He is running in Central Park.
He is running in Central Park voluntarily. He is not at gunpoint or consumed by anger, he isn't drunk off his ass or chased by a pack of hungry wolves. No, he is running in Central Park, voluntarily, stone sober and in the morning. Had anyone told him a year ago, hell – six months ago - that he would ever even consider such pass-time he would have told them to lay off the drugs.
But he realized something that night he ran from Victrola and the other times after that when found himself running fuelled by the anger that still got the best of him from time to time. He realized that sometimes, running away from your problems gives you an opportunity to solve them. And that sometimes times running actually trumped scotch when it came to problem solving – not that he would ever admit such a blasphemy out loud – so he took up a new habit.
He became on of those people, the joggers. His pride had him keeping it a secret for a while, because honestly; Chuck Bass jogging in Central Park? Something about that statement just doesn't sound right. He told her of course – and she laughed for a solid ten minutes – then went out the next day and bought him an ipod. After that it was only a matter of time before he was discovered by Gossip Girl and that is how he ended up in this situation he is currently finding himself in.
This morning - the morning on the day of their high school graduation – he isn't jogging in Central Park. He is fucking sprinting - because that man-bang sporting, lacrosse playing best friend of his - challenged him, and he never backs out on a challenge.
Jogging or not jogging, he is still Chuck Bass, and right about now he is Chuck Bass on the verge of loosing against Nathaniel - the fucking jock - Archibald. Chuck Bass doesn't loose.
If he is about to – he changes the rules.
"Hah!" Slamming his hand against the bark of the tree right before Nate reaches it; he shoots his friend a victorious look.
"Guess those hours on the lacrosse field hasn't paid off like they should have, huh Nathaniel?" He drawls whilst trying to catch his breath.
"You almost pushed me into some old lady!" Nate bites back, leaning against the tree, breathing just as heavily as he is. "That is cheating!"
"Oh please, like you are not supposed to be able to handle a tackle?" He smirks, putting his arm around his friends shoulder as they start walking back to his limo.
Slumping down on the leather seats inside he hands Nate a bottle of water and leans back against the head rest.
"So how is Blair doing with the speech?" Nate asks, knowing very well how she has been a neurotic mess over the last few days trying to get her valedictorian speech perfect.
"She finished it last night when we got back from the ball, after we…"
"Whoa! That is enough information, man" Nate interrupts, putting his hands up defensively before changing the subject completely "I still can't believe you two aren't going to be at the same college this fall. You have been practically attached to the hip all semester."
"The hip?" He smirks, earning himself a look from Nate before continuing, serious this time "We will be fine. She will be at Yale and I will be at Harvard. We agreed. There are telephones, and I happen to have a helicopter to my disposal."
They had agreed that they would go to different colleges, after a week of ignoring the elephant in the room. Both of them thinking the same thing, both of them hesitant about addressing the subject, but they finally did and they had come to an agreement.
Yale has always been her dream, her chance to be Blair without having to be "Blair Waldorf" and he wanted her to have that. He himself still feel that he has a lot to prove - to the board of Bass Industries, to the whole world of the UES but mostly to himself - and he realized that Harvard would be the best choice for him.
Both of them came to the conclusion that they needed the chance to stand on their own two feet - to be their own person for a while - secure enough about them and what they mean to each other to accept the challenge of being away from each other.
Time is a healer. It is one of those expressions that everyone has heard at some point, one of those wisdoms handed out when something bad happens to make you believe in the future and not loose hope.
Earlier he would probably have scoffed at the sappy expression but not anymore. Now he knows that it is one hundred percent true, at least as long as "time"is a reference to the girl at this moment sleeping in his bed.
Leaning against the doorpost looking down on her sleeping form – dark hair, smooth skin and slender curves – he knows that he will never be able to fully express just how much he owes her. How she is probably the only reason he is still breathing. It is an offensive thought, but he is pretty sure it is true - had she not been there he isn't sure he would have been around for long after his father's death. There is only so much drinking, getting high and self-loathing you can do before you run out of luck.
Especially when you are so incredibly lucky that you have Blair Waldorf loving your sorry ass. Then you are bound to run out of luck sooner than later, because surely there must be some sort of limit to how lucky you are allowed to get in a lifetime?
She is incredible. Perfect in every single way and still the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. He loves her with a love he never in a million years would have imagined himself capable of. It used to scare him out of his right mind, that whatever-you-need-to-the-moon-and-back kind of love - now he considers it the best part of himself.
She stirs in her sleep and the sheet covering her back slides further down, revealing more of her back. That is another quality of hers that still has him stupefied at times. Her ability to set his blood on fire in an instant. No other girl, or woman for that matter, has ever come close to affecting him like she does. Yet a glimpse of her back has him reduced to a pool of want.
"Stop staring at me like that, I am sleeping."
Her voice startles him at first, but as she lets him know she is awake there really is only one thing for him to do. Ungracefully flinging himself on top of her, covering her body with his and placing his mouth just by her ear.
"Ugh, you are all sweaty and gross" She whines in mock disgust, squirming underneath his weight "Get off of me, Bass."
"Get you off? Well, well Waldorf, you are quite the dirt talker this morning" He smirks and pulls himself off of her. Only to resolutely pull the covers away from her and take her in his arms before she even has time to react.
"Chuck! Let me down! What are you doing?" She blurts out, squirming in his arms, desperately trying to regain some poise as he carries her naked into the bathroom. To shocked to even comment on his twist of words.
"Well you told me to get you off…" He explains, securing his grip around her form as she tries to wriggle free "…and I need a shower."
"Oh no! You are not getting my hair wet; I have an appointment with my hairdresser in a few hours. Let me down" Her voice is low and menacing but turns into a panicked cry when he doesn't oblige "Let me down!"
Well inside the bathroom he stops momentarily, realizing that he himself is still fully dressed. Deciding that there is nothing that can be done about that detail he kicks off his shoes with a shrug of his shoulder. As he steps into the shower with his precious load she is kicking and making all sorts of desperate threats that has him chuckling as he turns the water on.
"No, Chuck! NO! Let me down you mother chucker!" She makes a final useless attempt to get out of the shower when he puts her down, but then breaks out laughing as the water pours down over them and leaves them both soaking wet.
He is a man of his word, at least when it comes to, making her come, she has to give him that. She never realized how truly mind blowing showering could be until she started taking showers with Chuck Bass. Her hair got wet though, and Louis will kill her, but she admits that it is a price she is willing to pay.
He has changed into a light green shirt and black pants, standing and watching her from the doorway as she blow dries her hair and pulls it up into a loose bun.
"I can't believe we are graduating today." She says because it truly feels like a strange dream that by this time tomorrow they will be high school graduates and on their way to becoming college students, grown ups.
"Well, you better believe it, Waldorf" He drawls "I don't think headmistress Queller would appreciate her valedictorian to forget about such a trivial detail as showing up to the ceremony."
"Oh, I will be there" She answers back "And I will have her reduced to tears with my speech." A final look in the mirror, before turning around.
"Is that so?" He questions, eying her approvingly. His eyes following her hands movement as it trails down the front of her bathrobe, lingering at the belt.
"There is no doubt about it…" She smirks, stepping in closer to him "…and if I get nervous..." She continues, her mouth only inches away from his ear, smiling at the quickening of his breath "..I can always imagine that you are all naked."
"Interesting idea" He smirks back, regaining some control by tugging at the belt and sending her heart racing "I guess that would require you to keep your eyes off me. Wouldn't want you to get…distracted."
When he unties the belt she finds herself thinking that maybe distracted is a good thing.
Later on he is putting his shirt back on, standing by the dresser in his room. Buttoning it absentmindedly as she walks up to him and puts her arms around his waist from behind. Buttoning the last of the buttons for him.
"Reminiscing?" She offers jokingly but she can tell that there is something else on his mind.
"There is somewhere I need to go. Would you go with me?"
She would go with him anywhere; she would go with him to the moon and back if he asked her to and the tone of his voice lets her know that this is important to him so the answer is simple;
She tugs at his arm to have him turn around and when he does she runs her fingers through his still damp hair, kissing him.
"But you need to have me back at my place before noon so that I don't miss my appointment with Louis." She informs him "Or I will have to see to it that you graduate a eunuch. Louis has the longest waiting list in New York"
Happy to see a smile on his lips at her threat as he kisses her again. "Masochist, Waldorf? We both know you would be as affected by that as I would be."
They take the limo of course, the driver seems to know where they are going and they ride together in silence. He is fidgeting nervously with the cuff of his shirt, running his fingers through his hair repeatedly.
Wondering what it is that has him nervous she is about to ask him when the limo makes a turn and she suddenly recognizes her surroundings. Suddenly realizing where they are heading and why he seems so uncomfortable and nervous. Looking over at him with a comforting look in her eyes, reaching out for his hand. The comforting look turning to one of confusion yet again as the limo makes a turn she wasn't expecting.
"Chuck, I think he is…" She begins, turning her head around to look out the window to make sure she is right.
"That is not where we are going."
His eyes dark and hollow and that is when everything falls into place, not sure what to say she simply squeezes his hand reassuringly. When the limo stops and the driver turn off the engine, she follows him as he gets out of the vehicle. Well outside, his hand resting on the door, she can see the struggle inside of him in his eyes and she pulls him closer.
Hugging him tightly until he lets go off the door and hugs her back. Letting go she still holds on to his hand and they stand side by side looking out over the cemetery in silence. The vast space basking in the sunlight, the grass a plush green carpet covering the ground.
"By the tree, Mr Bass" the driver says, getting out of the driver's seat, motioning an old tree below the slope which they are standing on top of.
He lets out a sigh and she knows how big an effort it is on his side to even be here "I think I need to do this part on my own." He says, looking over to her hesitantly. Almost as if he is expecting her to disapprove or object, but she just nods and offers him an encouraging smile.
"I will be here." She reminds him before letting go of his hand, leaning back against the limo in to tell him she is in no rush.
She follows him with her eyes as he walks down the slope. The battle within him clearly visible in the way he walks and the tension in his shoulders.
Looking down on the marble gravestone, unsure of what to do or what to say next, he shifts his weight nervously. Shoving his hands in his pockets but then removes them in the next second. He has no idea on how to do this. His voice doesn't sound like him and he clears his throat as he squats down, brushing some dry leaves off the marble that is warm from the sun underneath his fingertips. Surprising himself by the gesture but deciding to go with gut feeling on this one.
"Sorry it has been so long..." He whispers. Trailing the engraved lettering with his fingers, following the shape of his birth date and the letters of their shared last name.
He has only been her once before, on his seventh birthday, he sweet talked his nanny into taking him - Maria that was the one. They had brought flowers but he can't remember what kind, and he held on to her hand as she put them down in front of the gravestone, unsure what to do or what to say. Watching Maria as she closed her eyes and whispered something, her voice so low he couldn't make out the words. Then she took him for ice cream.
Bart had been furious when he found out later on. It was one of the first times that he had really seen his father's shell crack open and it had not been a pleasant experience. He remembers hiding in his room as his father lashed out at the nanny and then fired her on the spot.
"I've missed you…I am doing okay though. There is this girl…" Stealing a glimpse of Blair standing by the limo waiting "…I guess you already know that. I think you would have loved her. I know I do…"
He keeps on talking for a while. Talking about graduation and college, about living with the van der Woodsens and going for a run with Nate that morning, but mostly he talks about Blair.
When he stands back up his legs are soar, burning and tingling. "I've gotta go graduate now…" He almost smiles to himself. "I promise I will come back and tell you all about it. If you see him…" His words get caught in his throat.
"…tell him that I, you know…him too."
Walking up the slope to where she is standing, waiting for him, he can feel the lump in his chest evaporate upon seeing her. She walks up to meet him, allowing him to step into her open arms. Securing his arms around her waist, burying his face in her hair.
"I love you."
"I love you too. Ready to go graduate?" She asks him, tilting her head back to look at him. Cupping his face with her hands and using her thumbs to brush away the remains of tears he wasn't aware of shedding.
"I guess we should get going. We don't want you to miss your appointment, do we?" Reminding her of her previous threat;
"I would hate for you to be unable to celebrate your graduation…properly…"
"No we most certainly don't. A graduation party at Victrola is not something I am willing to miss out on." She smirks, pretending not to understand what he is referring to.
As she does he has to force back a smile, because she has no idea what he has planned for them. She has no idea that she will actually be missing out on most part of the party he is throwing tonight - though he will make sure she doesn't miss out on the other part too.
She has no idea that he got a permit for his helicopter to land on the rooftop of the building next to Victrola and that Dorota is packing her bags as they speak.
There will be no waiting on a helipad for either of them this time.
There you have it, the last chapter. I'm kinda sad this is over, it's been great. You guys have been great! I'm so flattered by the interest and support you all have shown for this story, I'm truly amazed!!!
A huge extra thank you to all the lovelies who have left me reviews along the way, you guys ROCK! thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!
Now, since this is the last chapter, please leave a review and let me know what you thought about the ending (or maybe chuck as a ) or what you've liked, haven't liked, favourite chapters or moments or whatever. You would make my day!
Anyways, enough from me.
There is a sequel to this story…You can find it on my profile "How We Got To Where We're Going"