The Pathways Through the Apple

Sequel to Carnal Apple, Woman Incarnate

Summary: Chuck and Blair pick up the pieces after the devastation that Jack Bass left in their lives. Chuck needs to show her the trust and love he never could before.

Spoiler: None

AN: Just like its prequel, the title of this story came from a Pablo Neruda sonnet. And this time, you get to hear from Chuck and Blair.

Part 1

It was a planet unto itself, that room. It was more than the four walls, more than the island city that it was built on, more than the region that was an intermingling of the East and the West. When he brought her back, shivering as she was under his thick coat, it was as if he was the savior and she was the one in distress.


It had been the other way around for far too long.

There was so much to talk about, she told him with her eyes. But her teeth chattered at the cold air and the drying spatter of the cold river on her clothes. He had wrapped an arm firmly around her shoulders and rushed her back inside the building where they could hide from the bitter wind.

There was nothing that forced you out of catatonia than the prospect of losing the one person you loved. And someone called to him in the silence that was his mind amongst the flurry of activity, the panic and the chaos around them. It was in that silence in his head that Chuck noticed him, the pair of eyes watching him and her. He turned his head and looked up at the man who was the closest person to him in the world, the only one who was related to him by blood, the one person whose relationship with him would never change through circumstance.

Jack watched them, like a predator waiting for its prey. Chuck's arm tightened around Blair's waist and allowed the people to mill around them, to hide as much of them from Jack's view as possible. From those long ago days when Jack worked with his father, there had always ever been that look his uncle had thrown his way, a look that told Chuck he deserved nothing of what he had. And back in those days, as a child whose only certainty was that he had killed his mother, Chuck accepted the look like it was the only way his uncle could regard him.

But Chuck was a man now. He returned the spite in Jack's eyes with a look of his own. He hoped to hell it told the man, "Stay the hell away from us."

No more.

Jack was not going to interfere with their lives anymore.

The sun shone high up in the sky, and the water threw back the rays in a merry reflection of light. Chuck enjoyed the warmth of it on his skin despite the biting weather. It assured him that she was there within his reach, and not under the water with the current wrapped around her ankles dragging her down to that bottomless pit.

In the silence of his mind, within the deafening throng of the world around them, he could hear the slightest hitch in her breath, see the smallest change in her features, feel the littlest reaction against his skin. He turned back to his uncle a final time, and observed the man press his knuckles against his eyes.

He was blinding himself, and the malice still showed through the tight curl of his mouth. It was all Chuck could do to hold her against him, to shield her from Jack after the trauma of the ferry.

"Ask her what we have. Ask her how many times I came on her since New Year's."

Fuck him. He was messing with his mind. Even with that distance, even in silence, even when Jack wasn't looking, the man messed with his brain.

"Come on, Blair," he urged. "We have to get out of here."

He needed to take her back, as far away from Jack as he could possibly take her. Maybe, if they crossed all the time zones Jack's voice would not be so loud, would not be so impossible to ignore. The masses of Hong Kong would take the train back, and it was faster to go to Causeway Bay by train, then ride a shuttle to the stop at Happy Village. And then he could walk up the sloping hills with her, breathe the fresh air and let her feel the land under her feet.

But she had shivered and clutched at him, and he knew there was no way she could go through the amount of energy it would take to go through all that. His money made no impact then, his name was nothing to the strange faces that looked up at him with the assurance that he was more the stranger in that island. No cab would take them, and he was forced to shuffle her back up to the sky train, through the long walkways that led to the benches where they would wait.

He sat her on the bench, and she grabbed his hand. He could not sit with her, with all the women who stood to wait. His father taught him manners like that, and she was forced to stand with him and lean against the post. "It doesn't matter," she assured him, when he told her she needed to rest her knees.

There were rings under her eyes, her skin so pale he knew she was still in shock even as he shuffled her from one end of the island to the center, her lips were still tinged with a bluish hue. He should have made a pitstop, should have bundled her in more. He should have stopped by the scandalous number of Starbucks lining Hong Kong and given her something hot. But like always he operated under his own selfish desire to get out from under Jack's sight, and taken Blair, unprepared as she was, on the arduous journey back to the city.

And so he took her back to Eaton House, helped her pack her clothes even while he watched her hands tremble.

He stopped behind her, taken the clothes from her and closed his hands around hers as they knocked together and trembled so violently. She released a breath, then stepped away from him, like the position was undesirable even when they had found comfort in it so many times.

"I'm taking you home," he promised her, and this time she did not snap at his suggestion. After the day she had, there would be nothing more secure to her but home. "And then we'll forget everything about Hong Kong."

He would forget, even the words Jack had spat out in his anger. Jack was never going to enter their lives again.

"You're going to forget," she finally said. Blair pushed her bag to the side and sat heavily on the edge of the bed. "You're going to convince yourself nothing happened and then it would rear its ugly head just when you have your guard down."

And as much as he wanted to deny it, to assure her that he would never think back to his uncle and everything he had hinted at, Chuck knew tonight he would wake up panting in the nightmare of his uncle's hands on Blair. "What do you want me to do?"

"Nothing," she said softly. "I want you to do anything you want. But when we're back in New York, I need us to give ourselves some space. You need it too, Chuck."

And it was the same thing if Jack had succeeded, because after his hell he was going to lose Blair too. It would be like he never raced to Hong Kong to find her.

"He doesn't exist anymore," he told her, like maybe the words he said in the harsh wind by the dock had been carried away and she never really understood them. "He never existed for us. I love you."

And maybe because they were safe in that room, she allowed the words to wash over her the way she could not out there. She placed a hand on his cheek and let herself cry, like she was washing herself clean of all the dirt that had accumulated. She nodded, like she agreed, even if he did not ask a question.

He repeated it, because heaven knew she had said it more times without hearing him say them back. "I love you, Blair. And it changes everything."

He knelt in front of her as she sat on the bed, then leaned forward. Her knees pressed against his chest when he took her lips. Her thighs parted so he could press closer. Her breath still came in slight shuddering pants against his mouth. She was still coming down from the panic that had been her brush with death. Her limbs were heavy like her eyelids as she laid her other hand on his shoulder.

That room was a planet all for them, and even then the four walls closed in around them like there was nothing else—no furniture, no paintings on the wall, no lights, no windows. In that planet, there was only Chuck and Blair.

He had been the first man inside her, and every time this happened, it was her who was turning him into a man. It was in the way she looked at him, the way she made him want to draw it longer, make it special. It was the way she breathed; making him want to make sure she was comfortable. Slowly he pulled off the coat from her and he winced when he felt her clothes underneath still moist from the river.

If he had been a better man, he would have remembered and given her time to change into dry clothes.

He peeled off the clothes, and watched her skin prickle as he pulled the garment off from where they stuck to her skin. The air in the room was cool and every inch he exposed was covered in goosebumps. She was naked from the waist up. He placed open mouthed kisses along her arms, then looked up to see her watching him.

And so he continued to kiss her arm without taking his eyes from hers.

He burned a pathway from her arms to her collarbone, and Chuck closed his eyes, relishing the taste of the salty water still clinging to her skin. It was the faintest trace, because it was the wind that had sprayed it on her, but it was the headiest taste. This was how life tasted like—life that had almost been taken away. It was life and beauty and Blair. This was how love tasted.

"I'm never going to leave you," he whispered into her skin. Even if they returned, and they were no longer together, even while she chose to flourish back home away from him, he was not going to leave. He would show her that he was there every second. When Chuck Bass admitted to love, it was forever. No one else could change it. His hands settled on the button of her skirt. He undid it and pulled it down, along with her underwear. And she was fully naked, just like she had been that last night they had together in her room. That had been hurried and panicked, because they had lost each other and were seeking to prove that no matter what, it was still them.

It was the same that afternoon. He had nearly lost her in so many counts, still did not have her just like she asked. But Chuck Bass had said the words and that was the end all, the be all, of his existence.

He stood up and gazed down at her as she lay on her bed. Naked, Blair Waldorf in her glory lay on the bed waiting for him, her dark hair spread upon the sheets. He pushed the bag to the side so that it spilled onto the floor. He could have entered her earlier, but this was the first time he would be with her after she had left, the first time he would be with her after he told her he loved her.

This was the first time he would make love to anyone who held one thing over him. She knew he loved her, and he could not come to her in all the trappings that was Chuck Bass.

He shed his clothes the way he shed hers. His pants, the shirt, his boxers, the scarf—everything fell to the floor of their little planet. And then he climbed onto the bed and settled his body on top of hers. "I love you," he said.

Her legs cradled him and she rested her feet on either side of him. He rested his elbows on the cushion, raising his torso up so he would not suffocate her.

"Do you still love me?" he said, a whispered breath against her chin.

She moved her hips up, teasing him with her lower lips. He strained and pushed the head inside her, dipping just enough to give her a prelude. His neck tightened at the feel of the hot wetness that waited for him. This would be the last time before they came home, the last time he would lose himself inside her before he needed to prove with every last one of his actions that they could make it work.

That he loved her like he claimed, that he placed her on priority, that she was it.

Blair placed her feet down and pushed up, her eyes rolling back at the way he slipped up and down the crevice. "How could I stop?" she gasped. She reached her hand between them and captured him in her hand, placed the head against her as she rose to meet him, to let him a quarter way inside her. He pulled back, and she groaned. "Chuck, come inside," she pleaded.

"Tell me."

Blair looked up at him, her eyes marred by her confusion. She thrust her lips up, but he pulled further up and out of her. She swallowed. "You already know."

"Let me hear it again."

"I love you," she whispered. Her lips fell open when he surged forward and inside her. "Aaahh." Her hands frantically grabbed at his back. He lifted her legs up around him, high on his back. "Chuck," she gasped, when he thrust up inside her and sent her up a few inches on the bed. He pulled back, then thrust back in with such strength she felt them move up again.

Higher and higher, jarring them up, the sheets sticking to her back until they had traveled from where she had sat at the foot of the bed to where she could touch the headboard.

She screamed, a choked cry of relief when she came. She gripped the headboard with one hand and buried her fingernails in his back with the other. The pain, coupled with the tightly clenching muscles squeezing him brought him over the edge. He spent himself inside her with a quiet exclamation. He loved her. Over and over, ceaselessly he assured her.

"Don't lose this," he said to her as he flicked his tongue around her nipple. Blair caught his head in her hands as he started suckling on her breast. Her thighs had fallen in relaxed and spent abandon to his sides, and he was still half-buried inside her while some of his sperm trickled out of her. "Don't," he pleaded.

She turned her head to the side. Their planet grew bigger; the room grew brighter. She turned to look out the window at the bright sun. Chuck managed his breathing as he tried to regain his strength.

She loved him; he loved her. Finally, they were on the same page.

"Come home to New York with me."

"I will," she replied.

"With me, Blair," he emphasized.

"Chuck, we tried that when you came back," she said softly. Her breath hitched when his teeth bit into her breast. "It didn't work for so many reasons." He moved his attention to the underside of her breast, where the skin was soft and sensitive. "This," she gasped. "We're good at this. But not at everything else."

When he returned, she had come to him almost daily, and even when they fought, they made love like this. But trust, love, sacrifice—

It had all been one way.

"Let me show you who I am," he urged her. "Let me show you what kind of man I can be."

He had hurt her too many times, and he was half-afraid she would refuse. But if there was one weakness to Blair Waldorf that he hoped she would never lose, it was that if it came down to it, she would choose him.

Again and again even if it destroyed her.

"One last chance," she said. The look in her eyes had no hope, only surrender.

Now all he had to do was make sure he lived up to what she needed. And maybe, just maybe, he could save them.