To perdition, there to dwell.
"Tell me again, Chuck. When did you first know that you loved me?" Her dark eyes, lit from within with a golden glow, gleamed against her pale icy complexion. Backlit by the flickering and dancing light from the nearby fireplace Blair looked ethereal. Chuck lounged on the antique cracked leather chair, a lead crystal glass of scotch resting heavy in his hand. Kneeling beside him, Blair laid her head gently on his knee. Tonight she wore a silk whisper of a gown. Draped loosely over her curves, it fanned the floor beneath her in waves of crimson.
"I didn't have any idea how much…" Chuck couldn't finish. Sliding towards oblivion he closed his eyes. His emotions dulled by the potency and warmth of eighty year scotch.
"The game is done. You have nothing left to lose," she sighed, her gaze never leaving him.
"Don't I?" Chuck asked, the heavy lids of his eyes fluttering open to watch her as she slowly rose. Long elegant white fingers trailed against his, prying the scotch from his hands and setting it to rest gently on the polished wood floor.
"I love you, Chuck. After everything, I still love you."
A reflex, born of self-preservation, stifled the rush of emptions, drowning them deep within.
"Blair, I can't…not anymore." Reaching down he grabbed his drink, the last drop sliding down his parched tongue. The soft shuffle of expensive leather shoes caught his attention. Standing at the edge of the entryway, golden hair gleaming like a tarnished halo was Nathaniel.
With trepidation Nate surveyed the room. With Chuck one never knew what you could be walking into. Soirees thick with hashish smoke and veiled Turkish dancers, spangled circus contortionists diluting absinthe into milky opalescence, or Almas caviar offered from the navels of identical twins. The very ordinariness of the current scene contrasted with the panic and pressure that had forced his visit.
"Enjoy playing the voyeur? How long have you been there?" Chuck rasped, forced back from the brink of Morpheus' desired embrace.
"A while," Nate said hesitatingly, peering into the shadows from the threshold of the room. Gone were the days he needed no invitation. "Who are you talking to?"
"What?" Chuck sluggishly looked over to the blankness in space beside him. There was no one. The faint scent of irises and carnations perfumed the air. Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue, Blair's signature scent.
"You were talking to someone—"
"Why are you here Archibald?"
Nate took a deep steadying breath. Perhaps they had been right to send him after all. "Serena stopped by. She's worried. You haven't visited or returned her calls in months. What was supposed to be a temporary leave of absence from Bass Industries seems to have become a debauched race to an early grave. I know you didn't work this hard to hand it all on a silver platter to Jack."
"I didn't know that you were Serena's personal envoy. Still trying to dip your wick into that honey pot? You do realize every cokehead and faux bohemian this side of the river has had a taste?" Chuck asked, his voice cruel. "Not that I care, but how is Vanessa these days"?
"Don't change the subject."
"Why? Am I to understand that after all these years, you finally got your shot and realized that your golden girl is not so golden or so sweet? At least Vanessa can stop torturing herself over how she will never be anything more than a way of assuaging Nate Archibald's guilt." Smirking nastily he sauntered over to the bottles lined atop the padded leather bar. Grabbing a crystal decanter he drained what remained of the scotch into his glass.
Nate's guilt left him unable to take offense. He had been passive, avoiding the obvious. Serena was right, he hadn't wanted to know things had gotten this bad. "Serena—"
"Serena—what? Listen Archibald, I am no longer interested in your pursuits and exploits. Embrace Krishna as your lord and savior, become a polygamist and marry Serena, Vanessa, all the virgins in Brooklyn, fuck a goat…I don't care."
"Chuck, you can't let Jack—"
"In case you have forgotten, we are no longer friends. I don't owe you an explanation for anything." Chuck interrupted. His voice remained steady even as his tense demeanor betrayed him. Violence barely contained, he stood muscles coiled and ready. "Jack has nothing that I haven't willingly given him.
Shocked Nate let slip the one question he didn't want to ask. "I …heard you say Blair..." Nate's voice softened and trailed into silence.
His mood shifting once more Chuck looked at Nate with utter indifference. "Does it ever haunt you?"
"I know you miss her." Nervously Nate ran his fingers through his hair, unsure of what he should say, what comfort he could offer. "I miss her. We all miss her, but you have to move on."
Chuck approached him slowly, stealthily. His hand gripped his drink, his knuckles white.
"Don't you dare give me the time heals all wounds bullshit," he said hoarsely.
Blair appeared beside Nate. Teasing she plucked a loose thread that dangled from the sleeve of his navy blazer. Satisfied with her efforts, she draped her arm around his waist. "He never loved me, Chuck. Not like you." Giving her trademark pout, she leaned in to rest her head against Nate's chest.
"Not now. Not when he's here." Chuck said gently, shaking his head.
Confused Nate looked around him searching for Chuck's newest dalliance and finding no one. "What's wrong with you? Your acting like someone else is here." Realization hit Nate slowly. "You see her don't you?"
"Get out!" Chuck hurled his drink against the wall beside Nate. Rivulets of liquid trickled haphazardly, silhouetting Blair in an amber web.
"She loved me. After everything, she was going to marry me. She chose me!" The memories precious and fragile deteriorated into feelings of yearning, anger and guilt. Even if he wanted too, there wasn't enough alcohol or a drug powerful enough to drive her away. She was everywhere and he was willingly slipping into madness.
"Please, Chuck. You need help. You can't go on like this. Come with me. We'll go see Serena, Eric and Lily. They miss you so much," Nate pleaded, unable to let go. The path Chuck was taking would leave them all damned to a life of guilt and regret. Blair's death had crippled them and Chuck's self-annihilation would destroy them
Chuck shrugged, offering Nate a Cheshire grin. "What can I say? I've always been a masochist." Blair's laughter sweetly flooded Chuck's ears. Untangling herself from Nate's side she glided back to the chair winking at him as she passed. Turning his head, Chuck watched her as she seated herself carefully, smoothing the folds of her dress. Lost in adoration Chuck could no longer be bothered. "Please go. I don't want to have you thrown out again. Once was enough for this lifetime."
"I can't leave you like this. I know things seem bad, but trust me they will get better. We just need too…" Nate pleaded, his words dissolving into air.
Chuck turned to the vision that awaited him. She was wearing that gown the night he proposed. Of course she hadn't worn it long…
AN: I don't ever write, but I was in a strange mood. Comments and criticsm welcome.
Inspired by Connie.