The First and the Last
Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me.
Spoilers: Nothing in particular, but this does happen after Blair returns from Tuscany (Much I Do).
Her flight was uneventful and even anticlimactic. Blair stood up and reached for her hand carry bag from the overhead compartment.
"Ms Waldorf," the flight attendant said softly.
Blair looked up at her from under the loose curls that had fallen over her face. "Yeah?"
"Your ride is waiting for you."
Blair was used to this. Always the one to cut the line. Always the one to enter the plane last and leave the plane first. She gave a small smile to the flight attendant and followed her. When Blair exited to the first class waiting area, the flight attendant motioned over to the seated man who was reading the newspaper.
"I cannot thank you enough for picking me up!" she exclaimed.
The newspaper lowered, and she looked straight into Nate Archibald's warm, familiar eyes. "Old habits die hard," he teased. "You say jump…"
She gave him a lopsided grin. "You ask, 'how high?'" Blair dropped her bag to the floor. She walked towards him with open arms.
Nate put down the newspaper on the seat beside him and met her halfway with a tight embrace. "I really missed you, Blair," he murmured into her hair.
She closed her eyes and took a deep, shuddering breath.
"Do you want to know about him?" Nate asked.
"Don't," she replied quickly, cutting him off.
"Blair…" Nate started.
She pulled away and shook her head. Blair bent to pick up her bag, but Nate reached for it before she could. "I'm sorry for bringing it up."
Blair shrugged, and leaned into him as he placed an arm around her shoulders. She swatted his stomach. "Just remember that you're here for me. This is my Nate time." She wished Nate knew how much she learned when she was away, how she had looked back at every single encounter she had with his best friend. Chuck. Chuck taught her something when she was very young that, if she fully accepted it, made everything that happened make sense. That's why Blair didn't cry. If you know that something hurts, you won't touch it again, right?
Nate sighed and tightened his arm around her. As they were leaving the room, he heard a faint series of clicks that accompanied his life. He glanced down at Blair, who seemed to be checking out a bracelet hanging from her wrist—a new one, he supposed, probably from Tuscany.
Their phones beeped in unison, and Nate shook his head, knowing even before he checked it what it would contain. Blair hit the view button, and immediately saw a picture of herself and Nate in their tight embrace.
Welcome home, B. The last time we saw you, you were stood up by a Bass. Should've known the queen B can find a knight without batting an eyelash. Oh N, do you really never learn? XOXO
The first time she met Chuck Bass, she was sporting pigtails adored with purple velvet ribbons. Her mother had dropped her and her nanny off in the playground, and Blair's nose turned up haughtily at the children who dug in the sand. Her very best friend, Serena, had abandoned her to hang like a chimpanzee at the monkey bars. She was such a little boy, Blair thought to herself. She despised the idea of being there. She would sweat, and it was so unladylike.
Captain Archibald has waved a finger at his son. Blair smiled politely and nodded her head while Nate's father told him to keep an eye on Blair. That made Blair feel safe. Boys were born to protect girls. They were made so that little girls can get flowers from plants without getting soiled by dirt. She wanted a yellow flower. She was supposed to tell Nate, but then he ran off and jumped onto the monkey bars too.
"Nate!" Blair exclaimed, and stomped her feet. But the monkey bars were so far away and he didn't hear her.
That was when the dark haired boy strutted towards her. He stopped in front of Blair and brushed the sand from his pants, getting some on her pretty dress. He looked her up and down, from head to toe. Blair didn't like the way his lips turned, and she sniffed in irritation, staring longingly at Serena and Nate over at the monkey bars.
"Too scared to climb?"
Blair acted affronted. "I'm not scared of anything," she replied. "Who are you to talk?"
"I'm Chuck Bass."
"Chuck," she repeated. "Sounds like the noise a rooster makes."
Chuck Bass smirked. "What are you, a Barney baby?"
Blair gasped. "You are arrogant," she replied. Then, she spat the next syllable, "Chuck." She then stomped towards the monkey bars, because gross or not, she was going to sweat and climb and hang from it to prove that Bass boy wrong.
When she reached the foot of the monkey bars, she saw Serena making her way to the other end. Behind her, moving quickly to get closer, was Nate. Blair glanced behind her and saw Chuck Bass strolling towards them, not in a hurry, just strolling and taking in the view around him.
Blair placed her hand on the metal, and recoiled. It was hot. But then Serena seemed to have gotten the hand of it, so she placed both hands on the bars and climbed. Her pretty shoes were getting scuffed, she thought sadly. No matter, she held onto the bars with her feet still on the bars.
Serena squealed. Blair looked over at her and saw that she was on the slide already, with Nate behind her. She held tighter on the bar, but hesitated to let go of the step around her legs. She looked over at Chuck Bass who was right on the steps.
Then she was hanging free. Blair felt her arms tremble under weight. She grabbed the next bar, and then the next. Soon, it was too much for the tea party girl that she was. Her eyes widened, and she called out, "Nate!"
And then she fell on her ass, abrading her elbow in the process.
She sniffled on the ground. Her dress was probably ruined, her bottom throbbed, and her elbow burned. Teary eyed, she saw Nate slide and fall on top of Serena, who wasn't fast enough to recover after her own slide down.
A shadow fell over her, and she looked up to see Chuck Bass standing over her. Fully expecting an I told you so, Blair held her breath. Chuck held out his hand. She took the proffered assistance and allowed him to help her up.
"Now you don't need to wonder what it's like on the monkey bars," he told her simply.
Blair wiped the tears from her cheeks. "But it hurt!" she sobbed.
"And now you know it hurts," he nodded. Blair cocked her head to the side and thought, he made sense. Chuck glanced to the side and saw two friends scampering towards them. "And here's your posse to the rescue."
Serena and Nate stopped next to her, breathless. "Oh Blair, are you hurt?"
Blair showed them her bleeding elbow. "You were supposed to watch over me," she told Nate coldly.
Nate scratched his head. "I'm not getting desert tonight," he grumbled. "My dad is going to be so mad."
Chuck placed an arm over Nate's shoulders. "In that case, let me buy you some ice cream now."
Blair worried about her elbow. Serena's eyebrows furrowed, and she asked, "Nate, aren't you going to introduce us?"
Nate blushed. "Sorry. Serena van der Woodsen, Blair Waldorf, meet Chuck Bass. Our dads are working together right now."
Blair looked from Nate to Chuck, then to Serena. "Come with me to nanny. She has to rush me to the hospital."
Chuck stepped out of his room and searched the house for his stepsister. He found her in the dining room with the entire family. His eyes narrowed at the sight of her laughing at a joke his father made.
"Sis, care to tell me what this is?" Chuck turned the screen of her phone to face her.
Serena gave him an angelic smile. "You don't have to show me, Chuck." She lifted her own phone. "I got the text too."
Lily rolled her eyes at the children. "Really, it would be great if you kids can go to the table and leave your phones in your rooms."
Chuck gave her a hard smile. "I'm sorry, Mrs van der Woodsen," Chuck apologized. Bart cleared his throat, clearly displeased with the name that Chuck used to call his wife. "I just wanted to quickly know why your daughter accidentally neglected to tell me that her best friend is coming home today."
Lily turned to Serena. Before she could speak, Bart interjected, "Is that true, Serena? The Waldorf girl's back?"
Serena's eyebrows rose in surprise as she turned to Chuck's father. "Yes, sir. She just landed. Nate's picking her up."
Bart turned to Chuck and inquired, "And why didn't you pick her up?"
Chuck shook his head and left the room. He couldn't believe that Blair didn't even send him an email that she was coming back. During her entire vacation, Chuck had been trying to reach her. Did she understand what happened? She should have. Even before, nobody understood Chuck better than Blair ever did.
"Where are you going, Blair?" Nate asked in a hushed voice the moment he saw Blair walk towards the stairs.
She gave him a pointed look, as if to say that he should already know the answer.
"You know you can't do that."
Blair rolled her eyes. For an eight year old, Nate was too much of a stickler for rules. "You're such a fuddy duddy, Nate."
He shook his head, then turned his back on her. "Don't say I didn't warn you."
In her pretty white dress, Blair Waldorf wandered into the room that no one else was allowed to go into. Everyone gave him space, because if they didn't stay away, they were met with everything from a pillow to a remote control to a lamp hurled at them. But she was always a princess who got her own way, and Blair would get her way this time too even if it meant disrespecting his privacy.
Chuck glared at her from his place at the corner, between the head of his bed and the side table. He sat there with his knees folded in front of him. He wrapped his arms around his legs and just glared.
"Nate and his family are still downstairs," she told him tentatively, and he didn't answer.
"And the van der Woodsens left an hour ago. Eric has to sleep for the night, or else he's just going to throw a tantrum."
Chuck took a deep breath.
"My parents are still here. That's why I'm still here," she explained. "I think they have some things they wanted to clear up with your dad."
Blair walked over to his study table and picked up one of the books. It was from school. She remembered that they had homework, because she saw her own handwriting on a piece of paper on the table that reminded Chuck to read pages 84 to 95. "Have you started on this?" she asked. "Of course you haven't. What was I thinking?" At the bottom, she told him that she really hopes his mother would feel better soon.
She looked back at Chuck, who had now stopped glaring. Now he was just looking at her, watching each of her odd movements. Blair smiled at him, then stopped. It wasn't appropriate to smile now. She walked over to Chuck, and then sat down next to him on the floor, her white skirt billowing around her like a cloud.
Chuck took a deep breath and inhaled the floral scent of her soap. Blair leaned beside him and then wrapped her arms around her friend. "I'm really sorry, Chuck." And then she cried.
That was how Chuck spent the night after his mother died.
Nate dropped the bags on Blair's bed and straightened. She thanked him and walked over to the notebook computer sitting on her study table. Blair logged on and saw the forty seven emails in her inbox.
After a quick check on who sent the emails, Blair sent them all to trash. She then pressed the button on her answering machine.
"You have sixty one messages," stated the robotic voice. "Blair, it's Chuck—"
"Blair, when you get back—"
"I know you're pissed off—"
Nate cleared his throat. Blair looked up at him with calm eyes. "I'm sorry," she said. "This is rude." She then pressed another button.
"Deleting all messages. You have 0 messages."
Nate smiled and sat down on edge of the bed. "Change into something more comfortable and I'll take you out for dinner."
"Wow Nate," she replied pointedly, still calm and smiling."If I knew it only takes completely breaking it off with you for you to take me out on spontaneous dates, I would have done it a long time ago," she said as she vanished into the bathroom.
Spotted. B and N sharing burgers and fries. Oh B, B, B… what hast Tuscany wrought? Does this mean everything about you has changed?