Drowning

Chapter 14 – Love

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Summary: He never meant to fall in love. She never meant to have faith in him.

Disclaimer: I don't own Gossip Girl.

AN: So, after this chapter, there are six left! This story was started more than a year ago and I'm a bit sad that it's ending. But, this chapter is your reward for sticking through all the angst. Enjoy it. The depressing stuff will make its return.

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He slept on the couch the entire weekend. They hadn't had a fight, but it was obvious that their relationship had gone through a drastic change. Blair wondered why she never made him sleep on the couch before; did she actually like sleeping next to him? She shuddered at the thought.

The weekend was a stressful blur. They didn't talk much, but they were content with each other's presence.

Monday morning came, and with it, a school day. It was something they both dreaded, especially since everyone was trying to pry information from them.

For Blair, as usual, the morning began with its wave of nausea.

Once she finished retching into the toilet, she laid her head back on the bathroom wall and looked up at the ceiling. It was going to be another long week.

"You okay?" His voice broke into her thoughts.

"I'm fine, Bass," She gave him a weak smile. "You should really stop worrying so much."

And just like that, as fate would have it, the wave washed over her again. She found herself looking at the porcelain toilet bowl once more. He immediately rushed over to her to pull the hair out of her face.

"Thanks," She mumbled, embarrassed that she relied on him for such things.

"It's what I'm here for." He returned the weak smile that she had given him.

He offered her a hand to help her up. She stared at it for a few seconds, then sighed as she took it. She lifted herself up and began smoothing out the wrinkles in her skirt.

"Ready?" She mustered the biggest smile she could.

"Always."

--

"I wonder why they skipped school on Friday…"

"A trip to the free clinic? I hear she got a nasty STD from him."

"Gross. Why is she even with him? I never thought she would sink that low."

"She's basically dirt now. She might as well get accustomed to the worms."

The morning began with its usual whispers. The courtyard froze as the dark-haired teenagers entered calmly, ignoring the harsh words that were being spoken about them.

"You can't let them get to you." He whispered sharply.

"I'm aware, Bass," She rolled her eyes. "I'll see you at lunch."

He nodded as he made his way towards Nate, who was sitting on a bench pretending to read his Chemistry textbook.

Blair noticed the tall blonde approaching her from a mile away. She sighed as she waited for the daily interrogation.

"You and Chuck still seem cozy," Serena poked at her best friend. "Nothing wrong yet?"

"No, S," She muttered exasperatedly. "I'm not in the mood to be interrogated today, okay?"

"You mean, you're not ready to tell me your secret," Serena clarified. "B, why can't you tell me?"

"It's…It's complicated, Serena," Blair avoided eye contact with her at all costs. "I'm…sorry."

She walked away from Serena and into the building, trying to stay composed.

--

"Nothing going on with Blair yet?" Nate raised his eyebrows in curiosity.

Chuck sighed. "Nothing. Just…"

The blonde's brows furrowed. "What happened?"

"I told her I loved her."

Nate's eyes widened. "Wow, man. I never thought…"

"I just…blurted it out," Chuck confessed. "I didn't mean to tell her."

"Well, did you mean it?"

"Of course." Chuck said this slowly, as if Nate were an idiot.

Nate chuckled at this. "I didn't think you had it in you."

"You know what?" Chuck responded in a whimsical tone. "Neither did I."

"Wait," Nate interrupted. "You're still not together?"

"She just wants to be friends." He muttered.

"Ah. Everyone loves the 'just friends' speech," Nate laughed a bit. "Do you think there's still hope?"

Chuck studied Blair as she rushed inside the building.

"I don't know," He admitted. "Maybe."

--

"I can't stand it anymore," Blair threw a grape back into her fruit salad. "The whispers are getting out of control. Have you heard some of the things-"

"Why do you care so much?" Chuck countered.

"I don't know," Blair sighed. "It's just…I've never not been on top."

"I know it's weird," Chuck tried to understand. "But aren't there more important things?"

He had a point. Blair smiled. "You're right. I'm tired of caring about what people think."

She popped a grape into her mouth and Chuck smiled to himself.

"You still haven't told Serena, I assume."

"No," She replied. "It's getting hard to hide this from her."

"I can relate." Chuck had been tempted to tell Nate this morning, but he knew better. No matter what he said about being okay with him being in a relationship with Blair, he would hit the roof if he found out about what was really going on. Chuck couldn't afford to lose his best friend again, after all that had happened when Blair first got in between their friendship.

"I wish this was easier." She wished it was in a different time, a different place. Somehow, she didn't wish for a different person.

"It will be," He promised. "Soon."

When everyone knew, it would all be simpler.

--

"You're not coming…?" Chuck stopped before he said home. He wasn't exactly sure if Blair considered his suite home.

"I have something to do." Blair remained as vague as possible. She brought a change of clothes with her; she was now in a t-shirt and jeans, something that bewildered the entire courtyard.

"Blair Waldorf in jeans? I thought I'd never see the day."

"That girl has gone off the deep end."

"I'll be home soon." Blair gave him a quick smile as she kissed him on the cheek and hailed a cab.

Chuck didn't know what surprised him more: the kiss on the cheek or the fact that she called his suite home.

--

"Today, we're going to discuss our current issues in life, and what we can do to overcome them." The group's current counselor of the week pasted on a bright smile as she spoke robotically. Blair rolled her eyes at the woman's failed attempt to encourage her by placing her hand on her knee. She moved away as Hallie began speaking.

Blair examined the girl. She was no longer the goth stigma that Blair originally identified her as. In fact, she was quite pretty. Her hair seemed to be its natural brown color and her eyes were a bright green. She wore a long-sleeved shirt to cover the cuts that everyone had caught sight of at the last meetings.

"I've been getting notes from my ex-boyfriend," She tucked her hair behind her ear. "My family moved to another district and I transferred to a new school, but somehow, he found me.

"He abused me. Sexually, physically, mentally," Hallie pulled her sleeves down. "That's why I started cutting.

"He keeps on asking me to come back to him." She paused. "But I'm not that stupid."

Blair smiled at this. She never expected that the girl would actually speak.

"I just want him to leave me alone," She looked up and smiled at this. "And then everything will be fine."

Everything will be fine. Blair wondered why it seemed to be such an impossible concept.

--

Chuck didn't ask questions when Blair returned to suite 1812. She sighed in relief; though Chuck had been there for her, she still didn't want him to know about her group meetings at the Ostroff Center. He had labeled that place a "wacky shack" long ago, and she never argued.

"Hey," She gave him a soft smile. "I'm surprised you didn't go out."

"I didn't really have any place to go," He shut the book he was reading and stood up from his bed. "I thought you would have an idea of something to do."

"I just want to stay here, if you don't mind," She was exhausted at this point. "You can leave if you want."

He shook his head. "We could just…hang out."

"Right," Blair said awkwardly. "If that's what you want." She sat on his bed and frowned.

He eyed her for a minute and gestured towards the spot next to her. She nodded slowly and cautiously, allowing him to sit next to her.

"I would ask what you were doing while you were out…" He smirked. "But it's really none of my business."

"You're right." She turned towards him, also smirking. "It is none of your business."

It was silent for a few moments until Blair sighed.

"But I'll tell you anyway." She took a deep breath before beginning her explanation. "I've been forced to go to group meetings at the Ostroff Center."

He didn't answer for a few moments and looked as if he was contemplating the proper response.

"I don't know what to say." He gave up.

"You don't have to say anything," Blair stopped him. "I know you're not exactly a fan of the kids that end up in there, but I wouldn't be going if I didn't-"

"Blair, stop." Chuck cut her off. "You clearly don't give me enough credit. Eric was a patient there, and I don't have an issue with him. And obviously, I don't have an issue with you."

Blair relaxed. "I just…I didn't want people to find out. Everyone who's a patient there is just considered to be insane. And I'd like to think that I'm sane on some level."

"Well, that can be argued." Chuck playfully challenged. Blair rolled her eyes and showed a hint of a smile.

"To tell you the truth, I actually…like it there. The kids…they just understand." Blair admitted. "And they were the only ones I could talk to."

"You can talk to me."

"I know that now." Blair let out another tight-lipped smile. "Thank you."

Chuck's brow furrowed. "For what?"

"For not judging me."

"No need to thank me," Chuck returned a small smile. "I just…I care about you."

It was tense for a moment; a certain magnetism was in the air.

Blair leaned in first. Chuck followed suit. Their lips crashed somewhere in the middle in a mixture of longing and obvious attraction.

"I…" Blair gasped after their lips parted. She couldn't finish. The words wouldn't fall from her lips.

"Don't." Chuck appeased her. "Don't say it if you're not ready to."

She nodded and took the initiative this time, kissing his lips once more.

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tbc