My first foray into the Gossip Girl fandom. This is sort of some weird hodgepodge of book canon and show canon, because I'm devoted to them both. The beginning of the fic is kind of pre-both of them, because Nate has just had sex with Serena and Blair has no idea. The timeline afterwards is sporadic, but I have faith that you guys can handle it, lol.

And You Had So Much Promise Then

I never had a Summer of 69
Never had a Cherry Valance of my own
All these precious moments
You promised me would come in time
So where was I when I missed mine?

Blair Waldorf was born with a purpose. It would be impossible to imagine her as a kid, because she never was one. She was a mini-adult with a perfect bow in her shining hair, smoothing the taffeta of her adorably poofy dress around her thighs as she charmed her parents' friends and associates. Because of that, she feels like maybe she missed something. Blair Waldorf has everything everyone could ever want, so she walks with her head held high and pretends she doesn't feel like her life is a magazine with a few pages stuck together.

Maybe the text glued together was the part that would tell her how to make choices. Because she can't. Blair Waldorf is a leader, she's the queen, she's in charge, and she's damn determined to make sure it stays that way. No one will ever challenge her reign, because nobody else feels the cool sweat that forms when a curveball is thrown her way. They don't know the mask is a mask—and God, why not? Who has a face that blank, a smile that sweet with eyes so icy? Eleanor's face involuntarily comes to mind, and Blair wonders if she's becoming her mother. Her palms start to sweat.

Blair doesn't like spontaneity because she doesn't like uncertainty. It's the same reason why she doesn't like modeling shoots, or sky diving, or getting high. Blair likes to have a plan, an outline of every action that might be taken and every possible reaction. She likes to have her list. Blair Waldorf doesn't just like the comfort it provides her, she needs it. When she veers away from it is when things start getting messy.

She thinks sometimes that that's maybe why she loves Nate Archibald. Sometimes he's an android and sometimes he's a fuck up, but he's always been hers.

I've been down, I've been down too far to care -
I keep getting in my car but I'm not going anywhere.
And I've been had, well at least that's how it looks -
And it's not funny like on TV and its not smart like it is in books.

Nathaniel Archibald takes a lot of showers. He spends most of his time working out, and while Blair loves the rippling abs and slightly bulging biceps that result from it, she doesn't care much for the sweat. He's never sure when his parents will be home, so it's never really safe to come home reeking of pot and booze. His girlfriend likes to pop in on him at random intervals, so he's sure to wash away the lingering scent of any women Chuck had hanging around the hotel suite.

Blair never calls him before she turns up at his house. At first, he thought it was another dimension of her fantasy, in which they would be so close a call would never be necessary—that she would take care of him because his parents never did. They've been dating for years, and they were best friends even before then, so by now he knows her too well to dupe himself. She shows up because she doesn't trust him. It's not about taking care of him; it's about taking care of her heart. Every time she appears in his room without even knocking, she half expects to see him there with another girl. When the realization first hits him, he's surprised at the way it stings.

It shouldn't, because they are who they are. Blair will always be suspicious, because he will always be worthy of suspicion. Blair Waldorf and Nate Archibald are a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because she was always wary of him fucking up, he fucked her best friend. Or, at least, that's how he tries to ration it out.

It's hard to pin the blame on Blair for him breaking her heart, though. Even if she doesn't know it happened, she will, one day. The thought terrifies him. On the night after he lost his virginity, Nate Archibald took the longest shower of his young life. The scalding water beat down upon him until his entire body felt raw and vulnerable, but every time he thought of getting out, Blair's eyes would swim in his mind. Christ, he loved her eyes. Or, more specifically, he loved the way that everybody else saw the carefully crafted expression she presented for them, but he got to see her when she was raw and real, if only for a few minutes. He loved the way her eyes would light up when he did something (uncharacteristically) thoughtful, the way they would sparkle when he said that he loved her. He didn't love the way they would get moist in the corners when he disappointed her, but he kind of loved that he could do that to a girl so perfect and invincible.

His entire body was wrinkled by the time he got out of the shower, but his skin still crawled. Even more than the way it would kill Blair, and their relationship, and the perfect future she had crafted for both of them, he felt like he lost something even more. Losing your virginity was supposed to be awesome and life changing. Burying himself in Serena fucking van der Woodsen was the ultimate accomplishment for a male on the Upper East Side, but Nate couldn't help but wish he had just stayed home, gotten high and played Halo. That way, when Blair showed up again, it would smell like weed and not like her and her eyes could be dry for one more day. Maybe they'd even glow.

He's not sure what that says about him.

Heaven, I need a drug
Her eyes are all but fixed upon her coffee cup
And, looking down, she tells me things are looking up
Take another slug.

Heaven, I had a dream
But now my life's a nightmare of efficiency
She rattles off the things she never got for free
Gearing up to scream

Blair Waldorf is the perfect girl. It's what everyone thinks, so she's slowly maybe starting to believe it. Almost blindingly white smile, never a hair out of place, color coordinated from head to toe, perfectly accessorized, flat stomach, pretty eyes, high cheekbones—there's nothing wrong with her (on the outside, at least). Blair's smart enough for Yale, always has been, but the reason why her boyfriend can't seem to want her slips through her grasp.

Nate Archibald's logic eludes even Ivy League minds. Most guys would give their right arm to even talk to Blair Waldorf, and he takes her completely for granted. When Blair's in her bedroom, she practices her speech. She rehearses how she is going to tell him off, the way that she'll kick him out of her life for good, until it sounds so ideal that not even his particular brand of charm can talk their way around it, and until she looks so beautiful while delivering the speech that his heart will clench at the loss.

In the movie of her life, she will be the plucky heroine who gracefully bounces back from heartache and ends up all the better for it. While she breaks up with Nate, something beautifully tragic will play in the background—not loud enough to overpower her words, but to serve as a soft accent. Something about apologies coming too late, or the way a girl can slowly die inside because she loves a boy too much and he just doesn't feel the same way. He will, of course, be the devastated former leading man who drops into obscurity after she drops him from her life. He'll spend the rest of the movie with blood shot eyes, wearing a rumpled suit, and wishing he'd known better. It's what he deserves for sleeping with her 'best friend'. It's his just due for breaking her heart.

Nate seems to think that by confessing to his sin, he'll receive absolution. It's not true. That's not how Blair Waldorf operates. He's deviated from the plan, taken an action that wasn't on her list, lied to her face for the last year. She steals a page out of his book when she's done throwing him out of her room, and runs the water so hot that the mirror in her bathroom fogs up within seconds. She forgoes her usual bath in favor of a shower, and doesn't wonder why the water running down her face tastes salty by the time it reaches her lips.

She writes her monologue—there's no dialogue for him in their break up scene—at night. She burns it the next morning, tossing it dramatically into her fireplace and watching as it turns into nothing more than embers while she nibbles at a fruit salad. Nate texted her twenty minutes earlier, asking if they could meet up to talk. She was ready two hours before that.

In her mind, Blair can break up with Nate, but not even she can delude herself into thinking she can deliver that soul-searing speech while staring into those gorgeous eyes. No, she'll take him back. Not even she will be sure why, but they will surely be together by the end of brunch. Maybe it's because Nate is the most beautiful boy she has ever seen, and he's the only one who has ever even tried to look inside of her. Maybe it's to stick it to Serena, to show her that she doesn't control her anymore. Maybe it's because she loves him. She doesn't know what that means anymore, but she's going to keep saying it, because Blair Waldorf always has the answers.

And I wonder yeah I wonder how the world keeps spinnin' 'round.
Where's a boy with bad intentions gonna settle down?
And I don't know what you've been told,
The streets of where I'm from are paved with hearts instead of gold.

Nate Archibald has never had to want for anything in his life. He wasn't just born with the proverbial silver spoon; he was born into the golden cradle, sucking on a platinum pacifier. He's a true trust fund prince, just like everyone else on the Upper East Side. If he wants a new toy, he gets one. He's set to graduate from the most prestigious boys' high school in New York--- his name does what his grades can't. He lost his virginity to the most sought after girl in his world, while maintaining a relationship with one of the prettiest girls he's ever seen. The fact that they aren't the same girl is one that everyone seems to be willing to overlook. The fact that they're best friends is something that everyone involved seems to have forgotten. He and Serena have stomped on Blair's heart and nobody seems to care. It's something he can't quite move past. The boys congratulate him enviously. It's another quality that makes him a bad boy, and all the more droolworthy, for the vapid whores that always seem to be hanging around.

It's weird that Nate wants to be punished for his actions, but he does. He wants Blair to scream and cry and never forgive him until he begs her, and maybe not even then. He wants her to retaliate. He wants to pay for what he's done, and Blair's complete disinterest in making that happen tears a little hole inside him that may be worse than any revenge she could have exacted. The way she's so flippant, so removed, as she tells him that they should both just forget about it and moved on… it gives him pause, and suddenly he knows that it's not going to be that easy.

Blair's going to make them pay, even if she doesn't plan on it.

The gorgeous little china doll that he calls his girlfriend has never been the 'forgive and forget' type. Every time she looks at him, she's going to see his betrayal. She's going to know that all along, she's been right about him. Every time she enters his house, she's going to let her glance linger on his bed and know whose been there before. She's only going to hold his hand when there are people around to show him off to. She's not going to buy him little presents or surprise him with breakfast. There will never be another moss green sweater with a heart sewn into the sleeve, because her heart doesn't belong to him anymore.

Nate Archibald is a seventeen year old male. As such, he doesn't cry. Ever. He walks home from brunch with the girl he's now pretty sure he loves and will probably never love him back again because he fucked up everything, and it happens to be raining outside.


I won't find it fantastic or think it absurd
When the gun in the first act goes off in the third
'Cause it's rare that you ever know what to expect
From a guy made of corpses with bolts in his neck

Blair Waldorf keeps a toothbrush in her purse, and it's got nothing to do with obsessive dental hygiene. Her ideal weight is 95 pounds, and her mother can tell when a single ounce appears if it wasn't there the day before. Her father never cared—then again, her father didn't care about much of anything, besides his career and his gay lover. Eleanor may not seem like she cares, but at least she loved Blair enough to stay. It was more than Harold ever did.

The brunette beauty gets the plummeting feeling that her life is a cycle that she can't break. It's not even that she sees herself in her parents, but she's begun to see her parents in her relationships. Serena van der Woodsen loved her unconditionally. She was the one who didn't care about what she looked like, she cared about her. They were best friends, and Blair loved her more than anyone, but Serena cared more about fooling around with Nate and jetting off to boarding school.

And Nate… he was the only other person she thought she would love forever. Nathaniel Archibald didn't accept her without strings, the way Serena did. Then again, he wasn't supposed to. He was her boyfriend; he was supposed to notice how beautiful she is. It was all for him, and in the end, it was all for nothing. She still couldn't stack up against her blonde bombshell of a best friend. She could binge and purge and pluck and tweeze and pinch and curl and paint and dye until there was nothing left of her but chemicals and bones, and it still wouldn't be enough for him.

If she were a more sardonic sort of girl, she'd be half amused by the way that everyone who accepts her runs away, and everyone who stays tears her down. As it is, if the irony didn't force her to gag, the plastic toothbrush wedging its way down her throat would.

Her stomach rebels in that familiar way, and Blair wishes that she didn't find that so soothing. Her throat feels raw and her eyes fill with tears and her entire body shakes, but there's a peace after the storm that makes lying on the bathroom floor feel alright. She can live in this solitude. The princess of the Upper East Side is never out of the spotlight, but when she's alone, she can't usually feel the prying eyes. Today, however, she feels that familiar prickle of being watched, and it was as if a bucket of ice water had drenched her and washed all that peace away.

As she turned slowly on her side, Blair's eyes found the prettiest shade of blue. She would recognize it anywhere. She'd been staring into Nate's eyes (lovingly, longingly, angrily, desperately) for the last eleven years. He was hardly the deepest of boys, so after all that time, Blair had figured she knew all of his expressions by heart. The one he was currently wearing was a new one.

"Nate? What are you doing here?" she asked, her voice atypically raspy, as she tried to ignore the look—somewhere between devastation and astonishment, bordering on anger—on the face that had always been so handsome.

"What are you doing?"

Well the hour is late for a visit on a whim
Well the hour is late for a quiet drunken talk
I don't begrudge you the anger in your voice
No I don't begrudge you anything at all

'Cause I know what this is
This is what we talk about
When we talk about love

Nate Archibald is not easily shaken. Growing up in a family as wealthy as he had, as good looking as he was, in a crowd that moved as fast as his did, with as many drugs as he did, made one relatively unflappable. He'd seen and done it all, a few times over. It had made him cool and indifferent, generally emotionless, even though he hadn't noticed it until recently. All he wanted to do was break free—California and Serena seemed like the way to do that. It didn't occur to Nate until that moment that he didn't want a new life; he wanted the old one. He wanted to cuddle in Blair's bed on Saturday mornings, staring at her while she mouthed all the words along with Breakfast at Tiffany's. He wanted to go sailing with his dad. He didn't give a shit where he went to college; he just wanted to feel alive while he was there.

"What are you doing?"

One of the things that Nate had always loved about Blair was the way she never threw him for a loop. Everything around them could change, but she would always be stubborn, dramatic, delicate, demanding, beautiful Blair Waldorf, pouting when she didn't get her way and waxing philosophical about their future together. Blair was a constant in his life, maybe the only one. It was why he went to her house that night, why he felt the immediate urge to make things right between them. Nate Archibald had rarely been a man of action, but he wouldn't be able to stand the way she would look at him if he let this situation lie. Their relationship was practically an arranged marriage from their parents' standpoint, but to them, it had always been realer. He couldn't let that shrivel away; he couldn't live with himself knowing it was all his fault.

But now… lying curled up on her bathroom floor, tears running down her cheeks, frail body heaving with sobs… this wasn't his Blair. This wasn't the predictable, consistent Blair Waldorf. His girlfriend wasn't like that. Or maybe she was, and he was too much of a self-absorbed asshole to know it. Dropping to his knees, he slowly moved closer to her.

"I'm not doing anything," she whispered, her hand drifting behind her back, obviously hiding something.

"Then what's that?" he nodded at the wandering arm.

"It's nothing," she said with a breezy laugh. It was so obviously a lie that it almost hurt him that she would even try it.

"I don't usually hide nothing behind my back," he stated mildly, slumping against the counter.

"Everything you hide, you do behind my back," she retorted with her familiar brittle smile, her eyes fixed on some point above his head.

"You're right," he said, and her wide eyes darted to his. Nate knew that Blair wasn't expecting him to admit that. Finding fault in himself was never something he had done easily, but he would do it for her. "And I'm sorry."

"Doesn't matter," Blair mumbled, slowly moving to sit upright.

"Yes it does! Yes it does, Blair. Why do you keep pretending all of this is nothing?" Nate raised, then quickly lowered, his voice. His frustration was obvious, but he never wanted to yell at Blair. It always seemed to frighten her, and he never wanted to be that guy.

"Because if I don't, it'll destroy me. It'll destroy everything," her tears were rapidly returning, and she buried her face in her hands. She didn't want him to see her cry, he realized. Cautiously, he reached out to take one of her hands. He had always loved how tiny she was compared to him, how delicate the bones of her hand were when they were wrapped up in his own.

"We can't fix it if we don't talk about it."

"You want to fix things?" she asked, sounding a little bit astonished.

He didn't answer right away, staring at their interlocked fingers. Nate Archibald had held hands with lots of girls, but he'd never wanted to keep a hold of someone as badly as he did right now. He rubbed over her left ring finger, and let his mind wander down the path where Blair's seemed to have taken up permanent residence. Where would they be in five years? Yale for her, of course. Maybe USC for him, but probably Dartmouth. She would be succeeding brilliantly, he would probably be scraping by, but he would be the life of the campus party scene. He thought about how hard it would be to keep up a long distance relationship, how much time they would spend commuting, how many new people they would meet and be tempted by. Nate knew, all of a sudden, that he didn't care. He couldn't say for certain where either of them would be down the road, but he knew that they should be together.

"I'm in love with you. You deserve so much better than me, and I've been terrible to you. We both know that's true. But if you'll give me another chance, I'm never going to let you go. Is that good enough for you?" Nate wondered if Blair could see his heart pounding in his throat.

"That's all I've ever wanted," she smiled, her genuine 1000-watt beam of joy. It was his favorite of her expressions, and she saved it just for him.

I remember when
I had you and you had so much promise then
You promised me that you would never leave again

It wasn't easy. Blair Waldorf would always be demanding and insecure. Nate Archibald would always be idealistic and flighty. But it was becoming clear to both that they would always love each other, so they had to make it work or they'd both be all the more miserable for it. Blair stopped carrying her toothbrush. Nate no longer kept an emergency joint in every pocket he had. They fought and they fucked and they fought some more. They confided in each other, even when it hurt. They trusted each other, even when they shouldn't. They didn't dwell on the past, because they might not be strong enough to live it twice. One day, they would vow to honor each other forever, in sickness and in health (the 'richer or poorer' part was hardly applicable). Not right now. Maybe in five years.

Whew. That so didn't turn out how I thought it was going to, but hey, that's life. Thankies to Amanda, Cathy and Jess, who gave me little pats on the back as I wrote this. The song lyrics I used in each section are:

The Bravery: Time Won't Let Me Go

Old 97s: Streets of Where I'm From

Old 97s: Adelaide

Aimee Mann: Frankenstein

Old 97s: What We Talk About

I bet you can never guess who I was listening to when I wrote this LOL. So, thanks to everybody for reading. Please leave some feedback to let me know what you think, and whether this should be my last Gossip Girl venture, lol.