Disclaimer: I do not own "Gossip Girl."
It's three-twenty-seven in the morning and she's certain there's some kind of hospital policy that stands against getting up and taking your IV bag down the hall to visit your friend.
But Serena couldn't stop herself from going down to see Blair anymore than she could have stopped Nate from coming to see her. He'd just appeared at her door a few moments ago, looking a little disoriented and a little pale, and very much as alarmed by this entire thing as she was. They're both making their way silently to Blair's room now, after she'd brought a finger to her lips in a shhh motion and swung her legs from the bed.
It's no surprise to find the lamp on in Blair's room, with Chuck sitting on the bed and Blair with her feet on the floor getting ready to stand.
"Oh good," she murmurs, nodding at the two of them, her dark hair loose around her shoulders, "Close the door."
Nate does so without arguing.
"Good," Chuck echoes Blair's sentiment and Serena notes that their hands are joined together.
"You two made-up then?" She wonders softly, her voice a little hoarse as she sits on the other side of Blair's bed.
"No way does carbon monoxide make it inside a closet like that," Chuck says, not answering Serena, "Not enough to make us sick."
"I had the strangest dream," Blair whispers before either Nate or Serena can comment on Chuck's statement, "I wanted to tell you about it," she adds, eyes on Serena. "I just… can't…" she trails off, waves her free hand, the one with the IV needle in it, around a lightly, "Quite… remember…"
"Me too," the blonde nods, "There's something…" and she too can't find the words, "But it's…?"
Nate comes and sits behind Serena on the bed; lays a steadying hand on her back when the bed dips and she slips towards him. "It's been a really strange day," he says slowly.
And the three of them can only nod in agreement with their friend.
"In the future, you two should really leave the scheming to us," Chuck notes wryly after a long moment.
Serena makes a face at her brother, "You knew about it," she reminds him.
Blair shakes her head a little, "I can't believe you all plotted against me."
Serena blinks. They all do.
"You said that…" she says quietly, "In the closet… you said that to us…" she pauses, bites her lip, thoughts hazy, "Didn't you?"
Blair blinks too, frowns a little, "Did I?"
"Maybe…?" The blonde amends, uncertain now.
They're quiet again, the four of them. They'd each woken up in a hospital bed earlier in the evening, Lily and Eric having apparently found them passed out in the hall closet of the Van der Woodsen apartment. Luckily, luckily, the door had been open for the mother and son to see the four teens, unconscious and piled atop each other, lying on the floor. They'd been rushed to a hospital and subsequently diagnosed with and treated for acute carbon monoxide poisoning.
"There are sensors in the apartment," Chuck picks up then.
"Yeah," Serena agrees.
"There's no way this could have happened," he continues, "It doesn't even make sense medically."
"Except it did," Blair says softly, lifting her legs from the floor and tucking them underneath her, "And doctor said it's an anomaly," she brings a hand to her head, rubs at her temple.
"Yeah," Nate nods, noting the gesture, "My heads pounding too."
"We should probably sleep," Serena whispers.
They think on the suggestion for a moment, realize it's probably wise. There'll be a nurse showing up as some point soon.
"Lily said she's having the apartment inspected," Chuck continues, "It's doubtful they'll find anything, though."
"Yeah, my Mom called," Blair tells them, "Said Lily's speaking to the building's association tomorrow."
"Jeez, my Mom said the same thing when she called," Nate murmurs, "They're getting all up in arms about this, huh?"
They nod in silent agreement, unsure what to make of all this; of the strange almost feeling they're all carrying around. A sense of remembrance that wasn't solid enough to pursue, of a dream too elusive to track down.
"Next time, just meet to go on your trip after work and not mid-day, okay?" Serena breaks the silence, eyes on her best friend and brother.
The brunette's exchange a look and then Blair nods at Serena. "We're not going to leave for trips on weekdays anymore," she tells her softly, and then her brown eyes slip to Chuck quickly for a beat before going back to Serena, "It won't happen again."
Chuck nods at Blair's words, before leaning towards her and pressing a quick kiss to her cheek.
It makes Serena start a little, the open exhibit of blatant affection. The two of them are renowned for making her cringe with their unashamed sexual references to each other, but the times she's seen them show simple displays of tenderness can be counted on one hand.
"You did make-up then?" Nate asks and Serena shifts a little to look behind her and smile at him.
Chuck shrugs one shoulder, looks to Blair before answering Nate, she nods a little and he says, "Guess so..."
"You don't know?" Serena wonders, a little amused.
"We didn't really— we just… feel made-up," Blair says softly, "Like… we're okay…" her eyes go back to Chuck and he picks up the sentence.
"And we're going to stay that way…" he says seriously, his eyes on her face for a long moment before going to Nate and Serena at the other side of the bed.
Serena blinks at them for a moment and then gives them a teasing smile, "Guess life-and-death situations'll do that to a relationship…"
Behind her, Nate scoffs, "I'm pretty sure this wasn't a life and death situation…"
Serena's smile hitches a little at Nate's words, brows furrowing a little as she looks into his face and feels a little dizzy, "You're… pretty… sure…" she mumbles and sways a little.
Nate steadies her with a hand to her forearm and Chuck and Blair look her over worriedly.
"We should definitely all sleep," Blair affirms Serena's earlier words, "Go back to your rooms…" she tells them, eyeing both boys as well.
"You okay?" Nate wonders, looking into Serena's face.
"Yeah," she says quietly and a beat later shakes her head, wincing a little at a stab of pain, before adding, "Yeah," more firmly, "I just… got a little dizzy… I guess…" she whispers. Her eyes lift to Nate, she shifts her body completely towards him and behind them, Chuck and Blair exchange a quick look, "You're… pretty sure…" she says lowly, her gaze a little wide, "Were you… before… in the closet… pretty sure about… something?"
He blinks at her; feels like the answer is yes, but knows that it's no. "I don't… think so…" he shrugs, "I don't really remember…" he tells her gently, "… much, after… after Chuck got there…"
Serena licks her lips.
"Me either," Chuck says, "I remember the three of you standing by the closet."
"I remember being surprised when Chuck walked in," Blair offers softly, she's lying back against her pillows now and Nate feels tired then, wants pillows of his own.
"We should… remember more," Serena says tentatively, shifting back so she can look at all their faces.
"We should get some rest," Chuck counters, his eyes on Blair's profile.
Blair nods. "Later this week… we'll get together… piece the puzzle…"
Chuck nods, looks at Serena and Nate expectantly.
It takes Serena a moment to realize what he wants—a moment alone with Blair. "Okay," she says, "Sleep well then," she leans forward towards Blair and Blair meets her half-way for a hug.
Then the blonde stands slowly, faces Nate, "Walk me back?" she wonders.
He nods, standing too, "See ya," he tells Blair and Chuck.
They nod, call out their good night's, both looking oddly smug about something.
Nate and Serena are as quiet walking back to Serena's room as they were walking to Blair's, steps shuffling, hospital gowns rustling, IV poles sliding on the smooth floor, and when they reach her door, they pause. "You okay to walk back to your room?" She asks him very quietly, aware that someone could appear at any moment at either end of the long corridor, "You wanna sit in here for a bit?"
"I'm okay," he whispers back, gaze filled with the sight of her, her hair's loose around her shoulders and in the dimly lit hallway her blue eyes are almost luminescent, "I'll just see you—"
Her hand is wrapping around the front of his hospital gown then and she's yanking him, IV and all, inside her room; bumping the door closed with her hip.
"Nurse," she tells him as he stumbles inside, shrugs a little, "Sorry…"
He smiles as he straightens, looks over at her, "Just can't take no for an answer, huh Serena?"
She smiles back, "Not from you, Nate."
And he laughs a little, "You know they do rounds," he tells her softly as she moves towards the bed and sits, "I gotta get back to my room."
She looks up at him then, standing beside the door, hair mussed and smile around his lips, and her own smile slips away; she feels oddly solemn suddenly, "Or you could stay here," she says.
There's a shiver that goes down his spine at the sudden way her eyes pulse with intensity, a buzzing of whisperings he can't quite hear, can't quite decipher, at the back of his mind. The room lurches a little and he takes a staggering step forward.
"Hey!" She cries, alarm in the pitch of her voice.
"M'okay," he assures her quickly as he moves towards her and drops down on her bed, "M'okay… just got…"
"Dizzy?" She offers.
The hospital room is dark, but there's an opening between the curtains letting a sliver of light in. She shifts back on the bed, rolls the IV pole to the head of the bed and slides until her back is against the pillows, legs curling to one side. "Stay," she whispers as she makes herself comfortable, "You're tired."
"We're all tired, s'why they're keeping us overnight."
Serena stares at him for a beat, "You came to see me."
He blinks, "Yeah."
Her head tilts to one side, "How come?"
"You… were on my mind… when I woke up," he answers slowly, "They wouldn't let me… come. So I waited."
Serena licks her lips, "You were on my mind too. I was glad when Mom and Eric went home so I could…" she trails off. Then she pats the bed, "Stay."
And he nods, isn't used to denying Serena anything. He shifts on her bed and kicks offs the silly, paper slippers the hospital gave them and lifts his legs onto the bed and slides backwards; so they're both sitting with their back against the headboard and their legs stretched out in front of them.
They're silent in the darkness, listening to one another's breaths. There's something between them, something in that darkness they want to see, to remember, but it's nothing but lights and sparks that flash away too quickly for either of them to pick anything from.
"Our plot worked," Serena mumbles long moments later, dropping her head onto his shoulder.
He smiles into the darkness, rests his cheek against her hair, "Of course it did, we're… us."
She breathes a soft laugh, "You can always put money on us, huh?"
He finds her hand in the darkness and squeezes it, "You know it."
They fall asleep like that, heads touching, hands held, and when a nurse wakes them up with grumbled complaints and a tisking tongue, she whispers, g'nigh' Natie and he mumbles bye Serena before the nurse walks him away; visions of breathless giggles and giddy kisses dancing in their eyes.
In the morning, Carter calls Serena's cell phone, says he'll pick her up from the hospital and take her home, wants to talk; Vanessa visits Nate, brings him a plant with a get well soon balloon, says she was worried and wants to spend time with him; Chuck and Blair leave for the Palace, together, and decide their trip shouldn't wait, they text their best friends' goodbye and leave that night.
It's more than a week later, when Blair calls Serena, we all still need to get together, she reminds the blonde; cheerful and relaxed as she sits on Chuck's lap while he has his morning coffee around her.
Serena considers a moment, thinks of the one time she's seen Nate since the hospital, the way their eyes couldn't seem to look away from each, thinks of the faded dreams she's had of giggling under brilliantly blue skies and kisses in a darkened corner, thinks of the friendly e-mails Vanessa sends her on how to decorate dorm rooms and the coffee breaks they share with Dan every once in a while…
What's there really to talk about?
And Blair, closing her eyes as Chuck abandons his coffee and kisses her neck, almost focuses on her best friend.
We wanted—something felt—off… didn't it?
On the other end of the phone line, Serena closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, exhales slowly as she brushes any misgivings away.
Everything's fine. I think we were being silly—oxygen deprivation and shock.
Chuck's lips are on Blair's jaw-line and his hand is on her inner thigh as the brunette responds to Serena in a barely audible whisper.
True... and everything is fine now.
Yeah… so it was probably just—
— okay. Talk later then.
And Serena listens to the dial tone for a beat, before finishing quietly, to herself.
Just our imaginations.