Sibling relationships outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust.
Chuck is six years old and decides he hates Mother's Day.
Everyone is making pretty little cards with 'I Love You' and '#1 Mom' written shakily in all different colors and Nate messed up and got glue all over his the brand new sweater that Bart gave him.
Blair even gets to make two, one for her mom and one for Dorota and Chuck thinks the whole situation is so unfair that he leaves the art room.
It's Serena who comes after him, with her red silk ribbons keeping her pig tails in place and a big grin with a gap in the middle where her big teeth should be and finds him furiously rubbing at his eyes with his fists.
"What's wrong Chuckie?"
"Don't call me Chuckie. I'm not a baby, Serena."
She tilts her head to the side and looks at him with eyes that look like the ocean at his beach house.
"'Course you are. We all are."
She leans in closer to tell Chuck a secret, and he finds himself leaning in without even realizing it.
The two burst out into laughter together and when Mrs. Keller comes out to bring them back in, she doesn't even have the heart to punish them.
Serena is twelve when Chuck Bass calls her beautiful for the first time.
She runs back to school during lunch from St. Jude's because Carter Baizen (ohmygod!) told her she looked hot and knew how to fill out a shirt. She remembers the way he held her chin and kissed her gently, like she was Blair or something, and her head goes a little fuzzy.
By the time she gets back to class, lunch is just ending and she slips into line behind a pissed Blair (who's actually so jealous, but Serena will never know that) and Chuck whispers into her ear, "Better have a good reason for me covering your ass." He smirks and his hand grazes the back of her skirt but she just rolls her eyes and brushes it away.
"I hooked up with Carter Baizen."
And his smarmy smirk turns to disgust and when he says, "Why? You're way more beautiful than anything he deserves."
Blair whips her head around and glares at Chuck for reason Serena doesn't understand and Chuck looks like the 12 year old boy he's never really been, blushing pink under the fluorescent lights.
Serena kisses him quick on the cheek and winks at him before flouncing over to her locker.
They're at a party. She doesn't know who's, just that Chuck showed up at her apartment with a flask of something mighty powerful and then they managed to find Nate and Blair who were at the party.
They sit in the corner, she with a glass of champagne, he still with his flask and they make drunken observations about the stuck-up snobs surrounding them.
Whoever she makes of, her eyes wander back to Nate's, like they usually do, and Chuck plays stupid and pretends not to notice.
"I'm in love with Nate."
It feels so good to say it out loud, as if it could turn itself into a happy ending and she turns around to look at Chuck who's gulping down alcohol like water and for a second all she can do is admire his ability.
But then, "So what?" and his face looks so bitter and his eyes are so dark and he keeps looking at Blair and he gave Blair her favorite drink before she asked and Serena hates him and pities him and why won't he stop staring at-
Her glass shatters on floor with a symphony of sound and neither of them flinches.
Serena is drunk again and Nate isn't there because of an Archibald-Waldorf family dinner and she ran into Chuck while she was out and somehow he's taking her home and they're walking.
She trips when her heel gets caught in a grate in the sidewalk and Chuck steadies her with one hand on her lower back and one on her shoulder. She stares up into his face because oh god oh god Nate isn't here, is with Blair planning a future, is never really mine like he should be keeps running through her head and the tequila is clouding everything up.
So she kisses Chuck Bass. She kisses him with her eyes closed tight and the image of Nate burned into her brain but her mouth wide open and he doesn't hesitate for a second.
She pulls away first with glassy eyes and Chuck thinks she's beautiful and maybe he understands why Nate is always looking at her when he thinks no one can see him. And she stays right there, so close he can see the tiniest amount of freckles on her cheekbones and god she's so beautiful and such a fucking tease-
"I'm gonna, um, go now."
She backs away slowly and bits her lip and a cab practically screeches to a halt for her.
Chuck looks around to figure out where the hell he is, and then checks to see what blondes he knows in the area.
Tanya (22, wannabe Broadway star) lets him up five minutes later.
Chuck watches Nate give Serena approximately forty five seconds of pleasure and smirks through that funny feeling in his throat.
He stays to watch because he's Chuck Bass and girls don't get into his head or heart, he gets into them and he refuses to be hung up on his trainwreck best friend and it's not like this bothers him at all.
So he grits his teeth and smirks and ignores the way Nate and Serena look like some sort of fucking Greek god power couple in the light and fights the pain off with another sip of scotch.
Somewhere in between hating the golden couple and loving them, BlairBlairBlairBlair runs through his head and he leaves to go find her.
She'll be alone, and probably in need of comforting.
Chuck tries to kiss Serena because it isn't fair that she can leave broken and come back fixed, come back redeemed as if she's the Upper East Side's own Jesus Christ, and it isn't fair that she left him to hurt and love and ache for someone who wasn't his all by himself.
Serena shoves him away and runs and Chuck wonders what the hell just happened.
Chuck doesn't realize the van der Woodsens have turned into his family until everyone's sitting at dinner conversing.
Eric is telling Bart about his interest in studying international business while Lilly and Serena gossip about Mrs. Coates and her husband's partner and he doesn't realize he's staring until Serena looks over at him and sticks her tongue out.
"What are you, five?"
She rolls her eyes and Eric laughs at them both while Lilly and Bart smile at each other as if to say, silly children and the warm feeling in Chuck's chest is probably just heartburn.
Bart dies and everything goes to hell and Blair brings him to the funeral and Blair tries to take care of him and Blair tells him she loves him and Blair wipes the tears from his eyes and Blair holds him close at night.
All Serena does is yell and scream at him and talk about how it isn't fair as if she's five years old and he peeked during hide and go seek. She defends Dan fucking Humphrey which on some level in his drunken mind, means she also defends Rufus, and is really just an all around bitch.
He doesn't have a family now but Eric is still calling him 'brother' and Blair tries to mend what can never be mended and Nate doesn't do anything, which is a comfort in it's own right because Nate never really does anything so things are going back to normal finally.
Serena yells at him at his own father's funeral and the word sister reverberates in his head until his head hurts.
"Because I love her."
Serena stares at him in disbelief even though everyone already knew he did and he wonders why he can't Blair now that his list includes Serena, Nate, and a drunken confession to Eric.
On some level he wonders why he and Serena never managed to get together, especially with Nate and Blair going strong on round 3 and that's when he realizes by letting Blair go back to Nate it wasn't just his happily ever after that he ruined.
Serena smiles sadly and walks away.
"Is that, an American Eagle shirt?"
Serena's not a snob, never really has been, but Chuck is an elitist like Blair (just another reason they match up so evenly) and she always thought he'd contract some kind of disease in his head from wearing anything so mass-produced.
"No, Serena, you must be hallucinating from lack of alcohol in recent days."
She giggles and leaves his room, letting him win this one even though she knows he's lying and they're all late for school anyways.
When Chuck comes home, his closet is filled with at least twenty different American Eagle button downs color coded in all the generic colors that some scummy place like American Eagle can afford to make.
He can hear muffled laughs behind him and he smiles to himself for a quick second before putting his upset face back on. When he turns around, Serena is sputtering and Eric is looking at him disappointedly.
"This from the man who ordered me a brand new, ten thousand dollar custom made suit from Saville Row which probably resulted in some sort of child labor? Tsk tsk."
Eric smiles big and wide and Serena's grin matches the glint in her eye and Chuck tries not to smile as he stares at his family.
Serena comes back with Carter on her arm, no father, and admission to Columbia in the fall.
It only takes a couple weeks for Carter to finally leave, and Chuck quietly hands him his ticket to Istanbul because Chuck knows more than anyone who Serena really loves.
He sends Nate over to her apartment with sunflowers and Veuve Clicquot rose champagne and an order not to come out until they've discussed everything.
Nate gapes like he doesn't know what Chuck is talking about and nervously mentions his new fling, some redhead Republican from Texas and Chuck's nose wrinkles immediately.
"Well then, get rid of her Nathaniel. You two are not Romeo and Juliet."
He looks down at the gifts that have been shoved into his hands and smiles a little bit.
"Ok." He nods his head and he gets more confident the more he thinks about it.
"Great. Now get out of my room. Blair's coming over."
They don't come out until two days later but they're holding hands and Blair blithely states, "Finally," as she rolls her eyes and continues debating between the Louboutins and Manolos for dinner that night. But she smiles at her shoes and squeezes Chuck's hand extra tight and no one says anything else.
The next morning there's a note on Chuck's desk.
You're the best brother ever. Just don't tell Eric I said that!
He throws it away and smiles when he thinks about telling Eric the next time he sees him.
When Serena comes into his office with tears in her eyes, Chuck is ready to set the isle on fire just to burn the person who did this to her.
"I'm pregnant," she says in a tiny voice.
Chuck is surprised but Serena's always been reckless and someone somewhere is saying, "That Serena van der Woodsen had it coming," but all Chuck sees his sister on the verge of tears.
She looks small and vulnerable and there's a special glint in his eyes that he knows means she's ready to run.
"Does Nathaniel know?"
She places her hands on her non-existent bump and just nods her head no.
"Is Nathaniel the father?"
"Of course he is Chuck!"
She explodes out of her chair and looks so hurt that he regrets it for a second but reminds himself he's only being through.
"Do you want to me to arrange a way to take care of it?"
He says it slowly and hesitates around the words 'take care of' not sure it's what she wanted but he isn't sure if she would rule it out either.
She bites her lip and twiddles her thumbs and doesn't say yes or no but when she looks up at Chuck and tears are falling down her face all she can manage is,
"Chuck, what should I do?"
A picture of his mom is sitting on his desk (Blair's insistence, not that Chuck resisted) and his eyes linger on the woman he's never known but always missed.
"I think you should talk to Nathaniel."
She huffs and pouts, and Chuck can't believe that Serena might be a mom.
"I was afraid you'd say that."
She gathers her things and Chuck walks her to the door. When she turns around and hugs him fiercely, he doesn't have the heart to stop and he even relaxes into it for a second before she leaves with a weak smile on her face.
Chuck turns his phone on 'high' so he can pick up when Nate calls.
Theodore Charles Archibald is born on March 21, 2012 and he's 8 lbs 11 ounces.
While Nathaniel proudly shows off Teddy to Blair, Serena beckons Chuck over even though she's exhausted.
"Congratulations, Serena. He's exquisite."
"His middle name is Charles," she says and her big blue eyes look up at him from the hospital bed and he turns away while clearing his throat, but it's not because he's crying or anything.
"Chuck Bass, are you crying?"
Blair is staring at him with her mouth hanging down and Nate is smiling at Chuck with Teddy tucked into his arms and when he looks down at his hand Serena's holding it tight and saying, "Do you want to hold him?"
Chuck nervously nods and Nate stares down at Teddy like he's reluctant to let go but he passes him over to Chuck while randomly spurting safety facts about holding newborns.
Then Theodore Charles is nestled into the crook of Chuck's elbow and he looks straight up at Chuck and the same big blue eyes he just looked into on Serena's face are looking up at him again.
Nate says, "We want you to be the godparents."
Chuck stares straight ahead, biting the inside of his cheek, and he does not cry.
Serena walks into Chuck's office with a diaper bag and Teddy because she won't be her mother and won't let anyone else raise her child for her.
"How's my favorite nephew and godson doing?"
"Still perfect and the most beautiful one year old you'll ever meet. What's up?"
Teddy starts fussing so Serena removes him from the stroller and slowly bounces him around while Chuck stares at his nephew and remembers what he wanted to tell Serena.
"I'm proposing to Blair."
Serena shrieks so loud Teddy starts crying and then she coos at him while smiling hugely at Chuck. He falls asleep in five minutes and then Serena attacks Chuck with questions.
"When? Where? And, ohmygod, do you have a ring?!"
She fingers the Vanderbilt diamond on her own ring finger because Nate and her wanted to get married on their own terms, not society's, but they got engaged anyways because Serena loves Nate and Teddy and their family more than anything.
"It's my mother's ring."
He pulls it out from the safe in his office and when he opens it Serena gasps.
It's one large six-carat emerald-cut diamond with two smaller sapphires flanking it on a platinum pave-diamond band.
It's stunning and perfect and so Blair that Serena wonders what exactly Mrs. Bass was like.
"Will she like it?"
His face is fixed and he's clenching his jaw but Serena knows inside he's nervous.
"Chuck, she will love it just like she loves you."
He nods, all business, snaps the box close and places it back in the safe.
She smiles at him as she gets together all her things and throws a, "No problem, bro," over her shoulder as she leaves his office.
At the wedding, Chuck walks over to interrupt Eric and get his own chance at a dance with Serena.
They talk, and laugh, and both are smiling wide at Blair dancing with Teddy. The song will ends, and Teddy will walk over to his mom with arms held up high, Nate following in his footsteps, and Blair will glide over to claim her groom.
But for now, they just talk and laugh and smile, Chuck's hand in appropriate place on her back and Serena fondly making fun of Chuck's sequined bowtie.
At a table far away in the corner with people invited solely to keep up appearances, a man eats the wedding cake while gesturing towards the siblings dancing.
"Funny that they aren't actually related, isn't it?"
The woman he's with picks at his cake and looks surprised at his comment.
"Really? I never would've guessed that."
The song ends and Chuck and Serena are surrounded by their family but they have one last glance at each other, one glance of look what we did and pride and happiness before Serena kisses him on the cheek and Chuck and Blair leave for Venice.
Serena is five and sick of having to look after Eric all the time.
"Mommy, I want a big brother to play with!"
Lilly smiles and pats her daughter's golden head, nodding towards the nanny that it's Serena's naptime.
"Maybe someday you will."
Chuck is five and tired of being all alone with his disappointments.
He already has Nate and doesn't need another boy to play with.
"Dad, I want a sister to boss around."
Bart grunts in response, finishing up some papers while the nanny comes in to take Chuck to his room for a nap.
She kisses him on the forehead as she tucks him in and says,
"Maybe someday you will."
AN: I have no idea where this came from. I started out as a C/S romantic thing and then morphed into this. Please review!! I own nothing, but if I did, N/S would be reigning. Title courtesy of a Newsweek article, as is the quote.