Disclaimer: I own nothing. GG belongs to C.v.Z., J.S., and the C.W. For profit. Thanks to Katy and Courtney. xoxo
A/N Sometime after Desperately Seeking Serena Nate's father left them and Nate finds out about Chuck and Blair. Soon after Nate's mother commits suicide and he escapes New York to live with his maternal grandparents. Blair and Nate never slept together, Nate briefly dated Vanessa before she won a film scholarship for her documentary from School Lies and left for Toronto. (Yes, I'm still continuing Mahogany) Please let me know how this turned out!
He'd dreamt of The Captain again. Walking in the park, the path they used to run together every morning carpeted in rusted leaves, his hands in his pockets. He'd tried to stop him; running after him at full speed and screaming his name at the top of his lungs but it hadn't made a difference. Nothing ever did. His feet always pounded the pavement in slow motion; his words always floated away in the wind. And his father always receded into nothingness, slowly disappearing as if he was never really there to begin with.
Nate sighed. He hadn't dreamt of his father in over a year, but with the anniversary of his mother's suicide quickly approaching… he guessed it was only natural.
Vanessa stirred beside him, rolling over to drape her arm across his stomach. The ring he had gotten down on one knee to give her twinkled in the early morning sunlight. They'd be husband and wife this time next year. Married. Legally bound. He'd never told her that it scared him shitless; following in his father's footsteps, becoming the type of man he'd been… the type of father he'd turned out to be. It wasn't something he thought she'd understand. Her parents, though eccentric as they might be, loved her and her sister unconditionally. Her father would never have siphoned millions of dollars from his business partners' accounts to waste on pharmaceuticals or to run off with cheap hookers. Her mother would never have silently suffered a lifetime of her husband's abuse or hide a blind eye to his unfaithful transgressions. And she would have never leapt to her death before her daughter's eyes; blood splattering on the sidewalk around her shattered head like a gruesome halo.
Nate shuddered at the image he'd rather forget.
"You cold, Fitz?" Vanessa asked from beneath closed lids beside him.
He peered down at the top of the head that was nestled into the crook of his neck. He hadn't heard her call him Nate in over ten years, since that first day he'd bumped into her in Toronto. She'd stood in the rain, her curls straightening under the weight of fat rain drops, and shouted at him for hours for having disappeared without a word. And he'd let her because it had felt good to have someone look at him with something other than pity in their eyes for once. She'd finally wiped the tears he hadn't been able to tell weren't raindrops from her cheeks, forgiven him and declared that a new start deserved a new name. He'd been Fitz – or some other less embarrassing form of his middle moniker – to her ever since. "No. Did I wake you?" he asked.
"No" she yawned, "You know I always wake up exactly a minute before the al –"
He reached a hand out to stop the shrill ring of their alarm clock, "Hungry?"
"Starved" she laughed, snuggling into his side.
"Usual?" He asked, slipping out of her hold and escaping to the kitchen before she could reply.
"Come on Rapunzel, rise and shine! You're going to be late!" Dan yelled up the stairs, banging a wooden spoon against the inside of a pot. Serena's curtain call was in twenty minutes and he'd been trying to wake her up for the past hour.
"Relax!" Came her annoyed response, "It's not like they can start without me."
"Of course, because the world waits for its Serena Van der Woodsens." He muttered half to himself as he turned to make his way back into the kitchen.
"Well maybe if we lived closer to Manhattan I wouldn't have to wake up at the crack of dawn to make it anywhere on time." Serena countered, stomping down the stairs. She wore only jeans and a t-shirt – no bra.
Dan eyed her breasts angrily, "If we lived closer to Manhattan would you have the time to put on your underwear?"
"We've been over this a thousand times, Dan," she crossed her arms against her breasts as she pushed past him into the kitchen; "It's part of the job."
He stalked after her, "Then maybe it's time you stopped parading half naked up and down the runway."
"Are we really going to have this fight again?" She growled over her shoulder as she poured herself a cup of coffee.
"Looks like," he snapped, throwing the pot and spoon into a random cupboard and slamming the door shut.
"You know we're going to have to talk about this sooner or later," Vanessa's voice floated from the bedroom into the kitchen where Nate was scrambling eggs.
He sighed. He knew this conversation was coming. Although he had hoped he'd be able to put it off until at least after breakfast. "I know" he called back, his voice small.
"I just… thought you'd be… happy, I guess." He could hear the springs in their old mattress groan as she shifted her weight off the bed.
"I am, V. I'm just…" He let his sentence trail off, not knowing where to even begin.
"Scared?" She supplied as she wrapped her arms around him from behind and kissed his bare shoulder blade.
He turned off the element and removed the frying pan to a hot plate, "More than you know."
"It's not the end of the world, we'll be ok." She pressed her cheek against his back to reassure him of her words, "This baby is a gift, not a punishment." When he didn't reply she untangled her arms from around his waist and wiped at the salty tears streaming down her face. "Ok, then. We should eat or you'll be late. How long are you gone for this time?"
He divvied up the eggs and turned to place their plates on the table, "It'll be at least a week and a half, maybe two weeks. The supplies are really running low up there, the shipment probably should have gone up two weeks ago but I just couldn't spare the time." He met her eyes briefly, offering her a small smile. It had been their anniversary and the day she's first told him she was pregnant.
Her answering smile was just as small, "I packed you an extra pair of long johns and wool socks – it gets cold up there this time of year."
He reached across the gap between them to cover her hand with his, "Thank you."
She nodded and averted her gaze as tears sprang to her eyes once more. And in that moment he hated his father more than he ever had in his entire twenty eight years. He should be bouncing off the walls or stumbling around with a goofy smile plastered to his face and handing out cigars to random strangers. He shouldn't be sitting across the table from his pregnant fiancé picturing their son or daughter standing over their mother's broken, lifeless body. "I'll be back before you know it and we'll… talk." He stood, gathering his empty dishes. He sighed for the thousandth time that morning; she hadn't eaten a single bite of her breakfast. "You should eat, sweet pea," he told her, pressing his lips briefly to her cheek. She nodded and absently brought a forkful of egg to her mouth. He left his dirty dishes in the sink for their part time maid Maggie and headed for the shower.
"It's my JOB," Serena repeated, breaking the uneasy silence that had fallen over them as they sat and ate their breakfast.
"So find a new one," Dan shrugged unsympathetically, his eyes never leaving the newspaper in front of him.
"Excuse me?" Her brows disappeared into her hair line; her coffee mug stalled en route to her lips in mid air.
"You heard me," He shrugged a shoulder and met her glare head on, "Find. A. New. Job."
"I happen to LIKE my job, thank you very much." She snarled through clenched teeth.
"No, you don't." He countered quirking a busy eyebrow and daring her to deny it.
"Yes, I do!" She slammed her coffee mug against the table, black liquid sloshing over the rim onto the table.
"It's degrading and you hate it," he barked, "Why the fuck you stick with it I have NO idea. You have a perfectly good degree from Yale – Yale! – and you do shit all with it!" Her spine stiffened and he noticed. "But of course we don't talk about that! No! Not Yale! God forbid we talk about the degree from Yale!"
"Stop it" She hissed, pushing back violently from the table and storming out of the room.
Vanessa scrapped her plate of eggs into the trash once he'd left the room. She wasn't hungry and she probably wouldn't be until long after he'd left.
She wasn't exactly sure where it had all gone wrong – from the moment he had unexpectedly popped back into her life four years ago things had always been fairy tale perfect between them. It had been raining and she was rushing to her Art History class at the university, ten minutes late as usual. She'd taken a quick glance into the street but her hair was wet and in her face and she'd mistaken the oncoming car for a parked one. He'd swooped in from out of nowhere to tackle her to the ground and out of harm's way. And she had been extremely grateful up until she'd realized the identity of her knight in shinning armor. Nathaniel Archibald. The boy who'd broken her seventeen-year-old heart when, four months into her year long scholarship at The Toronto Film School his letters had suddenly stopped coming. She'd stood in the rain hollering at him for hours, his wide smile never leaving his gorgeous face. And, as corny as it sounds, they'd been happy ever since. Or at least she'd been.
Vanessa sighed as she placed her dirty dishes on top of his in the sink.
He'd been happy too, up until two weeks ago when she'd told him they were going to be parents. She'd been expecting him to grin uncontrollably and sweep her into his arms. Instead, he'd gone paler than their white table cloth and nearly choked to death on his appetizer. She padded into their bedroom and tugged their comforter off the bed to wrap it around her small frame. Maybe losing herself in whatever biography was playing on A&E would take her mind off the fact that her fiancé maybe didn't want to have anything to do with the life growing inside of her. She slumped onto their leather sofa and flicked on the TV.
"Stop what? I don't even know what it is that I'm doing!" Dan roared, following Serena into their bedroom.
"You know exactly what!" She yelled back, kicking at the clothing heaped in piles on the floor, "Where is my fucking wallet?!"
"No! I don't!" He stalked furiously to her nightstand, "It's right fucking here!"
She yanked it from his outstretched hand, "Then maybe you should just shut the hell up!"
"Fine," His palms hands came up, palms outstretched in surrender, "I'm done, you win."
She sighed, "thank you. I'll just… I'll see you after work, ok?"
He shook his head no, "No. I mean, I'm done. I'm out. I can't do this anymore."
"What?" She squeaked, her wallet slipping from her hand to the floor.
Nate hoped Vanessa's spirits had lifted in the time it had taken him to shower and change; he didn't want to leave her alone and upset. Pushing his wet hair out of his face, he followed the muffled sounds of the TV into the living room and found her fast asleep on the couch. He tiptoed forward, mindful of their tabby cat Jake who kept winding his way between his feet, to look down at her. She really was beautiful; her supple pink lips, her dark lashes resting against her olive skin, her curly hair poking out the top of her comforter cocoon.
Lifting her head and placing a pillow under it, he whispered a kiss against her temple, "You are my heart and soul, V." He crossed the room to mute the TV – for some unknown reason she always pitched a fit if he turned it off completely – and pointed a finger at Jake, "Take care of her while I'm gone, buddy." And then he slung his duffle bag over his shoulder and hurried out the door.
"I'm out," Dan repeated slowly, "I'm sorry."
"You're sorry? You're SORRY?!" Serena screeched, "You're breaking up with me because of my job and you're sorry? How fucking ironic!"
He bristled as her words registered, "Ironic? Oh – you mean because pathetic, low rent Brooklyn is breaking up with Princess Serena Van der Woodsen?"
"After everything I went through at Constance and with Blair! I defended you!" She continued, bending down to pick up her wallet and hurl it at his head, "I told everyone who'd listen we didn't care what they thought because social hierarchies didn't matter! Well looks like I was only half right!"
"That's crap and you know it, Serena. That's not what this is about." He grabbed his wallet and keys off his nightstand and shoved them into the front pockets of his pants, "and if you can't see that then I'm not sure I'm making the wrong decision here." He turned back when he reached their bedroom room, "I'll come by later when I'm done at the paper to get the rest of my things." And then he was gone.
"No, no, no, no, NO!" Blair shouted at a rail thin, blonde girl of about twenty, "If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times! Blind stitch! The hem on this design requires a blind stitch!" Blair snatched the needle and thread from the girl and pushed her away from the dress form, "What kind of intern are you? Do you know nothing!?" The tiny blonde turned and fled, tears streaming down her face.
Jenny breezed into the studio, arms weighed down with fabric as the intern rushed out, "Another one, Blair? What's that – like the seventh this week?"
"Eight." Blair corrected, sparing Jenny a brief look over the top of the dress form, "Seventh was that Amazonian with the bad dye job from F.I.T."
Jenny eyed the top of Blair's head, "Yes. How could I forget, Jeriska from Jersey." She made her way over to her desk and dumped her morning purchases, "I'll call the agency once I'm done with Eleanor."
"No!" Blair protested quickly, "Call them now! I want somebody over here in twenty minutes who knows their way blindfolded around a blind stitch!" Blair stomped forward and snatched a file folder of swatches from Jenny's hands, "I'll deal with Eleanor myself."
Jenny watched her go. She was used to Blair acting like a raging bitch. She'd suffered through it all through prep school and had even been introduced to The Blair Bitch Project 2.0 after college when she'd come back to New York to work for Eleanor. She'd even on the rarest of occasions been witness to the kind soul Blair refused to admit lay nearly dormant beneath layers of frigid ice and scorching fire. But she'd never, ever in all her years seen her acting the way she had been lately. She was all over the map; screaming bloody murder one minute and jumping out of her skin the next. She'd decided after last night's incident she was going to have talk to Eleanor – that if she could get ten minutes alone with the woman. Nobody had seen hide nor hair of Eleanor Waldorf in the past six months. She was either constantly vacationing at the latest hot spot, hunting down elusive new fabrics in France or holed up in her office working on top secret designs and refusing to see anyone whose name wasn't Blair Waldorf. Jenny was starting to get suspicious, something was definitely up.
"Mom?" Blair called out as she timidly unlocked the door to her mother's private study.
"What do you want now?" Came Eleanor's sharp reply from within the dark room.
"Jenny's back. She wants 'your' opinion on the swatches for the Bendel's line." Blair answered, pushing the heavy oak door open.
"Then give it to her" Eleanor snapped.
Blair could barely make out her mother's frail form behind the large oak desk. She could remember the hours she spent as a child watching her lovingly craft each unique design behind that very desk. Now… she merely sat there all day, frozen in painful memories and dwelling in the past. Blair nodded, "Alright, as you wish. The buyers from Bergdorf's will be here in an hour. Will you be attending the meeting?"
"I will not" Eleanor hissed.
"Mother, you can't keep doing this to yourself." Blair sighed, closing the heavy door behind her and flicking the light switch, "You can't wallow in what might have been."
Eleanor sat behind the huge desk wearing dark slacks and a crème blouse, her dark hair gathered at the nape of her neck in a tasteful chignon, her eyes unblinking. "That's a little rich coming from you, don't you think?" she tossed back angrily.
Blair bristled, "Distasteful, even from you mother. I'll let you know how the meeting goes." Blair turned to haul the heavy door open again.
"I miss Charlie too, Blair." Eleanor's soft words stole the breath from Blair's lungs.
"Don't you dare," Blair spoke the words menacingly, her back to her mother. "You haven't the right," she added dangerously as she walked out.
Jenny looked up, startled from her thoughts as Serena stumbled through the studio's open doorway.
"Hey! Jenny! Just the girl I didn't want to see!" She smelled like the floor of a brewery Jenny noted as the taller blonde flounced past her to drunkenly hop onto Blair's desk. "Your brother is a world class ass, Missy" Serena slurred, jabbing the air with her an index finger and nearly falling from her perch.
"I'm inclined to agree with you most days," Jenny said, catching a stapler as Serena knocked it from Blair's desk.
"What are you doing here, S?" Blair questioned as she came around the corner and spied Serena teetering on the edge of her desk. "Are you drunk?" Blair sniffed Serena's breath as she came forward.
"Maybe a little" Serena nodded, tumbling from her perch and landing with a thud on the tiled floor. "Or maybe a lot," she managed through a fit of giggles.
Blair rolled her eyes, "I don't have time for this right now." She helped a wobbly Serena into a chair and motioned for seamstress Crystal to bring her a glass of water, "I have a buyers meeting in under and hour."
"Actually," Jenny put in as Crystal handed Blair a mug, "Harry just called to reschedule; his wife's gone into labor."
"Well isn't that lovely." Blair huffed out a breath, "like the world really needs another Harry running around, looking up women's skirts."
"Oh! Goody!" Serena squealed, clapping her hands happily, "let's go shopping instead!"
"Shopping?" Blair quirked a well shaped eyebrow, "you want to go shopping? Now? Drunk."
"Shopping!" Serena repeated, wobbling as she stood up a little too quickly.
Blair looked at Jenny.
Jenny shrugged, "I've got things under control here. You two go ahead."
Blair groaned, "We'll be back in less than two hours." She grabbed her purse and coat, pinning Jenny with a knowing look, "and leave my mother alone while we're gone, Jenny."
Serena zigzagged through the design studio behind Blair following her out the door.
A/N Chuck is up next, don't worry. :)