Summary: Another one shot. I went romantic this time because I desperately needed it. Blair and Chuck outside in the snow.
Author's Note: Thank you Lynne for being incredible, as always. For those of you reading "Things We've Always Had" I promise that is next on my list. And then the second part of "Shatter".
But first a hush of peace, a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress and fierce impatience ends
Mute music sooths my breast — unuttered harmony
That I could never dream till earth was lost to me.
-Emily Bronte "The Prisoner"
It didn't matter where they were going or where they had been.
She was storming away—away from him—once again. Into the cold, white oblivion and he almost couldn't see her anymore. So he followed.
It had always been like this. She ran and he chased or he ran and she chased. Only both of them had always eventually given up. Maybe they just didn't have enough fight in them. Maybe they were weak, or their hearts knew something they didn't. And that's why when they would exhale, defeated and alone after the pursuit, their chests seemed better off deflated.
This Catch 22 had to end.
"You can't run very far in this weather, Blair," he said evenly, with confidence in his matter of fact statement.
"I can try," was her tight reply. She would not turn around to acknowledge him. She kept walking.
The crunch below her feet was the only thing she could hear, except for the twin sound of his that followed with every step she took. She prayed with every advancing stride that she would cease to hear its echo. But the soft crunch atop the bed of flattened snow followed her, haunted her and was sure to taper off at some disappointing moment. She expected with each inch she moved forward that it would stop because her chest no longer swelled with hidden excitement or hope and her breath no longer gathered in the tightness of her chest in anticipation of what was to come. She had lost hope; finally hoping and dreaming and careless wishing were dead to her.
"You can keep going. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon," he called out from behind her.
She gritted her teeth because he had interrupted the methodical crunching.
"Go. Away. Chuck." She seethed each word to perfectly match each increasingly violent step she took.
"Just out of curiosity, where are we going? I mean, if you'd like it to be a surprise I'm okay with that too."
She picked up her pace in order to ensure that her feet would still keep moving as she whipped her head back for the first time. "What part of dead to me do you not understand?"
"The part where I'm still breathing," he replied, suddenly aggravated.
She finally stopped moving.
She was insufferable. For the simple fact that he couldn't help but suck in a dry, cold breath at the sight of her looking back at him. He exhaled so that the white clouds of visible life would show themselves to her out of spite.
Her flushed cheeks and nose were rosy against the white world that surrounded them. He had barely noticed it was snowing until he witnessed the thick flakes caught by the lashes of her eyes and landing delicately on the top of her hair. All that was separating them were the vibrantly white shavings of snow falling and settling in the gap between them. All else was still; crisp and sharply in focus.
He took a step towards her.
"Don't-" she warned and he hesitated, "…come any closer."
"Blair, listen to me—"
"I said don't." Her tone was icy.
"And if I do?" Chuck drawled as he slowly, cautiously brought his left foot in front of his right.
Blair's eyes were transfixed on them, she didn't look up, didn't respond.
"I have nothing to lose."
"Not a thing."
He was inches from her but she was still looking down, her erratic, short breaths gently steaming at his neck as he tenderly held her chin in his palm and urged her to look up at him. Her eyes were glassy.
"Because there's nothing left, Chuck," she whispered and dislodged herself from the touch of his caressing hand and the pull of his searing eyes. She stepped back and a vacuum of frigid air and weightless snowflakes wafted into the empty space now between them once again.
"Look, Blair," he swallowed. Hard. "I'm not a good man. I haven't been a good man. I meant what I said when I wrote that you deserve much better. I needed you to get away from me so I wouldn't take you down with me. I couldn't. I couldn't take you with me, but the way you looked at me—"
"You did it just the same."
"It was like I was worth something. And I couldn't lose that. So I took you down."
"I chose to stay."
"I was selfish. I deserve to lose you, I deserve to be alone and unhappy and you deserve to find someone better, much better for you. But I'm selfish. Which is why—"
He reached for her and drew her close to him. Picturesque.
"I have no right to say that I love you but I'm going to do it anyway."
Before she had time to react or process anything, his mouth swept over hers – gently, but not timidly. Parted lips and unclenched jaws allowed for escaped gasps and lightly probing tongues; just enough to send a warm current of electrified sparks through their bodies.
Here and now. Everything made sense and nothing made sense at all.
When he pulled away everything was still. Time hung in the air and reality was desensitized.
Until he began to walk away and Blair was left suspended. Frozen still as her ears could only hear his muffled steps and the feel of the cold biting on her moistened lips.
"You son of a bitch!" She yelled.
He didn't stop as her words cut into reality and brought the world crashing back into existence. They were no longer in the glass globe of delicate flakes and quiet air.
"You think you can just come after me, corner me, tell me you love me and then just waltz away?!" She was screaming after him now. "Are you kidding me?!"
He was walking away, having at least told her the truth. He shouldn't have told her. He should have let her believe it wasn't true, because now there was no saving them. He could have left her to be happy and she could have lived her life, but he couldn't allow it.
He should have known she would follow.
"Say it again," she demanded to the back of his head.
"I love you," he said plainly to the empty space in front of him.
"I love you."
Piercing. Bare. This was salvation.
So she ran.
Into his arms. Kicking up powdery snow behind her.
Then the earth was no longer perfect, serene or untouched. It was disheveled and uneven. But there was no wind between them; the wind that so often funneled through the gaping holes between them and broke them and stripped them. There was only serenity in the air and the quieting dropping flakes and all of the white.