Thanks for the great reviews guys! The encouragement was much appreciated, as this is my first fanfiction, in fact my first piece of creative writing in the last couple of years. It definitely made me want to update quicker! This starts up where the last chapter left off, with Blair at a bar with Carter and Chuck about to rush off to find them to stop Blair from making what he thinks will be a horrible decision. But he may not have complete insight into the sneaky motivations of the lovable Miss Waldorf. While the last chapter was pretty much Chuck's perspective, this will jump back and forth between Blair and Chuck's POV.

Disclaimer: I don't own Gossip Girl, if I did it would be the Chuck and Blair show and the pair would be involved in a lot more plotting and a lot less angst.

It was just before nine pm on a Friday night and Blair Waldorf was sitting alone at a bar, looking fabulous, a gin martini perched primly in front of her. She had carefully chosen the scarlet dress that adorned her petite frame. The incredibly low back and plunging neckline made it a little more daring than her normal attire, but the richness of the silk fabric and the softly flaring skirt that stopped just above her knees meant that she still looked extremely elegant and chic.

The effect was not lost on the men of the bar, most of whom were finding more pleasure in drinking in the classic beauty before them than imbibing the lethally alcoholic concoctions the bar was famous for. Half the men in the room had already sent the brunette free drinks. The other half were wishing they didn't have dates with them, so they too would be free to do so. Many recognised her from the legendary Vamp campaign, a label that had become an instant overnight sensation after featuring the delicious debutante.

Blair was uninterested in the yearning looks of the men around her, barely registering them. She would have been more likely to notice if they had been absent, or directed towards a female other than her. Then she would have pouted and fumed about the men's bad taste, whilst secretly wondering what was wrong with her. Why she was never good enough – for her mother, for Nate, for Chuck, for Yale. But now that she was being lavished with admiration, she simply took it in her stride. She was a queen after all, and it was only natural for her subjects to worship her.

Besides, it didn't matter that every man in the bar was showing their obvious appreciation for the way her dress clung to her curves and her red heels showed off her shapely legs, because none of it was intended for them. Ugh. Some of them were wearing wife beaters or sporting goatees for goodness sakes. No, she had got dressed tonight with only one man in mind.

One who no doubt would rather die than be seen in public under-dressed. One who was clean-shaven and magnetically attractive, and who never had to resort to some cheesy pick-up line in an attempt to arouse her interest. He was the one she was thinking about when she chose this particular dress, knowing that he would adore the way it showed of the creamy skin of her back. She secretly loved the way he seemed to compulsively need to caress the exposed skin of her neck and spine whenever they were bared.

Of course, it wasn't like she'd been planning on seeing him tonight or that she had come to the bar to seek him out. If anything, she wanted to avoid him. But she had dressed for tonight knowing there was a definite chance she might run into him. And that meant she had to be prepared so that if he saw her he would know what he was missing out on, whilst being left with the crushing impression that she wasn't missing him at all.

It had seemed a strong probability that she would see him because, after all, it was Friday night and where would Chuck Bass be on a Friday but at the centre of the Manhattan club scene. Chuck Bass probably didn't even understand the concept of staying home or spending a night in or going to bed early. At this moment he would definitely be out on the town, Blair thought, probably with half a dozen girls hanging off him. He just wasn't in this bar.

Suddenly Blair was impatient to move on to the next venue. This place was obviously dull. She looked around for her minions. They had been dragged along on this excursion when Serena flaked out on her, mumbling something about still needing time to get over her latest break-up with Dan. It made Blair miss the old Serena for once, the one who was always ready to party and move on to the next guy.(That was exactly what Blair's own plan was right now.) But after being rejected by the theatrical director she had marked out as her rebound guy, Serena had decided that she needed more time to mourn the end of her latest Brooklyn romance. Personally, Blair thought that Serena should be blessing her lucky stars that she had finally escaped the clutches of the low-class, ment-whore seducing know-it-all. She had said it before – the only thing more pathetic than going out with Cabbage Patch was grieving that he was gone.

Of course, the girls of the steps had pounced at the opportunity of filling in for her best friend's absence. Hazel wanted to hook up (she was getting so desperate it was becoming embarrassing, Blair might have to give her a talking to), Is wanted to wear the new dress she'd just bought and Penelope had come hoping that Nate would be around and in play. He had been paying increasing attention to Blair over the last week, and P was hoping that if she swooped in fast enough she would be able to corner him and make him hers before he realised what was happening. The guy might be devastatingly handsome, but Penelope was under no illusions about his mental powers.

However, the girls had grown increasingly irritated as Blair had dragged them through multiple bars and clubs in the course of only a few hours, never seeming to find a place that suited her mood. Now Hazel had escaped to suck face with some random who looked like he had possibly stolen his boss's suit and credit cards. Penelope was taking care of Is in the bathroom after some bitch from Chapin knocked a drink all over her new dress. Blair had already exacted revenge by asking the management to remove the outraged diva wannabe. They were only too happy to oblige the star of the Vamp campaign, whose presence at the bar undoubtedly attracted increased custom.

Blair sighed. The night was not living up to her expectations. Blair wanted to prove how completely over Chuck she was by having a great time, but somehow she couldn't convince herself that she was having a great time. She should leave, go comfort her best friend and listen to her moaning. It couldn't be worse than the drivel the guys who kept trying to pick her up were spouting. She ignored the fact that by going to Serena's she would also be going to the home of Serena's beloved stepbrother, and would thus almost assuredly see him whenever he deigned to come home.

She was getting out her phone to text the girls about her decision to leave when a warm hand grasped her elbow. "Enjoying making every woman in the bar wild with envy, and every man insane with lust?" a familiarly melodious voice whispered in her ear.

Blair turned around, a smile of real happiness already illuminating her face. "Carter Baizen!" she exclaimed. "You're back."

Carter grinned and nodded.

"And you're already up to your old tricks, flattering girls until they can't think straight. Trying to make them forget that they ought to be mad at you for leaving for months on end without so much as a postcard," Blair teased.

"My humblest apologies," Carter laughed easily, taking the seat beside her. "But if I remember our last meeting was a rather drama-filled encounter. I wasn't sure if you'd welcome correspondence."

Blair gasped, realising that she hadn't spoken to Carter since the night of the Cotillion. "Oh Carter, I'm so sorry about Nate punching you. It was all just a big misunderstanding that should never have happened."

Carter waved his hand airily. "It's in the past. I've just always felt bad that I played a part in ruining what should have been a special night for you."

Blair smiled at Carter. He was always such a gentleman. "It wasn't your fault that you got punched. Nate was being a jealous idiot," she said, rolling her eyes.

"Yes, how is Nathaniel these days? I heard about the trouble with his family," Carter subtly fished for the latest gossip.

Blair sighed. "He did go through a pretty rough patch but he seems to be doing better now. He's living with his mom and trying to rebuild his relationship with his father now that he's finally owning up to his mistakes."

Carter smiled. "I'm glad things worked out for him." He paused. "Although even with everything his family went through, I can't help thinking that most people would still consider him a pretty lucky guy."

Blair's forehead creased in puzzlement. "Why?"

Carter gave her the sincere, intense look that had successfully seduced so many women all over Manhattan, not to mention the rest of the world. "Because he has you."

Blair felt flattered by Carter's words, even though she had to admit the delivery of the line had come off a little cheesy. Or perhaps it was just because she was only interested in hearing romantic lines delivered by one person these days.

"Had me, actually. We broke up last year."

Carter's brow furrowed in mock concern. "Blair, I'm so sorry. If I'd known I'd never have brought up his name."

She smiled tightly. "It's perfectly all right. We're on friendly terms now."

"Are you still single? I actually always thought that with the way Chuck Bass looked at you, he might sweep in if his best friend was ever stupid enough to screw things up with you."

Blair's smile faltered a little and Carter thought he saw her eyes glisten as she turned to sip her drink. Blair was shocked and saddened that someone had noticed the chemistry between her and Chuck even before everything had become so complicated. It made her wish that she had noticed the way Chuck looked at her. Perhaps things might have been different then.

But when she turned back to Carter, the bright look was back in place. "Even being gone all this time, you don't miss much, do you? Chuck and I were...involved...for a time. But I'm a free agent now."

Carter pondered this information. He had approached Blair simply because, like every other man in the room, he was attracted by her physical charms. But the knowledge that she had been involved with two men against whom he still bore a grudge had Carter's mind racing. Even though Blair's relationships with Nate and Chuck were in the past, Carter suspected that both would still be significantly disturbed if he was to successfully seduce the brunette. Something he did not doubt would be easy to do.

Carter leaned across the bar towards Blair, just as a camera phone snapped a picture of the pair. "In that case, perhaps I could persuade you to give an old friend a warm welcome home by letting me take you to dinner?"

Blair considered. Carter had always seemed to her to be a charming companion. Perhaps an evening in his company would provide the excitement that bar-hopping had failed to elicit. She needed to prove that Blair Waldorf could enjoy herself in a post-Chuck Bass world.

She smiled at Carter, taking his arm and leading him to the door. "Sounds like fun," she said determinedly.

Chuck had just gone to bed at the obscenely early hour of nine when he received the Gossip Girl blast showing Carter canoodling it up with Blair in a bar. He had failed in his usual Friday night routine of going out and getting as drunk as possible before falling into bed with whatever girl he happened to grab first because all week the photos of Blair in Vamp lingerie had driven the thought of any other woman from his mind. In the past weeks (months even), he had often fantasised about Blair whilst having ho-hum sexual encounters with other women. But now he couldn't even feign interest in anyone else. He hoped Serena wouldn't figure out that he was having that problem again.

When the text message had come through Chuck had just reached the decision to attempt to revive his friendship with Blair so that at least he didn't completely lose her from his life. As Chuck ran out of the suite in his pyjamas intent on doing whatever was necessary to permanently remove Baizen from Blair's presence, he convinced himself that Blair would understand that he was acting as a caring friend, rather than a possessive lover. A really concerned friend might even feel the need to punch Carter a few times, right?

Chuck had already known Carter was back in town. He had run into him at a restaurant last week, with the mysterious Elle of all people. At the time he had been more concerned about that than about Carter's re-appearance. Idiot. If he hadn't been latching on to anything that might distract him from Blair, he might have thought to warn her that Carter was back in town and still in playboy mode.

He grimaced. Yeah right, he was sure Blair would have been real appreciative of his concern. She would have pursed those adorable lips and rolled her eyes before snapping out some biting taunt like, "Really Bass, you felt the need me to warn me about Carter's known reputation as a one-night Romeo just on the off-chance he decided to look me up while he was back in town? Paranoid much?"

But it seemed that Carter had looked Blair up and Chuck knew, better than anyone, that he was not to be trusted where women were concerned. Because Chuck Bass had learnt most of his best tricks from Carter Baizen. Had been a religious disciple of Baizen's belief that no woman was ever worth the hassle of spending more than one night with, and that it was best all round to boot them out of bed as soon as possible.

Blair was the only girl who had shaken him in that conviction. Somehow, the thought that Blair might also captivate Carter in a similar way, rather than just being another girl he used and abused, offered Chuck little comfort. If anything, it made him even more frustrated by the ridiculously slow speed at which the elevator seemed to be travelling. He'd have to get maintenance to look into that.

Finally he arrived in the lobby, positively flying into the street. In his haste he hadn't even thought to call down for the limo but fortuitously Eric was just arriving home in the luxurious vehicle. Chuck raced towards the opening door.

"Chuck, what's wrong? Why are you in your pyjamas?" Eric exclaimed, instantly worried about what calamity could call for such urgency. His thoughts flew to Serena and Lily.

"," Chuck panted as he slid into the car, out of breath from running. He really wasn't used to that kind of physical exertion.

Eric made a snap decision and slid in the seat beside his brother. "Okay, where are we going?"

Chuck stared at him open-mouthed. He had been so desperate to get to Blair, he hadn't stopped to realise that he didn't know where Blair was. For once Gossip Girl had failed to post that important detail.

Eric sighed, understanding Chuck's flabbergasted expression. "You don't know where she is?"

"She's in a bar somewhere...with that bastard Carter Baizen," Chuck ground out through a clenched jaw. "There was a photo of them on Gossip Girl."

Eric pulled out his phone and opened the image, holding it up for Chuck's inspection. "I don't know the place, but do you recognise anything that might suggest where she is?"

Chuck searched the photo but shook his head. "No. It's too dark to really make out any details clearly."

"Serena said she was going out with Penelope, Hazel and Is. Maybe one of them is still with her or knows where she went," Eric suggested.

Chuck gave his brother an uncharacteristic squeeze of affection. "Have I told you yet how glad I am to have such a wise little brother?" Chuck murmured gratefully as he dialled Hazel's number. The phone rang for several minutes before Chuck was greeted by a giggle and a drunken voice girlishly complaining, "Nick, stop that, I have to answer my phone."

"It's Rick," an obviously equally intoxicated male said in an unnecessarily loud voice.

"Whatever," Hazel giggled. "Hello, you've got Hazel!"

"Hazel, is Blair with you?" Chuck practically yelled down the phone line, trying to cut across the giggles that were still coming from the girl as Nick/Rick evidently continued his ministrations.

"Oh, she's here at the bar somewhere," Hazel replied distractedly.

"Which bar?"

Hazel paused mid-giggle and seemed to focus on who she was talking to and what he was saying for the first time. "Wait, I don't know if she wants to see you, Chuck."

Blair's minions were mostly kept ignorant of the ins and outs of her relationship with Chuck. But lately Blair was back to greeting his name with a small moue of distaste, rather than the secretive smile she displayed when things were going well between the pair.

Chuck tried to control his impatience with the idiotic girl. He could strangle her the next time he saw her. "It's important Hazel."

The indistinct sounds of Rick/Nick's voice could again be heard in the background. When Hazel spoke she sounded distracted, rushed and breathy, "Fine. We're at Blue."

The line went dead. Chuck gave directions to the driver and began changing into his crumpled clothes from earlier that day. He didn't think pyjamas would meet the bar's dress code requirements.

Blair sat across from Carter at the restaurant, bored out of her mind. He was blathering on about some expedition he'd been on in Tibet, sleeping rough in the Himalayan wilderness. She found it difficult to feign even a modicum of interest. Camping, really? Why would anyone actually want to sleep on the lumpy ground with only a contraption of thin plastic material to protect them from the elements when they could perfectly well afford accommodation in a five star hotel?

She wished he'd stop talking long enough to swallow some more of his veal fricassee. The sooner he finished eating, the sooner she could make her excuses and leave.

Carter sensed that he did not exactly have the undivided attention of the woman before him. It was an unusual experience for Carter Baizen. Normally he had women hanging off his every word, especially when he told them about his foreign adventures, stories in which he never failed to depict himself as the rugged hero.

Searching for a subject that might re-capture the interest of his lovely dining companion, Carter decided to dig a little deeper about her relationship with Chuck.

"I can't believe you actually dated Chuck Bass. I mean I always thought he had a thing for you, but Chuck never really struck me as a relationship kind of guy," Carter probed, hoping to strike a nerve. Carter figured that, given Chuck's reputation, it was odds on that their affair had ended due to another woman. Maybe by awakening painful memories he could play the sympathetic listener, and paint himself as a good guy in comparison.

Blair frowned. Dinner had just gone from dull to dreadful. The last thing she wanted to do was think about her and Chuck's non-relationship, let alone try to explain it to a third party.

"As it turns out, he wasn't. It's not something I want to talk about, Carter," Blair bit out sharply.

Carter fixed a look of sympathetic concern on his face. He had been hoping to get Blair to open up about Chuck, maybe keep plying her with wine to help her forget her sorrows. But perhaps he could play on her obvious anger and resentment instead.

"I'm sorry," he said. After a moment's hesitation, as if he was imparting a great confidence, he continued, "I've never been very fond of Chuck. All the usual arrogance of new money. I'm glad that I can congratulate myself of getting the better of him on at least one occasion."

Carter's easy disparagement of Chuck grated on Blair's nerves. Carter had barely seen Chuck in recent years and he thought he had a right to judge him? It didn't matter that Blair was barely speaking to Chuck right now. That was different. She knew him, she had a right to hate him.

She also sensed that Carter's comments were designed to keep her talking, regain her interest. But despite herself, she was intrigued. She knew that after Chuck hosted last year's lost weekend Nate's hero worship of Carter had seemed to end, but she didn't know why.

"How did you manage that?" Blair encouraged with a smile.

"It happened last year. Involved Nate too actually. I invited the boys to a poker game with some friends of mine. Nate lost his head a bit and ended up losing ten grand. He didn't have the money at the time. I convinced Chuck to cover the debts with some personal possessions of his, a baseball signed by Babe Ruth and a Piaget watch that were much more valuable than the ten grand Nate owed. Chuck was very angry at the time." Carter smiled smugly, anticipating Blair's enjoyment of this anecdote involving the humiliation of both her exes. He'd conveniently forgotten the detail about him actually stealing the watch and baseball first.

Blair kept a careful smile on her face while inside she seethed. Did Carter really think she'd be impressed by a story that only showed what a conniving asshole he was? What he'd done sounded not only dishonest, but almost criminal. She remembered that baseball, it had been a present to Chuck from his Dad and she knew how much it had meant to him. She never realised he had lost it. The thought that Carter had so thoughtlessly taken something that had such sentimental value for Chuck for simple financial gain made her mind whirl in fury, stimulating a desire for vengeance. She'd have to keep stringing Carter along.

"So you sold them? That must have been satisfying," Blair tried to sound impressed rather than sickened.

Carter grinned in response. "I was planning to. At the time I was experiencing some cash-flow problems myself. Then those cleared up and in the end I decided to hold on to them. Trophy pieces from battle with the great Chuck Bass."

Blair didn't have to feign the excitement in her voice this time. "So you have them here in New York? Back at your place?" Carter nodded.

A plan was quickly forming in her mind. Getting that baseball back would mean even more to Chuck given his father's death. That was bigger than anything that was going on between the two of them right now. And she thought she'd quite enjoy taking Carter Baizen down a peg or two.

Blair leaned in and ran her hand along his leg, smiling seductively, "Care to give me a tour of your apartment?"

The bill was immediately ordered. It seemed to Carter that this girl found the humiliation of those she disliked to be the ultimate aphrodisiac. And he was more than happy to oblige her taste for it, thinking about all the ways he was going to have her oblige him.

Meanwhile, for the first time that evening Blair was actually having fun, plotting about how she was going to teach Baizen the consequences of messing with the friends of the Upper East Side's official crazy bitch.

Halfway to the bar Chuck had the ingenious idea, prompted by Eric, that he could simply call Blair and find out what was going on. Unfortunately, she seemed to have switched off her phone. It made Chuck's guts tighten further. Girls in the UES never turned off their phones, not even on dates, unless it was really, really serious.

When they arrived at Blue the place was buzzing and Chuck was glad Eric had accompanied. They separated in the hopes of finding Blair faster.

Twenty minutes later and Chuck had had no luck finding Blair in the throng, although several guys that he had questioned insisted that they seen the 'gorgeous brunette' some time ago. Chuck had to control himself in order to speak civilly to these men and elicit information about when and where they had seen her, especially when all they seemed to want to do was talk about how 'fucking hot' she looked in that red dress. He'd lost his temper with the last guy who had referred to her as the 'babe with the killer rack'.

Finally, he came across Penelope leading a sobbing Is towards the door.

"Penelope," Chuck called across to them. Penelope turned, but when she saw who it was she rolled her eyes and kept heading for the door. Chuck raced after them and grabbed her arm.

"What?" she spat. Her evening had been terrible, her shoes were killing her from having to support her friend's extra weight and she couldn't believe that Hazel had been picked up and she hadn't. She was not in the mood to be hit on by Chuck Bass.

"Do you know where Blair is?" Chuck questioned, obviously anxious, an unusual look for the womaniser, whose expression normally only ranged from carefully blank to positively leering.

This pissed off Penelope further. Honestly, what was so special about Blair that she first had Nate at her beck and call, and now seemed to have the school's most determined bachelor furiously chasing after her? She wasn't even that pretty, Penelope thought snidely.

"Staying the hell away from you I imagine, Chuck," Penelope said spitefully as she tried to shove past him.

But Chuck wasn't about to let her. "Damn it Penelope if you don't tell me where she is right now I swear I'll let Gossip Girl know exactly what you did with Adam Luther and his cousin last Fourth of July."

Penelope gasped. Seriously, how did he always know these things? Her expression hardened.

"Fine. If you must know, Blair texted us an hour ago to say that she was leaving the bar. It seems she was going to have dinner with Carter Baizen," Penelope said smilingly. She leaned in to whisper in Chuck's ear. "It might be time to move on, Chuck. Blair certainly has."

Chuck's jaw clenched. His voice was dangerously low, "Which restaurant?"

Penelope shrugged. "She didn't say." And with that she escorted her friend out the door.

A few seconds later Eric appeared at Chuck's side. "She left with him for a restaurant an hour ago," Chuck said. "But since I don't know which one, we're going to have to ring around and ask the places nearby if they've seated a couple..."

"Whoah, Chuck," Eric cut off his brother. Really, it was amazing the effect Blair Waldorf seemed to be having lately on slowing Chuck's mental processes. "They could have gone to dozens of places. And if they left an hour ago, they could very well be finished by the time we find the right one."

Chuck bit his tongue in frustration. "Well, what do you suggest we do? I can't just leave her with him."

Eric looked at his brother sympathetically and prayed love never made him this crazy or irrational. "Chuck, how much trouble can they get into at a restaurant?"

Chuck blanched, because he'd got into quite a bit of trouble in restaurants, or restaurant bathrooms, in his time. But Blair wouldn't do that with Carter. There might have been a time when she might have consented to do that with him, but the effect he had on her inhibitions was unique. He hoped.

"It's really what will happen after they leave the restaurant I'm worried about," Chuck told his brother.

"So call her home and see if she's there yet. Warn Dorota about what's going on," Eric said reasonably. "Then head to Carter's and stake out his place."

Chuck was going to have to buy Eric something really expensive when this was over. A yacht, maybe.

He called Blair's home.

"Hello, Waldorf residence," the ever efficient Dorota answered the phone.

"Is Blair there?" Chuck said before she had even finished speaking.

"Sorry Mister Chuck, Miss Blair go out tonight," Dorota responded, instantly recognising the voice of the boy who she had been supervising on play dates with Miss Blair since they were six years old. Back then she had watched the way he liked to pull Miss Blair's pigtails with a knowing gleam.

"Dorota, I need you to have her call me as soon as she gets home? It's very important, all right," Chuck pleaded.

There was a pause on the other end of the night. "I don't think Miss Blair wishes to speak with you right now Mister Chuck," the maid's resentful tone made it obvious who she blamed for that state of affairs.

"Listen Dorota, Blair is out with a guy and he's not good for her. She needs to know that he's not a good man," Chuck put in urgently.

The maid tsked her tongue. "My Miss Blair, she seem to have knack for picking guys who are not good for her. I thought, perhaps, you would be good for her when I see way you stare at her. When you come for her on her mother's wedding night I think maybe you be good for each other. But when you make her cry I think I was wrong."

Chuck groaned. Yet another person judging him for the way he'd treated Blair. He wished they could know that no one could be more angry than he was for the way he always seemed to screw things up between them. That was precisely why he'd decided that they shouldn't be together. Didn't people get that?

"I know, I'm sorry Dorota but this isn't about me and Blair. If you could just tell her I called I'd really appreciate it. And if she comes home and she's still with this man Carter, don't leave her alone with him. Please?"

Dorota smiled. This boy was obviously as in love with Miss Blair as Miss Blair was with him, even if neither would admit it. Everything was so complicated in the lives of these American children. Always there had to be melodrama. She found it fascinating, even if she thought their lives would probably be happier if they had less money and more sense.

"All right Mister Chuck. I do these things for you. Maybe I was not so wrong about you," Dorota replied.

"Thank you, Dorota," Chuck said, smiling for the first time that night. He wasn't sure if it was simply relief that Dorota would make sure nothing happened if Blair returned home with Carter, or if he was happy that the maid seemed to still think there was a chance for him and Blair.

"Now we head for Carter's," Chuck growled to Eric. Whether he found him at home alone, or with Blair, Chuck was planning on having an interesting conversation with Mister Baizen.

Once at Carter's, Blair had immediately insisted on seeing the items he had purloined from Chuck. Carter retrieved them with a smirk. The knowledge that he had stole two things that had held meaning for Chuck, and that he was about to steal another, filled him with deep satisfaction. It was a delicious irony that the first theft seemed to be facilitating the second.

After examining the items and admiring Carter's audacity, Blair made sure they were left on the coffee table before suggesting to Carter that they move things to the bedroom. Her manner in doing this, leaning in so her breasts were just touching his chest, meant Carter did not spare a thought to returning the baseball and watch to their rightful place in a locked bureau drawer.

Blair let Carter carry her into the bedroom. But once inside, she immediately took charge. Carter was pleasantly surprised by her passionate forcefulness as she positioned herself on top of him on the bed.

"Feisty, huh?"

"I can be," Blair whispered huskily. "If you let me." Blair ran her fingernails down his chest, causing him to suck in his breath at the torturous pleasure. "I'd really enjoy it if you let me take complete control," she whispered.

Carter let out a moan of desire. "Anything you want, baby."

Chuck headed for Carter's apartment, the one he'd inherited from his parents. The one where he'd first introduced Chuck, Nate and several other younger boys to the pleasures of dope, liquor and women.

He told Eric to wait in the limo. He didn't want his little brother to become an accessory if he ended up having to murder Carter Baizen.

Figuring that the couple might have already arrived home, Chuck was about to knock on the door, when he realised it was already open. He quickly entered the apartment to find the lights on in the living area, but no other sign of life. Perplexing.

Then Chuck's heart seemed to stop beating as he heard soft groaning sounds coming from the bedroom. Part of him wanted to explode through the door, while part of him wanted to race out of there and away from the sight of another man with the girl who had been in his head all week. Hell, all year.

He forced himself forward to the half open bedroom door. There could still be time to stop this. Stop Blair from going off with the wrong guy, again. The way he should have stopped her when he saw her in Nate's arms after the Cotillion ball.

The sight that greeted Chuck was entirely unexpected. Carter Baizen was in his underwear, sporting what was probably a very painful erection, whilst securely tied to the bed. And he was completely alone in the room. His mouth was stuffed with a handkerchief and the groaning had obviously been an attempt on his part to attract attention. Chuck smiled. She really was unbelievable.

Ignoring the furious pleading in Carter's eyes, Chuck smirked. "Sorry to interrupt the festivities, Baizen. I came to pick up a friend, but it seems she managed to escape under her own steam." He turned on his heel, calling out as he reached the door, "Don't worry, I'm sure the maid service will be here to untie you some time in the morning."

A delighted Chuck returned home with Eric. He didn't know why Blair had done what she did, but knowing Carter he had thoroughly deserved it. It was moments like these that he could admit, to himself at least, that he really did love the little spitfire. Even when Blair had been dating Nate, the prospect of a Blair-bitch take-down had never failed to turn him on.

After thanking Eric again for his assistance, Chuck said good night to his brother, heading into the kitchen for his customary glass of juice before heading back to bed. As he turned on the light, his eyes immediately fell upon a glass encased baseball and a watch sitting on the kitchen bench. Beside them was a small square of crisp white paper folded in half.

He handled the baseball lovingly. The watch had been replaceable, but he'd never really got over losing the baseball. He had known his father would have been so disappointed in him, yet again, if he knew he had lost it. Having it back meant Chuck had regained one of the few mementos that suggested his father had really cared for him. Blair had got it back for him.

Chuck reached for the note. It simply read 'I wanted to see these returned to you, B'. The words were simple, she hadn't even signed her love, but reading the note made Chuck feel happier than he had been since before his father's death. She had done it for him.

The best part of the note was the ruby red lipstick impression left at the bottom. Sealed with a kiss. The sight of Blair's signature shade instantly conjured up erotic thoughts of all the times Chuck had looked upon those lips. He fingered the mark reverently.

"I hear you had quite a night as well," a sly voice suddenly murmured from behind Chuck.

He turned around to find Blair in one of her more innocent negligees, a sweet lavender number, that still clung to her body in a way that did dangerous things to Chuck's self-control.

"It was...eventful," Chuck whispered, as Blair approached him. "I just got back from Baizen's place."

"I suggested to him that we play a game," Blair smiled wickedly, eyes gleaming.

"Oh, I know how much you like those," Chuck took in the smell of her shampoo as she stood mere inches from him. "Thank you."

"For you, anytime," Blair repeated the words he had once told her. "According to Hazel and Is, you took another stab at playing the hero again tonight, rushing around, trying to find me."

"Chuck Bass does not rush."

"Is there are reason you're carrying a pair of pyjamas?"

Chuck smirked, "All right, I may have left the house in a bit of a hurry."

Blair raised her eyebrows, "Chuck Bass was at home on a Friday night? Are Manhattan's women finally wising up?"

"None of them seem the moment."

"Must make for a very dull social life," Blair mocked, her heart soaring at his words. She shouldn't be standing so close to him. Proximity made him harder to resist.

"I'm Chuck Bass. My life is never dull. Although lately I have been hoping to add a sparkle back into it by perhaps reaching an armistice with a certain vixen, who I so used to enjoy plotting with, rather than against."

Blair took a step back, shaken by his words. She'd never known Chuck to call a ceasefire to a battle, with her or anyone else. She didn't know what it meant.

"We were friends once, B," Chuck drawled.

Blair bit her lip. Plotting against Carter tonight had reminded her of how much she missed scheming with old, devious Chuck. The new, butterfly-era Chuck had still been devious, but all too often his machinations had been directed against her.

"All right, Chuck. Tomorrow night is the celebration party for the Vamp collection. Nate and Serena are both coming. You could accompany us as well," she suggested warily.

"The non-judging breakfast club together again," Chuck softly enthused.

Blair smiled and nodded. "Goodnight, Chuck."

"Goodnight, Blair." He watched transfixed as she disappeared down the hall.