The flames burned hot and brutal, quickly incinerating the single sheet of paper while Chuck stood staring as his last defense against his own self-loathing went up in a hazy smoke.

Lily might have kept secrets from his father and been in love with another man all along but Chuck knew that he was the source of his father's biggest disappointment in life. And that he had been the one that made the phone call, which had lured his father to his death in that fiery crash.

The lost young boys self derision raised another notch as he stood there transfixed by the red orange glow as if the papers dying embers were an anthem to his life. Yet another parent dead because of him. Another person who could not love him enough to still be there. He was worthless. And alone.

Turning away from the fire Chuck glanced wildly around, scanning the room. In the hopes of finding, what he couldn't have said.

A vestige of happier times?

What happier times?

A ghost?

Who would care enough to haunt him?

Besides his own personal demons, of course, they always found great pleasure in tormenting him.

Forcing his eyes closed Chuck felt his breathing become short and ragged as he swallowed back the lump that had threatened to choke him ever since he had heard the news. Standing in that dark room fighting with those demons he let himself realize for the first time that it was over. His father was gone and there was no more time to make it right. No more chances to finally be the son he'd always wanted. No more words to be said or things to be done that could end this lifelong angst of never being enough just because he was himself. In fact, this thing, this death, could only serve to further cement the truth in his mind. He was not enough. He wasn't enough to keep his mother from dying, he wasn't enough to make his father look beyond his own pain long enough to see that his son needed him and of course in the end he certainly hadn't been enough to keep his father from leaving him without a look back.

Not that that should have surprised him considering that Bart Bass had been walking away from his son without a second thought since the day he was born.

There had only ever been one person who'd seen the real Chuck and had come back for more.

Inside his heart cracked as he remembered large soulful brown eyes with tears falling gently from their corners. Tears that made tracks down the beloved face of the only person in the world who would cry for Chuck Bass. Had he really turned his back and drove away when she said that she loved him? His heart had clenched at the words and it had taken every ounce of his willpower to not collapse into her arms and let everything that he was feeling come pouring out. He had wanted to so desperately but breaking down just was not the Bass way. Never let them see you weak his father had always said. Better yet never be weak.

Never in his life had he ever regretted a choice more. He had left her standing on that street looking scared and broken. But she had risked that pain for him. Because even though he was worthless, she loved him. Unfathomable though it was Chuck knew that her words had been deep and true.

As the shadows in the room threatened to engulf him, he felt himself move towards the door not knowing where he was going. Only that he needed to go before he gave into the demons that were battling for the last little piece of his soul that Blair's love alone kept glowing inside him.

On the ground floor, he stepped out of the elevator and passed through the revolving door. Inexplicably he felt his body move as if it knew exactly where it needed to be without having any input from his brain. Walking blindly he tried to shut his thoughts off so that the blame would quit crushing down upon his chest. So that it would stop blocking the cold night air from reaching his lungs. Nevertheless, nothing worked and his mind kept swirling in the darkness that had no end. Would he ever sleep again he wondered?

It truly wasn't until the elevator doors opened and Chuck could hear the people laughing that he realized where he had been headed all along and then that her mother was in the middle of getting married. Funny how the world kept turning and people were already moving on while he was still frozen in time to the exact moment of hearing the words "Your father is dead." He wasn't sure what he was doing here. Why should he taint her happiness anymore than his sorry existence in her life already had? But as he stepped back into the elevator and reached out numbly to press the down button he felt a gentle tug on his arm and looking up he found himself being drawn out into the penthouse by the ever faithful, ever loyal Dorota. She said nothing, only looked at him in her sweet penetrating way. Then she took his hand and quietly led him behind the celebrations and up the curved staircase down the hall and to the right. Opening the door to his long sought for sanctuary she pushed him inside and said simply "I will get Miss Blair."

Barely registering that the door had closed behind him Chuck closed his eyes and inhaled the scent that was more recognizable to him than his own, sweet like cherries but tangy like spice mixed subtly with the musky scent of woman. Already he could feel his body relaxing, his muscles unclenching as his bone deep exhaustion finally overtook him. Sitting down heavily on the soft downy bed where they had shared so many memories he hung his head and prayed that she would come to him quickly. Knowing that she didn't have to come at all.

Lifting his head slightly he stared transfixed at the city shining just beyond her window and felt the weakness inside him starting to come up into his throat, burning sharply behind his eyes threatening to spill out. Yet still he fought it not wanting to surrender to his pain because a part of him feared that he would never return if he allowed himself to go there.

Then her voice sounded to him through the fog surrounding his brain ... "What do you think you're doing here?" And he felt his head turn and finally his eyes fell on his own personal salvation. He was unable to speak any of the words that he should have said to her. His feelings were to strong. He could only let his lost troubled stare gaze into her own and hope that her heart could hear him begging for her touch.

They remained locked eye to eye, for what seemed an eternity before finally she rushed at him throwing her arms around his body from behind holding on for dear life. Her simple action was finally able to do what all the booze and anger and grief and hatred had been unable to accomplish.

Leaning back into her embrace, he was finally able to let his tears fall. First slowly and then faster chasing each other down his face. He cried for the mother he'd never known. He cried for the years of neglect that had made him bitter and angry. He cried for the person he could never be no matter how much his father wanted it. He cried for the end of his childhood and for the final loss of all innocence. And then he cried for the father he would never see again.

The tangible connection of her arms around him, of her hand grasping his own was the only thing that kept him from being lost completely to his demons. She had said that she would stand by him through anything and then she had proved it by still being here even after he'd tried pushing her away. No one had ever still been there before.

And when at last he had no more tears left to cry and no more thoughts left to think he felt her guide him down onto the soft covers and wrap her body tightly around his own, his back to her stomach. With the feel of her warmth and love, surrounding him, he let his eyes close and his whole body meld into her's.

And for the first time in days, he slept.