Serena can't do breakups. She leaves letters instead. They're always short and filled with apologies and at this point Dan has received three of them. They are always on soft, pale yellow paper and the ink is always a deep blue. He saw this coming; he always sees it coming. Dan is too much of a cynic to allow love to be blinding and although he is able to see the possibility of a happy ending with Serena he has the habit of getting swept away by the fact that people tend to leave. It's ironic that he holds this belief so close because Dan Humphrey does not leave people. People leave him and sometimes they come back and sometimes they don't. He should be better at forgiveness, especially after all these years, but he is not. He has never truly forgiven Serena, which has always been their problem. She left him when they were seventeen and no matter how many times she comes back, no matter how many apologies she gives he cannot let this go. He may have been the one to actually break up with up with her, but she left him long before they actually broke up. He is thinking about their first breakup as he looks at the letter that marks their fourth when there is a knock at the door. He knows who it is and he knows that they hate being made to wait, but he still takes a few minutes before answering the door.
"Hi Blair," he mutters and sweeps his hand to the side to invite her in. She steps into the apartment and stops in the kitchen. Her shoulders sag a bit and she offers a small smile.
"She's not here is she?" she asks and Dan holds up the yellow stationary in response. Blair nods and leans against the kitchen counter. "I'm sorry," she whispers.
"I'm sure you have a letter on the way too," he replies. Blair Waldorf is the only other person in the world who gets apologies in blue ink on yellow paper. Her letters are always longer and hold not only apologies, but also batches of false promises. The only person who gets phone calls is Eric and the only person he passes the information along to is Lily. Blair and Dan get letters because Serena has always hated goodbyes.
"Hopefully," Blair responds. Dan positions himself in front of her leaning against the pantry.
"You want to read it?" he asks, offering the letter up to her. Blair shakes her head, partly because she knows what is says and partly because she doesn't want to know what it says. Dan has never met anyone better at keeping faith in people than Blair. He is fully prepared to always see the worst, while Blair clings to the impossible. She still thinks that he and Serena will marry, have children, and live happily ever after.
"I really thought this time she would stay. It's been a year. A year's a really long time for Serena," Blair says, and Dan knows that she isn't really talking to him. Blair lets out a long sigh and then pushes herself up so that she's standing in front of him.
"What happened?" she asks, staring him right in the eyes. Dan lowers his and lets out a sigh of his own. Blair needs there to be a reason; she needs a neat and easy explanation for why Serena left. She cannot accept the fact that Serena wears self-destruction as comfortably as she wears heels.
"Blair, you know nothing happened. She just left."
"But it's been a year," Blair protests.
"Blair," he says and moves his hand onto her cheek. Her eyes flash and she begins to shake her head.
"Stop," she says and her voice is cold and hard, the way he remembers from high school.
"Okay," he replies and drops his hand.
"Dan," she whispers, her voice breaking and she shakes her head again.
"Blair…" he starts and is cut off by her lips on his. Kissing Blair Waldorf is not something Dan ever thought he would experience, much less the thing he would cling to whenever his life began to spiral out of control. The story of him and Blair is much less exciting than people would probably assume. There was a late night at a bar three weeks after the first yellow letter and there was liquor and there was laughter and it just happened. It wasn't that it happened that was so surprising, it was the fact that it felt so comfortable that shocked Dan. Somehow being with Blair felt right. He has that same feeling now as he pulls at her coat and she quickly pulls off his sweater. He understands that his girlfriend has just left him for the third time and that what he is doing would probably be characterized as stupid, but he really doesn't care. He needs to have that feeling of being "right," of being perfectly okay more than ever. So he loses himself and allows himself to pretend that maybe everything will turn out in a way that gives him some semblance of happiness. Her coat is completely off and she's unbuttoning his shirt before she stops. She looks up into his eyes and Dan is sure that she can see the desperation and defeat reflecting from them. She leans her head against his chest and buttons his shirt back up; all while silent tears transfer from her cheeks to his navy oxford. He doesn't move his hands from around her waist and rests his head upon hers. She finishes buttoning his shirt and makes a move to back away, but he holds onto her.
"Blair, you could stay," he says, even though he knows her response. They've done this dance many times now.
"No, I can't," she mutters and gently twists out of his grip. She picks her coat up from the ground and slips it back around her tiny frame. She quickly wipes the tears from her cheeks and this action causes Dan to muster up something that resembles courage.
"Blair, you can stay," he repeats. She won't meet his eyes and he hopes that his voice is projecting the truth of the statement. She can stay; there isn't anything stopping her. Serena is gone and has left so many times at this point that neither Blair nor Dan owe her anything. He wonders if Blair sees the chance that he sees. It's the chance to stop the madness, to finally end what he and Serena have for good. He and Blair have never actually tired, they've just fallen together whenever the world around them disappoints, which tends to be often. They cling to each other and then Serena comes back or Blair finds someone with a trust fund and a handsome smile. It's almost as destructive as his relationship with Serena; in fact, Dan realizes that it is more destructive because Blair has become more of a constant than Serena. Because Blair Waldorf and Dan Humphrey have that one fact in common: they don't leave people. She's stopped buttoning her coat now, her fingers frozen on the third button, and Dan can tell that she's thinking the exact same thing he is.
"Blair," he whispers and then she snaps back. Her eyes meet his and he can almost feel the glare she is sending him. But then her body relaxes and Dan recognizes that she has lost all energy.
"Dan, stop," she whispers, her voice echoing of defeat and exhaustion.
"Why?" he asks. "Give me one good reason, Blair."
"Because there's a yellow envelope waiting for me at home," Blair replies, a sad smile ghosting her lips.
"She left, Blair. She always leaves," he says and is sickened by how pathetic his voice sounds.
"But she comes back. She will come back and you will forgive her," Blair states and Dan really wishes that he could contradict her statement, but he can't. He knows that he and Serena have become so sealed to their destructive cycle that breaking it would be almost impossible. But looking at Blair makes him want to try.
"And then I'll get another yellow letter," Dan replies. Blair takes a step forward and presses a kiss on his forehead.
"We can't, we just can't. If things were different, maybe…" she trails off with a sigh.
"Blair, I understand that, but the thing is I love you," he says and for a moment the words simply hang in the air. Then there's another sigh from Blair.
"You and I both know that love is never enough."
"Yes it is, Blair. You just have to let it be," he says and Blair wraps her scarf across her neck.
"Well, maybe you should remember that when she comes back," she says and the words feel like a punch in the gut. She's halfway out the door before she stops and without turning says, "I love you too and I'm sorry. Goodnight, Dan." He waits for the door to slam before he replies "Goodnight, Blair."
He sits back down and fingers the letter from Serena again. Blair comes back the next morning and Serena comes back five months later. Nothing changes.