Title: Restricted

Author: Isabelle

Rating: PG

Spoilers: Episode 2.16 – general S2

Summary: He looks good. Excellent, even. All combed and composed, eyes still as dark and searching as always. If I were a weak, needy woman, I would already have him shoved into a closet with the door securely locked behind us.

Word Count: about 1,000

Thanks to Tati, who keeps up with me :)

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The plan was to avoid each other at all costs. At least this was the plan in my head. My head is a very organized library – if idle it will venture into the restricted section (aka. Chuck Bass), if busy it will annihilate the petite and oh-so-adorable new teacher. Yet once the annihilation was done – which, though a bit challenging, was surprisingly swift and rewarding – my brain is back to being idle. And this is not good. I busied myself with Serena's (once again) crumbling relationship (it seemed it was a yearly ritual) and giving poor clueless Nate advice on how to make Vanessa believe she was in charge, which she was and everyone knew it except for him.

And then I was back to being idle.

So the plan was to avoid him at all costs. Avoid him when going to Serena's, avoid him at school, at parties, at life. It was all going surprisingly well on my end, but he apparently didn't get the memo.

And this is how we got to standing before one another, not knowing what to say, not knowing where to look and feeling very much like we were knee-deep in the restricted section of Blair's library.

He looks good. Excellent, even. All combed and composed, eyes still as dark and searching as always. If I were a weak, needy woman, I would already have him shoved into a closet with the door securely locked behind us. Good thing I'm not a weak, needy woman, and I have no idea where closets happen to be in public buildings.

I will not be the first to speak. I refuse. I'm a lady. And he owes me big. Like size of Texas big.

"Blair," he says softly. I'm not sure if it's a greeting or a plea or what, but I know it turns my insides to mush and I hate that he has this effect on me, because he already knows I desperately love him and I know jack-shit from him.

So I take a sharp breath and start looking for a way out of the restricted section of this mess.

"Bass," I snap and tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. He watches me move and his eyes darken. I will not be closet-girl. I will not be closet-girl.

And we have nothing to say to one another, because he owes me some words. He owes me a lot. I have come to peace that this boy, this man may never be able to say them because unlike Nate, who just throws those words out into the air, and unlike Dan, who will love me then judge me – when Chuck says them, they will be solid. They will be true. And I think it scares him, because I know it scares me, too.

So he clears his throat, and I say the only thing I can think of because Blair Waldorf is a motor mouth sometimes.

"I heard what you did for Lily." And it's soft and not at all like I intended for it to come out. But because I couldn't control the surge of pride that swelled in me when Serena told me the story, it comes out like feminine praise.

And he looks away.

"That was very… gallant of you, Bass. Very decent," I add. It's fact; it's not me trying to elevate him.

"Yeah, well, Jack had it coming," he replies. Our eyes suddenly meet, and I feel all of my skin grow pink and hot. Dammit, dammit, dammit – ok, so I may know of a closet.

I don't know what to say because I can firmly agree that Jack had it coming.

"He's just lucky it wasn't you in that bathroom," he admits quietly.

And his words just soften up all the harshness that I have been building inside of me towards him. Because I know he cares. Because I know he would fight if given the chance. Because I see the brave man he can be, and it just hurts more. Because I end up falling more and more in love with him, and it's not fair. To me.

"I don't know what I would've done," he continues. He's searching my face, and I know he can see everything I'm thinking and everything I'm feeling. I no longer have the strength to hide it.

The bastard unmasks me, and it's downright terrifying.

And I need to walk away. I think I've had too much champagne, too much something (perhaps too much Bass) because the room is stifling. I need air.

And his hand is reaching out, tucking the rebellious hair behind my ear. He leans in slowly, like he's calculating his move.

"You look stunning tonight," he whispers, and then he kisses my cheek. I swear I've melted right then and there, making a mess out of my new Ferragamos. He's stepping back, but his eyes never leave my face. I can't bear for him to leave me now because his hand on my arm is the only thing that is holding me steady.

"Chuck…" I whisper, and he stops, leaning in just a little bit closer.

"Soon, Blair… Soon," he assures me. He squeezes my arm slightly and then walks away, looking like some dashing hero in the film noir movies that I so desperately love. Cool talking, fast acting, always debonair and sharp – my leading man.

And dammit – what the hell am I doing in the restricted section? I am not allowed in! He's not allowed in! Why are we back here? I backpedal out of there and shut the door firmly behind me.

I take a deep breath and find Serena. I'm sure she's got some 'all in the family' issue I need to help out with, and I need to stop thinking of the eyes across the room that can never seem to leave me.

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Endings & beginnings

for the anonymous reviewer *my faves* and the apparent last person on earth still watching for the ever so interesting Serena:
f.y.i- its VAN DER WOODSEN! GET IT RIGHT! its VAN-DER-WOODSEN. van der bass
just sounds WRONG.
let me FYI you, bb. If I want to say Van der Bass I'll f*c*ing say it. Go rub some salt on that.