|The Other Side of This Life
Author: julian bb PM
AU DB/ "Welcome to the dark side, Brooklyn. You're gonna have fun. Trust me." Dan wants to focus, but Blair Waldorf—the brunette girl from Brooklyn—is still stuck in the back of his mind.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Dan & Blair - Chapters: 10 - Words: 25,683 - Reviews: 158 - Favs: 38 - Follows: 86 - Updated: 05-17-13 - Published: 09-04-12 - id: 8498307
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Other Side Of This Life
A Moment In Time
As happens sometimes, a moment settled and
hovered and remained for much more than a moment.
And sound stopped and movement stopped for much,
much more than a moment. And then the moment was gone.
Blair Waldorf arrives at Dan's eighty-second-Street-just-off-Park-Avenue Manhattan town house early the next day and knocks tentatively on the front door.
Bolek—Dan's polish butler—opens up and needs no reminder about who she is. "Ms. Waldorf." he says, "Mr. Dan's friend from Brooklyn."
"Yes." Blair replies somewhat uneasily, "That would be me. Um, I don't mean to disrupt your morning, but I was wondering if Dan's in...?" she asks hopefully.
Bolek nods, "Yes, Ms. Blair," he says, gestures towards the marble staircase, "Third floor."
"Thank you." Blair replies, never one to forget her manners. Then she turns, "Um, which room?" she asks.
Bolek smiles kindly, "Take your pick, Miss." he says, "Entire third floor is Mr. Dan's."
Blair blinks. "Of course." she says somewhat stunned.
Blair has a bedroom with door in the middle of it in a loft in Williamsburg.
Dan has an entire floor to himself in a town house on Park Avenue.
Oh, how the privileged live.
Blair reaches the third floor quickly and tries a few doors experimentally—two bathrooms, one guest bedroom—when she finds it.
It is literally a room where the walls are lined with books from floor to ceiling. It's like something out of the Beauty & The Beast Disney movie.
And there's everything from John Steinbeck to Nick Hornby. There's ever a corner filled with children's books: Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, and a tattered copy of The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales.
Blair runs her finger along the spine of the books softly. She settles on the Brothers Grimm book when a voice booms in.
"I see you've found my Fortress of Solitude."
Dan's voice startles Blair, and she immediately places the book of fairy tales back on the shelf. "I didn't mean to pry." And it's only a half-lie because she really was looking for him before she got sidetracked, "It's just...it's a big house."
Dan shrugs, arms crossed over his chest, "I don't mind." he says, "See anything you like?" He's already standing next to her, reaching for the Brothers Grimm book, "You a fan?"
"Somewhat." Blair replies, "I appreciate the originals, but I'm more fond of happy endings."
Dan smirks, raises a skeptical eyebrow, "What?" he asks, "Waiting for True Love's Kiss to set you free, Brooklyn?"
"I hardly think living in Williamsburg makes me Cinderella." Blair replies, "And I'm perfectly happy with my life. But...there's nothing wrong with hoping for a happy ending, is there? I mean, isn't that what we all want?"
Dan can recall one the conversations he'd had with Chuck and Nate while they walked through Central Park and finished smoking up a first-rate dime-bag.
"Do you ever feel like our whole lives have been planned out for us? That we're just gonna...end up like our parents?"
Dan kinks his eyebrows, "Man, that's a dark thought."
"And aren't we entitled to choose just to be happy?" Leave it to Nate to get reflective when he's baked.
And leave it to Chuck to make light of everything. "Look, easy, Socrates. What we're entitled to is a trust fund. Maybe a house in the Hamptons, a prescription-drug problem. But happiness does not seem to be on the menu."
"I'm not sure a happy ending is in the cards for me." Dan says quietly, his tone far more earnest than he'd meant it to be.
Blair smiles softly, strokes his cheek gently, "You think you're much worse than you actually are." she says, and she means it as a compliment, "You are a decent guy. Okay? You are not like all the other Chuck Basses of the world. You care. Even when you're trying to act as if nothing phases you. I can tell."
"You only think you can." Dan replies cooly, "I'm not one of the good guys, Brooklyn."
Blair rolls her eyes playfully, "Yes you are." she assures him, "You're good with me. And you may not see it, but I do. I see you." And when her hand finds his, it's like time stops for a second, and they're close enough to feel each other's breath and their eyes are locked together, and everything else in the world manages to melt away.
And then they blink, and the moment is gone, but their hands are still intertwined, "I just...I never said thank you." Blair whispers, "For last night." she adds, "Thanks for saving me."
"It was my pleasure." Dan says, and he's not being witty or sarcastic, "Anytime you need a Knight In Shinning...whatever, I'm here."
"I might have to take you up on that." Blair says, and she waits a beat before releasing his hand. "Um, I should go. I didn't mean to bother you, much less pry. I'm sorry."
Dan smiles, "Don't be. You're not bothering me." he tentatively reaches for her hand, "And you shouldn't leave." he adds, "I mean, I don't have any plans and..." his voice trails off, and then he grips the book in his hand a little tighter, "You know the perfect way to read fairy tale? It's to have someone else read it to you. C'mon. I'll read you my favorite."
"Um..." Blair lets her voice trail off, and that tinge of red spreads across her cheeks, "You know what, why not? Let's do it."
Dan is sitting on the couch, his bare feet propped up against the coffee table, and Blair is lying down next to him, her head resting comfortably in his lap as she lets his voice wash over her.
"Some men are born to good luck: all they do or try to do comes right—all that falls to them is so much gain—all their geese are swans—all their cards are trumps—toss them which way you will, they will always, like poor puss, alight upon their legs, and only move on so much the faster." Dan recites, and he is paused and eloquent and he could do this for a living because listening to him read is enthralling. "The world may very likely not always think of them as they think of themselves, but what care they for the world? What can it—"
And suddenly he's cut off by a familiar voice. "Danny!" Serena calls out as she enters the library, halting her steps when she spots her Dan in here with Blair Waldorf.
"...know about the matter?" Dan finishes the sentence quietly and snaps the book closed. "Hey, Serena," he greets with his usual smirk. "What's up?"
Blair sits straight and stands up, "Hi, S." she says casually.
Dan stands up as well, but makes no intention to move towards his girlfriend. Instead, he stays next to the girl from Brooklyn.
"I'm gonna go!" Blair announces as little bit too enthusiastically for it to not be awkward.
"Yeah." Serena's Medusa-like glare has no effect on Blair. "I think that's for the best."
"Thanks again, Dan." The brunette stands on her tiptoes to press a kiss onto his scruffy cheek, "I'll see you at school." she says, "Bye, Serena." she adds as she passes by the blonde.
Once Serena's sure Blair is out of earshot, she turns her glare onto Dan, "What the hell was that?!"
"What?" Dan shrugs, "We were just hanging out."
Serena shakes her head angrily, "Tell me the truth, Dan," she demands, "Do you like her? Is that what's going on? You're crushing on the girl from Brooklyn? Has the mighty Daniel Humphrey really fallen that low?"
"First off," Dan starts, his nostrils flaring in anger, "There is nothing going on—we were reading a fuckin' book. And second, I'm pretty sure I've done worse than the girl from Brooklyn." he hisses, "'Cause dating the rich, boarding school bitch is sure as shit starting to get old." He says it coldly, the words meant to hit the worst of her insecurities.
And this is Dan-and-Serena at their finest—because no one hurts each other better than these two.
"Fuck you!" Serena howls, reaching for a small vase and tossing it at his head.
Dan dodges it easily, already used to this dynamic. "Oh, that's great!" he exclaims angrily, "Are you seriously going to try to pull that one on me? You wanna talk about something that is going on, then lets talk about your thing with Nate, huh! Nate—my fucking best friend since pre-K. I'm not blind, I see it!"
Serena looks away, ashamed. They'd all known each forever—Dan and Nate and Serena and Chuck—since way back when they were toddlers in nursery school at Park Avenue Presbyterian. So much history, so much water under the bridge or whatever, and one secret Serena wasn't ready to unveil yet. One she wasn't sure she'd ever want unveiled.
She loved Nate—her Natie. The Golden-Boy, Prince of the Upper East Side. They were fun and light and free, and Nate loved her so much. He loved her with a kind of adoration, and that kind of love is addictive. Together, they were the picture perfect Golden Couple.
And she loved Dan—her Danny. The Rebel, the Upper East Side Renegade who enjoyed being an eternal wild card. It was expected of them to end up together because they'd been on-and-off forever. They'd been each other's first real relationship, first dates, first kisses. First (almost) everything.
Hell, Serena even loved Chuck. The eternal misfit, Upper East Side Grade-A Badass who not not only brought out the bitch inside Serena, but actually welcomed it. Together, they had a wonderful potential for entropy.
Serena sighs, "Danny..." she says, steps towards him, "I wanna make this work. Nate is worried and Chuck is pissed. Just call them. We can go back to normal. Back to being us!" she pauses, "Don't you want that?"
Dan blinks. If he's honest, he has no idea what it is he wants anymore. Maybe he's never known. What he does know is that lately he's started to grow tired of being so complacent. "I'll call Nate today." he says, "And I'll deal with Chuck. It's fine. It'll be fine."
Serena breathes a sigh of relief, "That's great." she grins, "Look, just...no more Brooklyn and no more mopey-Dan." she links her wrists around his neck and flashes him one of her ethereal smiles, "We're Dan-and-Serena, Serena-and-Dan, remember?"
Dan pauses for a beat before reflexively placing his hands on the blonde's waist, "How could I ever forget?" and even though he tries, there's sarcasm laced in his tone.
Nate ends up coming over to Dan's house rather than waiting for his call.
"Man, what is going on with you?"
Dan rolls his eyes, "Nothing's wrong with me," he replies, "Chuck's the one who's fucked up. Seriously. What the hell was he thinking?"
Nate sighs, because he knows Chuck was crossing the line last night (but Chuck always crosses the line and they always ignore it). What's different about it this time around? "You punched him out, Dan," he says, "He's pissed. Look, I just want you guys to make things right so we can get back to normal."
There's that word again. Normal. What's so fucking great about normal?
"Maybe I'm done, Nate." Dan says, "Maybe I'm just so fucking tired of normal." he shakes his head, "Aren't you tired, man?"
Nate frowns, "Tired of what?"
"Of pretending." Dan says.
"Of pretending what?" Nate asks exasperated, even though he kinda knows what Dan means.
"Of pretending everything—pretending to be happy, pretending to feel, pretending to care..." Dan's voice trails off and his eyes zoom in on an old picture.
They can't be more than fifteen in it—Serena's standing barefoot on a marble-top, and Nate and Chuck and Dan are standing around her, each offering her a hand, their eyes saying pick me, choose me!
They'd been goofing around, and Lily photographed it (one of the rare moments when she was around).
Serena had picked Dan, and Nate spent the rest of the day looking desolate, and Chuck had just smirked knowingly (Trust me, Daniel. This is going to be messy, he'd accurately augured).
"Or pretending not to feel." Dan finishes, knowing that Nate had always tried to be a decent friend and pretend that he wasn't in love with Serena van der Woodsen. "We both know you're in love with her, Nate. It's one of those quiet truths no one ever speaks about. Because you're my friend and it'd be awkward. But we both know it's true."
Nate opens and closes his mouth a few times. Thinks maybe he should have finished up that blunt before heading over here.
"So aren't you tired of it all, dude?" Dan finishes, and he knows that it'll change nothing so he sighs, "I'll talk to Chuck tomorrow. And it'll be fine."
Nate licks his lips anxiously, "Dan..."
"It's fine." Dan cuts him off before he even starts, "You can go now, man. I'll see you on Monday."
And Nate nods and does as he's told, and he can't help but think that the game's entirely changing now.
Because Dan suddenly cares and because Nate does love Serena and because Chuck never leaves well enough alone. And for some unexplicable reason, Nate can't help but trace this back to the new girl—