Spoilers: Takes place after 1.18.
AN: Supposed to be a one shot, but I might consider changing into a series. I'm certain that the story stands alone though.
His father stepped towards him. Chuck straightened his stance. His father's eyes looked into his and for the first time in his life, Chuck felt that Bart Bass understood him. Chuck sucked in his breath when his father enveloped him in his embrace. He found it difficult to get enough oxygen in his body to sustain him, and he wondered what Bart Bass would think if he suddenly lost consciousness in front of him.
"I'll have the help pack some of your things. A few weeks in Monaco should be good for you," Bart said into his ear.
The crowd hushed as Chuck walked over towards the stairs with unsteady steps. He had no doubt this particular Hamptons party would make it into the annals of Gossip Girl history, given the sudden appearance of Lily and Bart amidst the noisy drunken vacationers. A few girls from their class approached Serena and exchanged a few words with her. His gaze sought Nate, who he found by the window getting a hit of marijuana.
He knew everyone else was watching his every move. He stopped by the bar and grabbed a bottle of scotch, then proceeded to his designated room. When he opened the door he saw that his father was true to his word, and prompt. Two of his assistants, whom Chuck recognized were graduates of Harvard Business School, were packing suitcases for him to leave the country as quickly and quietly as Bart could manage.
Chuck did not want to stay there while two people so much more intelligent and deserving than he folded up his boxers and placed rolled up socks inside his spare shoes. He stepped out into the summer home balcony and breathed in the sea breeze. He unscrewed the cap of the scotch and took a large swallow. He closed his eyes tightly as it burned his throat.
The party music was still too loud. Vaguely, he had noticed that Serena had started leading people out of the house. He saw lines of people leaving the house and treading in the sand. Some of those who noticed him standing up in the balcony stopped and pointed, then whispered to each other. Someone had to remind Serena to turn off the music or else she would have a harder time clearing out the house.
"What's wrong, Chuck?"
His eyes still watery from the burning sensation of the alcohol down his throat, Chuck opened his eyes and turned to see her standing beside him. The wind in her dark hair and moonlight on her pale skin made her appear breathtaking. She wore her white satin shift, the one she had on that first night in the limo a million years ago. Idly, he wanted to ask why she was wearing her virgin/vixen outfit to a beach party, but he knew logic would end this, and he didn't want that.
Chuck smiled at her, then placed the bottle on the banister. "Nothing, Waldorf," was his smooth reply. "Did I ever tell you that you look ravishing in that?"
Her lips curved, a self-satisfied grin that told him that that comment was exactly what she had been aiming for. "Not tonight."
"Then I've been remiss." Chuck reached for her and enveloped her in his arms. Oddly enough, despite wearing next to nothing and out in the night, her skin did not feel cold at all. "You look delicious."
"Yum yum," she giggled, the way she had just learned to giggle during the week after the Bass wedding, when he had been a boyfriend and they had been taking it slow. He adored that giggle. He adored the fact that he was the one to elicit that giggle.
"You are so beautiful you take my breath away," Chuck continued. He placed his hands on her waist.
"And there's that romantic Bass again." She offered him her lips and he took them, sweetly, tenderly. "Who's idea was it to go to the Hamptons anyway?" He looked down at her as pouted lips swollen from kissing. "We could have stayed at the Palace and accidentally locked the door."
He arched an eyebrow. "We'd have food and drinks delivered. We could have chosen not to come out for days." Chuck nipped at her lips gently. "Why did we ever step out?"
Her hand crept up to feel his heartbeat over his shirt. "It was your big idea to go to vacation with me. We had to get tickets."
Their lips met again in a deep kiss that left her limp and breathless. He kissed the top of her nose. "Did you get the tickets?"
Chuck recognized the flash of hurt in her eyes, but she rested her head on his chest and she whispered, "I'll miss you, Chuck."
One of his hands left her waist to stroke her hair. "What are you talking about? We're going abroad, remember? Don't tell me you forgot to get me a ticket."
"We didn't need tickets, Bass," she reminded him. "Kiss me here." She presented one pink cheek. Chuck kissed her there, and also on the other. He pressed his lips against her forehead and nose and chin too. "I really miss you, Chuck," she murmured.
"Are you okay, Chuck?" The sound of another female voice broke his reverie. It was an intrusion, and at the space of a second, she wasn't in his arms anymore. The bottle of scotch that he had placed on the banister had fallen down onto the sand and formed a dark patch around the broken glass. Chuck glared at the intruder who ruined his moment.
There his stepsister stood, her eyes swollen from crying, her arms wrapped tightly around herself.
"I'm fine," he rasped.
Serena shook her head almost violently. "Don't lie," she pleaded, needing to have him admit to what he felt, because then it would be easier to admit to what she felt herself.
"Fuck, Serena!" he exclaimed. "Stop." Chuck strode past her and towards his room, where he saw the two neatly packed suitcases waiting for him. He threw open his dresser and saw his red scarf. He pulled it out and wrapped it around his neck.
i "You look like the devil." /i
Chuck felt the whisper against his ear, and his lips covered. It was unhealthy, but it was the only way he could think of that he would be able to survive this.
He took the suitcases in his hands and made his way down the stairs. Chuck saw Bart and Lily waiting for him. He felt Lily's eyes on him, inspecting his entire body, and her concern made him uncomfortable. Her grip tightened on the handkerchief that she now held. Chuck did not want her to speak. The redness of her nose already told him that whatever she was going to say was not what he would want to hear now.
Chuck glanced at the couch behind his father. Nate now sat there with his head in his hands. Chuck saw the limo waiting outside, then at the plane ticket that his father grasped in his hand. He wanted to look everywhere except for Bart Bass, who for the first time in his life, looked at Chuck with warmth and affection—and Chuck did not want it because it was laced with pity.
But he had to, and when Chuck did, everything that he had held onto almost spilled. Chuck once again found himself in his father's tight embrace. He worked to extricate himself, but when Bart held on, Chuck started breathing heavily. He sucked in as much as he could but it was never enough. Soon, he was gasping against his father's shoulder. He felt the cool hand on his shoulder and knew it was Lily's the moment she squeezed to comfort him.
Chuck did not know when it started. All he knew was that his chest hurt and he found it difficult to breathe. He did not notice the tears until he stood in front of his father and Lily pressed her handkerchief into his hands. Chuck set his jaw and handed the handkerchief back to Lily, then took the ticket from his father.
As always, the limo was his sanctuary. He half stumbled towards it and allowed the driver to take his bags. Thankfully, because of the price it took to maintain the help, the driver did not mention the tears. The driver held the door open and Chuck slid into his seat and leaned his head back.
It started with the loosening of his scarf. Chuck shut his eyes tighter because he did not know if he was willing to skirt the thin line between where he was now and utter insanity. And then he felt butterfly kisses against his now bare throat, and he could smell the strawberry scent of her shampoo.
"Where are we going?" she whispered.
Her breath against his throat was heaven. Despite his best efforts not to do so, Chuck found himself opening his eyes and staring up into smiling brown eyes and playful Blair Waldorf grin. This time, she was in a peach travel suit and a white headband. Chuck touched her cheek reverently. "We're going to Monaco, Waldorf. Exotic location, you and me."
"You're finally taking me with you!" Blair exclaimed in excitement. She burrowed to his side and breathed in his scent. Chuck closed his eyes and burned the sensation into his brain. "Wait…"
"What is it?" he murmured.
"Chuck, Monaco is your thing with Nate." Chuck opened his eyes and turned to face her. "We were going somewhere else…" She furrowed her eyebrows. "I can't remember." Panic overcame her. "Chuck, why can't I remember?"
Her panic seemed to seep into him, and Chuck sat up and took her trembling hands in his. "Blair, relax. It's okay."
"Chuck," She sniffled. "Where were we going? I was so happy. I have to know."
"Tuscany," he blurted out. "We were going to Tuscany before I dropped you off at your dad's in France."
Her face cleared when she remembered. And then Chuck witnessed when the floodgates opened. "You didn't come," she sobbed. "I was so scared."
And when she fell apart, she was a beautiful disaster. She was so beautiful in her tragedy that he could not bear to look. Chuck closed his eyes. One second. Two. Three. Eighteen. Twenty one. Forty three. One thousand eighty seven. With every second that passed, her cries became fainter and fainter.
Chuck finally opened his eyes and she was gone, his scarf still secure around his neck. His guilt clawed at his throat, where the butterfly kisses had brushed their phantom wings.