Title: But You Can't Be Close Enough Unless I'm Feeling Your Heartbeat

Author: Emmy

Summary: When Carter Baizen comes around to her house to talk, she can't act surprised. She just finds it curious that he waited more than a month for it. After all, they are old friends.Carter/Blair, CB, NBC, JN, JE, DS, RL if you squint.

AN: So. This has been bugging me since I was talking to Sharon (gleechild) on Sunday I believe? And I HAD to get it out of my system. And sorry for the over use of the "the paint haphazardly smeared off her lips like blood all over her face" quote, I just thought that it'd be a good repeat line lol, IDK if you can catch it. I'm going to have an epilogue soon. :)

When Carter Baizen comes around to her house to talk, she can't act surprised. She just finds it curious that he waited more than a month for it. After all, they are old friends.

He's wearing almost the same outfit he wore to that lunch party for Celia, same button up and suit jacket, same jeans, same hair; but now he has different eyes. Now they're open, instead of guarded and hidden.

"Aren't you going to ask me why Nate punched you at cotillion?" she asks finally, after an adequate phony exchange of pleasantries.

No, he tells her, he just came to say hi.

"Plus, it's not that hard to figure out why he punched me," Carter says, looking her in the eye. "Nate was always very gullible. Chuck must've had no problem putting some more blame on me while Nate was already pissed."

She can't disagree with him on that.

"So then, why are you here? Really?"

"I'm just here to see how you're holding up." He grins at her slightly with the fake gentlemanliness that he taught Nate how to perfect, and she smiles back, her painted lips curving up at the edges at the infamous Carter Baizen charm.

She wonders why she doesn't love Carter. She knows Chuck and Nate are just the two sides of Carter's coin, and he can pull off both effortlessly. He could be both of the men she wanted for different reasons. And she knows that he'd be more than willing to have her.

But later, after drinking more than she probably should've, and doing more with Carter than she probably should've, the paint haphazardly smeared off her lips like blood all over her face, she knows that Carter couldn't be either of them. He could just act like them.

---

She begins to date Carter Baizen. No one makes the real connection, thank God. But the people on the UES were always a bit dense, so that doesn't really surprise her. She climbs back into her perfect picture frame, Carter holding onto her hand and she builds back her empire, brick by brick. Her work makes her rest her weight on Carter's shoulders as he holds her up, but he doesn't ever seem to mind.

Petty Little J hooks up with Nate. She waits to hear about them breaking up because Jenny's sick of Nate's drug habits, or typical Nate just can't handle a stable relationship. But instead, it's because Jenny finally finds out she's just a step closer of a replacement to Serena.

She feels her respect for Gossip Girl slowly begin to drop, because surely she must be dumbing down not to notice the growing similarities between her best friend and J. Considering Jenny has started emulating old Serena, she's disappointed that she's the first to talk to her about it. But she had to find out at some point, she tells herself, that the only thread keeping her tied to the world didn't even really want the knot there in the first place.

"I don't even know why I should believe you," Jenny says rudely, comprehending, understanding, agreeing, with everything her secret idol was saying. She notices that J's wearing red paint on her lips, ever trying to be her replacement.

"Because I was in the same situation. And you know it's the truth."

Jenny and Nate part the next day. For Nate, it was on an amicable note, because she's just another girl who's not Serena. Jenny never truly gets over him, and soon she's wearing matching scars to Eric van der Woodsen, found with her paint haphazardly smeared off her lips like blood all over her face. Sure enough, Eric becomes her neighbor at the Ostroff Center and they re-bond over cuts and raised white marks on their lifelines. Successfully released, the two elope at fifteen, come back married, and no one's the wiser. Jenny's never been happier, with a small ring resting on her left hand. It's no Vanderbilt diamond, but J does without.

She wonders if she'll ever be able to do the same.

---

She's with Serena when they get the news that Dan got in a car accident with his dad. They're at Sephora, trying on lipstick and eyeshadow, giggling like they're five again and rifling through their mothers' medicine cabinets, not paying any attention to depression pills or tweezers, going straight for the colors because that's all they want, colors to brighten up the day like Serena's banana yellow hair. As Serena's face goes pale and her best friend faints on the cold tile floor, she numbly thinks maybe they should buy some gray eyeshadow while they're there if there's going to be a funeral.

It turns out that Brooklyn and his dad survive by a thread. Serena's face floods with tears. She thanks whatever God there is because like it or not, she's grown used to Cabbage Patch.

While a teary-eyed Lily sits with Rufus, who got away with only a few scratches, Serena rushes into Dan's room and as he wakes up, bandaged, in his hospital bed, she kisses him feverously. Dan looks confused and dazed.

"Who are you?" he asks.

She can see Serena's heart break in her face, and she herself feels a crack in her ice-cold façade. "I'm… Serena, remember? Your girlfriend? Dan, it's me."

But there's no response in his face, and as she and her best friend are escorted out of the room so Dan can get his medicine, they both break down in each others' arms. They make her leave and so Serena is sobbing alone now, red paint haphazardly smeared off her lips like blood all over her face.

It's like this for a week. Serena comes and goes, trying desperately to get Dan to remember her, with Dan having no recollection of practically anything. Until one day, Serena finds the answer.

Sitting on Dan's bed, wearing an outfit she still fits into after two years, Serena gives Dan a paper he gave her for Christmas. He reads it and his face breaks into a smile. Hers is streaked with tears.

"Dan?" she asks tentatively, praying for something, anything, a sign it could all be over and they (life) can finally go back to normal.

"Hey Serena. What happened?"

She laughs and hugs him, like she'll never let go, and Dan kisses the top of Serena's head and they just hold each other, and it's maybe the sweetest thing she's ever seen.

She thinks about how she could've had that with Chuck. Instead, Carter comes up and puts his arm around her and kisses her temple. She closes her eyes and pretends not to wish for him.

---

Carter knows she's using him. He's finally figured it out. She has to give him credit for his smarts, but she's always known he's had it in him anyway. After all, they are old friends.

"So it's all a lie, huh?" Carter says quietly, nursing the scotch he's ordered (Chuck) and still looking like a gentleman, keeping up appearances for her (Nate). She almost feels guilty, but then she reminds herself that a breakup is always a bad time to be human, and so she turns the ice machine back on her brittle heart, hoping to keep it frozen for just a while longer until she can be alone. Then she will let herself cry. She hopes this is what Audrey would do, although she doubts Audrey would get herself into a situation such as this in the first place. But she still hopes, because this is what she does.

"It wasn't a lie, it was what I wanted." She confesses this as quietly as possible, hoping he hears her because she doesn't want to have to admit it again, because even the truth sounds like a lie to her ears.

"Then why?" he asks her, confused.

"I don't know. What I wanted wasn't what I thought it'd turn out to be."

There are tears in her eyes as she leaves him, tears for what should've been and tears for what she's destroyed. She knows that all she really has is her goddamn dysfunctional family, Serena, and a bunch of useless pawns. That's all she has left.

Not to mention whatever's in her stomach.

Once she thinks about it, her mind automatically brings back fresh memories of shiny porcelain and her finger, that stupid finger, she remembers wanting to cut it off so she didn't even have the option anymore, but then there's always the other one. She remembers apple pie and crème brulee and turkey and stuffing, with cranberry sauce, and how good it would taste (until it would end up on her hips). And even though she knows it's so goddamn messed up of her to want to do it again, she looks in the mirror and there's every single comment anyone's ever made.

"When you were beautiful."

That was before she ate that cake, wasn't it? She was beautiful when she didn't eat. Oh, God.

"We've decided to go in another direction with the models."

Her own mother, too fat for her own mother, huh? Fatter than Serena. Skinny, uber-Serena.

And she's sick again, it's back in her head, and if she just lets it out this one time, she's been so good, she hasn't let it happen for months. Her mind is screaming, begging her to let go, and the screams are leaking out of her, she's losing control, and that's the one thing she cannot have happen. She needs her control. So she leans over the bowl and regains it.

It's as if all the badness is flowing out with the contents of her stomach. And she lies on the tile, red paint haphazardly smeared off her lips like blood all over her face, and no one comes, no one notices. It seems like years until there are footsteps, and then a voice comes with them, the last one she'd ever expect.

"Waldorf?"

She cracks her eye open, and there's a terrified look all over Chuck's face, she can't handle it, she closes her eyes. She imagines the dried gunk that must be coated on her mouth, and that's almost enough to make her sit up and go at it again-

"Blair? Blair, wake up!" She feels him pick her up and drop her on the bed, and he runs to the door, "Serena! Come on, now!" And there are more footsteps, and God, they're so loud-

"Blair honey, wake up," and now it's Serena, talking to her, with a choked voice. She wonders if this is all for her and she opens her eyes.

"Oh thank God," Chuck moans, and she hears him falls back into a chair. Serena's face is panicked, and she's all over Blair, ridiculously checking for pulses, warmth, anything and everything.

"Serena, get off. I understand you love me, but we don't need to get Chuck excited." She can barely hear her voice over the thumping in her ears, but she distinctly hears his chuckle in the background.

"I guess you're okay then?"

"I'm fine, Serena."

"I don't think so, Blair." It's the first time he's really spoken to her all night, or any night, for that matter, since that night. She has to admit it's good to hear his voice, not that she'd ever admit it.

"And who would you be to judge that? The person that's avoided me like the plague for the past six months?" Her voice is growing stronger with her anger.

"Blair," he says, a warning in his voice. "Just stop for now."

"I don't want to," she replies stubbornly. By now Serena's vanished and it's only them two, her on the bed and him on the chaise, his scarf on the floor between them, covered in throw up. "Why are you even here, anyway?"

"Your best friend is extraordinarily persuasive when she wants to be."

"Surely not to the king of manipulation. And what could she use to persuade you? That bubble bath you've been whining on about for months?"

Chuck bows his head and smirks, a thin mask barely veiling his discomfort. She thinks he shouldn't be discomforted, he's not the one covered in her puke, until she realizes that he is, too.

"Do you remember why my parents divorced? Why my mom left?"

She feels her face pale slightly. "Chuck, I'm sorry about that."

"And here you are, doing the same exact thing." His face is frighteningly blank, focused on the floor and something she can't see, and she doesn't want to. "I'm the one who found her on the bathroom floor. And here I am, finding you. On your bathroom floor. You don't even really have an excuse."

"I don't have an excuse? You helped it come back, Chuck! You and your comments! You succeeded, I was hurt by what you said! Thank you, for reminding me that I'm not beautiful anymore. And my mom says it too. I'm just not perfect enough. For anyone!"

She's so angry, and tears are falling, still falling, and she wants to regain control so badly, but she can't and it's killing her.

She can't look at Chuck. She won't. He shouldn't see her when she hasn't got control.

They sit there in a stony silence, staring at any and every thing except for each other. Neither of them have said anything, they're too damn stubborn. And neither of them will say-

"I'm sorry."

She knows he's never ever said those words before and she's caught off guard, her shield down. She looks up and now Chuck's staring at her with that smoldering gaze of his, and now he won't look at anything else and she hates to admit it but she's a little caught up in his eyes, maybe even a lot-

"What?" Finally, something comes out of her mouth.

"I said, I'm sorry."

"You are?"

"Yes. For what I said."

And she smiles, a tiny smile, and even with red paint haphazardly smeared off her lips like blood all over her face, she thinks maybe everything will be all right.