title; the three times chuck bass didn't say i love you, and the one time he did
word count; 2904
excerpt; she was his noose, and marcus was the square piece of wood that dropped beneath him
The leather squealed underneath their two tangled bodies, groaning in protest as Blair's hips dug farther into the cushion than seemed possible. Chuck's arms and thighs seared, uncomfortable as they held his body at an awkward—but extremely precise—position, hovering over the pale girl beneath him. His palms were slick against the black leather, and he was sure Blair would have more than a few bruises the next morning.
It wasn't perfect, but it was theirs.
The back of the limo was pitch black, a cavern of solitude. It was silent, too; the only sounds were Blair's shallow, rushed breaths and soft moans. They rang in Chuck's ears like a bell, the siren to his sailor.
"Blair, Blair, Blair," he breathed over her skin, his lips touching the hollow behind her ear and following the delicate line of her jaw, down the column of her neck and ending with an open-mouthed kiss at the gentle concave between her collarbones. She trembled, goose-bumps raising and flavoring his tongue, and he smiled against her skin. Raising a hand to swipe the damp hair from her forehead, he peppered her face with kisses, eyelids, cheeks, nose, chin.
He was being far too gentle and romantic. He knew that, and he knew she knew that, too. He could tell by the way she watched him confusedly, eyes wide and eyebrows pulled low, her face mystified. But then he'd sweep his thumb across the skin just below her navel and her expression cleared as her eyes fell shut, her teeth catching her lower lip. He was lavishing her, ravishing her, allowing her attention he wasn't sure he was capable of allowing.
But deep down, he knew that this was necessary. This was her first time; he was the first man ever to touch her the way she was being touched at this very moment. And that knowledge made him all the more tender.
Her breathing picked up and he reacted instantly, his own chest rising and falling as quick as the tempo of his hips. He watched in masked awe as she drew her lower lip between teeth, the contrast between rosy pink and stark-white making his skin sweat just a little harder. Her fingers slid from their position on his shoulders to cup the nape of his neck, drawing his head down to rest his forehead against hers.
"Chuck," she whispered, her voice sounding thick. His grip on her hips tightened, his thumbs circling in wide arcs on the inner-crevices of her thighs. She gasped and her eyes flew open, locking with his.
And it was then, gazing into her wide brown eyes, her chest arching into his, her hips moving with his unsteadily, hesitantly, and her plump lips tasting of trust, that it clicked; that he finally understood everything, and nothing, simultaneously; that he froze, his trimmed fingernails digging into her hipbones, his eyebrows cocked curiously.
No, but he . . . he couldn't . . .
Chuck Bass didn't love. Love required giving. Love required attention, and softness, and all the things Chuck Bass didn't know, didn't have. Chuck Bass took and stole and coveted, overthrew and detonated and destroyed. He didn't just fall in and out of love like hormone-frenzied preteen who kissed someone once and declared her his soul mate. No, it didn't work like that; Chuck Bass didn't work like that.
But the aching in his chest, and the throbbing of his pulse, seemed to tell him a different story.
His throat felt scratchy and his tongue heavy when his body caught up with his thoughts. "Blair . . ." He leaned down to kiss her, his lips capturing hers and nibbling on her lower lip lightly as his finger lifted from its place on her hip and trailed an invisible line, between the valley of her breasts and dipping into her navel, and going lower yet, mapping out his conquest and marking her with an X—his X.
Blurry, he opened his eyes and them to focus on hers; they were screwed shut in ecstasy, the dark brown lashes vivid against her pale and weeping skin. The sight made his heart tug, stretch out and connect with hers. "I . . . Blair, I . . ."
She moaned softly, a guttural sound vibrating in her chest. Her fingers—as well as other things—tightened around him, clutching onto him to keep her body grounded as her heart flew. He ducked his head, groaning (in pleasure, or defeat? he wasn't sure) into her neck and he felt himself come undone, unraveling around this magnificent girl underneath him, jumping—falling—off of some cliff, icy needles pricking his skin as he sliced through the freezing water below, gasping for breath and God.
And Blair was his life raft.
The first time he saw her with James—Marcus—he was sure this was what death felt like.
She was his noose, and Marcus was the square piece of wood that dropped beneath him.
He loathed the way she skipped off the bus, so light and free of worry, and how her eyes gleamed so brightly up into Marcus's. All he could see were white spots of fury and the way she used to look up at him like that. When she wrapped her arms around his neck, Chuck could only remember how they'd felt wrapped around his neck, tight and trusting. And when she pressed her lips to his, the imposter's, he had to grimace and look away, because all he knew was the way they were so soft and pliant against his own.
He lifted his fingers and carefully brushed them against his lips, curious to see if there were any remnants of her on him.
So now, when she was standing in front of him with red-rimmed eyes and trembling hands, just seconds from running off with Marcus, why couldn't he say it? When she was ready and eager to begin her life with another man, a man that wasn't him, why couldn't his lips form the words?
Just say it, goddamnit.
"Three words. Eight letters." Her voice was raw and Chuck ached to kiss away the hurt, the pain, whatever she was feeling, and make her only thought be ChuckChuckChuck.
She blinked, not letting the tears fall. His heart tightened. "Say it," she said, "and I'm yours."
Here he was, looking into the face of his not-so-distant future, a destiny filled to the brim with peach-scented hair and late night rendezvous in the crimson silk covers of his bed. She was looking at him with such hope; it was nearly impossible to think at all.
"I . . ." he whispered, his own voice sounding raw. Only Blair could draw that reaction out of him, and he both despised and respected her for it. "I . . ."
He couldn't say it. Why was she making him say it aloud? Couldn't she just trust his heart, put faith in the way he watched her with narrowed, starry eyes? Wasn't that proof enough? He'd never said the three words before, not in earnest, and even when he was staring at the one woman he'd ever want to say them to, scream them to, prove them to, his mouth was unwilling and his vocal chords seemed unable to form; he'd never had to say them before, never wanted to say them before, and his voice didn't know how to speak them.
The three tiniest words were the most difficult ones to speak. Irony seared through his body.
"Thank you," she said weakly. He knew she wasn't thankful at all. "That's all I needed to hear."
She turned around, hesitating before she went to Marcus, and with each second she paused, his heart broke a little more. By the time she reached the car, his heart was just shards, fractions of what used to be capable of loving her.
She was his scissors, and his glue, too.
He was lying on the couch, Frédéric Chopin's Nocturne In F Sharp Minor, Op. 48, No. 2 playing quietly from his stereo. The bottles of tequila on the coffee table beside him were empty, the blessed gift they'd held taking residence in Chuck's groggy mind. He reached for another bottle, twisting off the cap and taking a swig—oh. Empty. He looked at the glass bottle in his hand, circling it and not hearing any liquid sloshing inside. He didn't remember topping off that bottle, too. He jumped when he both heard and felt the vibration of his cell phone ringing from inside his pants pocket. He pulled it out and glanced at the screen. Nathaniel.
"Hello?" he answered.
"Things are over with Catherine," Nate sighed into the phone. "Finally."
"Really?" Chuck raised his eyebrows. This was a new development that he hadn't planned on hearing. "What happened?"
"It's a long story. Vanessa caught Catherine with Marcus, and went to Blair. And there were some miscommunications and backstabbing, but . . ." Nate sighed again; he sounded relieved. "But the important is that it's finally over. Over."
"I'm happy for you," Chuck said. "Wait . . . what did you say about Marcus?"
"Vanessa caught him and Catherine kissing, apparently. Blair and him broke up because of it. Didn't you . . . didn't you know that?"
Chuck's curiosity piqued and his heart lifted infinitesimally; he ran a hand over his chin and pondered. "No, I didn't. Thanks for informing me."
"You're welcome, I guess."
"Huh," Chuck mused, "Catherine and Marcus. Who would have guessed?"
"I know, right?" Chuck heard a distant beep from the other end of the phone. "Oh, hey, Vanessa's on the other line. Mind if I talk to her? I'll call you later and tell you more about—"
"No, not at all," Chuck cut him off and sat up on the couch, already mentally preparing himself. He had more important things to do. "I'll talk to you later."
Chuck pulled the phone away from his ear and stared at the screen. His thumb padded through the menu, viewing the contacts, and scrolled down the list until he saw her name. It caught his attention immediately, as though her name was programmed to stand out especially; as though the black that colored her name was more prominent than the other black names. Blair. His thumb hovered curiously over the call button. After a moment's thought, he pressed down.
"Hello?" Blair answered almost immediately. He closed his eyes at the sound of her voice; it was decadent.
"I heard about Marcus."
Blair tried to hold in a groan, but failed miserably. "I shouldn't be surprised, really. I knew people would find out eventually. So, who told you?"
"I just got off the phone with Nathaniel."
"Ah, little Nate." He could almost see her shake her head on the other end of the line. "And you decided to call me? Want to gloat?"
Chuck thought for a second and then shook his own head, running a finger over his lower lip. "No. Though, I must admit, the whole situation is quite . . . extraordinary."
"What do you want, Chuck?" Her tone was purely annoyed now.
He feigned innocence. "Just wanted to talk to my favorite damsel in distress."
"I'm hanging up."
" . . . What?"
"Listen, Blair. I . . ." He paused, hesitating over his next words. It would be too bold, too risky just to tell her now. And he didn't want to say it over the phone, either. It was far too juvenile an idea. He rubbed his tired eyes and brushed his hand over his face.
"What is it, Chuck?"
"Meet me," he said quickly, stumbling over his words. "Meet me at the park."
"Why not?" he quietly countered.
He could hear the wheels turning in her head; he stiffened, his fingers unconsciously constricting around the phone, as he waited for her response.
"I'll be there in twenty." Click.
He breathed a sigh of relief. "See you then, Blair," he murmured to himself, sliding his cell phone into his pants pocket and snatching his jacket and striped scarf from the coat rack next to the door.
Snow fell lightly around him as he sat on the freezing park bench, his back as stiff as the seat he was sitting on. His arms were slung casually around the back of the bench, hoping to give off a blasé appearance. He was feeling anything but that. A large snowflake drifted in front of his face, and he watched it as it twisted and turned, the light breeze catching it and manipulating it every moment or so. It landed on the fringe of his scarf and melted into the fabric. His eyes stayed on the red thread, fascinated, until the sharp clack of heels caused his head to snap up.
She was standing in front of him, looking simply fantastic in her red pumps and an off-white coat the went well with her alabaster skin. The red hair-band laced into her brown locks made the light red lipstick on her lips pop. Chuck wondered how that shade of cherry would look smeared across his own lips.
"Chuck," she said in greeting, her eyes not meeting his.
He tipped his head toward her, the corner of his lips quirking into an odd, crooked smile. "Blair."
Her eyes focused on a point above his head, and his eyes stayed focused on hers. The silence grew thick, heightened only by the barely noticeable tap of each snowflake finding a surface to melt on. But it wasn't an awkward silence; it was comfortable. And Chuck could almost see the chord that tied their hearts together. He stood up, unable to stay too far away from Blair for too long, and her eyes flew to his at the sudden movement.
They were watery and squinted, and she was wringing her hands nervously, interlocking her fingers, letting them slide free, and interlocking them once more. She pursed her lips, looking away from him again and turning her head to the side.
"Blair," he murmured, stepping forward so he stood not three inches from her body. She shook her head, her eyes closing.
"Blair," he breathed. He lifted his hand to brush along her exposed cheekbone, letting it slide from the apple of her cheek to the corner of her mouth. Her lips trembled under his light touch.
His placed his lips at her ear. "Let me kiss you." The words came out in a whisper, and she shied away from his warm breath.
"No," she whispered back, her voice trembling. Her head rose up and the shards of his heart clenched at the look on her face, a beauty frozen in grief.
"Yes . . . please."
"I . . . no, I . . . Chuck, god, you look awful," she said as she gazed at him with new eyes. Her finger followed the dark path underneath each of his eyes, and he could only imagine the difference in color between her pale finger and the purple circles he'd gained from too many nights drinking and losing sleep.
"It's your fault," he joked half-heartedly.
She continued tracing patterns on his shadows beneath his eyes.
Chuck ducked his head and kissed her cheek softly, letting his lips linger on the surface of her skin and savor the taste of her flushed skin beneath his lips. She let out a choked gasp, the sound getting caught in her throat, and twisted her head toward his so her lips pushed against his.
The movement of their lips was new and awkward after the time they'd spent apart, she seemed to have a difficult time keeping her breathing under control, and he was sure he was clutching her hair too hard.
The moment wasn't perfect, but it was theirs. And Chuck wanted to complete their kiss they way he'd been wanting to and always wanted to.
"Blair, I love you."
His words were rushed and quiet, like he couldn't believe he was actually speaking them aloud, but her response was the opposite. Her tears were long, drawn-out, streaking her mascara into grey lines down her cheeks, and though she bit her lip hard enough to bleed so she could try to not cry, the sobbing wouldn't stay in.
So she began to cry. And Chuck tucked her into his chest, his arms wrapping around her waist. He pressed his face into the crown of her hair, reveling in the scent of peach and her body in his arms—just where it was always supposed to be.
He wasn't sure how many seconds, minutes, hours passed. Time seemed unimportant now, in the grand scheme of things. Now he could tell time simply by how wide Blair's smile was, or how deep the marks were on her face, the ones her frown caused. After time—and he wasn't sure how much—passed, she sniffed one last time and pulled her face away from his chest. She looked up at him, her breath warm and shaky on the underside of his jaw, and he glanced down at her carefully.
"You're okay now?"
She laughed, her grin bright though her voice was still watery. He peered at her anxiously, ready to feel fresh tears against his chest. But she laughed again, much more exuberantly, and said, "Just kiss me already, you fool!"
And so he did.