AN: Finally, Blair will have POV at some point in this part. Thank you for reading.

Part 9

Ask him how it all started, and depending on the day and the time, his mood and the people around him, Chuck Bass would give you a thousand different answers—if he gave you anything at all. It started at the same beat when Kyle Harris' name dropped from Serena's lips. Or it started from the womb when a heavily pregnant Eleanor Waldorf passed by the table where Evelyn Bass sat reaching across the table for her husband's hand, barely containing the exhilaration bubbling within her, eager to spill her good news to a gruff Bart.

It could have started the day that Nate Archibald, at twelve, informed Chuck that he brought Blair to the Vanderbilt estate, then shared the story of his first innocent kiss. Or it could have started when Chuck's heart skipped a beat the second that Nate told him at his graduation party that they had broken up.

Maybe it started after his father died, when Blair said 'I love you.' Or maybe it started on the eve of her seventeenth when he scoffed at her question and demanded that she 'define like.'

Any of the above could be a possibility. Really, who could tell when it first really began? All he knew was that the butterflies that had once fluttered in his stomach had all turned to a slow and heavy lava threatening to score his chest, his madly rebelling heart. All he knew was that however this started, it would all coalesce into freezing panic.

Chuck ran towards the limo barking orders into his phone.

"What do you mean she's not there?" he demanded from the head of security. "I have a message from her that says she's headed there."

"The record shows that she did come by, but she left almost immediately afterwards."

"Who was she with?" Chuck grated.

The description was unmistakable, and the man on the other line showed a frightening knack for current events to even recognize the companion, "It looked like the senator's son."

And of course they did not leave information of where they would head. His heart sank at the dead end. It would have been nearly impossible, not completely, to tell any one of the guards where they would head. In fact, she could have as easily asked for a cab and given a destination. Instead, Chuck listened as the man informed him that Blair asked the receptionist to inform Chuck Bass that she's leaving, and if he wanted her back then she needed to be bribed.

"Bribed?" Serena repeated quizzically.

His face brightened at the word. "That's my girl," he murmured. The purchase was not complete, and he did not have a hold on the staff the way he already did in The Palace. But now he knew where she was. He called to the driver, and said, "We're heading to the Empire Hotel."

And Serena did not dare question the instructions. She asked in concern, "Will we make it?"

Blair had dropped them the crumbs, and it would be his responsibility to complete the task. At least, with this one communication, she had assured him that there was less to worry about. She would handle from her end. How long she would—not could—was as much a part of the air as the penthouse suite.

"She'll make sure of that," he said with confidence he did not feel. Yet even then he remembered the curt response she had, the simple answer she gave, when he told her his best kept secret.

"At night, Blair, I dream of killing you."

"Don't we all?"

And Serena nodded, but Chuck's gaze fell to the way her hand fisted on the hem of her dress. His hand covered hers, and her eyes flew to his in her surprise. Serena glanced at the way the dress crumpled in her fist. She did not need to ask him why, knew just the touch was a prompt.

So Serena explained, "You didn't want her for six months."

"That's a lie." Because the entire world could see—Serena could tell. He hounded her enough, needed so desperately to know that his decision saved her even as it punished him.

"That's what you told her."

All lies. He had fought against telling her any of it because he knew the lie would show through in his eyes. The same way he could tell when her eyes told a different story, so could she with his pathetically transparent expressions. "What do you know?"

"I don't—"

And she lied again. He hated it. He was stuck in his limo while Blair—

And all along he had been terrified that it would be his hands around her neck, his bullet lodged inside her, his anger that would overwhelm her.

Chuck grasped Serena's arm tightly. "You're her best friend," he hissed. She had to know. "You're her best friend," he repeated, his voice softer, his tone more pleading. "You have to know. You're her best friend."

Serena gasped. She kept her eyes on him, but answered, "And you're Chuck Bass."

His fingers loosened around her arm. He considered her response. He was Chuck Bass. Blair's Chuck. Because ever since he told her he loved her, he should always be the one you knew her. Even when he forced the wedge between them, a moment with her and he already knew. She never answered, but he knew from that one question she asked.

Blair would not do anything. Dreams were dreams. Dreams were nightmares.

He ran a hand over his face. The driver went through the streets as quickly as he could, and within the shortest time he would be storming his way to her.

They weren't real, she had thrown back at him.

He lifted his phone to his ear. This time, it did not matter that Serena heard, did not matter that he would be completely bare in front of her. After all, he expected her to have some of the answers the way she expected him to have it all.

"She dreams of killing herself," were the first words out of his mouth. Serena's lips thinned. The therapist did not respond. And so, to elicit some form of reply, he said, "Help me."

"Well, Chuck," the therapist said, "if she were in front of me, I would ask her if she made a mistake, if something important has ended which makes her very unhappy." And that pause. He was so familiar with that pause now as the therapist provided him time to think. Then she continued, "But I already know her answer."

~o~o~o~

She could not breathe. She wrapped her hand around her throat. His hand twitched. She flinched when he reached for her.

"What was that?" he asked.

And as quickly as she had moved back, her lips curved, fascinating him once again by the way they glistened. "Nothing," she answered quickly.

He poured her a glass of champagne and watched her throat work to swallow the liquid. His lips quirked at the sight of her skin. "You have goosebumps." Kyle walked towards the windows and looked outside at the Upper West Side, so familiar but never came close to being home. And she moved around like she owned it all—the Palace, the Empire. And every one of the staff scurried to serve her as if she really did. "Your mother's a designer."

She nodded. "Her studio's in Hollywood."

"And your dad—"

"Is a corporate lawyer and financier. He lives in France."

And there was absolutely no reason for the staff to fawn over her. His voice hardened when he said, "You have men coming in and out of your dorm."

Blair's gaze shot up to Kyle. Slowly, she managed, "I have a lot of friends."

"Of course you do." Did she hold her breath as he came close? Kyle closed his eyes when he dipped his head to tease a little at her lips. She stepped back, hesitant but he understood, and he placed a hand on the small of her back. With the other he cupped her face with a thumb and a forefinger on either sides of her jaw. When she did not move her lips, Kyle straightened and looked down at her face. There was a delicious track making its way down her face, of a single tear that followed the curve of her cheek. Happiness enough to bring her to tears. Of course. He nipped close, and he heard the choked cry from her throat. "You know I'm really glad that it didn't work out with Jeff," he told her. "He wasn't ever going to be enough of a man for you."

She kept her eyes closed, and if she did it longer he would be pissed off. "Open your eyes." And when she didn't, his hand on her jaw tightened until his fingers slipped and dug into her cheeks, forcing her mouth to open. Look at that. He didn't want to have to do that. Her mouth looked ugly that way, bearing none of the classic delicious sheen of before. And he did not want to have to see it, so he covered her mouth with his.

And it was not even a minute before she pushed away from him and raced away, intent on a destination that he did not know. He called out, "What's wrong now?" He would be furious, but he reminded himself that he had known she was high maintenance before he even began the pursuit.

She left the door open and he could see from his vantage point how she bent over the sink and heaved. "Did you eat anything out of the ordinary?" he asked, shifting to concern.

She did not answer, but bent lower with her forearms on either side of the marble sink. She turned on the faucet to hide the noises that she made, and he watched from the doorway the few clear drops that fell from her face. She met his eyes on their reflection, and pleaded with him, "I need to go home."

"If you're sick, you need someone to take care of you," he insisted. He placed a glass under the steady running water, then handed it to her. "Wash your mouth." She reached for the glass, and he caught sight of the tremor in her hand when she did. "Come on. I'll help you to bed." There was time enough for kisses tomorrow. There was time enough for more the day after.

He grasped her elbow, but she blindly reached to the side to push him away. She made her way from the sink out to the room, grabbing on to the wall, then the door, then finally stumbling towards the bed.

"Lie down," he told her.

But she remained standing at the center of the room.

"Sit down. If you're sick, I'll make it all better."

She turned her face away from him, edged back towards the door.

"Do you need to go anywhere?"

And then quickly, she said, "The hospital."

"We're not leaving, Blair. This is a good suite. It's better than any room they have in the hospital. Lie down. You'll feel better, I promise." And maybe it was because she really felt ill, because she did not move or pay attention. His only intention was to help, so he placed a hand firm on her shoulders and pushed down. He bore until her knees buckled and she sprawled on the covers. Quickly, she raised herself up with her elbows.

"Kyle, don't—"

He frowned, because she was scared and he had never meant to scare her. "Don't what?" Her lips pursed. She swallowed. She had been frozen the entire time, he thought. Maybe this time she would feel like she could say anything. "It's me. You can say anything."

"I don't like you, Kyle."

And he was deflated, punctured, or completely destroyed. "Of course you do." She had glared at everyone in the coffeeshop, commented on and insulted every form of life at school. But him… "When I approached you in the library, you smiled at me," he challenged her.

He was on top of her now, with his knees resting on the edge of the bed and his arms on either sides of her elbows. She glanced to her right, then her left where the door out was.

"You smiled."

And her voice was soft when she said, "I'm sure a lot of girls smiled at you too." She shook her head. "It doesn't mean they wanted to hook up with you."

Bitch.

She was such a bitch. He should have known. His sister wore her hair like that and he had to cower in her shadows from the day he was born. She was a bitch, with her perfect shiny smile that he just—

He quickly reached out a hand and wiped at her mouth with the palm of his hand. The stain of her gloss mixed with remnants of Dom forced a rose-colored tint on her chin. She looked up at him win open-mouthed shock.

And then, she squeezed her eyes shut. He could see the moisture seeping out of her eyes, wet her lashes.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, softly now. She did not open her eyes. He sighed, then shifted his weight on one knee and collapsed onto the bed beside her. Kyle reached out a hand and placed it on her arm. She recoiled, then turned her back on him. Blair drew her knees up to her chest. Kyle moved closer. "I'm really sorry," he repeated. He placed a kiss on the back of her shoulder. "You love me. I promise, you do."

I do.

She would say that. Really. For the first time they were together and they were so close, and everything he had done so far would make her realize that.

"Tell me," he said to her.

"It's in your head," she said. "Just in your head."

Bitch.

Kyle sat up on the bed and lunged for her.

And he was there, once again, cursing himself for sleeping on the way and finding himself caught within the grip of a dream. He willed himself to wake, fought against the steps that he inadvertently took, found himself still staring at the bathroom door.

Despite his overwhelming urge to turn around and walk away, still he found his hand on the knob.

He would never forget her face. She reached out to him, her hand wet and dripping into the floor into a pool of water and blood.

"Chuck," she whispered. "Chuck, help me."

And just like before, he could not move. He was stuck to the floor and he watched, fascinated at the way her head fell back in the water, the way she sputtered and suffocated as she dipped lower and the water climbed higher.

"I can't," he choked out.

"Please."

Her cheeks were pale, her lips blue. So very different from the flushed face and the raw lips she sported on all the pictures that haunted him.

And God, he wanted to take a picture of this too.

His jaw tightened, and his throat worked to swallow the words. But he was there and she was there and there was no control, no free will, nothing now. And he found himself spilling forth, in wonder, as if it was a discovery, "But I hate you."

And the way she closed her eyes, he knew she accepted it.

And she sank, deeper, deeper, until all he could see from the doorway was tendrils of her hair floating on the surface of the water.

The next thing he knew, he was racing across the distance, falling to his knees before the tub. He dunked his arms into the water and felt for her. And then, he heaved up until he gathered her up in his arms. He lifted her out of the water and collapsed onto the floor with her, gasping her breath and coughing for air.

He closed his mouth over hers, then reached for her hand.

She was going to die like this. She was going to die on a bed where she spent so many lovely nights recently. She was eighteen years old, and she had lost everything that was important to her. And she was going to die in the Empire Hotel.

If Chuck didn't already hate her, he would hate her now. She was going to create a haunted horror story for his penthouse suite even before he finalized the purchase.

"We'll work on everything else. Just remember—I love you."

Kyle's lips slanted over hers, and Blair turned her head only to have his thumbs dig deeper into her throat. She opened her mouth to take a breath, and his tongue delved into her mouth making her choke in her own breath. She pushed at his chest, but he had rested his entire weight on her and there was no way she could knock him off.

She had been with three other men in her life, and even then all she could think of was that there was only even going to be Chuck Bass in her world. If only for that she settled under him, pliant and calm and she waited until he lifted his mouth from hers. He gasped for breath, and he looked down at her in wonder.

His hand eased from her throat, and she drew in a deep, steadying breath of air.

He brushed a finger on her cheekbone. "Don't keep making me angry."

Her eyes roved his face. She forced a smile on, then murmured, "You're so possessive. You don't have to be. You already know who I love." And if he did not, he would know before the end of the day. Her gaze flickered to the door. It was only Kyle between her and the door.

Blair slowly sat up, and with the careful movement, he moved off of her and closed a hand around hers. She slowly stood, keeping her eyes on him. She needed to change places, needed to be closer to the exit than he was.

And it worked. She found herself several feet away from the door.

She jumped when she heard the thumping on the door, the cry on the other side. "Blair! Blair, open the door!"

Her eyes met Kyle's. To her horror, Kyle snarled and reached for his jacket, then drew out a small hand pistol from the pocket. She gasped. Kyle held a hand out to silence her. "You didn't think a senator's son would be running around without security, did you?" He strode towards the door and pointed the muzzle straight at the door, and she could imagine at that level that a shot would go straight into Chuck's gut.

"Chuck, get away from the door!" she yelled.

"Who's Chuck?" Kyle asked, turning to her. The barrel was trained on her now, but at least it was not directed at Chuck. His eyes narrowed. "Is that the guy who went to your dorm after you left Humphrey's?"

Blair swallowed, then straightened. You never make a deranged armed man angry. Not unless you had a death wish. She blinked away her tears. She walked slowly towards the door, and she watched as the barrel of the gun moved with each of her steps. She was near enough the door, and she was sure Chuck could hear anything she said now.

Looking straight at Kyle, she said tremulously, "Chuck, I don't know how you were planning to fix it. You said we'll fix it later, didn't you?" And he could have answered, but the blood was pounding in her ears and it could very well have kept her from hearing anything.

Not unless you had a death wish.

Kyle set his eyes on her.

She smiled, because there was nothing terrifying about staring into the barrel of a gun. "I'm sorry, Chuck—about Jack, about the fact that you can't forgive me." She blinked rapidly and felt the tears rain down her cheeks. "I love you. Only you. No one else would ever come close."

But when it came down to it, she was a coward just like him. She closed her eyes and waited, felt his breath so close to her that her lashes trembled at contact. He touched her face. He liked touching her face. She shuddered, waited for the cold muzzle to dig into her belly, or to feel it against her temple. Instead, she felt him pull her head back with fingers digging into her scalp.

He kissed her, and, hearing the frantic noises from outside, she kissed back.

He was coming. He came.

It was so swift she realized what happened after—during the numbing pain that followed. He grasped her hair and slammed her head back against the door. Black spots danced around her vision. She fell to her knees and crumpled on the floor.

And then one sharp shot exploded and everything was dark.

When she woke up, it was in time for the door to fly open. It had not been long, and she found herself enclosed in arms so tight around her she could barely breathe. Blair tried to move free and when she could not, she screamed.

"Blair, Blair, it's okay," she heard the voice murmur into her ear.

And the voice pierced through the haze of panic that possessed her. Her tense body relaxed in his arms and her arms rose to grasp his shoulders. He held firmly to her for what seemed like hours, and she sobbed in relief.

Around them there was a steady flood of people who approached another area in the room, but she could not see. Her fingers dug into his back, and she buried her face into his shoulder. She mumbled in wonder, once she realized, "You're touching me."

And it had been so long…

She laughed softly, in glee, in triumph, when his hands moved to cup her face. His skin on hers. And he looked at where they connected in marvel. "I am," he agreed.

She sniffled. "You're not hurting me."

And he shook his head. He dipped his head and gave her a fervent kiss.

No. Not hurting her at all. She placed her hands over his. "Don't let go," she pleaded when their lips parted.

"I wanted to save you," he confessed.

And only then did she see the blood on his shirt. She placed a hand on the stain, then assessed him for damage, only to find the blood sprayed on her arm, on her dress, all around her. She looked back at the security that gathered behind Chuck, could see nothing until one moved and a shoe peeked from within the circle. "Oh my God!" she gasped. He held her when she lunged forward and burrowed into him. She wanted to vanish into Chuck, disappear so she would not be here, forget what she thought she saw.

"But you saved yourself. You did, Blair."

And she wondered if he ever suspected what she only ever told Serena. She had slipped that day in her room, given him a peek inside a world she would have rather hidden away. She felt the way he crushed her against him, shivered at the starving way his lips pressed against her temple. Knew then that he knew.

The dreams were not over, not by far.

That night, she told him how today she closed her eyes and was happy to die.

"At least I told you I loved you," she told him in assurance.

And in the Palace, closed off from the world in a suite they did not share with anyone else, he called the logic bullshit. "You think that would matter to me if I opened the door and found—" He shook his head. No need to give those visions words. He had enough of those images to last him a dozen lifetimes.

And then he told tell her how he absolutely hated that she had never apologized for sleeping with Jack.

"I apologized. A million times," she argued with him, but even when she raised his voice, she did not stir from her place beside him as they lay under the blankets.

And he did not break their twined hands when he retorted, "You apologized for whatever you did. You told me you were sorry for whatever you did. When you admitted you slept with him, you never apologized, Blair."

And she raised herself up on one elbow and looked down at him. He regarded her with the same determined look.

"What are we doing?" she asked sadly. "What are we still doing together?"

His jaw tightened, and he brought her back to lie down with him, her head pillowed on his arm. She wrapped an arm around his torso while he wrapped her tight against him. "What are we doing?" he repeated. "Tonight, we're going to sleep. I haven't slept a full night for six months. And then tomorrow, we have a date with my therapist."

She sighed, but breathed in his smell because she missed waking up and smelling only Chuck all around her. "That's not what I'm asking, Chuck, and you know it."

"You want to know why we're still together."

"Yes."

"I didn't answer because it's a stupid question," he murmured. He closed his eyes and breathed. And for the first time in a long time, sleep came so easily. "You know why," he said.

And really, she thought, breathing in his scent and drifting off to sleep, they were together because… She smiled… because she would rather wake up with Chuck's hands squeezing the life out of her than wake up with someone else beside her.

She sighed. She hoped his therapist was good.

fin