Their vacation in the Hamptons lasts barely two days before Blair claims to hate her so-called boyfriend and demands to be taken away, her arms crossed in front of her chest and her full lips in a furious pout.

Personally, Chuck finds it all very endearing, but by the morning of their third day, he truly knows better than to say so. So he feigns affected boredom and tries his luck:

"I think you are blowing it ridiculously out of proportion. "

"This whole situation is ridiculous!" – she snaps back and then her eyes narrow on him, dark with resentment – "It's just you who find all of this amusing."

She doesn't understand how he can be so dense, really. After all they went through to be together, after all the wondering and agonizing, dreaming, longing, aching for things out of reach, how can he be so blasé over the fact that nobody takes them seriously?

The concept alone is offensive to her. Because once he finally said, "I love you," being with him felt like the most natural thing in the world. She never stopped feeling for a fucking second that she was born to love him and be loved by him. So she won't excuse herself for those tears of frustration she has never had the strength to cry or to forget, if horny, perfect-looking models jump out of nothingness to saunter over to her Basshole and giggle in his face at the mere idea of him being taken.

Like her relationship was only a joke conjured out of thin air to amuse them or intrigue them.

On second thought, maybe she should be happy that Chuck is at least being so dense over the issue. She should be grateful he doesn't even see her worst nightmare transformed into a mockery every time a skank sways too close to him.

She should be grateful but she is not, not the slightest bit.

"They are models. They aren't exactly known for their acumen."

"It doesn't matter! It's humiliating I can't turn my head elsewhere for five effing minutes without finding a slut hovering! Don't you see it's even worse when air-headed human Barbie thinks she can just …disbelieve our relationship? Don't they read Gossip Girl? Even that bitch knows we are for real. Unlike last summer. And now I think about it, this is most surely your fault! If you had not ditched me last year, people would take us seriously now. "

"Mhm"- he rolls his eyes at her, still smirking shamelessly - "I beg you to remember, I was taking the utmost care to establish a reputation of dissolute seducer when you still slayed charming princes. I would be offended if it took just few weeks to lay to waste all my hard work."

Blair's mouth hangs open in outrage for a few seconds, like she can't believe he would have the gall to be so cocky about a matter that troubles her so much, before a dainty hand closes to punch his chest, quick and hard. It just makes his damn smirk spread wider, but she finds, confronted with the wicked delight dancing in his dark eyes, she can't stay mad when he looks so genuinely content. Seeing Chuck so carefree would be a rarity in itself, even if those past months had not been so very difficult.

Besides, he is taking her clenched fist between his larger, elegant hands and kissing the back of her wrist, and that triggers automatic relaxation in all her body.

"Besides"- he drawls, his husky voice warming her blood just enough than she can wonder when the mood has turned from angry to lustful- "what matters is that we take ourselves seriously. Very seriously, in fact. "

Blair pouts, shivering inside at the feeling of his words brushing on her skin along his breath. "I still want to come back to New York"

It's her reign, her territory and she feels more secure there, without beauties in bikinis sprinting from every shadowy corner and coercing her into feeling childish and self-conscious in her most modest bathing suits.

Furthermore, New York is practically another world now they are a real item. She wants to return to those restaurants where she has been to with Nate, those clubs she has visited with Serena, that favorite spot in Central Park where she used to feed ducks and where Chuck has already covertly fingered her while muttering soft-spoken obscenities against her earlobe (probably just to wipe out the memory of Nathaniel kissing her there under falling snowflakes).

There's a wonderland she can't wait to share with her Chuck.

"You never stay in the summer." He comments, casual and skeptic at once, his gaze seeking hers.

And yet, this year she even refused France. After all that had occurred and all that had been said, she couldn't stand to give up her romantic, sex-filled heaven in exchange for recriminating fathers and smothering stepfathers.

"But I love New York." –she sing-songs- "there's no place like home. Especially if Cyrus and my mother are having their lovefest elsewhere."

"Are you insinuating you miss having ours there?"

"Perhaps"

"Mhm. Yet, I don't think running with your tail between your shapely legs would become to you. "

She slaps his chin more lightly than she means to. It doesn't affect him as much she would like, and she blames this on their current proximity. It's not easy to come across as intimidating if your legs feel like jelly.

"A queen should never leave the battlefield unless she does so as a winner. "

"Are you begging me to castrate you?"

"Like you would ever hurt your most cherished appendage."

"You have other appendages to put to use if the main one gets sacrificed. I seem to recall they are almost as effective"

"Settling for second best? You get less Waldorf-like by the moment. Particularly in forgetting I'm not the enemy. "

"Stop skirting around the topic and say whatever you are dying to say, Basshole."

"What is most humiliating"- he breathes in her ear and this time she really can't help but shudder in his arms as he presses her closer- "that you are the legitimate girlfriend of a sexual icon, or that hordes of silly, flexible girls are so desperately missing what you got that they refuse to believe it? "

"You are far too conceited."

And she loves it all the more because his reasoning is starting to make sense. "But so are they, don't you think? Maybe you should remind them."

Blair regards him with a sort of dreamy interest, not sure where this is going but having a feeling she might like it. A plotting Chuck is the source of all good things in her book. Well, unless he is plotting at her expense, but that isn't the current case. "What do you have in mind?"

"Maybe the next time you leave me all alone at the bar and one of them tries to…covet me, rubbing on me like a cat in heat, while I insist on convincing them I'm taken and obviously uninterested, you might get around just in time to explain to her what she doesn't see. Let all the ugly thoughts brewing behind that flawless icy façade out. "

She allows herself to picture the scene in her mind. Her boyfriend harassed again by that trio of Brazilian knock-offs, his unfazed expression as they fawn all over her property… and she descending furiously on them, demonstrating that, yes Chuck Bass actually has a real girlfriend and he isn't interested in changing that, especially in the face of their pathetic desperation: it has potential.

"Sounds like an interesting game."

---

The interesting game ends up messing with her temper to a degree she had never realized was possible. Blair Waldorf doesn't share well, but this goes beyond it.

Indignation and possessiveness simply rub her in countless wrong ways, and then there's insecurity let loose in a safe, contained way and Chuck on her team, a smarmy and apparently unaffected accomplice whose looks she is the only one to understand. It's thrilling and maddening at the same time and... such an unexpected turn on.

She kisses him in the elevator, almost ripping the jacket from his shoulders, her enthusiasm causing him to soundly bump his back against metal.

Mine- her blood sings thrumming in her ears, and she revels in the feeling of his hands eagerly roaming over her buttocks and tugging insistently at her pencil skirt.

Their urgency is the best remedy for her stubborn doubts… if she had feared what would come as they started to lose it in favor of a more slow-burning intimacy, here is the confirmation that it can still be roused, given chance and motivation.

So she pushes harder against the elevator 's wall and reaches for the command panel, smirking wickedly. "Let's not wait" Blair purrs, grabbing his collar and leaning forward again, surprised but not displeased when after a gut-stirring kiss he pulls back to spin her around.

Her body is pliantly bending forward before she has half a chance to realize what he is doing to her.

Even then, her only struggle is to sneak an arm around his head to pull at his hair in retaliation, but the motion makes her unsteady on her feet and she almost falls on the knee that is confidently parting her legs.

Chuck allows her to find her balance, doing flawless work of unbuttoning her shirt and nibbling on her nape at the same time.

Bracing herself on the wall, she feels much like one of those suspects patted down by the police and it's completely undignified but also totally pleasant in a dirty way.

Chuck is the only man she has ever found acceptable to be taken from behind by–she nearly slapped Carter for even suggesting the same, before suppressing the aggressive impulse and instead saying with a smile 'no, thank you'- and it would be so much easier to admit, if she didn't love it. There's just something in Chuck's ability to overthrow her and to out-maneuver her that makes her current position very desirable.

Because deep down she has always wanted to belong to someone, to have someone who belongs to her and who wanted to claim her for himself…and she knows she needs a king to her queen.

Because she will deny it out loud but she loved him for tearing her pristine princess reputation apart, she loved him for driving her to tears when she tried to convince him he was only a dirty fuck and a last resort, she loves him for being her first taste of passion and for bleeding her dry each time she hurt him.

She smiles as firm fingers trace the outline of her underwear before pushing it aside, arching up with a moan into a palm that kneads her breast through her lace bra as Chuck nips her ear and traces the outer shell with his tongue. His voice is a husky murmur almost threatening in its drawling quality "Does it feel good, being such a nasty little bitch?" and that tightens her to the point that a slight teasing of her wet opening from his thumb has her eyes crossing backwards. It's nearly painful and she can swear she has never felt slicker.

"Fuck," she rasps, amazed that she can get any words out considering the parched dryness of her throat.

"That isn't an answer," he glowers, popping her right breast out the cup of her bra to roughly tweak her nipple again and again until she is grinding thoughtlessly on his erection and breathing too hard to remember any answers to any questions.

Raw, exposed, broken, brittle, hungry, incomplete- she feels all that, underneath the unrelenting lust and he is her one cure. Her panacea.

"Fuck me," she insists, a smirk of elation crawling up her lips as memory comes back to her in one empowering moment of insight. "Make me even more of a bitch." and then he is thrusting inside her, groaning in pleasure, filling her to the hilt.

Blair remembers when she did not know desire, when hearing his explicit retellings of his or Serena's sexcapades made her uncomfortable and all her cravings revolved around a spasmodic quest for an engagement ring. She remembers how difficult it was at first, having an affair with Chuck, hating and craving the carnality of it, the loss of control.

Thank God that girl is gone now. Thank God she can dish back as badly as Chuck delivers and feel incredibly good about it

They fuck in perfect, sweaty, animalistic sync and she is unnaturally pleased that his breath is coming out in short spurts and a gasped string of swear words, his body craving release as desperately as hers does.

"You shouldn't swear so much." Blair reprimands, in a girlish, breathy purr that never fails her and here comes exactly what she needs so badly: he clings painfully to her, pounding inside harder and deeper and faster, bringing her closer and closer to the invisible precipice as his thrusts become more driven.

Desire thrums through her like a drug, and there's this wondrous moment when she feels Chuck everywhere outside and inside her body: she's covered with his sweat, his voice, his wants and there's no distance between them, none at all.

But there's release, washing all over her, washing away from the inside out all the restless hunger until there's nothing left but an endless, peaceful space.

And Blair knows she is not alone there, in that unbearable beauty of being: his cheek is flat and warm on her nape, his arm around her waist.

"I don't think I've ever loved you more than I do right now," he promises, sounding so full of wonder that she doesn't know if she should shrug him off her or curl more comfortably around him. .

In the end, she just lets her boyfriend's soothing hands rub softly all along her sore limbs as he gently coaxes her into a standing position, still pretty much hugging her.

Does it counts as cuddling? –she wonders, suddenly brimming with gleeful affection for her perverted, twisted, controlling, once-upon-a-time coward of a lover.

"You don't need to sound so surprised."

And, once more, the snickering would be more convincing if her fingers weren't interlaced with his.

"I'm still Chuck Bass."

He would be more convincing if he was not dropping a playful kiss on her jaw. Yet, considering that he is coddling her in his embrace without pulling out of her beforehand and that they are in a public elevator, perhaps he has a point.

"Promise me we will do this back home, too."

"I will be hugely disappointed if we don't, Blair"

--

The remainder of their summer will become history, richly documented by Gossip Girl's online archives. There will be other games and other fights and the same passion that has kept them going when they were apart and not brave or strong enough to bridge the gap.

Chuck Bass will learn that keeping Blair's hand in his in public is really just another, easy way to let the world know she is his. Bart can be gone but so is the gaping hole his absence had created for years: somehow his beautiful, petite, demanding dictator is all he needs to drive away the guilt and the anger.

For the first time in his life, he can say he is fine and mean it.

Blair Waldorf discovers that the sense of failure that has haunted her for so long has dulled. Standing so close to him, it's easy to forget the fear and the uncertainty of the future. Most of the time she feels weightless, sexy, and –most importantly- whole.

For the first time, she doesn't feel like she is waiting for 'happily-ever-after' so her 'real' life can finally begin. She is happy here and now.

Chuck and Blair aren't optimists so they don't expect their state of grace to last forever, but they have the unspoken confidence that anything the next year brings, they will overcome it.

After all, they have already confronted their worst opponents- themselves, each other - and nothing can scare them more than those.

AN: And so this tale ends-thank you for reading and for encouraging me to write with your long, inspiring, kind reviews. Working on this was terrific fun but now S3 has started to entice me, I feel it deserves my full attention. From 3.06 on, I'm loving it way more than S1 and so you can expect a few 'lost scenes' from me in the near future. As a matter of fact, I think I might accept any intriguing requests on this theme.;)