A/N: This is my Eddicted Secret Santa give for Issa over at FanForum. It really got away from me, and ended up MUCH longer than I anticipated so I hope she likes it! :D I love you, Iz! -kiss- Feliz Navidad!

Disclaimer: I don't own Gossip Girl's Chuck and Blair. If I did then Chuck would realize he has all the family he needs… in Blair. Title and lyrics by Sarah McLachlan.

Special thanks to: LynniePearl, my cohort in the "take back the mushy-fluffy-I-Love-You" campaign, for reading this over. Love you!

Don't Let Your Life Pass You By

The club was in full swing and from the couch that sat front row, center, Chuck was oblivious to the festivities. Even though he'd thrown the party, celebrating the end of the January during their last semester at school, there was no one he wanted to talk to, and nowhere else he'd rather than in this seat.

In this moment, from this spot, he was remembering his first party at Victrola, the night that Blair Waldorf had come to him after breaking up with his best friend. Right now, it wasn't the club's staff of dancers that he was seeing onstage, it was the memory of her swaying her hips to the music to defy him that had him glued to his seat. He was stuck, immersed in visions of the night she'd given herself to him and started this twisted Soap Opera that they currently lived; the story that brought him from butterflies in his stomach to his father's death and crying while she held him.

When he'd first gotten his hands on the inheritance his father had left him, Chuck had outright purchased the club. He'd told himself that it wasn't for sentimental reasons, that it was a good move for the company, yet her face was all he saw on the stage. Even when the place was in full swing, filled to the gills with his classmates taking advantage of the "Beginning of the End" party he'd thrown, it was her occupying his mind.

She was here tonight; he'd seen her on one of his circuits around the party, sitting at the bar alone, her slender finger tracing the rim of a filled champagne glass. He remembered wondering if her thoughts were stuck on the same night his were, why she had even attended the bash if she wasn't going to leave the bar and why his 'step-sister' Serena wasn't at her side. After a moment of watching her, she hadn't noticed him so he went back to his seat to continue day-dreaming the party away.

It was when he'd made a trip to the bathroom and passed by her again that he'd stopped to eavesdrop on her conversation; she was no longer alone. There was a sandy-haired man, probably ten years her senior, sitting on the barstool to her right. Chuck watched as the man tried to make small-talk with her and he'd inwardly celebrated when it became obvious that Blair was ignoring every word the guy spoke, her finger still distractedly circling the glass's rim.

Stepping closer, Chuck heard the man introduce himself as Ron and use some cheesy line: "I thought you should know, since you'll be screaming it later." The southern twang that colored his words was ridiculous, but the connotation of them caused a surge of jealousy. It wasn't that this guy was any competition, really, but that he dared to hit on someone way above him; no one was good enough for Blair.

And that was why she was sitting at that bar alone. Without him.

The blood in his veins beginning to boil, Chuck stepped even closer and heard Blair rebuff with a scoff, "I doubt that; you seem to be ill-equipped for that task." She looked bored, yet on edge around the strange man; fixing him with a glare, she droned waspishly, "So leave me be."

When 'Ron' ignored her, leaned in closer and she had to lean back to get away from him, Chuck cleared his throat and stepped in. "Is there a problem here?"

Blair's grateful eyes snapped to his while Random Ron answered, "There weren't until you butt in, kid. You ain't wanted here."

"That doesn't seem to be stopping you," Chuck countered before breaking eye-contact with Blair and looking in the other man's direction. "If you're too dense to take the hint, I can assure you she's not interested."

"What are you, her boyfriend?" Through the side of his eye, Chuck saw Blair bite her lip as Ron continued, "The lady and I were fine until you stuck your nose in our business."

Chuck crossed his arms in front of his chest, "Seems to me that the lady wants no business with you; leave her to her drink or I'm going to have you removed from the premises."

"You?" Ron slapped his leg with a laugh, "You're gonna have me removed?"

Gritting his teeth, Chuck angled himself between Blair and her annoyer. "As owner of this establishment, I have the right to refuse service to anyone; please leave before I call the authorities to help you out." The fact he owned the club now made him feel much better about the situation; he could actually do something about this and get this guy away from Blair.

The other man let out a loud guffaw and regarded Chuck Bass as if he were gum on the bottom of his shoe; obviously this guy didn't know that Chuck owned a good portion of New York now. "You ain't even old enough to drink and you saying you own the place? I may be a country boy, but I ain't dumb. Now git." With that, he turned back to Blair, "Now, where were we…"

It was then that Ron put his hand on Blair's thigh… and Chuck put his fist in Ron's face. He'd vaguely heard Blair yell as his knuckles cracked into the redneck's cheek; it may have been his name she'd called, but he couldn't be sure.

Ron was knocked onto the floor through the combination of surprise and the sheer force of the blow, so he scrambled to stand. Once he regained his footing, he got up in Chuck's face to yell, "What the hell was that for?!" The man's face was bright red with anger and a bruise was already starting to form below his left eye.

"For you being way out of your league," Chuck shoved Ron away with clenched fists, hoping he'd just get out of his club. They were lucky that no one from the party had noticed the commotion; he could only imagine the Gossip Girl blast if she got a hold of the fact that Chuck Bass was punching people over Blair Waldorf.

"I'm gonna show you outta your league…" The other man grabbed his phone and dialed, "I think the famous NYPD will be happy to show you what happens to little boys who hit." Before Chuck could protest, Redneck Ron was talking into the receiver and giving the 911 operator his location.

Steaming mad, Chuck waited somewhat patiently with Ron and Blair for the cops to show; he would have told her to go, but she insisted that she needed to tell the officers what happened. Blair hadn't left her barstool, so Chuck was standing between her and Ron to keep the other man from leering at her; there wasn't any way that Chuck would allow her to be bothered further.

By the time the police arrived, he was convinced that they could be reasoned with; Ron had been harassing Blair and refused to leave when asked, after all. He was the one who should be leaving in cuffs; Chuck would just stand by and watch him go with amusement. Then Blair could thank him and…

They'd be just where they'd started the night; this situation wouldn't really change anything, but at least she was safe.

Two officers entered Victrola, a male and a female, and took their statements. Ron was insisting that he'd done nothing wrong by talking to Blair; that Chuck was out of line for hitting him when he could have had security remove the older male. Chuck pointed out that he only got physical when Ron touched Blair after she repeatedly refused him.

Somehow, in all the fuss, Chuck was the one who ended up in handcuffs.

He waited in resignation to be led away, but before the female officer could finish fastening the metal around his wrists, Blair had launched herself at the male cop, beating her tiny fists into his arm. "You can't do this! He was helping me! Arrest that guy for harassing me!!!"

Chuck looked on in horror as the man cuffed Blair as well; assault on a police officer and resisting arrest were the charges apparently.

It landed them both in the silent backseat of a squad car. On the way to the precinct, he couldn't help but notice how upset she looked; her hair was mussed and there were tears welling in her eyes. This was partially his fault and he wanted to do what he could to assure her they'd be alright, so he reached over to her as best he could with his cuffed hands.

He didn't meet her eyes when she took his hands and threaded them with hers.

After mug-shots, fingerprints, statements and phone calls to lawyers, they were placed in a holding cell. Luckily they were alone; Chuck didn't think Blair could handle sharing their cell with some of the unsavory people that could have been in there. She looked a little stronger now, sitting a few feet away with her legs crossed and her un-cuffed hands resting on her knees; the dress she was wearing was riding up and giving him a peak at the lace tops of her stockings.

Even in jail she was irresistibly beautiful.

They hadn't said a word to each other since they'd left Victrola and none were coming to him, so he rested his head against the wall. Studying the ceiling he reflected on how this arrest was superior to his other trip behind bars this year: the company was infinitely better, even if she wasn't talking. And at least she was safe now, which had been his goal, right? Wasn't that all he was trying to do these days? Protect her from getting hurt?

Although, getting her arrested probably wasn't the best way to go about that.

Moments went by and he was contented by listening to her steady breathing; she was with him and she was safe. When the volume of her breath got louder, he looked to his left to find she'd scooted closer to him so that they were only separated by a foot. Her teeth were worrying her bottom lip and wide brown eyes met his timidly as she spoke softly, "I wanted to thank you."

He'd been joking himself earlier, thinking she would be thankful. Caught off-guard he asked, "For?"

She seemed to struggle with words for a second before answering, "For stepping in when you did. As much as I hate to admit it, that guy was right: you aren't my boyfriend." Her voice quieted, somehow making his chest feel heavier by doing so. "You didn't have to protect me."

"Just because I'm not your…" he breathed deeply to steady the word, "boyfriend, doesn't mean I was going to let him maul you in public, Blair."

"You could have sent a bouncer over," she replied, logically. She was right, of course, but that would have wasted time.

"Why?" Chuck tried to keep his anger at what could have happened in check, but it still colored his tone, "So I could come back to find him touching more of you?" He knew how quickly things could get out of hand in situations like that and he was not going to let that happen to her if he could help it.

The disgust evident in his voice caused a wan smile to cross her lips, "That's what earned him a punch?" Her tone was curious as she asked, "Touching me?"

He tried to school his features into an indifferent mask, "You should choose who has that right." Especially if it was going to be someone other than himself touching her. The only reason he didn't haul off and slug Marcus or Nate when she was 'dating' them was that she'd chosen. No matter how much her choice hurt him, it was hers to make.

She reached out and took his hand, "And I have." Her eyes never left his so the significance behind the gesture couldn't be ignored: Blair chooses him. Chooses, not settles for, not forced upon, but chooses. No matter how much that fact filled him with hope, this was a dangerous conversation to be having.

"This hasn't changed anything, Blair." They weren't supposed to be here, together, and feeling this way. She was supposed to move on to someone that could be who she needed. He needed her to understand that. "I was just protecting you;" he clarified, "it's not an urge I can turn off."

A light seemed to come on over her head: "Like my wanting to take care of you after your father's funeral?"

"That's completely different," he frowned. Dammit, she wasn't going to make this easy, was she? Why couldn't she see that this was for the best?

"How, exactly?" Her hand took his and her pleading eyes wouldn't let his escape, "You acted like that was something I could flick a switch on, that I could choose to stop loving you and let you waste away. I had to find you; there was no choice. I love you too much."

Those words, the ones that he'd gone his whole life without hearing, seemed to be all she could say now. Her reason for everything was that she felt for him and it was killing him not to say them back. He wasn't worthy of her heart but she kept throwing it at him, hoping he'd catch it. She was better off without him, really, because he always seemed to get there too late to save it from falling on the ground.

So he did what he had to do to make his point and pulled their hands apart, ignoring the sudden chill on his skin. Averting his eyes from hers teary ones, he gently stated, "Please stop saying that."

This time she grabbed his face, turning it toward hers so that he had to see the pain, the pain that he was causing her. Didn't she realize that was why he refused to give in? That hurting her was the last thing he wanted?

"It wouldn't make it any less true, Chuck." Blair cleared her throat to speak past the tears that he could see choking her, "When you left my room that night, when I read that note you left me, I tried to tell myself that I had to let you go. I was miserable, not knowing where you were, if you were safe."

He tried to speak, but she placed her warm fingertips over his lips; he couldn't fight the ache in his chest at that gesture. Blair deserved to say her piece, he supposed, but he'd still have to push her away again. Hopefully putting herself through this would help her to let go when the night ended and if it gave her that peace, he'd sit and listen to her list his sins.

She sighed mournfully and continued her plea, "Christmas Day was the worst because I had to watch my mother the newlywed be so happy." Shaking her head, a tear slipped down her cheek, "I couldn't go on like that. It may have been selfish of me, Chuck," piercing brown eyes bore into him, showing him her resolve, "but I don't give a damn; I had to find you and know you were at least still alive." Then her eyes flicked down to the floor, shoulders sagging, "Even if you ended up hating me for it."

It was Chuck's turn to sigh; she just didn't get it. "I can't hate you, Blair," he started, "that's why this is so impossible. Just being friends--"

Blair chuckled bitterly, cutting him off, "Friends? Right. You haven't spoken more than a handful of words to me since your uncle brought you back." It hurt him to admit, inwardly, that she was right; it'd been easier to avoid her. "We're nothing, Chuck," her voice cracked, "and we'll be nothing until you stop being afraid of your feelings long enough to see that we could be so much more."

"I'm not af--" he cut himself off and started again, "did you even read that note?" He was going to have to spell out for her the many reasons why they couldn't be together; she seemed to be avoiding them. With a deep breath he declared adamantly, "I don't deserve you!"

Why didn't that sound as unquestionable as it did in his head?

"That's not true, Chuck…" there she goes, taking his hand again, her eyes begging him to see it her way, to give in. "And even if it was true, I don't care. If you love me, none of that matters." When her free hand brushed its fingers down the side of his face, he could swear his heart stopped at the touch; it'd been so long since they'd touched each other like this.

Her voice was unsteady when she concluded, "Nothing else matters." She looked so… sad. And that sadness over him was starting to wear down his determination. Her disheartened face was so hard to bear; if his plan to protect her was working the way it should, then neither of them should be in this much pain.

"I don't want to hurt you, and I know I will." He sighed, "We've tried before and all it did was hurt." But how much more pain could he cause her after they'd become a 'them?' Could it get any worse than this?

"This hurts me," she cried. "You pushing me away, thinking that you're not good enough for someone as imperfect as me, hurts me more than anything else you could ever do." The grip that her hand was holding his in tightened, "And I know you've doing your worst to make me see things your way; the past few weeks have been hell, seeing you drunk and high as a kite, with half-naked whores hanging all over you. It wasn't easy to go on, pretending it wasn't bothering me."

She'd known what he was doing and… "It didn't scare you off." Closing his eyes, he breathed in deeply, letting that set in; not even his best effort to shake her had worked. They were still in this cell, having this conversation about why they were here together.

Obviously neither of them had gotten the least bit over each other.

"Nothing will," she replied as a tiny smile touched her lips. "I meant it when I said that I'd stand by you through anything." Touching her forehead to his, she breathed, "I love you, so I really don't have a choice; not that I'd want one."

This moment, this one right here where they're surrounded by metal bars, felt so right. Her words were echoing around him, urging him to return them. The crushing sensation in his chest begged him to just say it, to end the agony and start the next chapter of his life; the one that had both their names written in it. Together.

Without thinking, he asked, "You sure?"

Blair choked back a sob, the meaning behind those words loaded for both of them, "You know how I feel about you, Chuck Bass, that I'm not going anywhere; can you please, please, trust me to know that this is what I want?"

Inwardly gathering all the strength he could, he cupped her cheeks with both his hands. The eyes staring back at him held the truth, the huge span of her love for him, and he only hoped that what he could give her would be enough. After tonight a lifetime without seeing that emotion in her eyes wouldn't be one worth going through; he needed it to stay there. So he took the first step to keep it there.

"I need you to show me how to trust you," he said softly, "And I'll try my hardest to be worthy of yours." Stroking a tear away from her cheek with the pad of his thumb, he took the plunge: "I love you and I don't want to hurt you anymore."

It took him by surprise when she threw her arms around him, pressing her cheek to his chest below his throat, but it only took him a second to wrap her in his arms and press a kiss to her hair. She was crying, her tears wetting his shirt, so he just held her there against his racing heart.

He'd run out of excuses for them not to be together and all that had been left were three syllables, eight letters. It was shocking how easy it'd been to say them after there was nothing left in the way.

She pulled back and smiled widely at him before putting her mouth to his; it seemed that no more words were needed.

Of course now would be when the guard comes to tell them that they've been released and the charges were dropped. Now, when this cell will forever hold the memory of the first time he'd told Blair he loved her. It was just their luck, he guessed; her first 'I love you' was tinged with the pain of losing his father, after all.

Once they were out on the street, walking hand in hand from the precinct door to his limo to make up for lost time, they were interrupted again.

This time it was Ron, the person who brought this whole thing about approaching him. With his hand out-stretched, he offered, "No hard feelings?" It took Chuck a moment to realize that the twangy southern drawl was missing from the man's words.

"Meaning?" Why was this stranger, the man who'd been responsible for him and Blair spending half the night in jail, wanting to let bygones?

"Well, Serena warned me that I'd get hit, but she didn't mention that you had a mean left hook."

Struck dumb by the sentence Ron had offered in explanation, Chuck didn't resist when the other man shook his hand.

After their hands had dropped, Chuck looked at Blair and asked, "Serena?" at the same time that she did, but Ron had disappeared before they could even ask the question.

It seemed that Chuck had a bone to pick with his 'step-sister,' either that or he should throw her a party.

When Blair jumped straight into his lap after entering the limo, he thought the latter option would be more likely. Having the girl he loved wrapping herself around him again was worth the night in jail and the Gossip Girl blast that was sure to come.

Spotted: A certain Ex-Queen and what appears to be her newly crowned Ex-King breaking out of the slammer? My sources tell me C and B shared a private cell after being arrested at Victrola. (No word on whether they were allowed to hang onto the cuffs.) Apparently UES's newest Billionaire Bass was auditioning for Fight Club 2: Queen of Hearts. What other explanation could there possibly be for C's fist in B's potential suitor's face? Could the Big Bad Bass have finally been hooked? We'd ask B if she's the one holding the line that's reeling him in, but we can't seem to find either of them. My money's on The Plaza.

I, for one, can't wait to see what this duo will do next; with these two jail-hardened super-villains on the same team, is anyone safe? You'll know when I know!

You know you love me,
XOXO Gossip Girl.

I'm so tired, but I can't sleep; standing on the edge of something much too deep
Funny how we feel so much, but cannot say a word; though we are screaming inside, oh we can't be heard

I'm so afraid to love you, but more afraid to lose; clinging to a past that doesn't let me choose
Once there was a darkness, a deep and endless night; you gave me everything you had, oh, you gave me light