A/N: Um, hi. I know, it's been well over a month since I've updated. I'd love to say I've been so slow on updating due to Amazing Life Things, but mostly it's been work. With a few Amazing Life Things thrown in, I shouldn't complain ;) Anyway, I hope there's still some Carter/Blair love out there. I promise this story is still alive and kicking in my brain (along with a few other works-in-progress). Thanks as always to those who take the time to review – to the anons: Bee, KitKat, Desi, Elise and Lily, I love hearing from you and am so glad you enjoy the story. And to Miky, yes, I think it's fair to say they're a couple, even if I've built them both so hesitant to ever say it out loud (they will!). And to :), no, no, that wasn't the end! Haha. More to come yet. Here I've given Carter a sister, because I recall Nate mentioning one in 1.4, even if, like with so much of Carter, we know nothing further.
Disclaimer: I don't own Gossip Girl.
Thank you for reading. -- Sarah
1, 2, 3, 4 …
Blair is immediately certain of three things when she wakes up with cottonmouth and an even more cotton-y head:
1.) She's pretty sure she has maybe, possibly, completely fallen for Carter Baizen.
2.) She's gone blind, as all that greets her when she blinks the sleep from her eyes is an insanely bright blur of pinks and oranges.
3.) "I hate vodka."
"Mmm-hmm. Too bad, because it will be your only cure today," a voice teases to her right, and she snaps her head up, blinking furiously, to focus on Carter.
Some amount of squinting later and she makes him out, sitting on a coffee table bathed in mid-morning sunlight and looking like something good enough to eat with the sleeves of his pale blue polo shirt cuffed over his forearms as he offers a giant Bloody Mary in her direction with one hand and sips black coffee from the cup in his other.
"Baizen," she demands slowly, carefully sitting up from where it entirely unacceptably appears she's been passed out directly on her face. "Did I sleep on a couch?"
If she didn't know better, she'd think he was laughing at her.
Of course, she does know better, and he is, as he affirms her demand and holds up a hand when her mouth drops open in outrage.
"I tried to bring you to bed," he tells her. "But you weren't having it any other way. You loved the couch last night. Only the couch."
She holds up a fistful of neon plaid beach blanket emblazoned with the Cisco Brewery logo and raises an eyebrow as she takes a hesitant sip of her Bloody Mary, followed by a larger one as she grudgingly realizes his brilliance in providing her with it.
"That too," he confirms, smirking at the gaudy makeshift bedding. "You also loved souvenirs last night."
She's about to demand to know if there was anything else she claimed to be so enamored with last night, but the words die on her lips as she recalls that:
4.) Last night, Carter Baizen basically pulled his own heart from his chest and pinned it on his sleeve for her, and she basically responded by … taking more shots.
5.) She's still in her silk blouse, she's certain all her makeup or at least what's left of it, and passed out face down on a couch in the Baizen's Nantucket house.
"So," Carter calls after her casually as she slams her hangover cure down on the table beside him and flees toward a mirror in horror, and she can tell without looking that he's got that wicked glint in his eye. "Are you ready to go sailing?"
6.) Screw it. She hates Carter Baizen. And vodka.
7.) She really, really hates sailing.
A shriek catches in her throat and escapes as the lamest of little whimpers as she clings frantically to one of the metal sheets on the pathetic excuse of a slab of fiberglass the Baizens are apparently convinced is a sailboat while the threatening navy waters of Nantucket Sound rush at her face.
She closes her eyes and braces for certain hypothermia, shark attack, and drowning, and then feels a slow blush creep across her cheeks as the boat rights and she opens her eyes to meet four matching sets of ice blue, all dancing with laughter.
"You doing okay there, Waldorf?" Carter asks, gently resting an arm around her waist, and she responds with a tight-lipped smile accentuated with a steely glare.
Across from her, Walker Baizen tosses her mane of effortlessly straight pale caramel-colored hair and grins, crooked and utterly disarming, like she stole it straight off of Carter's face and made it just a little bit meaner, as girls always do.
A tall, willowy blonde with a penchant for crewing sailboats, slalom skiing and recycling crusades, Carter's younger sister is as much the antithesis of Blair as Serena is. Shipped off, or run off, to boarding school in Massachusetts by grade nine, the 17-year-old makes only infrequent visits back home to the Baizen penthouse, preferring instead to take her vacations from Andover abroad and rolling her blue eyes in ennui when she deigns a week in Southampton and brings the toast of St. Jude's et al to their knees with one deliberate cross of her long, tan legs.
Okay, so maybe Blair's never forgiven her for swooping in like a vulture in the form of a seventh-grade Aphrodite the time Blair and Nate, in grade 8, were on a – an unofficial, thankyouverymuch – break and accompanied her boyfriend to the social event of the year, a semiformal-turned-formal cruise on the Hudson.
Whatever the case, as Blair breathes in deeply to calm her racing heart at (what she's convinced was) their near-capsize and gives Walker an appraising look from her bare feet up over her infuriatingly preppy outfit of wide-leg blue seersucker pants and a double-breasted navy blue jacket with gold hardware accents at the wrists and the collar-popped and watches the girl do the same (smirking, she swears) toward the salt staining her dark-washed Citizens of Humanity skinny jeans, she feels a challenge.
"I'm great," Blair replies, broadening her tight smile to turn a blinding one in Walker's direction before turning doe eyes on Carter's father and grandfather. "So. Do you gentlemen mind if I take a turn at the … wheel … er …"
Carter hoots and Walker's laugh seems genuine as the elder Baizen men light up.
"It's a tiller," Carter whispers helpfully as she awkwardly climbs past his lap in the boat, and his grandfather shushes him.
"She knows, Carter. She's sailed with the Archibalds, yes Blair?"
Carter's face darkens only a little at the mention of the ex that, despite being on her mind due to circumstance is really so, so far from her thoughts, and Blair nods brightly as if to convince herself and grabs at the flimsy device apparently meant for steering this death contraption.
8.) She really should have paid some attention when sailing with the Archibalds.
At lunch she picks haphazardly at an oyster and pear salad and feels Carter's eyes on her with every bite she doesn't eat.
She's not sure if she shocks him or herself more when his mother delicately asks about her plans for the fall and she hears herself run down the list of options, save fleeing to France, that her mother and Cyrus had put on the table what feels like ages ago.
"I just don't think running away is the answer," she hears herself say, and she means it a million ways except for how Carter takes it as he stiffens beside her under his father's gaze.
Without thinking she grabs his hand under the picnic table and holds tight. His fingers instantly entwine with her own.
"I mean," she continues deliberately, as he meets her gaze. "I'm growing up now, coming into the person I'm going to be. I don't want to lose focus just because things don't always go according to plan."
9.) Sometimes when Carter smiles it's like dawn over the ocean.
She relaxes her grip on his hand just a little but still holds firmly, and eats her salad.
10.) Nantucket reds are ridiculous.
"You know," Walker steps up beside Blair as she regards herself dubiously in a mirror at Murray's Toggery Shop. A pair of salmon-colored, low-rise cotton pants sit at her hips and she's certain she looks a fool, but Carter's sister's eyes are locked on her own in the glass. "We don't run away."
"What?" Blair replies, honestly baffled, and turns to face Walker directly. The girl shrugs and sighs a little.
"Oh, those Baizens," she mimics. "Always running away from who they are, always trying to be something else, always thinking they're something better."
Blair cocks her head curiously. "That's not it, then?"
Walker laughs. "Well. I mean, isn't sort of in all of our nature to think we're the best?" she muses, and Blair laughs as well. "But no. It's not running away, it's not shunning a legacy because we hate it … it's … not getting caught up in it before we get the chance to really experience the world outside ours before we're jaded. Before we're too jaded, anyway."
Blair assumes she must look as offended as she feels, because Walker rushes on. "Listen, I just mean … Carter's always been restless, and never had any tolerance for all the bullshit, and even we've never really been a tie for him. But now … it's like he's found something he actually cares about holding onto. Even if it changes him."
"I'd never want to change him," Blair announces instantly, her eyes wide.
Walker rolls her eyes. "Relax, B." She rests her hands on the smaller girl's shoulders and turns her back toward the mirror. "I didn't say it was a bad thing. Just … know that you matter to him, and not much ever has before. Also … you might consider a cocktail skirt instead."
Blair regards herself once more and ponders:
11.) Carter Baizen's evil little sister appears to have just simultaneously given her her blessing and threatened her with certain death if she crushes her brother's heart. Also, cocktail skirt it is.
12.) She is hereby canceling vodka from the universe, and that is final.
Sure, gin martinis have led her to her fair share of mildly embarrassing situations, but only vodka is to blame for the fact that she's currently naked and dripping in the passenger seat of Carter's father's Range Rover, desperately trying to use her sample size lime seersucker cocktail skirt (embroidered with fucking smiley whales, for christ's sake, what is this place?) as full body coverage while an equally naked Walker and four boys are smushed giggling furiously in the backseat, covering up with the swatches of madras and polo they managed to remember to pick up from the sand after this ill-advised impromptu skinny dipping session.
She gapes at Carter as his grin threatens to split his face alongside her in the driver's seat while the flashing red and blue lights play across his currently devilish features.
13.) She absolutely hates Carter Baizen. For real.
"I absolutely hate you, Carter Baizen!" she announces, her jaw dropping as he laughs in response.
"Relax, Blair," he admonishes. "Do you really think I'd let anything happen to you?"
"Oh? You mean like getting me drunk, naked, and into freezing cold, shark-infested waters in the middle of the night and then arrested?!" she demands, her voice raising with each word as does his laughter.
"I am neither drunk nor naked," Carter points out, infuriating her further. "And no one is getting arrested. Chill."
"License and registration?" A handsome police officer of maybe 23 appears at the window beside Carter, who smiles easily and hands over the registration but apologizes that he's left his license in a different pair of shorts. The officer nods imperceptibly, to Blair's horror. "And what's going on tonight?"
"Just a little swimming," Carter replies. "We didn't mean to disturb anyone."
"Excuse me!" Blair blurts out. "Hi. I'm Blair Waldorf. My father is Harold Waldorf, Esquire, and my stepfather is Cyrus Rose, Esquire. I mean, he mostly does entertainment law, but I would just like to say that if I am incarcerated it will surely not end well for the Nantucket Police Department. I mean, it is a free ocean, thank you. I mean, there was no sign or anything, was there? If there is, you really need to light it better, for when people go swimming … at night …"
She trails off as she realizes that Carter's tongue is literally in his cheek and his jaw is clenched painfully as he attempts not to laugh. From the backseat Walker's peal of laughter is silvery, and the police officer drops his gaze and clears his throat in a manner suspiciously like he's trying to cover up his own amusement.
"Just wanted to make sure everyone's got a seatbelt," he replies with attempted gruffness, and Walker immediately slides onto the lap of the nearest boy and fastens the belt around both of them.
"All set," Carter affirms, eyes twinkling.
"All set. No more swimming," the officer admonishes, and then he's gone.
The car is silent for 10 full seconds, and then Blair's face fairly catches fire as the explosive laughter threatens her eardrums.
"Harold Waldorf, Esquire…" Walker shrieks from behind her, as Carter leans over to kiss her cheek.
"Rules are different on Nantucket," he grins, and she shoves him away but she can't help but smile a little too.
14.) All the rules seem to be different with Carter, and she likes it.
"Please tell me we're not stealing a boat now, Carter," Blair moans an hour later as Carter tugs her down the crowded dock she recognizes as the one just beyond the slip where the ferry let them off, and he laughs.
"We're not stealing a boat," he promises. "This is your Nantucket sailing trip. You have to experience all of the Baizen boats!"
"Oh, that's really not necessary," Blair replies quickly, pleadingly, and he stops abruptly so that she crashes directly into him.
"No?" he asks, pouting a little as he wraps his arms around her waist and draws her to him. She's still damp and sticky from the ocean, and her clothes cling lightly to her body, her hair a tangled nest of salt and curls. He thinks he'd like to devour her, and he drops his mouth to hers. "I think you'll really like this one, though," he breathes, before he slips his tongue between her lips and runs it teasingly along her teeth before pulling back and regarding her questioningly.
"Fine," she fairly pants. "Where is the thing?"
He smiles like the sun again and releases one arm to gesture sweepingly toward the triple-masted yacht beside them.
She raises her eyebrows. "Now this is more like it," she announces, and he laughs and helps her step aboard. "Indiscretion?" She reads the boat's name aloud. "Sound perfect."
"It's mine," he tells her, with not a little pride, and still a hint of bashfulness.
"Yours yours?" she replies, impressed, and he nods.
"I like boats," he shrugs, and she nods, because it's no surprise that Carter Baizen would like boats like Nate Archibald does, and then christen them Chuck Bass-style names like Indiscretion.
"I like you," she counters, and he has just a moment to look surprised at the sudden admission before he finds her legs around his waist and her lips on his and her hands gloriously running over the back of his head and neck and shoulders.
As they stumble into the bedroom cabin and he's expertly peeling her wet clothes from her body and running his mouth along the bare flesh, she drops her head back against the bed, her breath coming more rapidly, and her eyes slowly adjust in the darkness.
He pauses when she's still for more than a moment, and she can feel heat spread across his cheek beneath her fingertips as he drops his head in vague embarrassment when her face lights up in a soft smile as she takes in the daffodils, covering every available surface as they have been all over the island all weekend.
"It is Daffodil Weekend," he mutters, lamely, and she laughs and kisses him like he's told her he loves her.
15.) She's pretty sure she might love Carter Baizen.