AN: As you know I do not frequently write oneshots.
Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down
She was his earth, his heaven and his hell.
She came to him like a bit of snow, grace shredded from the sky and fluttering down, this wisp of a thing that rested on his brow. Blair Waldorf had been a spark of brilliant white in an existence so gray, so shrouded. She was a flame that flickered, a tiny little flame. A flame so bright he shielded his eyes. A flame so small.
In mere seconds. It was gone.
She came to him, melted into his skin until the shadows of the world melted away with her.
It was a dream when she returned, gliding to him like a phantom, soft and fragrant when she leaned over as he lay on the bed they had shared. When she kissed him, and he felt the cool air where her lips had been, at once Jack Bass knew she was a dream. Jack Bass in real life would never again be visited by an angel. It happened one too many times in his lifetime, and he had turned her away like she was the physical form of his doubts and his crimes.
Whenever he saw her, touched her, buried himself inside of her on silken sheets he bought with stolen money his stain on her thighs carved the name of Bart's son on her skin.
Jack had never been as tied to the earth as he was when she was wrapped around him, limbs entwined with his, her hair hanging from the arm that held her up against his chest. Never been closer to heaven than he was in the morning when he woke to find her sprawled over him.
Never been as close to hell as he when he burned kisses from the inside of her elbow and licked his way to her fingers, to taste with his tongue the metal of her wedding ring.
"You're an angel," he told her, when he saw her on the red silk pillow with her dark hair a halo around her perfect head. With her lipstick smeared, a red stain around her mouth, the covers prim over breasts that had been bare to his hands moments before.
She was an angel, and he was the devil.
His earth, his heaven, his hell.
Every memory, every kiss, every sigh.
Even the worst days of all—they would be in his memories. Nothing she had done or ever would do he would forget. Blair Waldorf had been too perfect, too fast, to inexplicably sweet. And Jack Bass knew nothing in life ever came so easily, so freely.
Their worst day, he did not scream, nor yell, nor burst into a temper the same as the one that had caused him to attack Lily. No. It was a quiet pain, this raging fury. It consumed him so much all he could manage was to look at her.
Hastily she wiped at her tears as soon as they fell. Strangely enough, when she did not want him to see, the most he noticed the crystalline droplets that drained from her. Jack poured scotch into his glass. He used to be averse, because it was Bart's drink, same as Bart's son's. A kiss and she would remember the taste of another man, but he was certain there would be no kisses that day.
"Jack," she said softly.
Even her voice drew him, drove him to the brink. He swallowed the knot in his throat and took a deep drink. It burned its way down his throat to warm his stomach. He needed the warmth. He was so very cold then.
"Jack, tell me what you're thinking."
"I should have known," he said quietly. Because there was no sense denying what a Bass discovered, she had slowly put the ring back on her finger. How she managed to keep it quiet so long, how Chuck had hidden it from the entire world, he did not know. "Even when I was here the first time, I knew you were going to end up the wife."
"Did you, Jack?"
When she reached to touch him, he pushed her away. She winced, as if stung by the rejection. What the hell did she expect? "You waltz into my life and you made me think you cared."
He closed his eyes, because when she grasped his cheeks and forced him to look at her, he could not bear the pain he saw.
"Stupid. Are you stupid?" She demanded. Jack kept his eyes closed tightly, because it was her strategy to make him look. He could not look now. "Why did you believe me?"
"Because you're a good actress, dammit."
"Or because I really do," she argued.
And the words were too tempting to ignore. "You're married to Chuck. Didn't I give you enough? I gave you everything. All of who I am."
"And you think I didn't?"
"Are you working with him?"
She cringed. "No," she said firmly. Her eyes were honest. He should not have looked.
"You loved him enough to marry him," he said.
And now the entire fortune that Bart had given his son, all Jack's. Chuck was left with one measly property—the Empire, complete ruin in terms of a Bass.
"Maybe I love you enough that I'm here now," she had said to him.
"She was mine," he told himself when he sat up on a cold bed. Despite the cold, unfeeling voice that Bart's son left for him, claiming the same, cursing the name that Jack held dear. He vaulted, deep in his mind, the days and the nights when he knew—knew with his entire heart—that Blair Waldorf was completely his.
Chuck would never take them away, never as long as he lived. He had won once already, once upon a time.
"Meet me there," was his proposal, and it Jack's words hung in the air between them.
"Soon?" she asked softly, as she lay in his bed and traced his cheek with her fingers.
The secret was daunting, but she was his now and he swore he would keep her. He was coming for her, Chuck had threatened. Frozen talons of dread crept to clutch his heart in its icy grip.
"But I don't want to leave you," she said, urgently, with firm fingers and sharp nails digging into his arm. "Let me stay. Let me face him."
When he saw the tears in her eyes, the plea on her face, he remembered she was a child—all of nineteen to his three decades in the world. She was a beautiful child, defiled by the Basses in this unending war for wealth. The billions in his name was nothing more than a set of numbers when he thought of her. The well that would never dry now forgotten.
"You don't know him, don't know what he could do," Jack said. Chuck Bass, despite his youth, drew much of his father inside him that he would be capable of anything. After his own massive scheme to drain the Bass funds into his own, Chuck could have killed him. After this—Jack thought, as he held her in his arms—he could vanish from the face of the earth and no one would be the wiser.
And when he stood, outside the grassy lawns of the Connecticut home he had sought to escape to, leading her towards the helicopter that was thunderous in its noise, he wished she was more than a child. If she were, he would trust her to survive, to fight, to become at par with the boy who had grown into a man he loathed and feared.
Her hand fisted at her side, and the diamond winked, mocked him.
"Please, Jack," she begged him. "Please don't send me away."
His leather-gloved hands cupped her face, her tears feeling like ice as they clung to her skin. But she would be gone, and it would be far, far too long before he touched her again. He bit the tip of his gloves and removed them, then ran his warm skin over her cold one. He rubbed warmth into her, because he brought life into the dead gray life she led.
"I'll die," she warned him. "If you send me away, I'll die."
When he scowled, he bared his teeth. She was so young and so dramatic still. A baby in the world where espionage and dirty tricks were worth billions within seconds. She was a child, and being the more experienced he was the one who needed to protect her. "I've got you," he assured her, his voice deep. "Let me handle Chuck. I'll come for you." He bit out his instructions, made certain she remembered. "Do you have the documents you need?"
She vowed, "I don't care about them."
"Do you have them, Blair?" he repeated.
Reluctantly, she nodded.
"Wait for me there," he told her. "Those are your credentials. The bank name, the statement, the IDs—they're all there. He'll never get his hands on you."
"It doesn't matter. You're making me leave!" she protested. "Jack, please—"
He watched, his heart breaking a little, as the chopper took her up, and they grew smaller, smaller, smaller. The sunlight streaked the sky, and he peered from under his hand as he watched her vanish into the clouds. It was the last sight, the last sound, the last touch.
His earth, his heaven, his hell.
In his dreams she stood, this phantom at the corridor. He faced her, reached for her, and when he burst into a run she grew farther and farther from him. That pale face of an angel, with its halo of dark hair, with her closed eyes and the smear of red around her mouth. She lay over blood silk flowing underneath her.
It was the color of his nightmares.
It was late at night when the phone rang, the emergency line he had hoped never to hear ring, but sincerely wished would. When he answered he almost saw the curling smoke, the damp mountain air. Electronic voices cut in and out, and Jack heard the words he had dreaded since he first heard the news.
The crash site had been found.
"I'm coming for you," he repeated, the promise still held true. Because he was Jack, and she was Blair. Even the devil kept a promise to an angel.
They say crystals held the captive souls of human beings lost. When crystals were foggy, when what was transparent was cloudy, almost opaque, the captured spirit was fighting for release.
As Chuck Bass held the cheap rock in his hand he knew he would throw millions into a large-scale project to cut the crystal in a way that she was never going to get out. Because she was in there, somewhere there, trapped inside a crystal cheap enough to insult her for eternity.
Diamonds. He had showered her with diamonds.
How he imagined her trapped in a cheap rock
But that was when he loved her.
Now she was only a soul inside a crystal, a phallic pendant that hung around his neck, against his throat, sharp enough that just maybe one of these days she'd finally kill him.
He had gleefully imagined, in the darkness of his office, the look on Jack's face once he knew. The cheap, stupid crystal they had bought on their honeymoon had been his constant companion, his touchstone. When he learned about the news—Chuck had ignored the intense, debilitating, almost physical pain that gripped him—he took the crystal and closed his hand over it, imagined it grew cloudy as it took her. She would be there forever, inside, never allowed to go. For Blair Waldorf-Bass there would be no heaven or hell. Forever would be in that useless junk she bought off with his useless money.
She was going to hang around his neck whether she wanted to or not. It would be small satisfaction, a little payment. For everything she had done, for the hurt she caused him.
He wasn't afraid of death. She told him that. He wasn't afraid of feelings either. He taught that to himself. Now, he relished the hate. Because it was the hatred that would see him through.
Chuck wished he could see Jack's face when he found out it was his own jet plane that shattered the world.
Pictures of the burning wreckage embedded into the side of the perfect virgin forest, curling with smoke rising from the ashes—
It would be his dream tonight, his wonderful fantasy.
Chuck stalked towards the mantel and picked up the picture she had lovingly placed as centerpiece, the picture they had taken when he was in his suit and she was in a pretty white dress—the closest to a wedding photograph they had. He slammed the picture facedown.
His hand rose to the touchstone resting warmly against his throat.
"I need you to prepare the plane," he requested into the phone.
He needed to see it himself, feel the heat of the burning debris, walk over the ashes and know he was walking over what remained of her. It was the only way he could get back his sleep.
Chuck Bass looked up at the sound of the short, abrupt bursts of thunder. The intruder on the sky descended steadily. Finally, Jack Bass had arrived. It was fitting, for Jack to come in an impressive little plane to lay claim to the site that Chuck, for the first time in a half-open sweaty shirt, had scoured and searched for hours.
He was always going to come second, he thought.
Jack jumped out of his tiny plane and tracked the path. The man searched the debris while Chuck sat, with a glass of the scotch he had brought with him, watching. It was the dead of the night when no work could be done that Jack turned to him finally. Chuck poured a glass for him and extended it. There were no words to discuss billions of dollars that had been stolen.
Not when Jack had stolen a life.
Jack accepted the glass, drank it like he was not afraid of poison, and Chuck related at the very least to the fried that turned him uncaring. Because Jack knew—one of these days Chuck Bass would murder him.
Jack hissed at the strong alcohol, at the burn, then said softly, "She was—"
Chuck cut him off. "I will not reminisce about her, Jack."
The older man weighed him with a look, and Chuck could not care. "That is the difference between us. If I had the opportunity, I would tell the entire world."
But he was Chuck Bass, and his business was his own. He married her, kept it a secret as much as he could. What he had shared with Blair was more important than photographs, than a name, than an announcement.
Jack Bass. Who knew? The man had pulled off the most effective scam in the history of Bass and he was a child when it came to Blair. He was an innocent child, unaware that sooner or later Blair would have crushed him like she had crushed Chuck.
Word to the Basses, he thought. They needed to stick with business, with what they knew.
Money, they were experts. Love, they were ignorant.
"Go home, Chuck," Jack advised as if he had the right, as if he were still the guardian, as if Chuck would ever trust him. He turned towards the fire that Chuck had built, a skill he and Nate had learned that never got use until now. "There's nothing for you here."
"Maybe I want to find my wife," Chuck offered. At Jack's wince, Chuck grinned in triumph. Like a shark, he smelled blood in the water. "You were surprised?" He nodded. "Good. She's a good liar. She fooled you."
"Blair loved me."
Chuck, at that, laughed. Jack's eyes narrowed. "I don't know what she wanted from you, but she didn't love you. She loved me, and she left me. She would have left you much sooner."
"You don't know," Jack muttered. "What she and I had together—you don't know it."
Fucking pathetic loser, Chuck thought. In love with a girl who so obviously didn't love him back. He didn't dare question why she even came to him. He hated her for it and that was enough.
"If you think she's a worthless liar, then why are you even here?" Jack demanded.
Chuck drew closer to Jack, the leaned close, breathed into his ear with alcohol curling in the air. "Because, Uncle Jack," he said snidely, "I want to know she's really dead. I want to see her corpse, hold her treacherous heart in my hands and feel that it's not beating." Chuck glanced at the wreckage, shadowed as it was. "I want to walk all over her."
Closure. He needed closure. He needed to see, needed to feel. Needed to know when he knew there was no way now.
The charred remains of the plane would stay, he knew. The rescue and retrieval operations had turned up with nothing. He came, and there had been nothing. She was ashes now. A strong gust of wind would blow her away, out of their lives. Chuck glared at the back of Jack's head. When his uncle turned around, Chuck noted the mournful look and wanted to slam his fist into his jaw.
"Stop," Chuck said. When Jack looked at him, Chuck shook his head. "Stop grieving. Stop mourning her. She wasn't your wife."
But Jack had turned away from him. He walked towards the large bag he had brought and drew out a bouquet of fresh tulips. He made his way to the foot of the carnage and laid it.
But her grave was supposed to be in Manhattan, the plot beside his unused even on the tenth anniversary of his death.
The ringing phone seemed so at odds in the quickly darkening mountainside. Jack raised the phone to his ear. At the same time, Chuck ignored the call that came to his. He felt and heard the brusque voice, the stress that strained Jack's body. He looked towards his uncle as the man walked briskly away from him. It seemed hilarious, this silent scene he watched. Jack ran his fingers through his hair, then kicked a rock. Their gazes met from across the distance.
"The entire thing," Jack rasped when he returned.
At that, Chuck laughed softly. "Good girl."
"Why aren't you furious?" Jack demanded. "She took your entire fortune to her grave."
"I don't care," Chuck answered. "I have the Empire. But you—she drained you, Jack. If only for that, I hate her guts a little less."
All the years of his life, Chuck had known Jack. But they would be the last words he would ever say to the man. Before morning the next day, Chuck was back on the flight home. Inside the plane, he opened his hand, looked down at the ashes he had taken from the crash site. A bit of dust, he thought. A part of her, maybe. He could not let the wind take all of her away.
Jack lost. Jack fucking lost to the lies, those deceitful eyes that fooled him once.
Red was the color of fury. Grief and fury—he wished Jack would have a marvelous time of it remembering Blair Bass.
The suite was warm.
Chuck entered the room, which had been cold for a long time now. He frowned at the stifling heat and walked in search of the heater. He dropped his jacket on the couch. His skin crawled.
"No," he whispered.
His gaze slammed to the mantel, saw the photo frame displayed prominently. He shook his head, grasped the cheap ass crystal pendant and gritted his teeth. She was not going to do this. He was right in the middle of celebrating her death. Fuck her.
He had known about the crash, but not once did he cry. When he found out, after discovering her gone, that she was with Jack, not a drop of tear escaped him. He had been furious, murdered glasses and bottles and mirrors, but he had not once cried. But at the mere sound of the voice, saying his name, at the slight sight of her figure swimming through his hazy vision, Chuck felt the drops spill.
He stepped back. When she stepped forward, he backed away again. Until his foot hit a chair.
"You're alive?" he said in disbelief. He licked his lips. "Stay dead. You left me."
"You were drowning!" she argued. "When he stole it all away, everything your father left you, everything you worked for—"
He had drunk away the loss. It had been money, he told her. Money that Bart Bass slaved for, money that was the reason that his father was never a father. Within moments, Jack had stolen it away.
"I didn't need you to take care of me," Chuck spat. "I told you to stay put. I was going to fix it." But he had been drowning while she watched. It was money, just money. But money was his entire life, his whole history, the link to the mother and father he had never truly known.
She walked towards him, and because he could not back away he suffered through the touch of her hand. She laid her palm over his chest. "I did it for you," she said softly. "I was always going to be something to Jack the way no one else would ever be. I knew I could do it, Chuck."
She pressed a small book in his hand. Chuck looked down and flipped the cover, saw the staggering amount that had been stolen from him all under her name.
"What's mine," she said firmly. "What's mine is yours," she said, reminding him of the promise they had made. "It'll all be in your account by noon."
He swallowed deeply, lowered his head until she laid her forehead against his. He tossed the passbook onto the floor, grasped her hands in his. "I wanted you dead. I wanted you dead so bad," he confessed.
"I know," she answered quietly.
She could have done it. She did it. Made Jack Bass fall, head over heels, and Chuck could not even bear fathom what she had done to make it happen. She was back in his arms.
"I wanted to kill you myself."
She raised his hands to her lips, showered them with kisses and tears. "I love you," she swore. "I love you so much it consumes me. I love you so much I can't ever bear to see you hurt or lost. I love you so much I'd do anything for you."
She was a ball of flame, overreaching, overwhelming. He had entered her and he was gone, consumed completely, destroyed by everything she was.
"You have to stop, Blair. You have to think—"
One hand flew to his nape. She dragged him down, then met his eyes. "The moment the thought of my leaving you for someone else doesn't make you want to kill me is the day you stop loving me," she said sharply. "And the day I stop wanting to take care of you, to help you, is the day we're done." And then his mouth dragged over hers, heavily, so strongly their teeth scraped together and her grip hurt him.
He was sure his grasp over her nape hurt too.
She was fire, and he burned inside her as joyous as the day he realized there was no escaping her.
Someday they'd combust.
Ashes, ashes, they all fall down.