"They've got stamps of many countries, they've got passport smiles…" Five times Blair and Chuck run into each other in a foreign country and like it.
Disclaimer: Gossip Girl doesn't belong to me. No infringement is intended.
It's December in Vienna, and she's anything but surprised to see him in the weihnachtsmarkt. After all, "Chuck and Blair Season 4," as Eric calls it, has only been over for two months, and Chuck tends to get morose in the aftermath (which, as she's reminded him countless times, is so not attractive). And there's no way he wouldn't remember that the Vienna Christmas markets are some of her favorite places on earth and that she'd spend every one at the Christkindlmärkte if she could. One Christmas break back in the Nate days (she dates her life this way—Before, During, After Nate, though she can't really remember the Before and kind of hates herself for the During, but not as much as she hates herself for what came right After), she and Nate, Serena and Chuck in the back of a limo, streets of Manhattan flashing by, a slushy mixture of pollution and snow covering everything, and Blair herself rambling on about how much she loved Christmas in Vienna. Chuck remembers, of course, because the one thing she has to admit about him is that he never forgets anything (she sometimes thinks it's the reason she can't get him out of her system—he's never forgotten a single thing about her, and how can that not be flattering?).
She sees him standing over by the punsch booth under a string of gold and red star-shaped lights tangled in the bare branches of the trees. She sees him, and she knows he didn't come here looking for her, but that doesn't mean he isn't here for her.
He looks so good, and she chastises herself for thinking that. She used to be horrified at some of the things he worse (those colored suits!), but the one look she's never been able to resist him in is him in winter wear. That long wool coat, as well-cut as any suit she's ever seen, Italian leather shoes shining, a scarf around his neck (not the scarf; that one died a painful death in the Hamptons two years ago, and the way he carried on, you'd have thought that Bart had died or something. Come to think of it, he didn't show that much emotion when Bart did die).
She clutches her bags tighter (ornaments for Mom's tree, joke lederhosen for Roman, a new cloak for Dorota, a carved wooden Nativity scene she hadn't been able to resist despite her own lack of religious affiliation) and considers letting herself be swept away by the flow of the crowd: past the Rathouse, out onto the Ringstraße, around the city to Stephansdom (there's still a ton of shopping to be done on the Graben), on to Hotel Sacher and their famous torte and rich hot chocolate. It's late afternoon, the sky a dull iron grey heavy with clouds, a few flakes falling, promising that whole drifts will cloak the city by morning.
But then he sees her. She's never been able to read his eyes (and she'd never admit to being fascinated by that) and she can't name the flash of emotion she sees there (and that shiver that runs through her? Definitely due to the temperature). But that moment shatters too quickly, and he lets his eyes rake over her body (the way that makes her instantly hot, though he's done it ten million times before). She knows to the decimal point how good she looks today—cherry red coat, Burberry scarf, white beret, color in her cheeks, snowflakes in her hair. They're the perfect picture, the two of them, staring through the crowds and the dozens of booths at each other while Christmas hymns and snowflakes fill the air. Like a scene in a movie, like the love story they never were.
And then he smiles that stupid, stupid smile (leer) and makes those stupid, stupid bedroom eyes at her, and he's standing there in his stupid, stupid scarf and she can't move (frozen—or melting?) as he approaches her with that stupid, stupid predator walk of his.
The Sacher hot chocolate is even better than she remembers (though that may have something to do with the way it coats the inside of Chuck's mouth when she kisses him. Chuck makes everything taste better).
The world is small, but it's even smaller when you're rich. You're always running into people at parties, because, let's face it, there are only a certain number of parties you can actually afford to be seen at and still maintain your reputation, and they're the same ones that everyone you know can afford to be seen at as well.
Still, she would have thought that the one place on earth she could escape from Chuck Bass (not that she's ever been able to; he lurks just out of sight all the time and she can't help her constant awareness of him) would be on a private island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
It's not like she actually cared about being here, but when one of the few actually classy Greek shipping heirs and his new movie star wife invited her to join them (to get her opinion on the decorating in the newly-built compound of world-class bungalows), she couldn't afford to say no.
She's only been here two days when he arrives, so she can't be so impolite as to leave when she sees him sauntering down the beach to where she's working on her tan (and she most definitely doesn't feel an instant relief that she put on the black bikini today—he's always loved her in black), even if his tossed off, Waldorf. What a surprise lets her know immediately that he knew she would be here.
She tosses him her deadliest smile and flips over onto her back, just catching her top with one hand to keep from flashing him (if Chrysander wasn't right beside him, she would have gone ahead and done it). Chrysander and Leslie are all surprise—they had no idea that Blair and Chuck knew each other.
She holds out for six days (taking every opportunity to bend over and let him get a good look down her top, to brush by him when there's plenty of room to pass each other, to flounce around wearing her skimpiest clothes--and all the while he's laughing at her, the only one she's ever allowed to laugh at Blair Waldorf) before she lets him catch her swimming in the bay and he plunges into the water (clear as Dorota's newly-washed crystal, reflecting the endless azure sky) with a growl (and no, his display of caveman virility does not turn her on, thank you for asking). It's well after sunset when they stumble back to her bungalow, completely exhausted and covered in sand.
An all-over sunburn and sand in their hair isn't too high a price to pay for either one of them, and neither Chrysander nor Leslie say anything about their lobster-colored skin later.
For a split second, she wonders what on earth he's doing in a museum, and then she sees the simpering blonde on his arm.
She's always loved art museums, and the National Portrait Gallery is one of her favorites (though she claims to love the Tate Modern best, which just contributes to her reputation for having flawless taste in art). So when she touched down at Heathrow, the ink still drying on her divorce papers (the bastard had the gall to screw that white trash bitch in their own bedroom during one of the famous Blair Waldorf-Huntley parties and a senator caught them), she directed the waiting driver directly to Leicester Square. The white walls and wooden floors and the colors of the portraits and the hushed conversations of the museum dulled the edge of her bitterness and she felt that she could breathe (probably, if she's honest, for the first time since she married Ashton Huntley).
But then she sees Chuck Bass (of course he would be here at the time she least wants to see him. Of course) smiling down (and it is down—the little toothpick can't be an inch over five feet. Blair could always look him in the eyes when she was wearing heels) at the woman who's obviously trying to pretend to be all intellectual and scholarly about the art (probably just picks out the ugliest piece, assuming that it's the most "edgy" and "daring," and then rambles on about it while Chuck's only thinking about how long it's going to be before he can tug her out the door and into the limo and screw her silly before disposing of her like a used condom—my, my Blair, feeling bitchy today?). She feels hatred bubble up inside (or is that jealous? Whatever it is, it burns): he's always been so good at convincing women that he's sexy, when, really, if you just look at him, he isn't that good looking at all (not even when he's saying he loves you. Especially not then).
When he sees her, he blinks, then smirks, then excuses himself and saunters away from his companion (who is, Blair notices without a hint of gratification—really, not a hint—now glaring) to greet her. They exchange pleasantries (both of them enjoying the skill it takes to turn "how are you?"s and "what have you been up to?"s into insults. They've always been best at that), and she rolls her eyes and lets him talk her into meeting him for dinner—just for old times' sake.
But before he rejoins the bottle blonde, he leans close, and she can feel his breath against her earlobe. Her eyes sink shut for a heartbeat, then fly open the next moment. I can't believe you divorced that bastard before we got a chance to have a real affair.
She storms out of the building, the sound of his laughter ghosting after her.
She fumes for the rest of the day, letting her anger wash over her like waves (and it doesn't help anything that she can't separate her anger at Ash from her anger with Chuck from her anger at her father from her anger with Nate, even after all these years: all the men in her life and their various degrees of abandonment or betrayal jumbling together and wracking her body and her mind and the heart she tries to ignore, and she hates the cliché of it all), and swears to herself a thousand times that she won't show up. Not after he talked to her like that.
But (of course) she does, and hours later, sprawled out sweaty and panting on silk sheets in his hotel room (he owns the hotel, she's pretty sure), she lets him tug her closer to him, and she smiles (and definitely doesn't let tears slip down her cheeks).
He may be the only one who's ever been able to make her scream (though she'd sooner die than admit that—he knows, of course, but imagine how completely insufferable he would be if she actually said it), but they learned to be quiet long ago. In her bedroom while her mom hosted a party just downstairs, in restrooms in Manhattan's finest restaurants while their respective dates sat clueless at the table, under the bleachers at graduation (the look on Serena's face clearly said she knew exactly why their robes were wrinkled after). She learned how to stifle her gasps, her moans, and he learned to bury his face in her neck and not make any sounds (survival skills when you're…dating isn't the right word…involved with Chuck Bass).
The hard-won lessons (she'll never forget how completely mortified she was when Roman caught them in the coat closet at home that year at the Waldorf Thanksgiving Extravaganza) are coming in handy now. The women's restroom was empty when they stumbled into it and then into the small dressing room twenty minutes ago, but she can hear people entering now, and the last thing they need to do is completely scandalize some old, proper Japanese woman.
But when she saw him lounging against a wall in the Narita airport, cellphone attached to his ear, smiling that smile that said he was completely ruining someone else's company (and no one ever doubted that he'd be as good of a businessman as his father if he ever really started caring), something leapt up inside her and five minutes later, the click of the dressing room lock was drowned out by the sound of her own heart beating.
Chuck is the only one who could ever get her to have sex in a public restroom in a Tokyo airport (or anywhere else in public, for that matter), though this is another thing she'll never admit (there's a long, long list, and 75% of it has to do with Chuck Bass). He's whispering in her ear, in his dirty bedroom voice, about how much he loves it that she's so buttoned-down, such a prim and perfect bitch in public, and then completely comes undone when he's alone. He even says something about a tiger and an ice queen and she bites his shoulder hard to make him shut the hell up (another item for her list? His dirty talk makes her even hotter).
When the restroom is silent again, they straighten their clothes (they've gotten so good at this), and walk calmly out into the airport.
They don't look back at each other as they head in different directions, but they've both got smiles tugging at the corners of their mouths.
Her mind is such a hurricane of emotions that she has no idea where she is (or even who she is, anymore) and doesn't really care.
No funeral…nothing left to bury…a memorial service in a few weeks…once her mother recovers.
The words echo over and over in her head (Lily's latest husband's voice bland and emotionless and she's never hated anyone more) and all she can think about is that the car wreck and subsequent fire were so horrible that there isn't anything left in the world of her best friend, no body to bury, no mahogany casket to lay red roses on and see be lowered into the ground, no shining gold hair (she always envied Serena her hair) spread out on the white silk of a pillow. Nothing. All of Serena is gone.
Was that two days ago, now? Three? She doesn't remember. Doesn't remember much of anything. Everything's a blur, an abstract painting of emotions and begged questions with a few images crystallizing to photorealistic perfection: the whiteness of Eric's face, drops of blood dripping from Lily's hand when the champagne flute shattered, Dan Humphrey's (and she hadn't seen him in years—had he even spoken to Serena since high school?) fist going through the wall.
And then Nate's dry, desperate eyes as he shoved a passport and ticket in her hand and drove her to the airport and pushed her onto a plane. She doesn't remember the flight, though she's pretty sure she was sick at least once and scared the man sitting next to her so much (with her furious tears) that he asked to be moved.
She has no idea where she was headed or how long it took to get there. All she knows is that she's stumbling out of the gate now, and there he is.
For a moment, she thinks that Nate had to have gone completely insane. Sending someone to Chuck for comfort (because now she sees that that's what this is—no one at home knew how to handle her and Nate took care of it), especially after how they ended the last time (screams and anger and shattering vases and she's never hated anyone more). But that moment passes as she stumbles into his arms (and smells too much aftershave and a hint of whiskey and the fabric softener he uses on his scarf). Nate knew her better than anyone, once upon a time (better than anyone but Serena, because no one could ever know her as well as Serena did, except maybe Chuck, who knows all of the horrible things she's capable of and exactly how vulnerable her heart is underneath her armor), and something of that must have lingered because, for once, he knew exactly what to do and he did it.
They stay in bed for days, and for the first time since that night in high school (falling asleep on her bed planning someone's demise—she doesn't even remember who), they share the bed and that's all. She still has no idea where they are—somewhere in Europe, maybe, judging by the breakfast foods—and she still doesn't care. Not when there is nothing outside this hotel room and the sound of Chuck's heart beating (Serena's heart doesn't beat anymore, doesn't even exist anymore, all burned away, and she thinks of that stupid poem they had to read in high school about burning a candle at both ends and not lasting the night and a lovely light and she's never hated anything more) under her ear. For once he doesn't say anything, and she's never been so thankful for anything.
She's not so foolish (or inappropriately romantic) as to think that this changes anything between them. As soon as the memorial service is over, they'll go their separate ways, maybe never see each other again (though she doesn't really think the fates are that kind). But they had this moment, and she has someone's hand to hold while Eric's voice cracks as he shares his memories of his sister, and she doesn't have to pretend to smile and "celebrate" Serena's life, and maybe that's enough to keep her breathing.