Disclaimer: I own nothing. They are not mine. I also take no responsibility if this makes you want to throat tomatoes at me.

A/N:
I apologize, this had been slated to be ready for Sunday night. I was distracted by the last two minutes of GG. But I'm all talked out about it now, exhausted. Thank you to those who were kind enough to leave me their thoughts. Much love and appreciation.
Special thank yous: Ayr, Nes, Wifey and Lady S.


He was back. She could feel it in her bones. Ironic, she knew, since she couldn't feel her own angry tears once they'd trickled past her throat onto her collar bone.

She hated him for it.

Hated him for the tilt of his head earlier as he studied her like she were an item on a list he need merely to check off. Hated him for his calm, detached composure. Hated him for the dead look in his eyes, the calculated curve of his lips.

She hated him, hated him.

But most of all, more than the stick he had shoved up his incredibly tight sphincter, the one that was so far up there she was sure it should have made it impossible for him to turn his head, and the hard, unyielding set of his jaw, she despised him for making her hate him, for making her feel anything at all.

She didn't wan to feel. She wanted to drift aimlessly amiss on a cloud of endless narcotics. She wanted to be numb, immune to the rage and the self pity and the guilt festering inside of her; warring between themselves, promising to swallow her whole only to fade slowly, blurring like the stark, white walls around her that grew murky under the onslaught of unwanted tears. She wanted to drift into sleep, only waking once it was all over.

She didn't want to feel. Especially where he was concerned. He'd ruined her once, when she'd been seventeen and naive, he wasn't going to do it again now. She wasn't the doe-eyed child of years past. No, she'd long ago watched that version of herself sink into the quick sand that had become her life. The quick sand that he'd engineered; that she'd let him, with his quick smirk and dancing eyes, engineer.

She had wanted to feel that night, the one that stood as a gapping hole in her memory. She'd finally acquiesced to Jack's incessant, insistent demand, finally, in a moment of utter weakness, she realized now, taken a good, long took at what had become Blair Waldorf.

And maybe it had been the Merlot, or the lighting in the Palace Hotel's upscale bar, or maybe it was even the bar itself, but for the first time in more years than she could remember, she hadn't liked what she'd seen. So her answer had been yes.

Again.

The first had been the anniversary of the day that she preferred to forget all together. The day that was meaningless, that wasn't tagged for celebration; that didn't mark another year's passing, wasn't another wax candle stuck into the gaudy icing of some too-sweet pastry. The day that, if you spent your life looking back on the past, on what could have been, some would mark as the end of Blair as they'd known her. Serena, she knew, had probably had tried to contact her, to offer her condolences on the loss as well as the others that she'd suffered all those years ago, or to make badly fashioned and barely masked inquiries after her 'mental health', but she'd decided the day was as good as any to take up drinking copious amounts of scotch, and had been content to watch her world tilt on its axis for hours on end.

Had been content, that is, until Jack had appeared.

"And here I thought you cold and callus. I'm disappointed, Blair."

She hadn't been certain if he were merely a figment of her drunken imagination – and it was her imagination that was inebriated, not her, never her – until he'd spoken.

At least, she was nearly certain that he had spoken. The thin lines he called lips had moved, she was sure, but the sound was distorted and didn't match the movements, like a voice over on the Japanese movies that were sometimes on television late at night.

"Get out, Jack." She needn't bother with anything but those three words. She'd given him more before, paragraphs telling him no, painting colourful pictures of what she would rather do than step within five feet of him, and in every language she knew, but the effort was always wasted on him, he always came back, always with the same question in the sneer of his lips, the cock of his head, the glint in his eye. She needn't bother wasting her breath on him, he knew the dance, knew her answer before he would even ask, and he'd been asking since the other jackass who shared his surname had disappeared without so much as a word nearly six years ago.

The answer was always no.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk. So high and mighty, aren't we, doll?" He'd learned a few tricks since the last time she'd run him out of her suite. But if he thought slipping his hands into his pockets and rocking back on his heels was going to coax her into bed with him, he was sorely mistaken. "You know," no, she didn't, and she didn't want to know, "the thing I always liked about you," the thing that made him want to fuck her, he meant, "was that you were always such a firecracker under that cool exterior."

Cool exterior... the fire below...

He'd learned a few things, indeed. Bastard.

She knew he was still in contact with his nephew. On the rare times that she bothered to listen to the whiny messages that Serena left with persistence on her answering service, regardless of how many times she changed her number – must be nice to have a big, bad police Lieutenant who'll disregard the law for you as your husband, she'd hear the blonde drop thinly veiled references to both Bass men.

But knowing something and being faced with it when your eyeteeth were floating in scotch were two very, very different things, apparently.

"OUT!" And the snarl he called a smile was back on his lips again. Telling her that he knew damn well that the arrow he'd launched had hit home. She wouldn't be surprised if he'd somehow managed to manipulate her into stopping off at the liquor store last night, somehow managed to make her purchase the bottle of scotch that sat empty of her coffee table now.

"So high and mighty indeed, Blair. Sitting here in you penthouse suite, looking down on the rest of the city, down on the peons, thinking to yourself how utterly devoid of class and talent and substance everyone else is. When the truth is that you're the classless, talentless, shriveled old bitch." She'd hit a nerve too, it seemed. Good. "It's no surprise he left you, doesn't shock me in the least that he chose Georgina over you. Chose their child over yours." The sneer that twisted his features was calculated, dangerous, but her mind hadn't been able to leap over the hurdle he'd placed in its way.

"Don't you dare –"

"Dare what, Princess?" She'd been royalty all her life; Daddy's little princess, Queen of Constance, and not once did the term incite such disgust within her as it did now. "Bring up the past?" He stepped forward, arrogance permeating the room. "Or bring up him?" His hands weren't on her; his palms weren't spanning her small waist, his thumbs weren't tracing circles against her flat stomach, but she recoiled from his touch just the same. "I guess that means you don't want to hear about the happy couple?"

It went without saying – and it did for the most part, since those she hadn't severed from her social circle, and thus her life, had never heard of Chuck, let alone could mention him – that she didn't.

A fact he well knew. "Or their impending second addition?" And used.

It was all that she remembered from the late September day. All that she cared to remember, really, because if she allowed the memory to flow as freely now as the scotch had that then, she'd be forced to relive it, forced to feel it.

Forced to feel his rigid hands ripping her night gown from her, the delicate silk shredding against the unsightly calluses on his hands. Forced to feel his teeth tearing into the plump flesh of her lips, his fingers bitting into her hips. The flood of blood between her thighs as he'd finally bent her over the polished wood of her coffee table without second thought or care for her comfort and invaded her most intimate of places. A place that had only ever known tenderness, only ever known the slow, sweet caress of the boy that, against all rhyme or reason, she was tethered to, tied to; only ever known the tentative, inexperienced embrace of the boy who was his best friend, the boy who had once been her walking personification of perfection.

She didn't want to remember, didn't want to feel.

She just wanted to sleep, let the darkness take her, swallow her whole, only spitting her out once it was all over.

Chuck hadn't been able to force his stubborn limbs across the foyer. He wasn't short on will; the passion fueled by the flames of rage surged through him, lit his eyes with fire, drew his breaths from his heaving chest in weighted, audible pants.

No, for the first time since Lily, swathed in flowing white, had taken his hand in hers and whispered tearfully of his father's death he felt icy fingers trail their slow, deliberate path down his spine. And he realized with a jolt that the frigid kiss, the one that had pilfered his breath then from his tuxedo-clad seventeen year-old self as it was doing now, belonged to none other than fear itself.

Fear of the unknown that he held in his hand and had yet to bring his shaky fingers to open, apprehension for what lay just beyond the foyer, anxiety for what he would find there.

He'd been in this very spot not twelve hours ago; stood with his unmarred, expensive Italian shoes on this very tile, their shiny black leather a stark contrast against the white marble. He'd taken in the post-modern sculptures, the harsh lines of black metal against brisk off-white walls, but he hadn't he hadn't really seen them. Hadn't really seen period.

Her walls were nearly grey, and without the slightest hint of colour, yes, but also completely bare. Devoid of any clutter what so ever – no paintings, no mirrors, not even a time piece. But what struck him the most, what slowed the blood in his veins, nearly stopping its flow altogether, was the absolute lack of personal affects. No knick knacks, no vases that would have belonged to her mother, nor the hydrangeas he would expect to fill them. And most of all, there wasn't a single photograph that he could see. Not one. Her mother's unsmiling face did not grace her daughter's home, nor did her father's smiling one, not even Dorota had been bestowed with the honour. At some point since he'd last been in New York, she'd cut her rich, luxurious suite down to the bare minimum – past the bare minimum.

It left him wondering just what else she had partitioned from her surroundings, removed from her life, removed from herself.

"You are no more welcome in this home now anymore then you were this morning."

Her voice, made husky from overuse as she'd screamed at him earlier no doubt, had the opposite affect on him than that which he had been expecting. Instead of startling him, instead of adding further fuel to the bond fire of his rage, it soothed him. Nerves settled, he found that his legs ate the distance to her door easily, nearly confidently. Perhaps it was the the fact that she'd spoken more than two words this this time, maybe it was due to the dangerously calm tone she wielded. Either way, he wasn't supposed to be calmed by her presence. No, the sight of her once porcelain skin marred by angry purple blotches should have provoked him, enraged him. The fact that she lay there, a broken and battered invalid amongst what was supposed to be the serene perfection of her bright, white space, should have had the mercury rising. He should be upset, he thought as his feet once again stilled before the threshold, and as her dull brown eyes met his, he realized that he was. But it wasn't anger that was the cause of it.

"Jesus Christ, Blair," he whispered under his breath. The bruises she sported along the ridge of her brow, the bridge of her nose, down her jawline, and along what he could see of her collar bone had not deepened, the blood that still caked the neat line of x's bisecting her eyebrow hadn't darkened, nor had any more bruises or scarlet liquid appeared; in all respects, she was exactly as he'd seen her twelve hours ago. But he'd been seeing her through Charles' eyes, and Charles hadn't cared.

Chuck, he found, did.

He reminded her of a brilliant sculpture that her father had once admired from beside her within the hallowed halls of the Louvre one summer. Not that the resemblance mattered, it hadn't changed her mind, hadn't made her suddenly want him to rush to her bedside and shower her with piteous kisses or words of comfort, hadn't made her hatred for him any less. In fact, the sharp, slicing fire that had ripped through her head when he'd stepped into view, reminding her that her pain medication was long past due for a top up, was the only thing keeping her from screaming herself hoarse at his offending presence.

"B..." He didn't recognize the timbre of his own voice, or register the single syllable that he'd spoken. All that filled his vision was her face. Thoughts of everything else, of dead scum-bag uncles and still-damp envelopes – of even J.J, whose warmth against his chest he found himself to already be missing, drained from his mind, leaving only the horrific accident that had crippled her.

"No." Harsh and fast and hard, it was spat from behind clenched teeth when she saw his features soften, heard the nickname that she hadn't heard in years fall from his stunned lips. She didn't want his pity, didn't him want feeling anything at all where she was concerned. She had half a mind to run – fucking turns of phrase and their God damn figurative meanings – him out of her suite and wait for the pain to knock her unconscious again.

"Blair..."

"No!" Maybe she would scream herself hoarse; it didn't have to be the pain that had to knock her out, exhaustion would do just as well. "Get out! Leave me the Hell alone! Leave!"

Chuck wasn't sure why, but the screams that Charles had found unbearable and screechy, he found oddly comforting. She was still in there somewhere, the girl he'd fallen for at sixteen, the girl he'd loved at seventeen, the girl he'd made life with at...

He should be anything but sympathetic toward her, Chuck realized with a jolt. Georgina had stolen J.J.'s life from him with her drugs and alcohol, but Chuck had still had the chance to be a part of that life. For all her faults, and there were more than he would be able to list in ten lifetimes, she had never hidden the pregnancy from him; she hadn't stolen his son from him – he'd known from the beginning that she was knocked up, she's never tried to hide it.

Blair hadn't given him that same courtesy.

...But he hadn't exactly treated her with courtesy and respect, either. Sneaking off in the middle of the night and leaving her a three line 'apology', especially after he'd come to her, cried on her shoulder and made love with her under the moonlight, certainly could not be counted as courteous.

But he'd been a child! His father had just died!

...But she'd been a child, too, his long buried conscious whispered back. She had been a child, too. Alone, scared, abandoned. He'd left her. Why did he expect her to reach out to the person who'd walked away from her so easily, again, to make herself vulnerable to that kind of hurt?

Because he would have wanted her too, he realized, stunned. He would have wanted her to come running to him the second she found out she'd conceived his child. He would have wanted to see her face when the realization hit that they were going to be parents, would have wanted to see the tears gather and stream happily down her cheeks. He would have wanted, it hit him then, to have shed a few tears of joy with her. Because he knew he would have. He knew that it wouldn't have been the gut wrenching, suffocating feeling that had come over him as he'd stood on the steps of the Bass plane, listening to Jack prattle on about Georgina and her spawn. He would have been happy – scared, yes, it would have been only natural under the circumstances, but he would have been happy.

And here he was now, married to Whoregina Sparks, and somehow living under the thumb of his dead uncle, the uncle who he'd handed over everything to, whose child he could admit now that he secretly believed his lovely wife to be currently carrying, his seed...

The Bass seed...Isn't that what Blair had said when she had thought him to be his uncle? Earlier that same day, as he'd made his way into this very room, had she not...

He could see the words dance before him as though they were scrawled across the air itself.

"It's gone now anyway...the accident took care of that... the Bass seed..."

The Bass seed what? Was gone now? Yes, he though, his mouth dry, his breath refusing to come, so she'd said.

...But why refer to it as the 'Bass' seed? Why not his seed – why not Jack's? Hell, she'd thought that he was Jack, even 'your' seed made sense to Chuck.

So why the Bass seed? And the Bass seed what?, dammit!

And even before he stepped into the room, his spine straight, his hands steady despite the rage boiling inside him, before he crossed to her bedside and glared down at her, he knew 'what'.

The Bass seed couldn't commit to a Waldorf, the Bass seed didn't seem to like taking root in a Waldorf, the Bass seed didn't like her womb.

And he knew 'why'.

Because her flair for wounding others where it would hurt them the most would have guided her sword, and for Jack that would have been his ego, his virility, his name, but above all else, it would have been the being included in the same category as his nephew that would have brought the dagger home.

Because Jack's seed, Jack's child had been lost, and so, Chuck knew now, straight from her lips as he had wanted, had his.


A/N - I normally detest 'spoiling' people re: my fics. But I feel that I have to tell you that this isn't always going to be bang-your-head-against-the-wall agnst and tears. It *will* get better. I promise. Sooner rather than later. Thanks for haning in

XOXO

Lynne