|The Pathways Through the Apple
Author: Catheryne PM
Sequel to Carnal Apple, Woman Incarnate. Chuck and Blair pick up the pieces after the devastation that Jack Bass left in their lives. Chuck needs to show her the trust and love he never could before.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Blair & Chuck - Chapters: 14 - Words: 37,022 - Reviews: 340 - Favs: 85 - Follows: 74 - Updated: 03-01-09 - Published: 01-25-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4818656
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Even at three months old, even when most of her day was spent sleeping in her luxurious cushioned bed, Natasha Cornelia Bass was a spectacular little princess that had her father wrapped around her little finger. When she fussed, Chuck Bass reached for her and picked her up, let her rest against his chest. Chuck took pleasure in the knowledge that more than anyone else in the world, his daughter calmed with him. It was perhaps the role he played in saving her life so very early on, when her mother was in the throes of misery and made the mistake of thinking she could terminate the pregnancy, and he had walked Blair out of that clinic and never willingly left her side afterwards.
Today was no exception. The moment that Natasha Bass felt the flurry of activity, and heard the panic in Nate's voice, she had let out a wail so loud that Chuck shrugged off his Armani tux. Dressed in his shirt, his light blue vest and tie, Chuck reached to remove his onyx cufflinks and dropped them into Nate's palm.
"It's alright, Tasha," he soothed, taking his daughter from her nanny's arms and rocking the baby against him. He noticed Nate wince at the sight, and looked down to see the round darkened spot on his shirt where the baby seemed to have spit up some milk. "That's fine," he said, waiting for the girl to calm down. "Daddy's got an extra shirt in the closet."
At that, Natasha's nanny moved to pick the alternate shirt.
"What do you need us to do?"
Chuck shook his head. "I'll go."
Because really, what could any one of them do? He asked for Natasha's carrier, and for the limo to be brought around. Taking no one but his daughter, who would not be left, not ever, Chuck made his way to her. Before he even stepped out, he made sure to wrap the baby around layers of blankets, swaddled Natasha comfortably.
He crushed the grass under his feet with the shiny, black leather shoes. His feet ate space quickly, familiar with the territory after having been there more times than he cared since his daughter's birth. He glanced down at the princess in his arms, and delighted at the short curling brown hair that framed her face.
She was going to look like Blair, would undoubtedly have the angelic face that had driven him insane when he was younger.
"We're going to see mom, Tasha," he informed his daughter.
The Bass mausoleum was an imposing building not far from them. If he had a choice, he would rather not see the place for the next seventy years. Yet here he was, because for Blair, he would do anything.
Even jump into the depths of hell himself.
In that, he supposed, he and Jack were alike. He sent pity to his uncle—to whichever circle of hell he now resided.
When he entered the mausoleum, he was eternally grateful for the shelter. He spotted her immediately, just where he had suspected she would be. She stood in front of the newest addition to the mausoleum, a simple plaque that held the name "John Bass," and recounted the dates of his birth and his death. He paused for a moment, and his presence through a large, looming shadow into the room, announcing his arrival. She looked over to him, dry-eyed. Even with the strong, somber gaze, standing in the mausoleum only in her dressing gown, Blair looked ready to fade.
He released his breath when she started walking towards them. He cleared his throat. Her makeup was done; her hair had already been styled, and her curls framed her face the way Natasha's did. It occurred to him that someday he would look at his little girl in just the same occasion.
"Everyone's looking for you," he informed Blair, his voice soft. "When you vanished from your dressing room, they all panicked. They woke up Tasha."
Blair gave him a small smile, then leaned down to place a kiss on her daughter's eyebrow. "I'm sorry they interrupted your sleep, baby." She turned her gaze to Chuck. "She's not cranky at all."
He could not keep the pride from his voice when he said, "I calmed her down."
"You're always good at that."
Calming Tasha. Comforting Blair.
She had said it to him so many times he had accepted it as truth—they would be nothing but a mess without him. He thanked heaven for that every day, and sometimes, in the dark of the night, the same thing worried him. Life was too unpredictable; his family was far too vulnerable.
Someday soon he would broach the topic, and determine how best to prepare them. When it was the two of them, disaster was their blood and it was easy to decide to fade away without the other. Now, with the princess, the same was no longer an option.
It would be their most difficult mission now, to figure out how to stay.
"Nate thought you got cold feet and ran away."
It was ridiculous. She reached out to brush her baby's cheek with her thumb. The girl blinked up at her but remained comfortably ensconced in Chuck's arms. The first few months and a mother's bond did not seem to faze the baby, because the moment Chuck first held Tasha when they took her from the incubator, the little girl had been her daddy's baby more than Blair's.
"If I did," Blair responded matter-of-factly, "I would have taken Tasha."
He held onto the baby with one arm, and wrapped the other around Blair's shoulders. He should have brought his coat with him, because in the dressing robe he was certain that Blair was cold. He leaned down to press a kiss to her cheek.
"I'm sorry if I worried you," she said quietly later.
He nodded. The moment they told her she was gone, he had known where she would be. Not for one single second did he think she had run away from the wedding. Instead, he worried about what to say to assure her, to remove the guilt that had woken her far too many times for the last three months.
"Tasha's so beautiful," Blair whispered, and it was something with which he could not agree more. "And you're perfect." Last year, he would have found the concept ridiculous. Today, hearing it from her, he was proud. Throughout her pregnancy, he had tried. At least, in her eyes, he was successful. "I looked in the mirror and I thought I looked spectacular in my wedding gown."
He had spared no expense, and the designer freely wove silk damask, charmeuse and satin, then embellished with pounds of pearls and crystals. When she saw the draft drawing, she had been ecstatic. When the designer showed them the initial version of the dress, Blair had cried.
"I promised you a wedding for a queen," he said gently into her ear.
She told him later the sobs were postpartum depression, and he had nodded and accepted the fervent kisses she pressed into his mouth.
"I thought to myself how everything is falling into place," she confessed. "And I remembered Jack." Blair met Chuck's eyes, and Chuck could see nothing in her eyes to make him afraid. "How can I, in good conscience, take all of these and not be guilty that he's dead?"
Chuck offered the baby to Blair, and silently willed Tasha to cooperate. Blair accepted the baby in her arms and breathed in the powder scent on the baby's skin. "How does it feel?"
"Like everything I don't deserve."
He tilted her chin so that she would look at him. "Jack made a decision. It was an informed one. He knew about us; he'd been told over and over." Chuck kissed her forehead. "He knew what was at stake."
"I pushed him to it."
"He could have just as easily gone back to Australia, Blair. He chose this." He sighed. "Jack's gone." If he was the Chuck Bass from the year before, he would have probably defaced his uncle's marker right then for being the ghost he was, throwing his own wedding day out of schedule because of what he had done. "He lost."
"Don't let him ruin today."
On the way back to the church, Tasha slept on her mother's chest, her ear pressed to her left breast as Blair's heartbeat lulled her with its steady rhythm. Chuck watched as Blair rubbed circled on the baby's back. Blair's eyes rose to his, and Chuck nodded in encouragement. Blair flashed him a smile, because it was the first time that Tasha had been as comfortable with Blair as she was with Chuck.
Chuck deposited her at her dressing room. When he reached for Natasha, Blair had been almost reluctant to surrender the girl.
"We were just bonding," she complained.
"You'll get her back right after the ceremony," he assured her. "I think she'll be much calmer with you from now on." Chuck took her lips for a brief kiss. "You're calmer now."
She nodded. "I love you."
The door opened, and the ladies in the dressing room greeted Blair with frantic expressions. Chuck spied a glimpse of the wedding dress on the bed. He turned and walked with Natasha back to his dressing room.
The nanny shot up from her seat when Chuck entered with her charge. She reached for the baby, and Chuck handed the sleeping child over. When she turned to leave, Chuck stopped her.
"Where are you taking her?"
The nanny frowned. "Mrs Rose wanted me to keep the baby in Miss Blair's room."
Chuck waved the argument away. "There's a hurricane there. She'll just wake up crying with all the activity there."
When Chuck Bass stood in front of the assembly, the church was an impressively decked architectural marvel. He had spent the better part of Blair's recovery working with her on the details she wanted to turn their wedding into an event straight out of her childhood dreams. Most of the time he spent with Serena was turned into research and interviews, to determine what the best friend knew of Blair's dream wedding. In between his hours in the company, his hours looking up the best business degrees from Ivy Leagues online, and watching Natasha sleep, Chuck Bass had placed orders for the elegant floral arrangements lining the aisle. He watched little girls litter the red carpet with white and pale pink petals. The idea had come from the unlikeliest source, but he had taken it anyway. Nate had walked into his office while he was coordinating the flowers he wanted with the planner.
"Man, am I glad it's you!" Nate had exclaimed. "You have the patience for this stuff. The first time she mentioned to me about walking on white and pink rose petals I had to smoke."
He owed Nathaniel one. The aisle looked spectacular. She was going to love that touch, because she did not tell him about that one detail.
The music wafted, a traditional but more chilling rendition of the wedding march. Inside the sleeves of his Armani tux, Chuck swore the hair on his arms stood.
The moment that the doors opened and he saw Blair standing at the end, holding on to her father's arm, the spectacular church became the universe. The walls fell away, and the roof melted into nothingness. The church was a universe, and all around them was pitch blackness and the stars. She was a vision walking towards him, and she glimmered with the crystals on her dress.
It had been the so very long he was afraid they would never get here.
A long time ago, he could not even tell when she was shivering under his coat. A long time ago, he took care of her to take her away from Jack, to get her back. He wrapped her in his arms so that he would not lose her. This time, he took care of every single detail to please her, to give her what she wanted.
She reached him, and he almost did not notice when Harold shook his hand and placed Blair's on his arm. "I couldn't do this so easily if you were still the same little boy, Charles," Harold told him.
Chuck nodded. He was a man now. Even from somewhere as far away as France, Harold heard about it. During the time that Eleanor and Blair were at odds, Harold would check on his daughter and speak with Chuck about Blair. Those days, those conversations, Harold told him over rehearsal dinner, convinced him that Chuck had grown into a man.
Her face was shielded by the veil, but even if he was struck blind Chuck would know that she was beautiful. He raised her hand to his lips as they turned to the minister.
The words broke through the silence of his mind, and he held onto her hand. "We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of Blair to Charles in holy matrimony. Marriage is not to be entered into lightly. I have spoken with them, individually, together, and I have not met any other young couple who are as prepared for this as the two of them." Chuck raised her hand to his lips again. The minister turned to the crowd, and asked, "Who brings this woman to be married to this man?"
Behind Chuck, Harold voiced, "I do."
The minister then turned to the aisle where the van der Woodsens sat. "Do you give your blessing and pledge your support of this union?" he asked, looking at Lily.
"A thousand percent," Lily responded.
Chuck stifled his smirk, then sighed. He quickly looked at where Tasha sat on her nanny's lap, wide-eyed at the events surrounding her. At the minister's prompt, he took the ring that Nate handed to him and said to Blair, "We didn't start out as friends. I kicked sand in your face when we met in the playground for the first time. I wasn't your first love. That honor belongs to the guy standing right next to me. We didn't have the perfect relationship, but we are right on the verge of having it now. I, Chuck, take you, Blair, as my wife. You're more than my best friend, more than my companion, more than my bride. You and Tasha are my life. Every day you let me be part of your life, you change me. Every day, I'm better because of you. You gave me the best present I have ever gotten, and I swear to you that I will spend every breath making sure none of my promises will ever be broken again."
She blinked back tears, and when he slipped the ring on her finger, he assumed the tears fell because she used her other hand to wipe them away. Blair reached for the ring from Serena. "I, Blair, take you, Chuck, as my husband. I will love you, because there is no other choice than to love you—even when it's easy, even when it's difficult, my heart will love you because it's the one that knows all of you. I will thank you every day for growing with me; and I promise to give you the respect you deserve. I will be right beside you for all the decisions you make. And for everything I know and don't know yet about you, Chuck, I promise you that you will always have my trust."
He handed her a tapered candle, and held up his own. The minister gestured to the large candle on the top step. Chuck helped her light her own candle before he lit his. With his hand on her elbow, he helped her to the unity candle and they lit it at the same time.
When the minister's voice boomed, "I now pronounce you husband and wife. What God has put together, let no man tear asunder," Chuck wrapped his arm around Blair's and pulled her against him. He pushed the veil away and pressed his lips on hers. The smattering of applause pulled them apart.
Right at the moment that he released her, Blair picked up her gown and ran to Tasha. She returned later with their daughter. Blair pulled him down for another kiss.
"Tell me you love me," she requested.
He smiled, and repeated for her. Her request was not a plea, but a request for affirmation. "I love you, and I'm never leaving you."
"I'll hold you to it."
The first promise he fulfilled was the result of a wager. He had lost the bet, but was ecstatic of the outcome. Little Tasha would grow up in a grand townhouse on East 75th as a result of her gender. Mr and Mrs Bass, along with their little princess, moved into the house that Blair won two days after the wedding. It had been an experience, and would have been more so if Chuck did not hire movers to pack, move, unpack and decorate for them. Blair called him out on the easy escape, and Chuck reasoned so well that Blair thought he might have a career in law or politics.
"I promised you I'd take care of you," he had told her.
Blair placed the baby down on her crib, then shook her head in mock exasperation, then pulled her husband into her arms. "When are we going on our honeymoon?"
Chuck felt warmth suffuse his skin. "Blair—"
"The doctor says if we're careful, we can start again," she said teasingly.
His eyes slammed to Tasha's, who was staring at him from her place in her crib. "Blair, not in front of our daughter."
He saw his wife's eyes crinkle, then mirth turn her cheeks into a ruddy color. "Chuck!" She giggled, then continued, "I didn't expect that from you."
He narrowed his eyes, then took a step towards his wife. He locked the door and stalked towards her. Blair's amusement vanished, and her blush morphed from hilarity to something else. Chuck flicked open the top buttons of her blouse to reveal her breasts. Her lips parted when he slowly pulled down the cup of her bra. "This, Tasha's already seen."
Blair released a breath when he flicked his thumb over her engorged nipple. She hissed at the sensation on her sensitive breast.
"Tasha's tasted them."
She held her breath when his hot tongue wrapped around her nipple.
"What kind of father would I be if I didn't try it too?"
"Ohhhh." Blair moaned when he wrapped his lips around the nub and started suckling. "Chuck!"
Warm milk flooded his mouth. Chuck lapped at the liquid before releasing her breast. A couple more drops were absorbed by her skirt as she fell down to sit on the bed. He knelt in front of her and pushed her legs open, then reached up to hook his fingers on her panties. Slowly, he pulled them off her and pulled her closer to the edge of the bed. Chuck held on to her thighs and he buried his lips in her.
Blair fell back on the bed and turned her head. "Tasha," she protested weakly. "Chuck, wait. You don't want Tasha to see."
Chuck smiled against her, and the movement caused another cry to erupt from her lips. He turned his head, and spied Tasha sleeping in her crib. "I'm all yours, Mrs Bass. I promise you're going to see stars before the night ends."
When Chuck Bass promised anything now, he moved heaven and earth to fulfill it. Before the night was over, Blair saw whole galaxies.