Title: Light On
Spoilers: Through Gossip Girl 225
Summary: Nate returns from Europe with the hopes of making amends with Jenny.
AN: This was written for the 200th Nate/Jenny Thread at Fanforum. The title of this fic is from the song of the same name by David Cook. Also, I barely ever publish fanfiction, so please be kind. Feedback is appreciated!
Try to leave a light on when I’m gone
Even in the daylight, shine on
And when it’s late at night you can look inside
You won’t feel so alone
Nate entered the penthouse quietly...nervously. He swung the small bag in his hands back and forth, somehow motivating himself for what he was about to do...what he needed to do.
"Looking for Chuck?" a soft feminine voice startled him. He turned and saw her, sitting there on the couch wearing a tank top and jeans, hair long and loose, with her sketchbook perched on her lap. She looked...different...and the same...as before. Masquerade. Chocolates. Birthdays. Street Lights. Fashion Shows. Letters. Heartbreak.
"Jenny," he breathed out. "No...not Chuck. Actually I was looking for you."
"Well, here I am."
"I thought maybe you'd be out or something," Nate said in that adorable way he always said things: a mixture of confusion and curiosity.
"Nah. I'm a homebody these days. Some queen I am," Jenny shrugged, setting her sketchbook on the coffee table in front of her.
"I'm sure you're doing great," Nate reassured her. Almost as soon as the words left his lips, an awkward silence erupted between the two. It could have been very easy for Nate to run away again and just keep things the way they were. Instead, he took those few tentative steps toward the couch and sat down next to Jenny. She looked at him for a moment before breaking the silence.
"So, how was Europe?"
"Hot. Tiring. Miserable. Missed home. Thank goodness I've been there before or it would have been a very unsatisfying trip." It all came out so fast that when he was done, Nate had to take a deep breath before continuing. "I'm just not one for backpacks and hostels."
"How did Vanessa take it?" Jenny asked him curiously, her eyes twinkling with something undefined.
"Vanessa and I...that's not happening again. We decided it was best to break the cycle and stay friends...or whatever," Nate breathed out.
"Oh." Jenny pursued her lips, a little dazed from his revelation.
"You seem surprised."
"Well, it's just that you guys were alone...in some of the most romantic places in the world. It would have only been natural to get back together again."
"It would have been a lie. I don't love Vanessa. I never did. It's not fair to her and it's not fair to me to keep pursuing that," Nate confessed honestly. Jenny looked at him with a mixed expression of hope, sadness, and curiosity.
"Why are you telling me all this?"
“Because when I was in Europe, I had time to think about everything that happened this past year. Between us."
"Nate...," Jenny started but Nate continued. This was the reason why he was here and he wasn't backing down. Not now. Not ever again.
"No, let me get this out. I'm sorry." Nate stopped for a second and allowed them both to feel the weight of his words. "I'm sorry things got so screwed up. I'm sorry I messed things up. I had no right to act like I did at the Snowflake Ball. I shouldn't have yelled at you like that or threw the letter in your face. I'm not a perfect person. Vanessa isn't either. I should have handled the situation better. I was just hurt you never answered my letter. I thought you didn't want anything to do with me."
"That's not true Nate," Jenny assured.
"I know that now." Nate looked straight into Jenny's eyes as he spoke. He wanted to make sure she understood.
"I really wish I would have gotten to read your letter," Jenny revealed in a soft whisper.
"I do too." Nate also revealed. Jenny was surprised at this for a moment, but then continued on speaking.
"I mean things could have been so much different...and even if things wouldn't have worked out, we wouldn't be strangers...like we are now," she said sadly, thinking about how things could have been if fate had steered them a different way.
"I really miss your friendship. I'd give anything to get that back someday."
"Me too." Jenny looked at him again and then slowly reached out to cover his hand with hers. Nate closed his eyes and breathed out. They stayed that way for several moments, both afraid to move...and maybe find out this was all a dream...and that nothing had changed. A charged silence evaded the room and grabbed hold of them both. There's a moment of possibility, of maybe, but deep down they know it is too soon for anything else...so they just stayed still. Suddenly though, Nate moved away and the moment broke, as if he just remembered something really important.
"Oh when I was in Paris, there was this little shop off the beaten path and I found this. It lights up." Nate handed Jenny a beautiful figurine dressed in what looked to be some kind of French royalty. It was sitting on a tiny chair as if it were a throne, staring upwards at the sky. A radiant light surrounded her. She looked unbelievable. There was an engraving at the bottom in French. She ran her finger over it and tried to remember the translation from school, but it was hard to recollect anything with Nate sitting so near and while holding this gorgeous souvenir.
"That what it means in French. I asked the shop owner."
"It reminded me of you and how you have so much passion and tenacity and love for life...for fashion...for your family and friends. You have this light around you...it's contagious. It’s something that should be protected and admired and encouraged. It would be a shame for it to go out for any reason...any one. That's one of the things I've always loved...admired about you..." Nate spoke in an excited manner, simultaneously gesturing to her and to the small figurine. Jenny could hardly believe he was saying any of this to her. It almost made all those months of them not speaking worth it. Just so she could have this moment with him now. She honestly didn't know what to say. Nate Archibald left her speechless. After a few more moments though, she found the words.
"Thank you so much Nate," she said, slowly leaning over to hug him...even though she wanted to do more. He hugged her back and gently buried his head into her shoulder.
"I just thought you should know that," Nate spoke softly into her shoulder. They stayed like this for what seemed to be like an eternity, but were probably only a few minutes. Unfortunately, it was interrupted by a loud buzzing noise. Nate reluctantly let go of Jenny and fished out his phone from his pants. "It's Chuck. He wants me to meet him for a drink."
"Oh." Jenny looked down, a sad smile on her face. "You should go then."
Nate stares at his phone for a moment before texting him something back, a small smile playing on his lips.
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying...I can't because I'm with a friend." Nate declared, dramatically pressing the enter key on his phone.
"You are." Jenny smiled at Nate. His face broke out into a grin as well. It was almost as if it was two years ago and they were back outside those steps on Blair's birthday...but of course it wasn't…they couldn’t be...but even though so many things have changed since that night...they knew they wouldn't let anything come between them again.
They spent the rest of the night talking, laughing, and eating junk food. It eventually turned completely dark throughout the apartment with the only real light coming from Jenny's gift and themselves.
You’ll start my heart again
When I come along