couples: Dan/Blair , Chuck/Serena(?) , some mentions of Nate/Jenny

summary: It was raining that night; the night everything changed and Dan became the knight in Serena's twisted game of chess.

author's note: I have no excuse for this being so late.

Well, I'm like a kid who just won't let it go.
Twisting and turning the colors in rows.
I'm so intent to find out what it is.
This is my Rubik's cube; I know I can figure it out.
rubik's cube

Dan didn't come back because he thought it would change things – that if he simply arrived at her doorstep once more, heart in his hands and eyes on hers, Blair would leave Chuck and jump into Dan's outstretched arms. To think that was almost like believing in a fairytale. Dan could only dream.

So that wasn't why Dan came back, and that wasn't why he ended up retracing his steps to Serena's suite. Rather, it was the once-more ominous message sent via his e-mail.

Dan berated himself along the way for even listening to it. He lived quietly in a new apartment complex just around his old home, closer to Rufus that way. He had been so ready to look forward and never have to remember the past, or the stupid things he'd done for a high-school love. Serena always had him wrapped around her finger. Dan swallowed the bile that rose in his throat.

He was always so very keen on repeating past mistakes, and so Dan knocked quietly on Serena's door.

There was a clatter from behind the threshold before Serena swung open the door with flourish. There was a bottle of vodka in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and she swayed to her own beat as she grinned at him. "Danny!"

"Um –"

Before he could protest, Serena dragged Dan into her suite, pulling him to her and holding him flush against her chest. There was something wild in her eyes, something that died a long time ago.

"Remember when you used to touch me here?" Serena asked softly, placing his hand on her thigh. She laughed airily into his mouth. "I miss those days. I miss high school." She shook her head. "Fuck, I miss high school."

Dan had to try very hard to not choke on the smoke in the air. "I – yeah, I remember that." He inhaled desperately through his nose, ignoring the stench. "You look like you've been partying."

His attempt to distract Serena worked for a moment. She giggled and twirled in place. "Party of one," she sighed. "Nobody wants me anymore. Lonely, lonely me."

Dan blinked at her. "Serena… what happened?"

Serena gave him a glare. "Didn't I tell you, Danny?" she whispered softly. "I called it off. I told Chuck bye-bye. And then I told Blair. And now – oops!" She stumbled over a discarded heel on the carpet. "Oh."

Dan struggled to form words out of the thoughts in his head. "So, you told – wait, Blair. Blair knows?" All at once a surge of revulsion and sickness tossed in his stomach, and he briskly shook his head to clear the dizzy spots from his eyes. "You told her. What did she do? What did she say?" Did she divorce him?

"I…" Serena frowned. "She slapped me and now poof. No more Blair and Serena."

"Serena, you need to tell me if she –"

"Why does it matter?" Serena asked suddenly. She stepped closer to him until he could taste the liquor on her breath. "She's never going to get over Chuck."

She won't, or you won't? Dan didn't ask. He swallowed down the acid that rose in his mouth. "You don't know that."

Serena shook her head. "No, I do know that." She licked her lips and reached for the plucky fabric of his jacket. "We should go back to us. Remember being us?" Her eyes watered with memories and maybe tears that she wouldn't release. "I liked us."

"That was a long time ago." Dan carefully took her hands in his, pushing her gently away so he could breathe again. "You're a wreck. You don't need me right now… you need some coffee."

Serena let out a wispy sigh. "I created a monster out of you." She clucked her tongue. "Innocent Dan and the story of how he broke Blair Bass's heart."

"I – I didn't –" Dan closed his mouth abruptly. "I didn't break anyone's heart." The bitter taste of the lie burned down his throat. Naomi. But not Blair, he rationalized; you can't hurt someone who never loved you in the first place. Blair didn't love him. Blair only loved Chuck.

Serena blinked slowly. "She loved you." She hummed a quiet tune, closing her eyes briefly and swaying to the rhythm of her own music. "She'll never tell you when she is," Serena went on, scarcely audible, "but she falls in love at the drop of a hat."

Dan's heart sped up in the cacophonous silence. Serena couldn't be telling the truth. This was, of course, Serena – she said so many things when she was drunk, most of them without sense, some of them blatant lies. But he couldn't help it. There was something that spread through him like a wildfire, warm enough to last him ages yet not enough to make him burn.

"She didn't love me," he argued softly.

Serena pretended to have not heard him. "And you…" She reached desperately for him again, clutching onto his shirt. "Rejected me. Me. Who are you not to want me?" She met his eyes defiantly, bravely, and he thought he could see into her heart. "But you love her. Everyone loves her."

Dan's tongue darted out to moisten his lips. "No, I don't –"

"I hate you." Serena dipped her head. "Tell me why I'm wrong for everybody. Nate. Chuck. You."

Dan pressed his face into Serena's shoulder. "You're not wrong for me," he assured her. "I'm just – not right for you." But it was simple, too simple to admit. Blair. She was all that he could see when he closed his eyes, all that he wanted and hoped for.

"Stay with me?" Serena begged into his ear. "I loved you once. Stay with me."

Dan slowly let go of her, prying the vodka from her hand and placing it atop the highest shelf. "Yeah." He ushered her to the bed where she curled up under the sheets, watching him with those blue eyes that could once make him do anything she wanted.

Dan realized for once that he was doing this for himself. Not for her.

I'm free, he realized at once, watching her drift off to a fitful sleep. He was free from the chains of a high-school love, free from the ridiculous notion that he had to follow her every whim and desire. Dan wrapped himself in a blanket on the recliner, watching as the sun melted into the horizon at the center of the city.

It made sense that things would come to a full circle here, with the suite bathed in the orange light of evening's rise. Serena barely stirred once as she dreamed, and Dan wondered if she would ever truly find happiness. She always seemed to look too far for it, when she should be waiting.

In the morning, Dan said to himself before he, too, let the comforting waves of sleep fall over him, he was going to go see Blair.

He was going to tell her he loved her, like a lovesick poet confessing to a cold woman made of ice. If she denied him, he would wait for her. If she didn't –

Well, that's as far as Dan has gotten on his makeshift fairytale, but he's never been opposed to making things up as he goes along.