A/N: Ok… *deep sigh of possible guilt* I said I wouldn't, and it is bad of me to put Reminiscent Views on the backburner for the sake of this mini-3 part ficlet, but I must. I was going to just write a little oneshot of two scenes that my mind concocted, but after I witnessed a couple of S3 sneak peeks today and became utterly intrigued, saddened and inspired, I could not put this away for later or perhaps forever. I needed to heal my little CB heart, even if it should not even be in need of healing.

*This fic is meant to take place in the first few episodes of S3 before everyone starts back in to school. If you have read my most recent oneshot about the game CB have been playing, this is a kind of more angsty view of how that type of activity could wound a relationship, instead of making it more exciting. On Serena's return from abroad, she suggests this to Blair pretty intensely…and it gets Blair thinking about all the possibilities and just what could follow after that. In side points, there is Serena trying to forget about Carter, and meeting up with Nate in the process. CaS, CB couplings & CS, NS, SB friendships. R & R!

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Ch.1—Trouble in Paradise

"Serena Van der Woodsen," the brunette spoke cockily as she eyed her best friend strolling down the street she had just recently stepped out on. The blonde spun around in a whirl.

"B!" she exclaimed, clearly surprised under the scrutinizing gaze of Blair Waldorf.

"Might I inquire as to why I haven't heard from you all summer?" she raised a brow.

Serena laughed softly. "W-what are you talking about Blair?" she avoided her eyes.

"Oh nothing…"

She looked at her strangely then and proceeded to turn around and continue her walk. That is, until she felt the brown-haired vixen's perfectly manicured hand halting her on her shoulder. "Except that I know exactly what you did this summer, and who you did it with."

Serena spun around. "What are you talking about?"

"Carter Baizen? Really?" she scoffed. "The boy is evil."

A smirk implanted itself on her face. "You didn't think so during your meltdown era earlier this year," she crossed her arms against her chest.

She scoffed again. "You do realize you said the word meltdown in that sentence, right?"

Serena rolled her eyes. "Yes, I'm aware, but—"

"No buts!" Blair waved her hand in a silencing motion before her face. "Meltdown equals anything can happen! No ifs, ands or buts!"

The blonde chuckled. "I see. So when Chuck had his meltdown, denying you, insulting you and finding it more important to help the supposed 'most beautiful woman he had ever seen' from the gentlemen's club…instead of you, you were completely okay with it?" She arched a brow.

"That was different! His father and just died!"

"So…his meltdown activities were unacceptable, but yours weren't?"

"There are limits, Serena!" She sighed, eager to have this whole argument over. "We're getting off track," she told her calmly. "I just want to know…are the rumors true? Are you and Carter Baizen, an …item?" Curiosity laced her question.

She sighed.

"Hesitation?" the brunette asked, her lips curving up in a quirky smile.

Serena rolled her eyes and turned away. "You've been around Chuck too long," she muttered.

Blair scoffed, moving after her best friend. "There is nothing wrong with being around Chuck all summer," she defended. "He's been a complete gentleman, everything I could ask for, and we've been having a very, very good time." Her voice lowered.

"Ugh. Gross, B." Her nose scrunched up.

She was flat out smiling now. "It's not all sex, Serena. There's like…talking too," she carried on cheerily.

Serena shook her head. "I don't wanna know."

The brunette chuckled a bit. "I'm serious! We've gone…boating, on walks in the park," she seemed to be zoning dreamily. "He even got us our own little place to share during the summer," she nodded proudly.

Serena turned to her. "Seriously? You guys are living together?"

Blair beamed.

"Wow," she turned to look in front of her again. "That's…that's commitment."

Her smile softened with the twinkling in her eyes. "I know."

"But—wait, if you're living with Chuck, what's going to happen when you go off to school? You're going to live in the dorms, aren't you?"

She nodded. "Yeah, but there's always the weekends, or skip-days—"

Serena stopped her. "Skip days? Since when do you ever… 'skip'?"

She scoffed. "Hey, I could skip!" The blonde looked at her skeptically. "I could!" The skepticism did not fall from her best friend's face and Blair's confidence faltered. "Okay, fine. I would hate to miss a class," she huffed. "I hated it in high school, and I will hate it in college, but…" she paused, "if I need somewhere to crash, I've got somewhere to go. Somewhere I'll never be afraid to go, because I always feel loved there."

"Wow. Look at you, getting all sentimental on me. And over Chuck of all people."

Blair rolled her eyes. "I think I have a reason to. He told me he loved me."

Serena nodded. "Yeah I got that memo. And that's amazing, B."

She smiled at that.

"But…just be careful."

"Huh?" She turned in front of the blonde, halting her feet as well. "Just 'be careful'? You've known how Chuck felt about me for a pretty long time, S. Why are you suddenly doubting?"

The blonde sighed, sensing that this conversation was a long time coming. "I know he loves you, I do. Even through all the mess that was Chuck Bass this year, I knew he loved you. I just—"

"What?" she asked, almost frantically, her brown eyes penetrating.

"You know his reputation."

Blair sighed.

"I just don't want you getting hurt, B."

"He said he wouldn't hurt me this time, Serena. He told me this time would be different."

"And…how is this different from any other guy you've dated?"

Blair's ruby lips pursed together. "Because it's Chuck, S. He wouldn't do that."

Serena's brows rose. "Alright, tell me then, what is your most common activity these days—"

The brunette opened her mouth to speak, but was silenced.

"…besides sex, B," she looked to the ground momentarily. "I want to be able to eat my lunch today."

Her expression faded from angry into a playful challenge. "Of course."

Serena lifted her eyes.

"We play a game…"

The blonde grimaced. "I thought you guys were done with games," she sighed.

"Oh, it's not as bad as you think," she looped her arm through her friend's, and tugged her along to walk again. "You see, we watch as girls empty the buildings by NYC or…you know, some classy place," she shrugged, oblivious to her best friend's raised eyebrows and shaking head. "We agree on one, and then Chuck seduces them."

Serena stopped momentarily, looking at her best friend as if she'd lost her mind.

"No, it gets better," she turned her friend away to walk again.

The blonde sighed, allowing herself to be pulled along once more. "Oh, I'm sure it does," she muttered.

"He brings the girl home," she paused momentarily, smiling at the word 'home' and what it meant to her, which was a lot, "And then, just as they're about to kiss or whatever else," she shrugged briefly, "I come out of nowhere and freak the girl out!"

Serena looked towards her, wondering if she was actually serious. She was.

"It's very fun, S. Sometimes I even chase them around the room," she giggled, "And you know what the best part is?"

"What?" the blonde cringed, hoping the story would end soon.

"At the end of the day, Chuck is still mine and he's still in love with me and…oh S! You should see the way he looks at me," she sighed dreamily.

"I'm sure it looks quite similar to how he looked at all those sluts before he screwed and shooed them," she mumbled.

Blair stopped and turned to face in front of her friend again. "What are you trying to say?"

"Nothing, I—" she paused, realizing just how much she had overstepped her bounds, "—I just don't want you to get hurt, and…well, you're heading back to school now, most of us are."

She folded her arms across her chest. "Your point is?"

"How are you going to stop him from kissing one of these girls? What if…what if one of these days you catch him kissing a girl or—or worse?"

She huffed. "I think I know my own boyfriend."

Serena looked at her sympathetically. "I know you do," she reached out to touch her hair, but Blair snapped away. "You've got his heart, B. No one else could've done it, but you did. I just…"

Blair raised her eyebrows, waiting for the pathetic punch line.

"Your boyfriend is Chuck Bass."

She looked taken a back, and even stepped away from her as if frightened.

Serena sighed. "B—"

And suddenly vulnerable Blair was gone. Her head snapped up, and she carried on a voice of the most cheerful air. "Don't feel bad, S. You're just looking out for me, I understand. But if you don't mind, I think I can figure this one out on my own."

The blonde nodded.

"Weren't you on your way somewhere?"

She sighed. "Yeah, Eric wants to meet up for lunch."

The brunette smiled brightly. "Well then, send E my love," she leaned forward and hugged her tightly, "Good to have you back." She smiled once more and turned away.

"…thanks," she whispered pathetically after she had gone. "Good to be here," she muttered, sufficiently proceeding then to turn back around and head in the intended direction. …………………………………………………………………………………

It was starting to irritate her.

Chuck had been on the phone the entire time. Since the moment she had come he had been talking to some possible client or partner or whoever it was that he was dealing with on a daily basis. For not one moment had he even really acknowledged her presence, except for the brief moments where he helped her into the car and shut the door. He could've at least…looked at her lovingly, couldn't he? Sigh. It wasn't as if she wasn't proud of him for all of this, all his work. She was ecstatic and her heart soared for how well he had taken up his father's business and how professionally he had been handling everything during the summer. But…when he picked her up, she expected that he would pay attention to her! This wasn't a time for his work; this was a time for her, for them.

Normally she would bug him to a relentless degree until he would've finally ended the call and made a point of readdressing the matter later, when she wasn't in his presence. But not today. Today, it just bugged her.

She sighed dramatically, and this seemed to have alerted him. His head began to turn to her, and she grew hopeful. But her heart dropped at the realization that he was just looking towards the limo driver to confirm the reality of their current destination…which they had reached. The driver came around and opened to door for him. Chuck stepped out onto the pavement, and turned around instantly (as if from habit), grabbing hold of her hand and pulling her gently onto the sidewalk.

Still he was talking.

The door shut behind them as they began to walk, Blair Waldorf's slow movements becoming all the more noticeable by the frown evident on her face. Her brows fused and she knew she had been in the wrong to stop Serena Van der Woodsen, especially to question her concerning her rendezvous over the summer.

"How are you going to stop him from kissing one of these girls? What if…what if one of these days you catch him kissing a girl or—or worse?"

What was she going to do? What if Serena was right? Was it only a matter of time? It wasn't like Chuck Bass was known for fidelity.

She gulped.

But he wasn't known for falling in love either…

She sighed.

"Blair," he called after her. Apparently in the process of thinking too much, she had grabbed a hold of his hand and started charging forward. He had always liked walking slowly with her each afternoon when he picked her up. She would pester him to get off the phone and he would make it up to her by looking at her lovingly and kissing her like his life depended on it.

Today was not one of those days.

She looked back to him and slowed her pace. "Oh," she said, startled. "I didn't know your phone date had ended," she snarled, hardly meaning for it to come out so harsh.

He looked at her amused. "I didn't know there was a third party," he pulled her to him, lowering his voice; "You hardly made an effort for my attention."

She settled into his hold temporarily, but then focused back onto her heartbreaking thoughts, coming to the realization of how realistic they actually were. I mean, she had never really given in to Serena's ideas without coming to the grips of how logical they were…she knew Chuck better than Serena. She had been dating him all summer and he hadn't cheated. She had consented to their little game, and enjoyed herself. She…she…might be blinded by love?

She blinked. "Oh, my bad," she smiled briefly, turning to walk away, slower this time. His brows furrowed, but he allowed her to take the lead and walked along beside her.

"It's a nice day today, Waldorf," he smiled happily into the wind.

"Yep, great day," she ground her teeth.

He intertwined his fingers between hers, but she hardly allowed him access, and within moments she was charging forth again, pulling him forcefully along when he didn't speed up to her pace immediately.

"Sheesh, Waldorf! What's with the speed today, huh? I thought you liked our slow walks," he questioned her, wriggling his fingers in reflexive motions once they stopped.

"Look! We're here!" she announced cheerily, pointing to the building before them where they would normally watch girls enter and decide which would be victim to their little game.

His eyebrows narrowed, and he immediately detected something unusual going on inside his girlfriend's little head. Not that he hadn't detected it immediately when she stepped into the limo earlier, but he was hoping it would blow over and he could just kiss away any remaining troubles. That didn't seem to be the case.

"Blair—"

"Ooo! Shh! They're coming," she lowered her voice to a whisper, and pointed to the women exiting the building just beyond them. She made eye contact with him, but only for about half a second before engrossing herself in the figures waltzing down the cement steps and across the pavement.

Reluctantly, Chuck finally turned his figure and watched the lesser beauties make their way past him and his beauty. He tried to wrap his arm around her as they leaned back against the thin iron fence guarding the house behind them. She ground her back against the fence though, and prevented him access. It was too awkward, in this situation, for him to be wrapping his arms around her shoulders, so he settled for gripping the fence holds and focusing back on the decision at hand.

He offered a suggestion after at least five minutes, five minutes of which Blair had said nothing and seemed to have slumped into her own little world. Definitely not thinking about the decision that had to be made for their little game.

"The red-head," he said.

"No," she said, "she's too short."

He raised his eyebrows but settled with it. "The blonde," he suggested.

"Which one?" she asked, watching as three of them fell in line in front of them.

He chuckled. "The leader," he smirked.

She turned and glared at him. Something which, quite honestly, shocked him. She would've smirked at that, he told himself. She would've found it amusing.

"The huge hoops," he offered, motioning to the caucasian with short black hair and humungous silver, sparkling hoop earrings.

"Absolutely not," she sighed.

This time she gave no explanation, and he didn't request one.

"Blair—" he said turning to her.

"Are you gonna cheat on me?" she asked, beating him to the punch with the speed of her body's turn.

He gaped. "What?" he asked, like it was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard.

She rolled her eyes, inwardly slapping herself for being so blunt…so vulnerable. "Uh…nevermind, passing thought. Hahaha!"

He looked at her strangely now, assessing her every expression and movement, being unable to come to any reasonable conclusion. "Blair."

"I don't think we should play this game anymore," she walked away from him then and continued down the block. It took him a few moments to figure out what had just happened, but as soon as it did he had flown down after her and made her stop once she had reached the second step leading up to an apartment complex.

"Blair…"

She sighed, tiredly.

"I…" he looked at her utterly confused, "I thought you wanted to play the game," he said, more confident now.

She opened her mouth, but for the longest time it seemed to her she could not say a thing. "I did," she tried to sport the same confidence, "I do," her voice quieted and weakened as her gaze fell to the ground.

He looked at her skeptically. "What's going on, Blair?"

"Nothing," she said, raising her gaze to his and sporting a cheery 'I feel wonderful because of you' smile.

He saw right through it.

"I'm not buying it," he spoke slowly.

Her eyebrows furrowed furiously. "….and why not?"

He chuckled at that. "Your eyes aren't matching your mouth," he nearly spat. "We've had this discussion before," he gestured his hand in the air.

She huffed, rolling her eyes.

"Blair, I'd never cheat on you. You know that, right?"

She nodded. "Yes Chuck, I know that."

"Well then…?"

"Nothing I said," she turned to walk away, but he pulled her back to her placement on the cement step.

"I haven't cheated on you all summer, Waldorf. I'm with you practically every second that I'm not sleeping, though that is usually with you as well, or working. Besides that, it's only when I'm in the midst of our little game, a game you seemed to be quite enjoying and enthusiastic about until I picked you up this afternoon. To top it all off, I hate the idea of cheating. You know this." He took her hands in his own and held them close. "What happened?"

She had become so swept up in his speech that she nearly forgot why she was upset to begin with.

"You know his reputation."

She focused on his concerned gaze and suddenly couldn't see anything but the smarmy faced boy she had grown up with. It frightened her of everything he was capable of. That he was as likely to break her heart now as he had been all year, except this time it would be worse because they were actually together and he had confessed to being in love with her.

She gulped.

"I…I think I should go," she said, moving to leave him, and making it all the way down the steps this time, but only t here.

"I don't think so," he pulled her back to her prior placement. Again.

She huffed. "Chuck," she whined.

He chuckled at her, shaking his head. "The only one hurting here is you, Waldorf. Spill."

She sighed. "Fine," she spat.

He looked amused and made himself as comfortable as he could, standing and all.

"I ran into Serena today…"

He watched her, mesmerized by the movement of her lips.

"…I questioned her about Carter, since it was all the blaze this summer."

He smirked. "Yeah, how did that go down?" he leaned against the iron fence guiding the steps.

Her eyes flicked to him. "Not well."

His eyebrows rose. "Oh? The rumors are true?"

"I'm thinking so," she sighed. "But that's not the point. She turned the conversation around and suggested that if you haven't cheated on me already, you're going to in the future."

His eyebrows narrowed. "Oh really?" his voice lowered dangerously.

She nodded. "Apparently she thinks that even though I've 'stolen your heart', I haven't 'stolen your body,'" she paused, "…so to speak," she shrugged.

He scoffed, gaping unbelievably at the same time.

"What?" she asked, now upset that she had even told him what had been spinning in her head. Even if she didn't normally keep anything away from him. This unleashed her insecurities. It was the first time all summer she had really felt insecure about anything. The last thing she wanted to be accused of was not trusting him.

"I'm gonna kill her," he shook his head incredulously.

"No no no, don't do that. Don't interrogate her or yell at her or manipulate the situation."

He was gaping again now, having felt completely torn up that she had ripped out all the possibilities from under him.

"Now, I feel violated."

A tiny smile formed on her face, and a little fire of hope grew in him. Progress.

"She just doesn't want me to get hurt and—"

"Neither do I," he insisted. "Blair," he said, pulling her to him. "I said I'd changed. I said this time would be different, that you could trust me, that I love you."

She nodded along. "I know, I know," she said.

"I do, you know. I love you."

Her eyes sparkled when he said it, but he knew her fears crowded back in again the moment there was silence.

"Do you…not trust me?" Now, he was starting to feel insulted.

"No! No, it's not that!" she tried to tell him, tried to express how she had been so confident of their relationship and how it had all fallen apart as she let Serena's words sink in. How even if he didn't cheat now, he might later…when he only had work to keep him occupied. And his secretary wasn't exactly old…anything was possible. It couldn't possibly be exciting all the time for his sex life. He was used to a different girl every night…and now?

"Well then, what is it?" he asked, peering into her helpless falling face. "What are you thinking, Blair?" he pushed a stray hair behind her ear, and her head started to shake. Within moments a single tear found itself trailing down the side of her face, joined by another and another. He pulled her towards him then, unable to take this sadness any longer, and kissed her hard on the mouth, enjoying the small victory when her hands moved from trying to stop her tears and instead twisted up into his deliciously chocolate locks.

When they finally parted, his forehead leaned against hers and he waited until her breathing returned to normal before pulling completely away. He took both of her hands in his own again and pressed a sweet kiss to each of them. She smiled at him, and it seemed to drown out his worries.

"Are we okay?" he asked, desperate for that smile of hers to be genuine. It was.

She nodded, smile still in place. "I still think I should go though," she wandered from him again, and he didn't pull her back to him. He had done all he could, he thought. His hands did remain connected with her as long as they could reach.

"But you've only just gotten here," he looked on at her confused and only tore away his gaze to glance down at his watch. "I take off for three hours every day to spend time with you, and you're going to leave me stranded after forty-five minutes?"

She shook her head. "I'm sure you'll survive Bass." Then, she walked away. Not as slow as she had walked when initially getting out of the limo, but definitely not as quickly as she had trudged on before.

"I'll be home late!" he called after her, quirking his head to the side mysteriously.

"Ok, I'll just wait at the apartment till you get there then," she called back, hardly turning her head to respond to him. The apartment? Since when does she call it, the apartment? Wasn't it always…home?

He couldn't wrap his head around it. Had Serena honestly been so convinced he would cheat on her? Or was it a simple plea to turn Blair away from the complicated relationship that had evolved with Carter over the summer?

Sigh.

Regardless, it was inexcusable, and he was going to make sure she knew it. This…this…sad, vulnerable, depressed Blair that hadn't come out all summer wasn't going to stay for long. And if he had to take out dear old sis in the process, so be it.

He found SERENA in his contacts list…five or so down, and hit SEND.

"Serena," he began, "It's your favorite brother calling. I hope you had a lovely time abroad, because I'm about to make your life a living hell."

CLICK.

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"Nate?"

The golden boy spun around to see his long-haired counterpart shocked and surprised to see him in her vicinity.

"Serena!" he said, coming towards her and enveloping her in a warm hug.

"Oh, it's so good to see you!" she said, a bounce to every word she spoke.

"You too! How was your time abroad?" he asked, his voice lowering as he jabbed her with his elbow. She slapped his arm away.

"Oh, I could ask you the same question. What happened with Vanessa?"

He sighed exhaustingly. "Oh nothing. She came back early and we're pretty good friends. But that is all."

"I heard," she said, watching his expression change from aggravated to amused. "Gossip Girl does keep up with us all…regardless of our desires," she rolled her eyes.

He laughed. "Very true. Which reminds me, how's Carter Baizen doing?"

"Ugh," she rolled her eyes, "don't remind me."

His eyebrows furrowed simultaneously with the adorable smile splaying across his lips. "What? Tired of people asking? Are the rumors true?"

She sighed, shaking her head.

"A topic for another time?" he asked, interpreting her actions.

She giggled, nodding to his sentiment.

He smiled. "To another time then," he saluted her.

She laughed again. "Yes, and during that other time perhaps we can discuss your latest fling. She's a red-head I hear."

His mouth fell opened at that and she giggled helplessly.

"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that."

But her eyes were twinkling and he could hardly be mad at her for assuming the worst of him.

"I'll see you later, Nate," she waved him off and moved past him.

"Good to see you back, Serena."

She smiled.

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A/N: Ok, so incredibly long chapter. I can't believe I wrote it. But I am feeling SO drawn to this story that I will only be updating this until it's over, and then I'll get back to my regular schedule. Please review.