf? Or…
"Me. I used myself." Dry, croaking laugh. "I did this to myself."
"What was that, miss?"
Jenny looked up. The cab driver was peering at her through his rearview mirror.
"You're still headin' to Grand Central?"
Images flashed through Jenny's mind. Images of disgraced Constance blondes being put on trains and sent away (the only thing that needs to get back to normal is you!).
"No!" The force, the vehemence of her own voice stunned her. "No. Take me to Brooklyn."
Wait. Don't you have school Monday?
Didn't Blair banish you?
Won't your parents kill you?
And aren't you trying to avoid… him?
Jenny shrugged off her own thoughts. It was only Saturday. One night in the loft wouldn't make that big of a difference. Dan would be glad to see her! Vanessa had left and gone back to Vermont (why, Dan wouldn't say), and he wasn't seeing anyone, so she wouldn't be imposing. She could go to Rufus and Lily's for one last big family Sunday brunch, just before catching a midday train back to Hudson.
She would call her mom en route. But why not give Dan a heads-up about her idea?
Change of plans. Going to spend one last night at the loft. Is that OK?
She only had a few seconds to wait before her brother responded. More than OK. Eric's coming over too – wants a Scrabble rematch. A few seconds passed. Says he's kicking your ass.
I'd like to see him try. You guys want the usual from Jimmy's?
Yep. Love you – proud of you - catch you at the loft.
"Brooklyn," she said quietly to herself as she put away her phone, "I'm coming home."
Nate Archibald had no intentions of leaving the Empire when he first got back to the penthouse. But when Juliet couldn't give him direct answers about where she'd been and what she'd been doing at the prison that morning, Nate didn't like it, but decided not to pry. Yet.
I have a history of believing girls when I shouldn't…
The first blast had come when he was on his way back from checking on his father in the prison hospital. When it came, Nate had to read the words several times over… because he wasn't comprehending a single thing that it said.
Looks like New York's best kept secret is finally out! Turns out Little J didn't lose her v-card to Damien Dalgaard. She waited… and chucked it away with her stepbrother. Guess that explains the Humphrey in Hudson! Hell hath no fury like a Waldorf scorned…
Nate read the blast over and over again. It just didn't make any sense, even though he hadn't had any contact with Jenny since the last time he saw her. After Jenny sent the picture of Dan and Serena to Gossip Girl, he didn't really want much to do with her. He'd heard that she'd gone upstate to live with her mother, and at first, Nate thought that it was perhaps the best for everyone concerned.
Then, as the summer wore on, and he got to the end of Chuck's little black book, he'd thought vaguely once or twice that it might have been nice if Jenny had bothered to say good-bye. They'd spent a lot of time together that spring, and she was cool to hang out with. Even if she wasn't the girl he thought she was, she had been a good friend.
He read the blast one more time. Then he understood exactly what Gossip Girl was insinuating.
At first, he refused to believe it. Ridiculous! She wouldn't have. She couldn't have! It made no sense. He knew that Chuck and Blair had argued after Blair was late for their meeting at the Empire State. Heartbroken, Chuck had gone to Prague, he'd been shot but no one knew… why had he gone overseas so quickly in the first place.
Chuck… and Jenny? It couldn't be true!
No. Jenny would never… and especially not with…
Nate just didn't want to believe it. Chuck was a changed man. Blair had transformed his best friend, and Chuck had never been the same again. Nate had come to terms with that at the end of senior year. Chuck was Blair's, and Blair was Chuck's. Chuck and Blair, Blair and Chuck…
Even if Chuck had done the most messed up thing Nate had ever heard of to Blair. Who the hell trades their girlfriend for some stupid hotel? To Jack Bass? He knew that his best friend had a low opinion of Nate's own mental abilities, but sometimes, Chuck could be so dumb. How could he have thought that was okay?
But… sleeping with Jenny?
He couldn't wrap his mind around it. And so, he shrugged, figured Gossip Girl was lying again, and started playing Angry Birds.
That's why I don't send her any tips. She's awful. Telling lies about Jenny like that!
The second blast came right before Juliet's pathetic excuse for a phone call. He felt like the world's biggest dupe. Crazy of him to think that maybe Juliet was just a regular girl who liked him, right?
Girls always had something to hide. They all had their secrets. Secrets had ruined his relationship with Blair. Secrets had ruined his relationship with Serena…
But what Nate was trying to put out of his mind was the biggest secret of all. A secret that had been revealed at the party tonight that he hadn't bothered to attend.
We hear Little J gave Chuck and Blair a kiss… of death.
And the picture of Jenny facing off with Chuck and Blair told Nate everything he needed to know. He didn't even need to know what was said in the conversation. Dan's little sister was the final piece of the puzzle that explained exactly what went down between his best friend and his childhood sweetheart the spring before.
Literally went down.
Pouring himself another drink, Nate stared at the glass tumbler as he picked it up and put the decanter down. Standing there for a moment, he stared at the amber liquid.
You're exactly like all the girls I've ever known.
He blinked, and the tumbler and decanter were no more. Shattered pieces of liquor-soaked broken glass littered the floor of the penthouse kitchen. Chuck was going to have a fit.
Nate didn't care. Suddenly, he was irrationally angry, and he didn't know why. So what if Chuck scored with Jenny? Chuck wasn't with Blair at the time, and Jenny was single. And Jenny had certainly been trying to get every boy on the Upper East Side to deflower her, including him. Damien was a creep. Nate had refused because he'd finally gotten Serena, the girl of his dreams. So Chuck…
No wonder Dan punched him. If he weren't my best friend, I'd kill him.
The thought came with total, sudden clarity. Suddenly Nate remembered another time Chuck had sent him into a violent rage… a long time before, when the Basstard had deflowered another virgin Queen of Constance…
Did you sleep with her, huh? You son of a bitch, I ought to kill you!
There's no us, Blair! Oh, but you're clearheaded now, right? Then you'll understand me perfectly when I say I want nothing else to do with you, Blair! You and Chuck deserve each other!
(You know Chuck would say anything! Twist the truth…)
But Jenny wouldn't.
That's what he said back then. And he'd truly believed it. But Jenny had. And she did… did it, that is.
With Chuck Bass.
Walking away from the broken glass on the kitchen floor, Nate grabbed his phone again and dialed the concierge.
"Yes, Mr. Archibald."
"I need a car."
"Of course. Right away, sir."
Maybe a drive would clear his head.
Fifteen minutes later, he'd pulled on a t-shirt with a hoodie and a pair of jeans, and made his way to valet. Soon, he was sliding into the car, and the door was closed behind him.
"Where to, sir?"
The answer flew out of his mouth before he could stop it. "Brooklyn."
It would be his third time across the bridge in a single day. But Nate knew he needed to go to the loft. There was one question in his mind: Why hadn't Dan told him about this? Of course, it would be awkward, because how are you supposed to ask your friend, "Hey, buddy, why didn't you tell me your sister swiped her v-card? Why did I have to hear this from Gossip Girl, and why didn't you let me help you kick Chuck's ass?"
Of course, Nate knew he had no right to ask. He didn't have any brothers or sisters himself, but he pretty much figured Dan would punch him in the face if he even suspected that…
You are not my father, and you are not my brother, so why do you care so much?
He didn't know. Serena's unwillingness to commit to him and their relationship had broken his heart in the spring. That night, Juliet's sneakiness killed any hope he'd held for a quick recovery.
And now, Jenny had slept with Chuck. Of all people.
Maybe all girls were the same.
She loved Jimmy's. Like, so much. It was literally the perfect diner. The place boasted the best chicken, waffles, and all-day egg breakfasts in Williamsburg. Located near the Bedford Gallery, she'd passed many evenings during her first two years at Constance enjoying their food. Sometimes with her family, other times with Eric or Vanessa, and a couple of memorable times during the fall of sophomore year with her dad, her brother, and…
The waitress recognized her immediately. "Hey, doll, long time no see!"
"Hey, Molly. I've been upstate."
"Oh yeah?" Molly cracked her gum. "Good to see ya. They treating you good up there? You look tired."
It's been a long day. "Yeah, you know how it is."
"Well, come on, put those suitcases behind the counter, and have a seat. Having the usual?"
"Yeah, but it's a carry out. My brother's having the special like he always does, and my best friend will take the turkey club, no bacon, condiments on the side."
"Fries with that?"
"Yep, a large order. He drinks Diet Coke."
"Great. You sit tight and I'll have you on your way in a sec, k? Let me give you a few fries for the road, too."
Jenny smiled and nodded, then walked toward the window. What was even better was that the diner had authentic 50's décor. As in, it hadn't been touched since then. (Or properly cleaned, Lily had said.) There was a jukebox in the corner by the window, and Jenny thought she'd play it while she waited for her food.
She flipped through the selections. Although her music tastes tended to be a little more hard rock than anything her dad ever played, she also loved the classics from the 1950s and 1960s. Sometimes, she dreamed of living back then, during a simpler time, going to sock hops, living in a very different city. A Brooklyn where parents didn't divorce and moms didn't move upstate…
Today, she knew exactly the song that she wanted to hear. Finding some loose change, she slid the amount into the slot and made her selection.
Ooh wah, ooh wah
Ooh wah, ooh wah
Ooh wah, ooh wah
Why do fools fall in love?
Jenny looked up from the jukebox and saw that some of the diners had looked up. One of the old men sitting at a table near the back began tapping his foot. A young couple clasped hands. Molly served them two slices of pie, then looked up, and smiled at her.
Why do birds sing so gay
And lovers await the break of the day
Why do they fall in love?
Why does the rain fall from up above?
Why do fools fall in love?
Why do they fall in love?
She took her phone out of her pocket to see if she had any messages. She didn't. That was another thing that was different about Hudson. Her new friends knew she was in the city for the day, assumed she was with her family, and wouldn't call or text unless something huge was happening…
It was Hudson. Nothing happened there.
Well, maybe she'd check Gossip Girl. And see if there had been any blowback in the comments from her two blasts. As one of the site's trusted sources, like about a dozen others around the Upper East Side, Jenny's blasts were always posted directly to the site without her brother screening them.
Feeling a shadow of the thrill she'd experienced earlier while orchestrating Blair's humiliation, she began to scroll through the site. Soon she was so engrossed in catching up that she didn't hear the bells chime on the door.
He hadn't really eaten much that day. It was almost eleven, and too much had happened. It felt surreal that twenty-four hours before, he was making love with Juliet and thinking he'd finally found the right girl for him. This was certainly not the day he'd planned.
What he needed was some great comfort food. Nate hadn't really known what comfort food was until he met Dan Humphrey. It was a huge novelty to him. Dan's family ate stuff like chili and spaghetti and tacos every day, the kind of stuff his mother and Blair sniffed about, the kind of food people ate on sitcoms and in the Disney channel movies he'd watched growing up. Nate was supposed to like being a rich kid, but maybe if his parents hadn't cared so much about money, his dad wouldn't be recovering in a prison hospital bed that night…
The Humphreys were like the families in the sitcoms and the movies, he always thought, at least a modern version since their mom was upstate. You had the bumbling, well-meaning dad. The awkward, sarcastic big brother. And the talented, wisecracking little sister. All they needed was a dog, and Nate would have been totally envious of Dan.
At least, that was the Humphrey family Nate met years before. Now, everything had changed. Rufus had married Lily and had moved to the Upper East Side. Dan was at NYU, and living in the loft by himself. And Jenny…
Anyway, he couldn't expect that Dan would have anything for him to eat… sure they could order out, or he could ask the driver to stop a few blocks away so he could get a slice.
Fortunately, there was a diner close to the Bedford Gallery they liked. Jimmy's Diner was a Brooklyn institution. It was one of the Humphreys' favorite go-to places for a quick dinner in Williamsburg, somewhere that Nate had gotten acquainted with during the few weeks he'd lived with the Humphreys, and visited whenever he wanted to take the long way home from visiting his father in prison. It was a bit out of the way for him, but they had amazing burgers and some of the best fried chicken in all of New York.
He sent Dan a quick text as his car pulled up to the restaurant. Hey, I'm at Jimmy's. Want anything?
"You can head back. I'll be alright from here," he told the driver, just before sliding out of the car, walking into the diner without looking up. He heard the chimes of the door ring as he walked in, and the sound of doo wop on the box.
Love is a losing game
Love can be a shame
I know, I'm a fool you see
For that fool is me…
A familiar-looking waitress looked up from the counter. "Hey there, good-looking! You've been a stranger. Come sit down…. just coming from your visit with Dad?"
"Not this time," said Nate, glancing up long enough to slide onto a stool, and letting out a deep breath. "On my way to see an old friend."
"Yeah, all you kids are here, there, and everywhere these days. Nothing like young people back in my day! Take that one in the back, by the jukebox… moves to the Upper East Side, then goes upstate, and forgets all about me…"
She said it loud enough that the person she was referring to heard her. A willowy platinum blonde had her back to the counter. Half bent over the jukebox, you couldn't see her face… but her unnaturally bright hair and svelte figure made her stand out. Nate liked pretty girls of every shape, size, color, and background, but he was partial to blondes.
Why does my heart
Skip a crazy beat?
For I know
It will reach defeat
Tell me why
Tell me why
Why do they fall in love?
Nate admired the girl from afar. She reminded him of Serena, a little... Serena, who for some reason, he was never enough for. (Nate still couldn't come to terms with that.) Or maybe more like…
A buzz indicated that Dan had responded to his text. Nah, we're good. Jen's got us. See you soon.
He frowned. Jen's got us? What, did she cook or something before she went back to Hudson?
"Can't even answer, can you doll?" Molly called out again, voice filled with mirth. "You know I'm right!"
When he looked back up, the girl looked up from the napkin she'd been doodling on, and turned around to grin at the waitress, ketchup-laden French fry in hand.
"Now, Molly, how could I forget about you? Impossible."
Then she looked up at who Molly had talked to…
And their eyes met for the first time since the spring. Blue upon blue.
Why does the rain fall from up above?
Why do fools fall in love?
Why do they fall in love?
When she saw him, the laughter faded from her lips. Suddenly, Molly's jokes weren't so funny anymore.
In the part of her mind that she usually did her best to ignore, Jenny Humphrey had imagined a thousand scenarios for her first meeting with Nate Archibald after she'd been kicked out of her hometown by general consensus. But never had she expected to run into him at her favorite diner, at eleven o' clock at night, with her makeup scrubbed off and sporting an old, slightly too-tight black cashmere sweater she'd purchased with her allowance when she was thirteen, skintight red leather pants, and laceless vintage Converse without socks.
He's still gorgeous. Damn. She'd tried to tell herself over the summer that Nate wasn't that cute, taking some of the sting of his rejection away. There were guys that were sexier… and hey, wasn't he too pretty? That wasn't good for a guy, was it?
But sitting on that stool at Jimmy's counter, her fluttering heart told the real story. You're a lying liar, Jennifer, telling yourself lies. It's always been him for you, no matter how hard you've tried to get over him.
She expected Nate to be either angry or (worse) indifferent. Angry because he always held her up as some shining example of virtue and innocence that the girls from his social class should follow. Indifferent because… well, she'd slept with his best friend, and ruined Chuck's relationship with Blair. She was sure she'd fallen off the pedestal he'd had her on, and was now in the Stupid Whore category.
Jenny tried to figure out why she'd fallen so hard for a guy who clearly didn't like her as much as she liked him. By the time she realized that she wanted him junior year, she had an answer. Sure, he was cute… but Nate was also easy. Not easy like that (although Gossip Girl told the tale of his many girls and ladies since Blair), but not as much work to figure out as every other Upper East Sider that she knew. Nate Archibald was exactly who he appeared to be. No pretense there.
"Yeah, some girls are unforgettable," he said, speaking to Molly, but looking at Jenny. "But it's all about what they're remembered for."
And he turned back to the counter and picked up a menu.
Wow. So he hates me. Can't say I blame him. I spent a good part of the summer hating myself. Maybe I can stand right here until he orders and leaves…
"Hey, doll, your food's up."
And Molly set Jenny's bags on the counter right next to where Nate was sitting. Thanks a lot, 'doll.'
"Great, be right there..." Maybe she could wait him out, she thought.
"Want me to put it in the warmer for ya? Don't want it getting cold."
Whenever she was faced a crisis, Jenny Humphrey did one of several things. None of those options were available to her just then. So she was going to have to reach back into her Queen toolkit, and pull out one of her Very Secret Weapons.
"Just putting a new song on."
As she turned back to the jukebox, she felt eyes on her. And that was exactly why she hated boys sometimes… he hadn't bothered to show up at the party where she'd been looking like a perfect 10, but somehow managed to find his way into her neighborhood in the middle of the night when she looked like a street urchin. Figures.
So he wanted to be indifferent, did he?
Two can play at that game. I refuse to be uncomfortable. Nate Freaking Archibald isn't going to ruin Jimmy's for me. This is MY place… he's a guest here!
She put on another oldie but goodie, using the last bit of her pocket change. Something from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack… a song that she'd listened to, closed her eyes, and wished, hoped, dreamed…
Whatever. Jenny had learned her lesson about dreaming impossible dreams instead of facing reality. Leave the past in the past, J. She shoved the napkin she'd been drawing on into her jeans pocket, held her head high, and was determined to pay for her food and get out of there.
When your baby leaves you all alone
And nobody calls you on the phone
Ah, don't you feel like crying?
Don't you feel like crying?
Well here I am, my honey…
Oh, come on
Cry to me.
Jenny's strategy was going to be to ignore him. Never mind that she'd never ignored Nate Archibald in her entire time knowing him. She was going to do it today. Because she hadn't done anything to him!
She lifted her head, stared straight ahead…
And her phone rang, breaking her concentration. Why do I even have a brother? Couldn't my parents have waited until '93 to have kids? Ugh! His timing couldn't be worse!
"What, Dan?" she snapped.
"Just checking on you. Everything all right?"
"Yes, I'm just getting our food, and I'll be home soon. Sorry it took a while."
"Don't worry about it, we've been scarfing down cheese curls while we set up the game board! Mom called and she says she got your message, and it's totally fine with her since you'll be with family and not the people at school."
"OK, thanks. See you…"
"Wait, almost forgot. Nate's on his way to hang out with us, too… I think something happened with him and his new girlfriend, and he's trying to get his mind off it. Said he was thinking about stopping by Jimmy's, so you might want to text him and get his order."
Sometimes, Jenny's big brother could be so annoying! "Um, I think he's ordered already…" she murmured into the phone.
"Oh, good. Thought you two might run into each other there. Well, you can share a cab with him…."
"Dan," she whispered, "he just got here and my food is ready. Besides, he's not a family member. Remember the terms of Blair's banishment?"
"After tonight, I don't think Blair Waldorf is in any position to banish anybody. Nate's a good guy and he's always looked after you. It'll give me a little peace of mind because it's so late. Give you two a chance to catch up, distract him from his heartache."
Why was Dan so dense? Ugh! Jenny loved her brother with all her heart, but he could be such a dork sometimes...
"By the way, Dad and Lily are over the moon about brunch tomorrow…"
"Dan, if I don't pay in a minute, Molly's gonna insist on warming things up, okay? And that will make me even later."
"Good point. Guess we'll see you soon."
She was now at the cash register, waiting on Molly. Three stools beyond sat Nate, who seemed totally engrossed in his phone. Great, he's still ignoring me. Well, it didn't make Jenny feel great, but at least she could handle it without too much thought. After all, there had been long stretches when she was at Constance when Nate hadn't given her the time of day, especially after the Snowflake Ball sophomore year. And Jenny hadn't wanted much to do with him, either.
I'm so glad that he didn't like me, she told herself. Makes everything easier. And when I get to the loft, I'll feign sleepiness, and I'll crash… or maybe he'll decide to ditch since I'm still here and all… and tomorrow, I'll be back in Hudson with this all behind me.
"What are you waiting for there, doll?" said Molly, bustling up and down the row to serve her customers. "Your food's waiting." And she beckoned to where it was sitting, right next to Nate.
"Oh, I haven't paid yet," Jenny said, digging into her purse for her wallet, lifting out her keys and phone, and setting them on the counter. I'm ready now."
"No need. It's all taken care of."
Jenny frowned. "It's on the house?" Her family had been coming to Jimmy's for a long time, but she didn't think they were that generous!
"Nope, that young man says he's with you, and you're going to the same place. Paid for everything, and you're all set."
Her façade broke. She couldn't help it. Her eyes widened and her lips parted. But she wouldn't look at him.
Molly shook her head and chuckled to herself. "Have a good night, doll. Don't be a stranger, you hear?"
Jenny didn't want to look at him, but she now had no choice. And when she glanced back Nate's way, he was staring at her, arms folded.
He wasn't smiling and his eyes were unreadable. Jenny remembered this Nate… the Nate from the Snowflake Ball. She hadn't seen him often, but she knew one thing.
Snowflake Ball Nate was an unsympathetic ass. And she wasn't fifteen anymore.
"I'm not going anywhere with you!"
"You don't have a choice," he told her coldly. "We need to talk. I have a few things to say to you, and you're going to listen."
"What? Please! Friends talk, and you are not my friend. You made yourself very clear about your priorities in the spring, and I haven't seen or heard from you since then. I want nothing to do with you!"
"So why were you at the Empire earlier today? Gossip Girl said you were there."
I hate this boy. So freaking much. He could drop right now and I'd just step over his corpse!
"Don't flatter yourself, Archibald! I didn't come back to see you!"
She could tell he was furious. And she didn't care!
But she wasn't prepared for the awful thing he said next.
"I don't even know who you are anymore. Seriously, Jenny, did you really think you were going to sneak back here without Blair knowing, just to be with Chuck agai-"
He didn't even get to put the question mark at the end of his sentence, because Jenny answered his insult by slapping him. Hard.
Molly was aghast. "…Doll?" Several other patrons were staring at the unfolding scene.
"You are an asshole. I don't want to see you or talk to you, ever again! I'm done!" she spat, as he grabbed his cheek.
Molly tried to interrupt again. "Everything all right?"
"No," said Jenny, in a very small voice. She was very much a girl of thunder and rain… she flared up, and then… but no, she was NOT going to cry in front of this horrible boy! He wasn't her knight and never was. What a silly fool she'd been!
She turned toward the door, and felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Jenny, wait. Look, I shouldn't have said that, I'm…"
Jenny jerked away from him as if he were poison.
"You're an ass, that's what you are," she hissed. "A self-righteous, hypocritical ass who's just like everyone else in your nasty little world." She raised her voice and said, "Mol, tell my brother I'm heading to the train station. He can get my things from you tomorrow and send them to my mom's."
"Sure thing. Be safe, honey!" called the waitress.
Without another glance backward, Jenny flew out the door.
When you're all alone in your lonely room
And there's nothing but the smell of her perfume
Ah don't you feel like crying
Don't you feel like crying?
Ah don't you feel like crying?
Come on, come on, cry to me.
~to be continued~
A/N: And so, it begins. The flap of a butterfly's wing in Brazil can create a tornado in Texas… or a typhoon in Thailand. One decision that Jenny makes… and suddenly, a new world.
This story came from a joke that I always tell my friend Nese to complain about GGW's poor decision making… "There are a thousand ways to NJ." So I thought I'd take an impossible moment for Nate and Jenny, and see if I could write a story that convincingly put them together. But while Clair de Lune is also the story of Nate's rise into politics, this is more of a Jenny-focused story. I want to think about how a broken Jenny can be fixed again… without waiting 5 years (P&C) or 10 years (CdL) for it to happen. And I want to know if Jenny's hankering for diner fare might have spared Chair and Derena some (not all) of their obstacles… or created new ones!
Rating's T for now, M later… I'm going to steam things up later on, although I won't say which ships, where, or how!
To answer your question before you ask in the reviews, Derena and Chair folks, yes, there will be more fanservicing of your ships than there was in CdL. The POVs will skip around, and won't just be limited to Nate and Jenny. Know that I am Team Endgame to the core! But I also don't want to ruin the perfection of the 4x07-4x09 Chair arc, although I could have been spared the breakup at the end, and Serena's dumbass Colin drama. We'll see how this goes. I'm really into this story, and am already writing the second chapter. But I don't know the ending yet… just that it will be happy. Happy endings rock, man.
Also, the only reason I didn't call this fic The Butterfly Effect is because my lovelies would kill me for naming a Nate/Jenny fic that… butterflies belong to Chuck and Blair in the GG universe!
So the name of the fic comes from a Beatles song that Taylor Momsen covered (and did a fairly decent job with, if you ask me). The lyrics are perfect for this: watch?v=zVcGcBhCKEA
All you need is love.
Love is all you need.
Chapter 2 is coming very soon! Until then…
XOXO, Dr. Holland