Disclaimer: I don't own Gossip Girl.

Thank you for reading. -- Sarah

When it happens, she's calmer than she could have ever thought possible.

Which isn't to say she's not sure where her heart rolled off to, after it fell from her chest to thud at her feet.

The letter burns her hand like it's on fire, but she thinks perhaps she should accept the pain, because she obviously deserves it, or said letter would have opened with something along the lines of "It is with great pleasure …" as opposed to this foreign-looking and yet crystal-clear "We regret to inform you …"

So she holds onto it, but that doesn't mean she doesn't reach for the Belvedere when her throat dries up like she's inhaled sand and she starts to cough, which is obviously what leads to that inconvenient moisture clouding up her vision. She takes care of that quickly and neatly, and then gets a glass.

No weakness in hydrating, after all. And there is water in vodka. Somewhere.


She's not surprised when two hours after she texts Serena with a 911, her phone remains silent.

She is mildly surprised, however, when after she finishes fighting off a completely unacceptable onslaught of threatening tears at the realization that she can't, she shouldn't, she couldn't, call Chuck … she has an overwhelming desire to call Nate.

Nate. Of all people.

But she thinks maybe Nate would get it. Because really, when it comes down to it, she and Nate are the same. Oh sure, she knows everyone thinks it's she and Chuck who are the same. She's pretty sure she's said so herself at some point.

But it's not true. Blair and Chuck, Chuck and Blair, they're not the same. Fire and fire, sure, but it's red and blue, and anyone who's looking can see the difference.

With all his talk of "I'm Chuck Bass," the devil himself is still standing even after the façade has crumbled, but it's Blair and Nate who lose all sense of being when their names are taken from them. It's Blair and Nate who've always known who they were supposed to be, one embracing it and one shunning it, but both aware, all the same.

And so she thinks Nate might get it, if she called. If.

She doesn't.


She starts by removing the satin headband with its stupid, perfect bow, and tousling up her chestnut curls a bit. A glance in the mirror brings about a moment of panic, but it subsides when she digs the black and white lace minidress out of the back of her closet.

It's Elizabeth & James, which she never wears, and indecently short. As in, should she stumble even slightly or drop something, anyone paying attention is getting a show.

She hopes everyone is paying attention.

She skips stockings entirely and pairs the dress with 5-inch black suede Fendi booties that remind her of Georgina Sparks. She's not sure why she owns them but she's grateful all the same.

Finally, she faces herself in the mirror and scrubs at her deep red lips until they're still nearly the same color but she knows it's from the furious rubbing. She forces herself to look herself in the eye until the irritation goes down, and then she drowns her nude lips in clear gloss. She feels she looks oddly ill, or perhaps dead, like in a Studio 54 heroin chic kind of way, and it's strangely a welcome look.


She goes to Tenjune because even though it's sort of a cliché at this point, they're all a bunch of clichés anyway and she wants to be seen even if the thought of talking to anyone she knows physically repulses her.

It has been 15 minutes but already two Belvedere martinis, dry, up, but who's counting anyway, when a shadow falls over her shoulder and he slides with all the ease of Nate and all the style of Chuck onto the barstool beside her.

"Waldorf," he greets, smooth like Chuck but smiling like Nate. "I hardly recognized you."

It's exactly what she wants to hear, and she stares flirtatiously up at him through a fringe of thick eyelashes and lets him buy her another drink. She thinks to herself that Carter Baizen has always been hot, in that older, distanced, unattainable kind of way, but now he seems absolutely perfect.

She lets him buy her another drink after that one and then she tells him so, about the perfect.

In a near-identical Chuck tone of voice, laced with amusement, mocking and also somehow sincerity, and with a straight-on blue-eyed Nate gaze, he smiles and breathes, "Perfect for what, Blair?"


He lets her lead for a while, trailing soft kisses along her neck, her jaw, her collarbone, her wrists, and all the while she tears at his clothes, tossing his shirt with its newly missing buttons over her shoulder and grasping the back of his head forcefully.

His lips find hers gently, almost overly carefully and entirely too reminiscent of Nate the night after cotillion, and so she twists her fingers in his hair and is satisfied when she feels his teeth smash into hers before she begins exploring the caverns of his mouth with her tongue.

Eventually it's too desperate, too perfect, this kissing like they might consume each other, and she opens her eyes to focus on his face because otherwise in her mind she's back in the limo that night after Victrola and that just won't do, and eventually she thinks maybe kissing him on the mouth isn't such a good idea and so she buries her face in his neck and goes to work there.

He struggles with her tight dress as she yanks at his pants, not bothering to get them all the way off and then firmly demands he just rip the damn thing when the lace starts to catch as he's carefully pulling it over her head, so he cocks an amused eyebrow Nate-like, and yanks Chuck-like to obey her, and then he throws her down onto the bed and enters her, and she's hard-pressed to decide whom he's channeling now but it's working.

She thinks for a moment she should stop giving them all of the credit, since Carter is older, since Carter was mentor, and since Carter is, after all, the complete coin that Nate and Chuck make up the two sides of.

But then she thinks it would be best if she didn't start giving anyone any more credit or formulating any sort of admirations, and so she bites down on his shoulder and grips the bed as he finally gets the fucking show on the road.


When they finish he draws her to him with one well-muscled arm and she's surprised enough not to protest, because though she likes cuddling it wasn't in the plan for what this night was supposed to be.

She remembers, though, as she tucks her head under his chin and slides her hands over the smooth planes of his chest, that she's not planning anymore, that things aren't supposed to be anything, because where has that ever gotten her, and plus, the way he strokes her hair is so nice. For a moment she returns the favor with a glance upward, eyelashes ghosting across his throat, one hand, feather-light, tracing his angular jaw and sharp cheekbone, until she's reminded of some other cheekbones, and until his muscular arms and smooth chest are too familiar, and she jerks hastily away.

He looks at her in confusion and perhaps something else, something more vulnerable, that she chooses to ignore, and she mumbles something about the restroom and disappears for a while. He falls asleep in the interim.


Saturday morning she brunches with Serena at Sant Ambroeus and promises her the 911 was for nothing. She orders domed chocolate cake for dessert and crosses her legs a bit more frequently than is normal, reveling in their rather delicious soreness. She refrains from asking after Chuck or remembering how Carter's eyes were far more blue than she had ever noticed, because really, when she thinks of blue eyes it means Nate, and she doesn't want to think about him either.


Farther uptown, Carter Baizen focuses sleepily on the empty space beside him in the bed in his suite at the Plaza. Rolling over, he blinks the day into focus and forces the vaguely rueful expression from his face. It's quickly replaced by an easy smile and a mischievious glint.