Pretty Girls

They were both such pretty little girls. They complimented each other and made the perfect picture. At parties, in their little dresses, they always shot Blair straight on, her perfect smile in place while Serena always had some goofy look on her face. Her mouth was too wide with excitement and her eyes strayed too easily, but they were both such pretty little girls that it didn't really matter.

Of course, Blair always wore it better. Her chocolate brown curls were always glossy and in place while Serena's own blond locks tended to catch knots from all of her physical exertions. Her mother gave up on buying her little tailored dresses because she grew out of them so quickly and nearly always destroyed them one way or another. Blair, meanwhile, was always perfect and pretty. Serena wanted to eat her best friend's hair because it always looked so neat and sparkly and her lips looked like little puffed up strawberries against her creamy skin.

Instead, she settled for ordering strawberries and cream every time they went to Serendipity together and shared a frozen hot chocolate. Any other time, she chewed her finger nails while her blue eyes went big as they peered out at her behind her fringe of golden lashes.

Blair had big brown eyes that were kind when they looked at her and in contrast to her mother's disapproving glances, Serena basked in them. So even when she slept over and Serena wrapped her arms around the tiny brunette, she watched her close her eyes and brought her forehead close to hers. Past their eyelids, Serena liked to think they were always looking at each other with kind, adoring, eternally loyal eyes.

***

When they were nine, Blair stole a kiss from Nate and Serena couldn't help but be jealous. What made Nate so special? Why couldn't Blair stop talking about him?

Serena kissed three more boys that week so she would have something to say to Blair when she brought Nate up again. She made them suck on strawberry candies first.

***

Chuck Bass asked Serena if she wanted to go "all the way" with him and she turned him down flat. The very thought turned her stomach.

"Oh right, I forgot. You play for the other team." She followed his gaze to a fresh-faced, uniform-clad Blair and realized that's what she had been staring at absentmindedly all along.

She fidgeted and bit her nails again. "How about you're just disgusting?" she mumbled.

"I wouldn't mind if Waldorf tagged along. If that's the kind of thing that gets you going." She was about to blow him off - ignore him, roll her eyes, accept the fact that Chuck is as much of a delinquent as he always was - when he moved on. "Fine, but I'm guessing that Blair won't be as difficult as you. She's got a hard on for Archibald and maybe I can pick up the pieces once he kicks her to the curb. Although, she does seem like a prissy little thing so it might be a challenge."

Serena had never physically fought anyone before - she's Serena van der Woodsen - but her chewed up nails grasped his collar and pulled his face flat onto the bar, smearing his face in the spilled alcohol and hoping that he contracted some sort of rare disease from the contact. "You stay away from my best friend, do you hear me?"

As she walked away, her developing long legs brushing against one another as she headed towards the brunette in question, she heard him behind her. "Best friend. Is that what you call someone you want to nail now-a-days?" She sent back a withering glare - the best Waldorf impersonation she could manage - before walking up to Blair and putting her hand on the small of that delicate waist. As usual, the girl looked so happy to see her that Serena couldn't help but return the smile, all the while aware of the many sets of eyes lingering on Blair's pale blue dress.

Serena sighed in relief when she noticed that Nate Archibald was not among those who stared.

***

"I can't wait to have sex."

Serena nearly choked on her spicy salmon maki, but she washed it all down with a gulp of sake. The little brunette, sitting primly beside her indian style on the bed, shook her head patronizingly. "Don't be such a prude, Serena. We're 15, for goodness' sake." Her brown eyes softened as her hand reached out and wiped away the excess alcohol that had dribbled out of the corner of the blond's lips. "I mean, don't you ever wonder about everything that happens after kissing?"

Serena wondered how horrified Blair would be if she knew exactly how curious she had been in the last few months? Thank God for the internet. "Um, yea I guess."

"I mean, we've both kissed plenty. It's naturally to want to take the next step." Serena turned red. Did Blair even know what the next step is? She always knew that her best friend was far from innocent, but thinking about Blair and sex was one of the things Serena was trying to quit for her secret New Year resolution. "I just hope that Nate is up for it, you know? I don't want to send him books about it or anything, but I think that guys should know this stuff naturally, right?"

"Yea, sure." Quick answers. The conversation had to go somewhere else eventually.

"Are you all right? You're quiet tonight. Are you drunk already because I'll go sleep in the guest room or something if you want to throw up." She made to get up and Serena had a hand on her arm before she could inch away.

"I'm fine, I promise!"

"Yea?"

"Yea."

When they laid in bed, 1 AM, Serena got to thinking. Boys weren't icky. They were past the cooties age, but thinking about Nate and Blair always made her uncomfortable. Even when they kissed, Serena had to avert their eyes. Nate just seemed so... possessive when he kissed Blair and it was public knowledge that Serena always staked a claim on her best friend. Was that a strange thought to have?

It was to stave off the nausea, Serena convinced herself, and she leaned in. Their foreheads, their noses, and finally, Blair's soft, padded lips were on hers and she felt her blood pounding in her ears, accompanied by a soft bell like laugh. "You are drunk, you whore!" When Blair had alcohol in her and started laughing, she always had trouble stopping. And so, distracted as she was, Serena took the opportunity to steal a few more kisses. Cheek, neck, collarbone, arms, and the brunette laughed through all of it, occasionally returning a peck in her hair and her wandering hands.

She tasted, tasted, tasted and within a half an hour she was practically playing with herself while the drink brought sleep replaced Blair's laughing haze. It couldn't hurt, right? She had seen it in pictures and she ached so badly just for a little memory. Her perfectly manicured hand snaked up her best friend's nightgown and found the part that she had inspected on herself with a mirror and felt for the part that made her feel good.

Blair turned to her side and trapped her hand between her legs. Her ass pressed against her right there and Serena just froze. She gulped and looked with her big blue eyes like she used to as a child and took a sudden leap of courage. A single, trembling finger slid inside the warm body just an inch before Serena had to stop and exhale.

Then she did it again because she's almost positive that there was no other time - ever - where this was going to happen. She propped herself on one elbow to look at Blair's face, still pretty like her own, and pushed her finger further. Then back. And then again. The air around them was damp and breaths could be heard as they lingered, taking form in the dewy sheen of their skin.

Serena bit her lip and went deeper again, her pelvis pushing against Blair's ample bottom until she heard a whine-toned, high-pitched murmur. "Ow, S. That hurts."

She withdrew and fell upon her back, her blond hair fanned out against her and her blond brow knit together while her counterpart curled further within herself. Serena really hoped that there was enough sake in Blair's system to make her forget.

Even better if she could remember and not freak out.

***

Nate kissed her and her instinct was to slap him. This was going to hurt Blair and how dare he? Nice, pretty girls like Blair deserved a loving, faithful boyfriend, not one who kissed other girls when he was drunk.

But then her heart twisted a bit where the knife was stuck long ago and she wondered in morbid fascination exactly how much Nate was going to hurt Blair eventually. Blair said she couldn't wait to have sex, but it had been months. Perhaps it wasn't Nate after all. Perhaps it was Serena all along.

She was kidding herself, of course. With Blair, it was always Nate and it would always be Nate. Just like the way it would always be Blair if anyone ever asked Serena. She bit Nate's lip to convey the twinge of acidic pain she felt, the anger she harbored for fate and for him. For little insignificant Nate who always managed to get everything. But she was going to make Blair see.

There was no way Blair would lower herself to Nate Archibald if Serena van der Woodsen ruined him first.

So she painted the scarlet letter on her own forehead with her own blood that night and fled in the morning. Blair couldn't see her like this, not with those kind eyes of hers. Maybe one day, it would wash off, but at that moment, when she still smelled disgustingly like him, she wasn't quite pretty enough for her best friend.

As Serena watched the scenery pass by on the train, she wondered if she ever was.