Speed dial by BlackDandelion

A/N: Sort of follows up to Victor/Victrola

There were so many signs, Nate thought as he rushed down the street. The fleeting looks, the actually genuine smile on Chuck's face, Blair's sudden change.

But still, it was a shock. Enough to send him running down a street in no particular direction as he just had to get away, he had to.

---

She had him on speed dial. He noticed it right about a year earlier. They were sitting in a café waiting for Chuck to appear. Dully noting that it was already half past three, Blair whipped out her phone to call him.

Seeing her press one into the phone, made him feel queasy. He wondered sullenly why he wasn't number one on her phone, wasn't he number one in her life? Blair snapping her phone shut snapped him out of his jealous reverie.

'Apparently, he's late because of a hot night' she said with a disapproving nose-twitch. Nate noticed that her hand was wrapped tightly around her phone, knuckles whitening.

An uncomfortable silence settled between them. Nate was staring into his coffee wondering how close his best friend and girlfriend actually were. Blair was impatiently tapping her foot against the table leg, as she read the messages on her phone. Making no effort to start a conversation, she yawned and drank some of the no sugar, no milk tea she was drinking. Nate thought it tasted like shite, but Blair went no where near calories.

He put it off as a hallucination when Blair's face lit up as Chuck entered the room. He thought he saw a brief smile appear on her face, but he wasn't certain. She was scowling as Chuck gave them his usual smirk and sat down next to Blair. A bit too close.

---

It was driving him mad. He didn't know why, it just was. So the next time Blair left her phone unguarded; on his bed, in need of the bathroom after a heavy, but albeit one-sided, make-out session; he looked.

Snapping her phone open, he scrolled down her speed dial list. The first name, though anticipated, made his heart stop. 1. Chuck.

His stomach upside down he kept scrolling, knowing that his name was going to turn up. 2. Serena. Of course, the best friend was always on the speed dial, but where was the boyfriend? 3. Dad. 4. Mother. 5. Salon. Hair? Nate snorted, she was more anxious about hair and nails then him? 6. Kati. 7. Isabel. Shaking his head slightly at the names of the ditzy bimbos, he wondered how it had come to that he was basing the status of his relationship on a speed dial list. That was just so Blair. Scrolling down to the last three names, he felt silly, but also slightly depressed.

8. Dr Sherman. 9. The New York Palace Hotel

He was not crying. Only girls got upset about such trivial things. Wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, he snapped the phone shut and stared at the shelf, with all his model boats and decided he thought nothing of it. It wasn't a sign, it was just a speed dial list.

---

When they broke up that fateful night, he wasn't thinking about Chuck. Or Blair for that matter. He was thinking about how badly he needed a drink, how badly he needed Serena and how easily he could breathe. The air tasted strange, new, wonderful. Hoping into a taxi, he told the driver to go to the New York Palace Hotel, hoping that his old friend Chuck would be there to down a few vodkas with him.

He wasn't, so he drank in the company of two blondes with legs up to there. Two blondes who reminded him of someone.

---

When he woke up that morning, his head was heavy, his words slurred and he was lying alone on a king-sized bed in one of the suites Bart had lent him, hoping his presence would calm Chuck down. Feeling like shite, with Blair's broken hearted face appearing in front of his eyes, he reached for his phone, but then thought better of it. He really couldn't deal with Blair right now.

---

Two months went and his world was changing. Blair, now on speaking terms with him, was irresistible. Constantly happy, with a saucy smile playing on her lips, he was close to tears as soon as he saw her. He missed her, he actually missed her.

But Blair didn't seem to miss him. If anything she seemed relieved, she was floating on clouds, by the look of it and he realised that the tightness and bossiness which often had appeared during their relationship was gone.

And somehow, it seemed unlikely that their break-up was the only thing that changed her.

---

So he asked Serena about it. Strolling up to her on the courtyard, he ignored the whispers and Cabbage Patch's presence.

'What's up with Blair?' He tried to have a no-shit tone about it, but his voice cracked slightly and he thought he saw Cabbage Patch grin.

Serena, however, did not look amused. Her forehead wrinkled, and she bit her lip as if wondering if she should tell him something.

'What do you mean?" She gave him an innocent smile, but there was anxiousness in her eyes.

'She's changed, Serena. I'm not stupid.' Cabbage coughed slightly, but the glare Serena gave him was enough to stop any remarks.

'I really don't think you should be asking me that.' she said looking down at her feet. 'Why don't you talk to Blair?'

And she and Cabbage Patch left him, standing in the courtyard, knowing that something was up.

---

Stopping by Starbucks after school, he bought two coffees and made his way over to the penthouse. The elevator doors opened to reveal a distressed Eleanor, shouting something at the maid. She smiled at Nate. Informing him that she was in a rush, and that though she hadn't actually seen Blair that day, she was sure she was upstairs, at that the maid gave a small nod, she rushed out the door.

Ignoring the poor maid's stuttering he climbed the steps slowly, wondering if Blair was watching TV.

---

Wanting to surprise her, Nate opened the door without knocking, and dropped both of the coffees at the scene in front of him.

Blair Waldorf, his Blair, was laying in the arms of Chuck Bass, his friend, watching a movie. Chuck was slowly caressing her hair and kissing her neck. Both of them turned at the sound.

Nate noticed how Blair's face turned hard as she saw him, and how Chuck's hold on her tightened.

---

'Nate-' Chuck started.

'How long?' Nate's voice sounded strangled. 'How long has she been on your lists of conquests?' He saw Blair wince, and push Chuck away, and it gave him a sadistic pleasure.

'Never.' Chuck's voice was solemn, unusual to Nate, 'She's not a conquest, she is everything.' Blair's eyes locked on Chuck's face and Nate saw a look he'd never seen before. Love. Never, during their years together had Nate seen such a look. Such a raw, naked look. And so he ran, not looking back.

---

Six years later, when he was invited to their wedding, he found that the pain in his heart had subsided. Not completely, but no longer was he contemplating, what could have been. Why it was that Chuck Bass held the first position on her speed dial list.