Never Say You'll Never Leave
The first two times she could write of as accidents, but after that, all the many times that followed, she could not.
The third time he went to her.
He planned it carefully. He ensured that it was after Eleanor had left for a fashion shoot, when Serena was busy with Dan. He had to make sure that they wouldn't be interrupted, that she'd have no opportunity to come to her senses.
The one thing he didn't plan was the arrival itself. He couldn't care less if he was seen by Gossip Girl or her followers. He almost longed for it.
She was by herself, just as he'd planned. As soon as she saw him her face was slightly panicked, but he didn't let it sway him. A moment later, her face was deadpan, businesslike.
"Chuck. What do you want?" she asked.
His eyes swept over her, admiring her slightly more casual appearance. Clearly she'd been in the process of getting ready to go somewhere. Somewhere she wouldn't be going that afternoon.
"Interesting question. I thought that I'd made what I wanted pretty clear," said Chuck. He sat on the couch, casually, as if he had all the time in the world. In practice he knew that this was not the case, that time was against it. He had only days to convince her before the inevitable reunion with Nate.
Blair rolled her eyes. His eyes found her again, admired her bare shoulders. He remembered arranging the necklace on her pale skin, letting his fingers linger there longer than was necessary. How easy it had been after that, how willingly she'd gone into his arms.
"Stop looking at me like that," she said, frowning. He didn't stop. Part of her, he knew, appreciated how much he longed for her. Nate had always been so closed off, had never wanted her so openly.
Chuck wanted all of her, all the time. He wanted to date her, to marry her, to love her forever. And as far as he could tell, she couldn't have cared less if she ever saw him again.
"Make me stop," he said, standing and walking toward her. She remained in the same spot, her eyes focused on him.
He knew that she wasn't going to make him stop.
When he took her into his arms and kissed her she sighed, and he could tell him self that it was a sigh of relief, of longing. That this was something she wanted, even a fraction was much as he did.
The fourth time, she came to him. Blair would always, always, care what Gossip Girl said about her.
She came at night in a cab, dressed in a nondescript coat, heavy sunglasses and a scarf draped around her head. In his opinion she was just asking for trouble, looking so conspicuous like that, but she didn't ask for his opinion.
By the time she arrived in his hotel room she already looked annoyed, the same look as when he came on to her. He smiled, noting that she was already pretending like he was the instigator once more, that she only went to him under protest.
It was so much easier when she pretended.
"Didn't think I'd be seeing you," he said. Even though he did know, because the doorman had called to tell him.
"It's okay. Admittance is the first step," he said.
"It's not like that," she protested.
"Isn't it? Because I've been hearing all about you and Nate's reunion. Doesn't seem like you need me anymore," said Chuck.
"I didn't think I did. But it's... it's different. And he asked me to marry him, and then all of a sudden I was here."
Chuck had been planning to wait for her to come to him. It would have been a victory for him. It would have felt sweet, her throwing herself at him for once.
Her words installed urgency in him, and suddenly it wasn't all a game.
"He doesn't love you," said Chuck, breaking away from her between kisses.
"I said no..." murmured Blair, as his lips slid down her neck.
After that, it was ridiculous for them to pretend that nothing was happening.
Serena was shocked. Eleanor would have preferred Nate, but at the very least appreciated that Chuck came from a good family.
Those who didn't know them were shocked. Blair, after all, was supposed to be the prefect socialite. Chuck was condemnable.
Those who did know them were more shocked. They knew what they were both capable of, of what Blair hid behind her ladylike innocence.
Still, they did their best. Though at times she still treated him as she always had, and he felt that they were only together for the sex, they did what was expected at them. They danced at society events, they smiled for their prom picture. They put up with Eleanor's eternal hazing, forever insinuating that Chuck wasn't good enough for her perfect daughter.
They put up with Nate. Who eventually pretended to forgive Chuck for stealing his girlfriend, who forever pretended not to mind that she'd been deflowered by him only hours after initial breakup. Who pretended to still be friends with Blair, ever trying to figure out if she still wanted him as she once had. If he'd ruined his chances forever.
They would never be the golden couple. They were honest to each other about this.
Being so similar, they were honest to each other about everything.
He'd never been so surprised as he was the first time he told her he loved her and told him she loved him back.
They'd been dating for almost a year. It was another Event. A ball of some sort. All he was certain of was that she was wearing a dress that hugged her frame, high heels, and that he had eyes for no one and nothing else. He didn't notice Serena, still in the arms of Dan. He didn't notice Jenny, whom Nate was dating for no other reason than that he was bored and needed to forget.
He stared at his girlfriend, smiling, beautiful, and amazingly still with him.
It was a throwaway moment. He hadn't planned it. They were in a dark hallway, bodies interlocked, lips on fire. He'd come to realize that she was addicted to the thrill, to having someone who wanted her so badly he'd take her wherever and whenever possible.
She was wearing his diamond necklace. He was reminded of the time in the limo, when he'd asked for permission. Neither of them had ever asked for permission again.
"I love you," he said, pulling away from her, his arms still anchored around her petite body. She looked at him surprise, brown eye locked into brown eye.
"It's not just butterflies," he clarified. "I'm in love with you."
She stared at him. He was struck by her beauty, entranced by her as he always was. Why was she always compared to Serena – Serena, who could possibly hold a candle to her? Who was blonde and positively ordinary compared to his elegant, passionate, Blair?
"I love you too."
Her words came out in a rush, almost tripping over each other. She didn't attempt to move out of his arms. He knew that at the very least, she wanted to be there.
She'd spoken so fast. Too fast to have time to think about her words.
Ever after, he'd wonder if she really meant them.
Their future fell easily in to place.
Before he knew it they'd been together for five years. Had been together through their post-secondary education, through two breakups and countless nights together.
He hadn't counted the months, the years, because he'd been afraid to. Afraid that the universe would suddenly realize that he'd had too much of a good thing.
Five years was enough, he realized. Everyone was else was moving on. Serena and Dan were married, expecting their first baby. Rufus and Lilly had married the year they'd graduated. Erik and Jenny were engaged. It seemed slightly incestuous to Chuck, but he went along with it. They were all growing up so he had to, as well.
At this point, he knew what their next obvious step was.
He even asked Eleanor's permission.
The first time he told her loved her he hadn't planned it, but this time he did. Dinner at her favourite five star restaurant, a romantic walk around central park when they were done.
He knelt. She said yes so quickly, with the exact correct amount of time for another face, another voice, to flash through her head before forcing herself back into the present.
Chuck knew, had always known, but he wasn't one to shy away from adversity. He intended to make sure that sooner or later, Nate Archibald would be nothing more than a memory.
And that finally he'd be more than her rebound fling.
Their wedding was big and beautiful and exactly how she wanted it. He made sure of it.
He'd also ensured that the ring she now wore on her finger was bigger than Nate's family diamond. But neither of them ever said it out loud. After all these years, it was still a sticky issue.
Chuck didn't like to think in terms of "always" anymore, because always was so absolute, but it always would be.
If he'd been asked about his wedding at the age of sixteen, Chuck would have laughed and then, if forced, would remark that he'd probably marry a supermodel and that Nate would be his best man.
Instead he was marrying Nate's girl, and Nate himself was nowhere to be seen.
Nate, now a lawyer, claimed that his case load would not permit him.
Their other childhood friends came in droves. Dan, Serena, their child. College friends, work friends. Anybody who was anybody in Manhattan society came to see Blair Waldorf walk down the aisle in Vera Wang, to watch her walk back down it as Blair Waldorf-Bass.
Chuck had always been bothered that "Blair" and "Bass" really didn't go together all that well. He'd been surprised when she took his name at all.
He knew that if she'd married Nate she would have been Blair Archibald, without the hyphen.
Things didn't change as much as he'd thought they would.
They lived together in a penthouse apartment, he went to work everyday with his father to manage the family business and make the money for her Manola's.
She reverted, in some aspects, to her childhood. She went shopping with Serena, now for household supplies and baby clothes as often as they went for shoes and accessories. They made their way into the society pages, and Chuck reflected that this was really just the grown up version of Gossip Girl.
What really didn't change was how much he loved her. He'd somewhat suspected and feared that it would, for as long as he could remember. Always before her, his lust had been so easily slated. Now he could not get enough of her, had not gotten enough of her after all their years, after sleeping in the same bed with her every night. He was still addicted to her, addicted to the idea of vanquishing even the idea of Nate from her head, addicted to knowing whether or not she still thought of how her life could have been.
Considering, everything worked out very well. She could still tell him everything, things that she could never have told Nate because of how very different the two were. They could still argue, so often frustrated with each other's shortcomings, and then make up with the same passion as the passion that had sprung up so abruptly in that limo, seven years previously.
They did very well, considering that neither really believed that the other loved them for real.
Audrey Serena Bass had her mother's eyes.
It was a relief to Chuck, to love someone so openly and whole-heartedly as he loved his small daughter. Audrey loved him back, forever a daddy's girl.
He was sure she loved him. He'd never been sure of Blair.
He gave her everything, promised to do so forever. He wasn't stupid enough to ever not put her first, to mess up in any way that would stop her from having anything she ever wanted. He was determined that she'd never be used by a man as her mother had been, was determined that she never be unsure of her parent's love for her. Was determined that she marry a better man than he, but a man who loved her like he loved her mother.
"I love you," he said to her.
Blair smiled, exhausted. He'd thought her beautiful in her pregnancy, round and glowing, and he thought her beautiful still, their first born in her arms.
"I love you too," she said. She'd said it many times.
She passed the small child into his arms. They'd gone through the painful, tense delivery together, and now were finally alone.
"Promise me something?" she asked.
He looked up, torn away from admiring his daughter's beauty to admire his wife's.
"Promise me that she'll never think of us what we think of our parents," she said. He nodded.
"We'll be the cool parents," he promised her. She laughed, somewhat scornfully.
"Probably all the parents say that," she said. She reached out abruptly to grab his hand. And, if only for a moment, they were all connected.
When it finally happened, he did see it on Gossip Girl.
Everyone saw it on Gossip Girl.
He was certain that the notorious blogger had been shut down for a decade, but apparently he was wrong. Maybe it was only that he and his friends had stopped being noteworthy. After all, Blair and he were married, as were Serena and Dan. Where was the dirt there?
Regardless, scandal was apparently enough to raise the dead.
He'd been almost sure, by this point, that what they had really was real. When Chuck read the news, saw the pictures, he felt once again like a seventeen year old boy.
He went home, guns blazing, and she was waiting for him.
One year old Audrey was sleeping in her arms and Chuck knew that she had planned ahead, for the baby to soften him, but he was determined to yell.
Taking the baby from her, he put her to bed in her nursery before returning to his wife.
Blair's brown eyes were soft, pleading. She wanted to make it right.
"What the hell, Blair?" he demanded, the first words that came to him. She winced. It was so rare that he was so passionately, irrevocably angry with her. Usually he put her too high on a pedestal, and was too afraid of losing her to be truly angry.
"Look, it's not what you..."
"Not what I think? It's what everyone in the city thinks. Actually it's what everyone in the city knows. I can't believe this, after all this time. I mean I might have expected it, ten years ago, but..."
"You're always expecting it. You won. You got me, but you can never let it go," she said bitterly.
"What? You're the one who can't let go. You think I don't notice? That I didn't see it in your eyes the first time you told me you loved me? You just can't forget what you had with him. How it was perfect. You want him because he never wanted you," said Chuck.
"I love you," she said desperately.
"Why are you even trying to hold on to this? Did you sleep with him?"
She shook her head profusely, tears now rolling down her cheeks and ruining her makeup.
"Of course not. We went out for lunch, he kissed me. Apparently we're not the only ones who can't let go," said Blair.
Chuck sighed, sitting down heavily on a couch as if in defeat.
"I can't keep doing this," he said, half to himself. Blair cautiously sat down next to him. Part of her wishing he would just look at her as he would in high school, like she was something impossibly beautiful, infinitely too good for him.
"We don't. You've spent a decade looking over your shoulder for Nate. Maybe I have too but I love you. I don't want Nate."
"We could start over."
Chuck stood, avoiding the hand that moved toward him in comfort.
"No. We really can't, Blair."
Making his way toward his daughter's bedroom, he was careful to avoid her eyes.
Of course, they could. And they did.
Shakily at first. They shed their layers, of hurt and suppressed anger and longing. He'd spent so long waiting for this to happen, and when it finally did, he didn't know how to deal with it. It was hard for him to stop waiting for something bad to happen, and to just be happy.
She fell into the new life more easily. She finally lost the hurt, scared, look she'd worn for so long. She reverted to how she'd been before Chuck, before Serena and Dan. She regained her old ways of looking at life, became happy once more. Became fully confident that this happiness would last.
She brought their friends to their apartment, banished Nate from her life. Had play dates with Audrey and Serena's son Jake and jokingly with Serena began to plan their wedding. She encouraged Chuck home from the office, every second making sure that he knew she wanted him for real.
When the time came that he could look at her again and only think of her, and not Nate, she told him she loved him without waiting for him to say it. She initiated their lovemaking without him needing to encourage her.
And slowly, he let himself think in terms of "always" once more.