AN: I am very highly focused on my Elizabethan CB, but this had to come gushing out. From my standpoint it can stand on its own—definitely I intended to create a oneshot, but it seems like it might have started to take a life of its own. Either way, it will be very short by my standards—possibly about 3-4 parts. Idea is loosely based on a filming picture.

There is a Future

She was in bed, curled up underneath the sheets. He walked into his bedroom with a small smile on his face. She looked at home, like she belonged. Chuck went to her and crept up behind her, then pressed a kiss to her ear. She moaned softly under her breath and took a deep breath.

Knew she could smell him, knew she loved his scent surrounding her.

With his fingers he touched wisps of her hair. He raised himself up on one elbow and saw the way her eyes squeezed tighter.

"I miss you," she breathed.

The words were a balm to his heart, and he brushed a butterfly kiss on the back of her shoulder. "I missed you too." Her breath hitched. Chuck looked up in concern and frowned when he saw the tears from the corner of her eye. She opened her eyes and stared out the window.

"Blair," he said softly, wondering what he had done wrong, whether he had slipped up the night before. He could remember nothing save a kiss goodbye and waking up that morning knowing he needed to come home. And home—that was her.

She turned and lay back on the bed. She looked up at the ceiling, and she was silent. She did not look at him, nor address him, and knew whatever it was he had committed he would pay for it for a long time. Her tears tracked from the corner of her eyes down her temples to vanish in her hair.

And he sat behind her, did not dare leave the room right then. She stayed in silence staring at the ceiling. Chuck watched when finally she sat up and pulled herself up from the bed. The frailty of her frame was a surprise to his eyes.

"Hey," he began gently, because when she was angry enough to ignore him it always made the most sense to be gentler, easier. He had never been as mature as he found himself to be since the day he said 'I love you,' and it was the hardest thing he had to do. The most difficult, but by far the most rewarding. "You know," he said, a smile gentling the harsh lines of his face, "I hate it when you cry."

Which was quite possibly why he worked so hard to keep her satisfied.

She pushed the curtains to the side and stood in her nightgown, a shadowed silhouette against the bright square window of the streaming sun. He approached her, stood behind her and placed his hands on her hips. Sadly he rested his chin on her shoulder and breathed. In front of him, her body relaxed and she threw back her head. To his eyes, with the sunlight on her tear-streaked face, it appeared the sadness shone with the refraction of the light.

"Waldorf, I'm sorry," he said. What pride he could swallow, even when he did not know why, that he could apologize so easily just to see her tears dry.

"I hate you for this," he heard her whisper. His arms tightened around her waist and he buried his lips in the crook of her neck. And she sobbed, her lashes trembling as she closed her eyes. "This isn't fair."

And then she drew herself out of his arms, walk past him towards the bathroom they shared as if they were married and living together. He followed at her heel. She faced the mirror and reached for—

Her hand hovered above the space he had provided for her, and he waited. Her hand was unsteady as she stared at her toothbrush, or her facial wash, or her bottle of perfume. She looked up at her face, and his heart broke at the dark rims under her eyes. Her lips were dry, when she never let herself go an hour without lipgloss. The sheen, she told him once, attracted him. And he did not have the heart to agree that her mouth was heaven to him any moment of the day, glossed or not, dry or moist, it was heaven.

"If you think you're going to leave me," she said spitefully, low at his reflection in the mirror, "then think again. If you leave me, I'll hate you forever."

At the words, at the bitterness that came unexpectedly, he started. Her eyes went past him, did not quite meet his gaze.

If he had done something as awful as this, he would remember. And it did not matter how drunk or drugged or exhausted her was, he never hurt her without a memory, nor a plan to fix the heart he'd broken.

Even when it seemed that something was terribly wrong, the raw agony in her voice brought him close to her. His face intent on their reflection in the mirror he wrapped his arms around her waist now, tightly enough that he did not know where she ended and he began. She closed her eyes and placed her hands on the sink, and he bowed her body like she were in pain.

And she sobbed, her body wracking with emotion as she did. "I can feel you," she said aloud. "I can feel you here. Dammit, Chuck, you're not supposed to be here!"

Slowly, it dawned on him, but the fearful possibility was too large to understand, to accept.

"You're not supposed to be here," she said again. "I can't be feeling you; I can't be smelling you. Chuck, I can't have you like this."

And he held on to her, tightly, afraid to set her free. His mouth touched the cold outer shell of her ear as he bent forward to drape himself on her and he held her while she cried. "I love you," he swore to her. "I won't leave."

Only then did her cry grow louder. He was helpless when she slid down, despite his effort to hold her. She turned and rested her back against the sink as her knees slowly folded. He looked down at her as she sat on the floor with her legs folded underneath her. She rested her head back, and she looked up and he swore she met his eyes for a second.

"I miss you," she said, tired, breathless. "I miss your voice. I miss you in bed. I miss you."

And he slowly knelt, his heart splintering when her gaze did not follow his movement. She stared up lost and alone and wrung. He placed a hand against her cheek, and upon contact she looked surprised, her breath drew out of her parted lips. She brought up a hand to touch her cheek, and Chuck stared at how it appeared to him, felt to him, like she touched his too.

"I'm right here," he said quietly.

And she closed her eyes again. In his imagination she saw him when she closed her eyes, and that was why she kept him closed most of the time. "It's like you're here," she said, a slight note of hope crept into her voice.

So he leaned forward and he captured her mouth, and it was unresponsive but he kissed her lips.

"Don't be here," she said, her whisper like a breath against his face. "If you're here—"

A hand rested on his shoulder, familiar, comforting, but for a moment he ignored it and placed a kiss on her forehead instead.

"If you're here, who am I talking to when I visit you?" she continued.

With her words, flickering images returned, like a grainy video he watched when the sounds cut in and out and the lens could not find a point of focus. The fight was vicious, and she had called him names she did not mean and he lashed back about the lengths he had tried, the patience he had had, and how he was completely done. He had spent the night away while she stewed, then raced to come home the moment he called and he heard her voice—hitched a ride with another guest at the club when the limo would have taken a split second too long.

In the crash, while he lay bleeding, he wondered how she would remember him.

Slowly, he turned around, saw the imposing figure that was his father standing behind him in their bathroom. Bart extended a hand to him, then with a somber invitation, he said, "Come on, son."

"Am I dead?" he said aloud.

"Not yet." Bart gestured to his hand. Chuck wondered why it had to be his father, why even in his death he was not afforded the opportunity to see his mother taking him to the great beyond.

Chuck stared at Bart's hand, and then looked back at where Blair still sat. "I can't leave her, dad."

Bart glanced at the girl on the floor, then one corner of his lips curved. "So you took my advice," he commented.

Belatedly, Chuck recognized the strides he had done since the summer, and realized he had done most of what his father told him after his wedding day. He had been too young at the time, too easily scared. "Doesn't do me much good, does it?" he returned. "If you're here, and you're taking me away. Doesn't do her much good either."

Bart sighed. "You know, son, sometimes we're too afraid to let go of the people in our lives. Sometimes we need to accept that leaving them is best." And then, with a little pride that Chuck hardly saw when his father was alive, Bart said, "Look at you. I've never been prouder than when I see the kind of man you've become."

"You're telling me that she'd be better off without me?" Chuck asked.

Bart assessed her, and Chuck leaned back when she pulled herself up to her feet. She turned on the running water and splashed her face. Chuck nodded towards the door, and Bart smirked as he stepped outside.

"I don't have the answer to that. I can't see the future, son."

Chuck locked his jaw, then stated, "I'm not coming with you, dad."

"So you'd rather spend years in that coma?" Bart challenged his son. "You'd subject her to that?"

Behind him, he heard the gasping sounds as Blair cried in what he supposed was silence. He licked his lips. "First, I need to know she'll be fine."

And again, Bart offered his hand. "I can't see the future for her. I don't know her that well. But you can." Chuck stared at his father's hand. "Let me guide you, son."

Chuck glanced back at Blair as she held a mascara wand with an unsteady hand, in her futile attempt to put on her makeup, to hide herself before she emerged from his bedroom.

"Alright," Chuck decided. He walked to stand behind her, the pushed the hair from the back of her neck and placed a lingering kiss on her nape. "I love you," he said.

He returned to his father, and placed his hand in his. As he faded, he heard the faint voice say, "I love you too."