This is something that came to me a wee while ago, but I was determined to flesh it out a bit before posting – and now I have, and completed my other fics (discounting the two WIPs obv ;) ) – I offer it to you :)
Hope you enjoy…
Title: Through The Looking Glass, You Rule Our World
Disclaimer: I only own the characters that are not recognisable from the GG book/tv world
Summary: Two days after it goes to press that Chuck Bass is the richest man in the world, he and his wife disappear off the face of the earth. Nearly twenty years after their parents left to set up home elsewhere, the Bass children arrive in New York to show face to a family no one has ever really known. Is it too late for all those left behind to make up for the time they have lost?
"The shifts of Fortune test the reliability of friends."
Chapter One: The Day the World Went Away
Serena arrives at the Bass home less than an hour after the first cars have pulled up outside the grand mahogany doors. She calls it that, but it hasn't really been one for years, if at all. It's more of a house that they just happen to stay in when they're in town, which is seldom ever in itself. In effect, it's little more than a hotel suite to the family.
"The children will not be arriving until later in the day, Ms. Van der Woodsen," the older, taller of the two men standing guard by the front steps informs her, and then he readdresses her, "Oh, excuse me, Mrs. Baizen."
It's not a deliberate slip-up to humiliate her, it's just something that trips off the tongue; she knows better than anyone that old habits die hard. Except his accent tells of a life on a different continent from hers, and his face doesn't conjure any immediate recollection; it peaks her curiosity.
"How do you – ?" the question cuts short on her lips as he smiles at her.
"I've worked for the Bass family for many years, I've seen you come and go," he tells her. "Harris, maam."
"Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't recognize you," she apologizes, and then in an instant exclaims, "I feel so awful, but you've certainly changed – look at you, Harris, you look wonderful!"
His slight dip of the head is his only acknowledgement of her compliment, polite and reserved.
"Considering the circumstances," she remarks, suddenly remembering whom she is talking to, where they are talking, and why exactly it is that she is talking to him and not his employers.
He nods sagely and lifts his eyes to meet hers as he reiterates her statement.
"I still can't believe you remembered me," she is fairly taken aback; but the flattery is still there.
"Quite some time has passed," he comments then with a small smile and opens the door for her to step fully inside.
It is like a tomb; relics of moments gone and people missed. There's a fresh smell in the air, however, and as she steps into the main reception room it is bathed in light, no dust to dance in the rays that streak past.
There's a maid placing frames on the mantle and she looks across to the images of her brother's children; the photos that stare back at her of her nieces and nephew with her best friend and her husband; and she nods.
She doesn't correct him, though they both know what he really meant to say.
Too much time has passed.
"Magda," her daughter says; the pet name that the younger still uses for her cousin sounds like the relief that floods into her lungs at the sight of the three before her.
Serena runs forward and envelopes the eldest in her arms before she can take another breath in, but the next time she does she inhales the old-familiar mixture of pomegranate and wild berry and she lets out a laugh that morphs into a sob. She's missed this.
"Oh, Lena," she utters into the girl's shoulder.
"Aunt Serena," the teenager greets her in turn, cautiously adjusting the child in her arms as she pulls away.
"Augie," the blonde says next, and after a moment the dark-haired boy takes a step forward and wraps his arms around her middle.
She holds him close and dips her head until it rest atop his, and then she kisses his hair.
He detangles himself and steps back to his original place; she holds out her arms for Vivian, and catches as her nephew stiffens slightly by his sisters' side.
"If you don't mind, Aunt Serena, we've just gotten her back to sleep," her eldest niece tells her, careful not to jostle the sleeping little girl in her hold.
She nods, because this is understandable; but she can't pretend she doesn't notice the deflation of her nephew's shoulders at her words, the way Lena had held her baby sister even closer when she'd made a move to take her. She recognizes it already; it's not distrust, just the need to keep things near.
Except it's affecting these children, when it should be the adults that shoulder the weight.
She suspects their anxiety will only further increase the longer their parents remain unaccounted for. After all, when the world as you know it has been seized from your grasp, you do everything you can to keep whatever's left from suffering the same fate.
He remembers Serena's words when she called him.
"The children are coming to New York, Nate. And I think – I think you should be there when they do."
Nothing else: no pleasantries, no further explanation. He supposes there wasn't much need for anything else to be said. He boarded a plane and that was that: arriving just in time, for once, to be there as the children arrived.
When he looks up and sees the female before him, he has to blink to adjust his sight. Long brown curls, ruby red lips; it's a reminder of a life that was once promised to him, but never came to be.
Serena has already embraced her, has stepped back to allow her – their – daughter to do the same, as he continues to try to collect his thoughts. It's been years since he last saw her, years since he last saw any of his best friend's children. There are three of them now; last time he checked there was only two.
But the brunette has a little one held closely in her arms, the boy protectively near; and he's suddenly more than just modestly ashamed that he has to take that extra moment to try and remember the names their parents gave them.
It's all he needs to find himself again too. Her hair is darker than Blair's, darker even than Chuck's he thinks; eyes as blue as the Caribbean Sea, it triggers the memory of the earliest words his best friend bestowed upon him after the birth of his first child.
"She's got my father's eyes."
And she does.
They are so bright, so clear, so familiar; it makes his breath catch in his throat.
Her head spins round and he is suddenly met with the living embodiment of his best friend and his wife: their first-born, the heir to their fortune, their legacy.
"Uncle Nate." It is a male who speaks then.
He's surprised the boy remembers him, recognizes him, even. He's not so sure the years have been as kind to him as the others; years he's been trying to forget existed, if he's being truly honest, for once.
There's always a certain tone that his best friend uses; it rolls off his tongue a specific way, whenever he speaks of his son. It's something Nate himself never thinks he quite manages with his own. He tries not to listen to anything that comes out of Carter's mouth; but he's more than a little sure the older man sounds too like his best friend for his taste.
There's more than one thing he's been avoiding for the past few years, and in his absence he's missed out on some of the best years of Chuck's. Family life agrees with his best friend; marriage, fatherhood: it fits him like the suits he has tailor-made, flown from London and Paris and Milan to… his home.
The home Nate has never frequented.
He wonders when he missed the memo that was supposed to tell him that Chuck was marriage material, father of the year; and he, he was the divorcee, the absent parent – twice over.
The little girl whom the eldest holds within her arms is the child he's never seen; but she has a face full of childlike innocence, even in sleep, when small curls fan like a dark halo around her head.
He doesn't know her name.
The way they hold themselves, however; the aura the three possess and project; it nearly makes him forget that mere hours ago their parents vanished from the world's view.
They take an hour to completely search his plane, clear it for take-off. He tells them that this delay is doing nothing to help him, but the man overseeing it all simply looks at him, face grave, and says, "After the children, you will be the most important person in these skies, Mr. van der Woodsen. We're not taking any chances."
They can't take any chances; is what he knows the man really means.
The world's richest couple has disappeared from the face of the earth; they can't allow their family to follow.
He's been trying to find out anything he can from where he is: because having everyone situated in the one place at the same time, at this time, isn't the best plan of action. It's the plan they're supposed to follow, however.
The children go to New York and he follows.
It seems simple enough, but it's effective.
Because if his brother and sister-in-law can vanish from their home in the middle of nowhere, then surely their children will be safe in one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
He picks up the phone that lies discarded on the seat next to him.
It feels like he's made too many calls of late, but he has this one on repeat; like the last words of someone who's died, a remembrance.
"Magdalena?" he says, swallows, and closes his eyes as he takes in a breath filled with relief when she confirms that she is there: alive and where she is supposed to be. "It's your Uncle Eric."
And after a moment, the air fills his lungs and he can exhale slow and easy, without having to prompt it of himself.
"Don't worry," he tells her.
He wonders why he bothers; they're wasted words.
He hopes to offer something with his next words, tries to draw something from it himself, as he assures her, "I'll be with you soon."
He hangs up moments later, without having to be asked to do so. He knows as well as she does how important it is to keep the line clear; they're still waiting on any news to be reported.
No news is not necessarily good news.
Not when you consider what has been lost.
A/N: This story will focus on the viewpoint of Eric, the NJBC (adult versions, obv ;) ) as well as their children – not always in equal parts.
Thanks so much for reading – please let me know what you think, it means a lot!