Title: So Damn Beautiful
Disclaimer: I do not own Gossip Girl or any characters, they belong to the CW and Cecily von Ziegesar.
Rating: PG-13 ~ T
Summary: Because Chuck and Blair are nothing if not dramatic. Because I Love You's don't equal to a Happily Ever After. Because she's so damn beautiful. Because he wants it all. Future fic.
Prologue & Chapter One
His longtime trusted PI shows up in his suite unexpectedly when he comes home from work. That should have been the first tip off that the evening would promise more unexpected surprises.
"Hello, Bass," the girl greets from her usual seat in the corner.
"We didn't schedule a meeting."
"I know. I'm here to give you my two week's notice."
"If this is about the amount wired to your account-"
"It's not that. Although I expect the full amount that we agreed upon to be delivered promptly-"
"It was just a bank error. I already had Arlene fixed it."
"Well, good! But nonetheless… I quit."
"Sorry. I had a run in with Blair the other day. Can you guess where my missing cellphone was?"
"If you're this sloppy maybe I should fire you instead."
"Hey! It was a bad night, okay? Catering is a lot more stressful that pouring coffee! And besides… we both know Blair has a bit of a penchant for stealing," she states, tossing Chuck his own missing BlackBerry.
"So what? Blair blackmailed you to stop providing me with your services? Threaten to oust your little gossip mongering secret?"
"You'd think that wouldn't you? Since that pretty much sums up how I wound up under your employment."
"Don't mention the very, very generous monetary compensations."
"Nevertheless, Blair has presented me with a better job offer."
"Yes. She's totally taken the little nudge you gave her with the E-reader technology and running with it. You're looking at a newly appointed Editor-in-Chief for Cornelia Publications."
He's taken aback by the revelation. He had sent Eric to introduce Blair with a promising investment opportunity, a push in the right direction, but he never imagined she'd go so far so fast.
"Since you and I have been working together for so long, before I leave I'll give you one last report. I've left it for you on your desk."
Veronica pushes herself off of the couch and saunters to the door.
"I have to warn you though. Great as Blair's new business venture is, I'm not sure you're going to be too happy with the specs detailed in the report. Open with caution," she states before she closes the door behind her.
Her ominous warning doesn't deter him from seeking answers. Chuck finds the file on his desk as he was promised. He opens it up and peruses the contents. Soon he understands why he wouldn't be too jubilant over Blair's new enterprise.
Cornelia Publications main office and basis for operations is in LA. Blair's going to relocate to the West coast to start her new company. At least for the first couple of years.
Logically, Chuck admits it makes some sense since that is where Blair's production team is originally based at. Most of her fellow investors and partners would be there. It would be cheaper for her to move rather than uproot her entire team.
Logic had nothing to do with the despair ripping up the insides of his heart and making him hollow.
'She's leaving… again,' he thinks.
He slumps into his overstuffed office chair, hand still clutching onto the offending file that's responsible for his current misery.
The next day he goes to the bank to make some arrangements. Certain things can't be put off any longer.
Eleanor calls her on the day they were supposed to leave for France. In spite of Blair's reservations and better judgment, she answers the call.
The silence grows long and Blair might have thought that she had only imagined picking up the phone instead of actually doing it had it not been the sounds of the airport in the background.
"….So I heard that cad Zac Posen offered you a job."
"Well, I know by now that nothing I say will convince you to rush to the airport to board the plane back to France with me, but I hope that I had somehow managed to raise you right enough to reject any proposals that pompous jackass Posen has decided to offer."
Blair smiles a reluctant smile.
"I have rejected Zac's offer," she affirms. "Not that it's any of your business."
Eleanor smiles her own small sad smile across the telephone line where Blair cannot see it.
"… well… I'm glad to hear it, nevertheless."
"Why did you call me, mother? I believe we've already said all that there was to be said to each other."
"I just… I…"
Eleanor Waldorf sounded so impossibly vulnerable that Blair blames it on bad reception and a case of temporary hearing impairment.
"I'm sure you hate me and you don't understand why I did what I did… but…" Eleanor pauses as if to take a deep breath, a quiver sneaking its way into her voice. "I… I just wanted to protect you. You know after your father left, work was all I had that kept me sane. Then I met Cyrus…" again another pause. "… and you know… I… I thought I was finally happy for once you know? And now he's gone too… and there's… there's just nobody left in this world-"
Eleanor's voice breaks, and though Blair can't see the tears running down her mom's face, she feels them.
"There was me. You had me."
Eleanor lets out a sad laugh. "Yeah… I did. But I guess I muddled that up, too."
They're once again plunged into silence. In the background Blair hears the announcement for her mother's plane.
"That's my flight. I… I…" Eleanor struggles to find the words to say. "Good luck with your new job, Blair."
Emotions race against one another. It's true that her mother had royally screwed her over. It's true that for most of her life her mother was a negligent, workaholic bitch. It's also true that Blair Waldorf loves Eleanor Waldorf because that's just what daughters do even if their moms are complete wrecks. At the very last moment before her mother could hang up that phone and sever their connection, Blair makes her decision.
The sounds of the airport continue to play in the background so Blair knows she still has her mother on the line.
"…I… Christmas… is coming up soon and I was planning on going to see daddy… maybe… maybe we can meet up? Get… coffee or something…"
It's not that she's forgiven Eleanor for everything, but it's also a gesture of cease fire.
There's no answer and Blair starts think maybe her mother wasn't really on the other line after all and had just forgotten to properly hang up.
"… I'd love that, Blair. I'll see you in December."
This is the part where they both hang up, go back to their separate lives and try and coexist amiably. Eleanor doesn't hang up.
"Blair? Blair… I… I love you. In case I get into a horrible plane accident or something equally tragic… I just… wanted to tell you that I… love you. "
With that Eleanor successfully hangs up the phone.
For a while Blair keeps the receiver to ear listening to the beeps that indicates the phone has been disconnected. A small smile tugs on her lips.
Blair wakes up weary from the amount of work she's been doing to get everything squared away for Cornelia Publications to be launched. Loose ends are starting to get tied up in regards to her new business plan. She has one last meeting with Cindy (or Mac as Veronica has gotten to calling her) before she and Veronica headed to California to start things over there. She makes it out of her building about a good fifteen feet when the sight of a dark, handsome, not-so-much stranger stops her in her tracks.
She hasn't seen him in days and he's a sight for sore eyes in a pristine custom Italian suit, even if his face is sporting yet another bruise. From the looks of it it's healing fast and she almost wishes it would go about hurting for a little while longer. He has to pay at least a little for all the shenanigans he's been up to right?
She says it casually as if her pulse hadn't quickened at the sight of him, thoughts of both kissing him and kicking him in the shins running around in her head.
Vengeful thoughts disappear like fog in the sunshine when he starts moving towards her.
"Hi," he replies with a cautious smile.
Awkward silence between them acts as foils to the sounds of the busy New York street.
"What? No comments about the weather this time?" she quips.
His cautious smile turns into a real one.
"We have to stop meeting like this," he says, the joke sounding awkward to his own ears, mostly because he was on his way to find her.
"The world is indeed getting smaller," she says, returning a smile of her own. "I'm surprised we hadn't run into each other earlier. What with you having me followed and all. Were you too lazy to chase after me on your own you had to hire someone to do the heavy lifting for you?"
"It was more about efficiency. I do have a company to run after all. Why? Did you miss my presence?"
"Of course not!" she replies hastily.
"'The lady doth protest too much'," he teases.
"The lady is tired of mind games. Why would I miss you? We have nothing left to talk about."
"I've never thought you to not have an extra witty repartee to add. Especially when it comes to me," he says with a smile that belies his clenching heart.
"What's there left to say? I've said my peace, you've said yours. We can chalk up our time together as having some good memories and leave it at that."
She's focusing on trying to match her mouth with her eyes.
"Is that what you really want?" he asks, his earlier easiness replaced by hardness she can't face. How quickly the mood turns.
'No, I don't, but what else is there to do?' she fervently thinks.
They stand there, immobile. Neither of them taking that step forward to bridge the mere two feet of space between them. The step that holds all the potential to somehow reverse the seemingly irreversible past actions that have taken place. It's that step she so very badly wants to take, but won't.
Carter was right. They wouldn't work. They're the oil and fire that fuels an inferno that will eventually burn them both out. They will continue to hurt, self sabotage and self destruct.
Chuck knows this. They are both well aware of the harsh facts. Both jaded enough to know that love can't conquer all.
At least that's what she thinks.
"Is that what you really want?" he repeats.
He takes the step forward.
Two feet become mere inches. It's funny how such a small distance can make all the difference. If she just slightly leaned forward she would be able to meet her lips with his.
"Because I don't want that," he replies to his own question.
She thought she was done being surprised by him, but she was wrong. Chuck Bass remains a creature full of surprises.
"I don't want to chalk up what we had to some mere memory of youth. I don't want you and me to be done."
He draws her hand from where they were clenched tightly at her side into his own. She doesn't resist. She just keeps on staring straight at him.
"Don't lie to me and tell me that you never regretted walking away."
He takes a moment to reach out with one hand to cup her face.
"Because I've regretted, every single day, for letting you walk away."
He always knew the right words to say to make her weak at the knees, liquefy her icy reserve.
This time, the proposal is made through the most ordinary of gestures. There's no fancy restaurants, no getting on one knee, no ring. It's no grand romantic gesture. It's standing in the middle of a busy street in front of her building and reaching for the contents of his pocket and placing it in her hand. To strangers it would seem like he was handing her an insignificant little trinket instead of his entire heart (for the second time). He hopes she has learned to treat it better.
"It's the key to the safety deposit box."
He doesn't clarify, but she knows exactly what he's talking about.
She studies the piece of metal in the palm of her hand. How can such a trivial little thing be capable of bearing the weight of such significance? Emotions war with practicality.
"It's a beautiful sentiment… but, all of our problems are still there. Nothing's been solved."
Sensibility gives way to sense.
"I'm more of a wreck than ever, Chuck. Hell, I'm about to start a publishing company from scratch! A venture that you brought to my attention!"
He is caught off guard with her knowledge about Cindy. Hiring someone to follow her is a typical Bass move, but Chuck is not usually in the habit of giving away good investment opportunities.
"You really should train Eric better. He's a great actor, but terrible under pressure once you have the right leverage. Not that I don't appreciate the business tip off… but I would have preferred something less underhanded," she bites out.
"Would you have accepted my help had I extended it through less devious means?"
"I probably wouldn't."
"Then you'll have to excuse me knowing you so well and taking the alternative route!"
"Or you could be a gentleman for once instead of a scheming deviant and not try to control me like a puppet on a string!"
"I wasn't trying to do anything of the sort! I did it because I cared!"
"Why do you care?!"
"Because I still fucking LOVE YOU!"
"And I LOVE YOU! So there!" She was never one to be one-upped.
One moment they are the epitome of a romantic picture and the next to… well whatever they were.
"Then what the hell is the problem?"
"The problem is that you… you still have a multibillion dollar corporation to run and now I just don't have the time to try and figure out our convoluted relationship. Our timing is wrong. We're both running in different directions."
So many excuses. He maintains her gaze, as if challenging her to withdraw all her bullshit and tell him the real fucking reason why she's so adamant to not let this all work out.
"I'm… I'm not ready to get back into this. I want the second time to be the last time and I don't think that's possible right now."
"I'm not demanding anything. The key (and everything it means)… it's yours. However you may feel about it. It was always yours. You can do whatever you want with it. Keep it, throw it away, give it someone else…"
She gives him an amused look. "I don't think it would be wise to go around throwing away or giving out keys to safety deposit boxes, especially ones holding priceless heirloom diamond rings."
"I guess you're just going to have to keep it then, aren't you?" he says with a small smile. "Keep it. Keep it until you are ready."
He's done what he came to do, so this time he's the one to turn around and start walking away without waiting for an answer. He doesn't want to hear any more of her logical protests and arguments.
"You said you weren't going to wait for me anymore," she calls out.
He pauses and turns back to her. He was never as good as she was at dramatic exits.
"That's what you said. That one time when I picked up the phone."
She doesn't clarify, but he knows exactly what she's talking about.
They don't need any thing to be spelt out. They don't need any extra explanations. The past heartbreaks and heartaches between them have been immortalized in both of their minds.
"I lied. I'll wait for you. Whether it takes a year, or two, or three or a million. I'm always going to wait for you. However long it takes for you to be ready."
She wonders what happened to the Chuck with ultimatums and threats.
"You lied then, how can I know you're not lying now?"
"You don't. But you owe me at least that much."
"I hope you get everything that you ever wanted."
He's sincere. He hopes that all of her big dreams come true, even it turns out he's not part of them.
"Good-bye, Blair," he says.
She wipes at watery eyes (god she's so sick of crying and good-byes) and pulls on her best smile.
"Good-bye, Chuck," she replies.
This time he's not begging her to stay. He's done with impatience and he's done with threats and coercions. He's letting her go and prays to god for the second time that whoever said that line about setting love free knew what they was talking about.
The thing about Chuck and Carter is that they are both of the opinion that nobody loves Blair Waldorf the way they love Blair Waldorf. The problem was never about whether it was Chuck or Carter that loved her or if one loved her more than the other. No. This was a love story that starred Blair Waldorf and herself.
Cornelia Publications and the launch of the new cutting edge electronic reader into the rising market is a success. EZines became the new IPods and GG becomes the most subscribed source of haute fashion and scandalous gossip. There are even rumors about a TV show being made, but Blair still needs to talk to the ever mysterious Gossip Girl in question.
Needless to say, Blair Cornelia Waldorf is glamorous and successful. Her picture embellishes the magazine covers (both traditional and not) in honor of the 5th year anniversary of Cornelia Publications and Blair's rise as a major industry leader. Take that Amazon and Barnes&Noble! The digital publishing arena has a new contender and she's a bitch on high heels, kicking ass and taking names.
For once Blair Waldorf doesn't need anyone else to tell her that she's 'so damn beautiful.' She can look in the mirror (or anywhere really, new articles, ads, billboards, you name it) and tell that to herself. She's not broken and she's not lost any longer. She doesn't have any more excuses to not let happiness have a fighting chance.
Vogue wants in on the digital phenomenon, promising an outrageously generous percentage cut. She just needs to fly back to New York to discuss rights. As enticing as the deal may be, that's not the reason she gets on the plane.
New York is still the city of lights that she remembers. As she steps out of the black limo, she wonders how a certain Bass is feeling about her photos gracing the city this time around.
Five years is a long time. It's long enough for the both of them to mature and grow into the adults they always wanted to become. It's long enough for him to learn to balance life and work, long enough for her to find herself and long enough for her to realize that despite the time and space, she still (and probably always will) love the man on the other side of the continent.
With these thoughts she purposefully makes her way towards his door, one hand clenching a ring finally taken out of the dusty safety deposit box it's been held hostage in.
She raises her hand up, poised to knock on the door. This time, there's no more running away.
He answers the door as if he were expecting her. Truth be told, he's been expecting her all of his life. The tip off from one of his former employees and her travel companion didn't hurt either.
"I'm home," she simply states.
"I've been waiting."
They share knowing smiles.
"Well, aren't you going to let me in?" she asks, trying to sound petulant, but not managing to hide her grin.
"First things first…"
He reaches out to caress her cheek, smile on his face. She moves to encircle her arm around him, the ring now placed on her finger glints as it catches the light. She doesn't wait for him to lean in before she closes the gap between them. There's no hesitance over making the step forward this time around.
She's holds no illusions of a perfect ending, but now that knowledge isn't as daunting as she had first believed.
She has the rest of her life waiting for her.
Hello UESiders. Guess whose back in the Big Apple? In honor of Cornelia Publication's 5th Anniversary, I have some very special gossip blast for all of you…
Spotted: The one and only Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass, making their way out of City Hall. Is that a ring I see on B's finger? Is UES's resident bad boy billionaire and the Queen B back together at last? I don't know about you guys, but here's my blessing to the happy couple. Fingers cross that it lasts this time. I'm a sucker for happy endings... You know you love me. XCXO Gossip Girl
A/N: So there it is… the ending to my first multi-chapter fic ever! I hope you guys enjoyed it! I really love all of you readers! So please continue to read my work and leave wonderful reviews/comments! 3