Disclaimer: I, unfortunately, do not own Gossip Girl.

Victor/Victrola, through Chuck's eyes.

LIFELINES.

He's kind of been a shadow all his life.

Chuck Bass—the Devil Bass, or that damn Mother-Chucker, as he's otherwise known—has always been in the background, always in the dark corners, waiting for his moment to come out and do some damage, fuck a little, get drunk, and then return to the sidelines to watch his actions come into play. He's never really been in the spotlight; maybe once or twice on Gossip Girl when he's done something pretty bad, but other than that, nothing. He's only Chuck, king of one night stands. Unfeeling, cold, heartless, womanizing, alcoholic, drug addict—tell this to any Upper East Sider, and they'll tell you you've just described Charles Bartholomew Bass exactly.

He'd never wish this kind of life upon anyone; Chuck may be selfish, but he's not hateful or spiteful. He knows this isn't the way to live, no way to be happy. Therefore, he parades around with his lifestyle, hoping that people will take notice of how, no matter what, he always wakes up alone in the morning, or how the only parent he's got left despises him because of his disappointing ways. He hopes that people take a look at Chuck Bass and think, Thank God I'm not that guy.

You can call Charles Bass a lot of things, but you can't call him selfish.

And as Blair huffed out of the limo—the fragrance of Chanel #5 trails her like a puppy, and the perfume surrounds him, invading his senses and making him think of nothing but Blair Waldorf—he thinks this is going to be the usual. Blair's pissed about Nathaniel, he takes her under his wing, gives her a taste of life with him, she is disgusted and runs off back to her precious Natie, and he is left to wonder the whole night about what would've happened if maybe he wasn't like this, he wasn't so pathetic and worthless, and what if Blair had loved him instead? If only, if only, is all that ever seems to come out of these nights with Blair, and it sucks.

Realization strikes that he was wrong about his predictions the second Blair's gorgeous high-heeled clad feet take a step on the stage.

She is a panther, dark and mysterious, with an alluring smirk painted on her porcelain face, her fingers tapping to the beat seductively, stroking her pale shoulder. She unzips every garment one-by-one, slowly, and he feels like they are the only two in the room. He does not notice any of the other dancers on stage; they are nothing compared to the creature that is up there, dancing for him. It is amazing to know that you, you are the one who has turned Blair Waldorf, prim and proper, good girl, into this sexy vixen. He feels the words beautiful, unbelievable, ethereal, go through his head to describe the images he is burning into his brain, and although he'd sworn himself off clichés since he was ten years old, he knows that he's never felt this way about anyone.

Seconds tick by; they feel like hours as he has to bite the inside of his cheek to contain himself. Hard. Blood trickles into his mouth but he barely notices; he barely notices anything but him and her, him and her. Nothing matters but him and her. They are everything he's ever had.

He does not sense the clubber come up behind him, but when the silky voice rings into his ear, "Who's that girl?" He responds with an, "I have no idea," because he really doesn't anymore. This is not the Blair Waldorf from Constance Billard's School for Girls, not the Queen B, no way is this Blair Waldorf. It is, however, Blair, the girl he'd grown up with. The girl whose pigtails were pulled by him, who he took on "adventures" across the street and into Central Park. The girl he'd always favored over Serena, the girl who Nate took for granted. The girl he knew. And now, he was never going to forget her.

So he grips her drink a little harder, takes a nice, long sip, and raises his glass to Blair, the martini stinging his throat on its way down.

He does not really remember how they got into the limo. He only recalls many, many more martinis and maybe a scotch or two as Blair kept on dancing, showing her moves. The only thing that really mattered right now was the fact that it was him and her, and he was going to milk this for all its worth. He does have a distinct memory of the way her cool skin felt under his burning fingertips; he feels like he is leaving a trail of fire, his fingers marking their territory with damage. Even though she is the one who feels so cold, colder than the New York sky, he is the one who shivers.

"Thanks for the ride home."

Her voice startles him a little, and suddenly it feels like the limo is on fire. There is so much heat, so much tension, it is palpable; he feels as though if he reached out his hand and touched the gap between him, he would be burned. He turns to look at her, and she looks like a goddess. Fuck. She is waiting for a response so he says the first thing on his mind.

"You were… amazing, up there."

She is sliding across the leather towards him. She is almost gliding, like an angel, and in a way, she is one. He forgets for a second about being unselfish, about never wishing the life of Chuck Bass upon anyone, because no one deserves this kind of torture.

Instead, he lets himself savor the taste of her against him. The way her lips taste faintly like vanilla, like strawberries. He can detect the bitterness of the martini against her lip, and he thinks for a little bit, that this is what if would feel like if I ever went to Heaven.

She pulls away and he is faced with the innocence of her chocolate eyes. They are like a deer caught in headlights—wild and curious. He does not want to be the one to invade this type of perfection, but he's never been one to resist violation. But he feels like he has to give her a choice. He thinks everyone deserves a second chance; a second to think things through, to remember the consequences before plunging straight down the mountain. The words slip out like a knife on his lips and he doesn't think he can take it if she says no.

"You sure?"

Her lips are magnetic, attracting themselves to his, and he knows she's practically signed over her soul but he doesn't care at this point. Small, soft arms—they are like honey, like the softest stuffed animal given to the most innocent newborn, the most delicate silk sheets—circle his neck and he thinks he's finally found who he is. He finds her hands and strokes them like it's the last thing he'll ever get to do; they are like ice but he grips them tighter as though it is his lifeline.