Once Time, Once More
The ongoing love affair of Chuck and Blair had made sense to no one, least of all their daughter. Sequel to "Never Say You'll Never Leave."
By the time she was seven years old, it was obvious to everyone that Audrey Bass was spoiled entirely too much by her doting father.
Chuck Bass, who had once been looked down upon for his dishonest, womanizing ways, was now a highly respected member of society. After a brief period in which he'd been all but shunned for "stealing" his best friend's girlfriend, he'd been forgiven upon marrying her with much ceremony and keeping her happy by providing her with everything she wanted and spending the majority of his evenings at home with his small family.
And really, even the most judgmental of socialites could not despise Chuck, as it would be truly impossible to despise anyone who had fathered a child like Audrey.
She had her mother's eyes and her father's conviction for always getting what she wanted.
It was really her doe-eyes that did him in, the dark glossy curls that clustered around her face.
Chuck her buy a new party dress for every event they attended, let her remain at them while all the other children were taken home by their nannies and the adults drank champagne and talked of grownup matters.
He danced with her, her feet dangling in the air, while her mother watched smiling from the sidelines.
She would brag of these events to her playmates: Serena and Dan's eldest son Ethan, Jenny and Erik's daughter Erin, who was a year younger than Audrey, three years younger than Ethan.
They would have daring and imagined exploits. She would get dirtier than her mother would ever have gotten, and then run into Blair's arms to make sure that she got dirty, as well.
Even more than just watching her he loved watching her with her mother. Though Audrey was a Daddy's Girl, she loved her mother desperately, looked up to her as a model for what she hoped to grow up to. Chuck loved nothing better than watching the two he loved most interact.
He never would have believed that something as beautiful as Audrey could come out of his relationship with Blair, which had once seemed so doomed.
Though her parents spent her childhood ensuring that Audrey never feel neglected by them, never feel like pawns as they had, they knew she had to grow up sooner or later.
Though he would always miss the messy curls and the skinned knees, Chuck could not help but be proud of her as she grew. She was taller than her mother by the time she was fifteen, and became beautiful as well as being tall and elegant. She quickly learned how to use her doe eyes as her mother had learned.
She became frustrated when her father carefully inspected the boys she brought home, when her attempted to give well meant but unwelcome advise.
It was at this point, frustrated with having nothing concrete to resent them for and needing something, that she began to see them as a pair and wonder how it had ever come to be.
She'd realized at an early age that her mother was beautiful. Not in the fresh faced, showy way that her Aunt Serena was, but in the classic sense, of being entrancing and timeless.
She'd always been closer to her father, and able to read him better. It was not until she was older that she was more able to interpret how her father looked at her mother, and it became obvious to her how very much he loved her.
Her mother was harder to read. Blair Bass had always been stoic, secretive. All that was obvious to Audrey was that Chuck made his wife laugh, and that he seemed to know everything that she was going to say or do before she even did it.
She could still remember the first time she'd ever realized that they really had a life outside of her, that they really were in love.
She'd been nine years old. It was hours after her bedtime.
She could vividly recall being awoken by their arguing.
"I didn't know he was in town!"
Nine year old Audrey could not make sense of this comment, but it intrigued her. She silently arose from her bed and made her way to the hallway.
Blair and Chuck were standing in the front hall. Audrey registered that Blair was dressed in clothing that made it evident that she'd just come home from a party, whereas Chuck had just come home from work. They were standing several feet away from each other, and even her nine year old eyes could see that they were angry.
"Of course you know! You always know," he countered.
"This isn't high school anymore, Bass. Sometimes we can do things without being reported on. I haven't even seen him," said Blair angrily.
"You could have told me he was in town. He came to the office today. I've never seen him look so scared. I could have used some warning."
"So we could what, all go out to dinner? I knew you could react like this," said Blair.
"How am I supposed to react? The guy tried to screw my wife."
"But she didn't let him."
Abruptly, Audrey noticed a change in their demeanor. Something told her that they were no longer angry, that her mother had taken charge of the conversation and that she had nothing to worry about.
"Sorry. We can get together for an extremely awkward brunch if you'd prefer," said Chuck. Audrey couldn't see her mother's face, but she could practically hear her smile.
"That's okay. I really wasn't looking forward to explaining any of this to Audrey."
Audrey watched, fascinated and perplexed, as Chuck stepped forward to draw her into his arms and kissed her deeply.
"I love you," she heard him murmur.
Abruptly realizing that she was where she was not, Audrey crept back to her room while Blair returned the sentiment and they began to ascend the stairs together.
Chuck, remembering how he'd always occupied himself as a teenager at events, was often reluctant to bring his daughter along, but she and Blair insisted. And against both of them he was helpless.
He would do his best to watch her, dancing with Serena's son Ethan, Nate's son Patrick. Other friends of hers, who he knew by face but not by name. Watched her gossip with her girlfriends, champange in hand, smiling flirtatiously at the boys watching her.
He'd never know that she watched him, as well.
Audrey reluctantly enjoyed watching her parents at balls, at dinners. Her mother was friendly with almost all of New York society, could converse well with almost everyone. Her father as well was smooth and easy to talk to when he let himself be.
But what she loved most was watching them converse with each other. Heads bent together at the table, laughing discreetly. Audrey could usually tell when they were talking privately about another party guest.
And they would dance. Her father would inevitably dance with her, as well, but he loved dancing with her mother. He was a good dancer, he obviously knew how. She'd danced with many boys whose idea of dancing was clumsily placed hands combined with swaying.
Audrey watched as her father held her mother lovingly, smiling as she twirled in his arms.
From a very young age, Audrey knew that she was going to marry Ethan Humphrey.
This was not for some silly romantic notion. It was because they got along well, they always had things to talk about, because he had always been handsome, and because he had a big family. She'd always wanted a lot of siblings.
Audrey and Ethan quite practically decided this when they were six and eight, but it did not stop her from briefly dating Patrick Archibald when she was sixteen for the sole purpose of terrifying her father.
She felt bad for thinking of it like this. Really Patrick was a nice boy. He was handsome and sweet and at time devoted to her. And she did love her father, and did not like to think of how much her had hated her relationship with him.
Upon the initial announcement of her relationship with Nate's only son, Chuck's reaction had been instantaneous and strong.
After yelling at her father and being yelled at for about three minutes, Audrey dramatically stormed off to her room in a whirl of dark curls and Chanel.
Audrey looked up as her bedroom door opened and her mother entered, a slight smile on her face. She sat on her bed cautiously.
"What?" she asked in annoyance.
"You Dad sent me. He thought you might be upset."
"Of course I'm upset! He had no right to yell at me like that."
Blair leaned across the bed to take her daughter's hand.
"He had a little bit of right. Aren't you only dating Pat to piss us off?" questioned Blair. Scowling, Audrey wished she had a leg to stand on.
"I like him."
"I thought you liked Ethan?" asked Blair. Audrey shrugged.
"We broke up. He's going away to school and we decided we wanted to see other people for a while. Figure out whether or not we're really meant to be together."
Blair nodded and accepted this explanation.
"I think your father would prefer you found another way to rebel, besides dating the son of my first boyfriend. There are better ways."
Blair left a few minutes later, not fully closing the door as she did so. Audrey listened while she came across her father, who had apparently been lingering just outside her door.
"What did she say?" said Chuck urgently.
"Don't worry. It's a passing phase," said Blair comfortingly. Through the door, Audrey could see her parents link hands and walk down the hall.
"Like it was with you?" questioned Chuck. Audrey heard her mother laugh.
"Like it was with me."
They kissed outside of their bedroom. Audrey had always been vaguely curious about what had gone on with her mother and Nate Archibald, but knew she'd never know for sure.
By the time Audrey graduated from college, it was clear that Patrick Archibald had been a passing phase.
She was engaged to Ethan Humphrey, living with him in an apartment in Manhattan, and in possession of an undergraduate degree in English.
And she was still a Daddy's girl.
This really occurred to her, for the first time in years, as he trailed after her at Tiffany as she registered for her upcoming wedding.
"Shouldn't this be something Ethan should be doing with you?" asked Chuck.
"Did you do it with Mom?" asked Audrey. Chuck shrugged.
"Do we even have china?"
Laughing, Audrey nodded.
"I know you don't think he's good enough for me, but it really doesn't bother me that he didn't want to come register for china."
"I don't think he's not good enough for you," said Chuck stubbornly. Audrey rolled her eyes.
"I just assumed, because you've always thought that."
Audrey stared at her father as he picked up a sample plate in mild interest and then gaped at the price tag.
Chuck looked up.
"Why are you so jealous of Nate?" she asked. He scoffed.
"I'm not jealous of Nate."
"Everyone says you are. Even Patrick says so. He says that every once in a while his dad gets drunk and bitches about how you stole his girlfriend."
"Well, I guess I did that. But it's not like they ever slept together. And we got married eventually."
He studied his daughter's expression.
"Are you old enough to know about this?"
Audrey nodded eagerly. Chuck shrugged.
"I love your mother. I always have. Maybe Nate loved her too, in his own way, but there came a time when they didn't work as a couple anymore. And I realized it."
"And you two never stopped working as a couple?" asked Audrey worriedly. Chuck stared at his beautiful, grown up, daughter, shopping for wedding china. An engagement ring on her finger, that had been lovingly placed on by a boy who loved her.
"No."He walked toward her and kissed her hair. "You're like me. You know what you want and you know how to keep it."
Audrey nodded, her worries over her imminent wedding at least briefly vanished. She let herself be comforted in the arms of her father, who had once been notorious, but now loved her and her mother more than anyone ever would have believed.
Blair Bass had never seen her husband look so proud as when he led his beautiful daughter down the aisle and toward her fiance.
He sat down next to Blair when he was done and instinctively she found his hand.
Later, after Chuck had danced the first dance with her father, he led his wife to the dance floor and they danced close and intimate.
"She looks beautiful," said Blair, as happy as she was sad.
"She looks like her mother," said Chuck proudly. Blair smiled, rested her head on her husband's shoulder.
"She has so much of you in her."
Chuck smiled and abruptly kissed his wife, still beautiful and precious to him after so many years.
"We've made a pretty good life together, Waldorf. Who would have thought?"
Blair laughed, and briefly smiled at Audrey, whose attention had been diverted by her parents.
"That we have.
Briefly, Blair found herself remembering kissing Nate, coming home to tell Chuck that she loved him definitively, always.
She had loved him for years before that, but he'd never believed her. She knew she'd crushed him by her initial rejection of him. It had taken years for him to get over it.
"I love you," she said. He grinned, looking all at once like the boy he'd once been. He dipped her down into another kiss.
As they watched their daughter leave for her honeymoon with her tall, handsome, dependable husband, Blair was filled with a giddiness that she likened to her teenage years. She smiled at the sight of Dan leading his wife around the dance floor, of Jenny and Erik speaking intimately in a corner.
In the limo on the way home, Chuck grinned as his wife leaned toward him suggestively.
"What's got you into such a good mood?" he asked. She shrugged.
"Remember when I was younger and I used to doubt my decisions all the time?"
Chuck nodded. He knew.
"I don't do that anymore. I made the right choice."
Chuck kissed her as the limo glided through the dark streets and toward home.
He'd made the right choice too. But then, he'd always known that.