All the World Says It's Winter

Rating: PG13

Characters: Blair, Nate

Warning: I usually have a set plotline when I write. Yet there are times when I just write and let the story take me where it wants to. This is one of those stories. Based on the famous Nair Feb09 released pics. Let's see what happens. (takes deep breath and dives) – Oh and also…. I'm doing a oneshot!! Be kind, you know where my talents usually lie.

AN: Title is still from Neruda. I have Pathways and Mr and Mrs Bass both open as well, but I needed to get this out to clear my head for the other fics.

All the World Says It's Winter

Love, comfort, security. A family that adored her. A man who was unafraid.

Everything she ever wanted.

Blue and yellow flowers spilled on the floor by her knees. The vase was broken glass a foot away from her, and the water had spilled. Poor pretty flowers now lay drenched and abandoned. He had been so proud when he handed them to her, because he was in blue and she was in yellow and they looked like one commercial postcard of perfection.

The tiles were cold under her palm. Tears stung her eyes. Her throat burned. She felt her stomach clenching like a vise. Locks of her hair fell from the pins she had used to gather them at the back of her head.

The pins stung. They dug into her scalp. Later she would fix her hair. Maybe they could dig deeper, enough to maybe pierce the skin, make her head bleed.

One could only hope.

The gagging noise was unholy, and they were coming from the back of her throat. She lowered her head, until her face was mostly hidden by the bowl. She heard the quiet splash, and tasted spices from her lunch coat her mouth. It had tasted deliriously amazing going in, quite the opposite going out.

"Hey Blair, are you almost done? Screening is in twenty."

Many love stories had better beginnings, and better endings. This beginning had been mild. She sat reading a book in a Starbucks while waiting for Cyrus and her mom. He had been waiting in line picking up coffee for his mother and his cousin.

His cousin's fiancé would later romantically refer to it as a nameless magnetism. She had not seen him standing there, nor did he know she was parked in the corner. But she glanced up, and over the top of her book she met his eyes.

Something whispered to him to look over, he told her later.

With the cups in his hands, he walked over to where she was and sat down on the opposite armchair. She laid down her book, asked him to say hello to his mother.

"She misses you," he had told her.

Blair had cocked her head to the side, considered the statement, then nodded. "I miss her too." She glanced at the cup in his hand, then asked, "Caramel macchiato with cinnamon powder?"

He looked down at the coffee, almost as if he had forgotten about it. "You remember."

And she flashed him a smile. "Of course. Your mother and I have been on more dates like this than you and me." She noticed the black towncar rolling slowly outside the window, and she called his attention to it. "Looks like they're here. Don't forget to say hello for me."

He rose from his seat and turned to go. A couple of steps, and then he turned towards her. "Why don't you say hello yourself?" She looked out the window with her eyebrows furrowed. "She'd love to see you," he added.

She bit her lip uncertainly. "I'd love to. It's rare to find a mother who adores me like yours does," she said lightheartedly. Her voice dropped. "Wouldn't it be weird?"

"Why would it be? Like you said, she loves you."

Her eyebrow arched. "You have a girlfriend."

"We're taking some time off," he had informed her. "She was flirting with someone else. My luck hasn't been the best when it comes to girlfriends. There's always another guy." She flushed. "It wasn't meant to a stab at you."

At that, her lips curved. "It wasn't?" He shook his head. "Well look how we've matured."

"So what do you say?" he asked. He extended his hand towards her. "Come and make a middle-aged woman very happy."

An hour later she was sitting with them at dinner, holding her own in a conversation. The lighting in the Archibald dining room had not changed. Yellow, familiar, with smaller, dimmer bulbs lined the walls, throwing off gloomy, romantic spotlights on the paintings hanging there. It was almost like home, and she had to remember for most of her life she considered this place home.

Yet even with its old money glory, the interior had changed like landscapes slowly morphed through time. Gone were the more expensive mantelpieces. The grandfather clock at the foot of the stairs was missing. Even Anne, who usually sparkled with old world glamour and jewelry pieces that Blair could swear was handed down by the first Huguenots, was simpler, prettier, wearing smaller diamond stubs on her ear and the everpresent Vanderbilt ring.

He caught her looking, and Blair was surprised when he placed a hand over hers. He nodded towards the ring. There was a time when he had given it to her, and she had worn it on her finger.

The ring had been too heavy then. That night it probably still was.

"Some things never change, do they?" he said softly.

Like his mother. A cloud of worry hung over her, but she still looked, like the ring, constant, beautiful, perfect.

She had turned her eyes back at the boy beside her. She leaned back. Her eyes wandered his face, at the slight stubble on his chin, rested on the eyes that were the same color as before, but almost deeper through something invisible, yet somewhat tangible. Her heart grew warm. "Some things do."

Nate Archibald wasn't a boy anymore.

"Like us," she had said playfully, hoping banter could take out the cloak that now draped over her, making her sink into the comfort of the room, the company, the situation.

By the end of the night she had committed to see Anne again, and made plans to visit the opera and sit in the Archibald box. She had always been at home in the box, even as a child, Anne told her. She would not seem strange sitting there. She wanted to ask about it, but Nate had shaken his head no.

He walked her home, and she almost felt fifteen again. Nate always did make interesting conversations, and she found herself laughing at his stories two blocks down from his townhouse. He told her a story about an artist's bar Vanessa had taken to, told her in such animated voices she knew she would miss half the fun if she did not see the faces. Blair looked up at him to catch his expressions, and slipped on an ice patch.

She had grabbed at his sleeve. His hands, almost like he had never stopped doing it, naturally came to wrap around her waist. She had fallen against his chest and he grabbed her against him to hold her steady. To be safe, he held her hand as they continued walking home.

"Thank you, Nate," she told him as they stood outside her building.

"Thank you for coming. My mom will be very happy with me for a long time after this."

The vapor and smoke forming around his lips from his warm breath mixing with the cold air as he spoke fascinated her. "It was wonderful spending time with her again," Blair admitted. "I've not—I haven't felt this nice for a long time."

He nodded. "Until today I didn't realize how much I missed talking to you."

She grinned. "You did build up a new set of stories. Maybe the long time apart was beneficial."

He shuffled his feet. Blair's eyes dropped to his shoe. In the snow, Nate liked scrawling nonsense. This time, the snow seemed to have drawn on them actual figures.

"Stars," she recognized.

"Skate with me tomorrow," he invited.

He knew she loved to skate. It reminded her of simpler days, younger years, moments with her father indelibly inked in her brain.

She had never skated with any other person than her dad. "Skating with you," she said, needing to say it another time to be clearer.

"I broke up with Vanessa."

On ice, he was a prince. But Nate had always been athletic, smoother in his movements, barely breathless at anything he tried. On ice, in his arms, she was a ballerina.

"Do you remember the first time you tried skating?"

Her forehead creased. "I was five."

Nate laughed, pulled her gloved hand until she glided easily towards him. "You skinned your nose and you thought you were scarred forever."

She grinned, because at his words she remembered the agonizing emotional trauma she had experienced, thinking her nose would be hard and red forever. Nate chopped ice with his skates and soon he was pulling her along, their arms extended, and they circled the rink.

"Nate, you are such a showoff!" she exclaimed.

"Well, you've got to see how much better I've become." He winked at her, and while they were ripping through the ice, the movement was memorable. The wind whipped on her face. Blair turned up her chin and raised her face to the sunlight. "Much more than the Nate you used to know."

She barely heard him, no longer saw him. Blair drew a deep breath through her nostrils. The icy wind almost froze her brain. She wanted it to. Maybe she could spin wildly, fly off out of control, slam on the ice and slide to the side. If she were lucky she could hurt back, maybe cut herself with a blade.

She picked up speed, almost flew, almost. But his gloved hand held hers tightly, and she maintained the same orbit, held back by his firm grip.

And so, with her mild frustration hidden, she opened her eyes. Saw the blank whiteness around her. "We've both changed," she told him.

"It was bound to happen sometime."

To which she responded, "It's an epidemic."

"Except Chuck," he pointed out. She almost lost her hold on him, but like before, he held firmly to her hand. "Last year on this exact date and time, we were smoking pot. He's probably doing the exact same thing. That's what I love about the guy."

Round and round the rink, the scenery around them was so white and boring, the few people on the rink seemed like such a crowd. "I'm tired."

There was surprise in his eyes, registered belatedly as he nodded and pulled her towards him. He placed her hand on his arm and skated with her towards the edge of the rink. She removed her skates and wore her boots.

Nate fixed his light brown scarf around his neck. When he turned back to her, Blair stepped close, placed her gloved hand on the small of his back, then leaned in for a kiss. He was taken aback at first, but his lips parted, and he returned the kiss after a moment of slack surprise.

When he lifted his mouth from hers, she kept her eyes closed. He would come back, kiss her again, because it should be more than those few seconds of liplock. She felt his palms on her cheeks, heard him say her name. She opened her eyes and looked up at him.

"I want to see you again," he said. She did not take her gaze away from his. "Let's try again."

It was not a beginning, they told her. Over lunch, with his family, while the perfectly coordinated flowers sat between them in their perfectly coordinated attire. She and Nate were not beginning. This was the middle, and the dark day the year before when he broke her heart was not an ending. She retched into the bowl, and this time her hand shot out to flush the toilet immediately. There had been something warm and solid, and she knew if she saw it would be worse.

So young, and their love story was what fairy tales were made of, they said. They would be the envy of the whole world when the New York Times featured their wedding one of these days. His mother suggested a nice spin to the piece, and perhaps the feature of her and Nate from the debutante ball could be an inset to the wedding announcement.

He walked her to her building, just like old times. The sidewalk was slippery, but he held her gloved hand so tight there was no chance of falling, no option to slip. It was quiet, and the blue and yellow bouquet now seemed ridiculous as she clutched it in her hand.

He would go to the movies with her. He promised. He would probably hold her hand on the way. And here she was retching his mother's chef's nicely prepared lunch into the toilet bowl, making them late.

She staggered to her feet, felt the sharp sting of the broken vase under her foot. She cried out in pain. She held her injured foot aloft, watched as droplets of her blood spattered over the blue and yellow flowers. It was a long moment that she watched, wondered how many hours it would take for all her blood to drain this way. Would she die in two hours, she wondered. It took months to break her heart. If she waited that long to die, Nate was bound to check on her anymore.

She should tell him she referred DNR. She called his name. The door opened. She met his eyes and looked forlornly down at her injured foot.

"What happened?"

Her foot throbbed, but she wondered why it was that she did not even cry. Instead, she reached out a hand for support. He walked in, the broken vase crunching under his shoes. He lifted her easily off the floor, then held her foot under the running faucet. She watched the pinkish water run down the bottom of the tub and hoped the shards of glass would wash off.

She whispered, "I'm dying." Whispered it, when it should have been a scream.

The worry vanished from his eyes when she said the words. He shook his head. "I'll take you to the emergency room," he told her.

For something as silly as her foot.

Wonder what would happen if he knew what she was doing before all the blood.

"They'll fix you right up. You'll be good as new."

But they had changed, grown, matured. They weren't who they used to be. They reveled in it. And now they had to suffer through it.

They were too old to believe in miracles.

fin